Sunderland boss David Moyes believes his Everton counterpart Ronald Koeman still has some way to go if he is to match his own achievements during his 11-year reign at Goodison Park.
Moyes returns to his former club on Saturday for only the second time since departing for Manchester United in 2013, having capped his reign by leading the them into the Champions League qualifiers in 2005.
Moyes said: “I think he (Koeman) is doing a good job. They (Everton) want to compete with the top clubs but I still think there’s a bit to do to break into it.
“We were fortunate in that we did break into it when we got into the Champions League, so maybe looking back it just shows you what level of achievement that actually was.”
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Moyes, whose only previous return to Goodison was in April 2014 when a 2-0 defeat hastened his departure from Old Trafford, now leads his Sunderland side back to Merseyside in a desperate search for points.
Moyes added: “I will go back with incredible memories of the place.
“We got the support from the board to rebuild the club and we went on to qualify for the Champions League which should never be forgotten, and on a limited budget as well.
“I still speak to people at the club and it will be good to see a lot of them again. I’ve got great memories of some great days and nights at Goodison but I want to go back and win for Sunderland.”
Moyes whisked his first team squad off for a short break in New York in the wake of their 4-0 thumping by Southampton at the Stadium of Light a fortnight ago which left them firmly entrenched in the bottom three.
But Moyes – who will take a host of former Evertonians back with him to Goodison including Bryan Oviedo, Joleon Lescott and Darron Gibson – has been boosted by the likely return of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The home-grown star had earned rave reviews before being sidelined by a knee injury on Boxing Day, and his comeback could be timely with current number one Vito Mannone struggling to prop up his side’s shaky defence.
Moyes added: “I’ve got a choice to make between the goalkeepers. Jordan is back in training and we just have to see if we think he’s ready. He’s trained and looked fine but obviously he’s had the best part of eight weeks out.”
The importance of an influential number one is not lost on Moyes, who harked back to his Everton days again when he picked Nigel Martyn as his best signing from over a decade at the club.
Martyn was picked up on a free transfer from Leeds in 2003 and went on to make 86 appearances for the club, playing a crucial role in the fourth place finish which would book Champions League football in 2005.
Moyes added: “I took Nigel Martyn from Leeds for nothing – I had my Tim Cahills, Leighton Baineses, Phil Jagielkas, Mikel Artetas, but I just felt Nigel came in with a great level of experience at the time and was a great goalkeeper for us as well.”
Another former Evertonian, Steven Pienaar, is set to miss out on a Goodison return after picking up a minor calf injury, while defender Jan Kirchhoff is still unavailable and Papy Djilobodji serves the last of his four-game ban.