Everton's Howard: We owe the boss after derby demolition
Published 22:30 15/03/12 By David Maddock
Tim Howard and his Everton team-mates have apologised for ruining the storybook ending to manager David Moyes' 10th anniversary celebrations.
And the Blues' keeper has promised to make it up to the boss by delivering a fairytale visit to Wembley.
Despite a defiant performance from Howard, the Toffees were eventually overwhelmed by a rampant Liverpool in the midweek Merseyside derby.
In a week which saw their manager celebrate a decade at the club, Everton's first loss in 10 games halted their momentum just days before arguably the defining game of their season - a home FA Cup quarter-final against Sunderland.
While Howard accepts derby-day humiliation is hardly the best preparation for such a fixture, he insisted the players can still write a glorious postscript to Moyes' compelling Goodison story.
"It [Anfield] is never a nice place to lose, but with the anniversary and everything, it's even more so. Ten years is a lot of results, a lot of highs and lows," the keeper admitted.
"We had gone into the game on the back of a really good run, but unfortunately it didn't end in the storybook way we all hoped. But this is a good team, this is a good bunch of boys, and there is definitely no problem with the character in the squad.
"We will be up for the fight at the weekend, and it would be fantastic to get a good result to give everyone a lift after what has been a long week. It won't be for the lack of trying.
"Losing derbies always hurts, but we are professionals, we want to see it out, so we will get back to work and hopefully get a result."
Moyes was criticised for heavily rotating his side at Anfield, making six changes in an attempt to keep players fresh for the vital cup game.
His detractors have suggested the loss of momentum following an unbeaten nine-game run could seriously damage their hopes of winning through to a Wembley semi-final - and a possible rematch with Liverpool, who have a home quarter-final against Stoke on Sunday.
But Howard has dismissed such claims.
He believes a quarter-final of the oldest cup competition in the world is enough inspiration to lift the team no matter their mood.
And the incentive of securing a Wembley appearance in the week of their manager's 10th anniversary is also a massive influence.
"I don't think the FA Cup game has any more importance because of losing the derby - the chance of going to Wembley is enough to lift everyone's spirits," the American claimed.
"We all want a place in the semi-final. We will keep going, because the confidence is certainly still there. That's because of the way we were playing before Anfield.
"We still feel our form is good and we will count that defeat as just a blip, push on and hopefully get a good result at the weekend, which will really help to put this behind us."
Moyes is likely to make at least six changes for Saturday's game - which he knows offers a massive chance for redemption.