Tim Howard has criticised Everton’s fans for their “unfair” treatment of David Moyes on the Manchester United manager’s first return to Goodison Park.
Moyes was booed before kick-off on Sunday, whereas he had been granted a standing ovation last May in the final home game of his 11-year reign as Everton manager, which included nine top-eight finishes.
After Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas scored in Everton's 2-0 win, fans chorused “are you watching, David Moyes?” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning”.
But United States goalkeeper Howard, who was signed by Moyes, said he remained grateful to the Scot and urged supporters to remember how they used to regard the 50-year-old.”
“That is unfair on him,” Howard said. “We have brilliant fans, but it's unfair. He was the second coming, the messiah 12 months ago, and I don't think as Evertonians we should ever forget that.
“He wouldn't want me feeling sorry for him. I love David Moyes. I think he is a brilliant manager. He was [a brilliant manager] here for us and I will be forever grateful.”
Victory leaves Everton a point behind Arsenal with three games remaining and Howard is convinced a fourth-placed finish is achievable.
“Of course it is,” he added. “We have to play Southampton away, Man City here. We want to go into that last game [at Hull] still feeling like we are 90 minutes away from Champions League football. That's a lot of pressure on us, to get the results right against three top teams.
“If you can't concentrate now with Champions League football on the horizon, then you will never be able to do it. Hopefully Arsenal can drop a point for us and do us a favour. But we still have to do our job and there is no question in my mind that we will.”
Everton had already beaten Arsenal at Goodison Park in April and Howard felt United were beaten by a display of similar excellence.
“It was a good performance, another performance like the one against Arsenal,” he said. “We got the goals and the clean sheet and we played it well from the back. I thought we did well.
“We had to absorb their pressure. They had a lot of possession. They have a lot of talented players. They over loaded the middle of the pitch and made it tough to get the ball off them but we were resilient and we adapted. We hit them on the counter. That is what the game called for.”