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COLUMNIST JIM HOURIGAN

A little perspective please

By Jim Hourigan :  26/11/2007 :  Comments (26) :
Before you all jump on me and call me miserable or pessimistic ? I?m not; I was jumping for joy as each goal went in and screaming for a penalty despite already battering them. However, I think there has been a little bit of over reaction ? just like there often is when we lose.

Yes, you can only beat what?s in front of you and we did that with style; yes, the football played in parts was excellent; and yes, we scored some great goals. But let's be honest, the opposition was pretty damned poor. To play an aging, less than combative centre forward in midfield as well as a championship huffer and puffer did not really tax our midfield. The back four were appalling, particularly in the centre and generally lacking any idea at all.

We did batter them and we did play some really good football, Arteta, Pienaar, Yakubu and Cahill all showed quality in movement and thought, Osman had one of his better games and for me Valente showed that technique is more valuable than a blood and guts approach against poor sides.

However, can I offer some words of caution before we all go overboard. Sunderland are a bottom-three side and I suspect they will be there or around there all season. To date we have not beaten a single side in the top half of the table. We drew with Chelsea to get a great result but realistically we lost to a Newcastle side that the RS played off the park, lost to Reading, Aston Villa etc etc.

Yes Cahill is back and Yakubu is scoring but before I go overboard myself I want to see progress against sides in the top half of the table. If we beat Portsmouth on Saturday, with a good performance, then I for one will be happier than the result against Sunderland. Let's be honest we all expected to beat them and whilst none of us quite expected the result and the performance are we as confident going to Pompey?

There are clearly positive signs in terms of the football played and the fact that we have a fully fit squad but, and it?s a big but, players like Osman, who I believe has never performed against the better sides, need to show the same level of control against the better sides. I?m not singling out Ossie but making a more general point.

The football on Saturday was great to watch but did anyone notice that (according to my paper), they had more possession than us, a trend that has been evident in each of our last 5 games. Now against poor sides we can get away with it, but against better sides can we allow them to dominate possession and still expect to win in style?

Perhaps age makes me more cautious;perhaps having seen Campionship winning sides makes me more cautious. Yes I was genuinely pleased with Saturday's result, and the beer afterwards tasted really good, but remember ?one swallow does not make a summer?.

And before you call me a doom merchant don?t mix pessimism with realism and optimism with excess. If this is a step towards progressive entertaining football then I will be as pleased as anyone else, but I need more convincing than a thrashing of a poor bottom-three side.

Reader Comments

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Davey Harrison
1   Posted 27/11/2007 at 07:54:19

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I can?t disagree with you. Yes we are over reacting, but hey after some of the rubbish we are subjected to....
Your comment on possession is particularly interesting as its something I?ve noted but didn?t realise the facts of the last 5 games....our team tend to sleep - normally at the start of each half and the other team have the ball for 10-15 minutes, but interestingly whilst possession is going up we seem to let them play in front of us...the problem becomes when you give possession to good teams it only needs one pass to create a chance.....
Our whole midfield is guilty of not playing against the top teams....or is that the good teams stifle our good players....Arteta is becoming like Thierry Henry in that respect....but hey if we can beat the bottom ten teams home and away and take 6 points off the reds, we?ll qualify for Europe!!!!
Azlan Deniel
2   Posted 27/11/2007 at 08:09:01

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Jim, I would agree that Sunderland is a poor team but have u seen their away record so far this season?

The highest margin defeat for them was 3-1 against the Hammers. Also, Arsenal have only managed to beat them at the Emirates 3-2! Even Man Utd can only beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford.

So, credit should be given to the boys having to thrash them 7-1. COYB

Christian Vaughan
3   Posted 27/11/2007 at 08:19:30

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Jim, you are only as good as your last game and at the moment we are unbeaten in seven having drawn one of those at Chelsea..You make a valid point re the top half sides, but don’t forget we took points off all the big boys (Utd excepted) last year and have done so quite often in the last few years, so if you look at the wider picture we can all fit our stats to suit our argument.
We have also beaten Spurs who everyone thought would be up there in the race for a top four slot.
You make your points well though and it’s a good debate. We just need to keep at it and utilise the squad to it’s full to make sure we are still in there fighting on all fronts come the New Year. It’s good to be blue at this time, so I think we should just all enjoy it as you never know what’s round the corner..
Stefan Tosev
4   Posted 27/11/2007 at 08:38:15

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Jim I get your point but you should put the things also in perspective, we lost 3 games straight after our midweek adventures in Europe at times when our squad was depleted with injuries.

We are not world beaters still but I doubt that any side is relishing the prospect of playing against us. I will judge the team in January then we will have more answers to where we stay. If we are still in UEFA,Carling and FA cup and respectable league position (above six) then yes I would get carried away until then enjoy the football :)
John Welsby
5   Posted 27/11/2007 at 09:00:56

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Jim

I take your point mate but I don?t think anyone seriously thinks we?ll win the Premiership now or finish 2nd or anything.

But I do think we?ve suffered loads of poor results and crap football in the past 10-15 years and after a result like Saturdays - Yup I?ll go overboard!

It?s only 1 result; 3 points and that?s it. But I?ll remember it for ages!
Terry Knowles
6   Posted 27/11/2007 at 09:09:09

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Why not get a little carried away after such a good result? No one has said we are going to win the title. What everybody has said however is that it was a fabulous result achieved through playing exciting football. I don?t think many people have been ?going overboard?.
There will be other matches this season when we play badly and get beaten. That?s when we can reflect and be more realistic. Remember the hype when Liverpool stuffed Crystal Palace? I?m going to enjoy the moment and to suggest that we remain ?cautious? after such an impressive win is just churlish.
duncan lennard
7   Posted 27/11/2007 at 09:40:14

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Good article Jim but I’ve always thought the possession stat was one of the more misleading and meaningless anyway ? as illustrated by Saturday’s game. For example a team set up to counterattack might watch their opponents with the ball for 5 minutes before breaking away and scoring in 30 seconds. Also, and more relevant to Everton, a team in the lead might be content to sit and soak up a bit of pressure, as we perhaps did at the start of the second half. Not having the ball doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not in control of the match.
Jay Wilson
8   Posted 27/11/2007 at 10:27:27

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I’m glad you gave us till Tuesday before bringing everyone crashing down to earth with a bang. A win like the one on Saturday is to be celebrated, for a fanbase which is as maudlin as ours surely we deserve a week of unbridled optimism!
Otto Heinonen
9   Posted 27/11/2007 at 10:08:51

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What’s the point Jim?
Our team have had enough losses to remember what it takes to win. What’s the point of posession when the score is 7-1? Ok, we the fans might get carried away but deserve it. I am far away from Goodison while writing this from Finland, but every time I look or even think about our current streak or last Saturday, I feel like I deserve it after years of misery. And so do you, Jim.

Portsmouth? Bring ´em on.
Neil McKinney
10   Posted 27/11/2007 at 10:27:28

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Not sure who you’re telling to have a little perspective Jim, I’ve been on this site for the last few days enjoying the glow of our epic win on Saturday, but I haven’t noticed anyone getting too carried away. Most people have talked about the game as exactly that... the game. Not the season or the Premiership, just the game.

Everyone knows it was only Sunderland and it was clear to anybody just how poor they played, but we spanked them and we played well doing it. I will never get too carried away as far as Everton are concerned, they’ve let me down too many times, but one thing’s for sure, I’ll celebrate a 7-1 win as much as I please!

Try taking each game at a time Jim, instead of always worrying about the next. That’s the manager’s job not mine, DM and the players are the ones that have to keep their feet on the ground, not me!

Stats are full of shit, you can make them say whatever you want. I’m not saying that data collected cannot be learned from, but if you want to you can put any slant you want on a stat.

You make some valid points though Jim, I’m just not ready to come back down yet!

COYB!!
Seamus Murphy
11   Posted 27/11/2007 at 10:37:21

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I agree Jim - i will be much happier if we can beat Portsmouth away this weekend. There seems to be a huge gulf between the top and bottom halves of the Prem this season.
To beat portsmouth away will really show that we have improved hugely as these are now a top team.
Andrew Clare
12   Posted 27/11/2007 at 10:49:27

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I agree with the comments made by everyone but I think that it is glaringly obvious to all and sundry that we need a major prescence in the middle of the pitch.
Hopefully this will be remedied in January.
We have a great orchestra all we need now is the conductor!
Michael Newton
13   Posted 27/11/2007 at 12:18:49

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My concern with the present lineup is our inability to keep a clean sheet. That means we are going to have to score at least 2 on Saturday to win, the days of the ground out 1-0 wins are gone at the moment. We do have the firepower to get 2 goals though. I will therefore go for a 2-1 win on Saturday.
Lee Spargo
14   Posted 27/11/2007 at 12:35:34

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I’m not just excited about the result on Satrurday - which was great - but i’m more excited about the general feeling of being an Evertonian just now. It just feels as though we’re on the verge of something....
Tony Williams
15   Posted 27/11/2007 at 13:30:19

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God we are a misrable bunch of fans aren?t we?

Couldn?t even make it two days without the old, "Let?s be realistic" posts.

Why should we, as a bunch of people, we fans are an irrational bunch, why shouldn?t we go over the top for a little while and enjoy our selves, Why else would we sing, "We?re gonna win the league" at matches.

We all know we are not going to but the feel good factor remains.

Yes we could be realistic but why should we until reality is forced on us by a poor display or an unlucky defeat?

Enjoy it for what it was, I mean the redshite were claiming the league was theres when they beat Derby 6-0, we don?t go that far but let?s dream for a while.

I still have a smile on my face over Saturday and will have until the Portsmouth game, where it will be replaced by a nervous grimace when I am watching the game.

Realism........pahhh, I have no need for it just yet.

Come on you Blues
Steve Green
16   Posted 27/11/2007 at 15:42:09

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While Sunderland were abysmal on the day, what impressed me was we continued to go forward instead of sitting back. It?s almost been written in stone that once we get a goal or two up on a side, especially a weaker one, we take our foot off the gas pedal and end up squeaking out a narrow win or -- witness Man City last year -- dropping points in the dying moments.
As well, the added competition for playing time up front may have helped spark the outburst, so long may that continue.
Carl Rutherford
17   Posted 27/11/2007 at 15:56:33

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I think Lee about summed it up it great to be an Evertonian at the moment and its a fans right and perhaps duty to get carried away!

I think its worth remembering the following 3 points. 7-1 is the biggest the victory by any premiership side this season.
Sunderland weren’t bottom 3 when we played them.
We actually have a decent record against the top sides we took 9 points off the top 4 last season and were cruising 2-0 against Man Utd with 60 minutes gone. This compares favourably to most teams in the division. If anything in the past its being killing off lesser teams that has been a struggle.

So I say long may the current wave of euphoria continue and enjoy it while we can.
Michelle Burdick
18   Posted 27/11/2007 at 16:12:50

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[Michelle Burdick: your message removed; please contact us at ToffeeWeb Towers. Thanks]
Connor Rohrer
19   Posted 27/11/2007 at 16:26:55

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Whats the point in following football if there is no optimism and happiness. Where accused of either to optimistic or to pessimistic and that annoys me. I enjoy my football and love the highs and lows of the game. If there is negativity I will criticize it but if there is positivity I will be very positive.

You can only beat whats put in front of you and at the moment we are doing that and there has defiantly been a change in terms of how the football team is being played. I remember watching us at Goodison versus Blackburn earlier this season and all we could do was hoof it up to big AJ and Faddy. Now there is fluidity to our play. We’ve moved back to our favored formation and brought some more flair and skill into the team.

Sunderland may not be a top half team but they have spent more money than us over the past two seasons. They where put in front of us and we beat them. How longs it been since we’ve gone on a 7 game unbeaten run? Its been a long time anyway and under Moyes there hasn’t been alot of consistency. I think we won 1 back to back game last season and that was earlier on against Spurs and Liverpool. I’m very happy with the consistency and the level of performances.

I’d personally be happy with a draw at Portsmouth never mind a win and a good performance. Pompey are a very good team and they are very hard to beat at there ground. If the boys stick to there jobs, be tough to beat and show a bit of flair at times we could get something.

Where not the perfect passing team by any means. As someone pointed out Sunderland overall had more possession but we dont have a player in our midfield who can retain possession say like a Fernandes or a Gravesen. Pienaar, Arteta and Osman are players who like to move and run with the ball not hold onto it and spread the play. But playing them together has definatly improved our movement and technical ability and its better than watching the Neville-Carlsey partnership of the early season period.
Jeff Leahey
20   Posted 27/11/2007 at 16:40:46

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Agree totally, Jim. It was a great result on Saturday, but i fear we"ll be bullied into submission down there against Portsmouth at the weekend. I don"t want to put a downer on things but that midfield's a bit lightweight for me at times. I'd love to see an enforcer type player in ? a bit of a nark if ya like. Someone to put abit of steel and presence in there in the middle.

I remember Peter Reid often taking retribution on some tosser putting themselves about trying to upset the apple cart. If we"ve got funds come the New Year, I'd like to see that type drafted in (easier said than done, I know). I really think we could be on the verge of something special...

Art Greeth
21   Posted 27/11/2007 at 20:59:36

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The following breakdown shows the author of this article makes some valid points. Compare Everton?s form against top 10 sides to bottom 10 sides:

TOP 10 TEAMS:

HOME
P 3 W 0 D 1 L 2 2-4 PTS 1
AWAY
P 2 W 0 D 1 L 1 1-3 PTS 1

BOTTOM 10

HOME
P 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 14-3 PTS 12
AWAY
P 5 W 3 D 0 L 2 9-6 PTS 9

That said, if we can?t be euphoric when we have just twatted someone - anyone! - 7-1, then when can we be???

Nor do I subscribe to the view that Sunderland were poor and THAT?S why we scored seven. Check Sunderland?s league form and results against high ranked sides... they have played Arsenal, United and the poo and none of them took them to the cleaners.

How much of Saturday?s game was it down to Sunderland?s woefulness... and how much was it down to Everton?s slick movement and interchange that constantly pulled Sunderland player?s all over the park out of position...?

Don?t belittle Saturday?s result... it is an accumulation of consistently good form and a considerable improvement in the quality of football... our last 12 games read:

W 9 D 1 L 2 27-9 - impressive by anybody?s standards as they cover league, league cup and Euro games.
Ken Griffiths
22   Posted 28/11/2007 at 00:13:38

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Nothing can disguise the fact that Sunderland were absolute crap.Of course we have a better side than last year but others have improved too.Only by beating teams in the top ten can we hope to improve on 8th or 9th by the end of the season because everybody beats the ’no-marks’down below.
My hope is that we shall see more success in cups than of late and re-qualify for Europe via that route.I see little prospect of another top six finish!
Brian Wolf
23   Posted 28/11/2007 at 01:46:24

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Way to piss on my chips Jim.
Dave Griffin
24   Posted 28/11/2007 at 16:29:33

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It’s incredible to think that there actually are Evertonians out there who would have been happier to see us huff and puff to a 1-0 win. FOR GOD’S SAKE, LIGHTEN UP AND START ENJOYING YOURSELVES.
Kevin Campbell
25   Posted 29/11/2007 at 03:50:47

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Dave - TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU MATE!
Gary Clarke
26   Posted 29/11/2007 at 16:38:28

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I do agree with your point jim
but i am going to stay positive
i know we havent beaten the best sides this season but i think we will be a lot more consistant if we can keep the squad fit
and hopefully take a few big scalps along the way man urinals included.
And to ken griffiths
i think were well capeable of a top 6 finish
and maybe a cup too
coyb

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