David Moyess strangely dated mindset and transfer failures are in large part to blame for Sunderlands relegation and there will be few tears if he leaves the job
Within hours of becoming Sunderlands manager last July David Moyes boarded a privately chartered plane. He and the team were bound for a French training camp but an ominous grinding noise from the engines and slightly tense looks exchanged among the cabin crew soon confirmed they would be making a detour.
Engine failure had prompted an awkward emergency landing. With the benefit of hindsight, it seemed an ominously emblematic portent of an impending season destined to conclude with the club bumping down hard into the Championship and Moyess carefully burnished reputation in ruins.
The harbingers of trouble ahead did not end there. About to touch down at a small Austrian airport before a pre-season friendly, Sunderlands plane subsequently endured a further drama. With a safe landing deemed impossible, the engines throttled ferociously, the aircrafts noise pitched violently upwards and a shaken Moyes realised they were, in aviation parlance, going round, in other words taking off again.
Although it set lights flashing and alarms buzzing while briefly electrifying the atmosphere in the air traffic control tower, the pilot landed at the second attempt and always seemed to have a potentially high-risk situation under control. In sharp contrast Sunderlands manager never really had a grip on a toxic Wearside inheritance.
With relegation confirmed by Saturdays 1-0 home defeat against Bournemouth, Moyes has dropped heavy hints he could well shortly part company with the club and, if so, there will be few tears. The former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager may be only 54 but his strangely dated mind-set has arguably exacerbated Sunderlands long-standing stasis.
If, off the pitch, his observations that two of his African players, Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong, required more Britishness in their football jarred, on it, Sunderlands tactics have frequently seemed somewhat binary for a division filled with kaleidoscopic positional rotation and ever shifting systems. Some players reputedly found training slightly old-fashioned.
The impression this may be a man stuck in his ways and reluctant to challenge received wisdoms was reinforced when Moyes claimed teams dont win things with back threes.
Further question marks appeared when a manager who spent 30m last summer set about signing several players he had previously worked with at Everton and Manchester United, including Victor Anichebe and the United loanee Adnan Januzaj.
Having failed properly to address the squads chronic lack of pace and creativity, Sunderlands seventh manager in five turbulent years consistently sidelined the gifted Wahbi Khazri, a playmaking success under Sam Allardyce last spring.
Sunderland fans cannot comprehend why Allardyces successor failed to acquire the former France midfielder Yann MVila, outstanding on loan last season, and available for 7m from Rubin Kazan, but Moyes was fast discovering that, to echo Kevin Keegan, the job wasnt like it said in the brochure.
If he possibly did not fight hard enough for MVila, Sunderlands dismal recent performances should be assessed in the context of some significant managerial mitigating factors.
Last July Moyes was unaware that Ellis Short, the owner and a man initially delighted to secure the Scots services at the fifth attempt, hoped to sell the club. Neither did he appreciate the scale of the debt currently 110m with wages representing an alarming 78% of turnover.
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