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DAVID Moyes insists Marouane Fellaini is too good to drop for Everton FC - and he will give the midfielder a swift chance to atone against Manchester City.
The influential Belgian was substituted during his side’s abysmal FA Cup quarter final exit last Saturday, after he gave the ball away and did not attempt to win it back as Everton chased a 3-0 deficit in the second half.
Fellaini, 25, gestured angrily to supporters who remonstrated with him before storming down the tunnel, but while Moyes admits his key man was in the wrong, he maintains his previous good form this season must not be over-looked.
The seventh-placed Toffees face the tough task of bouncing back from that cup heart-break by beating the reigning Premier League champions at Goodison today, and Moyes believes he cannot afford to be without Fellaini.
He said: “I won’t have any trouble picking him - I’ll play Marouane against City because I have to give the club and the team the best chance of winning the game, and that will mean picking our best players, and giving them the chance to go out and make amends.
“I have spoken to him. We have looked at the game, studied it and he knows that he should have played much better. His reaction to that wasn’t the correct one and I’ve told him about it.
“Yes, he may have some making up to do to the fans, but you have to also look at the good stuff he has done for us this season.
“For the most part he has been outstanding and made a massive contribution. It wasn’t right (his reaction) but don’t forget all the good stuff he’s done. He has played a big part in our season.
“Most people had a really disappointing day, he found it tougher than most. His general play on the day wasn’t great and he was frustrated.”
Asked whether he thought Fellaini’s contribution to his side’s form has waned since January, the Scot said: “I don’t think you can go through an entire season playing in scintillating form.
“He may not be firing as he might but he’s still been influential for us. He is the only player I’m talking about but there were seven or eight others who we could equally be talking about. It would be wrong to single him out.”
DAVID MOYES insists Everton FC are not a club in crisis – as he prepared to revive their fight for European football next season.
The Blues camp has been smarting since last Saturday’s FA Cup quarter final embarrassment at the hands of Wigan, with plenty of criticism for the Scot and his players.
Some have questioned whether the defeat was enough to convince Moyes, who is out of contract in the summer, that his future lies elsewhere – but the man himself is in no mood to sit back and allow his side’s ambition this term to be buried with 10 Premier League games remaining.
He said: “The image of this club being in crisis is completely wrong. If you are an Everton supporter then what you saw last Saturday, you simply haven't seen very often all season or if you have it has been a very odd occasion.
“Look, if you are the manager you have to expect the criticism.
“But it isn’t something that you have seen here very often at Everton. Week in, week out you have actually watched pretty good football; we have been at the top end of the league, we have beaten Manchester United and Tottenham at home.
“We have been to Manchester City and drawn, we have drawn with Liverpool at home. You are not seeing a bad brand of football at Everton. Maybe some think they are.
“We have had a little bit of a dip in February. I said that. There have maybe one or two reasons but, overall, the players have done great.”
Moyes admits his decision not to rotate his small squad during their FA Cup run possibly contributed to their eventual downfall.
“Maybe our squad strength is catching up on us,” he said. “If you rotate your squad in the early rounds and get knocked out, people ask why you have changed the team.
“I changed a couple at Leeds (in the Capital One Cup) and we lost, so I made the decision afterwards not to change the team too much.
“Even against Cheltenham and Bolton (in the FA Cup) we didn't change, but you can find later in the season that has an effect. That is why managers do it.
“We are probably finding that out now, and finally running out of legs a little bit. But if we had got knocked out of the Cup earlier on, you would have been asking “why did you change your team?”
His decision to include club captain Phil Neville in the side at Darron Gibson’s expense last Saturday was also a bone of contention, after the 36-year-old gave the ball away in the build-up to Wigan’s second goal, but Moyes was quick to defend his skipper.
He added: “We beat Reading 3-1 and the team wasn’t dramatically different. Very little was mentioned that we had no Phil Jagielka was missing and the goalkeeper was out with a bad injury. There was a different focus.
“Phil Neville is a top player who plays in the big games and is a tremendous leader. I thought those qualities were required in the game.
“It was a freak result, they scored within seconds of the kick off each time, 20 seconds and they'd scored again, then another 20 seconds from the kick off they scored again - and that is almost unheard of. If you played it again, it wouldn't happen.”
Moyes believes he has seen the right signs in his squad this week that they are ready to make amends against Manchester City today, although he knows that task won’t be easy.
“I have seen a focus in the team,” he added. “I have seen it in their eyes. There is a sense of 'come on, we need to get back to it', but you have to take into the account the opposition we are facing.
“With that opposition and the level they are at we could play very well but still get nothing from the game. The most important thing is to see Everton back at the level of performance we usually deliver, even ahead of the result.”
The Everton players were booed off the Goodison pitch last Saturday, but Moyes is hoping the supporters can put that dismal afternoon behind them and focus on the positives this lunchtime.
“I would expect them (the fans) to treat the Cup game on its own, and not be looking back to it,” he added. “Because if you are looking back, then why concentrate just on last week - you should be looking back at what we have done all season.”
DAVID Moyes has denied last weekend’s shattering defeat by Wigan will play any part in whether or not he signs a new contract at Everton FC.
The Scot celebrated 11 years in charge at Goodison Park on Thursday but it has been one of the more difficult weeks of his tenure following the 3-0 home loss to the Latics in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Moyes’ contract runs out at the end of the campaign and earlier this season he indicated the Toffees’ fortunes in the remaining games would play a big part in his decision.
With Everton out of the cup and facing a real battle to qualify for Europe, the speculation has grown that Moyes may opt for pastures new as criticism from the terraces has mounted.
But the 49-year-old said: “The reaction to the defeat won’t influence my contract decision, that will be influenced by where we finish and what the players and myself feel.
“The way I am hearing the players talk, they are ambitious as I am and probably a lot of futures hinge on where we finish and what we do for the rest of the season.”
Everton’s fans vented their frustration at missing out on possibly two trips to Wembley, booing their side off at half-time and full-time.
The hostility was palpable but Moyes attributed it to expectations heightened by the impressive form his side have been in for much of this season.
He said: “I think the expectations have risen even higher. The team’s performances this season have been the best football we’ve played in my time.
“The quality of the players, the style they’ve played in, the way we’ve gone about our job has rightly so put Everton at a level where the expectancy was that Everton have got a chance of top four, Everton have got a chance of winning one of the cups.
“When that doesn’t happen then it’s a big shock, but it was a big shock to us as well, we didn’t expect it.
“Everton during the 80s had great teams and great hope but there wasn’t too much since then.
“Now, I think there is a bit of hope at Everton. This season we have provided the hope that we can maybe get back to those days, and so after a performance like that the fans are going to be disappointed.
“I do think the disappointment was so big that it has come out in lots of different ways.”
The Blues boss was quick to dismiss the notion he has taken the club as far as he can.
“It is insulting to Everton to say the club has gone as far as they can go, because this is a club where we always have to find ways of moving forward,” he insisted. “I don’t think the result last week was anything to do with tactics or motivation or anything else.
“If people are talking about a lack of ambition from me or the players then I’ll really love to know what their definition of ambition is, because all year I’ve tried to bang the drum to finish fourth and win a cup.
“I am driven to succeed and so are the players so I will need them to explain to me what they mean. If people are saying there is a lack of ambition in the team, we have got Kevin Mirallas, Jelavic, Fellaini.
“We have tried to play them often. We have tried to get goals and we attack. We have had more shots than any other team. I would need the word ambition explaining to me.
“Look, people are entitled to their opinions. We have had a bad day but if you have that opinion, I think you have got to balance it out with the six or seven months that have gone before where we have played really well.”
DAVID MOYES reckons Everton only look to be in crisis because of raised expectations at the club.
Last weekend saw the Toffees’ trophy hunt for this season end in surprising fashion as Premier League strugglers Wigan dumped them out of the FA Cup at Goodison Park.
Everton fans have been quick to criticise the team and the manager, who has celebrated 11 years in charge of the club this week without ever winning a trophy.
But the Scot believes having to field a full-strength team in every round of the FA Cup has had its effect on their thin squad.
He said: “There has been criticism, but maybe our squad strength is catching up on us.
“If you rotate your squad in the early rounds and get knocked out, people ask why you have changed the team.
“I changed a couple at Leeds (in the Capital One Cup) and we lost, so I made the decision afterwards not to change the team too much.
“Even against Cheltenham and Bolton (in the FA Cup) we didn’t change, but you can find later in the season that has an effect.
“We are probably finding that out now and running out of legs a bit.”
But Moyes believes their critics are forgetting what they have done on limited resources and insists the negative reaction from fans will not affect his future at the club.
He said: “I have taken a lot of the criticism and I accept that if you’re the manager, you are always going to get that.
“We were really poor last week but you don’t see that very often.”
Everton will be looking to keep their European hopes alive as they return to league matters today, but face a daunting fixture against champions Manchester City.
Moyes added: “I have seen a focus in the team, but you have to take into account the opposition.”
David Moyes has warned Marouane Fellaini he can never again give the impression he’s thrown in the towel while wearing an Everton shirt.
Toffees' boss Moyes will offer the Belgian midfielder a chance to redeem his demeanour during last Saturday’s embarrassing home FA Cup quarter-final loss to relegation candidates Wigan when champions Manchester City visit Goodison on Saturday.
Fellaini was booed by the fans when he was substituted during the 3-0 debacle, who were incensed by his body language and acute lack of spirit as their side desperately chased the game.
For a manager like Moyes, that is simply unacceptable.
He said: “His reaction wasn’t right, it wasn’t the correct one and I have told him that.
“He knows that he should have played much better, and yes, he may have some making up to do to the fans, but I won’t have any trouble picking him.
"I’ll play Marouane against City because I have to give the club and the team the best chance of winning the game. That will mean picking our best players, and giving them the chance to go out and make amends.
“Don’t forget all the good stuff he’s done. For the most part he has been outstanding and made a massive contribution.
“Most had a disappointing day, even if he found it tougher than most.
"He may not be firing as he might, but he’s still been influential for us and really, he is the only player I’m talking about but there were seven or eight others who we could equally be talking about.”
The fact that Everton’s woeful performance came almost from nowhere has shocked fans, and inspired some frenzied criticism of the team, the manager and the board.
There have even been questions over whether the Scot has taken the club as far as he can... even with the Blues still not entirely out of the race for the Premier League's fourth and final Champions League spot, and fighting bravely for a place in Europe.
It is clear that Moyes has been disappointed by the reaction even if he understands heavy criticism is inevitable after such a depressing defeat, but he insisted he will not allow any knee-jerk barbs to affect his deliberations over his future.
The manager has yet to agree a new contract, and will wait until the summer to assess his options.
He said: “I have taken a lot of the criticism and I accept that if you’re the manager you are always going to get the criticism when things go wrong.
“But the reaction to the defeat won’t influence my contract decision, that will be influenced by where we finish and what the players and myself feel.
“They are ambitious as I am and probably a lot of futures depend on where we finish and what we do for the rest of the season. What I will say though, is e were really poor last week but you don’t see that very often at Everton.
“If you are an Everton fan then you are not seeing a bad brand of football at Goodison - though maybe some think they are.”
In fact, Moyes believes some of the reaction has been inspired by the progress the Merseyside club has made, the hope he and his team have offered of better times to come.
Such optimism is epitomised by the feeling around Goodison that the team can bounce back and defeat even a top four superpower such as City.
Moyes added: “The image of this club being in crisis is completely wrong. If you are an Everton supporter then what you saw last Saturday, you simply haven’t seen very often all season, or in fact for several years.
“But maybe it has something to do with the hope we’ve given to the fans. Everton during the 1980s had great teams and great hope, but there wasn’t too much since then.
“Now, I think there is great hope. This season, we have provided the hope that we can maybe get back to those days, and so after a performance like that the fans are going to be disappointed.
“I have seen a focus in the team though - I have seen it in their eyes. There is a sense of ‘Come on, we need to get back to it’.
"You have to take into account the opposition we are facing - even if we play really well, with a team like City and the level they are at, we can still lose.
“But the important thing is the performance and the response, and I believe you will see that from this group.”
Moyes has a couple of late fitness checks to make, and is hoping centre-back Phil Jagielka will be available, but other than the return of Darron Gibson in midfield, will largely go with the side that lost to Wigan.
Joleon Lescott’s exclusion from the latest England squad has hardened his desire to leave Manchester City this summer.
Lescott was left out by Roy Hodgson for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro next week after a season of relative inactivity with the Barclays Premier League champions.
Lescott feels he cannot risk problems at club level interfering with his international aspirations and will reluctantly ask to leave the Etihad at the end of this season.
With a year left on his contract and City manager Roberto Mancini revealing that he tried to sign another central defender in January, there seems little likelihood that the Italian will stand in Lescott’s way.
City are likely to ask for a fee in the region of £4million for the 30-year-old — a fraction of the £24m they paid Everton to secure his services in 2010. The Goodison Park outfit and Aston Villa are expected to be interested.
Mancini also revealed that captain Vincent Kompany will not recover from his calf injury in time for this afternoon’s trip to Everton but has a chance of playing against Newcastle next weekend.
Injured striker Sergio Aguero has the same diagnosis.
Lescott is unlikely to play on Saturday as he has fallen behind Kolo Toure in the pecking order.
Mancini said: ‘We should have bought another defender at the end of the transfer window. We made a mistake in this case.
‘As regards Joleon, he is a good quality man and serious professional player. He has played a lot in the last month. I don’t know why he has been left out of the squad for England but all the newspapers have pushed for Rio Ferdinand.’
City, who are 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United, have been beaten five times by Everton during Mancini’s three years at the club.
The Italian wants City to embark on a winning run, hoping United falter before the trip to Old Trafford on April 8.
‘The next two or three games are crucial,’ he said. ‘If United lost some points then maybe...
‘United have been very strong all season and have played some fantastic games. Now they have 10 games to the end and it could be a difficult moment. We hope, we hope.’
Everton face a fight to hang on to David Moyes after Schalke made him one of their top choices to succeed outgoing coach Jens Keller at the end of the season.
Keller was appointed in place of the sacked Huub Stevens on a six-month deal at the end of December, just as Moyes was going public with his admiration for German football.
It was noted in the Schalke boardroom, and sources close to the ambitious Bundesliga club insist he is now being considered for their imminent vacancy, along with Eintracht Frankfurt’s Armin Veh.
Keller has already been told he will not be kept on, and the search for a new face at the helm has already taken in former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo, who attended a recent Schalke game.
German-speaking Di Matteo is not yet out of the running, though he does now appear to be behind Veh and Moyes on Schalke’s wanted list.
Like Veh, who has transformed Frankfurt’s fortunes this season, Moyes is out of contract in the summer and has yet to agree a new deal.
Schalke have been impressed with his achievements in over a decade at Goodison Park and are tempted to try and make him their first-ever British manager. They have just one reservation, however, that could yet tip the balance Veh’s way.
‘Ideally, they want a coach who can speak German,’ said a source. ‘That is increasingly the way among Bundesliga clubs, and, if Moyes wants the job, he may have to follow Pep Guardiola’s lead and learn the language in a hurry.’