Everton makes perfect riposte to Cup disaster
Evertonian emotions have been stretched to their extremes over the past week, with the Toffees following up their FA Cup capitulation with a defiant display against Manchester City.
March 17th, 2013
The defeat against the Latics was tough to bear, not just because it ruined hopes of a day out at Wembley and punctured dreams of silverware, but the manner of it raised nervy questions about the immediate futures of the manager and several key members of the playing staff.
David Moyes continues to insist that he will decide his future at the end of the season, with a contract offer on the table remaining unsigned. Chairman Bill Kenwright argues that Moyes deserves the time and space to make his own decision, given all he has done for the club over the past 11 years.
However, the longer that deal remains unsigned, the greater the uncertainty that surrounds the squad. If Moyes, who has complete control of the playing side of Everton, refuses to commit beyond May, then why should anyone else?
That restlessness about the direction of the club manifested itself among the supporters during a limp and seemingly disinterested display against Wigan, with Phil Neville (whose contract expires at the end of the season) and Marouane Fellaini (who has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea) bearing the brunt of their ire. Moyes came in for some criticism too, with some fans suggesting the time has come for him to put up or shut up.
With the fallout from the result continuing to swirl around them, Moyes made the players watch a re-run of the Wigan match in all its horrific glory the following week. The Scot was clearly riled and hurt by those questioning his and the squad’s commitment to the club, meaning it should not have been a surprise that he roused them in training and we saw a reaction on the pitch the following week.
Manchester City were thoroughly outmuscled and out-battled at a stormy Goodison Park on Saturday, with everyone involved with the Merseysiders – from manager to players to fans – determined to exorcise the memory of the week before.
It was everything we have come to expect from Moyes’ Everton, full of passion, commitment and selflessness. City certainly had an off day (as they usually do at Goodison) and was missing key players, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the Toffees for a display that was even topped off with a Nikica Jelavic goal – his first for three months.
They have now set the bar for the rest of the season, reviving hopes of a push for a European spot. The old doubts and fears still remain – that contract is still unsigned after all. But they have shown they can no longer use that as an excuse.
If Moyes is to leave at the end of the season, if Neville is to retire and Fellaini treble his wages at Stamford Bridge, then at least they can go out with a bang, give us something to cheer between now and May, and offer us something tangible to build on going forward.