Liverpool jibes heighten Moyes' desire for FA Cup success


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The Independent Football

Six celebrating Everton players stood in front of their 7,000 fans in Sunderland after their 2-0 FA Cup win on Tuesday night. Every time their arms went up, so did the level of noise. Tuesday night was a good night to be an Evertonian, but it did not quite feel as good a night to be the club's manager.

Not because there appeared too many flaws in the demolition of Sunderland at their own ground, although even then, their manager scoffed at words like perfect, principally because they had missed good chances and only scored twice.

Perhaps you had to see the intensity of Moyes to understand that he would not have gone within a million miles of those six players celebrating, because after 10 years, reaching a semi-final is nowhere near enough.

Moyes' team-sheet for the Merseyside derby on 13 March should have given warning to everyone in English football that his patience in waiting for a piece of silverware to push all those plaudits out of the way has reached breaking point. Then Moyes made six changes and significantly weakened his team, who capitulated fairly unimpressively. Losing a derby is never pleasant, but the taunting from Liverpool's supporters ("10 years, and you've won f*** all') seems to have poured paraffin on the smouldering coals deep inside this fiercely driven manager.


Moyes has 10 years worth of praise from everyone in the game. He has built and rebuilt and he has done it without much money and he has found jewels in the lower leagues and has polished them and installed his burning desire inside every single one of them.

That was what impressed so much on Tuesday night. Call it fear or call it respect but not one Everton player would have been in a hurry to walk back into the visiting dressing room after Lee Probert had blown the final whistle to face their manager as a loser. You cannot consider Moyes a loser, not after making Everton good again without the finance to push on for the top four, but in his focus comes the notion that he will never consider himself a winner until he walks up those steps at Wembley, for a final, with his side victorious.

Liverpool in the semi-final will not be intimated, certainly not for their second visit to Wembley inside two months, but they face a team that has a collective desire so strong it blew away Sunderland in a way not seen since Martin O'Neill installed a pretty similar set of ideals there to Moyes' upon his arrival in December.

When the six took their curtain-call, Moyes had long since disappeared down the tunnel, not for him celebrating quarter-final victories any more.

Perhaps the comparison at this point should be to his fellow countryman Colin Montgomerie, a golfer who could never push his first major over the line. These things can often be about timing, and Moyes, at 48, has never been more hungry.

Who knows who won the Merseyside derbies in 1995? Who cares? Everton won the Cup and Joe Royle helped create a moment every Evertonian will cherish to their dying day. History beckons if the current Everton manager can get two games right.

"This is all about us," said Tim Cahill, who was one of the celebrating six. "We are too experienced to start worrying what Liverpool are doing. Being an Everton player is something I relish.

"Everyone can put figures on the table, but our manager has got the best record in the world when it comes to spending money and what he does for the club. As players, we have to make sure that money is well spent."

Collective responsibility. It is Everton's strategy to win the FA Cup.