|Onwards and upwards: Moyes wants progression, but will it be at Everton?|
David Moyes’ contract situation is a subject that has been bubbling under the surface in recent weeks. It cannot be culpable for performance levels dipping, neither can it be discounted.
Everton’s league record in the 2012 part of this season reads: Played 20. Won 8. Drawn 9. Lost 3. Goals for 33. Goals against 25. Points 33. Points per game 1.65. Win percentage: 40%.
For 2013, read: Played 6. Won 2. Drawn 3. Lost 1. Goals for 7. Goals against 7. Points 9. Points per game 1.5. Win percentage: 33%.
Sure, the fitness levels of Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman may have had a bearing on performances, as the free-flowing attacking football has unquestionably been hit by their absences.
And, although it is difficult to start drawing up comparisons six games into 2013, since Moyes let it be known in December he harbours hopes of one day managing in Germany, Everton's win percentage has fallen and performances levels have dropped despite retaining the bulk of the first-team squad.
|Kenwright and Moyes will hold off on contract discussions until the summer|
While many Evertonians want Moyes to stay, every appointment has an expiry date. Bill Kenwright and Moyes have spoken of five-year cycles in the past, and it is unlikely Moyes would be willing to buy into another five years should the uncertainty over investment linger. Nor would he be expected to work indefinitely under such financial restrictions.
Flavour of the month can move pretty quickly in football, and it is testament to the stability and longevity of Moyes’ tenure he is rightly celebrated in footballing circles. At Everton, the majority of fans trust his management implicitly, but three or four negative results in succession, and Moyes’ moaners will become more vocal.
With Everton's limited budget and strong core of players limited to 12 or 13 bodies, that is not beyond a possibility. Approaching 11 years in charge, whether privately or publically, Moyes appears to be casting his net elsewhere. This is to be expected.
The fast turnover of management in the Championship this season is an example of how quickly things change in football. And despite the changes at Blackpool, Nott’m Forest and Blackburn extreme examples, they are endemic of how football can be cruel to managers.
Managers are judged purely on results. When they are struggling for points, they are removed. Therefore while they are held in high esteem, it is equally right they take opportunities when they arise.
Although pure speculation at this stage, Moyes courting a new challenge in the Bundesliga is understandable while he is revered relatively highly in football.
In many ways, this season is a watershed moment in Moyes’ Everton reign. And it appears he sees it this way as well.
Before the Oldham game, Moyes revealed all talk of extending his current contract will be left until the summer when it expires.
It is highly unlikely Moyes will renew his contract should Everton finish outside the European places and trophy-less. He may argue he has taken the club as far as he can, and that another manager deserves the chance to propel Everton to the next level.
Alternatively, should Moyes win the FA Cup, he may also chose to walk away, leaving on a high and with something tangible for his time at the club.
It therefore appears Everton's league standing will dictate whether Moyes renews his contract. Should they qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, you can take it as read his time at the club will be extended.
A fifth or sixth-place finish resulting in the Europa League is an intriguing scenario. Four European quests have left him wanting more, and I should think he’d want to stay. It is two years since Everton were in the Europa League, and would therefore constitute short-term progress.
But, this situation will present more though-provoking, and further challenges. Moyes will consider this secondary to Champions League qualification, and may walk away on the premise he has been unable to break through the glass ceiling of qualification for Europe’s elite cup competition.
|Crown jewels: Fellaini and Baines are vital components in Everton's top-four ambitions|
It will also result in a summer of uncertainty over two of Everton's biggest assets. Marouane Fellaini will almost certainly kick up a fuss either via his father or the Belgium media, while Leighton Baines may be tempted by Champions League football should a club come calling.
The prospect of losing marquee players isn’t new to Moyes, but it may well be one that he feels he has outgrown.
Sure, Moyes has a decision to make. In the meantime, it is up to the players to ignore speculation over his future and ensure Everton's season is played out right until the final kick in May. I for one hope it is enough for the manager to extend his 11-year association with the club.