Moyes remains confident, though, that Everton will prove to be a better side than the one that finished fourth last season and wants another taste of Champions' League football. They will have to start their climb up the table without Phil Neville, who was sent off in the 90th minute following his second bookable offence of the second half. And Moyes's confident boast was hard to believe on this showing. He also admitted he is unlikely to sign the striker he craves before Wednesday's transfer deadline.
Fulham got the better of them this time, just as they did six Premiership games ago, when the match winner here, Brian McBride, was also a goalscorer at the end of April. They have often been tipped as relegation candidates, but Fulham have never occupied one of the bottom three places of the Premiership table and a second-half goal from their American striker earned them the first win of the season to maintain that impressive run.
But both teams were poor and Fulham got just about what they deserved for being slightly better and a shade more adventurous. Fulham celebrated as if they had won a final as the Everton brigade trudged off for their second miserable long trip home of the week. "That's a big three points for us," admitted the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman. "We've got two weeks without playing now and the lads are going away on a high. I'm delighted for Brian McBride, too. He is not a Thierry Henry, but is a terrific pro and the lads in the dressing-room worship him just as the fans on the terraces do because he puts so much into the game."
Both teams started badly or cautiously, depending on your bias, as they tried to recover from telling midweek defeats. Everton had a lot to prove after falling at their first hurdle of the European Cup, getting knocked down into the Uefa Cup by virtue of their defeat by Villarreal on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in north London, Fulham were getting taught a footballing lesson by Arsenal. Those games clearly had taken their toll on some weary looking legs in a dire first half.
Neither side made any changes to liven things up at the start of the second half although some gaps in the crowd indicated a few spectators might have wisely sneaked out during the break.
How fickle we can all be, though, because the game suddenly came to life midway through the second half. Well, Fulham scored a goal and had a few attacks that could have led to more.
They won the game in the 57th minute when McBride swept home a low cross from the right from Moritz Volz. Nigel Martyn had no chance, but the Everton goalkeeper was caught flapping moments later when he struggled to catch a mis-hit Steed Malbranque cross that got caught in the wind and nearly sneaked under the crossbar.
Fulham were ultimately good value for their first win, but there was still time for some drama at the other end as Duncan Ferguson came off the bench to have an 87th-minute header saved.
Then, in the 90th minute, Neville was sent off by the referee, Mike Riley. The summer signing from Manchester United had been booked in the 71st minute for a foul on Malbranque, but saw red when he was shown a second yellow for a petulant trip on Tomasz Radzinski.Reuse content