So it’s been one of football’s good news stories to see how the Scot has rediscovered his mojo to the extent that those same Hammers supporters now refer to him as the ‘Moyesiah.’
This afternoon at the London Stadium, he has the chance to show United just how good he is.
But the reality is that, regardless of the result when West Ham face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, David Moyes is a top-class manager.
What we are witnessing is, how unlike his ill-fated spell at Old Trafford, he is benefitting from the one precious commodity that enabled him to build his reputation at Preston North End and Everton: time.
It would have been easy for the Hammers’ hierarchy to have thanked David and sent him on his way after he had kept them in the Premier League in 2020 after succeeding Manuel Pellegrini.
Action Images via Reuters)
After all, a 20-point haul from 19 games was hardly evidence of a success story waiting to happen – especially when you take into account that it was only one point more than Pellegrini had taken during his final 19 games at the club.
And, of course, West Ham had also parted company with Moyes two years earlier, after he had successfully completed another rescue mission to keep them in the top-flight.
This time, however, the Hammers stood by their man – and are now reaping the rewards of a European campaign after a sixth-placed finish last season on the back of a club-record 65 Premier League points.
This season promises to be even better. Unbeaten after the opening four games, the London Stadium now finally seems to feel like home after part of the club’s soul appeared to be left behind at their old Upton Park ground.
I only saw the 4-1 victory over Leicester and the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on TV, but the place seemed to be rocking.
David won’t admit it, of course, but he would love to get one over on his old club today and puncture some of the optimism that has surfaced again at Old Trafford.
He must have had a wry smile on his face during the summer when Ed Woodward was breaking open the United coffers to bring back Cristiano Ronaldo after splashing the cash to sign Jason Sancho and Raphael Varane.
I’ve read interviews with David where he reveals that the expectation when he moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2013 was that the title-winning squad he inherited from Sir Alex would be strengthened further by the additions of star performers like Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas.
In the end, United were forced to pay over the odds to land Marouane Fellaini from Everton on deadline day. In January, Juan Mata was brought in from Chelsea.
The fact that Mata is still at the club almost eight years later suggests the Spaniard has been a good servant to the club, while Fellaini was also used consistently by both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
So David hardly blew a fortune in the transfer market.
And, anyway, was he realistically expected to tear apart a squad that had just romped to the title? The outcry from the Stretford End would have been deafening.
David didn’t need money. But time was of the essence. And it doesn’t matter whether a manager is operating at the top of the Premier League or the bottom end of League Two, they have to be given the chance to put their fingerprints on the team.
David thought he would be getting that when he signed a six-year contract. In the end, he was gone inside 10 months.
Little wonder he failed.
United were always going to need a period of readjustment after Sir Alex retired because the standards he set were so high.
What they have gone through in the years since remind me of the pain Liverpool were forced to endure after 1990. When clubs dominate for a long period, their inevitable fall from grace is always going to come as a shock.
It shouldn’t. Football is cyclical.
Looking back, I am sure David will realise he was on a hiding to nothing. How could anyone live up to the standards set by Fergie?
But if he had that time again, I am sure he would have no hesitation in taking the job.
After over a decade at Goodison Park, this was his reward. He was probably the right man – but at the wrong time.
But no manager would have turned down Man United. It wasn’t an option for David.
If you don’t open the door when an opportunity like that knocks then you might never get that chance again.
Can you imagine what the perception would be about anyone turning down one of the biggest jobs in football? It would leave a stain on your reputation that would be impossible to wash off.
I remember talking to Paul Ince about his experiences in management. He did well at Macclesfield Town and then MK Dons, so when Blackburn Rovers offered him the chance to take over at Ewood Park, it seemed like a natural progression.
He felt compelled to accept the offer. How could he turn that chance down? Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Incey at Blackburn because the club was struggling behind the scenes. He lasted just 177 days. Now, at the age of 53, he hasn’t had a job in management for seven years.
David had to put in the hard yards after leaving United. A year in Spain at Real Sociedad and a season at Sunderland that ended in relegation.
West Ham has proved to be a good fit second time around. The visit of high-flying United will be an acid test for both David and his team.