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False Messiah
Peter Fearon looks at the Everton manager's failings

4 May 2004

ON that day back in March 2002 when I, along with thousands of other Evertonians, celebrated the long-delayed firing of Walter Smith, I little thought that more than two full calendar years later we would be performing no better statistically under his successor. 

I cheered as Aston Villa defeated Spurs Sunday.  I roared with delight as Bolton thrashed Leeds, avoiding yet another nail biting finish to the season.  I felt humiliated to be doing so.  It was, as they say, deja vu all over again. 

I surely knew back when Moyes first came to Goodison that despite the euphoria, the way ahead would be long and hard.  But I believed that at least there was a way ahead; that the status quo was unacceptable and that progress might be gradual but it would be made. 

Walter Smith had made mediocrity a virtue and an aspiration.  Moyes seems merely to have made it an option.  Either way, it is still mediocrity.  Our failure to defeat a doomed Wolves was not a failure of character or attitude.  It was a failure of technical ability. 

I realize that this is heresy for tens of thousands of fans who see Moyes as a Messiah: but the risk in hiring a good Nationwide manager untested in the Premier League was always that you might end up with a good Nationwide team. 

That, two years on, is exactly what we have got; a team that could probably get into the play-offs in the Nationwide Division One. 

It is not enough to argue that he has not yet created his own team and that there are too many of Smiths yesterday-men still under contract.  I checked Smiths last Premier League line-up against those responsible for Saturdays pathetically inadequate performance.  Only four of those who played against West Ham started against Wolves. 

The primary fault is always with the players.  But I have seen very little evidence of inspiration, imagination or innovation by David Moyes during this long crisis.  All season, Moyes has returned to combinations of play, which have proven to be unsuccessful. 

Each defeat has been punctuated with complacency reminiscent of Walter Smith himself.  The vocabulary is different, to be sure.  But the air of helpless resignation is the same. 

It has been a season full of mis-steps and many of those mis-steps have been David Moyes own.  The insistence on trying to rehabilitate Duncan Ferguson was a complete waste of effort.  Even if it had succeeded, it would have had limited value in terms of building a future. 

The decision to bring back Jeffers has turned out to be a misjudgement.  The fault lies primarily with Jeffers, but it was also up to Moyes to integrate him into the team.  I am not as sold on Kilbanes worth as some.

Surely I am not the only fan mystified by his allegiance to Tobias Linderoth who most of the time is as anonymous as a single blade of grass.  And he is not the only thoroughly mediocre player who regularly keeps his place.  Lee Carsley rarely makes a solid impact.  Li Tie has been injured for some months, but I have no doubt that this ultimately third rate player would still be in the running if he were available. 

This goes beyond losing individual matches.  Every match in which a Ferguson or Campbell plays instead of a Chadwick or a Symes, in which Lee Carsley or Alex Nyarko plays instead of Osman or Schumacher or Moogan, is a missed opportunity to bring those players on.  And in the absence of a significant war chest, we must bring on players through the system. 

This should have been the season when Osman, Chadwick and Clarke demonstrated that either that they can play at this level or they cannot.  Its May and we still dont know.  We know Osman can play in Division One.  And we may soon need that experience. 

But those who keep them out of consideration, however we know they cant get it done at this level. 

David Moyes seemed finally to have discovered a successful attacking formula against Spurs one in which McFadden openly thrived for the first time this season.  This is another mystery, for having signed McFadden he has consistently misused him.  After finally letting this exciting talent have his head, did he capitalize? No, rather than try to integrate Rooney into that line-up, he broke it up entirely for a combo than has failed over and over. 

Finally, his substitution policies mystify me.  Often he does not make substitutions at all.  Usually he subs like for like, which implies no tactical change at all.  At other times, like Walter Smith was wont to do, he seems to make substitutions out of desperation, late in the game, hopelessly in search of a miracle.  Saturday was a case in point.  Why else would Jeffers and Campbell take the field with only minutes to go and the game all but lost?

David Moyes has done much to galvanize the club, lift our morale and make us believe a new dawn was at least possible.  I admire the way he has handled Rooney; Nigel Martin, it turned out, has probably done more to guarantee our survival than any other individual. 

I dont say Moyes should go.  But unless he can improve his own performance next season, the team will not improve theirs.  And in the absence of a significant advance, next season ought to be his last. 

We held on to the hope that Walter Smith could turn things around for two seasons longer than we should have.  The same mistake should not be made again. 

Peter Fearon

Reader Responses:

Peter Fearon's article about Moyesey is a disgrace. With the state this club is in at the minute, the last thing we need is to lose our manager too. It doesn't help the way he has twisted the story, like when he says that only 4 of Saturday's starting line-up played in Smith's last game. This may be true, but all of the starting 11 were available to Smith apart from Yobo, Martyn and McFadden. Moyes has been given very little to spend and has inherited a squad full of overpaid, overrated players like Campbell, Nyarko, Gemmill, Carsley and Ferguson. He also didn't choose to bring back Jeffers. That was Kenwright's fault. I'm sure any true Evertonian would agree that if Moyes is given a decent amount of money to spend he'd be a success, so can we try not to drive him out of the club please?
Jonny X

The article raised some points that were, although harsh, very true. Moyes' substitutions have been questionable to say the least; the Southampton away game being the most astonishing. I also agree with the criticism over his handling of McFadden. Moyes never gave the young Scot a decent run in the first team and for a player who was still trying to adapt to the English game it made no sense to be playing him once from the start every now and then. Surely the sensible option was to use him as a substitute consistently over the season.

However, I feel Moyes' biggest failing has been his handling of Osman and Chadwick. Osman was given his 'big chance' in the Carling Cup at Middlesbrough. Whether or not it was Moyes' choice to let the kid take a penalty is not the issue but what is, is the fact that next game Osman was dropped from the squad and he didn't even see the bench for months. Now what kind of message was that sending out? The lad's confidence would have been down and after being given a taste of first team football he is immediately thrown back into the reserves, or on loan as was the case.

During the striker crisis in the middle part of the season, Moyes didn't even once consider Chadwick it would appear. Instead, he opted for Campbell. Again, what kind of message was that sending out to the youngsters?

Like Peter Fearon, I'm not saying Moyes should be sacked but one interesting point from this season is that last season we used to come out like a house on fire in the second half, whether we were behind or on level terms. This season, we have capitulated in nearly every match in the second 45 minutes. Moyes' motivational skills were credited for last season's second half performances, so who is to blame for our failing this time around? If he can take the credit, he must take the blame as well. Moyes says he is going to "assess his own performance" in the summer so lets hope he puts the wrongs right.....

It remains to be seen if Nick Chadwick will make the grade, Graeme. At Arsenal on the opening day of the season he looked completely at sea, which probably explains why Moyes has been reluctant to play him in the first team this season. With so many strikers (6 of them if you include McFadden) on the books this season, it has been very difficult for Chadwick to press his case; while he seemed to be an answer when Moyes first arrived and he scored some crucial goals, a combination of bad luck with injuries and, arguably, more quality ahead of him in the queue at Goodison explains why he has had a look in — ToffeeWeb

The article by Peter Fearon I find disappointing to say the least and totally negative — in no way helpful in the clubs present state.To remove Dave Moyes would be a total disaster. You have no option but to stay the course or finish up like Leeds. In conclusion I find a great majority of the articles on ToffeeWeb totally negative. It maybe be hard for you but try to be a bit more positive.
Frank McGregor

Fearon has got it pretty much spot on. Moyes needs to start wheeling and dealing in getting players sold out as well as buying some in. Has he actually sold anyone to generate cash since he has been here? If, as most believe, Moyes has such a mediocre squad, why doesn't he offload all the dross? [Would anyone want any of the dead wood? — Ed] End of season is the ideal time to move the under-achievers somewhere else rather than let them see out their expensive contracts enjoying their extortionate salaries. I'm sure some Div 1 clubs would pay £1m for say Cambell and Unsy [Unsworth is out of contract and at Campbell's age we'd be lucky to get £250K for him. And then there's his wages...— Ed]. Plus flogging Carsley, Pistone, Linderoth could generate half a million each, less what it costs in wages would add much needed money into the pot. Sorry, but selling Radzinski would also be another good idea. Why does Moyes value him so much when he consistently can't reach double figures in a season? Also, Ferguson might attract a million from some other unsuspecting Prem club, so all of the above could finance a decent young midfielder or two. Perhaps swapping a couple of these "household names" with say James Milner of Leeds, who might be glad to acquire some of our Div One standard superstars to get them instant promtion next year!! I don't think so.

Hail Peter Fearon! A wise, brave and well considered article. Moyes is the emperor who wears no clothes. It's time we penetratedthe hype and looked at the raw truth of his failures. heis Walter Smith incarnate! At last someone with the courage to come out and say it in a public forum. Bravo!

Why is it that so many people can moan and complain about the board yet when it comes to a Saturday there is nothing. The board must go and they must be made aware of this, especially if we get no transfer money in the summer. We are behind every team in the premiership, including the ones that have been relegated. Anyone that blames Moyes is a fool and last season were hailing him as a messiah so they need to get a brain. The problem is simple, its the board and "Bluebill" an pantomime name for a pantomime figure.
Gary C

The article by Peter Fearon is poor and too subjective. I know this is all about opinion and he is entitled to his but he doesn't back up his arguments well at all. How can you compare him with Walter Smith statistically? Over what period, the part where Smith spent £20m before the start of the season or the period when he was forced to sell all his best players? If our manager had money and wasn't able to address glaring inadequacies in the team then that is the time to complain, not to contemplate how our team would fare in another division based upon the last couple of games. You can rightly point out where we are in the league over a whole season but a couple of games ago there were only about 10 points between our position and 4th spot.
Gary Cullen

Fearon hit the point when he said "David Moyes seemed finally to have discovered a successful attacking formula against Spurs ? one in which McFadden openly thrived for the first time this season. This is another mystery, for having signed McFadden he has consistently misused him. After finally letting this exciting talent have his head, did he capitalize? No, rather than try to integrate Rooney into that line-up, he broke it up entirely for a combo than has failed over and over. "
I was listening to that game and was telling myself Moyes will change the front lineup next game and we would not play and score. He always breakup a good squad just to accomodate some players recovering from injuries or suspension.
I understand Moyes said " this is the people's club" when he took over Everton; so Moyes, please learn to discard your stubborness and listen to the people.

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