Next week is the tenth anniversary of David Moyes’ appointment as manager of Everton and it seems as apt a time as any to exude the virtues of a man who has worked wonders for one of England’s great clubs.
Recruited from Preston North End with the immediate brief of securing Premier League survival following Walter Smith’s dismal reign, Moyes won his first match, a 2-1 success over Fulham at Goodison Park, which acted as the catalyst for a Kevin Campbell-inspired run that staved off relegation and built a rapport with Evertonians that remains as strong as ever.
And to compare the state of the club on the pitch (we’ll get to off-the-field affairs shortly) now to when he took over, not even the most one-eyed Liverpool fan can say there hasn’t been vast improvement under the Glaswegian’s stewardship.
Yes, there have been some disappointments, such as the 17th-placed finish in his third full season and the fact that Everton seem to take half a season to get up to speed, not to mention the lack of silverware in the trophy cabinet, something that rankles with Moyes greatly.
But the upward curve is there for all to see. After years of relegation battles under Joe Royle, Howard Kendall (third time around) and Smith (who never finished in the top half in three full seasons), Moyes has well and truly established Everton as a top-half club.
Over nine full seasons under Moyes, Everton’s average finishing position is 7.7, which doesn’t even tell half the story: there have been three top-five finishes (including a Champions League qualification place in 2005), which have all been achieved on a fraction of the budget enjoyed by his rivals.
There is only so long Moyes can continue to find cheap gems in the transfer market and over-perform and that lack of investment is beginning to catch up with the club.
Everton seem to be undergoing their annual post-winter renaissance. Since losing the reverse fixture 2-0 at White Hart lane in January, the Blues are unbeaten in eight and have won five of their last six at home.
Unless chairman Bill Kenwright pulls a rabbit out of the hat in the near future there is a distinct possibility Moyes will have to look for a club with greater means to fully realise his potential.
Ironically, on Saturday Moyes faces one of the teams he has recently been linked with in the shape of Tottenham Hotspur and at the prices on offer, I will be taking Everton to celebrate the ten-year anniversary in typical Moyes fashion – with an underdog victory against a team whose resources far outweigh his own.
The Toffees are priced at 19/10 for that to happen, with the draw at 11/5 and Spurs quoted as 29/20 favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Part of my confidence stems from the fact Everton seem to be undergoing their annual post-winter renaissance. Since losing the reverse fixture 2-0 at White Hart lane in January, the Blues are unbeaten in eight and have won five of their last six at home, including notable and deserved victories against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Everton have had a great record under Moyes of turning over the bigger teams at Goodison after Christmas – they beat Chelsea and City at home after February last year, Manchester United and Chelsea in the same month the year before – and I think Tottenham are looking tired and are there for the taking.
Tottenham’s win over Everton was as comprehensive as a 2-0 victory can be, but their form has dipped alarmingly. Harry Redknapp’s side have won just four of their ten matches since, two of which were FA Cup victories over Watford and Stevenage, and the spark that has been a feature of Tottenham’s play for so much of the season has vanished.
Injuries have played a part, but the team looks jaded and results aren’t coming. Spurs have gone from having one eye on the title to now looking over their shoulder at Arsenal, who have closed the gap to just four points.
That win against the Hornets at Vicarage Road is Spurs’ only win in their last six away trips and with Everton getting players back for a raucous, celebratory evening match at Goodison Park, I like the 19/10 they can give Moyes a fitting result for the occasion.
Recommended bet: Everton to beat Tottenham @ 19/10
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Harry Redknapp’s side have won just four of their ten matches since, two of which were FA Cup victories over Watford and Stevenage, and the spark that has been a feature of Tottenham’s play for so much of the season has vanished.