ON the day of a special landmark for David Moyes, the banner displayed in the packed away end at a snowy Reebok Stadium said it all.
500 games. 500 more. EFC Legend.
Many players have come and gone in over a decade since Preston’s flame-haired coach first strolled into Goodison Park in March 2002 and declared his new employers to be “The People’s Club” but he remains the one consistent factor in the upturn in fortunes of a previously moribund footballing Behemoth who had recorded just one top half finish in the Premier League over the previous 10 years.
For the first time so far in the Scot’s Everton tenure, he has this season allowed his contract to run down and, given that his current deal expires in the summer, at this point in time it remains uncertain whether he’ll still be at the helm at Goodison when the 2013-14 campaign kicks off.
Moyes has quite understandably admitted that he requires reassurances as to the direction the club intends to go in the future before putting pen to paper but it is to be hoped that his tongue was firmly in his cheek in regards to comments made by him over the past 12 months insinuating that given his longevity at the club, Evertonians might want to see a different face in the dugout sometime soon.
The vast majority of Blues remain fully behind the man they know is the best option for their club and given their unyielding support for him, they too should remain his preferred choice.
All this for someone who for all his consistency in the Premier League, is still waiting to win a trophy almost 11 years after his appointment.
Both Moyes and fans alike are desperate for Everton to win the FA Cup this season.
Having had his fingers burned making wholesale changes at Leeds United in the Capital One Cup earlier this season, Moyes, like he’d done at Cheltenham Town in the third round earlier this month, named a full-strength side against Bolton Wanderers.
Surely one piece of domestic silverware per decade is not too much to ask of a club of Everton’s size and standing – especially with such a talented manager at the helm?
It’s not like Blues supporters are being greedy or unrealistic, demanding the Champions League or the Premier League title (the current drought of over 25 years since they were last English champions is the longest in the club’s history) but since Joe Royle’s ‘Dogs of War’ defeated Manchester United in 1995 there will have been 35 names engraved onto the honours list of the FA Cup and League Cup – including either Swansea City or Bradford City next month – and not one of them reads ‘Everton’.
With the 18th Anniversary of Paul Rideout’s Wembley winner fast approaching, if Moyes’s men don’t triumph under the Arch this May, there will be adults not even born the last time the Blues won something, never mind a whole generation under the age of 25 who can’t even remember that last success.
Back in 2009, when Everton came closest to ending that barren run, losing 2-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup final following a run that had seen them knock out Liverpool, Manchester United and a talented Aston Villa side at the time en route to the final, Moyes declared that it would be “when” rather than “if” his Blues side won a trophy.
Still searching four years on, his commendable team selections in the competition strongly suggest he’s going all out to remedy the situation this spring if at all possible – even in weeks like these when he’s got two crucial Premier League fixtures in the space of four days.
If ultimately it scuppers aspirations of finishing in the top four and finally securing a place in the land of milk and honey that is the Champions League then so be it, the manager himself has admitted it’s a risk he’s willing to take.
Surely, success in the league and cup can feed of each other anyway.
The current Everton side is more talented than the one that finished fourth in 2005 but given the strength of the league now they’ll be hard-pressed to repeat the feat.
If a top four spot or FA Cup final win can be achieved then Moyes and company could start celebrating a brand new era of success at Goodison Park.
Either way, as the banner goes, Here’s to the next 500 games.
It’s over to you, Davey.