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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Moyes faces a bleak future after his Sunderland reign ends in relegation

In choosing to quit Sunderland, David Moyes at last got a big decision correct. Following his club's relegation, his decision to leave the Stadium of Light might have been little surprise, but it was a brave one nonetheless, given he has quit a job that paid handsomely and had three contractual years to run. It has been reported that he refused a £3 million compensation payment.

Should he want to return to management, future options look barren, but there was no other choice to make. In his departing statement, Moyes thanked "the fans for always being so passionately supportive of their club." They showed admirable patience with a team playing desperate, lumpen football, but by the closing weeks of a dreadful season, they had turned on him. 

Moyes, with some mitigation on his side, may now talk of the constraints placed against him by owner Ellis Short's refusal to back him financially after succeeding Sam Allardyce last July, but he erred badly in his frequent painting of a doomed picture. Football fans are not easy to fool for long, but will respond positively to an optimistic outlook. And that was something Moyes just could not offer.

Since leaving Everton in 2013 and being psychologically scarred by his failure to successfully replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Moyes has lost the gravitas that carried him through 11 years of largely sterling service at Goodison Park. Back then, he could be bolshy but jokey, yet his Sunderland sojourn was a 10-month revelation that he had lost his sense of humour. Indeed, it has been suggested his players nicknamed him an "Energy Vampire." 

Moyes' clumsy attempted joke that he would "slap" BBC reporter Vicki Sparks was the most extreme example of a manager who could not stop saying the wrong thing. Meanwhile, his team played an outdated brand of football that could not bring the best from the resources at his disposal; despite transfer market restrictions, Sunderland still had the ninth-largest wage bill in the Premier League. 

David Moyes may face a bleak future after his difficult spell in charge of Sunderland.

He may find that his employment options are as pessimistic as his Sunderland outlook. British managers in the Premier League are largely out of fashion these days, beyond safety guarantors Allardyce and Tony Pulis, so a top-flight return appears unlikely.

Moyes last managed in the Championship in 2002, before joining Everton from Preston North End, but this season saw foreign managers dominate the division too; Brighton's Chris Hughton, who was born in London and played for the Republic of Ireland, was the only boss from outside mainland Europe to finish in the top six.

As for going abroad again, Moyes struggled to learn Spanish when managing Real Sociedad for a disappointing 12 months and would seem a poor fit to move back to the continent. China or Major League Soccer might seem a bit more likely and would probably be lucrative, but, again, his struggles beyond those Preston and Everton comfort zones do not suggest someone able to adapt to the unfamiliar.

Which leaves his native Scotland, the country he left 34 years ago to join Cambridge United. Considered a contender for the Celtic job after Neil Lennon departed Parkhead in 2014, that avenue is closed at present by Brendan Rodgers' success and status after delivering an unbeaten title season.

Across Glasgow at Hampden Park, however, a vacancy might soon arrive. Scotland are fourth in World Cup qualifying group G, with only a distant hope of being in Russia next year. Gordon Strachan has been on the brink for some time and might even depart after his team's June 10 game vs. England.

Whether Moyes would be a popular option to succeed Strachan is a significant issue, but the once-resplendent cupboard of Scottish managers is decidedly bare. To be successful in any possible future role, though, Moyes will need to rediscover the ability to be positive.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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