Farewells take centre stage at Goodison

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Lindsey Parnaby/Getty ImagesDavid Moyes enjoyed a heartfelt farewell from the Goodison Park faithful.

Since European football was out of the equation, this was always going to be more about farewells than football. Fortunately, for Everton, the football was superb and 2-0 barely hinted at the one-sided nature of the match.

- Match report: Everton 2-0 West Ham

Kevin Mirallas will take the headlines after his match-winning brace, but centre stage belonged to Darron Gibson. A continual testament to David Moyes and his eye for a bargain, Gibson is a vital part of this Everton side. As well as being a quality midfielder, Gibson has the pleasing knack of rarely finishing on the losing side; his record at Manchester United and Everton is tremendous.

Spraying passes around the pitch with ease, Gibson recorded the most of any player on the pitch (88) along with an impressive 92% accuracy. Rather fittingly, in Moyes' final home match, Everton posted their best passing performance of the campaign; registering 88% accuracy from 493 passes.

Deployed in the advanced position, with Marouane Fellaini in his favoured midfield role, Mirallas may provide the answer for this problem position off the striker. Roaming around the front line, the Belgian is a livewire and his pace and trickery troubled the overworked West Ham defence throughout.

In truth, this threatened to turn embarrassing for the visitors at times. Only the determined displays of James Collins and Jussi Jaaskelainen and some wayward Everton finishing kept the score line respectable; Leon Osman could and probably should have scored a hatful.

A spectator for the most part, Tim Howard made a smart save in each half after West Ham fashioned rare opportunities. Those saves aside, this was as routine as it gets with visiting minds clearly elsewhere.

Moyes takes Everton to Stamford Bridge next week, hoping to bow out with a win. After that, his plans turn towards Old Trafford. However, Moyes leaves knowing the club is in a fantastic position compared to his arrival in 2002. After assembling the strongest side since the 80s, the foundations are set for the new manager to take Everton forward.

Some use the lack of silverware as the stick to beat him with, but the majority of supporters cannot thank Moyes enough for the work carried out over these past 11 years. This was evident in the rousing reception afforded him before, during and after the match.

Once the final whistle sounded, the farewells began and the players started on their lap of honour around Goodison. Re-entering the pitch to a guard of honour, the players and fans said goodbye to club captain Phil Neville, Moyes and the returning Tim Cahill.

After a red card in his last Everton appearance, the return of Cahill allowed fans to say a proper goodbye to a player who was a pivotal part of the Moyes era. The sight of Cahill, Moyes and Neville standing side by side provided the dawning realisation that this is truly the end of an era. Next season, for the first time in eight years, Everton will begin a campaign without any of the aforementioned trio.

As supporters raised the roof in the second half, the post-match words of the departing manager rang true: "What I'll miss most is what you saw in the second half. The supporters weren't cheering me; they were cheering their football club."

In-between mocking Moyes' new destination, and singing the praises of the outgoing boss, the Everton fans defiantly proceeded through their repertoire of chants about the object that matters most; the club. This struck a chord, albeit an obvious one; while managers come and go, the supporters and the club remain.

The departure of Moyes is a blow, yet it also serves as the opening of a new chapter in the history of Everton Football Club. Next season will see a new manager, a new club captain and the inevitable turnover of players. Rather than dwell on the Moyes era, supporters can begin to ponder next season with a sense of nervous excitement.

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