In his nine years in charge at Goodison, David Moyes, the Everton manager, has realised a few things that make the difference between a moderate side and a good one.
Those nine years make him the third longest-serving Premier League manager and he celebrated on Saturday with a victory over Fulham, the side he also enjoyed his first win over all those years ago. A lot has changed since then but one thing Moyes knows is that a strong centre half equals a strong team and Phil Jagielka's performance, the day after his new four-year deal was announced, means the future looks brighter than it has done for most of this season.
"He should also look at himself being a future Everton captain," Moyes said of Jagielka. "He agrees that he has got to start being a leader. We have got Phil Neville and Mikel Arteta but he is one of the ones who should be looking to take the group on. He needs to drive himself on to be that person."
Jagielka is a softly spoken yet quietly impressive player and in that he is similar to Seamus Coleman, the Irish under-21 performer who continues to make a mockery of the £60,000 that Moyes paid Sligo Rovers for him. It was Coleman who broke Fulham's stubborn defence after Everton had toyed with Mark Hughes's side for the opening half hour when the visitors were too slow, too deep and too cautious for their own good.
It finally cost them when Coleman brilliantly finished with an ice-cool header and when Louis Saha pounded a low shot through Fulham's wall to double the lead after 49 minutes.
That appeared to be that, but then Everton lost concentration and Clint Dempsey punished them with a fine finish that made for a nervous ending. The fact it was only nervy and not soul-destroying was down mainly to Jagielka.
Scorers: Everton Coleman 36, Saha 49. Fulham Dempsey 62. Subs: Everton Heitinga 6 (Cahill, 69), Bilyaletdinov (Rodwell, 77), Beckford (Saha, 87). Fulham Zamora 6 (Etuhu, 60), Kakuta (Duff, 75), Gudjohnsen (A Johnson, 84).Booked: Everton Hibbert, Osman
Man of the match Jagielka Match rating 6/10
Possession Everton 52% Fulham 48%
Attempts on target Everton 12 Fulham 7
Referee M Oliver (North'berland) Att 33,239