Everton’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City on Saturday was the kind of triumph David Moyes’ side have specialised in for much of the Scot’s tenure. Battling against a more glamorous, better financed team with desires on the upper reaches of the Premier League – under Moyes, Everton have made a habit of snatching unlikely but ultimately deserved victories.
Starting in October 2002, during Moyes’ first full season in charge, when Wayne Rooney fired Everton to victory over Arsenal and announced his arrival on the Premier League stage, Everton have routinely risen to the challenge posed by sides with greater aspirations and the money to make them a reality. From 2004’s derby conquest over Liverpool via Lee Carsley’s long-range strike to the same season’s win over Manchester United that all-but-guaranteed Champions League football, or last year’s Louis Saha-inspired defeat of eventual double winners Chelsea, Everton’s fourth win in four games against Manchester City was the latest in a line of memorable results stretching back nearly a decade. This latest momentous three points may have been the most satisfying for Evertonians, given it came against the billionaires of City who, until recently, were in many ways the mirror image of Everton.
Sharing a city with one of the most successful sides in English football, where your own achievements are regularly diminished in the eyes of neutral observers by comparison to your trophy-laden cousins, as both the Blues of Manchester and Merseyside do, can be a chastening experience. While there was never quite solidarity between Everton and City – the eternal Liverpool-Manchester rivalry put paid to that – there was at least some common understanding. City’s takeover and the money that flowed in since has eradicated that, and, combined with the presence of Joleon Lescott in the visitors’ colours, has rocketed City up the rankings of teams Everton supporters most like to beat. Indeed, the financial disparity between the two now is such that Everton’s goal scorers, Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman, cost the Toffees just over a fifth of what Yaya Toure, on the score sheet for City, will earn in 12 months.
For much of the first-half it appeared the monetary gap had translated onto the field, such was City’s superiority, but the shift after the break was monumental and thoroughly in-keeping with the other unforgettable results. Each one came with ear-ringing crowd noise, a packed and partisan support fizzing with the heat of a nova – Osman’s winning goal against City was scored at the peak of the din. Roberto Mancini may have claimed Everton reverted to long ball football in the second-half – an allegation the stats fail to back up, since Everton had 59% of possession and committed two fewer fouls than City – but there was nothing but style and bravery about Osman’s vital header and the cross from Phil Neville that set it up. Much like the 2-0 victory over City a year ago, when Everton won out through a mix of tenacity and technique, this was a result that will be remembered for years to come.