DAVID MOYES sent out a real message with his strong team selection at Cheltenham Town on Monday.
But I wasn’t surprised. I always believed Moyes would take the FA Cup seriously given the despair Everton felt at getting so close to winning the competition last season.
It was arguably the strongest of any team a Premier League side sent out in the third round, and Moyes was rewarded with a solid, professional performance.
Maybe the Everton manager has looked at how other top-flight teams are approaching the Cup and is of the belief this could be his chance to win a trophy.
In any case, Moyes has a squad full of players who would probably be knocking on his door if they were left out.
Everton don’t have a chance of winning anything else this season, although fourth place is still very much possible, so why not have a real go at the FA Cup?
With Moyes’s contract up at the end of the season, he may be thinking that if he can win a trophy it would fill the one glaring omission in his Goodison CV as well as giving more power to his elbow in the summer transfer market.
He learned the lesson of the League Cup, when he picked a weakened team and fell by the wayside at Leeds United in September.
Everton have only got 18 more Premier League games remaining, they aren’t in Europe, so their workload isn’t all that great.
Moyes picked not only a strong team at Cheltenham, but also strong characters. If the League Two side had scored first, he knew Everton wouldn’t buckle with the likes of Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka in the team.
Everton were very good at Newcastle United last week. They are a team in every way, working hard for each other and didn’t panic when they went a goal down.
Possibly the only thing they are missing is what Kevin Mirallas can provide when fit, being able to push out wide and skip past players and offer something a little different going forward.
I’d expect Everton’s good run to continue this weekend. Swansea City have a lot on their plate at the moment, and as the Swans have become a bigger scalp it will keep Everton on their toes.
That said, I’d expect Moyes’s men to win this game normally. Too many teams sit off Swansea and allow them to play, but there’s no chance of Everton doing likewise.