Moyes and Everton can defy odds
The late American tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis reacted to ending his personal nightmare against Jimmy Connors by delivering one of sport's classic quotes.
Gerulaitis - a flamboyant New York disco dweller with a flair for publicity - declared: "And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody, and I mean nobody, beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row and gets away with it."
Everton manager David Moyes has tried and failed to beat Chelsea on 20 occasions, a compelling statistic which suggests that Guus Hiddink will end his short Stamford Bridge reign by lifting the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday.
Moyes may not deliver a victory speech with the colour of Gerulaitis if he gets the opportunity but anyone daring to dismiss Everton's chances of defying the odds is indulging in a dangerous occupation.
They have simply rolled through the setbacks of losing their most reliable goalscorer Yakubu and most creative force Mikel Arteta through injury to arrive at Wembley, as well as clinching a Europa League place with a second successive fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
And even though they suffered another devastating injury by losing their outstanding defender Phil Jagielka for the final, after his shoot-out penalty sank Manchester United in the semi-final at Wembley, they concluded the season with a flourish.
The "band of brothers" mentality of a small, but tightly-knit, squad has been central to their success, but it is the driving force and shrewd leadership of Moyes, recognised by his League Managers' Association peers with their top award for the the third time this week, that has been the inspiration.
It comes as no surprise to former Wales captain Barry Horne, a member of Everton's last FA Cup-winning side in 1995 and a regular observer of Moyes as a respected media pundit in recent years.
He told me: "I recall hosting a phone-in on local radio three years ago and there was a vociferous band of Everton fans calling for David's head. I thought it was preposterous that he was being questioned.
"I could see then what he was trying to do. You could see the improvements in the squad despite the fact that he was operating under restrictions that did not apply at other clubs.
"People have jumped on the bandwagon a bit this season and others have talked about the occasional blip, but you can ignore that now because if you drew a graph in a science lesson, the trajectory would show pretty much continuous improvement.
"All that David wanted to achieve has started to come together this season. The age of the squad has come down, the quality has gone up and the value of the squad has increased.
"And the successes they have had have come despite crippling injuries right down the spine of the team - long-term injuries to Yakubu, Arteta and latterly Jagielka, who has been a fantastic player for Everton.
"At times David has barely been able to put a bench together, but against this backdrop they have once again qualified for Europe, reached the FA Cup final and, for those who are willing to either look or care, played some very attractive football. It has been a fantastic season when examined in that context."
Horne also believes Everton have made their way to Wembley and into Europe once more on the back of a dignified and classy approach on and off the field - with the relationship between Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright a crucial element.
He explained: "Something that really resonates with me, as an Evertonian as much as anything else, is that they are a team to be proud of.
"If you look at the behaviour of the stars at some other teams, Everton are a class apart. They get on with the job, don't moan and don't cheat - they are built in the image and likeness of their manager.
"David has so many qualities as a manager, with some of these attributes possibly seen as his deficiencies in the past. He has got great self-belief and what some might see as stubborness.
"There was talk some while ago about player unrest, which I always felt was exaggerated, but one thing is clear - Everton's players know if they want to be in an Everton team, improve and play for their country, then it will be done David Moyes' way and they have fallen into line.
"There is also a very close relationship, and real trust, between David and the chairman Bill Kenwright. This is a key to what they have achieved. It hasn't been a case of Bill being patient with David over these seven years because he has not been given a reason to be impatient.
"And the other side of that is that David doesn't bleat or moan about not having £50m to spend every summer."
Moyes' feats - talk of a "boom and bust" record of up and down league finishes have been dispelled by three successive top six finishes - have inevitably been the catalyst for speculation that he may be tempted away from Everton.
He is constantly linked with Manchester United as a possible successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, while he was instantly associated with the Celtic vacancy.
But Horne believes the level of control Moyes is afforded at Everton, and his bond with players, chairman and supporters, does not make his departure a formality as they also found a club record £15m for giant cult hero Marouane Fellaini last summer.
"Of course there is talk of whether David will go somewhere else, and all that will take care of itself," said Horne. "But where will he get the same support and control that he gets at Everton? Not at too many places I would suggest."
Horne draws parallels with that unlikely 1995 triumph over favourites Manchester United as he says: "Everton will be underdogs against Chelsea, but they must be full of confidence and they have fostered a bunker mentality because have lost that spine and they have relied on in each other in these reduced numbers for so long.
"If you are to draw similiarities between this Everton and the 1995 FA Cup-winning side I played in, we were in fantastic form, we were full on confidence and had nothing to lose against opponents who were expected to beat us.
"We had only ensured we stayed in the Premier League 10 or 11 days earlier, but we were actually in fantastic form and Everton have ended the season very impressively, keeping their eye on the ball despite the potential distractions of Wembley."
The odds and statistics may favour Chelsea - but if this season is anything to go by, this is exactly how Moyes and Everton like it.