With league leaders, and fat cats atypical to Moyes’ club Everton, Manchester City arriving at Goodison looking to extend their lead over arch-rivals United, Moyes’ men were looking to notch their manager’s 150th win as a Premier League manager.
The stage was set perfectly. Everton, a club strapped for cash, living off less funds and often unable to hold onto their best players, welcomed Manchester City, a club with endless finances and a team of superstars who had been assembled with relative ease.
Despite the imminent departure of Louis Saha, to follow other key players who have left over the years such as Mikel Arteta, Stephen Pienaar and City’s very own Joleon Lescott, Moyes’ Everton side won with the philosophy that has epitomized Moyes’ career.
During a 90 minutes in which Everton’s battling performances all over the field reduced both sides to few clear cut chances, it was a move crafted by Moyes that made the difference.
Marouane Fellaini initially won the ball in midfield, with only one of a number of strong tackles he put in over the 90 minutes, before the ball dropped to the feet of Royston Drenthe. Drenthe and Fellaini are typical Moyes’ signings. Even though one is on loan, and the other is the club’s record signing, their similarities start and finish with value.
Value in the transfer market has always been key for the Glasgow-born manager. Whether it is bringing in veterans such as Phil Neville or Tim Howard, or judging the risk-reward values of signings such as Phil Jagielka or Leighton Baines to the relative unknowns such as Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, Moyes consistency in the transfer market is uncontested in English football.
Moyes has built his team on these astute additions while effectively reloading it when necessary over the years. Fittingly, it was Fellaini’s tackle, Drenthe’s dribble, Baines’ cross and on-loan Landon Donovan’s set-up that led to the winner against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
Darron Gibson, the team’s most recent signing at kickoff, was the one to finish the move off which only furthered the fairytale that Everton fans enjoyed.
The goal was a perfect moment that encapsulated all that is good about Moyes. The graft and determination of Fellaini in the middle, coupled with the moments of quality from the wide-men, are both staples of how Everton have approahced the game since Moyes became manager.
Having been appointed as the manager in 2002, Moyes is the third longest actively serving manager in the Premier League. That in itself is an achievement with only Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger outlasting him currently.
The signs were there early for Moyes after winning the LMA Manager of the Year during his first year in charge.
Since then, Moyes has seen plenty of turnover as far as transfers go, most notably the loss of key performers such as Arteta, Pienaar and most notably Wayne Rooney, but he has always found a way to keep Everton competitive against the odds.
Bringing through talent like Jack Rodwell, Seamus Coleman, Leon Osman and Shane Duffy while adding veteran pieces like John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin to create a deep squad makes Everton a viable contender in the short and long-term.
Moyes is receiving some recognition for reaching the milestone of 150 victories, a feat that not many managers have done, but the reality is, he is not receiving anywhere near his due for maintaining such a strong Everton side in such tumultuous circumstances.
Leaving Everton isn’t something Moyes has ever seemingly even considered. One day, he likely will land with a bigger club, he’s too good not to.
For now however, Everton fans should continue to marvel in a magnificent victory. A victory that Moyes must take a huge amount of credit for.