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Football: MOYES HUNTS RED SCALP; Boss keen to land first derby victory.

Byline: DAVID PRENTICE

DAVID MOYES received not one, but two standing ovations at last week's Everton AGM.

The first was just for being there, the second for a brief summary of the season so far.

The Blues boss has given the club back its pride and his stock could not be higher.

But there is still one glaring omission from his cv.

``I am fully aware I have not got a derby win under my belt, '' he said ``but I hope to put that right sooner rather than later.

``I am desperate to get a win under my belt if I can and we go into the derby in good form.

``I have been in charge of four two draws and two defeats but it was only the last one at Goodison where I felt we didn't really do ourselves justice. The others have all been very close.

``I know how important a derby win is. I would swap a healthy league position for not winning the derby if it ever came to that, but I know how important the fixture is to the fans, and to me. ''

A Glaswegian who played for Celtic, Moyes is very aware of what the supporters go through on derby day.

``I went to Glasgow derbies as a young boy, '' he said. ``It was always difficult to get tickets, but I did get into a few and I know exactly what a fan goes through on derby day.

``There are are similarities between the Glasgow and the Merseyside derby - and differences, too.

``The rivalry is similar in as much as what it means to both sets of supporters - but without the religious bigotry which exists in Scotland, albeit that aspect is not as intense as it was years ago.

``But the bottom line is that it means everything to beat your local rivals on derby day. ''

As a result of the intensity of the fixture, Moyes has tried to keep his players out of the media spotlight as much as possible.

``We've been able to give the players a little time off to relax, but that's not because of the derby, '' he smiled ``it's just because of the period we're coming into. ''

But the Blues boss also switched the time of his final press conference to 9. 30 am today then switched training until after lunch - to ensure his players are not swamped by interview requests.

``Just coincidence, '' smiled Moyes again. ``We have been working with a small squad this season and we have been having to do things to get the players in as good a shape as possible. ''

The Blues boss has been doing plenty of smiling this season - and hopes to be doing the same again by half past two on Saturday afternoon.

``Maybe the expectation is a little greater because we are at home and because of the way results have gone this season, but all I can say is that we will be focused and we will be ready.

``Everybody knows how important the game is - and we will go out there and give everything, as we have been doing all season.

``Hopefully that will be enough. ''
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2004
Words:528
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