David Moyes, 58, is contemplating the fact that Claudio Ranieri, 70 next week, is back out of retirement and in the front line of football again and wondering where he might be in 12 years’ time.
‘My plan is not to manage like Claudio Ranieri, that’s for sure,’ he insists. ‘I’d be on the Italian coastline just now with my Speedos on.’
He grins, knowing just what mental image he has conjured up, his serious face gone for second. ‘It takes a lot to stick with management,’ he continues. ‘It takes a lot dealing with you journalists every day, the crowd, all sorts of people writing about us and what we do.’
West Ham boss David Moyes insists he won’t be managing at the age of 70 like Claudio Ranieri
Ranieri, who turns 70 next week, was recently appointed as the manager of Watford
That said, speedos aside, there is fighting talk from Moyes as he takes his Europa League West Ham team to play Everton at Goodison Park, where he forged his reputation.
Top four is the dream of the Everton’s and West Ham’s of this world. Now, with Newcastle entering the fray it might seem like a target that is vanishing off into the distance. Not for Moyes, defiant when asked about the challenge of disrupting the quartet of Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.
‘I’m actually looking to see why can I not challenge these teams? Why do I think that I have to roll over and let these teams finish above me?
‘I’m certainly not doing that this year… I finished 4th with Everton and qualified for the Champions League. I finished sixth at West Ham [two points behind Chelsea]. It probably took me four years to get a consistency level at Everton.
‘I remember thinking that Everton were nearly happy to be safe by Easter. That was it. I said: “No I’m not having that anymore. I’m not having the type of team. I have to change it.”
‘When I do the comparison at West Ham, I think West Ham teams are a bit flaky and not always consistent.
‘I want to get rid of that flaky [reputation], not always being consistent, and make West Ham stronger more consistent.
‘But I understand the question, it’s really, really hard to overtake the big sides. But I do think that now the way football is going, there is a bigger opportunity. Leicester is the best example.’ Indeed, there is a link between Moyes and Ranieri beyond the Italian Riviera retirement dream.
Moyes believes that his West Ham side are capable of challenging for a place in the top four
They are the only two managers to have broken into the top four whilst not managing one of the big six clubs since 2004. The only other clubs to have achieved that this century are Leeds (2000 and 2001) and Newcastle United (2002 and 2003).
Which brings us to the £300m Saudi state takeover of Newcastle United. Clearly there is a new player in the league ready to undermine all the good work Moyes has done at West Ham and surpass them. But Moyes has a warning.
‘I don’t think there’s any quick situations for any of the clubs now. I think the Premier league is too strong, too powerful. Why, suddenly spending a load of money, do you think they are going to become the top? I personally don’t see that. I might be proved wrong in time.
‘Building a club like I want to do at West Ham is what I probably do best, if I am being honest. I can see where the growth needs to come and what we need to improve a little bit more.
‘And Everton was great. Bill Kenwright said to me when I took the job ‘David you have got £5m a year to spend no more and that’s what you can get. Do you want the job?’ And I said: ‘As long as you don’t sell any of my players unless we have no choice and you let me do what I want with the players. I can prepare them, I can take them wherever I want in the world, I can do what I want’. And Bill says ‘Deal’. Sometimes you have more enjoyment out of building from not having big money.
‘I think we have seen maybe West Ham a couple of years ago, to be fair the owners here backed it. They went to spend the big money they tried to do it. I am not sure the Premier League allows you to do that because of the quality of the sides and because of the stability of the clubs. There are too many good clubs who are run superbly well. Yeah, come in and buy all the best players in the world but I am not sure that gets you the best team.’
Moyes, who had a limited budget at Everton, believes it will be difficult for Newcastle to go straight to the top
‘I think we’ve gone quicker [than I thought we would]. And the reason why is because of the players I’ve got in the team. We’ve suddenly got an England international, we’ve brought in young players, we’ve gone into the transfer market and sometimes as a manager you need a bit of good luck. I remember somebody saying to me ‘You’re really lucky’ when I got the Everton job.
I said; ‘Why am I lucky?’.
‘Because, because there’s a 16 year old in the academy, who’s a top player and is going to be great.’
‘And you go: ‘No 16-year-old is going to help me!’ And it was Wayne Rooney. Now we had Wayne Rooney for a year-and-a-half, two years, then it got taken away from me, we had to sell. But it didn’t actually affect us because we used it to build and we built the club again and we went again.
‘So when you’re building clubs there’s a journey you go on and you’ve got to know that through it, you’ve got to be ready to go again. I think we’ve really gone quickly in the last couple of years.
Because when I came in I was thinking: ‘How are we going to stay out of relegation?’ We had nine games to go when we came back from lockdown. And we thought we had to win six of them. So, if you put it that way, where we’ve come in this short period is really fast. Why is it accelerated? Because I’ve got unbelievably good players who are making me feel young and making me really enjoy it.’
Moyes reflected on his time at Everton, when he worked with a young Wayne Rooney