Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Moyes knows his time with Everton is up

David Moyes looks to have taken Everton as far as he can

For the Manchester United v Real Madrid game last week I had the privilege of working alongside Everton manager David Moyes.

I really like David. I rate him very highly as a manager and just as much as a person. He never shirks a question: he's straightforward and honest to the core.

Perhaps that's why I shy away from asking anything that might embarrass him.

Though I've felt for quite a while that he and Everton might be going separate ways – what more can he do there? – I've never put him on the spot.

Instead, when we met up, I shook his hand and said it's terrific the way Everton are sitting high up in the Premier League.

"Yes Alan," he replied. "But we're playing right to our limit."

I thought it a somewhat downbeat assessment of their position, but maybe David had a premonition of what was to happen on Saturday at Goodison Park.

Everton, with sights set on another Wembley FA Cup semi-final appearance, weren't simply beaten by Wigan: they were outplayed in every area of the pitch.

There's no route to Europe that way now and five of their remaining league fixtures are home to Manchester City, which is next up, and away to Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. In table terms, they'll almost certainly drift downwards.

There were many aspects to the Wigan game that are deeply troubling from an Everton perspective. The abject nature of the performance, of course, but also the reaction of the home fans, usually amongst the most vociferous and supportive in the land.

Some were leaving the ground before half-time after the visitors, who'd lost heavily to Liverpool at home a week earlier, scored three times in four minutes.

Boos sounded all around Goodison when the referee blew his whistle for half-time. By the end of the game and in spite of an improved second-half display, there weren't many fans still in their seats. Those that were booed again.

The crowd had already singled out one particular culprit.

Marouane Fellaini, with the possible exception of Leighton Baines, has been Everton's player of the season. The Belgian has been outstanding, at times unplayable, but, against Wigan, he was abysmal.

Worse, when he played misplaced pass after misplaced pass, he seemed indifferent to what happened next.

Moyes substituted him after the worst example in the 64th minute and he was booed off the field and went straight down the tunnel. Everton players DON'T do that.

Maybe it was just a very bad day at the office for Fellaini, his team and the manager, but the whole atmosphere leant a feeling that change is in the air and perhaps needed.

The Belgian will be attracted elsewhere and I can't think it'll be long before Moyes is finally offered a route out too ... IF he's seeking one.

Oh ... and Wigan were really, really good.

Roberto Martinez says they have '10 finals' to play in the league. Play like that and they'll survive.

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