David Moyes knew Tuesday’s Merseyside derby was always going to be a difficult proposition for Everton FC. Liverpool needed to rebound from three-straight Premier League defeats, and there was no way it would let its noisy neighbors win at Anfield.
But the Everton manager didn’t make victory any more likely with his team selection. He rested six players that helped the Toffees down Tottenham on Saturday, including his main attacking threats — goal scorers Nikica Jelavic, Tim Cahill and Royston Drenthe. The inclusion of Denis Stracqualursi and Victor Anichebe were head-scratchers.
That is not to say he fielded a shadow Everton side. It included an experienced back-line and a center midfield pairing — Jack Rodwell and Maroune Fellaini — capable of matching almost any other in the league.
But a lack of forward punch meant Everton was a bit short of the quality needed to score in open play, and a draw was about as much as Moyes could have hoped for. He would rely on a sturdy defense and opportunism going forward to accomplish the task.
At the end of the day, Everton was soundly beaten by Liverpool. Steve Gerrard‘s hat-trick heroics gave Reds supporters a new tale to tell their descendants, but Moyes told ClickLiverpool that his team was the architect of its own downfall.
“I thought we gave away poor goals, sloppy goals,” he said. “I think we led to our own downfall with a great opportunity to go and play a keep as, and we didn’t. They scored from that.”
“I actually thought when Liverpool scored the goal we were probably the better team at that time, so that was the disappointing thing.”
When picking his team, he not only was considering the importance of local bragging rights, but he also had one eye on Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal. If the Toffees defeat Sunderland in that game, they will be rewarded with a trip to Wembley Stadium for the semifinal.
Depending on how the next two rounds of the cup and the rest of the league campaign unfolds, reaching the FA Cup final could be enough to earn Everton a place in next season’s Europa League. Competing in a continental competition would bring both revenue and prestige to the club, which is in a financially precarious moment in its history.
Moyes is celebrating his 10th year in charge of Everton this week, but listed next to all his deserved plaudits is the fact that he has not won at Anfield. Any Everton manager, especially one who has served the club as long as he has, is desperate to beat Liverpool at Anfield. It is the scalp of all scalps for a Toffees boss.
But Moyes knows it’s impropapble that Everton will qualify for Europa through its league position. A cup run is the far more likely route. The lineup he fielded on Tuesday dimmed the brightness of the spectacle, but it was for a good reason.
Moyes may have made it more difficult for his team to win the game, but the veteran manager acted in the best interests of his club. Do you agree? Vote in our poll below.
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