Like many Evertonians I left Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon disappointed, but not surprised, by yet another defeat at the hands of our old enemy Liverpool.
Despite the fact that Everton went into the game as the ‘form’ team, the club with what we are told are key ingredients for football success, confidence and momentum, and against a side that even their own supporters recognise as mediocre, Everton, and in particular manager David Moyes, has an inferiority complex when it comes to the Reds.
Moyes is recognised as one of the brightest British coaches in the game, and his achievements at Everton, a club that has struggled to find the financial muscle that will enable it to compete at the highest level of English football, have been acknowledged by fellow managers, who have awarded him the Manager of the Year gong on several occasions, and by football pundits alike.
However his failure to win a trophy during his ten year tenure at Goodison Park, and his consistent under-performance against Liverpool, most particularly the latest capitulation, perhaps explains why he has never and will never be offered a job with one of the major spenders in the English game.
When it comes to the huge occasion, he bottles it. As underdogs, Everton have turned over Man City (regularly), Man United and Arsenal (but only at Goodison), and Chelsea.
However, the Blues failed to turn up for their last Wembley encounter, the FA Cup Final of 2009, and even against a much weakend Man United team at the same stadium and in the same year in the Semi Final, Everton only scraped through on penalties.
In Europe Moyes’ record is, quite simply, woeful.
For me Moyes is a decent motivator and when he is confident and up for it, so too is his team. However, when he is lacking in confidence and nervous this also transmits to his team, and the results of this were all too evident on Saturday. He does not have the ability of a Ferguson or a Clough to take the pressure from his team. Indeed, he unintentionally does the exact opposite at times.
This is why Moyes is at the right club at the right time. Joe Royle had saved Everton from relegation and won the FA Cup in 1995, only to find himself sacked for languishing in mid table two years later (Royle never lost a Merseyside ‘Derby’ either). Previous Everton managers were given an average of four years to win a title before being shown the exit. Nowadays, expectations at Goodison are somewhat lower, and Moyes regularly exceeds them. Could he do that at Man United, Chelsea or even Spurs? No, he most certainly couldn’t.
Many Evertonians would be happy to see the back of Moyes at the end of this season, citing his negative tactics and his squandering of the best chance we have ever had of defeating Liverpool at Wembley last weekend. I can sympathise to a point, but who would you put in his place, and would they take the job?
For now, and the foreseeable future, Everton and Moyes are a good combination. They should both recognise that, look forward to next season, and employ Joe Royle as a ‘Derby’ day mentor for team and manager in the 2012/13 campaign.