Everton season review – Moyes moves on as Toffees begin new era

Everton – 6th

FA Cup – Quarter-final

League Cup – Third round

The 2012/13 Premier League season will forever be remembered as the last David Moyes spent as Everton, but whether the manager’s departure heralds the beginning of a glorious new era under his as-yet-unknown replacement, or the beginning of a painful decline, remains to be seen.

What is for certain is that Moyes leaves behind a stylish yet powerful team, capable of hanging with the better-financed sides in the division – but not surpassing them. For much of the campaign Everton were in the hunt for Champions League football, only to fall short of continental qualification of any kind.

Then came the hammer blow of Moyes’ move to Manchester United, giving the final two games of the season a surreal edge. Europe had gone by that point and the outpouring of emotion after Moyes’ final home game, a 2-0 win over West Ham, will live long in the memory of everyone present.

It was as memorable – in an entirely different way – as the first home game of the season; indeed, the first game at all of the season, a 1-0 win over United in which Marouane Fellaini was simply immense. He dominated United’s patched-up defence and scored the winning goal, a thumping header reminiscent of goals scored in the past by the likes of Duncan Ferguson and Andy Gray.

Fellaini’s goal and the three points it delivered got the season off to the ideal opening, a rarity at Everton and it wasn’t a false start either. Everton were second in the table after beating Southampton in the final game of September, around the time their season usually gets going. A sensational win at Swansea was a particular early highlight.

October however saw the first real sign of what eventually cost Everton a European place – too many draws. All three of the month’s games ended level, against relegated pair Wigan and QPR and at home to Liverpool. Only the derby draw could be considered acceptable, coming from two goals down.

December saw one of the most remarkable games played at Goodison in some time, the 2-1 win over Tottenham. Everton were trailing as the game entered stoppage time but first Steven Pienaar and then Nikica Jelavic delivered the points on a raucous evening, Everton ending 2012 in sixth place following their only home league defeat of the season against Chelsea.

When January came and went without the team being truly strengthened, it’s not a stretch to suggest Everton’s Champions League hopes went too. A move for Leroy Fer collapsed and Everton, who had the league’s second oldest squad and used the fewest players of any team, were about to be stretched to breaking point.

Dumped out of the FA Cup in a humiliating home defeat to Wigan, Moyes’ contract running to expiry and doubt over his future and that of a number of players, the early spring was an unhappy time. But somehow, they rallied, dominating Manchester City and losing only twice more all season.

The City game was, in performance terms, the highlight of the year, probably the best ever seen under Moyes. He leaves his successor a team in good shape, but where the club goes from here is still a mystery.

Manager – David Moyes: Moyes’ 11th and final year at Goodison Park saw some of the best football of his tenure, and an all-time worst performance that threw his reign into doubt long before it ended. Evertonians are desperate to win a trophy and Moyes’ failure to do so is the one major regret of an otherwise excellent year – 11 of them, in fact.

Player of the season – Leighton Baines: The left-back gets it ahead of Fellaini, who had a tendency to go off the boil or lash out at opponents, whereas Baines was steady, spectacular and a consistent goal threat. Much more than a defender, Baines is Everton’s most reliable attacker. Keeping him this summer is of paramount importance.

Turning point – David Moyes moves to Man Utd: Not so much a turning point for this season but doubtless one in the history of the club. Everton’s next step remains unclear but the board are facing the most important decision of their stewardship of the club. Get it wrong and it may be a long time before Everton recover.

Any other business: Everton recently unveiled a new badge for next season, and it’s safe to say it wasn’t welcomed by supporters. The general feeling is that the result is completely unacceptable – cartoonish in the extreme, and the club’s claims of consultation with fans are hollow. There’s a good chance the row will get ugly – even uglier than the badge itself.

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