LONDON: It is a sign of the times at Everton that David Moyes has started cracking jokes in his post-match press conferences.
The Scot had little to smile about last season as his side flirted with relegation and a summer dominated by protracted negotiations over the future of Wayne Rooney was hardly a barrel of laughs either.
But after a late 1-0 victory over Southampton had kept his side firmly cemented in third place in the Premiership table, the Scot could afford to have a little fun with the media.
“It’s getting like Scotland here in England isn’t it?” laughed Moyes. “A three-horse race – Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.”
Everton only secured their victory courtesy of Leon Osman’s strike two minutes from time after a string of missed chances.
But the manner of victory did not perturb the manager.
“It was late, great and deserved,” he said. “We missed enough chances to have scored and won the game earlier but the lads are doing great and keeping at it. I couldn’t have faulted them.”
Expanding on his recipe for success, Moyes added: “We’re not a great team, we’re a good team and doing everything we can. Every player is giving his all and really sticking at it.
“The misses will be a concern if they continue like that. We need to do better, we know that. But the chances are coming, hopefully we can keep making them. We did similarly in our last game against Tottenham, we made a similar amount of chances ... it was just that they grabbed the late goal that day.
“But every game we have won this season, and even those we have lost apart from Arsenal, I think we deserved to win them. And if that’s the case, you are there on merit so credit every one of the players for keeping it going.”
Everton’s start has been all the more impressive given the loss of Rooney to Manchester United.
But Osman, 23, has helped Goodison fans forget that disappointment with some impressive performances, and three goals, to date.
“It was a terrific goal and I don’t think there is another player, especially at this club, who could have scored it,” said Moyes.
“The ball was low and around his legs and it took great awareness to know where the goal was.
“Leon had a year out with a (knee) cruciate injury, then he went on loan to Carlisle and that is a good route back. You only need to look at David Beckham, who came on loan when I was with Preston, to know that works. It does happen to people, they go on loan, get experience and come back ready to play.”
For Southampton manager Steve Wigley, without nine first team players and all his senior strikers at Goodison, the result left him still searching for his first victory since taking over at the club.
“We went close but we’re still not having any luck at the moment,” said Wigley. “The players went out and competed and worked hard but I just felt a bit of anxiety crept in in the second half.
“It was cruel to lose like that in the last couple of minutes but when you’re on this sort of run of results, that tends to happen in football.
“It wouldn’t matter, wherever you are in the league, if you concede a goal two minutes from time, you would be disappointed. It’s my job now to pick them up and prepare them for the next game.” – AFP