This month marks the 10th anniversary of David Moyes's arrival at Everton and these were very happy returns. In the programme that celebrated his birthday, Moyes revealed he is now the proud owner of a horse and, throughout his stewardship, Everton have finished like thoroughbreds after starting the season with the enthusiasm of a Shetland pony asked to leap Becher's Brook.
Having beaten Chelsea and Manchester City at Goodison Park, few should have been surprised that Tottenham were overcome here by a goal scored by Nikica Jelavic on his full debut. It says something for the constraints Moyes has had to work under that the forward represented the first significant transfer fee Everton had authorised in more than two years.
As they had in their defeats by Manchester United and (in part) at Arsenal, which wrecked their ambitions of a first title since 1961, Tottenham did not play especially badly. Harry Redknapp thought the result inexplicable, joking he felt "suicidal".
"How did we lose that game?" he asked aloud. "We battered them second half but we couldn't get a break in front of goal. We put in more industry than them and Everton couldn't get out of their own half. It was one-way traffic, they didn't have a shot."
Redknapp signalled his intentions after the interval by taking off his overcoat and standing in his suit, hands on his hips, watching Jermain Defoe carve out two good chances before introducing Louis Saha to a warm applause from his one-time supporters.
In the event, Defoe had a goal ruled out for offside while Saha sent a shot against the post. When it rebounded back, Redknapp knew he had lost.
From now until the end of the season, every time Redknapp sits in the dug-out he will wonder what he will be giving up should he exchange a very good club side for a distinctly mediocre international one.
His tactics drew criticism from his own supporters, who thought Gareth Bale should not be patrolling the right flank. "Gareth Bale, he plays on the left," they chanted. Redknapp explained that Bale is often stationed onthe right for Wales and, in the absence of Aaron Lennon, Spurs had nobody else. Should he become England manager, he will have to get used to more of this instant analysis.
Until Everton took the lead, Tottenham were confident and easy to watch; rolling out some beautifully constructed passes that didn't seem to go anywhere. Defoe's run was cut out by a superb tackle from John Heitinga while Emmanuel Adebayor found himself dispossessed by a lovely turn and back-heel by Leon Osman, who later seemed angered by Bale's propensity to go to ground easily. Yet for all that, Everton were ahead after 22 minutes. Osman drew the attention of three defenders before pulling the ball back for the Croat Jelavic to fire home.
It had been nearly three months since he left Glasgow Rangers admitting frankly that he was going to Goodison Park because Everton were the only club that had made a concrete offer to a regime that was soon to be swept into administration. These were not romantic words but Everton do not require men with an obsessive knowledge of Dixie Dean and Harry Catterick's "school of science". What they desperately need is a striker who can put away a half-chance.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Distin, Heitinga, Baines; Drenthe (Rodwell, 65), Fellaini, Osman, Coleman (Jagielka, 82); Cahill; Jelavic (Stracqualursi, 78).
Tottenham (4-4-2): Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Bale, Parker (Livermore, 86), Sandro (Van der Vaart, 69), Modric; Adebayor, Defoe.
Referee Mark Halsey.
Man of the match Osman (Everton).
Match rating 6/10.Reuse content