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Fans Comment
Laurent Corneille


The Tribes Within the Tribe
13 February 2006

Our incredible victory over Blackburn Rovers has understandably swelled our collective chest.  I'd like to congratulate the team, manager and coaches, not to mention the exceptional crowd we had at Goodison on Saturday afternoon.  Perversely, the referee had a big hand in soldering the spirit, which was, to use a clich, nearly palpable.  A remarkable day, and one, which will spike in the mind mirroring the buzz I got from that Ferguson header against Manchester United last season.

However, I am about to temper this ecstasy with certain sentiments which have been gnawing at me for quite some time, namely, my inability to accept how harshly the team and more specifically, David Moyes, were treated/viewed during our down period.  Most Evertonians have bracketed said period between Christmas last year (coinciding with Gravesens departure) and this seasons festive period.

Hundreds of column inches have been devoted to trying to understand how, considering our logic-defying final league placing last season, our form has been allowed to dip so dramatically.  Moyes recently admitted that confidence was seriously damaged upon our Champions League qualifying exit not to mention the horrific drubbing we suffered in the Uefa Cup first leg.  The team clearly endured a serious bout of confidence loss, a mental drain that transcends all physical capability the team may have.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would also say that our pre-season campaign didnt prove to be particularly successful.  With the need to practice against quality European opposition, the team seemed to fall in between two stools.  Not schooled enough to play neat, technical touch and move football, the team seemed (from the outside) to disregard their strengths, ie, an incredible will to run and run and run for 90-odd minutes; to play high tempo, aggressive football; to close down space within the split second.  The new players failed to mesh into the first team quickly enough.  Injuries accrued.  Luck had deserted us.  The team were listless.

But I digress.  The crux of this article is not to repeat what has already been said time and time before.  Its not to find fault with Everton FC (whether on or off the pitch).  The reason I am writing this, is because of the disappointment I felt at my fellow Blues.  Whilst the confidence had been knocked out of our team, many Blues felt the need to project their disappointment on the team and more importantly, the manager.  That is not to say that anybody was above criticism.  Moyes and his colleagues must take some responsibility with regard to our pre-season gamble.  The trip to Thailand, for instance, could have been timed better.  Moyes would probably agree with the premise that it took him a bit too long to retune the tactics, which had been so successful in the early part of the season.  The players too, cannot be seen to hover above criticism.  The buck stops with Moyes, but if the players cannot rouse themselves for a match, then there are only so many psychological tricks the coaching team can employ.

Nevertheless, the criticism the team received was beyond anything I had envisaged.  Moyes was nearly right when he said that expectations had gone through the roof but even he could not have predicted that those expectations would shoot through the roof and blast off into the cosmos.

Of course, we were all absolutely gutted that our first attempt at European football in two decades had been so crudely fumbled.  But can you imagine what the dressing room was like?  That a player works his entire career for such an opportunity, only for it to dissipate into nothingness must be like being punched in the stomach really, really hard.

So what do we, the fans, do?  We show our displeasure.  We boo the team off the field of play.  We jam radio phone-ins with words usually reserved for criminals.  We pen our anger on websites/chat-rooms/forums: - Moyes is killing our club - Moyes has taken this club as far as he can - Moyes has wasted all our money - Moyes was the one who forced Rooney out - Moyes is tactically inept and only has the knowledge to play a disruptive type of football. - Moyes buys football players blind - Moyes is a disgrace. The first time we play European football and he blows it. - We should have pushed on from our 4th place, but Moyes is clueless and the most perceptive of all: - Moyes out!

I wondered.  Were I and a handful of others the only people who still had faith in our manager?  Were we part of a silent majority?  How could people forget what Moyes had done for us thus far?  I can only speak for myself, but in Moyes I see an incarnation of what Everton is: a tough man in a tough city, making the best of what we have; determined, resolute and clever.  Here was a man who understood the salt of the earth types who had graced the Goodison stands for generations, a man who understood why we are such a proud bunch, despite our forlorn looking (recent) trophy cabinet.  The Zenith Data Systems Cup anyone?

And so the arguments went: Statistically, we have been demonstrating relegation form for an entire calendar year Yes but we came 4th last season, and our final position is what matters Oh yeah, well explain our 17th position the previous season.  Moyes doesnt know how to handle a club of this size well he was voted manager of the year twice by his peers and they really know what it takes to be a good manager in this league Were out of Europe, weve re-signed Pistone and Naysmith.  We havent moved on, despite the money Moyes has spent it may seem that way, but Moyes needed to make sure all our playing positions are covered.  Neville may not be the exciting signing we had hoped for but for a squad of our size, he was an excellent buy, etc, etc, round and round we went.

Now, Ive said before that nobodys above criticism and its a sentiment repeated by Moyess detractors.  So by extension, the fans are not beyond reproach either.  Now that we have strung several victories together (our best run under Moyes and our best run in nearly a decade for those who like to bandy stats around), the most ardent Moyes out-ers are metamorphosing into the sensible, sensitive types they should have been when we were losing.  For those who frequent Everton chat rooms, youll know what I mean: Yeah, I was one of the ones who were unhappy with the teams performances but fair play to Moyes.  Or, I never said we should sack him.  All I said was that I was at my wits end at the time and Moyes was not the man for the job.  Now, forgive me if Im going to be a bit harsh here but do those people feel stupid now?  Do those people realise how short-sighted they were?  Do they realise that Moyes deserved more respect than he was afforded?

Im not the gloating type.  It doesnt make me happy to say, I told you so.  Nevertheless, I feel entitled to ask why, after nearly four seasons (three of which can only be described as successes) there are those who find the time to bemoan everything the man does.  Whats up with that?  Do you only sing when were winning?  Can you not see that during every progressive period, there will be times punctuated by disappointment?

Hands up who feels an idiot for actively promoting the idea of a replacement for Moyes?  What were the names again?  Gus Hiddink (I bet the Evertonians who were appealing for Hiddink sport mullet hairstyles, because they are quite clearly still living in the eighties).  Mike Newell (only for him to make the same teething mistakes as Moyes?).  Curbishley (still want him now that his team has dropped down the league like a stone in water?  A yearly event, may I add).

We have the best man for the job.  I have absolutely no doubt of that.  What about the mistakes, I hear you say?  Well, shit happens folks.  Mistakes will be made and the quicker everybody realises that, the better it is for all concerned.  Krldrup, 4-5-1, a shortage of strikers, etc are all mistakes even the most enamoured supporter cannot shy from.  In my opinion however, the disappointments/mistakes are far, far outweighed by the positives.  I dont care if we lost to Shrewsbury or got beat by 7 at Highbury.  It hurt at the time, but the greater man/women out there will not use these two results as a cane with which to beat Moyes.  They are two points in time.  They are not important to our future.  They dont touch our illustrious history.  Nobody except us, Shrewsbury fans and Gooners will remember them.  Ask a Fulham fan about the Shrewsbury match and hell glaze over.  Stop behaving like victims all the time.  Grow up.

In conclusion, our dip in form has been quite cathartic despite the clear schism between the pros and the antis.  If I may be so bold as to say that even on ToffeeWeb, one can observe a dichotomy between Editor and Webmaster (or is it Columnist?).  Rob Fox, one of this websites favourite sons, was hounded by mailbag contributors for being too pro.  The antis are now taking a beating in the chat rooms.  I hope the retribution stops but things need to be said first.  The knee-jerkers should learn that 6 months or a year is a very short time.  There is no need to panic all the time.  Now that we are doing well, lets not beat the European drum or weigh the players down with impossible expectations, because if they dont achieve our dreams, I dont want to be reading more complete garbage on the most popular websites.  Oh, and could we stop using Nil Satis Nisi Optimum as some kind of a reason to complain.  We haven't been the best for 20 years.  Perhaps it should be revised to Nil Satis Nisi Molimentum (Nothing but the greatest effort is good enough).

We are a team in recovery.  We need to be patient.  We will lose again this season, although we're only 5 points from 5th spot.  We should allow for mistakes.  Its important that the team and management gets our backing at all times, especially when they need our support the most and that my fellow Blues, happens to be when we are losing.

Ive pinned my colours to the Pro-Moyes badge.  I wear them with pride.  In the end, history will be the judge.  I don't know about you, but the history being written by Moyes and his men is one which I am proud to be part of and I for one, will do my best not to forget it whatever our form.


Laurent Corneille


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