Moyes values top-four spot over chance of Cup glory

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The Independent Football

David Moyes celebrates his seventh anniversary as Everton manager this weekend and has spoken of his hope of restoring the club's glory days.

Last Sunday's victory over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup – the last major honour the Toffees won, in 1995 – set up a Wembley semi-final with Manchester United. And Everton are also comfortable in sixth place in the Premier League with ambitions to make a late push to challenge for the Champions League places.

The Goodison Park board's reward for keeping faith with Moyes is that he has turned Everton into a consistent top-six club but the 45-year-old Scot is not prepared to settle for just that.

"I have got to hope we can get it right back where it has been in the past," said Moyes, who signed a new five-year contract in October. "I don't know if that is possible because finances play such a part in the game.

"If this was going back in years gone by and the money was equal I would see Everton as one of the top clubs. The difference why Everton are not one of the top clubs at this moment in time is more to do with finance than the team or the manager.

"The other clubs have a greater chance to improve their squad by buying bigger players from all over the world. Everyone has made a point about how well the club is doing. It is nice in March but it would be better for me if they were still saying the same things in May."

Despite reaching the last four of the FA Cup, Moyes insists the league will always remain the priority, especially as a top-four finish provides a route into the lucrative Champions League.

That is why the manager will only allow his players to look at their next match, which sees struggling Stoke visit Goodison Park today.

"I'm really excited by beating Middlesbrough and getting into the semi-final, but in my head we still have a chance of targeting fourth," he added. "So I'm not going to turn off and rely on that one game [against United] because if it didn't go right then all these [league] games would be wasted.

"The players know the focus is on Stoke and winning the games which come before the semi-final. It is a big credit to the players the way they have picked themselves up and got back into form having been knocked out of two cup competitions [Carling and Uefa] in the first month of the season.

"They have shown an unbelievable spirit to keep going and we have an outside chance of getting fourth and being in the final of the FA Cup and winning it, so it is a good time at the moment. Let's hope we can keep it going as long as we can."

The visit of Stoke means a return to Goodison Park for former striker James Beattie, who moved from Sheffield United in January, having left Everton in August 2007. Beattie has scored five goals in seven matches for his new club but Moyes – who has played for almost two months this season without a recognised centre-forward – has no regrets about letting the ex-Southampton player leave.

"James did a really good job for us but undoubtedly it was the time for him to move on and for us to move him on," said the Everton manager. "It is great to see James has kept going. He was always going to have a good career. He was a goalscorer then and he has shown it for Stoke."

Midfielder Andy van der Meyde is Everton's only new injury worry ahead of Stoke's visit. The Dutchman injured a hamstring in training and is doubtful to make the squad. Defender Tony Hibbert misses his second successive match with a thigh problem but striker Louis Saha is pushing for a starting place after scoring in two of his last four substitute appearances.

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