Belfast Telegraph

David Moyes is making Real progress as a manager in Spain

By Steven Beacom

David Moyes somehow kept his emotions in check. After all the criticism and the cruel jokes at his expense following his early Manchester United exit, the Scot probably wanted to run on to the pitch, jump up and down in the centre circle and roar into a camera lens... "See... I'm NOT useless, I AM a good manager and I CAN beat big teams..."

Instead, having watched his Real Sociedad side defeat mighty Barcelona 1-0 in La Liga on Sunday, he stayed calm, shook hands with several opposing players, including the great Lionel Messi, and went on his way to conduct a sincere, but never smug, press conference in which he told reporters he had just experienced his "happiest night" since becoming boss of the San Sebastian outfit in November.

Barcelona and their under-fire boss Luis Enrique, who I'm sure Moyes can sympathise with, may be having issues at the moment and Messi plus Neymar only came on in the second half with their team already trailing, but still, this was a spectacular victory for the 51-year-old.

It was hugely satisfying for his assistant Billy McKinlay too.

While you'll recall the hasty departure of Moyes from Old Trafford, McKinlay's rough treatment at his previous club, Watford, beggared belief.

He lasted just EIGHT days with the Championship side and this following a win and a draw in his two games in charge!

Three months on, the pair of Jocks masterminded a memorable success over one of the finest groups of players ever assembled.

It's true what Jimmy Greaves said you know, football really is a funny old game.

And isn't it pleasing that Moyes, a decent man, has something to smile about again after his misery in Manchester?

When he replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2013, hand picked by the knight himself, many in the game felt it was the perfect fit.

The Theatre of Dreams, though, became a nightmare for Moyes with opponents arriving at the iconic venue free of the influential Ferguson in their minds, believing that they could go home with a famous victory rather than fearing a hiding.

Soon the word was out.

United were there for the taking and too many did, especially Liverpool and Manchester City, who travelled short distances to each hammer the Red Devils 3-0 late in the campaign. Ultimately, those two embarrassingly one-sided games cost Moyes his job because the supporters and the Glazers simply couldn't take any more.

They didn't even let him see out the full season.

Moyes felt let down and while he didn't help himself, often sending his team out as if they were playing for Everton and not Manchester United, he was hindered by the inexperience of new Chief Executive Ed Woodward in the transfer market and by under-performing players, some of whom never showed the man after THE man the respect he merited.

For the numerous poor performances, all the failure and the way it was portrayed, with Moyes labelled a laughing stock, he wasn't short of offers when he was shoved out of the Old Trafford door.

Few though thought that the one he'd accept would be in foreign fields.

While Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers, with his ability to speak several languages, is seen as an ideal candidate to manage abroad one day, football people would tell you that old style Moyes was never viewed that way. He was British football through and through, yet to his credit the Glaswegian got his passport out and took the plunge.

He has much to do at Real Sociedad, but that weekend victory over Barcelona, secured with hard work and organisation, has shown him in a positive light again first shone his way during his Preston and Everton days.

Moyes won't manage a massive club like United again - the truth is I'm not convinced he is equipped to do that - but by continuing to deliver in La Liga he can restore his credibility which had seemingly been lost forever in Manchester.

Belfast Telegraph

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