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Manchester United

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Glazers set marker as Moyes meets his makers


Two teams will take the field this Sunday at Goodison Park but only one has even a passing interest in what remains of the season. And it isn't Manchester United.

The spotlight will naturally fall on the demeanour of the two managers. One is much loved at his new club, another has overseen a miserable campaign. It is not what people expected.

Mitten: A season no one expectedMoyes plays down Everton return

Despite posting eleven immaculate years at Everton, David Moyes has left a mixed legacy behind. Those familiar with Toffees message boards will talk of a man who perhaps stayed too long and who didn't give as many chances to youth players as the fans would have liked.

In his wake, Roberto Martinez stormed into the managerial chair at Everton while Moyes' warmth remained on the seat. He has shaken the club up and driven them on to greater heights in terms of ambition, methodology and outlook.

"He's picked up a really good group of players, there's some top senior players there," says Moyes with only a modicum of subtlety. At United, with another good group of players, top senior players, the opposite has occurred.

Nonetheless, Moyes deserves respect upon his return. This is a sentiment echoed by Martinez: "His job at Everton deserves that." It is possible, however, that the moves United have made for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines have spoilt the broth somewhat.

Everton lag behind Arsenal in the battle for a Champions League berth and will be going hell for leather to win and keep up the pressure. United have only pride to play for, and there is not much left of that. Liverpool are about to win the league. Deservedly.

Human nature would suggest that Everton's greater desire will see them victorious this Sunday. Such a sentiment would have sounded ludicrous 12 months ago but it is a firm reality today. Perhaps it is no surprise that United's owners, the Glazer family, have had a stern chat with their first-team manager this week.

The Glazers have demanded a Europa league place, likely sixth position in the league, and will back Moyes in the forthcoming transfer window. They are planning to have him in place at the start of next season and believe that a third transfer window is required for his tenure to be judged fairly. But, if next season starts badly, he will be replaced.

Whilst Moyes is not "on the brink of the brink", it is telling that the word "brink" has still been used in private briefings. This is not a piece of vocabulary that is bandied around when things are going well.

Twelve months ago, David Moyes was one of the hottest properties in world football. Having spent a commendable decade at Everton getting the club to punch above its weight, he had been anointed Manchester United manager in waiting. This weekend he returns as the butt of every joke in English football to the ground where his successor has already outperformed him.

"Don't forget Everton finished above Liverpool last year -- and the year before," said Moyes on Friday. Like the fans of his new club, he has to look to the past for evidence of good fortune. The future needs to be much brighter.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne