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Moyes left waiting for silverware

He mingled with the Chelsea players in the minutes after the final whistle, shaking their hands in a respectful response to a setback. If the image of David Moyes is of a frowning, fierce and altogether fearsome individual, he certainly displayed dignity in defeat. A laugh, which few anticipated, followed when a mobile phone went off and the ring tone, the James Bond theme tune, sounded in the bowels of Wembley.

It was Moyes' cue to depart but it was somehow fitting. Chelsea's No. 8, not 007, was responsible for Everton's defeat but his first FA Cup final illustrated the need for men who specialise in the improbable. Frank Lampard had supplied an outstanding winner. Everton, though they possess a serious man doing a seriously good job of managing them, cannot afford to purchase players of such calibre.

It has taken seven years of incremental improvement, maximising comparatively slender resources and fashioning a side from unlikely components to make Everton progress this far. Yet while a roof might have been appreciated as his side wilted in the Wembley heat, the greater problem was the glass ceiling.

Fifth place in the Premier League represents an admirable achievement but, though Everton edged out Liverpool four years ago, the top four continue to consolidate their position as a dominant cartel. Everton had beaten the runners-up in the Premier League and then eliminated the eventual champions. After Liverpool and Manchester United perished, Chelsea prevented a hat-trick of high-profile scalps. Three times the LMA's Manager of the Year, Moyes has the approval of his peers, but silverware is more elusive, despite his insistence that collective awards matter more than individual accolades.

"They were worthy winners," said Moyes, after Guus Hiddink's side had demonstrated the difficulty of taking a trophy back to Goodison Park. "It's really hard to win things in England. We deserve to be in the final because we beat big teams to get there.

"Playing Chelsea was just a hurdle too much for us today: they were the better team. I'm actually very proud of the players for the efforts they have put in all year."

Indeed, Everton's accomplishments including marrying unflagging commitment, unity and considerable skill with a ''no excuses' culture. A reward appeared possible when Louis Saha drilled in the quickest goal in FA Cup final history, scoring after 25 seconds from Marouane Fellaini's header. Had Saha converted a later header, then Everton might have regained the FA Cup, which they last won in 1995.

As it was, Chelsea prevailed. "Players like [Didier] Drogba and Lampard and Terry win you Cups. We're trying to develop players," Moyes added.

Despite Chelsea's excellence, it is pertinent that their side cost more than three times as much as their Everton counterparts. It is telling, too, that with the exception of Ricardo Carvalho, they were at full strength. Everton have not been throughout the season.

The spine of their side was denied an outing at Wembley. "If Chelsea had gone into the game without Lampard, Drogba and John Terry, it would have given us a big lift," added Moyes. "We've gone in without Yakubu, [Mikel] Arteta and [Phil] Jagielka."

His problems were exacerbated by Tony Hibbert's travails against Florent Malouda, leading to a half-time change when Lars Jacobsen was brought on to spare the right-back a red card. Tim Cahill swapped positions with Fellaini in another switch, but it could not disguise Everton's comparative paucity of options.

Quantity and quality were apparent in the support. Moyes had christened Everton "the people's club" and the people made their way south in their thousands, outnumbering and out-singing their Chelsea counterparts. Three hours before kick-off, Scousers were sweltering outside Wembley in oversized Fellaini wigs. Flags swirled round half of Wembley when the band launched into the Z Cars theme tune and a roar greeted the announcement of the Everton side.

Saha's strike brought a still louder one, but the Everton players were still afforded a lap of honour by their appreciative crowd. "I think it meant a lot to Everton supporters to be at Wembley," Moyes added. "They were great fans, they never gave up on us."

For Chelsea, accustomed to such end-of-season outings, it is almost an annual event. For many Everton supporters, the hope has to be that this final is not a one-off. Those who had ventured south brought a different flavour to the final. Showing a sense of cheek, there were banners addressing the Chelsea owners as "Roman, lad".

Roman, lad - otherwise known as Roman Abramovich - looks on foreign fields for his managers and tends to prefer men with a proven track record in the Champions League. As the quest to recruit Carlo Ancelotti continues, however, he perhaps ought to ask if, given the context at their respective clubs, the Italian has achieved more in the last two seasons than Moyes. Everton, meanwhile, have cause to be grateful that he is unlikely to pose such queries.

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