Many people have touted David Moyes as the next manager of Manchester United when Fergie retires. Well if his dealings with the media last week are anything to go by, he has perfected Fergie’s art of mind games to a tee.
Last week started off with the BBC being banned from Everton’s FA Cup press call due to their rather bizarre decision to, in the week of Everton’s biggest game in years, run a montage of afro-headed Belgian Marouane Fellani’s flying elbow.
This came after a terrific game at Villa that finished 3-3 with no red cards or controversial moments. Moyes, understandably incensed and fearing a Fellaini red card at Wembley, chucked the Beeb out of Everton’s Finch Farm training ground.
Who else has a dodgy relationship with the BBC? Yes, Fergie.
A BBC documentary in 2004, called Father and Son, portrayed his agent son, Jason, as somebody who exploited his father’s influence and position to his own ends in the transfer market. Jason Ferguson was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, and Fergie has since said he would never speak to the BBC again, a promise he has kept. Instead we have to put up with the puzzled gaze of Mike Phelan when watching Match Of The Day.
Next up for Moyes, that other favourite topic -referees. I think anyone who knows anything about football will have let out a groan when Mike Riley was appointed to referee the game on Sunday. The Yorkshire whistle-blower has shown himself incompetent on a number of occasions, plus his habit for giving United penalties – and his supposed United leanings – has become a well-known topic for debate.
The question was inevitably raised by a journo and put to Moyes, who answered it in true Fergie style. He didn’t accuse Riley of supporting United (contrary to subsequent reports in the media) but he chose his words carefully enough to put pressure on the Yorkshire official to prove his impartiality.
Fast forward to Sunday, and the game locked at 0-0, Danny Wellbeck falls over Phil Jagielka’s legs in the area. Everton fans hold their breath, United supporters rise to their feet in Unison. Penalty surely? It’s United and Mike Riley after all?
But perhaps with the dulcet of Moyes echoing in his ears Riley waved play on, which gifted us the best moment of the game, the sight of an increasingly burgundy-faced Ferguson jumping up and down on the touchline like a child in a strop.
When Moyes was asked about the incident after the game, and whether his comments affected Riley’s judgement, he played it with a predictable straight bat, saying referees aren’t affected by what managers say.
You probably had to surgically remove Moyes’ tongue from his cheek after the interview, and I’m sure I could detect a smile hiding behind his stone-faced expression.
So, a week that began with a hatchet job on Fellaini, ended with a referee having to prove his impartiality – with a positive result for Everton.
Ferguson was beaten at his own game, and it’s a safe football bet that he didn’t like it.