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COLUMNIST KEVIN SPARKE

Consistently Consistent

By Shaun Sparke :  16/02/2008 :  Comments (14) :
We all have our different views on how well we are performing this season, some of us seem delighted with the progress that we are making and continually argue that real progress is being made. Others like to offer a different point of view and suggest that some of our recent performances have not really been up to scratch and are just waiting for the inevitable implosion that we have witnessed on far too many occasions in our recent past. I must admit, I can?t help it but I tend to sway towards the latter point of view, as I have witnessed far too many false dawns during my 42 years as an Evertonian to be truly convinced that we can once again start to reach a level of consistency that will see us challenging again for honours.

Whatever my own feelings of insecurity may tell me though, there is indisputable evidence that we do seem to be getting it right on the pitch. Let us stop to consider that since 20 October 2007, nobody ? and I will repeat: nobody outside the top three have managed to beat us in the league home or away. That is nearly 4 months of the season.

Ah, I hear the dissenting voices cry, why should we exclude the top 3 from this statistic? Well my reason for excluding them is that if we look at a comparison of any other season, we have not put a run like this together at anytime during the Moyes reign. We have had good runs but we have come nowhere near reaching this level of consistency against the teams who we are currently competing against to grab that vital if not over hyped 4th spot.

We have achieved this despite still having a relatively small squad in comparison to other teams and we have also done this despite having three of our most influential players this season away on international duty. If, and I admit it is a big 'if', the team can maintain this form for the remainder of the season then surely even the most critical amongst us will have to concede that maybe we are finally making the sustained progress that Moyes has been talking about for so long.

I would love to see us playing the type of exciting football that we have produced on a few occasions already this season, but life isn?t like that. I can remember the glorious teams of the 80s playing crap at times; however, that team consistently got results and you always seemed to have the feeling that we were never going to get beat ? it was a bit of a shock when we did.

This team is now playing like it doesn?t believe it is going to get beat when we play anybody else other than the top 3. What we really need to do is to start being more competitive against the top 3 and start turning good performances into good results. We should never have got beaten by Arsenal at Goodison, we out-passed them for much of the game and it was a delight to watch, then suddenly the implosion that I alluded to earlier occurred and we ended up losing. Likewise, we were competitive against Man Utd at Old Trafford for much of the first half, and then we seemed to lose our self-belief and threw it away at the end.

If Moyes can instil into the players that they are good enough to challenge the top three, then, with the consistency we have discovered against those around us, I can see no reason why we should not be up there challenging for the top honours on a regular basis again.

Please let?s not start congratulating ourselves on a job well done if we manage to finish 4th, but let?s look back and ask questions as to why we didn?t finish higher. I don?t want us to be the 4th best team in England; I want us to be the best.

We have to strengthen the squad for the start of next season; the Board MUST come up with the money to do this. We have a glorious opportunity to oust those across the park from the position of superiority they have held over us for far too long. We have to grab this chance and not let it go to waste.

Reader Comments

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Keith Glazzard
1   Posted 16/02/2008 at 17:14:19

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I think the stats fom European competition this season can be fairly added to the ’consistency’ argument. OK, so the club record wasn’t set against Inter and Barca, but our players and coaches have adapted to different environments, conditions and styles (including refereeing) without fear and with belief.

And thank heavens Moyes has no truck with ’rotation’. Only the super-rich think this has anything to do with putting out your best team.
Karl Masters
2   Posted 16/02/2008 at 17:35:27

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So far, so good for the most part.

We must hope to have a bit of luck and avoid too many injuries for the rest of the season, but other than that there is a real possibility of Top 5 and a sustained run to the latter part of the UEFA Cup.

At the start of the season we would have taken an improved League finish on last time and 2 good Cup runs. Of course, we want more, but shgould that not happen, we should still keep a sense of perspective. We’re going forward, the only question is how far and how fast? By mid May we will know.

Until then, we have to support the Team and trust in Moyes.
Robert Jones
3   Posted 16/02/2008 at 19:40:01

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It’s looking good.
Peter Bourke
4   Posted 17/02/2008 at 09:06:27

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Good points, Shaun.
One of the main differences this season is that when we play below our best we still seem to manage a win or a draw. In the past if we had an off day we would lose.
I am looking forward to having our full squad available, because I think we could finish off the remainder of the season undefeated if we have an injury-free run.
Maybe I'm too optomistic and a bit of a wishful thinker but why not???
Tony Williams
5   Posted 17/02/2008 at 09:56:41

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I think the article about Moyes and the feeling of permanance on the home page show what a good season we are having and the depth of the squad and the unique "togetherness" that the shite can only dream of having.

We have had a lot of injuries this season, especially to our midfielders but even then we have somehow managed to get results.

Our squad, albeit small, is the best I have seen in a long time and the board do need to keep supplying Moyes with their backing, however, I feel that even if we didn’t bring anyone in over the summer (not including Peanut and Manny) I would not be as upset as I would have been in previous years.

We need a stronger midfield but the one we have now is none too shabby, Cahill, Arteta, Manny and Peanut, small but skillful with the bite of Cahill. Defensively and upfront we are fine.

I am a optimist and feel that we are on the verge of something great we just need that missing X Factor (groan) player to push us on.

If we would have had the same kind of injuries in 2005, we would have dropped like a stone but the squad we have now gives me the feeling that some type of silverware might be coming within a few season, fingers crossed.

Bloody hell that was optimistic for a Sunday morning
Sean Condon
6   Posted 17/02/2008 at 18:48:37

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I agree completely that we shouldn?t be looking at 4th place as some sort of ultimate goal.
I refuse to believe that the current monopoly will continue forever. I know that there is no logical argument to suggest that the power structure within English football will change anytime soon, but you just never know. (Y?know, Blair was once seemingly unassailable, and even those fuckin gangsters in Washington looked bulletproof in late ?01. Things change.....eventually.)
No team outside the monied three have accomplished ANYTHING like what Moyes has built at GP on a shoestring over the last 5 yrs.
Call me blindly optimistic, but if we could just get a little more depth in numbers..........
Alan Shearing
7   Posted 17/02/2008 at 19:39:11

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Sorry to piss on your parade but as a real lifetimer I just know it will go tits up! It always has, always will, it?s Everton. You will live to learn that you enjoy each good day for the pleasure it provides but never, never, think that it?s the beginning of something good because it NEVER, EVER is. When we won the League in 1970 we were the greatest ? the next year the pits. Then Howard took us to the peak then Heysel happenned and he pissed off. Then there was Joe ? the one season wonder. It always end in tears and all too quickly. Just you wait and see!
Tony Williams
8   Posted 17/02/2008 at 20:52:46

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Alan, I still share some of your worries but this is a completely different team to the ones before. How can you possibly know for certain that it isn’t the start of something good?

How has it always gone tits up? Didn’t the dire side of 95 win our last trophy?

I know that being a Blue carries with it some depression but I would get the waccy baccy or prozac out if I were you mate.

Have some faith in the squad we have and the good players we have amassed and believe brother.............well until it goes tits up that is!!
Mark Morton
9   Posted 18/02/2008 at 09:26:13

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Even better....... I think you?ll find that it is the top two that we are undefeated against.
Laurie Hartley
10   Posted 19/02/2008 at 10:38:34

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Calling all pessimists - your wrong :). Your gonna see something special happening for EFC over the next few months.

We will be great again.

COYB
David McMillan
11   Posted 19/02/2008 at 15:04:32

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Moyes is an excellent manager, he’s done superbly at Everton. Long may it continue.
Trudy Boston
12   Posted 19/02/2008 at 17:27:02

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I will always remember the afternoon of the derby match. You know, the one where Phil Neville was nearly decapitated by a horrible looking man with a melted face and being denied a stone-wall penalty from a official who was somewhat out of his depth. I was livid that afternoon but four months on I can look back on that unfortunate episode with a spring in my step. From that day on we seemed to grow in stature and instead of wallowing in self-pity we got on with what was required and the best form of the season has been post October.

Look at the sides that have emerged victorious from the old lady so far. United only won it with a goal from a player who scores once or twice a season at best late on, and apart from a second-half capitulation against wengers allstars no team has had it their own way at Goodison this year. Only the semi-final maybe. Even on the road we have done so well. A trip to Eastlands, or wastelands would be more appropriate, holds no fear even if they have a formidable home record.

I just hope we don't get complacent on Thursday and just except victory when we really can turn on the style and send a message to the rest of Europe that we mean business.
Ged Dwyer
13   Posted 19/02/2008 at 23:53:41

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Liverpool get beat by Barnsley and they are a club in crisis. We get beat by a lesser club Oldham and we?re making progress?
Tony Williams
14   Posted 21/02/2008 at 09:45:46

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"Liverpool get beat by Barnsley and they are a club in crisis. We get beat by a lesser club Oldham and we?re making progress?"

That is correct, look at the league table, we are above them in 4th place, I would consider that progress.

They have dropped out of the CL places so that does constitute a crisis for their club.

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