Flip through the newspapers, and you’ll most certainly see at least one piece about the Red-half of Liverpool. Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers, FSG etc. The more illustrious Red part of Liverpool often gets major press attention.
People can go on about Liverpool drought of points, Suarez’s questionable tactics, Rodgers’ decisions and FSG’s policies etc. And it’s almost a similar story every season, Liverpool grabbing more media attention than their ‘less glamorous’ Blue-half of the city.
Hardly, if ever, do I remember a cover story on Everton, unless of course they beat Manchester United or Manchester City. And yes, it is also because Everton are probably the only team not grabbing headlines in some major transfer story.
That’s how they’ve been. This Blue-half of Liverpool has always been under- noticed. And David Moyes, according to me is the most under-rated manager in today’s game.
The sheer brilliance of that man, tactical and managerial, has often been compared to fellow scot Sir Alex. But, somehow, Mr. Moyes has always managed to stay out of the limelight. Working on a tight budget with limited resources, he has churned out consistent top half finishes year after year.
It’s no secret that David Moyes has had to work on a meagre transfer budget for close to 10 years now, managing his squad with whatever funds are made available by the chairman Bill Kenwright. Few would make do with such limited transfer activity, and fewer, prosper despite it.
As I have been observing over the past seasons, Everton have always had a slow start to their season. The opening fixtures haven’t been kind, to say the least, but apart from that, they have been regarded as slow starters, picking up pace as the season progresses, finishing it as strongly as ever. Goodison Park has been a fortress, with few losses experienced in the past 4 seasons. Everton are widely regarded as a stubborn team who do not give up very easily, the players certainly justifying that.
Now, the past couple of seasons have seen Everton being relatively busy with transfers, players like Lescott, Rodwell, Arteta leaving the club in search of further glory, and Fellaini, Pienaar, Mirallas, Jelavic being brought in to rejuvenate the squad.
And it has always been said by Moyes that if a player was going to play for Everton, he should be proud of wearing that shirt, his transfers reflecting that very idea.
This season, although has brought up something which has excited Everton fans all around – A fast paced start. An opening day win against Manchester United and it seems that they have not looked back since then. Right now, Everton sit 4th in the premier league table, behind Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, giving rise to the question – What has Changed?
It seems that David Moyes has finally put together a team which has players peaking at the right time.
Leighton Baines is having the year of his life. So is Phil Jagielka. Marouane Fellaini has matured since the departure of Mikel Arteta and has held his sparkling form from last season. Nikica Yelavic and Kevin Mirallas seem to have answered Everton’s drought in front of goal.
Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville have been ever present. Steven Pienaar has found his feet again following last season’s flop at Tottenham. Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga have managed to keep the opposition at bay.
All in all, the players have settled in well and that has brought about an instant change in results. Hell, David Moyes can even boast about having a strong bench, his first in many years!
Players brought in to cover departures have gelled instantly (Jelavic, Mirallas) and Everton have managed to be defensively sound so far.
On the downside, though, they were knocked out of the League Cup by a spirited Leeds United. But, that’s been the only blemish in a near perfect start to this season.
Statistically, this is the best start Everton have had since Moyes took over way back in 2002. This fact alone says a lot about the current mentality of the manager as well as the players.
Morale is high and its a given that Moyes plans to keep it that way, at least the fans hope that he does. And why not! His players are pulling of great performances game after game, he has very few injury concerns and there a positive atmosphere all around the club.
So far, all the attention has been on Liverpool FC – New manager, new signings, controversies.
And the lack of media attention has helped Everton, with them hounding all the success. Everton fans have already started to dream of a top 4 finish. And it would take a massive effort from everyone to make it possible; But it would be wrong to rule them out, especially after this kind of start.
Everton’s fortunes in the coming weeks will hinge on key players like Fellaini, Jelavic, Baines, Pienaar performing to the best of their abilities and the rest of the squad ably supporting them. With some consistency and one or two additions to the squad in January, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Everton challenging for the Champions League places. The onus is certainly upon the players to keep this run going.
A familiar question raises its head – Can they?