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Blues hurting for lack of positive thinking; Past wins show fortune favours the brave.

Byline: DAVID PRENTICE

IT was a full four days after their Wembley woe, when a Blues fan passed me on Dale Street, shook his head and muttered five words.

"Dark days, Dave. Dark days." Of course, they're not.

May 3, 1998 was a dark day - when it looked like Everton would be relegated, so was April 30 1994 - for the same reason, or January 27, 2001 (look that one up, it's still too painful).

At present Everton are above Liverpool in the league, actually got to Wembley - and are fifth in the Premier League's current six-match form table.

But it's the nature of Saturday's defeat which has hit Evertonians so hard.

It's bad enough losing to Liverpool, again, at Wembley Stadium, but to go missing on the day against a team with only three league wins this year is what hit so hard - and why so many inquests and post mortems have been staged on phone-ins, message boards and letters pages.

David Moyes' role in Saturday's defeat has been the most scrutinised.

And it's a matter of record that when push comes to shove, at the very highest level over the past 10 years, Everton have fallen short.

They have lost an FA Cup final, a Carling Cup semi, now an FA Cup semi-final, while away from home Everton's record against the top four clubs of the Premier League era - Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool - is won two (both on penalties), drawn 15 and lost 29.

That's a grim record, especially when you consider that this season alone Blackburn, Wigan and Crystal Palace have all won at those intimidating arenas.

But maybe those victories were down to positive thinking. Read this excerpt from Gary Ablett's excellent autobiography released this week.

"The balance of power had tipped since the 1980s, even so, we went to Old Trafford at the start of the 1992/93 season and won 3-0. Peter Beardsley, Robert Warzycha and Maurice Johnston scored. The Stretford End was getting done up at the time and we got absolutely battered - we had tin hats on at the back. Howard picked quite an attack-minded team and fortune favoured him that day."

Everton haven't won at Old Trafford since then.

But fortune favours the brave. And Everton were brave that day, some may say foolhardy - but they got the luck their courage earned - like Wigan at The Emirates in midweek.

David Moyes' achievements as Everton manager are significant.

Contrast the 10 years which preceded his arrival, to the frequent top six finishes, the regular European excursions, the three LMA Manager of the Year awards and the achievement of actually getting to Wembley semi-finals and finals.

He is an excellent manager, who keeps bumping his head against a glass ceiling. But is that ceiling down to a lack of quality/investment when it matters most? Or a lack of adventure? I couldn't even pretend to know - but I do know Everton fans are hurting badly right now.

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UNDER SCRUTINY: David Moyes
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2012
Words:501
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