By David Lynch at Goodison Park
David Moyes celebrated his 10th anniversary as Everton boss in fitting style, as he saw his side run out winners against high-flying Tottenham on Saturday evening.
The Scot’s stock has hardly been higher in his 459 games at the helm and he showed just why in masterminding a fine win over a Spurs side currently third in the Premier League.
Everton may not have had all of the ball at Goodison Park but they showed the grit and defensive nous to hold firm - characteristics which have embodied Moyes’ reign. In fact, results like this hardly surprise any more; recent victories over Chelsea and Manchester City on Merseyside confirm that Everton have form for causing an upset.
|MOYES VS REDKNAPP
In this sense, the contrast with the away dugout on Saturday could not have been clearer.
It is perhaps too easy to get carried away in the hysterical criticism which is set to hit Spurs following three consecutive league defeats, but all is clearly not right with the north London side. Tottenham have consistently played the most attractive football in the league and, given that their main objective this season was simply to secure Champions League football, talk of a title push conveys their overachievement.
However, it’s hard to not to feel that since Fabio Capello’s resignation as England boss, things have gone downhill. Much of their good early season work is in fact under threat of being undone as they lie just four points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea, whom they are yet to face away from home. Should they now fail to qualify for Europe’s elite competition, then the damage done by speculation over Redknapp’s future will surely be identified as one of the main reasons.
Of course, that the three consecutive losses have come away to Arsenal, at home to Manchester United and in a difficult trip to Goodison Park should not be forgotten. But it was the loss of the undying support of Tottenham’s fans which was notable in defeat to the Toffees. The chants of “Gareth Bale, he plays on the left” from the Spurs faithful were more light-hearted than vitriolic in nature but they are the first signs of any dissent since the former West Ham man’s arrival. It is with such small steps on the road to condemnation that fans arrive at, "You don’t know what you’re doing".
The fact remains that many of Tottenham’s fans have felt disillusioned by Redknapp’s failure to take a decisive line over the vacant England job. His insistence that the FA have yet to approach him holds little credence, given that he is the widely-known favourite for the role, but this has allowed him time to avoid either ruling himself out or in. In reality, this ‘no man’s land’ has helped neither Spurs nor Redknapp.
That said, even should Tottenham fail to clinch a top-four spot, the 65-year-old will still be sought by the FA; his previous work in turning clubs around will not be erased by one bad run of form. So, given his well-documented desire to take the job, Spurs are looking increasingly likely to be searching for a new manager at the end of the season. With this in mind, Saturday’s clash took on further significance.
Everton’s Moyes has made no secret of his ambition to manage at a club which can challenge for a European place and trophies - and there are obvious doubts over whether Everton can be that club any time soon. Manchester City’s new found wealth and Tottenham’s emergence as a genuine force has not just caused problems for those clubs once guaranteed a top-four finish. It has effectively pushed sides like Everton, who were once on the coat-tails of the traditional giants, further toward mid-table.
They are currently not a club with the financial clout to redress this balance and, after 10 years, Moyes’ loyalty may be starting to wane. The Glaswegian boss has one year remaining on his contract come the end of this season and this is something which the Spurs hierarchy, along with those at many other top clubs, will be aware of.
It would be dismissive of his years of hard work to label Saturday’s win as Moyes’ audition for the Tottenham job, but it was undoubtedly a result which typified much of his work on Merseyside. Now, after years of ensuring Everton have punched above their weight time and time again, the Scot may well feel he is ready to step up to the heavyweight division.
It is a move he at least deserves the chance to make.
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