IF there’s one quality that has shone brightest for Everton this season, it’s their refusal to give in. Their ability to fight back. To hang in there.
Now David Moyes wants his team to extend that resilience beyond the confines of 90 minutes to the course of an entire season.
Everton’s come-from-behind victory over Sunderland at Goodison last weekend best highlighted the tenacity that has seen them steadfastly refuse to relinquish their hold on a Champions League qualification berth.
Remarkably, it was the sixth successive top-flight game in which they had fallen behind and still managed to escape with at least a point – a Premier League record.
It is a landmark, though, that also illustrates the one significant flaw in an otherwise encouraging campaign.
Out of 13 games in all competitions this season, Everton have conceded the first goal on eight occasions. Only the clash at West Bromwich Albion and the Capital One Cup exit at Leeds United have ended in defeat.
That, though, cannot continue forever. But Moyes believes there are positives to draw from among the obvious clear warning.
“I can’t quite put my finger on why we keep conceding first,” he admits. “Our play has often merited us going ahead, and if I’d have known what to do to change things I’d have done it.
“But we have shown an ability to grind results out, which does have shades of the team in 2005.
“I was disappointed Sunderland were allowed some chances because our play hadn’t warranted Sunderland having them. We were a bit open and a bit wasteful, and that always gives the opposition a chance.”
The 2004-05 team that finished fourth to earn a crack at Champions League qualification earned a reputation for being able to eke out narrow victories while keeping clean sheets.
And while there is a different vibe to the present-day Everton team, Moyes wants this vintage to replicate the consistency shown eight years earlier.
“We are in a good position, I’m a wee bit disappointed we haven’t taken more point given our play,” he says. “But there are going to be lots of games where we will have to grind out results.
“It’s so tight. But I’m pleased with how we have done.
“The question will be, do we have the staying power? Do we have the consistency?
“I think we should have more points than we have at the moment, we’ve lost points in the 90th minute to Fulham and Newcastle. But I’m sure many other clubs could say the same thing.”