"You are only right if you win, that is the problem the manager has." In a single sentence, David Moyes's assistant, Steve Round, summed up the taste in so many Everton mouths.
On Tuesday night, Moyes had fielded a weakened side in the Merseyside derby and taken the consequences. It was not a defeat he wanted but, had a refreshed side overcome Sunderland in the FA Cup quarter-final that followed, the tactics would have been justified.
Everton did not win, though but for an astonishing double save from Simon Mignolet that bore comparisons with Jimmy Montgomery's in the 1973 FA Cup final, they would have done. Despite Everton's record of never having lost at the Stadium of Light, Round admitted Sunderland would start the replay favourites.
"Yes, definitely," he said. "We had to win here and, unfortunately, we couldn't quite get there in the end. It is a fine line for the manager. Nobody was more upset with the result the other night than him.
"He has to take the tough decisions for the football club but, if we get a win at Sunderland and then reach the FA Cup final, will he be vindicated? I don't think vindicated is the right word."
It might well be. There were similar feelings at Goodison last season when they had drawn at home with Chelsea in the fourth round and yet they went to Stamford Bridge and won the replay. Moyes has never tasted defeat to Sunderland in his decade at Everton but he has also never won a trophy, a fact that drives him and others forward.
Eight years ago, Tim Cahill scored Millwall's winner that denied Sunderland a place in the FA Cup final. That Millwall then lost to Manchester United leaves "unfinished business" for the Australian midfielder, who declared: "I still take massive pride in the competition."
Everton: HOWARD 6/10; NEVILLE 6; HEITINGA 7; DISTIN 8; BAINES 7; COLEMAN 6; FELLAINI 5; OSMAN 6; DRENTHE 6; JELAVIC 6; CAHILL 7
Sunderland: MIGNOLET 8; BRIDGE 6; TURNER 6; O'SHEA 7; BARDSLEY 7; McCLEAN 6; COLBACK 6; GARDNER 6; LARSSON 6; BENDTNER 5; CAMPBELL 5
Scorers: Everton Cahill 23. Sunderland Bardsley 12. Subs: Everton Gueye (Coleman, 72), Stracqualursi (Drenthe, 85), Sunderland Vaughan (Campbell, 74)
Booked: Everton Neville, Heitinga, Distin. Sunderland Bendtner, Turner.
Man of the match Mignolet. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Everton 55% Sunderland 45%.
Attempts on target: Everton 9 Sunderland 2.
Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Att 38,875.Reuse content