David Moyes confident Everton can upset Man Utd 'invincibles'
THE invincibles come up against the unbeatables at Old Trafford this evening. And David Moyes has warned Manchester United not to expect his Everton team to prove pushovers.
Moyes's men continue their journey of self-discovery with the fourth of their five-game schedule against the Premier League's traditional 'big four'.
So far, so good. Everton emerged from two trips to Liverpool unbeaten and were within moments of a well-deserved victory over Arsenal before Robin van Persie's heartbreaking injury- time equaliser.
However, history suggests their latest assignment is their toughest yet. After all, this evening's game is infamously the most one-sided fixture in Premier League history with United winning 25 of the 33 top-flight meetings between the clubs since 1992.
With United having not conceded a goal in their last 11 leagues games while winning their last six, Moyes acknowledges it will be a big ask for a side that could be without influential pair Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini.
But with Everton themselves on a nine-game unbeaten run, the Goodison manager believes his team have nothing to fear no matter who steps out at Old Trafford.
"I'm sure United have a feeling of invincibility," says Moyes. "But we have a feeling of strength at the moment because we trust our defenders.
"What we have done is able to rely on us getting a goal and winning games, and United have that in abundance with their attacking threat. They have people who can win games out of nothing, and defenders who can keep it tight and keep it clean. I don't think I'd used the world invincible about us. But we feel strong and are capable of challenging. We've shown in recent games that we can. We're not going to be a pushover for any top teams, and if they are going to beat us then they are going to have to earn it."
Moyes adds: "It's a really punishing spell for us at the moment, but it doesn't give us a chance and in a way that can work in our favour. We have to stay on it, it doesn't give us a chance to say 'phew, thank goodness that game is out of the way'.
"The players have done ever so well, we can only ask for them to give us more again.
"I'm going to have a look at the fixture list and wonder how we got all the top teams in January! But after United, we have Chelsea and Villa away in the league run-in and that's the only ones we have left in the last 14 games."
Moyes will try and outwit fellow Glaswegian Sir Alex Ferguson for only the second time since arriving at Goodison almost seven years ago.
However, the Everton manager believes he has avoided falling into the trap of engaging in mind games with the United manager.
"When you are from Glasgow, you understand," says Moyes. "It's a wee bit of Glasgow trademark there. It's Sir Alex's experience and confidence as well in his players and in the position that he is in. He's happy to challenge all-comers.
"I wouldn't say I particularly have more of an affinity with Sir Alex than some other managers. I think because we are both from Glasgow, people assume that.
"I've said many times that probably whisky first and then Sir Alex are the best exports out of Scotland. He's held in high regard in Scotland.
"For such a small nation to produce such great managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, is an unbelievable achievement for a country so small. Sir Alex is happy to carry that and take the mantle on from those great managers before him."
Moyes recalls coming up against Ferguson during his playing days in Scotland, and being instantly impressed.
"I remember as a player at Celtic when he was manager at Aberdeen, I would look at him and think 'gee whizz, he was rough and tough and intense and focused'," he says.
"He had a great drive and had good players and built a really good side at Aberdeen and challenged the top teams, tried to challenge Rangers and Celtic and won competitions.
"I look at him and think there is a different man now than there is then, but that comes from experience and the club he is at."
As well as Everton skipper Phil Neville, goalkeeper Tim Howard will return to his former stomping ground today.
Howard's form has helped the Goodison outfit keep six clean sheets in their last nine games, and Moyes says: "Tim has done really well. Obviously he was disappointed with the goal at Liverpool but over the piece he has been excellent. He has played his part, kept six clean sheets and has great pride in that. His form has been good.
We've spoken about the form of certain players at the start of the season like Mikel and Joleon, but I even thought Tim Howard wasn't at his level when he came back. But he has got that form back, and take away that goal against Liverpool and he has been in excellent form.
"Tim has been great, not just as a goalkeeper but as a person. He has no edge to him at all, he is a very pleasant man to have around and to replace Nigel Martyn was a big job and Tim is carrying that mantle at the present time."