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Colm's Corner
Columnist: Colm Kavanagh


Do You Really Want Moyes Sacked?
19 September 2005

Breathe in breathe out breathe in breathe out.Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I cannot believe the number of Evertonians who have reached the end of their tether and come to the conclusion that David Moyes must go now!  Its simply ludicrous all this talk of Moyes must go and go now.  When did we turn into Newcastle United?  Or Real Madrid for that matter?

I am not going to make petty excuses in favour of the manager as I also believe hes pretty much had a summer hed rather forget and the run were in right now is a cause for concern the players look flat (bless em) and its Moyess job to ensure an upturn in fortune.  I believe well gradually see that occur this season.

It is history rewritten that sees Evertonians pour scorn on all those fortuitous 1-0 wins from last season.  Im sorry since when did it become a crime to win a game 1-0?  I cant speak for others but the vast majority of those 1-0ers from last season left me feeling ecstatic.  I can only think of two of those wins falling into the fortuitous category:  Southampton and Norwich City, both at Goodison.  Manchester City away, Birmingham City away, Liverpool at home, Manchester United at home four great results all epitomising the great work ethic and spirit that Moyes instilled into his team. 

You make your own luck in the game of football and the fact that we won so many games last season by the odd goal was more a reflection on our work ethic from first whistle to last.  Right now, on the back of being dismantled by the second or third best team in Bucharest, we look like the journeyman boxer whos pinned on the ropes and unable to muster the energy for a hopeful uppercut.  We look tired.  We shouldnt be.  One month into a season and tiredness is on the agenda!  Crazy really but theres an air of validity to the talk of lethargy in the ranks.  Tim Cahill looks goosed and in dire need of a break.  Kevin Kilbane is another who has not had a break from football for a very long time.  The two of them have been key components in what relative success weve enjoyed this past year or so but now look to be running on empty.

I remember back during the glorious reign of Walter Smith watching his selections lurch from one disaster to another.  It was appalling fare.  Look back at the squad inherited by David Moyes it included the likes of Paul Gascoigne, David Ginola and Jesper Blomqvist.  What were we ever going to achieve with that lot given a last payday at Everton?  Do I even honour Alex Nyarko with a mention?  Basically, Moyes inherited a mess and with only nine games left that season he had little time to turn matters around.  He turned it around in our favour, relegation fears where eased but we wont raise that just now as it appears out of favour amongst some to cut Moyes a little slack.  Want your Walter Smith back then?

I believe also that weve a better squad of players now though its a little interesting to note that, of the defenders Moyes inherited, only Watson, Stubbs, Unsworth and Clarke have been moved on.  He failed to shift out both Naysmith and Pistone and its somewhat surprising to see David Weir, enjoying an Indian summer in his career, still at the heart of the defence.  We have yet to welcome the presence of Per Krldrup into the defence.  If hes as good as it says on the tin then we should see some solidity return to our defending, lackadaisical that its been to date this term.  Speaking of which, its time for Joey Yobo to cut out those needless mistakes! 

As an aside, for now, looking back at the squad Moyes inherited from Walter Smith, I notice it was as early as Moyess third game in charge that we were shipping in goals (a 6-2 defeat at Newcastle).  There, thats more ammo for those intent on ushering Davey out into the taxi waiting on Goodison Road!

The old saying Rome wasnt built in a day rings very true in football.  You can spend all the money in the world and still get nowhere on the pitch (witness the circus that is Real Madrid).  You can spend all the money in Russia and buy yourself a Premiership (witness the circus that is Chelsea) but if youve not got the financial clout of either then youve got to make best with whats before you.  That takes time. 

How many years did it take for Alex Ferguson to build the dynasty at Old Trafford?  For years, too many years, United opted to chuck money away on big name signings in their attempt to regain ground lost to the likes of Liverpool and ourselves.  Ferguson, like his predecessors, spent what cash he was given but, unlike those who went before him, he recognised the need for a greater structure within his club.  That he got so right. 

And yet, what was it that triggered Uniteds renaissance?  Spending millions?  Buying the League title?  No.  Of course not.  Alex Ferguson found his moment with a Mark Robbins goal in a FA cup-tie at Nottingham Forest.  It evoked memories, in hindsight of course, of our own Howard Kendall who never looked back after benefiting from that  Kevin Brock moment, to trigger our own good times.  Theres such a thin line between success and failure, even for a manager like Alex Ferguson. 

I wonder what Manchester United fans think those that wanted Ferguson sacked back then do they acknowledge they were wrong?  Do they understand that it takes time and not necessarily money alone to build a team?  Did they pause for reflection on that balmy night in Barcelona when a United squad containing no less than seven players who had risen through their own rank under Fergusons tutelage (would have been eight if Scholes was available for the Final) emerged victorious on a night of nights for their club? 

Oh hang on they were steeped that night.  Lets rewrite history and put that one down to luck.  Im sure United fans give a toss!  Ditto Everton fans after the FA Cup success back in 1995 another ground-out 1-0 victory that enters Everton Folklore as one of the great days.  Sod the performance; sod the lack of flamboyant panache WE WON!  End of.

David Moyes has been here for three full seasons.  In that short space of time weve had some mighty highs and some pretty dire lows.  Moyes, like all managers, will be judged on results on the pitch yet we sometimes overlook the fact that weve been a mess off the field and that, more than anything else, has a major influence on what happens on the pitch! 

Sorry to briefly summarise once more but Moyes saved us from relegation with a mere nine games to do so.  He then lead us to a seventh place finish the following season.  Now there was a season where our success was built on 1-0ers!  Did we complain then, when Tomasz Radzinski was blasting one in the top right hand corner past a hapless Anto Niemi?  Did we heck!  Rooney at Elland Road, our first away League win there since time began?  Did we heck!  Blackburn Rovers?  Did we heck! 

I remember watching David Moyess side compete superbly on a Monday night in October at Old Trafford.  Defensive we may well have been but there was a pride in seeing an Everton side take it to United in their own backyard.  0-0 with the clock ticking, minutes from the end.  Bang, bang, bang 3-0, thank you very much and off you go home Everton, tail between your legs; what might have been...  Story of our lives! 

Down to twelfth we fell in the League... What happened next?  Oh look!  Everton won six League games in a row, five of them by a scoreline of 1-0!  We rose to third in the League and dreamt of European football coming home.  I dont recall many Evertonians being critical of a succession of 1-0 wins back then. 

It was bordering on criminal that we did not build on that magnificent seventh place finish.  We know what followed a season of abject division between senior players and the management.  Add into the mix the Rooney circus and Everton was not the happiest of places.  The polished turds, as they had previously been labelled, lost their sheen, normal service resuming and we nudged our way back down towards familiar basement territory. 

The season, a disaster, could not end quickly enough a final-day hammering at Manchester City the last nail in the coffin.  Just when any Evertonian sensed it couldnt get worse, it did.  Rooney sold on the last day of the transfer window and Bill fighting Paul for control.  Wonderful!  Its gonna be a long long season...  Oh look, Arsenal at home on day one.  And our squads now threadbare due to our perilous financial position. Shit! 

However, after eight wins and one defeat from the following nine fixtures (including four 1-0ers!) we found ourselves wonderfully placed, lying third in the Premiership.  Chelsea spent millions.  Arsenal spent millions.  Manchester United spent millions.  Liverpool spent millions.  Tottenham Hotspur spent millions.  We spent fuck all!  Know something?  It was to be our second lowest League placing all season!  Disgraceful for the School of Science accepting the mediocrity of third place!

Fast forward to here and now, enveloped as we are in our time-honoured doom and gloom.  The End is nigh!  Our pre-season preparation wasnt very clever this year. Much was made of the bonding sessions last summer over in Houston becoming a major factor in the revival last season.  This summer we chased the money, touting our wares in Thailand and then Turkey.  Maybe its with hindsight now but I dont think the team benefited in any way from this kind of pre-season.  Performances were, to say the least, very poor. 

The opening games of the season, against Villarreal and Manchester United, offered something positive (apart from the actual scoreline!) but since then weve been dire, no excuses turgid football, bereft of any invention whatsoever.  Lacklustre efforts against Fulham, Portsmouth and Dinamo Bucharest have Evertonians doing a Christopher Walken and wanting to play Russian Roulette with our season. 

I think that the anticipation and weight of expectation going into European football for the first time in ten seasons has taken its toll on the squad.  The pressure on the team to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League was enormous we needed the money more than the glory.  We failed, our hurt compounded by the manner of our exit, no thanks to an Italian whistleblower.  That gloom has yet to lift.  The team can ill-afford to feel sorry for themselves.  Im certain Moyes aint!  Forget the European nightmare and focus everything on getting up that Premiership as soon as possible.

We travel to Arsenal this evening and, though I fear well return home pointless with time to mull over our last ever Highbury tonking, it is worth a cursory mention that, should we win our two games in hand we just might lie as high as seventh in the League.  In September.  Crisis?  What crisis?!

The whole Evertonian world knows we need a goalscorer.  Not getting one in this summer was indeed Moyess fault.  I believe he placed all his eggs, initially, in one basket, securing the services of Mikael Forsell.  I think most of us believe Forsell wouldve been a worthy addition to the ranks, no?  One medical later, alarm bells ringing with fears surrounding the wellbeing of Forsells knee and Moyes went cold on the deal.  Michael Owen was never going to don a Royal Blue shirt and the efforts to bring Robbie Keane in were thwarted by events elsewhere.  Frustration not only for us but Moyes also. 

I suspect his caution in spending big money comes with his record to date with his more expensive signings.  Wretched Wright has been anything but Englands No 1.  When the day arrives and Mr Wright is no more an Everton employee, Im sure his Everton Epitaph will give reference to falling from attics.  Enough said.  James Beattie is another who has cost the Club a fortune with so little to show in return.  I fear it is the failure of Beattie thus far that sees Moyes being frugal in the transfer market. 

It made little or no sense to admit in public that we had bid 10M for Feijenoords Dirk Kuijt when it transpires his club were prepared to trade, subject to the fee of 12M being met.  Its purely speculation at this juncture but would the signing of Kuijt have secured Champions League group stage football?  Two million quid, Davey!  You slipped up there, Sir.  If Beattie is ever to emerge as the kind of goalscorer we badly need him to become, then hell need the likes of Andy van der Meyde finding some fitness and instantly becoming a success on that flank, whipping in the kind of crosses arguably not seen at Goodison since the days of Tricky Trev and Sheeds.  Quite a task!

Overall, I think the welter of criticism of Moyes and his team has been over the top and impulsive.  A good run in the Premiership would silence the critics.  Failure to get in a striker has left David Moyes open to criticism a valid call in my book.  However, do you think replacing the manager at this moment in time would be any easier than securing any 20-goals-a-season striker? 

Moyes has never had strength in depth since becoming manager.  Hes not been able to rest players; that luxury of choice simply is not there.  Hence we see Tim Cahill and Kevin Kilbane involved week-in, week-out.  A young kid, James Vaughan, has been chucked in ahead of schedule.  Dont you think Moyes would prefer to be able to allow Vaughan to move to a lower league club on a loan deal, the experience hopefully benefiting the lad upon his return to Goodison?  Hes had no choice.  And now Vaughans picked up an unfortunate knee injury whilst on international duty. 

When we finally get to see the likes of Krldrup and Van der Meyde adding their quality to the side we should see an improvement in results and performance.  If not, well then and only then will I begin to tremble at the knee and become fearful for what may lie ahead for Moyes and our team.  Until that happens, I remain confident in Moyess ability to get the best out of what is one of the smallest squads in Evertons history.  Speaking of which, Moyes remains the only Everton manager since Kendalls first reign to secure a top four finish.  Which was last season.

How quickly the fickle forget!  Evertonians wanting Moyes out now?  Yer having a laugh!

 

Colm Kavanagh


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