Manchester City v Manchester United: Why David Moyes feels he owes Manuel Pellegrini one...

Last time managers met, Scot was cruelly denied chance to take Everton to the big time. Simon Hart speaks to those involved

When Manchester United manager David Moyes shakes hands with his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini at pitchside before Sunday’s Manchester derby, he could be forgiven for thinking, somewhere in the back of his mind: “I owe you.”

After all, this may be the first derby encounter since the pair took the respective reins at United and City but they have met before in a match which, for all the hype swirling around Manchester this weekend, had considerably more at stake and delivered a controversy that still rankles with Moyes to this day.

It was the Champions League third qualifying round tie between Moyes’s Everton and Pellegrini’s Villarreal in August 2005. For both managers, the prize was a place in the group stage for the first time, and with it a £20m windfall. In Moyes’s case, it was the chance to build on the Merseyside club’s fourth-placed finish of 2004/05 – the best of his Goodison reign – but instead it was Pellegrini who prevailed, albeit only after referee Pierluigi Collina disallowed a perfectly legitimate Duncan Ferguson header which would have levelled the aggregate scores in the second leg in Spain.

For Moyes, the controversial circumstances left a bitter aftertaste still evident when he was asked about his past Champions League experience last week. “I still think it was the biggest turning point in my Everton history,” he said, as he reflected on how “that pot of money” could have propelled Everton forward. Remembering Collina’s baffling call in the Italian’s final match before retiring, he even opened the door to conspiracy theorists when speculating that Uefa “could not have afforded to have had five English teams in the main draw”.

That was the summer Liverpool, Champions League winners in Istanbul but fifth in the Premier League, were handed a place in the first qualifying round. Come the draw for the third qualifying round, Mikel Arteta held his head in his hands when Everton were pitted against Villarreal. “We knew it was a worst possible scenario,” recalls David Weir, the former Everton defender.

Yet Weir, now manager of Sheffield United, adds that Moyes had Everton “well versed” to face Pellegrini’s side. “They played with two deep-lying midfielders probably before its time. Marcos Senna was one of them. [Juan Roman] Riquelme was a big piece of the jigsaw too – he could basically go where he wanted, do what he wanted.”

Pellegrini had taken charge of Villarreal the previous summer – his first job in Europe – yet immediately led them to the Uefa Cup quarter-finals as well as an unprecedented third place in La Liga. As with the Malaga side he took to the Champions League quarter-finals last season, Pellegrini was adept at instilling belief in his players and his principal demands, says Javi Venta, the former Villarreal defender now at Brentford, were the same regardless of the opposition – “trying to keep hold of the ball, pass the ball and create some chances” – though they knew Moyes’s men would provide a different kind of test. “We had the chance to get into the Champions League for the first time but we knew it was going to be hard. Everton were a strong, direct team, they got the ball down the wings and we had to cope with that.”

They did more than cope in a 2-1 first-leg victory at Goodison Park, Luciano Figueroa and Josico scoring either side of James Beattie in the first half. Kevin Kilbane, the Everton midfielder, believes that “nerves, expectation got the better of the team” that evening but the Merseysiders were more like themselves in the second leg at Villarreal’s compact El Madrigal ground.

For Pellegrini, the prize must have felt ever closer when Villarreal took the lead after 21 minutes with a fortuitous Juan Pablo Sorin goal. “A shot hit me and wrong-footed the goalkeeper,” Weir remembers. However, Everton came back into the game in the second period as Kilbane recalls: “We said to ourselves, ‘If we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out fighting’ and we played really well.”

Mikel Arteta’s 69th-minute free-kick levelled the scores and Villarreal wobbled. More than nerves, they were struggling to cope with Moyes’s substitute, Ferguson. After goalkeeper Mariano Barbosa’s flying save kept out one header, the Scot nodded in from the ensuing Arteta corner only for Collina to disallow the goal. “The momentum was definitely with us,” says Kilbane. “I feel if we had scored that goal we’d have gone on to win the tie.”

Collina has cited a vague challenge by Marcus Bent on Gonzalo Rodriguez when asked since about the decision but Kilbane adds: “I’d been refereed by him a few times in internationals and I always found him very good – you always felt he was making the right decisions for both sides but I felt that night he wasn’t the same Collina. He’ll always be remembered by Evertonians for that decision but throughout that night there was a lot going against us. He finished after that so he didn’t really have any consequences, did he?”

As it was, Diego Forlan’s last-minute breakaway goal sealed Everton’s fate. Pellegrini’s Yellow Submarine went on to sink United in the group stage, holding them to two 0-0 draws as they topped a section in which his new derby foes finished bottom. Their run only ended in the semi-finals with defeat by Arsenal and left them over £30m richer.

“For us to run Villarreal so close gave you a good idea of what a good side we had that year as well,” said Moyes.

Yet the disappointment of that defeat sent them spinning almost out of control. They lost 5-1 at Dinamo Bucharest in the Uefa Cup first round – one of seven defeats in eight games post-Villarreal. “It would have been a massive coup for the club and a massive step forward,” says Weir, “and then to get that kick in the teeth by not getting there was a massive low.” Moyes finally has Champions League football now but as he meets Pellegrini once more, the memory of a late summer night in a small Spanish stadium still lingers.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin