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      Four Minutes in March

      Four Minutes in March
      "And if you know your history..." The long illustrious history is the USP of Everton Football Club and, yes, we expected another semi -final to be added to that history, anticipating a victory over relegation-haunted, little Wigan who had never themselves experienced a semi final.

      Losing an FA Cup quarter final hurts: I still remember the 3-2 defeat at Nottingham Forest in 1967. But Wigan was different: 4 minutes in March of traumatic panic at the Park End. My personal memory was feeling completely helpless and leaving the ground at the end in complete silence, broken only by the falling rain and tears. Suicidal Sunday followed as we fell below the old enemy in the Premiership. The reaction was understandably emotional, even hysterical.

      Knee-jerk phone-in ranting blamed David Moyes not yet wanting to sign a new contract and publicly saying so. Bill Kenwright had failed yet again to provide the required investment. The truth was that every single player had an off day: it happens, but what a day to pick! Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics but the week after Wigan, time stood still for Evertonians. It was an eternity waiting to see the reaction.

      Criticism is acceptable and expected. We have a right to question, but it must be considered and rational if we are to improve and progress. Yes Phil Neville made a mistake, as Sylvan Distin did in last year’s semi. But these are ‘our’ players. We forgave Sylvan and we will forgive Phil. They wear our blue shirt of EFC with pride and are dedicated blues.

      As with any bereavement time heals, emotions calmed, reason took control and the champions arrived at Goodison. Mancini’s Man City were outfought and outthought. Spirit, attitude and belief in abundance: every player had a great game – it happens and what a day to pick. A Coleman-inspired victory, an Ossie special and the long-awaited Jelavic clincher: such a spirited 10-man performance restored the faith. Our future history will record that Wigan was not the watershed it was supposed to be. And who was behind such a performance?

      Let’s take stock. We enjoy prudent financial management under the stewardship of Mr Kenwright and we enjoy the inspirational management and leadership of David Moyes . Yes we and they would like more success. But let us not forget that Premiership status has been maintained. I don’t want to gamble with EFC: think Blackburn, Leeds, Portsmouth and even Rangers for goodness sake: these are possible scenarios we have avoided.

      Evertonians are born not manufactured: you become an Evertonian at conception. Our birthright is embedded in our values of football artistry and enshrined in our branding as the school of science. We are proud of our history, yes, but we do not live in the past. We must remain realistic and patient. We understand the problems. We even accept that someday we may even have to leave our spiritual home of Goodison Park, our arena of destiny. We know that with the right investment our best days are to come and the planet really will be ‘blue’.

      The parting of the ways for EFC and David Moyes?

      If David decides to move on to further his career and secure his family’s interests then he will go with our best wishes. His return as an opposition manager would be momentous and he would receive the most memorable of standing ovations. He is now a massive part of our history.

      But where does he go? He will not get the same support from another chairman, neither will he experience the extent and depth of the supporters’ passion: Everton – The People’s Club -has touched him and we all know what that means. The EFC manager’s job description and person specification are the perfect fit for him. We know that and he knows that. However, he must feel wanted. We must convey that to him. There is no better alternative for us and for him. Can David manage more successfully with more resources whether at another club or at Everton? These are, of course, unknowns. But presently, his skills and Everton’s requirements are ideally suited to one another: no one else can develop the players that we can acquire as successfully as David can.

      Wigan and Man City are now history. The vision remains the apsirational ‘nil satis nisi optimum’. The targets for the run-in must include victories at the London trio and yes, even at Anfield. I for one would prefer that to a semi-final against Millwall. To achieve this we need unity, stability and increased support for all of ‘our’ players,

      for ‘our’ manager and for ‘our’ chairman. Mr Kenwright must redouble his efforts on the investment front to ensure that David will win silverware with Everton. His work is not yet finished at Goodison and we want him to finish it.

      TOM LACY ||