Of course, as the manager has been at pains to point out, two games is not really enough to speak of a strong start – 10 games is a much better point to judge. But after failing to win their opening match of the season since 2007, two consecutive wins is a massive leap in the right direction. Some optimistic fans and pundits have already suggested Everton could gatecrash the top of the table on this form, exactly the kind of mindset Moyes is trying to guard against.
But football would not be football if people did not get ahead of themselves. And there was plenty on show at Villa Park to boost that attitude. Everton in the first-half were simply superb. The intricate football from a flexible front half-a-dozen or so was too much for the home side to contend with and was of such quality to make any team in the division proud. Steven Pienaar’s stunning right-foot effort after just a few minutes will grab the headlines but the build-up was just as good and was representative of most of the first 45 minutes.
Just as more cynical Everton supporters felt that things could not get any better after beating Manchester United, it would surprise few frequent observers if the Toffees enjoyed a good first half of the season and fell away after Christmas, in a real reversal of fortunes. Keeping an even keel until May – in both results on the field and expectations of it – will play a large part in any success or otherwise Everton achieve in the first year of Moyes’ second decade in charge.
That longevity could well be part of why Everton are starting so well this season. The players in Moyes’ squad have mostly been together a long time – even Steven Naismith has had a full pre-season with his new teammates, rather than being parachuted into the set-up once the season is already underway. The other two new signings, Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas, benefit in other ways. Pienaar is not really a new signing, having spent three-and-a-half years at Goodison Park before his brief spell with Tottenham Hotspur. Mirallas, meanwhile, can be eased in slowly as the team’s good form has reduced the clamour for new faces.
Leyton Orient in the League Cup are the next opposition and will give Moyes a chance to look at the options in his squad before the transfer window closes on Friday. But if the team’s good form is to lead to anything tangible – like a first trophy since 1995 – the match with the League One side is even more important than that. A cup would be the ultimate riposte to those who suggest this form cannot continue.