Moyes plays down Everton's decline

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The Independent Football

David Moyes issued a staunch defence of his record as Everton manager last night, insisting his team's place in the relegation zone and exit from three cup competitions this season did not reflect the progress made during his three and a half years in charge at Goodison Park.

Everton slipped back into the bottom three after Saturday's 4-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion to leave Moyes, and the Goodison board of directors, facing anxious shareholders at the club's 126th Annual General Meeting.

The Scot has spent almost £25m in 2005, a fund swelled by the sale of Wayne Rooney, last season's fourth- placed finish and a record turnover of £59.95m in the last financial year. However, Moyes' insistence that he now has an improved squad has not been borne out by results in the Premiership, the Champions' League, Uefa Cup or Carling Cup this season.

Having led Everton to their highest League finish for 18 years last season and a seventh place finish during his first full season in charge, Moyes said that the situation was not so bleak.

"I believe we have made great progress since I first arrived," he told the AGM. "I want to give you a team to be proud of and I can't stand here today and say that's exactly how I feel, but overall our League positions have to be kept in perspective. In two of the last three seasons we have recorded the highest League finishes in the club's Premiership history. Nobody is more disappointed or surprised with our position than me."

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