At both Everton and Manchester United it was independence day. However, in contrast to Old Trafford, where Sir Alex Ferguson’s goodbye was staged like a North Korean rally, David Moyes’s farewell was understated and in its way classier.
When Moyes emerged from the tunnel to take his seat, the ground rose to the man who had been their manager for 11 years. It was the sort of reception someone leading the Open might expect as they strode down the 18th fairway. Moyes acknowledged them with a golfer’s wave.
It was rather more emotional after the final whistle when the time came for the lap of honour. He seemed to take a moment to compose himself before emerging to the strains of the Liverpool children’s song, Johnny Todd, better known as the theme to Z Cars.
Moyes is at heart a private man. While Ferguson frequently refers to Cathy and Harry Redknapp is forever stating how his Sandra would have put a chance away, Pamela Moyes and his deep Christian convictions are never talked about.
When the view from the home dug-out changes from the Archibald Leitch latticework at Goodison to the giant shadow cast by the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, that privacy might take some protecting.
Yesterday, however, was a moment to reflect on what he had achieved since he first walked into Everton, declaring that it was “ the People’s Club’, a piece of inspired PR that an advertising agency would have charged tens of thousands to replicate. The phrase and a banner with Moyes’s face upon it, is the first thing you see as you turn into Goodison Road.
“It was really emotional from the moment I came in to find all the stewards clapping me,” said Moyes. “I didn’t really know what to do. It was the same on my first day here when I went on the pitch and the crowd probably didn’t know who I was.
“I am fortunate I had the reception I had today. I am humbled. More important, was how well Everton played. They played like a top team and they would have been a match for any side that came here.
“What I will miss is what you saw in the second half. The supporters weren’t cheering David Moyes they were cheering their football club. That was the toughest part for me today. The crowd showed how big Everton are and what it means to them.
“Theirs is a club that has had some difficult times. I don’t want to labour the point but we don’t have what a lot of people have got but we don’t half make up for it in other ways.”
Everton’s debt to Moyes runs deep. Of all the many things Ferguson did at Old Trafford, he did not save Manchester United, who had never finished lower than fourth under Ron Atkinson. The club Moyes inherited was exhausted, on the brink of insolvency and heading for relegation.
This had echoes of Moyes’s first game at Goodison. Then as now, the opponents were a middling London side, Fulham then, West Ham now. Then as now, Everton scored early and won 2-0.
It was a nice statistical touch but the margin of victory ought to have been much higher. West Ham looked so ready for their summer holidays that they might as well have placed towels on the grass and begun reading an Andy McNab thriller. Andy Carroll headed against the bar and James Collins threw himself about manfully but their manager was not impressed.
“I warned the players what to expect but they chose to take no notice of me,” said Sam Allardyce. “There was only one man in my team who did their job and that was my goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen.”
Leon Osman, the only member of the Everton starting line-up who could remember the club before Moyes, was denied three times in front of the Gwladys End by saves that ranged from good to astonishing.
Jaaskelainen had no answer to either of Mirallas’s goals. The first came after a lovely exchange of passes between Maroune Fellaini and Steven Pienaar that Mirallas met on the edge of the area. The second was an instinctive individual run from the Belgian that struck the underside of Collins’s desperately outstretched thigh before burying itself in the net. Everton’s domination was total.
An hour after the final whistle, Goodison was eerily silent save for the sight of the chairman, Bill Kenwright, walking around the perimeter of the pitch. He knew there would have to be changes before next season. The hoarding behind him that proclaimed: “In Moyes We Trust”, however true it might have been, would have to go.