Everton retained faint hopes that they would be enjoying European football when the next season kicked off in August – with or without David Moyes as manager.
That meant that they had to win maximum points from the remaining three matches of the current campaign. Given that, out of those three, only one was scheduled for Goodison Park and the other two were to take place at Stamford Bridge and Anfield, showed the enormity of the task – after all, Everton hadn’t won maximum points at either venue since the previous century had ended.
Prior to the game at Anfield, David Moyes spoke about the difficulties that both Everton and Liverpool faced in competing with the Manchester-based Premier League clubs. He said:
“Liverpool have obviously been much closer to the Manchester teams than Everton, but we’ve obviously had a longer journey and had to climb further. We’re closing that gap but not close enough. Both the Manchester clubs have big stadiums, with over 70,000 for one 50,000 the other.
“They’ve got the council there and then there is the corporate facilities that plays a big part, especially with the FFP (Financial Fair Play) playing a big part, so much is going to be about relying on marketing teams and how many (executive) boxes you can sell, season tickets you sell and dinners you sell.
“For example, at Everton we have very few rooms to cater and very few boxes to fill. We’re going to find it difficult to keep up because the marketing side is so important.
“It’s about keeping up... and then to catch up is going to be even harder. You really have to have a good team to bring the sponsorship to enable you to improve your wage budget.
“I can only speak about Everton and we’re doing the best we can to look for the best solutions to move us up the league. The chairman gives me as much as he can for the team. The bit we have not been able to do is try to find the new stadium so all the money I’ve had is for the team and we’ve got a bit closer.”
In truth, the match at Anfield proved to be a bit of a damp squib; although Evertonians held the bragging rights in the city due to the point earned, which meant the Blues stayed ahead of their city rivals in terms of league placing, it all but ended their hopes of European qualification.
Sam Sheringham for BBC Sport reported from Anfield:
Sylvain Distin had a goal disallowed as Everton were denied a first league win over Liverpool at Anfield since 1999 in a fiercely contested Merseyside derby.
After a frenetic first half low on goalmouth drama, Distin thought he had broken the deadlock when he headed home a Leighton Baines corner, but referee Michael Oliver ruled that Victor Anichebe had impeded goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Liverpool, who had earlier gone close through Daniel Sturridge, responded to the let-off with a spell of sustained pressure in which captain Steven Gerrard had an effort cleared off the line by 35-year-old defender Distin.
The draw leaves Everton in sixth place, five points behind Tottenham, who are occupying the Europa League qualifying place, with two games left for Moyes's team and three for Spurs. The Toffees are, however, five points clear of Liverpool and with two games remaining they will expect to finish above their bitter rivals in successive top-flight seasons for the first time since 1937.
In the build-up to the match, both Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Everton manager David Moyes had lamented how far the Merseyside clubs have fallen behind their Manchester counterparts, and there was plenty of evidence of both teams' shortcomings in a contest which lacked any real quality.
A third 0-0 draw in five matches reflects Liverpool's lack of adaptability when Plan A goes awry, while Everton were once again shown up for a lack of firepower that has seen them score fewer away goals than any other side in the top eight.
Liverpool carved out the first opening when a typically incisive long pass from Gerrard picked out Sturridge on the left side of the box, and only a diving block from Distin prevented Jordan Henderson from tucking away the striker's low cross.
Everton took longer to settle into the game but should have taken the lead when Marouane Fellaini was presented with a clear-cut opportunity. A Baines free-kick from the left made its way through a crowd of players to the Belgian, whose side-footed effort from well inside the six-yard box drifted past the far post.
Gerrard, who scored a hat-trick as the Reds won last season's corresponding fixture 3-0, had a chance on the half-hour mark but his goalbound shot struck Phil Jagielka, who had to be at his sharpest soon afterwards to deny Coutinho.
Sturridge, leading the line for Liverpool while the suspended Luis Suarez watched from the stands, had two chances in quick succession shortly after half-time.
Played through on goal by Coutinho, he was brilliantly thwarted by Tim Howard as he attempted to round the American goalkeeper, and when a loose ball fell to Sturridge, he could only find the side-netting with his shot on the turn.
Moyes cut an angry figure as he implored his players to match Liverpool's second-half energy and his mood was momentarily brightened when, very much against the run of play, the Toffees thought they had taken the lead.
Distin climbed above Jamie Carragher, making his 30th and final Merseyside derby appearance, at the far post to nod in Baines's corner, but referee Oliver ruled it out because he believed Anichebe had blocked Reina.
Down at the Kop end, Sturridge then played in Gerrard, who rounded Howard but could not generate enough power to prevent Distin from clearing off the line. There was no let-up in the tempo as the game entered its final phase, but with too many passes going astray, neither side could open up a path to goal.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Downing (Skrtel 79), Henderson (Borini 66), Coutinho, Sturridge.
Subs not used: Jones, Assaidi, Coates, Suso, Shelvey.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas (Jelavic 75), Osman, Gibson, Pienaar, Fellaini, Anichebe.
Subs not used: Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Oviedo, Naismith, Duffy.
Ref: Michael Oliver
The Daily Mirror carried the views of David Moyes following another winless trip to Anfield by Everton and the Everton boss:
David Moyes last night accused officials of favouring Liverpool in derbies at Anfield and claimed Everton were robbed of a winner. Furious Moyes was adamant referee Michael Oliver bungled by disallowing Sylvain Distin’s header for a foul by Victor Anichebe on Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The goalless draw maintained Moyes’s winless record at Anfield and he moaned Everton do not get big decisions here: "It was a goal, a legitimate goal," said the Blues boss. "The goalkeeper runs into Victor Anichebe and it’s a goal.
"The referee said that Victor impeded the goalkeeper, but it was actually the goalkeeper who ran into him so it can’t possibly be a free-kick.
"It’s frustrating because people are quite quick to remind me that I haven’t won here at Anfield, but if you don’t get any decisions, it’s very hard to win here at Anfield.
"And that is quite a regular occurrence when we come to Anfield."
On 8 May 2013, Greg O’Keefe reported that an Everton Shareholders Association petition had gained sufficient support to re-instate formal AGMs at the club. Since 2008, there had been a reluctance by the club’s directors to hold an AGM as they preferred to talk with a selected fans’ forum or have the Chief Executive sit down with the shareholders association committee.
On the same day, according to one well-known bookmaker, David Moyes was set to become the next manager of Manchester United; the organisation slashed their odds of that happening from 7/2 to 1/2 after a series of large bets were placed on the Everton boss. A press release from the betting company said:
2012 looks increasingly likely to be the last in the glorious career of Sir Alex Ferguson and fellow Scot David Moyes is now odds-on to be his successor.
Various factors suggest the move may be made this year with a 20th League Championship in the bag, a statue of Ferguson being unveiled in November, and an upcoming hip operation for the Scot in the summer.
In the build-up to the West Ham United clash at Goodison Park, bookmakers speculation about ‘Moyes to United’ turned into news as more and more reports speculated on his possible replacement at Everton.
On 9 May 2013, it was confirmed by Everton FC that David Moyes would be leaving the club:
The chairman, on behalf of the club, would like to place on record his thanks to David for the massive contribution he has made to Everton since his arrival in March 2002. He has been an outstanding manager.
Moyes has been in charge for more than 500 games, and his final two matches will be the Blues' remaining Premier League games against West Ham United and Chelsea. Everton FC will start the search for a replacement manager immediately.
Bill Kenwright later that evening spoke emotionally about Moyes’s decision to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson on 1 July 2013; he said:
“He is a great manager and Manchester United are very lucky.
“I haven’t said goodbye to him yet, we’ve just been talking on the phone and we’ve got two games still to go.
“It will be tough for all Evertonians to say goodbye to him, he’s a great manager.
“Let’s be honest, we couldn’t stand in his way, he’s out of contract and it was his decision. We’ve had a really good 11 years adventure with David Moyes and it’s my job and the club’s job to get a worthy successor and build on what David has quite definitely brought to the football club – and hopefully move on from there.
"It’s been an extraordinary 24 hours since yesterday morning. It’s important now that we finish off the season against West Ham and Chelsea and then we maintain our position.
“It’s important that, from here on, in Everton continues in the David Moyes tradition and in the Everton Football Club tradition with an equally significant manager because he has been a significant manager for 11 years.”
The Mirror reported that Alex Ferguson's successor eyed Maroune Fellaini as his first signing to replace wantaway Wayne Rooney, and he hoped to take Leighton Baines with him too.
"It’s a great honour to be asked to be the next manager of Manchester United," said Moyes.
"I know how hard it will be to follow the best manager ever, but the opportunity to manage Manchester United isn’t something that comes around very often."
Ferguson said: "When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes, we unanimously agreed on David.
"David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. There’s no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club."
Speculation about Moyes’s replacement at Everton filled the local sports pages. Among the list of names linked were Neil Lennon, Malky Mackay, Vitor Periera, Duncan Ferguson, Michael Laudrup, Phil Neville, and the bookies favourite, Roberto Martinez.
Howard Kendall’s personal favourite was Duncan Ferguson: “Naturally he would need somebody working alongside him but he would be a great figurehead, would command respect and offer a real presence.
"He has put in the time on his coaching qualifications and he is undoubtedly a leader. So why not?"
"I just have a little feeling, something inside me, saying Duncan Ferguson. There’s no doubt about it that his heart is in the right place. He has been working at the club and doing well, is respected by everybody and loved by the fans.”
Of course, the events of the week had overshadowed the West Ham encounter but at least the players responded with a stylish performance and took the three points.
Before kick-off, all four stands saluted the Manchester-bound David Moyes in his final appearance at Goodison Park as Everton boss. Everton’s victory ensured they achieved a second successive top-flight finish above Liverpool, something they had not done since 1937.
Timothy Abraham reported David Moyes’s reaction to the day in the Daily Star:
"Really emotional," Moyes said when asked to sum up how it felt to be a manager in the home dugout at Goodison for the last time.
"When I came into the ground, all the stewards were standing and clapping me, I didn’t know what to do. I am fortunate to have had the reception I did. I am gob-smacked and humbled.
"I think just by the reaction of most people during the week the reception would have been okay.
"As a fan, you are entitled to support your team and if they aren’t on your team you don’t know their reaction.
"I’m a football supporter and if I’d have been on the terraces today, I’d have clapped the manager. I might not have liked what he was doing but I’d have applauded.
"Everton will never be as good as they were in the 80s when they won things. But you look at top 10 finishes in the Premier League era, it has improved."
“Where’s your Moysie gone?” the visiting Hammers fans sung as they attempted to wind-up the Goodison Park faithful of their departing boss.
“We want Sam Allardyce,” the Everton fans responded with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. But it was Moyes’s day.
“The way we played, I think we were lucky to get away with a 2-0,” Allardyce said.
“There was only one player who was outstanding and that was Jussi Jaaskelainen. He made some absolutely outstanding saves.”
So that was it then; the end of an era... well, not quite, as there was still the small matter of a trip to Stamford Bridge to play the Europa League winners, the last opportunity for the departing David Moyes to break his hoodoo of never having managed Everton to a league win at one of the so-called traditional top four clubs.
David Woods reported from Stamford Bridge:
David Moyes once again found it a Bridge too far as he extended his run of matches without a win at Chelsea to 17.
At Everton, such a drought is just about forgivable. At Manchester United, the powers-that-be won’t be so relaxed about a similarly poor record in west London.
That, in a nutshell, is the difference between managing at Goodison Park and Old Trafford – in Manchester, there are great expectations; for the blue half of Merseyside, it is all about hope.
Goals from Spaniards Juan Mata and Fernando Torres – his 23rd of the season – saw their countryman Rafa Benitez off into the distance with a win. While Moyes knows where he is going, the future is less clear for Benitez.
But, after taking the Blues safely into third and securing the Europa League on Wednesday, even his harshest critics cannot claim he has done a bad job in seven months – ending his reign with seven wins and two draws in his last nine matches.
Everton, and Moyes himself, will be happy with sixth, one place higher and seven points more than last season and again ahead of rivals Liverpool.
Moyes was expected to take charge of his first United game on July 13 - in Bangkok, Thailand, against a Singha All Star XI on the club’s pre-season tour. That meant him packing up at Finch Farm after the final loss at Stamford Bridge and attending squad preparations at Manchester United's training ground a full five weeks before the end of his contract with Everton.
This was all a bit rich for some Evertonians – after all, wasn’t David Moyes still being paid to manage Everton Football Club?
Despite the departure of David Moyes, Leon Osman signed a new contract with the Blues The 32-year-old midfielder, who agreed to remain a Toffees player until 2015, hoped to end his career on Merseyside.
Phil Jagielka also said he had no intention of following Moyes out of the exit door as he looked forward to captaining the Toffees the following season.
At the end of May, it looked most likely that former Wigan Athletic Manager, Roberto Martinez would become Moyes’s successor at Goodison Park, according to Press Association Sports:
Everton began with a list of about 30 names and have interviewed internal candidates, turning their attentions to out-of-work managers or those whose contracts are expiring – like Pereira – before lastly sounding out those currently working at clubs.
An approach for Martinez was made last Friday – and granted by Wigan chairman Dave Whelan – and the Spaniard emerged as the favourite after telling his chairman on Tuesday he wanted to leave the FA Cup winners after four seasons as he did not feel he was able to fulfil the task of trying to get the Latics back into the Premier League after relegation.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright met with Martinez in London on Wednesday and is expected to complete his deliberations over the weekend. Whelan is looking for £2million compensation to allow Martinez to break the remaining 12 months of his contract, a factor which may yet come into the final reckoning.
Everton Football Club found itself on the brink of a whole new era and nothing would be quite the same again... or would it?
For more details of any of the games mentioned above or indeed any Everton match during the last 25 years, ToffeeWeb maintains a huge array of historic information, articles, news archive items, and match reports plus line-ups etc – just click on ‘Seasons’ then select ‘Past Seasons’