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DAVID MOYES insists Everton must help Nikica Jelavic to rediscover his cutting edge – by providing the Croatian striker with better service.
The 27-year-old has struggled to hit top form in recent weeks, and seems some way off the instinctive predator who marked his arrival last season with 11 goals in 16 games.
Moyes would like to add more depth to his striking options in January, but retains faith in the former Rangers hit-man and believes the goals will return for him – but improving defensively is just as vital.
“We’ve maybe not given him (Jelavic) as quite as good service as we did earlier in the season,” he said. “I don’t think we’re playing any differently, we’re just not socring the goals from the good play.
“We’re probably as attacking and open as we were. In the end we haven’t defended well enough just to get us a 1-0 win or a 2-1 win. It’s left us a bit nervy and a bit anxious when we’ve not done it.”
Jelavic will lead the line again tonight against Arsenal, with Darron Gibson also likely to be involved after training for the previous few days – even if he is lacking match practise.
Belgian forward Kevin Mirallas, who is recovering from a hamstring strain suffered against Sunderland, has not trained however, and remains a doubt for the Gunners clash.
“Gibson has been training but he has been out three months,” said Moyes. “Kevin hasn’t trained.”
DAVID MOYES will not discuss his new Everton deal until after the January transfer window has closed.
The Blues boss wants to see that the club will resist offers for key players like Marouane Fellaini, while also allowing him to strengthen in order to keep their Champions League dream alive before he begins talks over his own future.
Moyes, whose side host Arsenal at Goodison tonight, still believes his team can make the top four this season, but will not commit until the club has weathered January unscathed with signs of intent also evident.
He said: “I would probably wait until we have got over January and see how things go. I want to see what we’re going to do, where the club are looking to move to in the future. That’s what I’m really looking for as well. It’s probably going to be after the New Year before (we speak).
“We’ve got a good team, it’s taken a long time to get to this sort of point but what we’re looking to do at Everton is see if we can get to the point where it’s easy to keep all your good players.
“That obviously means getting to the summit or getting around the summit. I think most people would look and say the Everton job looks a though it is a good job.”
Moyes believes the new improved TV deal which Everton are set to receive along with other Premier League clubs next summer could make the Blues more attractive to new owners, but in the short term he is confident this season’s top league places are still wide open.
“It might help get rid of some of our debt problems but I would hope it makes Everton a really good looking club, an attractive proposition,” he said.
“I think most teams will find it hard to get ahead of the top three of Man United, Man City and Chelsea, but football changes very quickly.
“A couple of defeats for them and wins for someone else could completely alter things. It’s the same every season. Four weeks ago everyone was asking whether Man United could catch Chelsea, they were so far away, but that’s changed quickly. No-one is in or out at the moment.”
HE MIGHT not turn to him directly for career guidance – but David Moyes certainly finds Arsene Wenger inspirational as he ponders his own future.
The Everton boss insists that – in relative terms – both managers should be judged not on trophies in the cabinet, but rather on the legacies they have created in North London and Merseyside.
Tonight’s meeting arrives at a point when the two stalwarts find their futures subject to more conjecture than ever, with their teams separated by a solitary point in the Premier League.
Both their clubs sit outside the top four with aspirations of swiftly forcing their way back into the mix, although in the background uncertainty mounts over whether they will remain in charge next season.
But Moyes believes that Wenger, the only manager along with Alex Ferguson who has been in charge of a top flight club longer than himself, must be the favourite to defy the doubters and keep Arsenal among the elite once again.
“I think Arsenal are actually in the batch above us,” says the Blues boss.
“They’ve done it and never been out of the Champions League for over 10 years.
“Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have done it. I would put them as favourites to join those other three teams because they have done it before and they have been consistent over the years.
“Arsene has done a great job getting them in the Champions League every year. Of course their supporters want trophies – but you look at their stadium and it is unbelievable. Only one or two clubs in the country would not be envious of that stadium.
“He has put down something that is going to be there for a long, long time. Arsene is part of that.
“He has seen the club through the transition from Highbury to The Emirates and continually got a team that has made the Champions League.
“Okay, they’ve not won the league or cups in recent years but they have always been up there.”
Moyes celebrated his 10th anniversary at Everton in March, with Wenger clocking 16 years in charge of the North London club, and the Scot believes some supporters get bored with that level of familiarity in the dug-out.
“Supporters might decide they want a change from managers who have been there a long time but I think that’s wrong because you are not going to get any stability at the club and will probably waste a lot of money chopping and changing all the time,” he says.
“Arsene can go as long as he wants. Arsene Wenger will be the one who decides what he does at Arsenal. I don’t think it will be the board or the supporters.
“I wouldn’t say he is someone I would go to (to discuss his future), but I see him now and again at games and saw him a couple of times in Poland. I think Arsene’s done a great job at Arsenal. Incredible.
“I know that there’s been people who have come in and won cups elsewhere. Jose Mourinho was sensational and we know Alex. Arsene Wenger is in there as well.
“What he has done can’t be done in a year or two years by any manager. We’d all like to reconstruct a club quickly but it just can’t be done. It’s quite easy to deconstruct one quickly if you don’t make the right appointments and you keep chopping and changing.”
Some Gunners fans refuse to accept that qualification for the Champions League is good enough, but Moyes believes that getting within touch distance of that tournament’s group stages was one of his finest achievements.
“I didn’t get a trophy to run round Goodison with when we made the Champions League. It nearly felt like that,” he says.
“I knew if we’d got through the qualifier it might have changed Everton’s world. It might only have changed it for a couple of years but it might have given us that notch and the money we might have taken that one year.
“So by continuing to get in the Champions League, it keeps funding what you are going to try and do for the next year or two because the money at that level is far greater than anything else.
“I don’t know how much you get for winning the League Cup but it’s not going to be much is it? You get the silverware which we all want but if you asked do you want to win the League Cup with no dough or is it better to be in the Champions League with the cash, I bet you it’s a question a lot of supporters might find difficult to answer.”
Arsenal were the last team to beat the Toffees at Goodison in the league, last March.
Since then they are 10 unbeaten on home turf and although a run of one win in their last seven matches has curtailed what was a promising start to the campaign, Moyes is confident it has given them a platform on which to build their season.
“We are going to try to push,” adds Moyes. “A club like Everton are not out of their depth in Europe and we have to try to push to do that as we’ve missed out the last couple of years.
“If you measured us last year you would say we were rubbish this time last year.
“And this time last season Arsenal were not doing very well and they went on to finish in the top four.”
David Moyes will wait to see how the January transfer window plays out before opening talks over a new Everton contract.
But even though the Toffees boss wants to assess the direction his club is ready to take in the long term before committing long-term, he still believes he has one of the best jobs in football.
Moyes has barely six months left on his current deal, but as he prepares to pits his wits against Arsenal's Arsene Wenger - who with Sir Alex Ferguson are the only two managers to still be serving at their club longer than Moyes - on Wednesday, he insisted he is comfortable with the position.
“I would probably wait until we have got over January and see how things go. I want to see what we’re going to do, where the club are looking to move to in the future,” he explained.
“And that’s what I’m really looking for as well. It’s probably going to be after the New Year before we speak.”
Moyes has been at Goodison for 10 years, and in Wednesday night’s opposite number Wenger he will see a manager who can show how it is possible to continue to motivate players over an even longer period.
But when asked if he would seek advice from the man who has been at Arsenal for more than 16 years, the Blues boss admitted it is difficult to speak to rival managers about his own club.
“It’s very hard to go to people to talk to about the job here. I think most people would look and say the Everton job looks as though it is a good job,” he explained.
“We’ve got a good team, but what we’re looking to do at Everton is see if we can get to the point where it’s easy to keep all your good players. That obviously means getting to the summit or getting around the summit.”
Moyes also accepts that - as Wenger has been forced to endure in recent years - he could well face the anger of fans, who he suspects simply grow bored of the same face at the helm year-in and year-out.
“I think supporters do get bored when a manager has been in a job a long time. Supporters might decide they are getting bored and they want a change,” Moyes admitted.
“But I think that’s wrong, because you are not going to get any stability at the club and will probably waste a lot of money chopping and changing all the time.
“Look at what Arsene has done, it’s a remarkable job. Of course their supporters want trophies, but look at the money he has raised by being so consistently in the Champions League.
“He has probably financed their stadium and it is unbelievable. Only one or two clubs in the country would not be envious of that stadium, so he has put down something that is going to be there for a long, long time.
“I don’t know how much you get for winning the League Cup, but it’s not going to be much, is it?
“You get the silverware which we all want but if you asked do you want to win the League Cup with no dough or is it better to be in the Champions League with the cash, I bet you it’s a question a lot of supporters might find difficult to answer.
“The Champions League money keeps you at that higher level, keeps you in there, so is it better to win a trophy or to be so consistent and keep the finances at the level you want?”
Moyes will have Marouane Fellaini back from suspension against Arsenal and there is a chance Darron Gibson will be on the bench, but Kevin Mirallas is still suffering from a hamstring injury.
Everton and Arsenal face competition from Sevilla and Inter Milan for Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby, 22, who is out of contract in the summer.