How David Moyes will react to crisis: ‘He won’t be frightened at all’ | Andy Hunter

Besieged Manchester United manager will work even harder and not blame others, say those who were close to him at Everton

David Moyes hosted a lunch before his final game as Everton manager with journalists whose faces and questions he had endured for 11 gruelling years at Goodison Park. The talk centred on Moyes's impending move to Manchester United and flowed until the Scot claimed the scrutiny he and his family had encountered in recent days would lessen once he officially succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson on 1 July. There was an awkward silence around the table before it was explained to him that, no, it is going to get a whole lot worse from here on in.

Moyes knew all about the expectation at Old Trafford before Ferguson offered him English football's truly impossible job in early May. Less so about the daily and global examination that came with it, as that lunchtime exchange revealed. He knows now.

As Everton manager he overcame graver crises than losing three games in a week, as United have just done for the first time since 1992, four defeats in five home matches or trailing the league leaders by 11 points at the start of a new year.

Criticism can be intense at Goodison, vitriolic even (and Moyes was not adverse to the occasional "up yours" salute following an interrogation by the Gwladys Street or having a run-in with the media) but Everton's results do not shape national or international news bulletins. Moyes's suitability and competence were not called into question after his first FA Cup tie as Everton manager ended in a 2-1 third-round defeat, identical to his start with United but with the added ignominy of losing to a Shrewsbury Town team relegated from the Football League at the end of that 2002-03 campaign.

The pressures at United are unique to the Premier League and Moyes can be sensitive to criticism just like his Glaswegian predecessor. But his response will be the same as it was at Preston North End and Everton; it will start from within, and by addressing the things he can control rather than outside factors – such as the glare on United – that he cannot.

"The first thing he will do is have a look at what he is doing," explained Alan Irvine, Moyes's assistant manager during his first six years at Everton and now the club's academy director. "He has always been one who investigates what he has done and whether it could have been done better or differently. He is not someone who will look for a whole load of excuses and attempt to blame other people.

"He will, if it's possible, work even harder and he is already someone with a fantastic work ethic. He will do whatever he has to do to find a solution to a particular problem. Quite often he'll go back to basics and the things he knows have worked in the past and will work again. It is very much a case of him looking inwards first of all and seeing what he can do to make the situation better. He won't be frightened by it at all. The biggest thing about him is that he doesn't look to blame other people and the first person he looks at is himself, sometimes wrongly in my opinion."

Moyes, with Irvine alongside him, repaired fundamental problems at Everton before reviving the club on a consistent basis. Most of the problems, it is worth noting given the Scot's current predicament at Old Trafford, where Swansea City return on Saturday seeking a repeat of their FA Cup triumph, arrived in the early years when he sought to repair an imbalanced squad while convincing strong, experienced characters of his worth. Not that he inherited a title-winning team at Everton as he did at United, admittedly.

The Scot's second full season at Everton, 2003-04, ended with the club one place above the relegation zone. They had effectively sealed their Premier League status in April before embarking on a six-game winless run that sent the club plummeting before a summer in which Wayne Rooney moved to United and the former Everton director Paul Gregg engaged in a bitter takeover battle with the chairman, Bill Kenwright. Gregg lost out and the following season, with roughly £2m spent on Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent, Moyes guided Everton to a fourth-place finish and a place in the Champions League qualifiers.

Kevin Kilbane, a key part of that Everton side, recalls: "That was probably his most testing moment as Everton manager. If the takeover had gone through he probably would have lost his job, that was the talk at the time. I remember in pre-season we went to Crewe and lost, Burnley and lost, Wayne was obviously on his way to Man United and there was a really negative feel around the club.

"David's response was to work double-time. He will work through a problem, that's what he likes to do, and that works for him. I think he has got his rewards for how he has dealt with those testing times. They are the moments when he has shown his true worth.

"A turning point in that 04-05 season was in the second game when we came from behind to win at Crystal Palace with 10 men. All of a sudden he seemed to have a lot more trust in his players and a lot more trust in everybody around him. He didn't have money to spend, he couldn't make 10 to 15 signings. Instead, he got the best out of everybody who was at the club at that time. He had good, strong characters in the squad and he utilised that and got his reward from working double-time. We all knew he'd still be at the training ground at 8pm, 9pm, watching videos and talking to his staff."

Kilbane adds: "He is an intense manager who wants to get the best out of himself. He wants to get the best out of everyone. In training, during good times or bad, he never really changed. His demand for excellence was always there. He will give you his all. He worked me probably the hardest I've ever been worked in my career and got the best out of me, simply because of the demands I had to put on myself to be right for training every day."

Double the work rate, demand the best; those who have worked closely with Moyes over the years say similar things about how he will handle the incessant storm at Old Trafford. As Everton manager he won only one of the first 14 games of the 2005-06 season, exiting the Champions League and Uefa Cup at the first hurdle in the process, endured a run of one win in 11 in the winter of 2009 and even last season oversaw a calamitous FA Cup quarter-final defeat at home to Wigan Athletic, managed by one Roberto Martínez. The following week Everton beat the defending league champions Manchester City 2-0 with 10 men.

"I don't know anyone who has had a more thorough apprenticeship than David had," Irvine adds. "People need to understand he was coming into a very difficult job. I've heard a number of things said about David recently but the fact of the matter is David Moyes is a fantastic manager. He will be a fantastic manager for Manchester United because he attacks things in the right way. He is having a difficult period at this time but I don't think that is completely unexpected." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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