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Three steps forward and...

By Brendan McLaughlin :  18/09/2007 :  Comments (15) :
?Success rarely comes in straight lines? — David Moyes

The beginning of the new season saw Evertonians in an optimistic frame of mind. ToffeeWeb was littered with articles from fans eager to predict our fortunes for the coming season. Some fans saw this as the year we would (again) break the top four monopoly; others were more cautious ? certainly we would pip Spurs for 5th but the top four was probably still beyond us. Still a cup success would more than make up for this disappointment. Some fans expressed their confidence as a veiled threat ? Moyes simply has to deliver this season!

Who could doubt the logic? We had added significantly to the squad that finished 6th the previous season. We had smashed our transfer record on a proven premiership goal scorer, added undoubted quality at left back and in Jagielka had signed four players in one.

Six games in and the early season optimism has disappeared almost as quickly as the summer sun. John Holmes in a recent article suggests that we have had a solid start to the season but have we? Everton currently lie seventh; Blackburn, Newcastle and Aston Villa all have a game in hand and could overtake, pushing us as low as tenth. Last season, after 6 games, we sat fourth, on twelve points; last season from the same fixtures we have played so far, we took 11 points.

A glance at the table gives added cause for concern. Our normally reliable defence has conceded in every game and along with Chelsea (surprisingly) we have the worst defensive record in the top half of the table. Our goals for column makes for slightly better reading; only Arsenal & Liverpool have scored more.

Now I appreciate that many reading this will be shouting ?FFS! Its only six games? but that?s 16% of the season gone and I believe teams are starting to find their level. I mean it?s by no means a bold statement to say that of the six teams currently at the top of the table, I would expect most of them, say four at least, to still be there at the end of the season. Indeed I could say the same thing of the bottom six teams in the premiership.

So what?s the good news? Well, I?m not quite sure there is any. Moyes has moved to a 4-4-2 without quite having the quality in midfield to make that transition. Possibly Gravesen will come good but was he not at his best in a 4-5-1? Cahill is nearing a return but was he not at his best in a?you get the drift? Perhaps the next transfer window but we all know Moyes doesn?t like the January sales.

Reader Comments

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Dan Brierley
1   Posted 19/09/2007 at 04:30:28

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Hmmm, so Moyes gets slated over the last two years for playing a ’defensive’ 4-5-1 and now he is getting criticised for fielding a 4-4-2.

Last year, we punched above our weight again. This year, we are below the standard that our current team should produce. However if this team punches above its weight, it will mean a top four finish. We havent fully gelled yet. It will take time before Moyes understands what the best formation with this side is, but I for one am not going to start being negative just because we were beaten by the champions. Had we beaten them, would you not be saying what a good start we have made? I know I would have.

The season cannot be judged just yet, but there will be plenty of opportunities to judge in the coming months no doubt.

Personally, I am made up that relegation battles are a thing of the past. It hasnt been the best start to a season, but there are far more positives than negatives at the moment
2   Posted 19/09/2007 at 10:10:36

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Overall as an Evertonian you have to be pleased with the progress we are making as a team, for the first time in many seasons we signed quality players, and yes there will be a period of transition. For me the next few games will be the key, no matter what happens in the league this year to show we have progressed as a team is to prove ourselves in Europe, it’s alright saying we can do better against Man U, but they would never lose to a 3rd place Ukranian outfit in a Euro Qualifying match. I for one will have more of an idea how far we have come as a club by 9.45pm Thursday evening......
John Holmes
3   Posted 19/09/2007 at 10:13:12

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None of the pre-season optimism related to smashing our transfer record as we didn’t do that until a few weeks ago when the season was well underway.

Do you honest think Spurs will finish in the bottom six?

Gravesen has only been fit for one game (which he wasn’t fit enough to start) and Cahill for none so why claim that Moyes has not tactically accomodated them before they’ve even played?

If you’re looking for good news what about the performance of Baines?

So we’ve dropped 1 point on last season equivalent fixtures... hardly cause for the alarm bells is it?

Those fixtures we’ve played have, barring Wigan, all been against teams who finished in the top half last season.

Talk about glass half-empty. When I said it was a solid start I meant just that. It’s a start, we haven’t covered ourselves in glory, nor have we been bad enough that it should have any impact on the rest of the season. We’ve just got ourselves in a comfortable position to build from.
Lee Spargo
4   Posted 19/09/2007 at 12:16:17

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This is the worst post I have ever read.

We have just lost 1-0 to the Champions. And we were unlucky.

We also lost away at Reading and drew with Blackburn. A bit of disappointment, but hardly cause for great concern.

If you win all of your home games and draw all of your away games throughout a season, you would acrrue 76 points. With that, you would probably win the league, or be very very close.

So, we are two points behind schedule (10 as opposed to 12 from 6 games)for a title challenge.

We are currently on course for 63 points. That would have got us 5th last year, 6th the year before, 4th the year before that, 4th again the year before that and 6th five seasons ago.

In short, we’re on target for a crack at the top 4, top 6 again as a minimum. With some improvement, who knows?
Dawson Boyle
5   Posted 19/09/2007 at 12:14:42

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Why are you doom-mongering the day before we play in Europe? We’re exactly where we want to be.

You remind me of The Red Shite fan who was asked on a phone-in "What’s more important - winning the champions league or being in Europe next season?" and he wasn’t able to answer.

Enjoy Thursday and trust the man who got us there in the first place. With a bit of belief we might even get past the first round and we won’t have to worry about next season until August 2008.
Kevin Fitzsimons
6   Posted 19/09/2007 at 12:12:24

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Guys Guys for dear sakes
We are about to commence a sustained European Foray? why all the negativity (Plenty of time for that when all the transfer rumours fizzle out come January)

We are Evertonians?..

Blue to the core and addicted to the Roller Coaster that is Everton.

There are no certainties in life but lets look at the percentages

I can guarantee that over the coming season

10% of us will love Moyes, at some part of the season
10% will hate the man, for no specific reason
10% of games we play, we?ll get what we deserve
10% of games played well, we?ll lose thru? lack of nerve

10% of us will whistle Z Cars with an urge
10% of us will leave the ground humming some old dirge
10% of us will dream of Cups and Euro qualification
10% will switch off the box showing Anfield Masterbation

10% will have a pint and toast the boys in Blue
10% will drown the thoughts of what they didn?t do
10% on Toffeeweb are really mad as Hatters
110% Evertonians, that?s all that really matters.

Tony Marsh
7   Posted 19/09/2007 at 13:29:56

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And 10% of Evertonians are already staying away.Whats the odds on us breaking the 20.000 barrier for tomorrow nights attandence.Not good I think.
Stefan Tosev
8   Posted 19/09/2007 at 14:35:20

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Tony mate, I love every your post, but you dissapointed me this time,you set such a high barrier :))))
Paul McCann
9   Posted 19/09/2007 at 15:59:38

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Tony Marsh, you are without doubt the most depressingly pessimistic man I have ever read. I suspect that maybe some of the stay aways tomorrow night might not be going on the off chance that they bump into you and have their week ruined. That and the fact that some parts of our support can’t afford to go to every match and have to pick games, or travel large distances etc, etc...

Please mate, I know that the club are really important to you [and me], but Shankly was wrong, they’re not THAT important. There are [sometimes painfully slow] signs of progress, it might be useful if we admit that sometimes.
Andy Mckenzie
10   Posted 19/09/2007 at 16:38:36

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The game against kharkiv is well on the way to being sold out, there are not many tickets left for this game, i think they may have opened some of the away section up as kharkiv have’nt sold all their tickets.
Andy Mckenzie
11   Posted 19/09/2007 at 17:01:36

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just when i bear good news the bad news follows, johnson, arteta, pienaar, gravesen and howard are all doubts for tomorrows game.
Bob Turner
12   Posted 19/09/2007 at 21:16:34

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As ever, those who profess to be able to predict the future get it wrong again - well over 30,000 tickets have been sold for the game tomorrow.

And yet we’re constantly reminded that Everton will fall into the abyss if we move to Kirkby...
Brendan McLaughlin
13   Posted 19/09/2007 at 21:10:16

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Thanks for all the feedback, both positive and negative, both considered and ill considered. Disappointed that Lee Spargo felt it was the worst post he had ever read ? obviously he doesn?t visit the site that often ? and pleased that I inspired Kevin to wax lyrical about the vagaries of Evertonians.

To be more specific:

XX ? where did I criticise Moyes for employing 4-4-2? I was simply pointing out that having made the change without addressing our lack of quality in midfield things could get worse before they get better. I even quoted Moyes himself at the top of the article making EXACTLY THE SAME POINT. As for the rest of your points I wouldn?t really disagree & I accept that the new lads haven?t fully bedded in yet.

John ? OK you got me on a technicality I should have said pre/early season optimism but this hardly rips my argument to shreds. No I don?t expect Spurs to finish in the bottom six nor did I say I expected them to.

The point I made with respect to Graveson & Cahill is that they are hardly unknown quantities and many fans have expressed concerns about both players in a 4-4-2. I would concede that Johnson & Yakubu could prove a better a better foil for Graveson on his second coming at Goodison.

I also take your point that our matches this season have been against teams who finished in the top half of the premiership. But on current form, where are they now John? Three of them are in the bottom four!

Lee ? your extrapolation of our finishing position brought a brief ray of light into my otherwise miserable life. But then it struck me, using the same logic, all teams will finish, more or less, exactly where they are now. Or if we applied your reasoning to last season, after 6 games we should have been expecting 76 points. Well we were only 18 short. Extrapolation does have its merits but you really do need to base it on a longer run of actual results.

Dawson ? ?exactly where we want to be? Seventh, courtesy of having played fewer games than Blackburn, Aston Villa & Newcastle and with a defence that is conceding in every game, certainly isn?t where I want to be.

Hold on, here comes the cavalry to my rescue. Tony Marsh you really are a miserable, complaining, ?glass half empty? sod. Thank God, I?m nothing like him.

Connor Rohrer
14   Posted 19/09/2007 at 22:37:09

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Paul, dont take Tony too seriously as he is trying to build a reputation for himself. He likes being in the spotlight and knows his negative comments will attract attention.

Tony, it looks like we are going to sell out judging by reports. Passionate fans want to watch the Blues whether we are the worst team in the world or the best. You dissapoint me because there are occasions where you atually talk sense and make a good contribution to this website.

The fact of the matter is Tony we have improved. Obviously you refuse to see this but open your eyes lad because its true. Where not better than Liverpool, Man utd, Arsenal and Chelsea but we havent been for some time.
Paul Daly
15   Posted 20/09/2007 at 02:23:46

Report abuse know I don’t know this Marsh pessimist but I’m willing to throw in say, a fin, to get the bugger laid if it improves his attitude......

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