David Moyes is the Premier League's eldest statesman

‘I might be the oldest – but I feel good and ready to go!’: David Moyes is the Premier League’s eldest statesman but the West Ham boss is ready for another crack at upsetting the big beasts

  • West Ham United boss David Moyes is the Premier League’s eldest statesman
  • The Hammers will open the new season against champions Manchester City
  • The 59-year-old Scotsman is hoping to upset the top-flights major clubs again 

Evian-les-Bains doesn’t shout about its place in literary history — how it was here in this picturesque pocket of south-eastern France that Victor Frankenstein’s wife, Elizabeth, was strangled by his monster in their bridal suite in Mary Shelley’s gothic horror.

The clientele that check into the five-star Hotel Royal Palace wouldn’t be enthralled to read about that on a plaque in reception, least of all the honeymooners. 

Yet as Sportsmail sits with David Moyes on the patio overlooking Lake Geneva, the conversation soon turns to talk of another monster.

West Ham United boss David Moyes (pictured) is the Premier League’s eldest statesman

West Ham will open the new Premier League season against Manchester City at the London Stadium, meaning Moyes’s men will be the first to try to chase Erling Haaland out of town, minus the pitchforks.

The 59-year-old Glaswegian isn’t fazed about facing the striker who scored a 20-minute hat-trick on his Borussia Dortmund debut. 

Instead he says he’s energised at the thought of starting another season with a bang in front of 62,500 West Ham fans in a month’s time.

The 59-year-old is not fazed about facing Manchester City’s Erling Haaland on the opening day

Even if he is, in his own words, now the ‘old git of the Premier League’.

‘I didn’t know that!’ Moyes says when informed he is now the oldest manager operating in England’s top flight. 

‘I need Roy (Hodgson) to come back. Bring back Tony Pulis. Or Harry (Redknapp). I can’t believe it. I’m not that old!

‘I still feel good and ready to go. Maybe football is a young man’s game but there’s room for more experienced managers as well. I hope there is, anyway.’

Retired club captain Mark Noble’s parting words to Craig Dawson seem fitting now more than ever. 

‘I’ll be lying on a beach,’ Noble told the central defender on his way out, ‘while you’ll be chasing Haaland’.

Moyes chuckles. ‘It feels as if we only played City two weeks ago. We went 2-0 up but drew 2-2. Here we go again.

‘The problem is Haaland has a team around him — 10 other players and one of the world’s best managers on the touchline. 

‘He’ll get over it quite quickly — being new to the English game — because he’s at a top football club.’

West Ham’s defenders will want to give Haaland a harsh welcome to the Premier League, much like the one Moyes received 20 years ago.

It is now two decades since Moyes’s Premier League managerial debut with Everton. He beat Fulham 2-1, then Derby 4-3, then lost 6-2 to Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle.

It is now two decades since Moyes’s Premier League managerial debut with Everton

‘Sir Bobby said, “Welcome to the Premier League”,’ recalls Moyes. ‘I’ll never forget that. I went, “Oh, you bugger!” It was a sharp warning from someone incredibly experienced — a “settle down, young man, you don’t think this is all going to be easy, do you?”

‘I’ve still got a letter from Sir Bobby at home. I wrote to him when I was starting out in coaching with Preston because I wanted to go to Barcelona to watch one of his training sessions.

‘I didn’t get a reply and didn’t think I’d get one. Then three months later, I got a letter from Sir Bobby, “I’m really sorry, your letter was at the bottom of the pile”. 

Then he added, “But I think I’m about to lose my job to Louis van Gaal”. I didn’t get to go to Barcelona, but I still remember that handwritten letter. It taught me a lot about being a manager.’

Not only the cut-throat nature but the importance of the personal touch. ‘It was the same with Sir Alex (Ferguson),’ continues Moyes. 

‘Sir Alex was great at phoning managers when things weren’t good and wanting to help. He was competitive but also someone who thought about others.’

Moyes has spoken about Manchester United (‘it didn’t work and I didn’t do well enough in it’). 

About Real Sociedad (‘I wouldn’t change it. I had a great experience. Beating Barcelona at home was fantastic’). About Sunderland (‘it wasn’t a good move and I didn’t enjoy the experience’).

That’s all in the past and we’re here to talk the future with West Ham. There are 58 days left in the transfer window when we meet and over the course of two hours, Moyes nips away to answer and make several phone calls.

Busy? ‘Extremely,’ he says, explaining he tried to go on holiday to Florida with his wife, Pamela, but was glued to his mobile phone. 

‘At Real Sociedad I had a sporting director but the manager ought to be the one making the final decisions on the ins and outs. We’re the ones who get hired and fired.’

Moyes went to watch Joleon Lescott 24 times when Everton manager before deciding to sign him over Robert Huth. 

Moyes went to watch Joleon Lescott 24 times when at Everton before deciding to sign him

He doesn’t have time for those field trips any more, and he says the rumour mill has been working overtime. ‘We’ve been linked with, what, 80 players? There’s a lot of noise out there.’

Fake news, in other words. What’s real is West Ham have signed defender Nayef Aguerd for £30million from Rennes, midfielder Flynn Downes from Swansea for £12m and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola for £10.5m from Paris Saint-Germain.

Jesse Lingard remains a target, though there are a group of Premier League clubs competing for the 29-year-old free agent. 

Talk of Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma has gone cold but the chase for Chelsea’s Armando Broja is hotting up.

Jesse Lingard remains a target for West Ham, although they face plenty of competition

West Ham saw an offer turned down for Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips in January and he’s since signed for Manchester City for £45m. ‘We bid more than that,’ says Moyes, disappointed.

‘We’re trying to be competitive with the big teams. If we can’t, we have to find another way of keeping up with them.’

West Ham used the third-fewest players of any top-flight club in 2021-22 and made the second-fewest substitutions.

West Ham used the third-fewest players of any top-flight club in the 2021-22 campaign

Moyes doesn’t read too much into those statistics — ‘Leicester won the Premier League with the fewest players,’ he says correctly — but he concedes they need reinforcements, so long as they don’t sign any old Tom, Dick or Harry.

‘West Ham supporters are no mugs. They know when a player is committed. In the great old days, this club had top England internationals. 

‘We’ve certainly got one — in Declan Rice — and hopefully we’re on the way to having a second top one — in Jarrod Bowen. 

‘We’ve lost Noble, Andriy Yarmolenko, some other boys from the squad, so we’re well aware we need to add to it.’

I ask the inevitable question about Rice, their £150m man. ‘No bids,’ says Moyes of the new club captain. ‘We wouldn’t be taking any, anyway. We’ve said all along he’s not for sale.’

Moyes knows he needs to add to the squad after losing Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko

This tranquil spa town is a long way from the hustle and bustle of Stratford, east London. A waitress brings six bottles of water to the table, placing them by Moyes’s whistle and stopwatch.

‘You’ll only get Evian here,’ she says, smiling, ‘so don’t ask us for anything else.’

While we’re here in France, Arsenal and Chelsea are flying to America, Tottenham to South Korea, and Liverpool to Thailand then to Singapore.

Moyes recalls travelling 24,000 miles and covering five cities in four countries after becoming Manchester United manager in 2013. It wasn’t ideal, but he says that’s what’s needed when a club is in demand.

‘It’s important that West Ham are doing that in the future — getting out there in the world and being seen. It’s what you do as a club when you’re growing.

‘We had offers but I felt because of the short break, and with the World Cup coming up, it was better not to go to Australia this summer. The club were very good — they supported my decision.’

The Hammers spent a week in Scotland and are now in the Swiss city of Lausanne

Looking over at the Swiss city of Lausanne on the other side of Lake Geneva, he adds: ‘For now, we’re enjoying the view here in Evian.’ Despite the serenity, West Ham’s players have endured a testing pre-season. 

‘They spent a week in Scotland where they did drills on the beach where the famous running scene in Chariots of Fire was filmed.

Now they’ve completed a second week in Evian — one of daily double sessions, one at 10.30am and the other at 5pm — before finishing it with a friendly against Swiss side Servette in Geneva.

‘We’ve had a laugh about pre-seasons in years gone by, when players would come back half a stone overweight and wear bin bags to try to sweat it off,’ says Moyes. ‘It’s different now. Players look after themselves. It’s just about getting them match-ready.’

He’s still waiting on others to return, including Rice, who played 58 games for club and country last season. The England midfielder is among those being afforded an extended break.

Stuart Pearce has left West Ham’s backroom staff to seek a better work-life balance — ‘Psycho’ will still work in a consultancy role from time to time — but Mark Warburton has joined.

Will Noble follow? ‘We’ll bring him in somewhere. He wants to be involved. He’s been training to be the likes of a sporting director in the future.’

An interesting idea and one which would ease the workload on Moyes who, right now, appears part-manager and part-director of football.

With that, his phone is buzzing and he’s got to go. There are deals to be done before the squad’s second session of the day. 

‘See you back in London,’ says the Premier League’s eldest statesman, excited as ever to try to take West Ham to the next level.

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