UNSURPRISINGLY for someone who spent a large chunk of his playing career alongside Billy Bremner in Leeds United’s infamous Seventies team, Jimmy Lumsden does not mince his words.
While the Glaswegian was perhaps a more cultured player than some he shared a dressing room with back then, he was still not fond of backing down – a trait which has served him well during a 25-year coaching career.
The last decade of that varied stint has been spent at Goodison Park, where the popular 64-year-old is head coach, and has become a trusted lieutenant to David Moyes throughout his own tenure in the Everton hot-seat.
The pair worked together at Preston North End before Moyes took Lumsden with him when Bill Kenwright came calling in 2002, but although they are close, Lumsden is quick to admit that he is no yes man when it comes to plotting Everton’s success.
“I wouldn’t say it’s friendship all the time,” he says reflecting on the enduring dynamic he shares with the three-time LMA manager of the year. “We’re close, but I’ve got to be truthful and say part of the reason I think I’m there is because we don’t agree a lot of the time. We see eye to eye on the important things, eventually, but not everything and he accepts that. I don’t just nod my head and say ‘Yes Gaffer, you’re right’. I’ll say my piece and stick by it and sometimes I’m proved right and sometimes not.
“We bounce off each other well because of that and he knows he’ll get honesty from me when we’re discussing a player or something.”
So as someone who has worked so closely to the Everton boss during his time on Merseyside, has Lumsden noticed him change? Surely, he has mellowed to a degree, something even the man himself acknowledges?
“No,” says Lumsden. “I’ve not noticed him change and I wouldn’t like him to change. His work ethic has never once dipped. He works as hard as anyone I know and his training methods are first class. They make him stand out. He takes on an unbelievable workload and he expects everyone around him to follow his example.”
Outside observers may credit an element of fortune to Everton’s capture of Nikica Jelavic for £5.5m in January, especially after his scintillating 11-goal start to life in the Premier League. But Lumsden believes it owes more to precision planning and hard work.
“We watched him for a long time, we always saw him and all had our opinions,” he says. “It was the same with Tim Cahill and Joleon Lescott – we must have watched them 20 times.
“Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka too. I watched Jags playing a lot for Sheffield United; in centre midfield and at right back. We scrutinise them and have different views. We debate it and watch them some more but importantly we prefer to always go to games and watch them. We’ll never rely on watching DVDs of players.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say he works harder than anyone,” adds Lumsden on Moyes. “At the end of the season me and him were watching Crewe and Sir Alex Ferguson was there. They were the only two managers at the game. That sums David up and full credit to Fergie too because he could easily listen to people and not do the miles but he was there. That’s the secret – hard work.”
Lumsden says those long car journeys to and from games are consumed with talk of just one topic. “We never listen to music,” he says. “We are talking about the next day and what we need to do, or how training went that day.
“Maybe it’s the team we’re playing at the weekend or who we would like to bring in if we could.”
For Lumsden, though, it has been a decade he as thoroughly enjoyed. “It’s been a special time,” he says.
“It’s been frustrating at times, like when we think we are getting close to maybe challenging for the Champions League, but then just fell short because of lack of finances.
“But there are a lot of clubs in a similar boat. Everton are a bit like Celtic in a lot of ways. David called it right when he said it was the People’s Club.
“In my playing days I never got to run out at Goodison in a league game unfortunately, but it still never fails to impress me now.
“We might not have the money but our supporters bring the atmosphere and will to win.
“The one thing I hope never stops is that atmosphere.
“No team will ever relish coming to Goodison – let’s always make it like that.”