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At the risk of sounding ungrateful 

18 December 2001

We need a Real team

Don't get me wrong I am grateful for our results so far; but I am far from impressed.  Grateful in the sense that we're now in a higher position to fall from when the next disaster happens: when we lose a player injured or when we're up against teams that play on their own form, not just the opposition's (and I think most Evertonians feel this way.) 

Walter Smith has been proven right in theory: with "stability", results have improved.  So far this season, we've won more than we have lost.  We seem less bad; more average.

Having a settled line-up gives us the ability to take advantage of opposition weaknesses.  But not much more.  Being average doesn't mean you have any real ability it just sometimes seems that way.  From what I've seen this season, the only improvement so far is that we're better than awful.  But that's not real progress.

What we must develop now from this "stability" is a standard of play; a real team.  We must develop our own strength.  Without this, stability is not progress.  We may seem at one point to be moving forward just because someone else is moving backwards.  Or am I perhaps asking for too much?

Yes; but only because it seems like asking for something which may be beyond the abilities of Walter Smith (ability to overcome difficulties/challenges).  It just seems that when we're up against a real team or when we lose a player injured, Walter just can't cope.  Two seasons ago, he seemed at one point to be developing a team at Everton, but then he lost both Jeffers and Campbell to injury.  

Being fair, you can't really make Walter Smith responsible for the fact that we lost our form, a club with our limited resources.  But Walter was responsible for his reactions (or the lack of them), for disrupting the team balance more than he had to, by moving Hutch forward with old dog Mark Hughes.  He was responsible for not giving Phil Jevons the most consistent performer in the reserves his chance, and for failing to find a more energetic, imaginative replacement.

It's better for morale to try and fail, rather than fail without trying, as sometimes seems the case.  As a result, we ended that season on low morale with key players leaving.  The same is happening now and will no doubt happen again.  Now we have lost both Ferguson and Campbell at the same time.  Again, Walter is plunged out of his depth.  

Instead of being better prepared (as this is something that was bound to happen at some stage of the season), he focuses on the need for a physical presence rather than a skilful striker and moves Steve Watson up-front.  Instead of giving Joe-Max Moore (our most consistent player in the reserves) a chance, or finding some (any!) other replacement.  

Of course, the unimaginative will tell you that we can't afford a replacement. Crap!  Failing to find a replacement exemplifies his lack of ability (ability to overcome difficulties).  There are plenty of players in the world who have hunger and would love to have the opportunity to play in the PL, even for a short period.  Even HK3 came up with Mikael Madar; someone like that would be an improvement, even over a fit Duncan these days never mind Steve Watson!   

So, am I asking too much for Everton to be a team, with all this: A club in our position...? 

Well, if you think like a slave, you are one no matter what your social position.  If we are grateful for surviving, then we are just like Leicester.  I feel that mentally I am stronger than that. 

A club in our position... reflects nothing but a slave mentality.  The best team in Spain right now, if not the world, is Deportivo La Carua, a club with fewer fans than us and a club that buys players who should be within even our price range.  What they have is energy, determination, and (in return) luck.

We don't deserve that only because those in charge of our club lack the imagination.  We fail without trying.  We must accept that we have come to the point that, with or without money, we take our own chances on someone less proven and seasoned, someone more hungry and adventurous, than Walter Smith.  The time was yesterday, but by now, today would do.

Of course someone will tell us that this is not the time because we are doing so well now.  But they will also tell us that later, when we're doing badly, being afraid that change will only upset things more. 

I have been giving Walter Smith the benefit of of the doubt over his difficult working conditions.  But now we are in his fourth year and, after seeing his unchanging nature, I'm convinced we'd better off without him not despite, but because of our current condition. 

Writing from the Faeroe Isles

Thor Martinsson

©2001 ToffeeWeb, 18 December 2001


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