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Stagnant and stale...

By Chris Platt  : 1/1/07
I've got to say I thought we were utterly disgraceful today, and Moyes's tactics once again baffle me. From listening to Radio City, I hear Barry Horne, who usually is a fair commentator and quite level-headed, get more and more agitated waiting for Moyes to make some substitutions. Words fail me; if the manager cannot see the team's failings on the pitch whilst a football pundit/commentator can!

I share similar views as Ken Buckley by calling it as I see it, but today I couldn't help to notice how much "deadwood" or staleness was in our team. I was thinking of this and casting my mind back to other clubs' solutions to tackling the problem of a team going stale or "out of date".

Looking at the Top Four: you see that two of those clubs, Man Utd and Arsenal, have had to overcome the problems of a team going stale by either changing the team or changing the manager. They have opted for the former, and we have seen Wenger and Ferguson stay at the helm of their clubs for 10 and 20 years respectively, but neither have been in charge of the "same" squad of players for more than 5 years.

Looking at the other two clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool, they have changed manager rather than team every 5 years or so: Houllier/Benitez; Ranieri/Mourinho. These changes have similarly stopped the problem of a club becoming "stale" at the cost of stability but they have still maintained their success.

At Everton, Moyes has been manager for 5 years and so far has had little success, except a "4th place" finish. I know we lack cash to change a team quickly, but we have the youth to change the outlook of the team to keep it fresh. Something has to give at our club. Moyes I believe has to introduce more "new" faces into the team, such as Anichebe and, and allow them to flourish. He cannot realistically keep a team that he has created from nearly 5 years ago carry on like it is.

Look for example at Beattie and Stubbs/Weir. The latter and two great servants of the club, and well Beattie's... Beattie. The latter are too old and Beattie is not fitting into this team properly. He may not be good enough but these three players Moyes insists on keeping at the club. The team has no chance to move on and keeps an air of staleness and seems outdated.

After 5 years, its obvious you need to freshen up either the team or coaching staff because you will be found out by other teams, either they will find out the team's weaknesses or the coaching staff's. After watching the team this season, and including today's performance at City, I believe that the team is becoming stale — it has a complete lack of ideas in certain departments.

I know Moyes wants to build a team round Yobo, Lescott, Cahill, Arteta et al but the rest of the team has to remain fresh so that other teams don't just come here - block out our best players while the rest of the team can't come up with a way to win a match.

The team playing today might have a couple of years ago or even last season have won more games because they would be more of a surprise to teams. Now, other clubs have adapted they know how to deal with us. But when Anichebe and Vaughan — even Hughes — were brought into the team, other clubs have struggled against us. Our team gets new ideas because they have fresher new, younger players who have a different style of play etc. Making the team play better overall.

The team today was evidently stale. Lacking ideas. We look like a stale team- we just don't seem to know how to break teams down or beat them properly. I know many a person here would say this is down to Moyes, and he should be sacked, but we have seen a different option being used and it has worked. Anichebe, a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, has offered the team a chance to play differently. Players respond to it because they can maybe play to their own strengths better. And then they grow in confidence.

Moyes by playing an out-of-form Beattie and ineffective Davies, in place of two players who were giving the team fresh impetus, made us stale. We had no ideas, and City had little trouble crushing any creativity or attacking threat we had.

All I ask, is for this club to be successful, we remain fresh. The other 15 clubs in the Prem who have either had new managers recently (Pompey, Villa) or have introduced new players, making a "fresher" team with new ideas (Spurs, Bolton), in effect the ones who are continually keeping "on their toes", are the ones being successful this season!

The team or manager at Everton has to change for us to be competing in the Top 6. We have to keep inputting fresh new ideas, options and playing younger players to push for the higher places in the Premiership. Curently Everton aren't and something does have to give. Either the current team sinks unders Moyes's stewardship and he most probably gets the sack, or we keep having new ideas and trying to reinvent our play to get up the table and stay near the very top.


Moyes spent Ł8.6M on a new striker. Someone with pace, something sadly missing in recent past and another 5 mil on a defender that can actually pass out of defence, again something we have lacked. Both arrived in the summer. Tell me how with the available cash Moyes could ‘freshen up’ the squad any more?

As for getting rid of Moyes, that worked really well for Sunderland and Leeds in recent yrs didn’t it? Reading seemed really worried about only scoring 6 against the Hammers and their new guy this weekend too.

Why can people not understand that, although Moyes makes mistakes, it can take a long time to build a squad which could win anything? You have to allow Moyes more time. Five years does seem to be a lot but the squad (if not positions in the league) is steadily improving and with it we are getting more respect from other teams (when was the last time a team came and set up the stall to just frustrate us like Boro did?)

If someone better comes along, then I’d be the first signing the leaving card. But I cannot see how people cannot accept that he is improving the squad; it just will take a long time from the dross we had to deal with. — Rob Heaton

What the hell is he on about? Stale and stagnant… does this guy watch the game? If he did he would have watched 2 completely different types of games against Newcastle and Middlesborough. Middlesborough came for a point and defended as resolutely as I have seen anybody do for a long time and proved incredibly difficult to break down, but we still had good crossing chances and if Beattie (instead of Anichebe) had been in the box, he would have finished at least 1 of the headers.

Against Newcastle, they at least tried to play, left space and although we didn’t play that well, we created some good chances, that we didn’t take (as per) and scored 3 goals that most of the time will be cleared by a better defence. So the Middlesborough game was crap as we didn’t have the craft to open them up (which takes a lot of cash to get even 1 player who can do that – look at Chelsea, but we should have had a penalty and that would have changed the complection of the game) and if you listened to Southgate’s comments about our 4 man midfield against their 5 man, he was impressed but didn’t say so. In the Newcastle game we matched them, took our opportunities and could have had 6 or 7 in the end.

These 2 games come off the back of creaming a Reading side that have battered West Ham, drew with Chelsea and almost drew with Man Utd. This leads me to think we defend very well, including a midfield that you also want to have the wizard like skills of Merlin and given the chance we can over power most teams, but like the top 4, want that player who can unlock the Crown Jewels with 1 hand whilst fighting off the guards with the other hand, ridiculous!!

I think we played some good possession football against Middlesborough, as good as I have seen for a while, not great, but it will get better and better…

This is all sort of leading to my point…
To get a team that defend as a unit and then attack like a unit, they need to play together for at least 18 months, the tough part is finding (and then keeping) a midfield and defence together that look like they can all do the job, then allow them the time to bond and work out their own systems, because I don’t care what you say, you cannot tell players how to attack as a unit in all given situations. They can be coached to defend, hold their shape, close spaces, and from set pieces, this is just about discipline/awareness, but you try and coach all situations for attacking, impossible.

All the teams have the same coaching manuals, where to put the ball in, what space to attack, you need the stuff you cant coach to make a difference. Ability, when to pass or shoot, timing of runs, quality crosses…You need to the same bunch of players who are good enough to hold their own in the league (to attack and defend) and allow them develop and hope you can add the 1 or 2 missing players to make everything click (Andy Gray or Peter Reid) Clearly this could take some time, even if you manage to do a “ManUtd” and get 6 class young players through at the same time and are big enough to keep them. Look at the job Scholes, Giggs and Neville are still doing. In Cahill, Lescott, Arteta, Johnson, Osman, Hibbert, Yobo , Anichebe, Vaughan and McFadden, we have 1 hell of a group of lads that need to play together and then too add to. Give these players 6/12 months and watch us go. Just imagine what will happen when the midfielders know exactly what run AJ will make without even looking up and AJ knows when and where to run without calling, this is all done instinctively.

I think this is only just Moyes’s start as manager, considering the chaff we had to get rid of and the cash he has had to spend. Why compare us to Chel, MU, Ars and Liv? they are way out of our spending bracket and could replace in 1 year what we have done in 5, these boys are only just getting started. He has a few positions to fill, but he may not be able to fill them even if he does have the cash, never mind trying to get quality backup for every position.

If you now take into account that Moyes cant plan every game correctly, if its wrong at the outset, the players need to grasp the nettle and sort it on the pitch, which is where time playing together sorts this. I think a good captain who knows whats what makes a big difference, Phil is the man for this, and in Cahill, Stubbs and eventually Lescott (I think) we are well prepared.

This is the ONLY way we are going to get back to winning cups and leagues again, it is then another job to keep that going, but that is for another day, maybe 5 years down the line…
Baz Gallagher

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