Moyes settles for victory shorn of thrills and frills

 

The Everton manager, David Moyes, admits he has had to find another way to play to compensate for the departure of some of the team's most creative players.

Last January Everton lost Steven Pienaar to Tottenham and seven months later had to sell Mikel Arteta to Arsenal after he requested a transfer. Moyes accepts that the pair leaving may have had a detrimental effect in terms of flair players he has at his disposal but believes the determination and character of those who remain can make up for other deficiencies.

That was evident on Saturday when Everton came from behind to beat Wolves 2-1 at Goodison Park with a performance which was far from their best but still effective.

"The resilience among the players has always been here," Moyes said yesterday. "We are maybe a little bit like we were in the second or third year after I took over [in 2002] – I thought we looked a bit like that on Saturday. But we had some good years there and we won a lot of good games.

"Maybe we weren't quite with the free-flowing football of the past seasons but my job is to find another way of winning. At the moment we don't quite have the flair and ability to win it the way we have done in recent seasons with the likes of Mikel and Pienaar. But we certainly have a great heartbeat among the players and we will try to keep digging out a few results."

The victory was Everton's first at home since mid-September and only the second time they had avoided defeat in seven league matches. That run was against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, but ahead of them now are teams further down the table, starting with Bolton this weekend.

Saturday's win was only the second time since their defeat of Wigan on 17 September that Everton had scored more than one goal in a league match. Moyes said it was important for them to have done so, even if the goals did come from a free-kick and a penalty.

"We needed to get a couple of goals for the players to play with confidence," he said. "We need to take those chances. You can see there was an anxiety at times but that was to be expected because we have hardly won in seven or eight weeks. Defensively, we did a sound job because [goalkeeper] Tim Howard did not make a save on Saturday."

The defender Leighton Baines, scorer of the winning penalty against Wolves, thinks Everton still have players who are crowd-pleasers. "Royston Drenthe is an animated character on the pitch and he works really hard and gets people off their seats," said the England left-back. "It is exciting for us to have people playing in wide positions like him and Seamus Coleman, who both excite the fans. It is also good in terms of being able to put people on the back foot because you can give them the ball and they are the two we are looking for to do something different."

Baines' fellow England team-mate Jack Rodwell, who made his senior debut against Spain and was handed his first start against Sweden last Tuesday, missed Saturday's match with an injury sustained on international duty. Moyes is awaiting news of when Rodwell and defender Sylvain Distin will be fit. "Rodwell came off in the Sweden game with a rib injury," the manager said. "We are not sure if it is a twist or a kick; if it is a kick it won't be too long but if it is a twist it will be a bit longer.

"Sylvain has got a bit of a problem with his groin and it is a miss because we need those boys. We have got games when the physical element will come into question against the likes of Bolton and Stoke and it will be really important we get them back available for us"

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