Business as usual as Moyes signs off
On the wall at the front of the Gwladys Street End's top tier is a board that reads: 'In Moyes We Trust.' Even though David Moyes is about to leave Goodison Park, Everton's fans have been able to trust him right to the end.
Moyes could have been forgiven for easing up in his final home game, with a move to Manchester United secure, and the last remaining mathematical hopes of European football about to vanish. Not a bit of it. Instead, he treated his 517th match as Everton's manager with all the professionalism of the previous 516.
The Goodison regulars appreciate such a work ethic. They can also, however reluctantly, understand the reasons for his departure. Before kick-off, Moyes was greeted with applause as he emerged from the tunnel. The gesture was repeated as the squad emerged for a post-match lap of honour. Homemade banners in the stands thanked him for his efforts over the last 11 years.
"I'm really fortunate I had the reception I did today," Moyes said. "I'm gobsmacked and humbled.
"It's been a really emotional day, from when I came in. All the stewards were standing and clapping me when I came in, and I didn't know what to do."
On a grey, drizzly afternoon, Everton's supporters chose to celebrate their departing manager and mock his future employers. Throughout the afternoon came the regular chant of: "Who the **** are Man United?"
By contrast, when an image of chairman Bill Kenwright's face appeared on the stadium screens in the closing stages, it was greeted with boos. A long-term lack of investment at Goodison Park makes for a tough job for the next Everton manager.
The scale of Moyes' efforts, in a league dominated by money, is nothing short of astonishing: a top-eight finish for the seventh successive season. Victory over West Ham ensured they will be Merseyside's top team for the second year running too – a feat not achieved since Bill Shankly took Liverpool back into the top division since 1962.
But there has been more to Moyes' achievements than high league finishes against the odds. He put together a team that has played the best football seen at Goodison Park since Howard Kendall's great side of the mid-1980s, all on a net spend of just under £17 million in 11 years.
The quality of play was borne out by their sixth-minute opener against the Hammers, a wonderful move that started at the back with Phil Jagielka, then moved forward via Leon Osman to the left flank, where Leighton Baines left Jack Collison on the seat of his pants before feeding the ball across the face of the penalty area, via Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, for Kevin Mirallas to tuck a 20-yard shot into the bottom corner.
They could have had more as their slick passing made West Ham look ponderous. Darron Gibson dipped a 20-yard volley onto the top of the net; Victor Anichebe rolled a shot wide and was then denied at point-blank range by Jussi Jaaskelainen after Mirallas had slalomed across the face of the penalty area.
West Ham, long safe from relegation, offered little bar a couple of first-half Kevin Nolan efforts, a Joe Cole shot and a late Andy Carroll header against the post.
"The way we played today, we were lucky to get away with a 2-0 defeat," Hammers manager Sam Allardyce said. "I warned the players before the game what it was going to be like, and we simply couldn't cope with it."
Indeed, once Mirallas added a second on the hour mark, taking on Gibson's through pass to score via a deflection off James Collins, Everton could have had a sackful. "I think we'd have been a match for any side today," Moyes said.
Jaaskelainen made two excellent saves to deny Osman; Pienaar saw a goalbound shot blocked by Collins; Anichebe was wasteful with a clear header eight yards from goal. It has been a recurrent theme this season. With a prolific finisher, Everton might just have qualified for next season's Champions League.
It is easy to forget, when his team play with such assurance, and when they maintain such a lofty league placing, just how much of a financial disadvantage Moyes has had to put up with.
To get an idea of that disadvantage, you need only to look around Goodison Park. Moyes described the stadium affectionately as an "old lady" on Friday, and her age is showing. The ground lacks the corporate facilities of most Premier League stadiums - a costly oversight that has restricted the club's financial potential, making them a less attractive prospect for investors.
That comes back to Kenwright. If the chairman had been successful in his attempt to move the club to a new stadium at Kings Dock a few years ago, things would have been different. Perhaps then Moyes would not be leaving Everton without a trophy to his name. But, then, perhaps another chairman would not have given him the time he needed to develop in the Premier League.
"The chairman took a gamble at that time by giving a young British manager an opportunity," Moyes said. "He needs a lot of credit for that. The big thing for me is that Everton have improved year in, year out. They'll never be as good as they were in the '80s, when they were winning things, but if you look at how many top-ten finishes we've had in the last ten years, we've certainly improved greatly."
The manager has never used financial restrictions as an excuse. Instead, he has inspired Everton to punch above their weight. His will to win has ensured that they have continued to do so right to the end of his reign. In seeking a successor, Kenwright faces by far the biggest challenge of his chairmanship.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Mirallas. It may well be that David Moyes does not get to see the best of the striker he signed from Olympiakos for £5.3 million last summer. Mirallas is only just starting to find his feet in the Premier League after a season truncated by injury, but Moyes' assessment that he has the potential to be a match-winner was proved accurate here.
EVERTON VERDICT: The great encouragement for Manchester United is that they will be getting a new manager every bit as driven as their old one. It is a tribute to David Moyes' powers of motivation that his team were so committed, even though they had little to play for, and know he is going. Having gone in front early, they did not ease up.
WEST HAM VERDICT: Premier League survival was the priority for Sam Allardyce this season. With their top-flight status secured, his side played for the most part as if their minds were on the beach. But for the heroics of Jussi Jaaskelainen, they could have lost by a significantly wider margin.