Its fashionable right now to criticise David Moyes. Read most pundits take on matters and his style of management has been found out at the big club that is Manchester United. He's too defensive. Too negative. His substitutions lack tactical awareness - tending to be a winger for a winger.
People also compare Moyes unfavourably to his replacement at Everton - Roberto Martinez. In the imagination Martinez has become everything Moyes is not. His tactics are attacking and his teams expansive. I feel these criticisms are harsh and overly simplistic.
One particular criticism of Moyes is I feel particular unfair. There is a line of attack against Moyes that the fact that he didn't give Ross Barkley more game time shows that he is a footballing simpleton who cannot recognise a world class talent when he is playing literally under his nose.
This criticism goes too far. For starters, Moyes did recognise Ross Barkley's talent early, giving him his debut against QPR in the first game of the 2011/12 season. This first appearance would probably have come earlier, but his progress was halted when Barkley sustained a leg break in an England Under 19s match.
This leg break slowed Barkley's progress and thus Moyes restricted his first-team appearances. You might say that Barkley should have been playing more for Everton.
Fortunately, we have evidence that this isn't the case. Barkley was loaned out to Championship sides Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United. At both teams he failed to impress and his appearances were limited.
The likely explanation for this is that these managers came to realise what Moyes had already determined. Barkley, the impressive talent that he is, wasn't playing particularly well. Maybe it was the leg break. Maybe it was just a natural peak and trough of a youngster. Whatever it was, there is ample reason to think that it is a view Moyes and the other managers were right to hold.
If you're not convinced, let me offer you the example of Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey suffered a few tough years after breaking his leg. This season, however, he is one of the best players in the league after improving leaps and bounds during pre-season.
There is every reason to think that Barkley has experienced his 'magical' pre-season where he has improved also.
This makes more sense that Moyes being completely unable to spot that he is in fact quite a good player.
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