By Richard Buxton
Former Everton midfielder Kevin Kilbane insists that David Moyes's achievements at the club prove that he could manage anywhere in Europe.
The Scot leads the Toffees into Saturday's FA Cup clash with another of Kilbane's former clubs, Wigan, aiming to secure a fourth trip to Wembley in as many years – an accomplishment made all the more impressive by the well-documented financial constraints placed upon him at Goodison Park.
And the Irishman, who was signed by Moyes in 2003 and played under his stewardship at Everton for three years, believes that the 49-year-old is deserving of a big job should he choose to leave the Merseyside club.
|MOYES'S EVERTON CAREER
"From a personal point of view, I'd love him to stay at Everton for the rest of his career in management but that's ultimately down to David Moyes himself and where he's going to go. But you can't deny the fact that he's done an amazing job, an incredible job at Everton and, if he was ever to leave Everton in the future, it's got to be for a top, top club because he's that good."
Former Republic of Ireland international Kilbane made his name as a utility man out wide, equally adept at left-back or on the left wing, and he hailed the quality of his successor in one of those roles at Goodison Park, fellow Wigan alumnus Leighton Baines.
"I think he's England's best left-back now, I really do think that," he enthused. "I'm not denying Ashley Cole isn't a fabulous footballer. He proved it last year with Chelsea in the Champions League. He was excellent in the semi-final against Barcelona and the final against Bayern Munich. He was excellent through the campaign.
"But I personally think that Leighton Baines has been producing a level of consistency that's been beyond any left-back in the Premier League over the last couple of years so that's why I think he's probably England's left-back right now."
The 36-year-old warns that it would be unwise to rule Everton out of the running for the Champions League qualification this season, despite the seven-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.
|"Their form hasn't been the best since the turn of the year but they're still in with a really good chance"
- Kevin Kilbane on Everton
"There's a really good FA Cup tie coming up against Wigan, which is going to be a tough game for Everton and I think everyone recognises that," he said, "but I know what David Moyes is like and he'll get the team fully focused on the league form - and I think they're in a strong position right now.
"Perhaps should be higher up the league if they'd have maybe turned a few of those draws into wins that they had earlier on this season. Their form hasn't been the best since the turn of the year but they're still in with a really good chance and I think, if they can get the consistency back that they had early on this season, certainly in their overall play, then they're going to be strong towards the end of the season."
Despite his positivity regarding Everton's personnel and prospects this season, Kilbane, who also starred for West Brom, Sunderland and Hull City over a lengthy professional career, identified a lack of investment as the biggest stumbling block for the Toffees.
|12/1||Leighton Baines is 12/1 with BetVictor to score the first goal in Everton v Wigan
"He'd love for someone to come and invest in the club and plough money in to give David Moyes and the Everton supporters what they really want - and that's a real chance of qualifying or certainly winning trophies and consistently being in and around those Champions League positions. But it's difficult because every club has this ambition themselves.
"You look at Tottenham in recent years of competing in Champions League positions whereas, four or five years ago, they were struggling in mid-table at times. Now all of a sudden they've kicked on, there's been real investment there, they've got quality players and Everton are in that bracket without a doubt.
"They're a team that can and could well be competing with the top teams if investment was made at the club but again it's difficult for Bill Kenwright and it's difficult for David Moyes to try and generate the income in and around the club [to compete]."
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