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What The Papers Say - 6 October

A summary of Saturday's Everton news.

What The Papers Say - 6 October

The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.

Liverpool Echo



HE MIGHT be on the other side of the Atlantic – but Tim Cahill remains an avid Everton spectator, says David Moyes.

The Australian midfielder called time on his eight year-stint with the Toffees this summer after agreeing a £1m switch to US side New York Red Bulls.

But the 32-year-old has been enjoying watching his former club’s impressive start to the season on TV, and keeps in regular contact with the man who gave him his break in English football.

“He texts me and saying we’re doing great and so on,” said Moyes. “He’s in touch with me and he’s in touch with the boys and when I get a chance I’ll probably take the team out to see him in New York.

“I got a message from him after the Southampton game. He’s probably texted two or three times this season after games.”

Everton go into today’s clash against Wigan at the DW Stadium in second place in the Premier League, still within touching distance of the table’s summit.

And Moyes admits his own attempts to change his renowned intensity have helped towards the general buoyancy around the club.

He said: “I’m also having to try and improve. I’m trying to be a bit more relaxed at times. Maybe with maturity, maybe with age, maybe being comfortable in my position makes me do things a little bit calmer.

“I’ve got to say that there have been a couple of games when we’ve been a couple of goals up and as a manager you think ‘great’, but as a manager it’s not a result that makes you relax because you know things can change if they get a goal back and there have been games that could have gone that way. So we have to make sure that we don’t switch off and I want them to keep on going but sometimes when you play that way it is very hard to keep that going the whole time.”

Meanwhile, Steven Naismith has been suspended by FIFA for Scotland’s forthcoming World Cup double-header.

A disciplinary panel found the forward guilty of elbowing Serbia’s Srdjan Mijailovic during last month’s goalless draw at Hampden Park.

And a two-match ban rules Naismith out of Group A qualifiers against Wales in Cardiff on 12 October and Belgium in Brussels on 16 October.

Scotland manager Craig Levein said: “Obviously this is disappointing news, but Steven has been very honest and professional throughout the disciplinary process.

“We named a 25-man squad to compensate for any potential suspension, which has now been confirmed.”

Liverpool Echo



KEVIN MIRALLAS can get even better for Everton FC but must ensure he doesn’t allow his dream start in a blue shirt to lead to complacency, warns David Moyes.

The Belgian forward has hit the ground running since his £5.5million summer switch from Olympiakos, scoring three times in seven games and creating a host of chances for the vibrant Blues.

Moyes admits he has been delighted with the 24-year-old’s progress and sees plenty of further potential, as long as he is prepared to stay fully focused.

“I’ve actually seen a lot more in training than what we are getting so he will have more to come,” said the Everton boss.

“The more important thing for me is how he gets used to realising that every game in the Premier League there’s not a game where you can turn up and think ‘we should win this one’.

“I’m not saying that might happen in other places but he’s got to understand that.

“Also, getting his level of 90 minutes up I’ve just not quite got that but there have been parts of what he’s done that have been really good.”

Mirallas can operate on either flank and Moyes is impressed with the tactical options his flexibility has opened up for him.

He said: “He might be better through the middle. We’re playing him off the right just now because we’re still getting to know him and he scored a lot of his goals for Olympiakos last year off the left, so he gives me a little bit of variation.

“If I want to try something a little bit different in games, like I did against West Brom and it actually backfired on me, we can do that.”

Everton take on Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium today with Tony Hibbert (calf) and Darron Gibson (thigh) missing, although Steven Naismith is also nursing a slight calf problem.

Moyes hopes the trio will be back soon, and the international break will mean Gibson may yet recover in time to figure against QPR later this month.

“We need him back, he’s been out a long time,” he said. “We’re short on central midfield players, with not getting the extra players in on transfer deadline day.

“I’ve got Phil Neville, Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini who are playing every week. He’s still a wee bit away but maybe after the international break he’ll bit a bit closer.”

Liverpool Echo



WINNING – in the end it’s the only thing which has ever really mattered to Everton FC manager David Moyes.

And despite claims to the contrary over the years, the Everton manager does indeed also care about the style in which it is achieved.

Take for example the side he masterfully guided to fourth place in the Premier League in 2005.

That team may have contained more grafters than crafters, but in the end they got the job done.

That was always the priority, although now Moyes admits he is enjoying the football played by his present-day flair-filled side more.

In the same breath however, he is quick to point out the challenge of consistency facing his current crop.

“I think there is a difference in the quality (between 04/05 and now) but we had really good players then, senior players and if you said that to them they would rebut that,” says the Blues boss ahead of today’s game at Wigan.

“I think the challenge I am setting to the boys now is can you be as consistent as the team from 2004-05? That is part of the battle.

“You can win with flair but we won a lot of games 1-0 that year. We were consistent, hard to beat. So there are different ways of skinning the cat.

“We are maybe doing it slightly different, but what it comes down to is can you be as consistent?”

At times during the first half of their victory over Southampton last weekend, Moyes happily agrees that his side’s attacking play was outstanding but also says he wants more.

“There was a period where you said, ‘boy oh boy, this is as good as it gets.’ For me I was saying I want that for much longer periods, sustained,” he says.

“You would have to say that they certainly sustained it at Aston Villa for the first 45 minutes, at Swansea they did it for long periods so we have had games where we have been able to do that.

“We just have to make sure those periods we can make them longer and the periods where we are not playing like that we are hard to beat and not conceding goals.

“We are in good form just now, but how long can we keep it going. It is a test of the players to keep reaching those standards.”

The palpable satisfaction Moyes takes from his charges’ finesse football underlines the folly of the myth that he is a defensive coach. “Folk think that but I was brought up on the best attacking team ever, Glasgow Celtic, in terms of the style and what was demanded,” he insists.

“I have also played under coaches who’ve shown me another style. Did anyone think a manager taking over Everton who were third or fourth bottom of the league at the time would suddenly make them into the entertaining side the supporters would applaud and everything would change? Or did they think a manager could do that without vast amounts of money? What I’ve had is time to get to a point where I’m now asked questions about entertaining.

“If you want to use the word ‘entertaining’ I would rather use the word that we ‘win’. I have always had the philosophy that winning is everything.

“Winning and entertaining is the thing, what’s next best is winning so entertaining doesn’t really go anywhere unless you get the result.

“There are bits getting shown in every game where you can see the quality we have got and we are going into every game to try and win.”

Moyes has always claimed his approach has been based on what type of players he has had available.

“Part of being a coach is you have to find a way of winning. That’s your job, if you want to stay in work,” he says.

“For me, what’s happened is players come in and change how you play. Tim Cahill, for example, gave us a great number 10 and played around that. He reminded me of John Wark, a goalscorer for Liverpool and Ipswich. We brought Cahill in – a young boy at the time – who had a lot to do with how we played.

“We kept trying to improve it with centre-forwards like AJ, Beattie and Yak, to see if we could go a step higher, but we had restraints. We brought Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar on loan to start with from Sociedad and Dortmund. Their style helped change how we played, so as a coach you adapt how you play.

“If I didn’t have them, I’d still have needed to find a way of winning at Everton. I always want them at that end of the field, having shots. I’ve only been brought up that way. No other way. You can only win games with the tools you have available and if you don’t have that you need to find other ways of winning.

“Even now if I lose the better players through injury or whatever, I may have to play a different style again.”

Whatever happens – and Moyes fears his squad still lacks depth to challenge right at the top – he knows one thing will remain the same.

“The spirit actually exists and has grown,” he says. “I think it is in the DNA of the club, it is in the building and I think it is around Goodison. I think that spirit is there. At times when our form isn’t as good and we are not playing very well I think a lot of that keeps Everton going.

“I think people would walk into Everton and there is a smell of an energy, a working club and a good atmosphere. I think that is a good environment to work in.”

Liverpool Echo



BARRY HORNE:
WHEN Seamus Coleman burst onto the Everton scene as a 20-year-old in 2009, the praise the young Irishman received was effusive.

Hindsight suggests it was also, perhaps, a tad over the top.

The recognition Coleman got – let’s not forget that he was nominated in the 2011 PFA Young Player of the Year award, incidentally – placed a lot of pressure upon his shoulders.

The Everton way is to develop young players gradually. Slow and steady is the order of the day, rather than fast and flashy.

And so it is perhaps not surprising that, after that initial burst, Coleman’s career, and his profile at Goodison, stalled slightly. It is perhaps harsh to say his development went backwards over the past 18 months, and a series of niggling injuries certainly won’t have helped, but he was definitely not as impressive as he had been during those early days.

Yet, typically, the young lad has used his time away from the limelight to develop his game, to work hard and to keep improving. And the evidence of the last few weeks suggests that he is now ready to reap the rewards for his hard work.

He was excellent against Southampton last Saturday, setting up Nikica Jelavic’s second goal with a trademark burrowing run and cross from the right.

It should not be overlooked that Coleman’s grounding in football is as a right full-back, yet his versatility, and Everton’s situation at the time, meant he came into the side as a right-sided midfielder.

Now, back at full-back, he is back to his best.

And with both Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville well into their thirties now, the chance is there for Coleman to nail down that right-back slot for many years to come.

Liverpool Echo



LEIGHTON Baines is not the sort of individual to glory in another’s downfall, and anyway the Everton defender has plenty of respect for Ashley Cole.

But he’s also smart enough to realise that Cole’s Twitter meltdown yesterday potentially gave him a significant back-handed favour.

As Cole shot himself in the foot (at least it wasn’t the work experience lad this time), he also made it difficult for Roy Hodgson to continue with him as a permanent fixture in the England team.

It doesn’t mean he’ll never feature again, but with a player as bang-on form as Baines after his shirt, it was perhaps the start of the end.

Daily Mirror




David Moyes has challenged high-flying Everton to surpass the achievements of the 2004 team he regards as his best-ever at Goodison.

The Blues have started the season in style and stand in second place in the table going into the weekend, after producing some scintillating football which even their cynical manager admits has put a beaming smile on his face.

But as they prepare for Saturday’s short trip to Wigan, Moyes has urged caution, given the campaign is only six games in.

Before he starts dreaming about staying in the top four, he wants to see his current team show the winning style of his class of 2004.

“My question now to this team is, ‘Can you be as consistent as the boys of 2004-05?” he explained.

“We’ve started well, but we’re only six games in. The key is showing you can do this over a whole campaign, which is what that team did to qualify for the Champions League.

“They were so hard to beat. We won a lot of games 1-0 that season, and found out how to win even when things went against us, which is what you have to do to show consistency.

“That team had incredible spirit... but it’s here in this team too, and that’s why I’ve challenged them to show the same consistency. I think that spirit is in the DNA of this club – when people come into Goodison there’s a smell of it in the air.”

Moyes, who has been named Manager of the Month for September, believes this side has even more quality than the team of 2004, and has the potential to not only win matches, but entertain people in the process.

The Scot has often been criticised for the functional nature of his teams, but he insists he was educated in the art of attacking, vibrant football at the best school of the lot – Parkhead.

“I was brought up on the best attacking team ever – Glasgow Celtic – so that is in my blood, because of what was demanded and expected there,” he said.

“I want my teams to play that sort of attacking football, but sometimes you have to find a way of winning even when you’re not playing well. You can only do the job with the tools you’ve got.

“We are playing some brilliant stuff, it makes even me smile at times. But if we get a few injuries to our important players, then we may not have the depth, and so we will have to find another way to win. That’s where the challenge comes in.”

Moyes admits a change in his own attitude may have helped.

“I am trying to improve as a manager, trying to be a bit more relaxed,” he added. “Maybe I’m more comfortable because of my age and maturity, so I’m a bit calmer – though some would say I’ve gone soft.”

Daily Mirror




Roberto Martinez has hailed Leighton Baines as Wigan’s finest home-grown talent - and urged his new generation of kids to emulate him.

Martinez is delighted by the progress Baines has made since leaving Latics for Everton five years ago.

Baines, who returns to his old stomping ground on Saturday, is now one of the Premier League’s best left-backs and a regular in the England squad.

The Latics boss would like to see a Baines-type talent graduate from his academy to the first team every couple of years.

“He has to be the best-ever product of Wigan Athletic, given he is a regular in the England squad,” said Martinez. "And since he’s been involved with England, he’s gone on to another level.

“He acts as a great stimulus to what we are doing. When I arrived here, we set ourselves a challenge of being able to produce a Leighton Baines every two years.

“To do that, you need to have a structure where you allow four or five young players the chance to show what they can do in the first team.”

Martinez feels Callum McManaman is Wigan’s best hope of emulating Baines.

The 21-year-old already holds the record as the Latics’ youngest Premier League player, having made his debut at age 18 in the final game of the 2008-09 season.

“At the moment, I am looking at Callum McManaman, whose development has been outstanding this season,” said the Spaniard.

“And he can look at Leighton Baines as a great role model for where he wants to go.

“I think Leighton has helped change the perception that if you’re not a certain height or build then you can’t play in the Premier League.

“If you’re great at what you do - like Leighton over here, and Xavi and Iniesta in Spain - then you have a role in any team.”

The Sun

DAVID MOYES has challenged his great entertainers to keep their thrill-a-minute form going for a whole season.

The perennial slow starters are second in the table and have hit 12 goals — something which took them 11 games last term.

Yet it is the manner of their wins which has caught the eye and even Moyes admitted he would have paid to watch last week’s 3-1 win over Southampton.

Now the Goodison gaffer wants to see them follow the lead of the 2005 side, who earned a Champions League slot.

Moyes insisted: “You can win with flair but we won a lot of games 1-0 that year.

“We were hard to beat, so there are different ways of skinning the cat. Last week there was a period where you said ‘Boy, oh boy, this is as good as it gets’. I want that for much longer periods.

“I’d rather use the word ‘win’ than entertaining because winning is everything.

“Did anyone think a manager taking over Everton who were near the bottom at the time would make them into the side the fans would applaud?

“What I’ve had is time to get to a point where I’m now asked about entertaining.

“Back in 2004-05 we had really good players. The challenge I am setting the boys now is can you be as consistent as that team?

“That is part of the battle. But the spirit here has grown, I think it is in the DNA of the club. People walk in and there is a smell of energy.”
Daily Star




DAVID MOYES admits he is loving his team of Everton entertainers – but the Goodison boss has challenged them to match the toughness of his 2004-05 heroes.

Everton have got off to their beststart since that famous campaign when they finished fourth and their new attacking style is winning admirers as well as points.

They make the short trip to Wigan today on the back of an impressive performance against Southampton that still had their demanding boss purring yesterday.

Everton sparkled in the last 20 minutes and Moyes said: “It was attack after attack. There was a period there where you said, ‘Boy, oh boy, this is as good as it gets!’

“I want that for much longer periods. They probably sustained it at Aston Villa for certainly the first 45 minutes and at Swansea at times.”

They’re not the only ones getting excited either – Everton hero Tim Cahill, top scorer in the top-four season, is following avidly from his new club New York Red Bulls.

Moyes said: “He’s texted a few times – ‘Fantastic, great stuff, you’re doing great!’ He’s in touch with all the boys. I think he’s the mayor of New York now!”

And he added: “The challenge is to say to my boys, ‘Can you be as consistent as the boys in 2004-05?’ Because that’s part of the battle.”

Meanwhile, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has hailed Everton left-back Leighton Baines as the greatest player ever produced by the Latics.

He said: “Leighton has to be the best-ever product of Wigan Athletic given he is a regular in the England squad.”

Daily Express (new)




March 24, 2012. Everton are playing Swansea at The Liberty Stadium and are leading 1-0 but their hopes of securing a first away in almost three months are in danger.

A number of chances have been missed to secure victory and Nikica Jelavic, their new £5million striker, has been culpable. After one unexpected slip in front of a goal, a concerned team-mate – one who has played with all Everton’s big strikers in recent years – asks whether he is okay.

The answer he received from the Croatian, however, immediately showed him to be unlike any of the forwards who had gone before.

‘Why are you worried about me?’ Jelavic replied, almost indignant the question had been asked. ‘Do not worry about what has gone. I will score the next one.’

And he did. Single-minded and ruthless, Jelavic was true to his word. It is often said strikers struggle with self-doubt and issues with confidence – that was certainly the case with Andrew Johnson and James Beattie, two men who preceded Jelavic at Goodison Park – but he is cut from a different cloth.

Throughout a career that started with Hajduk Split and has taken him to the Barclays Premier League via spells in Holland, Austria and Scotland, Jelavic has had to answer questions about whether he could keep raising the bar.

Everton boss David Moyes initially considered signing the 27-year-old when he was with Rapid Vienna but felt Jelavic would benefit from another move before he was ready to play in England. Yet even when he thrived for Rangers, there were still concerns about his suitability.

It is why Everton never considered doing business at the initial £10million they were quoted last Christmas but when that price halved, they pursued the deal and since he arrived on Merseyside, Moyes has seen his club’s fortunes transform.

‘We know if we get the ball in the box often enough he is a good finisher and gets in good positions,’ said Moyes, who takes his side to Wigan today – where Jelavic made his Everton debut. ‘You look at him in the box and you almost think ‘boy oh boy, he’s taken a magic pill’. He comes alive in the area.

‘He has given us a sense that there is someone there who can really score. The question we were wondering about with Jelavic was how would he be in this second season? Last season was great for him but my worry was could he do it again? But he has started fine.

‘He has got a few goals and we need him. I do think that with (Kevin) Mirallas and Jelavic, you are seeing Everton with a greater scoring threat than we have ever had. It is making a huge difference. In the past we have had to stick in there and nick a goal. Now you are expecting Everton to score.’

That is certainly true. Jelavic may have an attitude to lifestyle more in keeping with laid-back compatriots such as Roberto Prosinecki and Slaven Bilic but his propensity for first time finishing is startling. At the end of last season, 41 of his previous 44 goals had been dispatched with one touch.

‘Of course they got him far too cheap, but that’s not Everton’s problem – it’s our problem and down to the unfortunate situation we were in,’ Rangers boss Ally McCoist told Sportsmail. ‘He is big, strong, physical and brings people into play. But it was his movement that really caught my eye.

‘I thought it was exceptional the first couple of times I saw him. Also, his desire to score goals was very impressive. He has more of that desire than some others. I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised to see him do so well, so quickly in England. I had no doubts he would go down there and adapt.’
 
This campaign has started in a similar vein and his double against Southampton last week – his second was a smart finish; a bullet header from Seamus Coleman’s cross – means Everton only have Chelsea above them in the table, while his tally now stands at 14 goals in 22 appearances.

Many will wonder how long Everton can maintain such a lofty position but if Jelavic continues to thrive, there is no reason why they won’t continue to be a menace to all.

So will he maintain those levels? Perhaps the best person to answer that question is Bilic, Croatia’s former head coach.

‘Nicky is a top player who has everything,’ said Bilic, who himself had a spell playing for Everton in the late 1990s. ‘But he will improve in England. He’s training with great players and is playing against great ones. His finishing, heading; the way he creates space and technique are all going to get better.

‘He is at a great age but his best years are still to come. He has no limits. I think he can become one of the most important strikers in the Premier League, without doubt. He is so down to earth, that is how he’s been brought up.

‘But he never has any fear. Everton have a great squad but they needed a guy who is not only a finisher – he does not need that to be playing well – but is also great in the build-up play. He’s just perfect for Everton’s style of play. They have found their natural goalscorer.’

Daily Mail




Steven Naismith is out of Scotland's World Cup qualifying double-header in Wales and Belgium after being hit with a two-match FIFA ban.

Everton attacker Naismith has been retrospectively punished for an elbow on Serbia's Srdjan Mijailovic in last month's 0-0 draw at Hampden.

Named in Levein's squad for next week's games in Cardiff and Brussels, the 26-year-old will now play no part in either game.

Daily Mail




David Moyes has challenged the most exciting Everton squad he has managed to replicate the consistency of the highest achieving group of his Goodison era.

Everton have made a blistering start to the season and four wins from six games have not only propelled them to second in the Barclays Premier League table, it is has triggered talk of a return to European competition.

The last time Everton began a campaign on such a positive note, they qualified for the Champions League in 2004-05. That achievement was made all the more remarkable as 12 months earlier they had finished one place above the relegation zone.

That squad, though, was made of teak-tough professionals and once they got into a groove Everton were very difficult to beat; the current squad may have more flamboyance but Moyes wants to see them match the old guard’s tenacity.

'I think there is a difference in the quality but we had really good players then, senior players and if you said that to them they would rebut that,' said Moyes.

'I think the challenge I am setting to the boys now is can you be as consistent as the team from 2004-05? That is part of the battle. You can win with flair but we won a lot of games 1-0 that year. We were consistent, hard to beat.

'So there are different ways of skinning the cat. We are maybe doing it slightly different, but what it comes down to is can you be as consistent? We are in good form just now, but how long can we keep it going. It is a test of the players to keep reaching those standards.'

Spirit as much as anything carried Everton in to the top four eight years ago but Moyes does not feel his current crop will be caught short if, at some point, results do not go as they have been so far.

'The spirit actually exists and has grown,' said Moyes. 'I think it is in the DNA of the club, it is in the building and it is around Goodison. I think that spirit is there. At times when our form isn’t as good and we’re not playing very well I think a lot of that keeps Everton going.

'I think people would walk into Everton and there is a smell of an energy, a working club and a good atmosphere. I think that is a good environment to work in.'

Proof that Everton is a club where strong bonds are forge came in the aftermath of last Saturday’s exhilarating triumph over Southampton came when Moyes switched his phone on and discovered a message from Tim Cahill, his talisman from 2004-05.

'Tim texts me and whatnot saying we’re doing great and so on,' said Moyes over a player he allowed to leave in July for the MLS. “He’s in touch with me and he’s in touch with the boys and when I get a chance I’ll probably take the team out to see him in New York.'

Daily Telegraph




When David Moyes’s anticipated move to Tottenham Hotspur failed to materialise last summer, the explanation offered by friends of Daniel Levy was surprising. Moyes, it was suggested, was too defensive, too rigid and too cautious to fit into the glamorous, exciting world of north London.

 Leave him to the dour, grinding northern afternoons where he is best suited rather than try to integrate him into the neon vibrancy of the capital city, was the patronising and unchallenged view south of Goodison Park.

With his side travelling to Wigan Athletic on Saturday fighting at the top of the Premier League, currently playing the most attractive brand of football in the country, Moyes now has justification in puncturing the myths surrounding his football philosophy.

He insists he is a pragmatic coach who adapts to the hand he is dealt, but he has never been a ‘defensive’ one.

“Folk think that but I was brought up on the best attacking team ever, Glasgow Celtic, in terms of the style and what was demanded,” said Moyes. “I have also played under coaches who’ve shown me another style. Did anyone think a manager taking over Everton, who were third or fourth bottom of the league at the time, would suddenly make them into an entertaining side and everything would change? Did they think a manager could do that without vast amounts of money?

“You can only win games with the tools you have available and if you don’t have that you need to find other ways of winning. If I’d tried to win that way five or six years ago, I didn’t have the tools. A little bit of money, a little bit of changing around and a bit of wheeling and dealing has made a big difference to us.

“If you want to use the word ‘entertaining’ I would rather use the word that we ‘win’. I have always had the philosophy that winning is everything. Winning and entertaining is the thing, what’s next best is winning so entertaining doesn’t really go anywhere unless you get the result.”

Now Everton have quality they have never possessed in such quantity under Moyes, the manager is looking for the consistency.

His most successful season was in 2004/05, when he broke into the top four, but that triumph was built as much on diligence and functionality rather than panache.

Moyes wants to add the steel of that side into the silk of his current crop.

“The challenge I am setting to the boys now is can you be as consistent as the team from 2004-05? That is part of the battle,” said Moyes.

The Guardian




David Moyes received another text from Tim Cahill last Saturday evening. "That was fantastic," was the verdict from New York on Everton's emphatic recovery against Southampton. Only a fool would have disagreed. Cahill joined Red Bulls in the summer but it is his former club who have been given wings.

Second in the table and more importantly at this stage, playing with a confidence and style not witnessed at Goodison Park for many a year, Everton's start has attracted admiration from the Australia international and beyond. "He's been in touch after games two or three times this season," says Moyes. "Apparently he thinks he's mayor of New York now. I'll probably take the team out to see him in New York if I get the chance." The longer-term incentive is a journey into Europe.

With 13 points from six league games, Everton have responded to criticism of their repeated poor starts and produced an identical points tally to 2004-05 when they reached the Champions League qualifiers. But it has been done in a more expansive, entertaining and adventurous fashion than when nine 1-0 wins helped them to fourth eight years ago. Moyes's team head for Wigan Athletic on Saturday with an average of 21 goalscoring chances per away game.

The Everton manager admits: "I think there is a difference in the quality but we had really good players then, good senior players, and if you said the quality is better now I'm sure they would rebut that. The challenge I am setting to the boys now is can you be as consistent as the team from 2004-05? That is part of the battle.

"You can win with flair but we won a lot of games 1-0 that year. We were consistent, hard to beat. There are different ways of skinning a cat. We are in good form just now but how long can we keep it going? It is a test of the players to keep reaching those standards."

In Cahill, Lee Carsley, Duncan Ferguson, Alan Stubbs and co, Everton were not short on character when they last competed at the top. Moyes sees no difference today. "Spirit exists here and it has grown," he says.

"Spirit is in the DNA of the club, it is in the building and I think it is around Goodison Park. A lot of that keeps Everton going. I think people walk into Everton and there is an energy, the sense of a working club and a good atmosphere. That is a good environment to work in."

The recovery from a fractured start to last season on and off the pitch began in January when the sale of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov helped fund the signings of Darron Gibson and Nikica Jelavic. Steven Pienaar, left, arrived on loan, then permanently in the summer from Tottenham Hotspur, and has been joined by Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo. Jack Rodwell apart, the squad remained intact this summer and there is arguably more depth and attacking options available to Moyes than at any time during his decade in charge.

"A little bit of money, a little bit of changing around and a bit of wheeling and dealing have made a big difference," he explains. "The squad was getting older so we brought younger players in and changed the age group." But, and as an early League Cup exit at Leeds illustrated, there is cause for caution amid the optimism and praise.

As Moyes, who has been named manager of the month for September, adds: "The balance of the team is good but the squad could still be a bit light. That, in the end, could catch me out. We are still short of central-midfield players and if you're talking about a squad to compete at the top end of the Premier League, I'm worried we are not going to have that level."

Moyes has appeared far more relaxed this season – though he is out of contract next summer and yet to sign an extension – and his team seem more ambitious. Yet after a summer when talk of a move to Tottenham proved only that, he denies there has been an overhaul in his managerial philosophy.

He states: "Folk think I'm defensive but I was brought up on the best attacking team ever in terms of style and what was demanded, Glasgow Celtic. I have also played under coaches who showed me another style. I want my team in the opponents' half having shots. I've only been brought up that way and no other way. But you can only win games with the tools you have available and if you don't have them you need to find other ways of winning. Otherwise I wouldn't still be in the job.

"I didn't have the tools to win that way five or six years ago. What I have had is time to get to the point where I am now being asked about being entertaining."


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