Football Psychology: David Moyes – Beyond Everton

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Football PsychologyIt was always going to be one of the most difficult jobs in football. How do you follow someone who has achieved managerial mastership?

For David Moyes, the Manchester United job was hardly one he could say no to. But, at what stage in his steady career progression from Preston North End to Everton, did he begin preparing in his mind to take over the mantle from Sir Alex?

Perhaps he never did. In other words, that he never projected into the possibility of being manager of Manchester United. And thus since he took the job, an huge internal alignment has been called for.

An alignment that matches his own view of himself, with the stature and presence required to manage at Old Trafford. For managing Everton and managing Manchester United are two entirely different propositions.

The great managers, such as Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger, Clough, Shankly, exude an aura. An aura that comes from their certainty that they know how to help top players win matches. It means that you can be presented with any high level football challenge thrown at you, and find a solution.

Players feel that belief and certainty these managers exude and feed off it. Thrive on it. They trust you as a manager to lead them to success.

David Moyes created that trust at Goodison Park. But that trust was not a trust that led to winning trophies. It was a trust in how to create a combative, organised, spirited group of players that could hold their own in the Premier League.

David Moyes didn’t win a trophy at Goodison. So therefore does he think of himself of being a trophy winning manager? Does this lack of silverware lead to any self-doubt? Am I good enough as a leader to compete and challenge the very best? What if the answer is uncertain?

And what if the players feel that uncertainty. Moyes may have the belief that to succeed you have to work incredibly hard. And at Everton that worked. But at Old Trafford at different formula is required. A formula designed to develop and liberate the talent in his players.

What if David Moyes values hard-work more than creativity. Does he trust creative players. Does he know how to develop creativity? What if he doesn’t? And what if his staff don’t either?

How will the creative players at Old Trafford respond to that? For the reality is, that what worked at Everton won’t work at Manchester United. The top players want to be stimulated with creative training methods that inspire them. That challenge their talent.

David Moyes cannot stick with what has worked in the past for him. He has to find new ways and means that go way beyond turning Manchester United into a superior version of Everton. And that means going into the unknown of himself. The unknown where he upgrades his own values and beliefs, into ones that match the values and beliefs of Manchester United.

It won’t be an easy journey. But if he is prepared to take it, he can liberate himself, and in turn his players.