Does Moyes need Everton more than they need him?
As the players trudged off the turf after a crushing FA Cup defeat, Everton Football Club were crestfallen. Three goals in as many minutes saw Wigan Athletic deal the Blues the hammer blow that confined them to another season without silverware, a mill...
As the players trudged off the turf after a crushing FA Cup defeat, Everton Football Club were crestfallen.
Three goals in as many minutes saw Wigan Athletic deal the Blues the hammer blow that confined them to another season without silverware, a millstone that clings heavily around the neck of manager David Moyes and his club as a whole.
Many fans hung around Goodison Park after the final whistle to vent their frustrations at the worst performance of the season in what was undoubtedly, the biggest match of their campaign.
Of course, Everton have been here before.
The defeat meant that twice in less than 12 months, the blue half of Merseyside have been eliminated from England’s premier cup competition in a tie where the word ‘final’ is uttered.
In April 2012, David Moyes’ side were beaten 2-1 at the semi-final stage by their bitter local rivals Liverpool, and on the day that saw the Grand National take place at Aintree Racecourse, it was easy to use the racing terminology to describe their defeat as a ‘final furlong collapse’ in the penultimate game before a Wembley final.
On that day, it was Andy Carroll’s late header that gave Kenny Dalglish’s side the win and saw them book their place in the final, and the aftermath of the defeat saw David Moyes have his future at the club called into question by fans, pundits and journalists alike.
The feeling was that the crushing loss to their fierce rivals would see Moyes question if he had taken his side as far as he could.
Since the defeat, both Moyes and the Blues as a whole have put the bitter disappointment of the exit behind them, dusted themselves off and have performed admirably in the Premier League this season.
However, despite the latest setback against Wigan offering similarities to the defeat to the Reds last year, the feeling amongst Everton fans this time round is slightly different.
Many feel that Moyes was too cautious in his approach against a side who are perennial Premier League strugglers and sat just one place above the relegation zone at the time of kick-off last Saturday.
The theory was that while it is prudent management to prepare for your opponents’ strengths, the decision to start Phil Neville ahead of Darron Gibson in midfield and the selection of just one striker in the form of Nikicia Jelavic was seen as criminal.
So what does Moyes do next?
Time and again he has saw his side come up short when it really matters. Since joining in 2002, the closest he has been to a trophy at the Blues was when his side took a first minute lead in the 2009 FA Cup final to Chelsea, only to be undone by goals from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
The Scot has unquestionably had the Blues punching above their weight for several seasons, and their unlikely push for a Champions League spot this term has been a breath of fresh air to the Premier League.
Moyes has said that he will not decide his future until the summer, and there is a growing feeling from many that the former Preston North End boss will call time on his 11-year association with Everton.
A chronic lack of investment at the club means Moyes has never been able to compete with most other clubs in the league and has had to rummage around the lower end of the transfer market for years, unearthing bargains, polishing their skills and selling them for a profit.
Should Moyes stick with the Blues, it will represent a calculated gamble, a risk that could see his reputation as a manager plummet should he struggle to continue his consistency with the Blues.
But does Moyes need Everton more than they need him in 2013?
Moyes may be forced to survey the managerial landscape at the end of the campaign and surmise that there are currently no other clubs out there who he could walk into that are better than Everton.
For years it has been assumed wisdom that Moyes will leave the Blues for a ‘bigger club’. Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and even Manchester United have been mentioned, but at the end of the campaign, when he decides his future, perhaps, a good look at the situation will cause him equate that the grass at Goodison Park is in fact no less greener than anywhere else.