There are not many stains on David Moyes's CV but the failure to win a Merseyside derby at Anfield runs deep. Given he has yet to sign a new contract as Everton manager, his last opportunity might have come and gone when the referee, Michael Oliver, ruled that Victor Anichebe had fouled the Liverpool keeper, Pepe Reina, just before Sylvain Distin headed home Leighton Baines's corner. Moyes thought Reina had run straight into his striker and that bluntly it had been a perfectly good goal.
"You people are quick to remind me that I have never won at Anfield but, if you don't get any decisions, it makes it very difficult to win and that is quite a regular occurrence when we come here," said Moyes.
This was the 11th time he had managed at Anfield and it says something for Everton's consistent lack of a cutting edge that they have only scored there six times. It says something, too, that half-a-dozen of those matches have been drawn. Everton under Moyes have knocked consistently on the big boys' door without ever quite kicking it in.
"There was a lot said about Everton's run-in," Moyes reflected. "We had to go to Arsenal, to Tottenham and to Liverpool [all of which were drawn]. We have defended terrifically well in all of those games but we have just lacked something in the final third. I have drawn at Liverpool quite a lot. Maybe draws are not bad results here. Sometimes we don't get the credit for that."
For the second successive season Everton look likely to finish above Liverpool, although that in itself would not count as success for Moyes. Mixed in with the frustration is the knowledge that Everton are likely to pick up more points than the 61 they did in 2005. Then, that qualified them for the Champions League. This season they are unlikely to make even the Europa League.
"The only thing that does matter is a European place," said Moyes. "We are trying to get back among the bigger boys and play on that stage as often as we possibly can. We have nearly got the biggest points total we have ever had in the Premier League and it might not be enough. We have had a pretty good season and I will be disappointed if we don't get rewarded for it."
Moyes is also keenly aware that Everton are competing against sides like Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea that have between two and three times their turnover. It is not a level battleground.
"I don't want to talk about cash because you probably think I do that every time I come here," he said. "It is a factor and we are a long way down. But when you were watching the match, you were not thinking about money. You were thinking of two teams of 11 players trying to compete and that is the way football is."Reuse content