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Standing in the way of progress

By Andrew Edwards :  24/09/2007 :  Comments (34) :
Watching Everton lately makes me unhappy and, if am honest, it has done for a while. Win, lose or draw, I feel frustrated by how we play the game ? it?s forever a battle, backs to the wall, hoof balls and scrappy goals from set-pieces that get us through to the end of the season and am sick of it. I want Everton to move past wining matches because they work the hardest and start winning matches because they play the better attractive football.

I?ve clung on to the hope that with higher league finishes in the majority of the last five seasons, Everton?s play would naturally evolve into good watchable football but that hasn?t happened. Fact of the matter is that higher league standing?s and better quality players in the starting eleven has not improved the way Everton play football. To be truthful there?s not a huge difference in the way we play now to when Moyes first took over.

What scares me is that I really believe that Everton play the way they do because that?s the way Moyes wants it to be played. His love for talentless hard-working players, endless chasing of long balls, repeated predictable crosses into the box and backs to the wall defending drives me nuts. I could put up with those sort of tactics in a relegation fight but it?s been some years since one of them and we're still not seeing any progression from it. Is it too much to ask that we play the ball on the floor from time to time, score a goal from the odd well-played through-ball?

Creativity going forward has been as much of a problem this season as it was last and will be for seasons to come under Moyes. The simple truth is that no attacking midfielder can ever satisfy the demands Moyes puts on them, he wants creativity going forward coupled with a defensive workrate second to none, a quality even a player like Kaka can struggle with. Moyes is sadly unwilling to choose creativity over defensive responsibility, fact.

Osman is a prime example, jack of all trades, master at none yet he?s a first-team pick; okay so he may run his arse off chasing the ball round the park but when he gets it he lacks the quality and consistency of a good attacking player.

Simon Davis is another example, great going forward for Spurs before we bought him but he soon learned that in order to stay in the first team he needed to spend more time defending. Davis soon lost the little ability he had going forward and played the majority of his games for Everton as a defensive midfielder.

Van Der Mayde was similar except he refused to defend because he was useless at it, another positive forward player exiled. Rooney, the once prodigal son, even felt shackled by Moyes?s defensive demands and the constraints put on him going forward. Fernandes is another, scores a great goal against Man Utd last season and Moyes slates him after the game for neglecting his defensive responsibilities. Moyes's way or the highway, defend and sacrifice your creativity or you don?t play.

Moyes?s workmanlike team ethic has even spread to most of the fans who demand the Andrew Johnson pressing/running game for all are strikers ? get a grip, please! Johnson?s running game is phenomenal but it?s to the detriment of his goal tally and Everton?s long-term goals of playing attractive football. It?s similar to when Ferguson used to play upfront, the lack of creativity lead to so many balls pumped up field because we had a tall aggressive striker; in Johnson?s case, too many balls floated to the corner flag because we have a fast-paced striker.

Johnson is continually asked by Moyes to chase no-hope long-balls and set up the goals rather then being on the end of the chances. I don?t expect endless running from Johnson, just as much as I don?t expect it from the Yak; what I do expect is for Moyes to pick a well-balanced midfield to do the creating for the forwards to score the goals.

Moyes has to find a balance within the team, one which allows for greater creativity without stretching our own defence. Without that change in attacking mentality, Everton will forever continue to plod though season after season. I don?t fear relegation with our current way of playing football, but if we truly believe we can one day win the Premier League, we have to start playing attractive attacking football.

Win, lose or draw, I would be happy as long as were playing football I can get excited about. Would I trade in a few Premier League defeats to play more like Arsenal and less like Bolton? You bet I would, but would Moyes?

Reader Comments

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John Holmes
1   Posted 24/09/2007 at 15:39:06

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Whilst I agree with much of the sentiment of what you say the one things I’d question is whether Moyes has yet been given the chance to prove the new-look Everton to be an effective attacking force. The last two seasons are the only two where he’s been given real money to improve the squad and the personnel available suggest he’s bought pretty well. Sadly injuries have taken their toll on key players.

We lost Cahill most of last season and all of the present on to date, Fernandes was out for a significant period of his stay with us, Gravesen has been limited to 20 minutes so far and Arteta’s now injured. Last season was patchy and I felt we played far better on the occasions when Cahill was in the team (and I have a suspicion that those games coincided with most of Johnson’s goals). He’s our only out and out attacking central midfielder and a big loss.

I’m willing to reserve judgement until January when we should have seen what Moyes intends to do with the players he’s got.
stephen cummins
2   Posted 24/09/2007 at 15:47:33

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Sadly I have to agree with the majority of what you say. I’m fed up with waiting for change. I’ve been making excuses for a few years, lack of money, injuries etc. It wouldn’t matter who we bought as I’m now convinced that David Moyes only has plan A and that all players have to fit that plan. At the end of your piece you say you would sacrifice a few league points to see Arsenal type football. I agree, why not try a plan B and start passing the ball around it might just work.
Nick Jones
3   Posted 24/09/2007 at 15:50:22

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Particularly after the Metalist nightmare, a malaise settled over me which seemed to be confirmed with the Villa defeat. John’s done a great job of articulating exactly what that that feeling is. I hate to say it but is it time for a breath of fresh air in the manager’s office?
4   Posted 24/09/2007 at 15:52:12

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it amazed me when moyes said of yakubo that he does not fit everton’s style of play just yet and maybe we need to change our way of playing to get him back to playing like he did at midlesborough, surely he knew he did not fit his style of play when he was watching him so why did he buy him
Vincent Siow
5   Posted 24/09/2007 at 15:59:48

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Anyone knows what happened to Van der Meyde?
Steve Murdoch
6   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:16:10

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I think Moyesy has identified the need for creativity in the midfield and I reckon (and pray to god) that the January transfer window will bring some creativity in.
What I am bemused by is his insistance to keep playing Hibbert at right back and neville in central midfield. Do quite know whats going on there!!
I just hope to god that he plays Arteta in the middle when he’s fit as I get the impression he is not a happy little spaniard out on the wing!!
Chris Banasko
7   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:16:03

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Well said! I couldn’t of put it better myself. The excuse of Moyes needing more time isn’t good enough. Its strange the way its taken him five years to get us playing the way we are and yet Mr Eriksson has managed to do better in one summer.

The lack of creativity in our midfield has made our forwards redundant, isn’t it strange that when players leave Everton that they suddenly find their form. A prime example of this is Beattie, when he came to us he had a few doubters but his CV proved that he was a decent goal scorer both at Blackburn and Southampton. Last season he couldn?t find the back of the net for love nor money and as soon as he leaves he finds his goal scoring boots again. Everyone said that he was lazy and all the rest of it, but he played no different at his previous clubs when he was scoring.

Moyes has worked miracles during his time at our club but I honestly feel that he has done his job and he cannot take us any further.
John Holmes
8   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:23:54

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I reckon the Erikson example is nonsense. He was in charge of England for years and yet we always played like.. well.. like Everton actually! Yes he’s sorted out City (for less than 10 games) but it’s amazing what you can do with a fair wind and £50m (plus wages).
Trevor Dean
9   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:20:37

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A number of the posts and replies published here in the last day or two have been frankly embarrassing.

You’d struggle to find a greater mass of hysteria and ignorance anywhere. Well, not since the stadium debate anyway.

There’s a small number of fans who have emerged every time we’ve lost a couple of games for years now. When we win a couple of games though, or when we qualify for Europe, they are nowhere to be seen.

They’re not fair-weather fans - they’re actually Bad Weather Fans - who relish the wind and the rain as a chance to take out all their own personal frustrations and blame their team for them. A bad day at work, an unhappy marriage, the failure to fulfil your own hopes and dreams, and general disastisfaction with your predicament, suddenly becomes not just life, but rather the fault of say Moyes or Phil Neville or Tony Hibbert. You can blame them for a few things Im sure, but these aren’t any of em.

For the record, Moyes is the best thing that’s happened to Everton Football Club since 1987. He’s in the process of rebuilding us from top to bottom, has been here five years, and will be here in five more, and for that we should all (though naturally we won’t!) be grateful.

If our progress in the next five years is anything like the last five, then he will deserve to have a statue built of him outside the new stadium, wherever that may be. At least then when we lost all of the Bad Weather Fans would have somethin to throw their eggs at ...
Franny Porter
10   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:36:46

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what a fcuking patronising post that was mate.

As for Moyes deserving a statue if the next five years are the same as the last, well I was wish you were my boss. Im a Corporal in the RAF but if my boss was a bit more like you Id probably be a fcuking Wing Commander by now!
Steve Murdoch
11   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:59:54

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I would just like to ask Trevor if you were happy at the final whistle last thursday?
Did you think we achieved what we were capable of, even with our injury list?
If we ’bow out’ of the eufa cup at the 1st stage, will you be happy?
I know i wont be!!
Lue Glover
12   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:46:29

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Trevor, I agree that we should get behind the lads but not everyone who criticises is being hysterical or non supportive of the team. Most of us are frustrated because we seem to take one step forwards and two steps back. We seem to be stuck in a time warp where hoof ball is the only system to play, when in fact we all know that we are actually capable of playing some decent stuff. I’m not a bad weather fan, it ties my stomach in knots when we lose but it makes me feel quite sick when we lose and play like donkeys too. Does football have to be so damned ugly? No it doesnt, even with the relatively mediocre bunch of players we have (with some notable exceptions), we could still actually pass the ball to eachother and create scoring chances from crosses rather than long balls down the middle. Even I can see that with the right coaching it would be possible to change tactics and maybe get better results. Why can’t we play to each player’s strenght rather than try to bash them into submission and remove any ounce of flair and creativity that they may have had.
The game would be better to watch and the fans would feel less like they’ve been mugged!
DM runs the show like a Kamp Commandant and won’t accept anything other than hard working, team players. That’s fair enough if it produces the results but even ugly can made to be a little more attractive and workmanlike can be made more effective.
Anyway, it’s all academic because DM is going nowhere. We have, however, three must-win games ahead. let’s wait and see if this time next week we’re all feeling a little more confident.

I sincerely hope so.
Andy T
13   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:58:28

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Two points

Firstly Eriksson was considered to be a long ball manager when he was at Lazio with the game plan consisting of Mihajlovic pumping forward from the back onto the head of Vieri/Crespo/Salaa

Secondly Beattie never scored a professional goal fro Blackburn - he might have scored in the reserves but so did Branch/Chadwick/Cadamarteri
The Scientist
14   Posted 24/09/2007 at 16:39:51

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moyes does not have the ability to coach his players in the flowing football style The School of Science demands,his ideas all revolve around hard working combatative tactics much in the style of his predecessor Wally Smith and is dreadful to watch to the point were i personally find watching EFC a task.In these times football is no longer about physicallity as was the case in the seventys and eightys when the best teams in England were a combination of yard-dogs and skill,now players must be athletes and every position should be filled by someone who is comfortable giving and receiving the ball as is the case with the very impressive Arsenal squad,this combined with good coaching and tactical awareness is the recipe for success,im afraid we have neither enough,we do have some quality,or the manager with the ability to ever take us beyond mediocrity.In the current circumstances of having a chairman who is impotent in all areas of club development we are snookered and will continue to conform to the media model of being also rans,yes we have lately avoided those aweful relegation battles but if your happy to finish in the top ten every season and be constantly looking jealously at the trophy winning ’top four’ then you’ve swallowed the sky’we invented football’ hype,i for one am not prepared to watch that rubbish for the next five years and will be glad to see the back of Moyes and Kenwright,we’ve not seen any decent ,flowing attacking football since Big Joe went,bring back the School of Science.
15   Posted 24/09/2007 at 17:15:15

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"Fernandes is another, scores a great goal against Man Utd last season and Moyes slates him after the game for neglecting his defensive responsibilities."

i think moyes did that because if he was seen to of played amazing his price tag would of increased...
Ger Johnson
16   Posted 24/09/2007 at 17:01:26

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Very well written article...Even taking injuries into account, Moyes seems to struggle with player positioning if he doesn’t have absolutely EVERYONE fit. He also has a tendency to favour players long after it’s become abundantly clear to the rest of us that that player is either in the wrong position (Hibbert/Neville) or just never going to do what we need them to do (Hibbert/Beattie).
He has bought well and the fact that he was pushing for an attacking Mid after the Fernandes Fiasco certainly seems to indicate he’ll buy in January; we just have to pray there’s a few good buys out there!
It’s been said repeatedly - Neville should be RB and Hibbert on the bench at best.
In fairness to Moyes I don’t think he’s been helped by the board - despite his complaints about work rate after Fernandes’ goal against United (I reckon he was distancing himself slightly considering the price tag he felt the board would never meet) he DID go after the player, and if he’d gotten that 20 million earlier, we’d now have Fernandes and that piece of the puzzle would be solved to a large extent. Arteta and Fernandes in midfield was starting to look v good and could have been lethal, but due to the board dithering with funds he slipped through our fingers. And the added bonus of another top class creative midfielder would mean that if Arteta is out, the whole team doesn’t collapse.
But certainly Moyes’ decisions don’t help things either; fair enough Arteta is a huge loss but it’s Moyes’ selection and positional choices that hugely compound the problem.
When Arteta does come back, he needs to be told to take far more shots. He scored a cracker last season, but once again he seems very reluctant even when on the edge of the box to have a crack. Fabregas is a case in point here...and what’s the deal with McFadden?? He’s banging them in for Scotland, and we all know what he did last year - and the impact he had when he came on against United last week - but Moyes STILL largely refuses to start him and when he does, plays him in an ambiguous and ineffective role.
David Moyes is a very good manager and he’s done wonders for the club in turning us from relegation candidates to top 6 finishers, but, as has been mentioned by others, the question looms larger by the match - has he taken us as far as he can?
Steve Murdoch
17   Posted 24/09/2007 at 17:17:44

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And another thing.....
If the latest news feeds are to be believed we are going for yet another striker.
is it just me or does anyone else think we have decent ability and cover in that department?
We could buy the best striker in the world, but unless we have creativity in the middle to supply him, he aint gonna score many.
Maybe this is wht most of the strikers we buy seem to have better goal scoring records when they are not with us!!
Anyone agree????
Dave Lynch
18   Posted 24/09/2007 at 17:21:41

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Franny. he’d probably make you MRAF.
What an absolute load of blinkered shite !
I want Moyes do do well and get us playing proper footy, problem is.
He has proved time and time again that is not up to the task.
Ger Johnson
19   Posted 24/09/2007 at 17:25:13

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Absolutely. It’s like buying more bullets when you don’t know how to shoot a gun. We need an all round midfielder - creative and a playmaker but strong as well. Pienaar looks good but he makes AJ look like Zat Knight. We need to flush out the ’two defensive midfielders in the centre of the park’ mentality - this will be helped by Cahill’s return and a good buy in Jan, seeing as Moyes always runs for cover and chooses that setup when key players are injured. We should be taking teams like Metalist and Sheffield Weds apart, 3-0 or more, not stooping to their level and making them look good. Hopefully Weds nite will see AJ score and maybe Moyes will finally have gotten the message after yesterday’s performance at Villa Park.
scott sinclair
20   Posted 24/09/2007 at 20:10:55

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were always going to be unhappy when we have shite like hibbert and nevell they always give the ball away or play it back i am getting sick off it on the bright side we have cahill arteta gravesen to come back in they are our best players by far lets sack hibbert he in my worst everton team eva
Rupert Coghlan
21   Posted 24/09/2007 at 21:58:53

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Lets not kid ourselves, not even Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho could turn our midfield of the following:

NEVILLE (why why why cant we play him at righ-back)
JAGIELKA (admittedly a defender and so far I have no probs with the lad)
PIENAAR (who seems bewildered by the pace of things and is tiny) and
OSMAN ( who i think is a great squad player but lacks the pace or stature to ever become a great player)

....into a world beating, free-flowing, attacking, school-of-science unit.

If you take to the field with 6 defenders what do you expect? Without Cahill, Arteta, Grav we do look ordinary, but is it a surprise?

We dont have true strength in depth at all yet in the squad. Maybe up front, but even they have managed only 2 goals between them. Our starting XI is good, but beyond it is worrying. But that is because we are still in transition.

This summer we added 3 good players, and a couple of squad players. I’m sure in the next 12months we will add another 3 good players- hopefully a left mid, a centre mid, and a right back.
Sandy Brown
22   Posted 24/09/2007 at 23:06:42

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The problem I have with those who use the "we’re missing Arteta, Cahill, Graveson etc" argument is that, even when those players are available, we still play the same old predictable percentage game week in week out.

Like a previous letter said, Moyes sets out not to lose every game, first and foremost. How I long for an Everton side that kicks off with the aim of taking the opposition apart and humiliating them. Even if they didn’t succeed, it would be nice to see them try.
23   Posted 25/09/2007 at 02:19:17

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Hate to say it, however things would have been vastly different should that Fernandes boy have stayed. It would have given up a whole new dimension to our play (ball at feet/ pace etc). Moyes knew this & I sincerely hope that he is still chasing a world class (or like Manny a potential world class) all-round midfielder for the January window. Everything else is & has proved to be simply a patch-up job.

On a slightly different note, could we have some positive comments from here on in. As rightly pointed out by some of you, the next three games are now crucial. Let’s get together & let’s be together behind a team we NEED to believe in.

Let me start you off by saying that I believe in my fellow fans, in your intentions, in your football knowledge & your ability to will our famous colours on to greater things.

COY mighty mighty B!!
Brian Waring
24   Posted 25/09/2007 at 08:51:17

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Good shout Sandy.When Cahill and Arteta have both played,the football has still been shite,and the hoofball is still there.The problem with Moyes,is that he goes at every game with a defensive mentality.
25   Posted 25/09/2007 at 09:22:01

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Everton will never be able to play like Arsenal again..Thats the sad but simple truth
Andy Ellams
26   Posted 25/09/2007 at 10:01:14

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Moyes has to go. It’s as simple as that. He’s done a great job, but people now seem to be happy with mediocrity as long as he avoids the relegation battles. If Everton want to move on and the board are going to make money available, we need somebody who is going to use it wisely and know what to do with the players when they come. We don’t need massive changes to the starting XI, maybe even just a winger with pace and a manager with some guts.
Kevin Gillen
27   Posted 25/09/2007 at 11:03:47

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I don’t agree at all with you about Osman. I think he is a skilful player who is improving and is one of the few men we have who is comfortable with the ball on the floor, he also gets the odd goal. I also think you are wrong about Van der Meyde. His lack of ability defensively is criminal and he isn’t up to the Premiership. If i was a full back I’d rather have nobody in front of me supporting me than him. Yes it’s true we struggle without Arteta, Gravesen and it is really sad we didn’t get Fernandes, but this is a new team and it needs patience and support
Peter Roberts
28   Posted 25/09/2007 at 12:09:14

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The problem I have with those who use the "we?re missing Arteta, Cahill, Graveson etc" argument is that, even when those players are available, we still play the same old predictable percentage game week in week out.

That’s bull and I hope you know it, and are just being over-zealous about this.

I’ve been to the Blackburn game and Metalist game this season and the contrast between them couldn’t have been starker. When we play Arteta the movement around the pitch improves significantly. Against Blackburn we at least tried to create things on the deck, unlike on Thursday, hoofing the ball to AJ (DM needs to erase that mentality pronto as it simply will never work unless we’re playing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) The problem is Arteta’s our only creative influence on the pitch. We score more goals with Cahill because he should be deployed behind the front two and acts as a foil. Gravesen came on against Bolton and we suddenly started passing it again.

These three players are crucial to our team, and because Arteta didn’t play either on Thursday or Sunday, we looked a pale shadow of the team that played good quality football towards the end of last season post-Spurs at home. The fact we had virtually our reserve midfield on on Thursday night and Sunday shows the lack of quality in our team.

People say Moyes shouldn’t be in charge of our team; he has the tactical brain of a retarded ferret was a particularly jovial comment I’ve heard within the past week. But given the strength of our midfield beyond Grav, Cahill and Arteta, is it any wonder we play hoofball?

Can we be rational and wait until these three are back fit and playing. I know I’d much rather make a balanced view once we have our first choice XI on the field all at the same time.
Mark Atkinson
29   Posted 25/09/2007 at 13:35:30

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I have to agree with a lot of what was written here. We have not ’beaten’ teams in a game of football often enough. The first time we saw the possibility of this was when Fernandes was in the team with Arteta and we actually looked like we could out play other teams rather than just grind them down with Moyes’s (And historically Everton’s!) hard work ethic. This mentality has its benefits obviously and we want our plays to work hard and dig in but one player who has most definitely not benefited has to be Andy Johnson. We bought a scintillating striker who could sit on the shoulder of defences and his burst of place and lethal finishing would leave defenders in his wake and boof!..back of the net! Now he spends his days chasing lost causes running up and down the flanks. This is not what we paid £8.6m for! Don’t get me wrong I’m fan of AJ and I’m not getting at him, I just feel really sorry for him and can’t help thinking just a bit of him is secretly blaming Moyes for this lack of form and goals for being made to play the way he has been. Still Arteta is due back, Cahill a little further off and if Tommy G can come on put his foot on the ball and spray passes around like we know he can this team can achieve a lot. We have the players to do it but as much as i love Moyes when I watch my beloved team out there on the park I can’t help feeling that he is sometimes tactically, a least in the attacking sense, seriously lacking. All could be looking a whole lot better in the next week or so depending on results so all we can do is get behind our team and give be the best fans in the world like we always have been! Come on you blues!
30   Posted 25/09/2007 at 15:40:40

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Is it me or everyone now regards grav as someone we can’t afford to miss... its amazing tt a few weeks back, some guys were moaning abt him coming back, and now we’re missing him.

lets not lose faith guys... i agree with the notion in waiting for mikel, tim and tommy to be back first.. And lets not forget abt james v as well.. with him back, it’ll perhaps brighten abit of victor’s play. hasn’t anyone notice he’s been sulking even when he’s playing.. din offer any friendly tap when sub by Yak... he seems rather annoyed with everyone on the pitch.. i dun blame him, i almost tore my sofa set in disgust, but hes been picking unnecessary fouls, and losing the ball quite oft....
Dan Sedlak
31   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:43:42

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How does the attempted signing of Riquelme (assuming it true) fit into this theory? Moyes would have known full well that JRR would never do the defensive work he apparently ’demands’.
bobby walton
32   Posted 25/09/2007 at 18:14:51

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moyes has spent close on 80 millon pounds since he arrived how much has he spent on arteta great player cahill lescott baines very good players johnson jags yakubu the jury is still out on them and how much on shite
Andrew Emmett
33   Posted 25/09/2007 at 20:10:20

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I stopped reading this article after the first three paragraphs. What a load of rubbish once again crticising Moyes. Some "Evertonians" have such short memories. Would you prefer to go back to the Walter Smith era of "long ball football" with Campbell and Ferguson?!! Or the dogs of war style of Joe Royle? Do Arteta, Pienaar and Baines not "play the ball on the floor?!!" Granted Hibbert hoofs the ball every time he gets it but is that not the same as Earl Barrett or Richard Dunne when they played full back?!! I think most proper fans who have been the game regularly over the last 15 years would agree that this is the most attractive Everton footballing team for a very long time.
Dave Lynch
34   Posted 25/09/2007 at 21:02:54

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You are surely taking the piss with those last 2 lines.

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