Everton: Will FA Cup Defeat to Wigan Be the Final Straw for David Moyes?

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterMarch 9, 2013

Everton manager David Moyes looks dejected as his side crashed out of the FA Cup.
Everton manager David Moyes looks dejected as his side crashed out of the FA Cup.Michael Regan/Getty Images

For a season which promised so much, Everton have delivered far too little in their one route to a trophy—the domestic cup competitions.

It's a damning indictment after a shocking 3-0 FA Cup quarterfinal defeat to Premier League strugglers Wigan Athletic, but it's an assessment which few can disagree with, least of all manager David Moyes.

For so many recent seasons, the Merseyside club have been reliant on a resurgent second half to a season to boost hopes for the next campaign.

This time around, Everton fans had every right to feel confident after an impressive opening to the Premier League campaign, which included the Marouane Fellaini-inspired 1-0 win over Manchester United on the opening weekend.

Even a pitiful exit to Leeds United in the Capital One Cup in September was glossed over to an extent with the team enjoying a strong league campaign.

But Moyes and the fans are astute enough to realise that the cup is where Everton are most likely to be rewarded with silverware. The team, though, effectively gave the Championship side a walkover at Elland Road.

The three-goal defeat to Wigan represents a new nadir for Everton supporters, though. This was supposed to be a rubber-stamped passport to a Wembley semifinal, with the Latics supposedly looking toward Premier League survival as their first priority this season.

Indeed, Roberto Martinez's side were guaranteed to slip into the bottom three of the top flight due to sides below them playing each other immediately after their FA Cup triumph.

Like throwing at a mile-wide dartboard from three feet. Selecting a low point from the FA Cup loss to Wigan offers a veritable cornucopia of choices. It remains doubtful whether Everton would hit that target today, though.

The back injury to goalkeeper Tim Howard was never going to help and his replacement, Jan Mucha, lacks game time and, consequently, any kind of optimism among his defence. But the Slovakian could scarcely be blamed for the three goals his teammates helped him concede in four devastating first-half minutes.

Midfielder Leon Osman lost Maynor Figueroa inside the area for Wigan's opener. Seconds later, Everton supporter Callum McManaman added a second when Phil Neville passed the ball in his direction, while the space afforded to Jordi Gomez to pass the ball into the net from outside the area for the third goal was almost criminal.

This was a dismal Everton display and while Moyes cannot be blamed for the complete malfunction of his high-profile players in such a game, his selection of Neville ahead of Darron Gibson in central midfield backfired.

It still took until the 67th minute before Gibson was introduced to the action, but Neville was spared the indignant jeers, which greeted Fellaini's substitution when he was taken off at halftime.

Fellaini played as though the air around him was denser than it was for others, but Wigan also deserve some credit for stopping the Belgium international's rhythm and presence.

But the Everton midfielder had also played as though there something else better was waiting elsewhere. Fellaini was posted missing during the Capital One Cup defeat at Leeds and his lack of effort in tracking back was the catalyst for the jeers, which saw him head straight down the tunnel after being replaced by Gibson.

This was as comfortable as it could be for Wigan, who played with a vigour and spirit that contrasted harshly with the dulled efforts of the home side.

Everton had no response and were bereft of ideas, and Wigan goalkeeper Joel Blazquez had only one save to make from Nikica Jelavic and had to get his body behind a Leighton Baines free-kick.

Moyes had stated after the close of the transfer window that he would wait until the end of the season to decide on a new contract at Goodison Park, just weeks following his assertion that he would make a choice when January ended.

The Scot has also expressed his interest in working in Germany and has been strongly linked with Chelsea when Rafael Benitez's contract ends at the close of the season.

Moyes has been at Goodison since March 2002 but remains without silverware and without the financial muscle to bolster a squad, a fact borne out in the harshest fashion, as Everton failed to find any answers to Wigan from the start or from the bench.

Everton desperately needed a return to Wembley to atone for the semifinal defeat to Liverpool a year ago, when the Blues sat back after taking a first-half lead despite dominating the first period.

What happened against Wigan was far, far more unpalatable to Goodison Park supporters than those events at Wembley.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and Moyes have enjoyed a solid partnership over the years, but could anyone blame the manager for deciding that his future now lies elsewhere?

If Moyes does decide it is time to go, Kenwright could do worse than look at the opposition dugout for a potential successor.

But Moyes must be wary that his Goodison legacy is not tainted by a three-goal FA Cup loss to relegation battlers Wigan.