“What have The Romans ever done for us?”
John Cleese didn’t receive quite the response he expected when he posed that question in Monty Python’s comedy classic, Life of Brian.
“Better sanitation. And medicine. And education. Irrigation obviously. And public health. Of course the roads. A freshwater system and baths and public order…”
Yes, yes, but apart from all of that, what did the Romans ever really do?
David Moyes infamously won nothing during his 12-year spell in charge of Everton – and on the only occasion he returned to Goodison Park, as Manchester United manager in April 2014, he was not warmly received.
But what did David Moyes ever do for Everton?
Before his comeback with Sunderland this afternoon, we take a Romanesque look.
He restored lost pride
Everton’s Premier League positions in the six seasons prior to David Moyes’ arrival as manager had been wretched.
Indeed in the decade before he was appointed Everton manager the Blues had managed one single top half finish, in 1996 under Joe Royle.
In the decade which followed his appointment he reversed that trend spectacularly.
The 17th place finish in 2004 was the only time his teams finished outside of the top ten.
From two skin of the teeth relegation escapes in 1994 and 1998 – and successive finishes of 15th, 17th, 14th, 13th, 16th and 15th – Moyes guided Everton to seventh, 17th, fourth, 11th, sixth, fifth, fifth, eighth, seventh, seventh, sixth and fifth.
He gave a club back its pride.
He introduced a successful transfer policy
Walter Smith had turned to experience in a bid to restore Everton’s fading fortunes in the noughties.
But players like David Ginola, Jesper Blomqvist and Paul Gascoigne were as faded as the club they joined.
Moyes was more imaginative. After mixed experiments with Rodrigo from Brazil and Li Tie and Li Wei Feng from China, he successfully trawled the lower leagues in England, Ireland and Scotland for rough diamonds.
Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott and Seamus Coleman were inspired deals.
And when he did shop for experienced stars, driven individuals like Nigel Martyn and Phil Neville showed they still had the hunger to prove a point.
He connected with the fans
Yes really. Fans who mocked and catcalled after his bids to take Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini to Old Trafford on the cheap, had only months earlier given him a rapturous send off in his final Goodison game as Blues boss against West Ham.
At his introductory press conference 12-years earlier he had tapped into Evertonian consciousness – and irritated Liverpudlians – when he referred to his new charges as The People’s Club of Merseyside.
He had red hair but Blues fans didn’t care.
He finished fourth
Before Leicester City the Premier League was described as having a glass ceiling, a barrier that clubs outside of the usual Champions League qualifiers couldn’t crash through.
Until David Moyes guided Everton to fourth place in 2004.
It was his misfortune that the following season’s draw pitted Everton against one of Spain’s fastest rising sides – Villarreal went on to reach the semi-finals – and a referee brought out of retirement for one last hurrah.
But the fact remains, Everton’s only top four finish in almost 30 years was achieved by Moyes.
He got Everton to a Cup final
The defeat of Manchester United at Wembley in 2009 showed that Evertonians hadn’t forgotten how to celebrate – as the Blues reached a first Cup Final for 14 years.
Ultimately they didn’t have the quality to see off Chelsea in the Cup Final, but for 20 minutes at least they dared to dream following Louis Saha’s record-breaking strike.
He was respected by his peers
David Moyes was named Premier League Manager of the Month 10 times and was LMA Manager of the Year three times during his time at Goodison.
He blooded youth
It is a myth that Moyes mistrusted young players.
Of Everton’s five youngest players in history, four were blooded on his watch – Wayne Rooney, Jose Baxter, Jack Rodwell and James Vaughan.
Moyes was also behind the move to bring the first team and youth squads together on one site while in 2009 Everton had five youth academy products in their playing squad. Only Manchester United had more.
He enjoyed Everton’s biggest derby win for half-a-century
Moyes infamously failed to win a single match at Anfield during his time as Everton manager.
But in September 2006, at Goodison Park, the Blues beat their rivals 3-0.
It’s still Everton’s biggest defeat of their fiercest rivals for half-a-century.
So yes, David Moyes did try to snap up Baines and Fellaini on the cheap – and ended up with no silverware in the trophy cabinet. But he did do plenty for Everton Football Club.