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Flash point for Moyes

By Joe Jennings :  12/02/2009 :  Comments (0) :

"I am from a city (Glasgow) that is not unlike Liverpool. I am joining the people's football club. The majority of people you meet on the street are Everton fans.

If ever there was a collection of words that would well Evertonians with pride, an opportunity to make dejected fans sit up and take notice, a chance to reinstall the hope lost under the previous regime - then Moyes coined his words to a tee. It was a statement of intent and since, David Moyes has set about keeping his promise.

It took barely thirty seconds to spark the Moyes revolution when David Unsworth powered home into the Park End net against Fulham back in 2002, but it has taken seven years to construct, assemble and deliver a squad capable of finally living up to the Everton motto displayed on the club crest, that for too long has been neglected: Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.

There have been unbridled highs, catastrophic lows and frustrating mediocrity, but generally, David Moyes has retained the backing of most level-headed Evertonians throughout his spell as Everton manager. It’s easy to see why really. The reign of Walter Smith tested a lot of Evertonians, some more so than others. Evertonians never really connected with Smith, not properly anyway. He wasn’t ‘one of us’. Whether he was alluding to the endless issues he faced or shirking liability for the unfolding disasters, Smith proved his own worst enemy. He had been the beneficiary of such prolonged patience from the majority of our supporters, but he threw it all back in our faces. He just wasn’t Everton.

David Moyes, on the other hand, was very much what we looked for in a manager. He was passionate, he was ambitious, he was proud. He had that winning mentality about him. We had been told the Everton job was unachievable because of the financial restrains. The fact David Moyes has since proved that hackneyed Sky-four fan one-liner to be unqualified rubbish probably shows how far we’ve come under his headship. Expectation has risen — massively. Whether David Moyes can handle the weight of expectation of guiding a club of Everton’s size, stature and history back to where we as supporters feel we need to be — the forefront — remains to be seen. He’s certainly going about it in the right way, though. The oil tanker is certainly turning.

Some supporters have often criticised the Glaswegian, citing negative tactics and hoof-ball mentality as legitimate reasons for grievance. Fair cop: Evertonians have been treated to a certain style of football over the years, proper football. It would be nigh on impossible then, to deceive them when it comes to passing the ball to feet. David Moyes, in the last few months in particular, seems to have grasped this concept. Prior to that, could we really have said the style of play was acceptable? It wasn’t to me...

Great teams have great players, but they also have great dressing-rooms. Would you swap the spirit and togetherness — something that seems to be shoved in our faces at every given opportunity — of our squad of Everton players right now? I know I wouldn’t. David Moyes has engendered this special team spirit and willingness to fight for each other. In doing this, at times, he has had to make a stand and root out the bad apples. Ask Victor Anichebe.

David Moyes has consistently picked up players for next to nothing, or from the Championship and turned them into much coveted Premier League performers and internationals. I don’t think anyone could argue that Everton are now an established top-10 team and Goodison Park is a place that all clubs fear. We are also a team that every manager seems to respect, there are no ‘easy’ points to be taken from a David Moyes side.

To truly progress though, has his philosophy changed sufficiently to allow us to truly challenge for major honours? One of the keys to this is calmness under pressure, which, whilst we have improved vastly in recent times, is still something I feel is lacking. Can he spend the big money wisely and bring in the ‘football’ players to take us to that next level? The jury remains out on record-buy Marouane Fellaini and to be fair, David Moyes has a history of big money disasters in the past. Yakubu however, has been an unmitigated success on the flip side.

Most importantly though, with Bill Kenwright at the helm, and all the challenges that in itself presents, can David Moyes maintain his focus and desire, can he continue to motivate himself and work miracles with so little tangible support?

David Moyes: "Everton is one of the biggest clubs in the land. There's only three or four clubs in the country who could even consider themselves bigger."

I believe he can.

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