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Possession Is Nine Tenths Of The Law

By Gary Hughes :  31/08/2007 :  Comments (25) :
I can't say I'm particularily excited about Graveson's return but he was quite a useful player at one time, although not being first choice at Celtic does not exactly inspire confidence. While we all want a creative influence in midfield I think most Evertonians are missing the obvious solution right under our noses.

Mikel Arteta is more than capable of dictating a match from the centre of midfield instead of being wasted out wide (Alonso can do it for Liverpool and I know who I would prefer). The reason Moyes is so obsessed with packing the midfield with ball winners is because we never have the ball. We play a brand of football whereby possession is some sort of crime.

There appears to be some sort of unwritten rule that there can be no more than three passes before someone has to punt the ball aimlessly forward. The whole back four are routinely guilty. I have seen us win games with ease only to be astonished that we have had only 30% possession (Wigan, 1st game). This is why I couldn't relax even when 3-1 up against shite like Fulham with only 10 minutes left knowing that if they had got back to 3-2 all hell would have broken loose. Only when we scored the fourth could anyone relax.

This is major problem, somehow we always seem to be on the back foot because we simply cannot keep possession. When James Beatie came to Everton he was an accomplished goal-scoring Premiership striker. In two short years we turned him into a buffoon. AJ is a similar case, after a relatively successful first season he now spends his time hopelessly challenging six foot plus centre halves for flick ons or chasing lost causes into the channels.

As for Yakubu, he is about to become a giant beacon for Hibbert and Neville to twat balls up to. All these problems stem from the manager. All tactics, coaching and patterns of play are directly down to him and him alone. Arsenal don't play the percentages because Arsene Wenger won't let them play that way.

I don't want to be over critical of Moyes because he has actually assembled our strongest squad for many years, but until he addresses his flawed football principles we have only mediocrity to look forward to.

Reader Comments

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david h
1   Posted 31/08/2007 at 04:42:20

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So many flaws in this ill thought out post from a person who clearly dislikes moyes it is almost too easy to pick holes in it. Here’s the dumbest comment

When James Beatie came to Everton he was an accomplished goal-scoring Premiership striker

When he came ot Everton he had spel 6 months hardly playing at southampton and was fat and unfit - remember ?
Mark P
2   Posted 31/08/2007 at 08:06:05

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Totaly agree david, so many holes cant be botherd to point them all out. Another DM hater.
Alec C
3   Posted 31/08/2007 at 09:08:16

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I agree that one of our main problems is giving the ball away too easily.We put extra pressure on ourselves and help to put the opposition on the front foot.
JL Slap
4   Posted 31/08/2007 at 09:12:21

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I’m not a DM hater in fact I’ve posted a number of pieces defending him but it is a good post. He is assembling a good squad (our best for years I agree) and we have stability & decent league placings but there is always room for improvement, always. Thats the difference between a good side & a great team. We do need to start killing teams off, being more creative whilst playing a bit of football. All whilst retaining our work ethic & tenacity.
Its a tall order but thats what you have to aim for to be a top side.

As for Beattie he was a proven striker & the reason he was out of southampton side 6 months prior to joining us was the ankle injuries he had also because he wanted away.
big wills
5   Posted 31/08/2007 at 09:01:13

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I agree with gary, Iwas shit scared that we were going to have Neville,Jag, Carsley, and Arteta as a mid field, at least Grav looks for the ball from defenders, and can (or could)hold the ball to retain some possesion. in the old days ball winners did a lot more than just win balls, they got into the box as well, why play two defensive midfield players when you have spent millions on centre backs? all that happens is the defense play behind the defensive midfield, leaving huge gaps between strikers and the back line, and that’s why Everton hoof the ball forward, we can afford to push up now as there is some pace in Lescot and Yobo, and yes i have always felt Arteta should be in the middle where he can do more damage.
Brian Waring
6   Posted 31/08/2007 at 10:17:42

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Why is it that,as soon as someone has a go at Moyes,he is a Moyes hater?Surely you lads can see that most of last season,we saw some of the worst type of football ever.And apart from Spurs,the other games have been mostly dire.This is not an opinion,it’s a fact.At the end of the day,Moyes picks the team and tactics,so he takes the flak.Also,didn’t Arteta start life as a centre-midfield player.What’s wrong with putting him there again with Jags,and playing Pienaar and Osman as the wide players.It’s not hating Moyes,to suggest these things,it’s just wanting him to try something different tactically,if it doesn’t work,here’s an idea,he can always change it round again.
Phil Hamer
7   Posted 31/08/2007 at 10:50:41

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Gary is not a DM hater. I’ve been a firm Moyes backer all the way through these debates, and I still am. I would read Michael Kenrick and Tony Marsh and my blood would boil. However my opinion has recently shifted slightly. I can’t afford to get to many games, and Blackburn last week was my first for a few years. It is amazing how much truer your view is when at the game as opposed to watching on TV. As the game unfolded I was very suprised to see how utterly aimless Evertons attacking was, 9 out of 10 ’attacks’ were simple long high balls towards Andy Johnson or James McFadden, in the hope that they would at least put the central defender off his header slightly so we could win the second ball. When we did attempt to move the ball on the ground in the second half we found far more dangerous positions. I do like Moyes, in fact I think he’s great and I’d be devastated to lose him - but I do wish he would ’coach’ the team to keep the ball on the floor more often. There’s room for the odd long punt as an occasional variation, but please, keep that to 1 out of 10 attacks instead of the vast majority.
John Saunders
8   Posted 31/08/2007 at 10:47:15

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There can be no doubt that for Everton to move up to the next level we have to retain possession of the ball for longer periods,cut out the hopeless punts from defensive positions while maintaining the undoubted team spirit and work ethic.
The number of times AJ was left to take on Samba in an aerial battle against Blackburn last Saturday was laughable as certain players took the easy option of the big boot.
Baines will be an asset as a fast attack minded full back who can pass,however reliance on the likes of Hibbert (pretty good defender but thats it)and Neville (distribution from midfield mostly dire)has got to be reduced.
While welcoming The Yak we need to harness his strength with passes from attacking wide positions and with passes thru the midfield with the long ball being an occasional outlet not the norm.Middle of the park has to be Cahill(Gravesen/Jagielka) and Arteta.
Dan Mckie
9   Posted 31/08/2007 at 11:33:35

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I think there were some promising signs at the end of the Blackburn game with Jags joining up the defence and the midfield and Neville where he is best,at right back! We definetly now have to find the right player to join the midfield to the attack because both Johnson and Yakubu arent the type of players to drop off and recieve the ball,dont think that player is Gravesen,hopefully will be Riquelme but if not then we will just have to wait for Cahill to come back! COYB !!
David Lok
10   Posted 31/08/2007 at 12:41:02

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All managers have their style. We can’t simply ask someone to taste Stinky durians if they hate it. Moyes prefers a defensive type of play, so pumping long balls up is the only way and get most men behind. Didn’t you guys discover that whenever we lose the ball, we have plenty of players defending? Can’t ask Moyes to be a Wenger.

I am definitely a hater of the long ball game. But if we really want to change the style of play, well, we will have to change the decision maker. Moyes is a good manager, he has brought us so far. But with his style, it’s hard for us to challenge the top 4. Look at all the top 4 clubs, please tell me which team plays long balls? ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal, Pool of Liver..Real, Barca, Porto etc etc.

I know we were once 4th, we just need to do it consistently.

Getting Riquelme? What’s the point? It will be Stubbs to AJ, lose the ball, win it back, Yobo to Yak, lose the ball, win it back, Nev to AJ...on and on.... why don’t we play an 8-0-2 formation!!! I believe we will have some clean sheets!!!!

Again, i am not a Moyes hater. Just trying to make some sense.

Oh ya, Long balls? Riquelme’d rather change his jersey with the ref!

Phil Hamer
11   Posted 31/08/2007 at 14:12:23

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Ha ! Here we go again, ’Moyes has taken us this far but.....’, behave yourself Mr Lok. Despite what I said earlier, Moyes bringing in Gravesen and looking for Riquelme is a signal that he also wants to alter the style and play through midfield more. He actually said as much after the game saturday. I want a better style, but only the narrow minded want a new manager. Do not ignore the progress thats been made.
Steve Claringbold
12   Posted 31/08/2007 at 15:02:59

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Mr Lok, just with regards to the following comment.

"Getting Riquelme? What?s the point? It will be Stubbs to AJ, lose the ball, win it back, Yobo to Yak, lose the ball, win it back, Nev to AJ...on and on...."

Is this the new lyrics to we’re on the ball? If so, I’ll ring Ant and Dec now.
Mike Neely
13   Posted 31/08/2007 at 16:24:42

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David Lok:...This thing about managers having their own style doesn,t really cut with Moyes does it?He must be a bit of a Jeckyl&Hyde because far from playing hoof ball at Spurs he put a team on the pitch that cut them to pieces with good football played on the deck from front to back.It,s not that Moyse is a one trick pony,the fact is that some of the players have no guile or imagination.
Brian Waring
14   Posted 31/08/2007 at 17:04:11

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Mike you say"fact is that some of the players have no guile or imagination"One question,who bought these players with no guile or imagination?
15   Posted 31/08/2007 at 17:14:28

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I’ll nail my colours to the mast right away. I’m NOT a Moyes hater,ok? However,I have yet to understand why one of the most accredited coaches in the game (no,really) either can’t see, or can’t make the players see, that the long ball game with Johnson up front doesn’t work! What was noticeable aganst Blackburn was Jagielka coming back to take the ball off Howard and playing it forward or wide without resorting to a high ball for Samba to clear.Howard is as much to blame as anyone in this respect.Maybe Moyes could make Jags understand what was required. I have read on these pages somewhere that Moyes was screaming at Hibbert and Nev to play the ball on the floor but they must be too thick to comprehend.Lets see, if Jags plays tomorrow, if we can play some football for a change.If Gravesen plays I would expect a better footballing performance than we witnessed against Blackburn.
Brian Waring
16   Posted 31/08/2007 at 17:30:35

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Ray,barring injuries,I wouldn’t bet against the side that started against Blackburn,being the same one that starts against Bolton.
Tom Collie
17   Posted 01/09/2007 at 01:09:08

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What an interesting thread. The big snag is that since admin banned Tony Marsh it seems to have given encouragement to the ’everything in the garden is rosy’ types and this website is becoming a Blue Kipper clone.

How sad.

Phil Montello
18   Posted 01/09/2007 at 01:02:09

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i went to wigan game and our direct style of play made bramble look great as no balls were threaded thru for ajs pace,as for anichebe he lost the physical battle and was lucky to score-after 30mins he didnt look interested but we had no striker on the on whats been said hibbert,neville,stubbs and at times yobo remind me of unsworths aimless long balls to big dunc!at times we are a one man creative force(arteta)and when he gets injured it worries me,against blackburn he was starved of the ball as tactical genius mark hughes identified-stop arteta-stop everton playing!who supplied cross for goal?neville and carsley can?t pass accurately over 5yds,osman provides no consistency and is too light weight,mcfadden works hard but when faced one v one often runs into defenders and always plays the wrong option with head down!savage was running the midfield until jags came on.
look at top four they all have 3 creative players who can run with ball and commit defenders!
someone provide solution please!
Tom Collie
19   Posted 01/09/2007 at 03:11:57

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Phil made some observations about the Wigan game with which I fully concur. Phil also wondered about a solution?

My answer Phil, is dump DM, we;re going nowhere with him, mark my words. Bring in Mark Hughes he’s more of a football/man manager and tactician than Moyes will ever be so long as there’s a hole in his arse.

Cue all the Nip boys to start crying. Just wait lads Moyes equals failure, guaranteed.
Derek Thomas
20   Posted 01/09/2007 at 06:56:10

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Well put article: doubters consider this...Imagine the scene, There’s the fullback with the ball at our corner post, you know, the one by the Church, surrounded by 5 of the opposition, who is the attacking team? them or us?? Ans. US!!! why??? I’ll tell you why!!! BECAUSE WE HAVE THE ’KIN BALL!!!! thats why. You can’t play without the ball, you can’t score without the ball, if you haven’t got the ball you’re nothing, YOU’RE JUST SOME SORT OF MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BALL!!!!They even give you a clue in the name of the game footBALL.Read my lips... B.A.L.L.

Should you require more convincing, think of all the sayings that have to do with playing the game...attack the BALL, play the BALL, don’t let it(THE BALL) bounce, pass the BALL, retain possession of the BALL, support the BALL carrier, early BALL, through BALL etc etc etc.

Alan BALL...EVERTON FootBALL Club....What part of BALL don’t you get???
Dominic Fitzpatrick
21   Posted 01/09/2007 at 14:02:47

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I think there are some good arguments in this post. I believe David Moyes is doing his best with the players he has at his disposal. Do you think we would be playing hoofball if we had more Arteta’s in the side?

I do agree with the point that the football we play has to adapt to take us to the next level. The first thing I noticed from pre season this year was how early Moyes et al introduced the ball work to training.

I think you will see two sides to Everton’s game this season, and rightly so. Domestically, the team will utilise the tactics used so successfully over the past seasons, hard to break down and competitive. I believe football in europe will resemble that on show against Werder Bremen, more measured, low tempo and concentrating on trying to keep possession for long periods.

If we go into this UEFA campaign making the same mistakes we did last time ie naively utilising tactics more suited to the domestic game, we won’t be able to enjoy it for much longer.
Steve Green
22   Posted 02/09/2007 at 18:35:54

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One major reason for all of the "hoofball" is the fact that until now we’ve had no one in the centre of midfield who can take a short pass from the back four, keep possession and then move it quickly upfield, either by himself or spraying it out wide for Arteta (and now Pienaar). Previously, that meant everything had to bypass the midfield or it automatically went out to Arteta, who had at least two defenders with him by the time the ball got to him
Gravesen and Jagielka have both shown glimpses of being able to be those central outlets offensively. That should take a lot of the burden off Arteta -- and it seemed to at Bolton, by all accounts.
As it’s a pantently low-percentage form of offence, no manager deliberately uses route one as his primary form of attack, I don’t care what anyone says. But when the back four is faced with the choice of either hoping Carley or Neville can move the ball forward or taking the option of lumping it upfield and out of danger, it’snot a hard choice to make, is it?
Tony Gee
23   Posted 03/09/2007 at 19:13:41

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Dunno where I stand so perhaps somebody can throw some light on my current stance...

David Moyes is the best manager we have had since the great Howard Kendall.
However whilst i think he should be applauded for bringing in stability and discipline into our great club, I often think the man is about as tactically aware as a piece of cheese..!!!
Dave G
24   Posted 04/09/2007 at 10:54:25

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Playing the way they do, Everton will finish in the top 6 again, with an outside chance of breaking into the top 4. If we try to play like Arsenal we will struggle to make the top 10. It’s all about playing to your strengths. Moyes’ record at Everton is superb when you take into account the resources he has been given.
Lee Spargo
25   Posted 04/09/2007 at 16:40:34

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Why do people always have to moan?

Go and play FM and leave the real business to those who know best. We’re not doing to badly after all are we?


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