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Fans Comment
Jim Hourigan


Loyalty — weakness or strength?
29 November 2005

Would anyone like to predict our team for the next match (assuming no injuries)? — not too difficult is it — David Moyes will pick the same side that won on Sunday.  How do I know? — well, because that's what he always does, and that for me is one of his greatest weaknesses.  He is too predictable and too loyal.  However, before I go any further, I must point out that I'm in the keep DM camp.  This does not stop me highlighting what I believe is a significant weakness in his management style, a weakness that will stop him and Everton progressing in the future  — let me expand.

Loyalty is a double-edged sword: be loyal to your players and those protected by it will support you, but supporting and respecting are two very different things.  For those players not protected, the decision to be loyal is often viewed as short-sighted favouritism and can engender resentment.  Players supported by the 'loyalty' of the manager become complacent and often lose the need to perform, expecting to be retained no matter what they do and how they perform.  Even if they are dropped, it is often viewed as a temporary solution by both the dropped player as well as the replacement.  Contrast this with the manager who, whilst respecting and supporting the performance of players, also recognises the need to constantly improve the team and has a ruthless streak.

For this manager, loyalty is developed through the recognition that performance is paramount and that the team not the individual is what counts.  Changing players weekly is not what I am proposing but rather a willingness to improve the side, even after a win.  Will DM do this?  Sadly I think the answer is no.

With respect to our present situation, let me give you two examples.  Per Krøldrup was bought for £5M to replace an ageing centre-half probably playing alongside Yobo.  If the player is truly worth the money (and I respect DM's judgement), then why is he not playing?  He has recovered from his injury and now needs match fitness, he can only get this by playing games, and if he was bought to improve the team then DM must grasp the nettle and drop Weir — sadly he's too loyal to Davie to do it!!!

My second example relates to Kilbane, bought by DM and a player who performed out of his skin in his first season, but has sadly been regressing ever since.  DM's loyalty to Killer is now beyond admirable; to me, it's downright blind.  His performances do not deserve the loyalty he gets; he runs around and challenges fair enough, but what does he contribute to the team? Goals? Crosses? Defence-splitting passes? (Apart from at WBA!)  None of the above, I would suggest, and yet, week-in, week-out, he either plays from the start or comes on and replaces a better player than himself.  How can the continued presence of Killer Killbane help to improve our team?

I could go on — what about Hibbert?  A solid defender but someone who can't pass water, which at Premiership level is disastrous.  If Neville was bought as a defender then his only real position is right-back but will DM drop Tony when a left-back is available?

My final point brings me back to my opening question.  Will DM build on a win, make the players a little more wary and change a winning team for the better?  If all the same players are available he might tinker with the subs, but I doubt strongly that a different international left back will be playing alongside a Danish centre half with an English international at right back.  Nor do I expect to see a starting 16 that does not include Kilbane and Ferguson (assuming his doctors sick-note has run-out).

DM: be ruthless and keep the players on their toes by changing a winning team with a view to long-term advancement for the team and the club.

Jim Hourigan


Responses:
I totally agree with the sentiments of Jim Hourigan in his ‘Loyalty – weakness or strength?’ piece. I too am in the Moyes camp but I feel it is a failing on his part and not only relates to his weekly team selection but goes back to the contract situation in the summer.

Moyes was quoted as saying that he wanted to repay those players who got us into the top four last season and would do so by offering them extensions to their contracts. This to me showed one of Moyes’s huge weaknesses and displayed the fact to all that he does not seem to have a ruthless enough streak to his character when having to decide on such issues. It was clear that he should have moved on a number of his squad in the summer when their contracts expired.

The two players mentioned in JH’s piece (Weir and Kilbane) clearly are not Premiership quality and it beggars belief how they continue to be picked ahead of others within the squad. Replace them? Well Weir was and has been replaced with Krøldrup but the saga of his non-selection is almost reaching the laughable stage. Weir was even given the captaincy?!?! How can it be that a player that was not good enough or young enough to be given a longer contract offer than a year is then given the highest playing honour within the club?!?!

Kilbane? Well, sure there didn’t appear to be a ready made replacement with the players that were brought in, however players were available at a reasonable price (Aaron Lennon immediately springs to mind) so the reason for his retention and subsequent first-team selection is an absolute mystery.

Others such as Naysmith were a complete joke. He has been found out on too many occasions at this level yet Moyes felt that he warranted a 3-year contract?!?!? Answers on a postcard for that one.

The Pistone saga, again laughable that he turned down a one year extension and then when the going got tough in the market for Moyes he decides to throw in another year as well?!?! Then brings in two more left backs plus a floating one in the shape of Neville?! Adequate use of the pool of money and resources available to a manager (within any industry)? Doesn’t look like it to me?!?!

Moyes needs to toughen up in this area and realise that loyalty can only go so far. It is about striking a balance between loyalty to your players and letting them know who is the boss. I still feel that Moyes has some way to go in getting to grips with this particular issue and it has been shown in his league performances so far.

We reach a high position in the league in Moyes's first full season… he repays those average players with contracts or merely retains them for another year. A dreadful season follows as average players then take their foot off the gas. All those players are then told in no uncertain terms that as they are coming up to the end of their contracts they have something to prove… 4th place follows and he then repays those same average players (who none appeared to have a queue of clubs pursuing them!!!) with contract extensions and we find ourselves in our current predicament.

Average players can only have ‘something to prove’ for so long, the class will never come to the surface on these average journeymen and it is why we are where we are at the moment.
Glasgow Blue

 

I agree with the general comment that loyalty can be a hindrance, but I don't necessarily agree that this is an area that is holding Davey back.

At the end of last season, he was prepared to let several of the club's most loyal and consistent servants go, rather than keep paying them their wages.  So this doesn't show us that he is allowing his heart to override his head.

I've never felt that Moyes plays anyone other than the best we have in that position.  Last season, we had a bare bones squad so he had to rely on many players, including Weir, but he was still happy to risk losing some, and he did lose Stubbs.

There is always a danger of trying to second-guess Moyes's team selection without knowing the full picture, and you therefore assume that Killer must be Moyes' illegitimate son.  Whereas the actual truth of the matter is that Van der Meyde is still not fully match fit and Moyes wants to progress him gradually, and Killer is there to provide a replacement later in the game (maybe).

Regardless of what you (or I) think of Killer's performances, Moyes obviously believes that Killer is the best person to carry out the specific task that Moyes has given him (whatever that may be) when he doesn't have VDM available.  Don't forget, a team is not just about getting your best 11 out (Sven has proved that); it's about getting a team out with each person being the best for a particular job within that team from the players available.

And I must admit, I'm still curious about why Krøldrup is still warming the bench, but I suspect it's not because Weir is the best centre-back we have, so it might be due to something else — maybe Weir works better with Yobo; maybe Weir holds the line with more authority than Krøldrup can; or maybe its something simpler like Krøldrup is still not 100% yet, and is working towards a January deadline when we know Yobo will be away for the African Nations Cup.

Whatever the reason is, I'm sure Moyes picks the team he thinks will win.  If he has doubts about a player's fitness, attitude or ability, he'll address those issues where he can.  The trouble is we don't know the full story so people make assumptions, often incorrectly, about the reasons behind those decisions.

I'm not saying that Moyes is God (as clearly Dunc is God); however, not only is he human, so are most of his team, and so are us fans, and in a perfect world we'd all still pick a different first XI, and different formations, and we may even have different views on where our stadium should be, but we shouldn't make assumptions about what is going on in Davey's head — or if we do, we should remember that that is all they are, assumptions. Until he retires and brings out his autobiography entitled "Killer - my secret love child" then we'll never know the full facts behind his decisions.
Sack the Juggler
 

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