Everton 2 (2) Fulham 1 (0
Despite this nerve-tingling triumph, David Moyes now knows the size of the task
facing him at Everton.
David's delight: New Everton boss David Moyes takes the applause after his side's
His predecessor, Walter Smith, operated with one arm tied behind his back in
terms of finance for transfers and had to depend on short-term acquisitions.
Fulham striker Barry Hayles makes the goal for Fulham
The budget for Moyes has been increased but there is no suggestion that the amount
available is vast - and on this evidence the squad still needs major surgery.
What the former Preston manager has been able to inject immediately, however,
is a steely resolve reflected in early goals from David Unsworth and Duncan
Ferguson which sent Fulham to a fifth successive defeat.
This resolve was taken to excess by Thomas Gravesen, whose recklessness earned
him only an early bath and left his team-mates with a backs-to-the-wall operation
in the second half. Nevertheless, they clung on for victory and Moyes has already
begun to stave off relegation fears.
For Everton fans it was a case of greeting the new boss, who in many ways could
be considered a younger version of the old one. Moyes, like Smith, is a Glaswegian,
more noted for diligence than eloquence, and the tone he sets is decidedly no-nonsense.
The problem he has inherited is also the same - a farcical lack of funding for
a team with such a huge fan base.
The standing ovation afforded to Moyes before the kick-off bore testimony to
the passionate hunger for success among the supporters, though the traditional
rendition of the theme from Z Cars when the teams emerged from the tunnel continued
to give the impression of a club dwelling on past glories.
In introducing Moyes to the crowd, the PA announcer somewhat optimistically
promised a "new revolution". Whether the words resulted from mere
bravado or genuine belief was debatable, but they certainly proved prophetic.
Everton were one up inside 27 seconds.
Ferguson, restored to the side as captain following his umpteenth injury lay-off,
flicked on a cross, Tomasz Radzinski knocked the ball back and Unsworth lashed
it left-footed past Edwin van der Sar.
A revolution indeed, and one in which the Everton players scuffled for every
ball as if lives depended on it. Too enthusiastically in the case of Gravesen,
who had been out of favour with Smith and was starting a game for the first
time since Boxing Day. The Dane was booked for a rash touchline challenge on
Luis Boa Morte.
Fulham still had not quite come to terms with the opposition's renewed zeal
when Van der Sar, having already having presented Lee Carsley with one opportunity
from a fluffed clearance, did it again and paid dearly. The ball rebounded off
Ferguson's heel and ran kindly for the Scot to steer it in from an angle.
If the two-goal cushion gave Everton an excuse to slow down a little, nobody took
the hint - least of all Gravesen who persisted in his headless chicken routine,
up-ending Boa Morte again after committing himself to a needless tackle. A second
yellow card was inevitable and though his dismissal seemed a trifle harsh, Gravesen
had only himself to blame.
Bookings and free kicks came aplenty but in the rare moments of fluid football
it was the visitors who showed all the quality. They just needed a sharper edge
and Barry Hayles, who replaced Boa Morte at half-time, supplied it six minutes
after the restart. An extra burst of pace took him to the byline and Steed Malbranque
side-footed in his neat pull-back.
It was the signal for Everton to come under siege. A succession of panic clearances
handed territorial dominance to Jean Tigana's team but luck was on Everton's
side as Louis Saha's header five minutes from time hit the bar.
Simonsen, Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth (Blomqvist 75), Hibbert,
Carsley, Gemmill, Gravesen, Radzinski (Moore 45), Ferguson.
Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Clarke, Chadwick.
Sent Off: Gravesen (28).
Booked: Gravesen, Unsworth, Moore.
Goals: Unsworth 1, Ferguson 13.
Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma (Ouaddou 45), Brevett, Boa
Morte (Hayles 45), Legwinski (Goldbaek 78), Collins, Malbranque, Saha, Marlet.
Subs Not Used: Harley, Taylor.
Booked: Finnan(f, 26), Malbranque (f, 30), Brevett(f, 37), Hayles(f, 74).
Goals: Malbranque 52.
Att: 34,639 Ref: G Barber (Tring).