David Moyes Would Be Worst Possible Appointment For Scotland
May 1, 2019
First, he was spotted at Celtic Park. The peculiar attendance of David Moyes at Saturday’s Scottish Premiership fixture between Neil Lennon’s champions-elect and Kilmarnock could be explained by the heartfelt tributes paid to his former teammate, Billy McNeil. His presence in Paisley for the game between St Mirren and St Johnstone just hours later was harder to explain, though.
Moyes’ Scottish road trip didn’t end there. On Sunday, he also made it through to Edinburgh for the city derby between Hibernian and Hearts and then back to Glasgow for the second half of Rangers’ home match against Aberdeen. Anyone would think Moyes, one of the favourites to land the vacant Scotland job, was trying to make a good impression.
A national team manager is more than just a football coach. They are a statesman, an ambassador for the sport in the country. Moyes, it would appear, it trying to pose as such, presumably to boost his chances of succeeding Alex McLeish as Scotland boss. He is already a friend of the Scottish FA. On paper, he is the best qualified of the available candidates. Four games in two games for the 56-year-old was likely a box ticking exercise as much as anything else.
However, Moyes would be the worst possible appointment for Scotland at this time. Talent is not the issue for them right now. In fact, the likes of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, Ryan Fraser, James Forrest, Scott McKenna and Stuart Armstrong make this the most promising generation of Scottish talent in a generation.
Instead, the issue, or at least the most pressing one, is apathy. It has become an epidemic. Scotland is a country that has fallen out of love with football, particularly its national team – see the swathes of empty seats visible every time Scotland play games, competitive or not, at Hampden Park.
The appointment of Moyes would only exacerbate this problem further. At each of his last few clubs, Moyes has been an energy vacuum. Some managers, like Jurgen Klopp, are renowned for invigorating football clubs – look at what the German has done in his time at Liverpool. Moyes, in recent times, has earned a reputation for doing the exact opposite.
At West Ham, Moyes was effective. He was charged with keeping the club away from relegation and that’s what he did. But West Ham fans will tell you that Moyes’ reign only bred even more apathy among the club’s support. His sacking at the end of last season was necessary, not just because results had been underwhelming, but because the club’s fanbase couldn’t take any more of the Scot’s insipid, uninspiring football.
At Real Sociedad, they still talk about how Moyes’ short spell in charge of the club disrupted what had been, up until that point, an upward trajectory. Sunderland provides the blackest of marks on Moyes managerial copybook, with the 56-year-old only quickening a spiral that the Black Cats have yet to escape from.
It’s true that international football is no place for the managerial elite. It’s slim pickings for Scotland as they search for a replacement for McLeish just as it is for most national teams when they have to find a new manager. Gareth Southgate was, after all, England’s Under-21 boss before being handed the big job.
But Scotland can, and must, do better than Moyes. Steve Clarke, for instance, would be a more astute appointment, with the Kilmarnock manager batting his eyelashes at the Scottish FA just a couple weeks ago. There is also a stronger argument to hire Scot Gemmill, the current Scotland Under-21 manager, than Moyes. At least Gemmill would have a strong background knowledge of the country’s youth ranks at a time when Scotland must put its faith in the new generation.
Don’t count on Moyes being overlooked, though. Scottish football is suffering from a crisis of imagination, illustrated by the appointment of McLeish, a close associate of the Scottish FA blazers, in the first place. Moyes, out of work and posturing for the job, would be among the easiest of hires and when it comes to the right thing to do or the easiest thing to do the Scottish FA have a habit of opting for the latter.
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Author: Graham Ruthven
Graham Ruthven is a football writer and broadcaster based in Glasgow, Scotland. He was written for the New York Times, the Guardian, Eurosport, Bleacher Report, Four Four Two, The Scotsman and others. He is also a football shirt aficionado and still maintains to this day that Dennis Bergkamp didn’t mean it