Apr 212014

Just when David Moyes thought his day couldn’t get any worse … the Manchester United team bus got stuck on Goodison Road – slap, bang outside that hotbed hostelry The Winslow.

It was only five minutes, while an illegally parked car was finally moved on. But it must have felt like an eternity as every drinker in the place came out to remind him of that day’s scoreline.

“Time is a great healer,” said Moyes in the build up to his Goodison return.

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Everton FC v Manchester United Pics Gavin Trafford

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Clearly some Blues fans need just a little bit longer.

But while time is a great healer, so too is the power of positive thinking.

And while more time is the best Moyes can hope for as his Old Trafford reign stumbles from one crisis to another, positivity is coursing through Goodison Park under his forward-thinking replacement’s tenure.

Read More: Greg O’Keeffe’s verdict on Everton 2 United 0

Roberto Martinez had asked for support for his team rather than venom for his predecessor yesterday, and at a raucous, upbeat arena that’s largely what he got.

There were some boos when Moyes emerged from the tunnel before the match, and a few mischievous chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” – after requests for “Moyesie, Moyesie give us a wave” had been ignored late in the second half.

But largely the noise was all positive, a celebration of another afternoon when Roberto Martinez got most things right.

The most significant chant of the day was: “The School of Science … it’s on its way back.”

All fans enjoy the sight of their side winning football matches – and Everton won plenty under Moyes.

But this season Evertonians have been enjoying the way their team has been winning football matches.

There’s been plenty of revisionist thinking since Moyes departed.

He was undoubtedly the right man at the right time for Everton – and left them in a far healthier state than when he arrived.

But that progress was pragmatic.

Under Martinez the difference is slight, but significant.

Under Moyes Everton were an organised, efficient, sometimes excellent side who occasionally upset the big-four clubs at Goodison Park.

And they usually did it with a defiant, us against the world attitude.

Under Martinez Everton expect to turn the big guns over at Goodison, and occasionally upset them on their own turf.

And the Spaniard has spoken of instilling an “arrogance” in his players, completely at odds with the siege mentality Moyes tried to foster.

Yesterday was another shining example of his philosophy.

A comfortable home win came nine years to the day since the high point of David Moyes’ Everton reign – an inspired but attritional, 1-0 defeat of Manchester United which all but ensured a fourth place finish.

Everton dug in that night, ultimately against nine men.

Yesterday’s win was expansive and comfortable – United not seriously troubling Tim Howard until the 86th minute.

Whether a defeat of this modern Manchester United is such an achievement is open to argument.

Yesterday’s defeat was United’s tenth in 22 games in all competitions since turn of the year, which is as appalling a record as it is astonishing.

But just a fortnight after the annihilation of Arsenal it underlines the arrogance Martinez has instilled in his squad of players.

Everton did a league double over Manchester United for the first time since the title winning season of 1969/70 (although home and away wins in league and league cup within four days of the 1984/85 season shouldn’t be overlooked).

And all sorts of other records tumbled yesterday.

Three more points extended an already all-time club Premier League high to 69.

A 20th Premier League win beat the 19 victories managed in 2007/08.

A 13th home win was another Premier League record – and the best since the 14 achieved in 1989/90.

And the ruthlessly finished goal from Kevin Mirallas took Everton’s tally at home to 36.

That equalled a Premier League high achieved – curiously – under Walter Smith in 1999/2000.

But it was another pointer to the positive mental attitude at Everton under Martinez.

Of course it’s not all expressive thinking and expansionist policy.

Sheer hard work is needed to.

Martinez made it clear this week that he might have struggled to accommodate Marouane Fellaini in his restructured, post transfer window midfield.

He used half of the money he received from Manchester United to sign James McCarthy, and while Fellaini was an unused substitute – again – yesterday, McCarthy continued his non-stop mission to cover every blade of Goodison grass before the season is done.

There were some stellar performances in blue yesterday, but none better than the quietly outstanding Scot.

You’ve heard all the gags.

The earth is two-thirds covered by water, the rest is covered by James McCarthy.

The Everton midfielder entered the London Marathon last weekend, as a warm-down.

But the biggest plaudit yesterday came in the shape of a tweet from a Director of Football at Issaquah Soccer Club called Jimmy Ball.

“McCarthy Magnificent,” he tweeted. “Should be given the no.8 shirt for me. Absolutely worthy.”

Jimmy is the son of the second greatest footballer ever to pull on a Royal Blue shirt.

And if he believes James McCarthy is a worthy successor to Alan Ball’s number eight shirt that is high praise indeed.

McCarthy has been almost ever present this season – and is pretty much out on his own in that respect.

David Moyes was often said to be a master of eking out the best of limited resources at Everton.

But what has often been overlooked is the way Martinez has managed his resources this season.

He lost Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone for virtually all of the season, lost Bryan Oviedo for half the campaign, saw his skipper Phil Jagielka sidelined for a couple of months, then Ross Barkley and Steven Pienaar spend significant chunks of time on the injured list.

Rather than bleat, Martinez’s mantra has been to promote youth and fringe players – and accentuate the positives.

He was at it again yesterday.

Sylvain Distin could now miss the Blues remaining matches after pulling his hamstring in the first half.

Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones is a central defensive partnership which is easy on the eye, awful on the nerves, but Martinez spoke of how “phenomenal” Alcaraz had been and how he looked like he had been playing for months not minutes.

Once again it was all about accentuating the positives.

If the Blues team bus ever gets stuck outside The Sandon in the shadow of the Kop, he’ll probably talk about it as being a great team bonding opportunity.

Special offer on Everton home kit.

 Posted by at 12:20 pm

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