David Moyes ready to give Roberto Mancini another bloody nose as Everton punch above weight

The last Premier League visitors to win at the Etihad head there again today challenging for a Champions League place

There was a lot of managerial talk in that rather retro midweek Premier League football programme but none of it finer than that of David Moyes reflecting, in defence of Arsène Wenger and in appreciation of Rafael Benitez's plight, that people get "bored" of longevity and get paid to put the boot in.

"There's a lot of people employed now in this business to talk about football managers, football players and the football business," the Everton manager said on Tuesday. "I know what it's like because I've been there in difficult times of different types. That's football."

It was generous, because Benitez has not always been entirely generous about him, but it reflected the turbulence of the past few seasons. There have been plenty of whispers wondering whether Moyes has reached the end of his tenure at Goodison in that time.

That he should today be travelling to Manchester City, a team for whom he represents a bête noire, believing he can achieve the finest accomplishment of his 10-year Goodison career – a Champions League place in the division's billionaire owner era – poses the question of why the Brendan Rodgers, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Martinez types are more fashionable than Moyes, all over again.

City are one of the clubs who represent everything Everton are not, taking some of Moyes's best possessions, Joleon Lescott and Jack Rodwell, and arming themselves so completely that the last time the Scot took a team to east Manchester he said he felt like he was going into a gunfight with a knife. They have given City a bloody nose back for good measure.

Everton's win at the Etihad almost two years ago – on the night Roberto Mancini was unwise enough to go nose-to-nose with the Glaswegian – was the last inflicted on the champions by Premier League opposition there. But even before today's encounter Moyes can carry the satisfaction that he got most out of the £34m received for Lescott and Rodwell – using the money to equip a side which suddenly and unexpectedly resembles top-four material, while Lescott is a player Mancini has always harboured some doubt about and Rodwell is yet to make a mark.

How deeply satisfying it must have been for Moyes to say at yesterday's press conference that he had not given any thought to the idea of taking back Lescott, who moved heaven and earth to leave Goodison in 2009 and is now dislodged from the team by Matija Nastasic. "If Joleon wanted to come back, if I thought we needed him, I'd be delighted to have him back," he said. "I'd have no problem having Joleon back. I've not thought about it but if he was available then yes, I think he'd be someone I would maybe show an interest in."

Lescott might care to look at the way Steven Pienaar – safely and joyfully restored from Tottenham Hotspur – played in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Wednesday. It was the best we have seen of the midfielder in many a month and it allows Moyes, who a year or so ago had no room for manoeuvre, to think where he might relocate him in the side. "I don't want to be predictable. I will move Steven now and again so people can't plan for it."

Rodwell's sale helped Moyes buy winger Kevin Mirallas, who has prospered as much as Nikica Jelavic – a player who Moyes feels might have had more than his six goals had he only been given the service he was getting earlier in the season. The manager can also reflect on the way that Leon Osman, a player he has always considered to be more intelligent than some of the big spending clubs realised, showed in his excellent England debut against Sweden what Everton have always known: that he can play like Mikel Arteta.

"I can't say it's gone under the radar because he's been selected for England but maybe he hasn't had the plaudits he's deserved. He's definitely made us play," Moyes said. "He is our Arteta.

"I said [when Roy Hodgson picked him] that I thought Ossie would help make England play; that he would take the ball, turn with the ball and change the direction of the play. He has got a goal in him if required. England have got a very good team but sometimes you just need that cog to make it work. Maybe Ossie helped get them on the ball and get things started for them."

Moyes knows that no sense of security can last long in football but with Everton on the edges of the Champions League places again he does feel he might be reaching the time when his players are his own, not simply there for richer clubs to plunder.

"It's taken a long time to get to this sort of point," the manager said. "But what we're looking to do at Everton is see if we can get to the point where it's easy to keep all your good players."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'