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By Steve  Guy :  06/10/2007 :  Comments (2) :
I was more than nervous on Thursday night, I was bricking it. The importance of qualifying for the Group stage really struck home to me in the days and hours leading up to kick off. I remembered how gut wrenching the experience was two years ago and how it took the players until the New Year to get it out of their systems too (by their own admission). So it really was season defining stuff.

It was also about demonstrable evidence that the team is progressing. Much has been written on whether Moyes can "take us to the next level" and his inability to take us into the Group stage of a European competition or get a decent cup run has been held up as clear evidence of his being incapable of this difficult next step.

In his sixth year in charge both Moyes and HIS team needed to step up to the plate and deliver. As a banner in the crowd said "failure is not an option".

Well, they did deliver; but it wasn't pretty and at times it was downright atrocious. Tactics ? Given the players at his disposal and the need to get at least one goal, I think the formation wasn't as bad as some are making out. Rather, in the first half in particular I think the ocassion got to too many players (in the same way as it had to me times by a factor of 10 !) and they just didn't perform either as individuals or as a team. In the second half, Jo Lescott's early goal gave them the belief that they could get something from the game and it is to their credit that when Metalist scored again, the spirit to succeed remained. If we talk about progression then I would point to this aspect of Thursday in particular; a few seasons ago players would have gone missing but on Thursday they did not.

Another sign of progress now will be how they cope with playing two games a week for the foreseeable future (and hopefully to the end of the season), starting at Newcastle tomorrow. Cahill is only a few weeks away from fitness and hopefully Gravesen can add to the permutations in midfield soon. This is bound to help with the welcome pressure so many games will bring.

I would just like to say "respect" to the Blues who made it out for the game. Bloody brilliant support and what a night they had to remember in the end.

Finally, on a related note, I am surprised that, whilst the team's performance has been dissected ad nauseam, only a handful of contributors have applauded the fact that, for the first time in over ten years we are now into the meaningful stage of a European competition, 5th in the league (and moaning we should be higher), with a good chance of progressing to the League Cup quarter finals. This is as bright a start to the season as we have had in many a year, so can we try to enjoy it please, without the associated applause being a cause for cries of those clapping being "pro-Moyes" ?

Reader Comments

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Lee Penswick
1   Posted 07/10/2007 at 10:54:03

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Great article,Steve.Some of our fans will be forever unhappy.We all want beautiful flowing football.But surely first and foremost we want win games by hook or by crook.With winning comes success.Then we will be able to attract top players to bring us that beautiful passing game.
Come on all you negative blues!The cold facts are, we are 6th,were still in all cups,weve won three games on the bounce and weve got key players returning from injurie.
It really isnt that bad.
Neil McKinney
2   Posted 07/10/2007 at 13:22:57

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Well said Steve.

Just because you can see some positives doesn’t mean you are ignorant to the failings and doesn’t mean that you are necessarily "pro-Moyes". Just pro-Everton.

Likewise, I do appreciate that just because people slag off the performance, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are miserable or anti-Moyes. It is because people care that they feel so strongly and every Evertonian must know what that is like!

This site does have a tendancy to dwell on the negatives though and it’s sometimes depressing. Always good to hear that there are fans out there who, whilst appreciating our weaknesses, celebrate our successes.


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