David Moyes was wandering around his local food shop when he spotted a chance to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “There was a thing up in the window that said drivers needed,” West Ham’s manager says. “I volunteered to do it as my wife was away at the time and I was on my own. So I became a fruit and veg driver.”
Moyes, who left London for his family home in Lancashire a few weeks ago, makes sure to point out he respected the physical distancing rules during his four days behind the wheel. There were no autographs or conversations on the doorstep. One couple recognised the famous football manager delivering their shopping – “You could hear them say ‘David Moyes?!’” – but the Scot was not doing it for acclaim. It was just his way of helping out while he is staying in Lytham and, anyway, he quite enjoyed his temporary career change.
“It was beautiful big boxes of fruit and veg, really colourful. I was enjoying it, going back to the shop to get another lot and then filling the car up. Two of my pals who I go out for drinks with now and again were giving me dog’s abuse and WhatsApping me saying: ‘Have you delivered your fruit and veg yet?’ I ended up having to deliver two big boxes to my pals.”
There were perks to the jobs as well. One ride even made Moyes some money on the side. “I think it was £16.80, one box of fruit and veg. She gave me a £20 note and said: ‘Here son, just keep the change.’ It was an older lady. The tip!”
Moyes is in good spirits, even though he is missing football. The suspension of the season means he has more free time than usual.
“My wife was away so it was me who had to do the cooking. If the wife had been here, she would have told me I was doing it wrong. Trial and error.
“My wife is in the background now, giving me all sorts of signs. Overall, my cooking is just about average at best. I’ve been putting salmon in the oven and been cooking haddock and monkfish and all sorts of different things. I’ve been at the fish shop quite a bit. I wouldn’t say I was a dab hand. But it’s edible.”
Moyes, who has taken a 30% pay cut on his £2m-a-year salary, knows there are more important things than football. Conscious of the need to help vulnerable people, he recently cheered up an 85-year-old woman who has recovered from coronavirus by giving her a call.
“Iris was an older lady who lives on her own. She was great. She has one or two other problems to deal with regarding her other medications but she was really good, telling me about the support she has been getting from other people at West Ham. They have been phoning her, sending her letters. We have said that when the football starts up again we’ll pick her up in a taxi, bring her to a game and take her back as well.”
Moyes is in touch with reality. He has been preparing for football’s eventual return by analysing old games and watching clips of transfer targets, but he is worried about the fate of Football League clubs and the game’s parlous financial state. “We hope football will have a little reset. I hope we’ll all look back and think: ‘Maybe we were indulging too much.’ The people who run football clubs have got to say: ‘Have we always been doing the right things? If anything like this happened again in the future, would we be able to get through it?’
“Maybe we have to look at the prices paid for players. We might need to look at the wages. We might need to look at what’s been paid to agents. We might need to look at all different aspects of the industry. We’ve still got a long way to go to make sure we get out of this situation we’re in. How we come out of it, I’m not sure. We have to make sure that all football clubs are saved.”