If David Moyes can inspire Everton FC to the group stage, he will have gone some way to emulating his idol.
By Alison Ratcliffe
With a UEFA Champions League debut looming for her husband's team, Pamela Moyes did not have the best summer. "I took my wife to Milan for our anniversary," said Everton FC manager David Moyes. "Then I took her to see the Italian Cup final, which, as you can imagine, was the thrill of the weekend for her."
Moyes has long been a dedicated observer of the game, watching the best teams training and playing at every opportunity. He watched the Czech Republic train at UEFA EURO '96™ and France at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. "Football's something I really enjoy. I enjoy watching good games and good teams," he said.
Passed over in favour of Steve McClaren when Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson was looking for a new assistant back in 1999, Moyes's playing career saw him win a championship medal with Celtic FC before spells as a centre-half at a number of lower league sides in England and Scotland.
"The feelings of winning and losing are what you become a footballer for," he said, as he reflected on his playing days. "Probably not being at the top level of football gave me time to do my coaching badges very early and to start getting a real interest in coaching and managing."
Moyes took his first coaching badge at 22, but his managerial bent took root at a much earlier age. His dad coached at Drumchapel Amateurs FC, the Glasgow club with a glittering alumni list that includes Sir Alex - whom Moyes has asked for advice on the forthcoming European campaign - Walter Smith, and Moyes himself.
He said: "What I was watching from my dad rubbed off on me - how you organise a boys' team, making sure all the players know what time to turn up, where to meet, organising the referee, the linesman, putting up the nets, watching my mum washing all the shirts on a Sunday after the games."
Moyes has long since mastered such managerial basics, but what has made him notable in English football is his interest in team psychology - he has even had players listening to Mozart before a game. "I try to remember what it was like to be a player," he said. "I try to think like them."
Everton's effective, if occasionally maligned, 4-5-1 system is not Moyes' footballing ideal, but a pragmatic choice. "You have to build a system around the players," he explained. "The players must believe in the way you want to play, not the way you think is the right way."
Moyes is backed by assistant Alan Irvine, a former Everton player and coach Jimmy Lumsden. "Jimmy was actually my youth team coach when I started out at Celtic," said Moyes. "He didn't turn me into a player, so I don't know why I've kept him! He's a bit older and wiser. He's someone I use as a sounding board."
Their paths crossed thanks to one of Moyes's great heroes, Jock Stein, who recommended that Celtic sign Moyes from Celtic Boys' Club. Like Stein, Moyes is fearsomely intense, sharing the "drive and determination" which makes the Scottish managerial bloodline so rich.
If he can inspire Everton to the Champions League group stage, he will have gone some way to emulating his idol.
This is an abridged version of an article that appears in issue 12 of Champions, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League. Click here to subscribe.