SO straight bat is David Moyes that it is often difficult in post-match Press conferences to tell whether his team has just won or lost.
But the Scot was unmistakably downbeat today after a 1-0 loss at the Stadium of Light which dealt a hammer blow to Everton’s lingering Champions League hopes.
“It was an important game for us and we weren’t able to take any points from it,” he offered, his voice heavy with understatement, before acknowledging that his team had played Sunderland at just the wrong time – given the boost the hosts had received from the arrival of Paolo Di Canio and last Sunday’s impressive win at Newcastle.
“You could tell by the atmosphere in the ground that it was going to be tough,” said the Scot, following his first defeat to Sunderland in 11 years as Goodison boss.
“There was an incredible atmosphere around the stadium.
“And even when they were hanging on at 1-0, the crowd were willing them to make sure they didn’t concede a goal.
“The new appointment has given Sunderland a bit of energy, the players, I’m sure the city, and the club itself, and that was evident on the day.
“On top of that, I don’t think we played well.
“We had an awful lot of pressure in the second half – we didn’t have the quality, maybe, to get the goals from it. “But we had an awful lot of opportunities to try to do things a little bit better.”
The Everton manager was disappointed with the goal his men conceded from a Leighton Baines mistake and with referee Phil Dowd’s decision not to award a penalty late when Danny Rose and Nikica Jelavic tangled in the area.
“Leighton has been brilliant all season and it was unlike us,” he said. “It was worse because we had just defended a couple of free-kicks and were looking to go on the front foot.
“As for the penalty incident, I thought he pulled him down, yes. I thought he pulled his arm and pulled him down in the box.
“It was a difficult day for us, as I say and we won’t get a top four finish now.
“Every game is becoming must-win now, so I can’t see that happening.”
* Don’t miss the Football Echo – out tomorrow morning – with the best coverage of Sunderland’s win over Everton, plus a look back to last week’s derby.