At Goodison Park on Saturday Everton took on Manchester United As equals. Both teams went for the win from the start and Everton were the better team on the day. They won 3-1.
I remembered another match where I was watching in the heat of a Costa Blanca summer. It was the first Premier League match of the new season on August 15th, 2009, and Everton's visitors were Arsenal. The result looked like very bad news for Everton's season. They lost 1-6. Five different players scored for Arsenal, including their two central defenders, Gallas and Vermaelen.
Around the world, managers of Fantasy League teams made a mental note to remove the Everton players from their teams. I had Leighton Baines in my team - a regular full-back who took free-kicks and looked likely to score a reasonable number of points. I did - perhaps unwisely - remove him. Photo link
There was a background to Everton's early season results. At season's start Everton had an unsettled defender, Joleyon Lescott, who was wanted by Manchester City, a team whose owner had money to spend. Manager Moyes did not want to release Lescott but after this shattering start to the season he must have changed his mind. The uncertainty about Lescott dragged on through the transfer window until in fact it did happen.
David Moyes has managed Everton since the 2002-3 season when owner Bill Kenworthy, theatre entrepreneur, persuaded him to leave Preston where he had gone from player to manager at the end of an average career on the field as a centre half. Compared to the top teams he has had to choose carefully on a lower budget to bring in players to the less fashionable of the Liverpool teams, the ''Toffies'. He seems to have chosen players who are adaptable, who can play in different positions. For example, Cahill, a midfielder is currently playing as a striker. Fellaini, one of his most expensive signings, can play as a second striker or as playmaker in the centre of midfield, or even as a defender.
On Saturday his team were better trained than the temporary league leaders, now second, the great Manchester United - whom Everton also defeated in the FA Cup semi-final last season. (In the final, they lost to Chelsea)
Interviewed on Sky television after the match, David Moyes admitted to being on friendly terms with Sir Alex Ferguson, fellow-Scot from the Glasgow area. What are his chances as the successor to Sir Alex when the older manager finally retires. At 46-years old, he has proved that he can put the necessary metal into his men. Given the opportunity to bring in the calibre of players that have come to United since the Premier League began, he seems to have the qualities to succeed on the scale expected of the Manchester manager. He only lacks the opportunity. His weakness compared to foreign coaches who may be considered for the top football manager job in England, eg Mourinho, is that he does lack experience in the Champions League. Everton's performances in the UEFA league have not reached the heights so far. However, Moyes seems to have something more fundamental: an understanding of footballers and the capacity to train them to work for him, and much greater experience of playing and managing in England than any foreign import. That latter point is important: knowledge of other managers, the pitches, the nature of the crowds, the history and traditions that can inspire or intimidate players; this kind of national knowledge is already his.
The match referred to above also featured two young players, aged 20 and 18, Gosling and Rodwell, who were sent on as substitutes by David Moyes and promptly each one scored. See link below.