DAVID MOYES’ first league win as a manager brought him to the edge of tears — and he still feels like crying now every time he secures a victory.
Moyes will send his West Ham side out for a Europa League group-stage clash at Genk on Thursday evening, marking his 1,000th game as a boss.
Qualifying for the knockouts would be a far cry from where it all started on a damp night at Macclesfield in the Auto Windscreens Shield 23 years ago.
But Moyes has given a glimpse of the sheer emotion involved in taking charge of a team.
And how he might have jacked it all in and ended up running a boys’ club in Scotland had he not got that first win for Preston at Bournemouth in February 1998.
Moyes said: “We won that cup game — but I didn’t win in the league for seven games.
“My first league win was at Bournemouth. And I nearly cried after it because I was that pleased I had won.
“To me it means so much when you’re a manager — you know that you are the one who is the fall guy if it doesn’t go right.
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“And for me at that time, if I’d have lost a couple of games more, I might have said, ‘Hey, maybe it’s just not for me’.”
The overwhelming emotion of that night down at Dean Court on February 28, 1998, having secured a 2-0 win for North End, was just the same as the 58-year-old felt on Sunday after the Hammers thumped Aston Villa 4-1.
Moyes added: “Yes, one hundred per cent.
“I’m crying during it sometimes at some of the performances!
“Football is an emotional game, it can get you at times.
“We all put on a football face but deep down we’re all really emotional and we want to win, we want to be successful.
“We know that you’re judged every week, everybody has got an opinion now and sometimes the way you’re being judged doesn’t always make you out to be the best person.
“But I never thought when I was starting to become a manager that I would go on to be managing at the top of the Premier League.
“Or that nearly all my games would be in the Premier League.
“I was always hoping that I could stay in football, that I might become a boys’ team manager, a youth team job — or even that I would run a social club or something.
“My father ran a boys’ team in Glasgow. He was booking the pitches, the opposition, making sure all the players were turning up at the right time at the right place.
“So I was brought up in that. My mum used to wash the strips and hang them out on the line on a Sunday after the game.
“And I was packing them up and folding them!
“If I look back, it gives me a lot of fond memories, because I think my family were really heavily involved.”
The Moyes of 2021 is a reborn figure in top-flight management — proving once and for all he is up there with the best having endured bitter disappointments during stints at Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland.
He has West Ham sitting fourth in the table — level on points with Manchester City — having knocked Pep Guardiola’s side out of the Carabao Cup for good measure.
In doing so, Moyes has overcome the massive blow of being dumped by the Hammers in favour of Manuel Pellegrini after his first spell in charge in 2018.
But he has now emphatically shown his talents are not limited to the successful 11 years spent in charge of Everton.
The Scot admitted: “That time was really tough.
“We thought we had done a really good job at West Ham and actually we had made plans.
“I had met a couple of players who I thought were coming in for the next period because I thought we were going on — and then out of the blue it wasn’t there.
“It was a shock. Was it a disappointing time? Yes it was.”
It was his consistent results at Goodison Park that convinced Sir Alex Ferguson he was the right man to succeed him as United manager.
And Moyes now thinks the current model is better than the one who turned Everton into a top club for more than a decade.
He added: “When I was leaving Everton, that was probably the strongest I had felt, because I had done so well.
“We had season after season at a consistent level.
“But when I think about it now, I look back and say, ‘No, maybe I had another couple more steps to go, more things to learn’.
“We all get a bit wiser with age and look at things a bit differently, make decisions slightly better.
“But I think at the moment I’m certainly more relaxed.
‘THIS HAS BEEN MY BEST TIME’
“Overall, this has been my best time, the best feeling. We’re on the fast train as quick as we can to the top — and I don’t want to get off.
“I was certainly disappointed after Manchester United, because I was offered the job by Sir Alex.
“Sir Alex in many ways is the pinnacle of what people see in football in this country.
“To get that opportunity, it was something I felt I had to take.
“But the lift I got from the Real Sociedad job when I came out of Manchester United and went to Spain, it was an unbelievable feeling to go and work in a country where we’ve got to say the best footballers come from.
“The journey from there was great and it was a really good time.
“Sometimes you have to have the bad times to get some good times and get more opportunities.
“For me, it was to help show some people that you don’t get offered the big jobs if you haven’t already done something right.
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“My feeling was that if I can’t be at Manchester United, then I have to get back to the level I was at with Everton — and use my experience of those jobs.
“West Ham is a good club for me and I am really grateful to the owners for bringing me back.
“Sometimes when you are put in a position it’s very hard to fight back but the owners have given me that chance — and now I am going to keep throwing more punches.”
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