LONDON – David Moyes accepted the praise and plaudits in his typically unassuming manner.
Privately, the Everton manager would have been punching the air with joy after his hugely impressive team defeated Manchester United 1-0, but as usual he gave credit to his players though he was moved to say: “The last time I can remember that we had a good start, we finished in a Champions League spot [in 2005].”
The Everton team that beat United cost £46 million, roughly what United paid for substitutes Robin van Persie and Anderson.
Few managers have an eye for a rough diamond that Moyes possesses. During his 10 years in charge at Goodison Park he has consistently signed overseas players few had heard of, quickly becoming Premier League stars.
He has also dipped into the Football League to unearth lower division gems and nobody has done this better than Moyes.
Defenders Phil Jagielka (£4 million from Sheffield United), Sylvain Distin (£5 million from Portsmouth) and Leighton Baines (£6 million from Wigan) are typical Moyes successes.
He paid Manchester United £3 million for Tim Howard five years ago and the American goalkeeper has been a model of Premier League consistency.
Even Moyes, who has made bargain hunting an art form, will struggle to better the £1.5 million Everton paid for Tim Cahill from Millwall, who joined the New York Red Bulls last month after eight prolific years.
It was Marouane Fellaini who headed the winner against United, the Belgium international described as “unplayable” by a number of observers after the way the 193-cm midfielder dominated the match.
The curly-haired Fellaini cost what is still a club-record £15 million from Standard Liege in 2008 and from being a defensive ball-winner has developed into a highly effective second striker.
It is a surprise Fellaini is still with Everton. United and Arsenal have never successfully replaced Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, the two most influential midfield enforcers of their generation and, apart from YaYa Toure of Manchester City, Fellaini is the best all-around midfield player in the Premier League.
Even more puzzling is why Moyes has not been approached by clubs whose spending powers would give the Scot, who works on a shoestring budget at Everton, more chance of winning a trophy.
In the last 10 years Newcastle has changed its manager eight times, Chelsea six and Spurs five, but mysteriously Moyes does not seem to have been on their radar.
Moyes is the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League after Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger; he also has valid claims to be the third-best manager behind the elite pair, which makes it even more puzzling that Moyes has remained at Goodison Park.
Many believe Moyes would be the ideal replacement for Ferguson at United. That he has never won a domestic trophy is because United, City and Chelsea, which have dominated the honors board in recent years, have financial clout that Everton cannot match.
Yet year after year, Everton has punched above its weight class, finishing sixth, fifth, fifth, eighth and seventh in the last five seasons. You can bet that when Ferguson eventually retires, he will have the final say on his successor and he has made no secret of his admiration for his fellow Scot.
The best things in life are usually worth waiting for.
FOR PUSHING assistant referee Peter Kirkup in last Saturday’s match against Tottenham, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew must watch a few games from the directors’ box, the club no doubt paying the Football Association fine.
What a waste of time.
Why does the F.A. even bother to charge managers for misconduct when they hand out sanctions that are non-punishments?
Does it not occur to the suits who run the English game that it is because their disciplinary system is so pathetically weak that managers continue to offend?
When Swindon manager Paolo di Canio was given a touchline ban by the F.A., he thanked them for enabling him to watch his team from a better vantage point than the dugout.
If a county footballer had been guilty of what Pardew did, the recommended sanction is a 182-day ban. The F.A. prefers the managerial equivalent of 100 lines.
Unless the F.A. adopts UEFA’s version of a touchline ban, whereby the manager can have no contact with his players from arriving at the stadium until the final whistle, Premier League and Football League managers will continue to abuse referees.
Managers who are serial referee baiters in English football are on their best behavior in the Champions League or the Europa League because they know UEFA’s punishment effectively prevents them from doing their match day job.
As Pardew was sent to the stand at St. James’ Park he was given a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with the bench.
The reason the F.A. goes easy on managers is that its disciplinary procedures are drawn up in conjunction with all the domestic authorities, including the League Managers’ Association.
The words turkey, Christmas and voting spring to mind.
MICHAEL OWEN, who scored 40 goals for England between 1998 and 2008, is likely to retire unless he can find a club by the end of the transfer window on Aug. 31.
Owen, 32, was released by Manchester United this summer and Stoke was interested in signing the striker, but apparently could not meet his wage demands.
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.