Tuesday 23 January 2018

Moyes still bitter at sacking as he plots Sunderland revival

Moyes: “I’ve said all along I was unfairly treated.” Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.
Moyes: “I’ve said all along I was unfairly treated.” Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.

Luke Edwards

David Moyes was full of excitement as he discussed Sunderland's vast potential and in good humour as he talked about the challenges that lie ahead as the new manager of a side who have constantly battled against relegation - until he was reminded of his failure at Manchester United.

For a brief moment, the smile dropped and the eyes flickered with hostility. He will have known the questions about his short spell at Old Trafford were coming, but still could not hide his emotions.

His savage sacking by United in April 2014, just 10 months into a six-year contract, inflicted a wound that has still not healed. While he claimed the experience had made him a better manager, there is still bitterness.

"I've said all along I was unfairly treated," said Moyes (below), who was appointed Sunderland manager last week after Sam Allardyce took charge of England. "When you sign a six-year contract and you end up there 10 months, yeah, I believe I was (treated badly).

"Ultimately the key is to win football matches. I didn't win enough football matches, but you must say there were mitigating circumstances. And, I think, you could say there are maybe things that have gone on since then, that would actually justify that even more so."

The last comment was clearly aimed at Louis van Gaal, a manager with a hugely impressive CV, who was also sacked for failing to live up to expectations in the wake of Alex Ferguson's retirement.

Back in the Premier League for the first time in more than two years after another brief spell, at Real Sociedad, Moyes is determined to show he is not deluded when he says he should still be at Old Trafford.

Since his brief spell at United, all the big clubs in England have hired foreign managers and the 53-year-old intends to prove at Sunderland why he should be considered in the same elite bracket as Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, and Jose Mourinho.

"What my time at Manchester United gave me is an unbelievable idea of what it is like at the top," said Moyes, who is trying to sign midfielder Adnan Januzaj from his former club as well as midfielder Yann M'Vila from Rubin Kazan.

"I believe that's where I can work and that's where I should be working, and my level is that. You don't get offered big jobs, if you've not done something.

"You don't get offered the Real Madrid job, the Barcelona job, the Manchester United job, if you've not had something to suggest there's a reason for it.

"I don't think I have anything to prove to anybody else, but I am always proving to myself that I want to keep my standards high.

"I think I've got the fourth best win record in the Premier League out of all the managers. If I can even bring a bit of that to Sunderland, that will make a difference."

Having aspired to become a club like Everton ever since they returned to the top flight in 2007, Sunderland have finally managed to employ the manager who was responsible for transforming the Merseysiders.

Ellis Short, Sunderland's owner, even claimed last week that he had got an upgrade on Allardyce, even if it has taken three attempts to persuade Moyes to take the job.

Moyes recognises the comparison and suggested Sunderland could be even more successful if he is given time to deliver the progress they crave at a club who have gone through seven managers in just five years.

"It's an exciting challenge," Moyes added. "I've had many opportunities to take other Premier League jobs since I've been out of work.

"I've had opportunities to go abroad, but I wanted to come back to the Premier League now.

"I think the Premier League has an exciting group of managers and I wanted to be in amongst that. I wanted to compete against them.

"It's the potential of Sunderland that, to my mind, has never reached the heights.

"We get 45,000 every week, we've got a great stadium, they've got an owner who reminds me an awful lot of [Everton chairman] Bill Kenwright.

"I had a great 10 or 11 years with him. Bill allowed me to manage a club, to build a club.

"I didn't have a great deal of money at Everton - £5million a year was all I was ever allowed - and I think our recruitment was always as good as anywhere.

"But he always backed me in everything I did, supported me and I have to say that Ellis has given me the same feeling all along.

"I think Sunderland have got more in place than Everton, but we need to change from just bobbing along at the bottom of the league.

"I took over at Everton and the six years before that they were always at the bottom.

"For four out of the five years they were always in the bottom six. So there's a wee bit of a similarity.

"Apart from one year, when we were 17th, there was always progress and in our last eight years we were in the top eight.

"So we turned Everton from being a club at the bottom to a club at the top. But that journey took 10 years.

"I feel, if I can get momentum going here, people will start to look at this part of the world. I want the good players to think they want to come here and that's the manager I want to work for. I can only do that when I get things going. If I can get a good team, we can get the place jumping a bit and that excites me.

"I think it's seven [managers] in five years and that's a scandalous statistic. It's not the way to go forward and Ellis wants stability." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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