Having a small squad and no fit strikers has at least made David Moyes's team selection easier in recent weeks. The Everton manager conceded that much yesterday, and one of his players talked about another knock-on benefit of being short on staff: an all-English defence that functions better because its members understand each other.
Everton have conceded just one goal in their last seven games, and that was in the satisfactory 1-1 draw at Anfield on Monday. The back four latterly has comprised Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Leighton Baines, all Englishmen, thrown together while Joseph Yobo and Nuno Valente have been injured.
"We've not done anything different, not tweaked anything in training, it's just fallen into place," Hibbert said. "Every one of the back four is confident. The strange thing is to play with a back four who are all English. We understand each other and going into games we feel very confident. That's all the way through the back four – confidence is a big part of football."
Moyes insisted ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup derby that it is his counterpart, Rafael Benitez, who will be fretting about team selection. "I think Rafa will have a big decision because he has a lot of players and when you have lots of players it causes you problems because you have to give them games, to keep them happy, he said. "We don't have that situation."
In a week when the value of the Cup to managers has again come under scrutiny, Moyes suggested it had lost some of its lustre, but unsurprisingly for a manager of a club who have won no silverware since lifting the trophy in 1995, he hopes to win it.
"I don't think it is the same Cup as everyone knew," Moyes said. "The draw is not on the same day as we wanted it on and they play semi-finals at Wembley, which no one wants.
"Overall, I think there is a general lack of respect for the FA – not for their Cup competition but generally for the FA. But I'm looking forward to being in the Cup and hopefully getting through. Obviously when it is a derby it adds even more spice ... we are looking forward to it. We will go there and try to beat them."Reuse content