Everton manager Roberto Martinez says David Moyes should expect a warm welcome when he returns to Goodison Park with Manchester United on Sunday. Moyes was in charge of the Toffees for 11 years before departing to replace Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford last summer, with Martinez succeeding him on Merseyside.
And the extent to which Moyes has endured a difficult first season with the champions is underlined by the fact that his team come into the weekend in seventh place in the English Premier League table, while Everton have blossomed under Martinez and are fifth, chasing UEFA Champions League qualification.
It is a huge game for the Blues after their top-four ambitions were hit by a 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace on Wednesday but completing the double over United would be the perfect way to respond. In December, Everton beat United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1992 and now they are bidding to win both league games against the Red Devils for the first time since 1969/70.
"Facing the champions is a big enough reason to be excited and to make sure we've got the best possible environment at Goodison," said Martinez at a press conference on Friday. "Having the opportunity to do the double on United is something that is not easy to achieve, and then the return of David Moyes. We are a club full of integrity and style, we are a proper football club, so we will show the respect to David Moyes and what he's done at our football club."
Asked if he thought Moyes would receive a great reception, Martinez said: "I'm sure he will. His job at Everton deserves that. His work has been terrific. We all know he's the Manchester United manager now and I'm sure that reception will be very much different but as a former Everton manager, every Evertonian has got great memories of the job that he did."
Everton, who received a boost on Thursday when former United goalkeeper Tim Howard signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2018, will be without Steven Pienaar for the game and Martinez also admitted that centre-back Phil Jagielka is unlikely to return.