James Lawton: Everton are in crisis again. So who better at the helm than magical Moyes?

 

If David Moyes had a lower threshold of self-pity there was a good chance he would have tied one on quite seriously last Wednesday night.

He might well have greeted the dawn while in mid-conversation with the remnants of a bottle of Scotch.

Some big-time football managers have been known to react to bad developments in such a way, or worse – and with much less provocation than losing their most creative player by a mile, one so anxious to leave he was prepared to take a pay cut in the region of £20,000 a week.

Mikel Arteta offered this up to join Arsenal in the same way that Cesc Fabregas, at even more dramatic cost, did to leave.

If a football man like Moyes had ever considered the possibility of a breaking point, this one was surely a contender.

Arteta no doubt still had huge respect for Moyes' instinct for the job. But he also had a withering comment to make about his chances of moving Everton on with the bank already nibbling at his church mouse transfer budget. So the assessment took the form of adios, hombre, it's time to get out of town.

Naturally, the Moyes horse remained attached to the hitching rail. There have, of course, been other opportunities of his own to gallop off with his head held high.

One of his warmest admirers, Sir Alex Ferguson, offered him the No 2 job at Old Trafford, which many would see, with the dwindling cachet of Jose Mourinho, as an invitation to audition for one of the biggest jobs in football.

Nor can there be much doubt that a couple of timely phone calls would have given him the succession to first Martin O'Neill and then Gérard Houllier at Villa Park

However, if Moyes doesn't drown his sorrows, nor does he lightly surrender a commitment, however unpromising the going. The one he made to the blue half of Liverpool on the day of his appointment nine years ago is now part of Merseyside folklore.

"I'm from a city of Glasgow that is not unlike Liverpool," he said. "I'm joining the people's club. The majority of the people you meet in the street are Everton fans. It is a fantastic opportunity, something you dream about. I said yes straight away because this is such a big club."

This wasn't so much a job acceptance as the storming of barricades. But a big club all these years after the last of the glory managed by Howard Kendall, his midfield axis formed with Alan Ball and Colin Harvey, the fading of the Golden Vision, Alex Young, and the old empire of men like Joe Mercer and Dixie Dean?

Yes, Moyes insists, even as he is told by his chairman, Bill Kenwright, that horizons which have never been expansive are being pinched in quite remorselessly.

Kenwright is a man of the theatre, which is in some ways far from the worst kind you can be while dealing with the communal passions and appetites of a big city football club, but then it doesn't mean so much when Liverpool's latest form of American ownership so lavishly funds Kenny Dalglish that he can afford the cost, financial and emotional, of having Craig Bellamy as an optional extra. Or when Stoke City can summon Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios and newly promoted Neil Warnock is given the means to hire Joey Barton.

So where does it leave David Moyes? You might say it makes him the least enviable man in big time football. Well, yes and no.

There can be no doubt about the appalling nature of the Arteta affair, the frustration and sense of futility it must have engendered in a football man who spends his life eking out resources and then sees Arsène Wenger take away his best player, not in the kind of acute assessment for which he was once famous but another desperate lunge into a panic buy.

Even in extremis, Wenger shops in Knightsbridge while Moyes is obliged to rummage around the shelves of Oxfam. But then it is also true that as he goes into his 10th, and potentially most perilous season, at Goodison Park no one is likely to charge him with losing the plot.

His achievement has been remarkable in its consistency. It has been to buy Everton, season after season, the chance to survive as a serious football entity, to hold out the possibility that someone will come along with an eye for superb competitive values and the means to make an investment.

The loss of Arteta is such a heavy blow because the Spaniard offered so much more than mere survival. He kept alive the idea of fine, creative football. He had the craft and the touch that lifted everyone's hopes.

On a bitterly cold night in Johannesburg last summer Moyes warmed his companions with the pride he took in the performance of his player Steven Pienaar, a product of the townships who served his country well with football of superior quality.

He would lose him soon enough to Tottenham Hotspur but if you are a football man like Moyes you know how essential it is to celebrate your triumphs, such as they are, against the likelihood of hard days ahead.

No, David Moyes didn't reach for the drinks cupboard this week when he lost his best player.

He fed in a video of Denis Stracqualursi, his loan coup before the transfer window slammed behind Mikel Arteta. He is a kid from Argentina who scores lots of goals. He is the latest throw of the dice by the man who has kept Everton together in the most difficult of times.

About one thing, though, we can be sure. It will not be the last.

England delivers joyous glimpse of Olympic promise

If Hannah England did not exist, then the London Olympics cheerleaders would have been required to invent her.

Her brilliant, joyous run for silver in the World Championship 1500 metres was crowned by a zany celebration worthy of the young Goldie Hawn.

She appeared a little staggered by her success. For onlookers though, there was the equally remarkable sense that here was a young professional athlete who didn't seem to equate winning gold or silver with the challenge of fighting the third world war.

Dai Greene, who went one better by collecting gold in the 400 metres hurdles, also seemed relaxed about the challenge of attempting to reproduce his feat at the Olympic Stadium.

What both managed to convey so superbly, apart from their ability to seize the moment they had prepared for so well, is that apart from anything else the Olympics might just remind us of the unmatchable happiness of youth.

Eubank incident may help 'Bumble' see the funny side

There are few more genial souls on earth than the cricket pundit David "Bumble" Lloyd, but on the off chance that he is still nettled by his rough ejection from his beloved Old Trafford the other day he might like to hear of a similar experience endured by the former world boxing champion Chris Eubank.

It happened a few years ago when Eubank, who was due to broadcast, was pushed away from the entrance to the Thomas and Mack Center by one of Las Vegas's finest. The policeman was highly sceptical when Eubank insisted that he was an ex-fighter of considerable achievement, saying: "You don't look like a fighter to me, buddy."

Eubank's response, to be fair, could have been more helpful: "Don't be idiotic," he said. "Only a cretin wouldn't see that I am a pugilist of some renown."

If you are wondering, he was wearing jodhpurs, knee-length leather boots, a tweed jacket, a monocle and a bowler hat. He was also carrying a silver-topped walking cane but, mercifully, he had the good sense to keep it by his side.

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