David Moyes has opened up about the mental health battles he has faced in his managerial career, noting that he feels it is something that only fellow football-minded people might truly empathise with.
The West Ham boss is riding arguably the highest crest of popular form that he has enjoyed for over a decade-and-a-half since he was in charge of Everton, following difficult tenures with Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland, among others.
With the Hammers set for a Europa League quarter-final next month, the Scotsman is delivering good times at London Stadium – but now, in an interview with Alan Shearer, he has reflected on the difficulties that managers face when in and out of work.
What has been said?
“Obviously when you’re not working, you find it tough,” Moyes told The Athletic. “You always feel the criticism that you get when you leave your jobs, even if a lot of it isn’t quite correct and there’s a lot of untruths in it.
“You find yourself having to battle against things which you don’t think are fair, really. The biggest thing I did was make sure that I tried to go and retrain, relearn, keep myself busy. I think if you’re a real football person, you understand the levels people are at.
“People who have been professionals like yourself, players or managers in the game, understand that we can all have bad times and things can’t always go right, but I think there was a different level of media attention.”
Moyes reflects on mental health
Elsewhere, Moyes – who famously was handpicked to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at United, only to be dismissed inside his maiden season – touched upon the increased recognition for mental health within the game, but admitted that thick skin is something of a necessity in the public eye.
“It’s only if you’re in the business that you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about,” he added. “There’s all the stuff we talk about with mental health nowadays, and I think we’re getting closer to understanding that, yet it’s still OK to discuss a football manager’s job on television or radio and people talk about it as if it’s a jokey matter.
“Did it have an effect? It did. But look, ultimately I’ve got a strong family, a great wife behind me, and we got through it fine. Football is a game. Sometimes it will be bad and you have to live with that, but you see what’s going on.”