March 16th 2013 represented exactly 11 years since David Moyes first took charge of an Everton side. Unfortunately there is significant doubt over whether his tenure will continue beyond this summer, but we thought we would look back over those 11 years and select David Moyes’ best Everton XI.
In selecting our chosen side, we have adopted the 4-5-1 formation, which has been used primarily during the David Moyes era.
A number of different goalkeepers have represented Everton over the last 11 years, but two stand out during Moyes’ time at the club. Everton’s current first choice goalkeeper, Tim Howard, arrived from Manchester United, initially on a season long loan deal, but impressed sufficiently to extend that deal and has until recent injury struck, enjoyed 6 unbroken years as Everton’s preferred choice between the sticks. However, our choice for Goalkeeper, goes to Nigel Martyn. The manager often speaks of his best value signing, and in that discussion, Martyn is always his number one pick. Signed from Leeds United, Martyn excelled at Everton, displacing Richard Wright as first choice, before establishing himself as an integral player as Everton finished 4th in the Premier League and qualified for the following seasons Champions League as a result.
Goalkeeper – Nigel Martyn
Right back is one position that David Moyes has failed to find a lasting solution to throughout his time at Goodison. Tony Hibbert has been a mainstay during the period, with Phil Neville filling in admirably when required. Seamus Coleman, the latest incumbent has the potential to be the best, but has yet to deliver the consistency required to demand inclusion in this team. With that in mind, we have made a controversial decision to go with Phil Neville, who will bring his leadership qualities and captain our David Moyes XI.
Right Back – Phil Neville ©
The simplest of choices. Leighton Baines. Signed by David Moyes from Wigan Athletic for just over £5m, Baines has established himself as one of the finest players in the Premier League. A regular England international, Baines’ combination play with Steven Pienaar on the left has been outstanding and his ability from set pieces and his goal threat from full back make him an essential pick. Nuno Valente, Sandro Pistone, David Unsworth and Joleon Lescott have at times provided alternatives at left back during the Moyes era, but none have delivered anywhere near the impact of Leighton Baines.
Left Back – Leighton Baines
This promises to be one of the more difficult choices. David Weir and Alan Stubbs provided a steady partnership during the early years of Moyes’ leadership, and both were integral to the club securing a Champions League finish, which was based on the solid foundations laid down at the back, with many games finishing 1-0 in Everton’s favour. One of my favourite players and a class act, Joseph Yobo, represented Everton with distinction for 7 years, until a fall out with Moyes, left him out of the team and a protracted move to Turkey, which included two loan spells, followed. Yobo was Moyes’ first signing for Everton, arriving from Marseille for £4.5m. Recently Sylvain Distin has become a firm fans favourite and has enjoyed a good few years with the Blues at the end of his career. However, my centre back pairing is Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott. The pair arrived at Everton in consecutive years, Lescott first, joined from Wolves, before Jagielka followed a year later, signing from Sheffield United. Both have gone on to represent England and formed an on pitch bond, that made Everton a genuine force, competing for, but failing just short of securing honours. Lescott left to join Manchester City under a cloud, but if as rumoured, Lescott is available in the summer, I for one would do everything possible, to ensure he is reunited with Jagielka at the back for next season.
Centre Backs – Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott
I have chosen to pick two central midfield players, with a further attacking midfielder (selected later) providing a link between the midfield and attack. As with the central defenders, a number of players have served Everton well. In the early Moyes years, the bald-headed duo of Carsley and Gravesen, played a vital role in establishing the Moyes work ethos within the team unit. Both players were inherited by Moyes, but enjoyed their best years at the club under his management. Darren Gibson arrived in the last 18 months and has help develop Everton’s style to be more adventurous and pleasing on the eye, but his lack of time at the club has gone against him in this selection. I have decided to pick a midfield two of Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini, a little and large combination, offering both a skill and physical combination, with both comfortable in possession of the ball. The rationale for not picking Arteta in midfield? I always felt, his best years for Everton, were on the right hand side, and with that in mind, the next section is devoted to the best little Spaniard we know.
Centre Midfield – Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini
Quite simply the Everton player of a generation, the brilliant Mikel Arteta. Signed from Real Sociedad, the Barcelona graduate, arrived at Everton with the Blues on a high. Positioned in the upper echelons of the league, Arteta helped Everton secure a 4th placed finish that brought with it a place in the Champions League. Skilful, graceful and most importantly of all, an ethic to do anything for the team and his teammates, Arteta was the real deal. One of the biggest crimes in football remains the fact that Mikel Arteta has failed to be recognised by the Spanish national side. Now plying his trade with Arsenal, Arteta has become captain of Wenger’s team. A popular person, sorely missed at both Goodison and Finch Farm, Mikel Arteta was the easiest of decisions when selecting this side.
Right Midfield – Mikel Arteta
If the choice on the right was an easy one, the pick on the left hand side was equally so. Steven Pienaar is much-loved at Goodison. His link up player on the left with Leighton Baines is second to none and after returning to the club following a spell away at Spurs, the South African has added regular goals to his game to supplement his immense skill and technique.
Left Midfield – Steven Pienaar
With Marouane Fellaini selected in a more traditional midfield position, the choice of attacking midfield was relatively straight forward. As with Arteta, Tim Cahill is missed by many following his summer move to the MLS to play for the New York Red Bulls. In contrast to Arteta, Cahill left, very much on Everton’s terms. Having established himself as a giant of the club, Cahill departed with his goalscoring prowess on the wane. As an attacking midfield player, of relatively short stature, no one could leap with the same spring as Tim Cahill. The former Millwall man, scored a hatful of goals for the Blues, often outscoring centre forwards picked to play alongside him. A bargain signing at just £1.5m, no David Moyes side would be complete without the man from down under.
Attacking Midfield – Tim Cahill
Another controversial choice. A number of leading international players have led the Everton forward line since David Moyes first took the reins in 2002. Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Campbell, Tomasz Radzinksi, Marcus Bent, James Beattie, Andrew Johnson, Yakubu and Louis Saha to name just a few. Recently, Nikica Jelavic has established himself as the number one attacker at the club, although his recent goal drought has led to one or two doubting his finishing abilities. However, my provocative choice is, Wayne Rooney. The greatest player ever produced by the clubs revered youth academy, Wayne Rooney has gone on to be one of the Premier Leagues best ever players. Unfortunately for Everton, most of those years have been served with Manchester United. However, for two years, Rooney shone at Goodison, lifting the spirit of the club which had endured several difficult years towards the bottom of the Premier League table. Naturally gifted, Rooney has provided some of the highlights of the Moyes era, namely his goals against Arsenal and Leeds, both of which live long in the memory.
Centre Forward – Wayne Rooney
That completes my David Moyes Everton XI, let us know what you think, I am sure you will disagree with a few of my selections, but in reviewing the last 11 years, it has brought back some fantastic memories, even if the era has not been rich with success.