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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 18:42 GMT
Moyes' lofty ambitions
David Moyes and his skipper Sean Gregan helped restore Preston's lost pride
Moyes' Preston won the Division Two title in 2000
BBC Sport Online's Paul Fletcher argues that Preston supporters should wish David Moyes well at Everton.

A curious trend started happening at Deepdale a couple of seasons ago.

The club's supporters - true Lancastrians from the heart of the Red Rose county - started turning up to matches wearing tartan hats and ginger wigs.

David Moyes - a proud and loyal Scot - admitted to feeling slightly embarrassed by this show of affection from the club's fans.

But football is a fickle business and the trend to tartan was merely a tribute to Moyes' achievements at the club.

  David Moyes factfile
Jan 1980: Joins Celtic as a junior
Sep 1993: After 377 league games at six clubs, Moyes signs for Preston
Jan 1998: Becomes Lillywhites' manager after 142 appearances
May 99: Guides Preston into Division Two play-offs
May 2000: Preston are champions of Division Two
May 2001: Preston lose in Division One play-off final
Mar 2002: Moyes takes over from Walter Smith as Everton boss
The same supporters who regarded Moyes as the man who restored Preston's Pride will feel bitterly disappointed and saddened by his departure for Everton.

After all he has left at a crucial time of the season, with Preston pushing hard for a place in the Division One play-offs for a second successive season.

Indeed, with a crunch game against play-off and local rivals Burnley on Sunday the timing could hardly be worse.

But the club's supporters should not lose sight of the effect the ginger-haired Scot has had upon the club he has left to further his managerial ambitions.

David Moyes frequently said in his first year as Preston manager that he owed a debt of gratitude to the board at Deepdale for giving him a chance to manage the team.

After all there was little to suggest that Moyes' appointment in January 1998 was an inspired choice as opposed to another mediocre promotion from within.

Moyes was assistant to Gary Peters and given his chance after his boss was sacked with Preston facing yet another relegation to Division Three.

But it soon became apparent that Moyes and management go hand in glove.

His footballing career was workmanlike; a voyage through the lower divisions.

But he acquired his coaching badges early in his playing career and carefully compiled notes on managers he played for, different coaching techniques; what worked and what did not.

He travelled to France 98, taking an invitation to observe the Scotland squad - again watching and learning.

And what he learned was clearly put to good use.

Preston avoided the drop in 1998 and reached the Division Two play-offs the following season.

Moyes appears extremely comfortable in the role of manager
Moyes is an astute tactical coach
Defeat to Gillingham hurt but 12 months later the team were promoted as champions - ending a 20-year exodus in the bottom two divisions.

Last season North End reached the Division One play-off final - largely with the same squad that won the Division Two title.

Moyes transformed an under-achieving team into one that plays slick, attractive and - crucially - winning football.

He was in charge of Preston 243 times, of which his team won 113 games, lost 63 and drew 67.

A brilliant record for a fledgling manager.

But his effect upon the club has not just been purely statistical; he has restored long-lost self-belief among his players and on the terraces.

Debt paid

Supporting Preston is no longer a chore, something to be endured with hardy resilience as another trip to Hartlepool ended in defeat.

Four years after his appointment it seems the Scot clearly felt he had paid his debt to the board that appointed him and has finally fallen for the lure of the Premiership.

Over the last 18 months he has been linked with numerous Premiership jobs - turning down Southampton last summer.

He is regarded as a fiercely ambitious boss and could have left Deepdale numerous times before departing for Everton.

His departure leaves the Preston board with the huge task of finding a successor - a man capable of continuing the work Moyes has done.

The fans at the club have been left gutted by the news.

But when they think of Moyes they must not see a man who jumped ship - but the man who restored Preston's badly missed pride in four glorious years.

 VOTE RESULTS
Can David Moyes keep Everton up?

Yes
 63.63% 

No
 36.37% 

3951 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
David Moyes is the new Everton manager

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