Moyes must invest shrewdly to build on rare spirit at 'the people's club'

Everton 1 - Liverpool 0
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The Independent Football

The statue of Bill Shankly that stands outside the Kop has inscribed underneath the simple, affecting and very true statement: "He made the people happy".

From the narrow red-brick streets that hem in Goodison Park the singing and chanting drifted into the old stadium long after the final whistle had sounded on Everton's first home victory in the Merseyside derby since October 1997. "Listen to that, isn't it fantastic," said David Moyes, who may yet become a Shankly for our times.

"I don't know how long it is since they have been singing in the streets outside Goodison," the Everton manager reflected. "I remember beating Arsenal when Wayne Rooney scored his goal and in the dressing-room I could hear the noise coming down all around where we were. It means a lot because those people have not had anything to shout about against the people from across the road at Anfield.

"They will have a chance to talk well about themselves when they go into work and some of them may go straight from the pub! Did we not say the people in the streets of Liverpool support Everton?"

With the phrase, "the People's Club", uttered on his appointment, Moyes gave Everton an identity they had long lacked. If it is suggested that Liverpool were a collection of distant aristocrats, then Saturday's victory was their seizing of the Bastille and the storming of the Winter Palace in one afternoon.

It ensured Everton spent the night in second place in the Premiership. Moyes, naturally for a man who just avoided relegation last season, is very wary of making predictions, although he did say if Everton were second at the end of February "we would have to consider ourselves serious contenders... but what is it they say: 'you aim for the stars and you hit the moon'."

The thought of Everton as Premiership champions appears beyond the realm of fantasy and yet they have three more points now than they did at the same stage of the 1984-5 season, which ended with the first of Howard Kendall's two titles. Spookily, they began this season and that with a 4-1 home defeat to a team from north London (Tottenham and Arsenal) and in both campaigns they beat Liverpool 1-0 at Goodison. The difference is that Kendall's side had scored a dozen more goals, which ought to inject a dose of reality.

This was Everton's seventh 1-0 win of the season and no side is better at nursing a lead or squeezing the maximum from its limited resources. The team Everton closely resemble is the Sunderland of Peter Reid, who over Christmas 1999 and 2000 found themselves third. The combination of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn allied to a remarkable team spirit worked well until Reid began to spend serious money on a raft of indifferent signings that softened the glue which held the squad together.

Moyes knows next month's transfer window, where he has an estimated £10m to invest, has to be approached with caution. Togetherness is a very fragile commodity. "Yes, there are some sides who have strengthened their squads in the summer and it hasn't worked for them," Moyes said, probably referring to Birmingham. "To pick and choose the right ones is very difficult unless you have mega money to buy in the top range and we don't have that."

Despite the 12-point lead over their neighbours, Moyes did not claim they had closed the gap with Liverpool, who after their epic, draining victory over Olympiakos might have expected some sort of comedown. However, but for a wonderful tip-over from Nigel Martyn, Steven Gerrard would have celebrated a second, stunning strike in a week.

Everton had not expected the Liverpool captain to play in support of the lone striker, Neil Mellor, although Moyes thought that Lee Carsley, whose goal was to send Goodison ablaze with emotion, pushed him further forward than he would have liked. When Gerrard was forced deeper, Liverpool became more dangerous, especially in the desperate closing moments.

Liverpool had enough chances to equalise; Tim Cahill cleared off the line and Martyn made a double reaction save from point-blank range. But Rafael Benitez's touch, which had been so sure against Arsenal and Olympiakos, appeared to have eluded him on the day of the 200th Merseyside derby.

Employing the more muscular but more limited Salif Diao instead of Xabi Alonso in midfield appeared a strange choice, given that Everton are supposedly short on skill rather than power, as did removing Dietmar Hamann whose game seemed more attuned to the demands of a derby. When Djimi Traoré was brought on, first Mellor was told to go off before Florent Sinama-Pongolle was substituted. For indecision, the Liverpool manager was matched by his keeper, Chris Kirkland, who although unsighted for Carsley's goal, produced an indifferent display for someone so naturally talented, especially when claiming crosses. Perhaps, as one observer remarked, we should accept that David James really is the best goalkeeper in England.

Goal: Carsley 68 (1-0).

Everton (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Pistone; Osman (Watson, 87), Gravesen (Yobo, 83), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson, 76). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), McFadden.

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Kirkland; Josemi, Car-ragher, Hyypia, Riise; Sinama-Pongolle (Traoré, 75), Hamann (Nunez, 66), Diao (Alonso, 78), Kewell; Gerrard; Mellor. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Finnan.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Everton: Hibbert, Ferguson. Liverpool: Diao, Riise, Josemi.

Man of the match: Gravesen.

Attendance: 40,552.