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DAVID MOYES believes protests from home fans disgruntled with the sacking of Nigel Adkins will have little impact on Everton FC's fortunes against Southampton tonight.
The south coast side replaced their former boss with ex-Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino on Friday, but Moyes and his squad are focusing on their bid to stay close to fourth-placed Spurs by taking three points from St Mary’s.
Some Saints supporters want to either boycott the contest in protest against Adkins’ treatment by chairman Nicola Cortese, or make their anger known by chanting during the game.
And although Moyes shares their shock at the decision to replace a manager who had steered Southampton out of the relegation zone, he is concentrating solely on the Toffees.
He said: “I think if they’re going to have a protest it’ll be more in support of Nigel Adkins. I don’t think Southampton supporters can protest the way their club has moved forward in the last two or three years.
“I don’t know the runnings behind the scenes or how much money the new owners have put in to get them to this situation but they’ve got a fantastic new stadium, a good academy set-up which they put money into. So any protest would be supporting Nigel Adkins more than anything.
“It could benefit us but I couldn’t be sure. You don’t know how it works when a new coach comes in. Some players will get a boost from a new manager coming in and there will be a lot really disappointed the old manager has gone.
“I was very surprised (to see Adkins go). I was actually talking to my staff in the week and complimenting how good a job Nigel has done.
“It was always going to be difficult after two promotions. Anyone who does that finds it’s a long way up. It looked as if he had got himself out of the bottom three and was moving up. I don’t think many people were looking at Nigel in that position and thinking he’d be sacked. I thought he had done a really good job.
“The new chairmen that have come into the game, that is what they think is right. As I said I don’t know the business at Southampton; maybe there are other reasons for it. From a distance, looking at it, Nigel has done a really good job. I’m a football guy who knows a lot about football and Nigel has done a really good job.”
Moyes is unlikely to have Kevin Mirallas back fit and ready to start this evening although the Belgian is eyeing a return against West Brom a week on Wednesday, and Darron Gibson is also close to a comeback.
“Darron’s not training yet but he’s due to start very soon,” said Moyes. “Maybe he’ll be OK in the next week or so, we’ll see how he comes through the next week’s training.”
DAVID MOYES has highlighted the reverse of tonight’s fixture against Southampton earlier this season as the point he became convinced his team were ready to turn on the style this season.
Two goals by Nikica Jelavic continued Everton's flying start back in September, as the Toffees came from behind against the newly-promoted Saints to secure a fourth win in six league games.
Everton have since gone on to show that start to the campaign was no flash in the pan, and Moyes hopes his side can continue to prove their consistency tonight.
“We’d probably kicked on from the few results we had at the start against Manchester United and then Swansea and Aston Villa,” says Moyes reflecting on that early season win.
“Sometimes you can put that down to just a flurry at the start but by Southampton we realised we were playing really well.
“We were a bit fortunate because we went 1-0 down and they had a great chance to make it 2-0 at one point but after that we took over and scored the goals. I’ve been excited from the start of the season that the team’s got a really good chance.”
The Blues boss knows the return to fitness of Kevin Mirallas will hep his side recapture the full extent of their attacking verve.
He added: “Undoubtedly we’ve missed Kevin to give us another edge. It might be we’ve not really flowed attacking wise as I would have liked. We’ve missed him for too long. He’s probably missed the bulk of it, 10 or 12 weeks. He was a big part of it in that early part of the season when we were at our best. He’s coming on. He’s getting close. He had a hamstring and I didn’t think it was that bad but because it reoccurred we had to give him the chance to get it right. He’s doing a bit of training and he’ll be ready when he’s ready.”
SOUTHAMPTON hero Matt Le Tissier has launched a scathing attack on club chairman Nicola Cortese, accusing him of having “a bit of an ego problem” and acting in a cowardly manner over the shock sacking of Nigel Adkins.
Adkins was axed last week despite a run of two defeats in 12 games to drag the club out of the Premier League drop zone, with Mauricio Pochettino immediately installed as his successor.
Pochettino will take charge of Saints for the first time in tonight’s home clash with Everton, at which protests are expected with one fans’ spokesman warning Pochettino must work hard to gain respect.
Le Tissier questioned both the timing of Adkins’ departure and the motivations of Cortese, who inherited the role of chairman from late owner Marcus Liebherr.
Le Tissier said: “I don’t know if Nigel was becoming too popular and the chairman didn’t like it – he does appear to have a bit of an ego problem.
“It is a little bit bizarre, but some of the decisions that have been made have been a little bit bizarre since the current chairman took over. In a way it wasn’t a surprise because I think he’s been looking to get rid of him for a while now.”
Le Tissier paid tribute to Adkins, who led the club to two successive promotions prior to the current season, and further criticised Cortese for refusing the chance to appear in public to explain his decision.
Le Tissier added: “We have lost just two in 12 in the Premier League and looked like a team that had turned the corner, and now everything is turned upside-down again.
“The fans are very appreciative of what Nigel has done.
“He is very, very well regarded among the players and supporters and sadly for him there was only one man who thought he wasn’t doing a good job.
“The strangest thing about it all for me was, he brings the new manager in about a minute after he sacked Nigel and then he hangs the new manager out to dry at a press conference on his own, which I thought was an incredibly cowardly thing to do. If he’s going to make those decisions surely he owes it to the fans to sit there and explain his decision, but he wasn’t brave enough to do that.”
Amid rumours of possible protests, Saints fan Steve Grant, who runs SaintsWeb, Southampton’s largest internet forum, said Pochettino could expect it to be a far from straight-forward start.
Grant warned: “As far as I am concerned he will have my support but there will be a lot of fans who will take the view that he has got to earn their support.
“It is going to be difficult given the run of games we have coming up.”
Pochettino will be plunged straight into a big decision as he decides whether to bring back top scorer Rickie Lambert, who came off the bench to score in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea. Adam Lallana faces a late test on a knee injury.
David Moyes fears that Everton’s top-four challenge could be derailed by the continuing absence of a key creative influence.
Belgian star Kevin Mirallas has been sidelined for more than two months with a hamstring injury, after he returned too swiftly when the problem first struck in October.
And the Toffees boss believes the cracks are beginning to show, as his threadbare squad tries to keep pace with the teams slugging it out for a Champions League place.
The Scot said: “We’ve missed Mirallas giving us another edge. It might be that we’ve not really flowed as I would have liked attacking wise.
“It’s shown in one or two results. We’ve missed him too long. It’s a problem.
“He’s probably missed the bulk of it, 10 or 12 weeks. He was a big part of what we achieved in that early part of the season when we were at our best and played some good stuff.”
Mirallas is still not ready to return at Southampton tonight, a game fifth-placed Everton must win to keep pace with the likes of Chelsea and Spurs.
But Moyes confirmed the forward has resumed training, and added: “He is getting close.”
He also hopes the shock sacking of Saints boss Nigel Adkins – and a planned fans’ protest tonight – will help his side.
“It could benefit us, but will probably be in support of Nigel,” said Moyes.
If English football operated at all rationally, the next major managerial job should go to David Moyes.
Manchester United or Arsenal if the long-term incumbents step down, Manchester City if they choose to part company with Roberto Mancini, Chelsea once Roman Abramovich spins his wheel of random justice again. Moyes has more than earned the chance.
There was a time when his methods seemed too conservative. The best teams have to work hard to break opponents down. They need a coach used to working on the front foot. That wasn't Moyes at Everton. Yet his style in recent seasons has grown more expansive.
One imagines with better players at his disposal it would grow again. In Spain or Italy a man with his track record would be given a chance. Only in England do we seek magical formulas from beyond.
Yet progress is rarely that simple. Sir Alex Ferguson insists he is not about to leave Manchester United, while, with Ashburton Grove almost paid for, Arsene Wenger would be mad to quit Arsenal without first seeing if economic circumstances change.
Some inside City suggest that Moyes' falling-out with the club over the signing of Joleon Lescott was so spectacular he would not be on their shortlist anyway. So, for now, that leaves Chelsea. And why would Moyes go to Chelsea?
On the eve of tonight's game at Southampton, Moyes surveyed the wreckage of Nigel Adkins' dismissal and paid tribute to his own chairman.
'Bill Kenwright allows me to run the club and make decisions as far as I can make them,' he said.
'Chairmen like that, with an old-fashioned relationship, are a dying breed. It's worked well for Everton.'
And is foreign territory to Chelsea, he could have added. Ferguson once advised his No 2 Steve McClaren to pick a chairman, not a club, when deciding on his next career move. McClaren chose Middlesbrough and Steve Gibson over West Ham and Terry Brown, and was proved right. The stability and success he enjoyed helped make him England manager. Applying Ferguson's logic, why would anyone of ambition pick Chelsea?
Abramovich must be hoping that Pep Guardiola has not started a trend in rejecting his advances. Guardiola is not quite the hero he has been painted. He has hardly opted to save Portsmouth. His choice was Bayern Munich, one of the powerhouse clubs of Europe and a major beneficiary of UEFA's new financial rules. Munich got to play a Champions League final as a home game; this is a club with serious clout.
Even so, Guardiola could have earned more at Chelsea but picked, not a chairman necessarily, but a regime. Munich get through their fair share of coaches, too, but not like Abramovich. A man who did the domestic Double in his first season and came second next time out would not have got the sack, as happened to Carlo Ancelotti. A manager with Jose Mourinho's track record would have got deeper than one month into his fourth season.
Money certainly wouldn't be the issue for Moyes, but success would. He is paid £4million annually, according to Everton's latest accounts, making him one of the few Premier League managers to earn more than any of his players; yet plainly the chances of lifting a trophy are greater at Stamford Bridge. As is the chance of the sack after six months, and not every ex-Chelsea manager is recycled as quickly as Andre Villas-Boas. So plenty to consider then for pound-for-pound the best British manager in the game.
Take the money and the chance or wait for the right opportunity? Moyes is ready to join the elite; but should he really be ready to join Chelsea?
DAVID MOYES has warned his Everton players to stay on their feet after Vincent Kompany’s controversial red card against Arsenal.
Moyes is worried that tackling is beginning to disappear from the Premier League after admitting referees are under pressure to send players off.
Manchester City captain Kompany had his red card for a challenge on Jack Wilshere rescinded last week.
And only last month Everton’s Darron Gibson had a ban overturned after his sending-off in the 2-1 win at West Ham.
Moyes said: “There is a change in the game and the emphasis is on less contact but not every tackle is a foul and not every foul is a booking.
“I actually think referees know that but the crowd plays a big part. Every time a player goes down you get a big shout from the crowd. Maybe the refs need to turn around and say they won’t be giving everything.”
The Toffees will be hoping to get a result on the south coast to maintain their push for the Champions League.
But Moyes fears that tough- tackling defenders like Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka could be putting themselves at the mercy of referees.
“We’re actually having to say to our lads ‘be careful’,” he said.
“We don’t want to get to the point where there’s no contact.
“I don’t think it suits us and we shouldn’t get rid of a lot of the good traits in our game.”
Saints fans are seething over new boss Mauricio Pochettino with many expected to create a poisonous atmosphere tonight.
“It could benefit us but I couldn’t be sure,” added Moyes.
“You don’t know how it works, when a new coach comes in.
“Some players will get a boost from a new manager coming in and there will be a lot of players really disappointed that the old manager has gone.
“I think if they’re going to have a protest it’ll be more in support of Nigel Adkins because I don’t think Southampton supporters can protest about the way their club has moved forward in the last two or three years.
“They’ve got a fantastic new stadium and a good academy.”