Every fan in the country outside of those scoundrels collectively known as Liverpool fans should be cheering on Everton in the forthcoming weeks. The domination of the top four clubs in the Premiership needs to be broken for the good of the game. That my club, Everton, appear at the moment best placed to do just that is a source of immense pride.
This year I have managed to get to a number of games including sitting amongst the Mancs at Old Trafford. I have noticed the great improvement in our play in general and have no wish to return to the aimless football endured for the previous 20 years.
Three players seem to have influenced this, Yakubu, Pienaar and Lescott, closely followed by Arteta and Cahill.
I was in contact with my brother and other season ticket holders following the win at Man City. We were all agreed that this team is the best team we have had since Kendall and Harvey?s teams of the 80?s Yakubu seems to be the linchpin demanding the ball to his feet and refusing to chase aimless balls into the channels, a role performed far more ably by Johnson. Moyes must take great credit for his adherence to a five man midfield. Strangely enough a five man midfield appears to offer far more attacking creativity and entertainment than a four man midfield with two strikers.
I like Moyes for a number of reasons. He repeats several mantras that are profoundly sensible. We all love a good football transfer story and can?t wait for Riquelme to sign but Moyes constantly reminds us that the most important players are those already at the club rather than those about to arrive or those who we wearily dream about arriving.
I also like the way he has dealt with young players at the club, Rooney being the exception as it seems clear we were not in a state to hold that young prodigy at that time an that he had little option other than to fight a losing battle to keep him. The handling of Vaughan, Anichebe, Hibbert, Osman and now hopefully Kissock, Rodwell, Baxter and others seems to me to have been expertly managed. Other young hopefuls such as Fox, Gerrard and Hughes are pursuing careers at more appropriate levels with the prospect of some considerable success.
Moyes has demonstrated considerable loyalty to some players and loyalty in an uncertain world is an admirable virtue. He has reluctantly let go several players (Stubbs, McFadden, Naysmith, for example) when it appears to have been in everyone?s interest for them to move on.
The squad size also is about right in my opinion and mirrors Mourinho?s beliefs about team togetherness and cohesion. The wasteful years of having several disgruntled egos undermining the team?s efforts from the sidelines by demanding games or transfers seem over under Moyes. Underachievers, admittedly some bought under Moyes, are swiftly moved along (Beattie, Kroldrup) the exception being Van Der Meyde who may still have a part to play and who has been unlucky with personal problems and injuries. In a successful season like this one, most of the first team squad members have had opportunities to seize a first team place at some stage of the season and this appears to me to have made competition for places very healthy, enabled individuals to commit themselves to the club under long contracts and silenced dissent in favour of a group togetherness. The club on the pitch at least seem all to be pulling in the right direction.
Moyes? handling of the media is perhaps a little dour. He doesn?t raise the media?s expectations of sensational transfers. When faced with grandiose speculation about what his team can achieve, he dampens the media?s enthusiasm. When invited to rail against officials (and this season he has had lots of reasons to rant and rail, for example, the Clattenburg derby, the Blackburn offside, the Tottenham Johnson/Huddlestone penalty award, the Eduardo handball, even against Man City who fielded three goalkeepers?) he bites his lip or will refuse to blame the officials. His favourite word seems to be ?No? as another searching question falls into the void. I?m happy with this as long as we continue to progress with results.
It is with regard to Europe though that I would like to make my point. The Champions League has enabled the top clubs in Europe to develop their global brand to such an extent that only a prolonged period of successful qualification for the Champions League will break this oligopoly. Furthermore what the pathetic showing of the Norwegian Champions against Everton demonstrated to me was that the Qualifying Stages of the Champions League provides little more than warm up games for the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal. I don?t want to denigrate our achievement against SK Brann but in reality I think they along with a number of other teams in Europe would not survive the rigours of the Premiership. Reasonably the top eight teams in the Premiership should enter the Champions League in my opinion.
It is amusing to see Liverpool demean themselves by losing 2-1 to Besiktas only to wallop them by a cricket score at Anfield but we are in danger of killing off interest in competitive European Football if the same teams laboriously contest an even more uncompetitive competition every Tuesday and Wednesday night through our Winters.
I am looking forward to us contesting the Champions league for seasons to come, I feel our best X1 surpasses Liverpool?s and I am looking forward to confirmation of this in the Anfield derby. I regularly talk with reds now that I no longer live in the city (where it was hard to meet reds) and they are a disgruntled lot at the moment. I think it is only a matter of time before Hicks, Gillett, Benitez and Gerrard all leave Liverpool and they leave Anfield for a 30,000 all-seater stadium under the Bestway Loop or closer to their fan base at Spaghetti Junction in Norway, financed by Osama Bin Laden.
Keep up the Good Work
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1 Posted 03/03/2008 at 17:07:46
It’s incredible you could blithely suggest the league changes to a point where it’s basically a way for the richest to get even richer whilst ’undeserving’ champions watch on the telly at home. Don’t Norweigans deserve their moment in the sun?
2 Posted 03/03/2008 at 17:17:41
3 Posted 03/03/2008 at 19:08:14
4 Posted 03/03/2008 at 20:24:33
Both parties are simply ’running down’ the remainder of his contract whilst the player shows no ambition whatsever to gain first team football anywhere else in Europe, either on loan or a permanent deal.
Shameful, he deserves no sympathy whatsoever.
5 Posted 03/03/2008 at 21:32:19
On the other hand, I agree full well with the Champions League comments you have made. But, that’s why its called the Champions League and that’s how they seel the TV rights all throughout the EU and the rest of the world by including those ducks like Brann and others. But right now the league has the best teams in Europe in this stage, and so does the UEFA (except maybe Bolton). I would love to hear what Tony March would say after watching Bolton yesterday. They played hoof ball like it has never been seen in these parts. There wasnt a ball played to feet for minutes at a time in that match.
6 Posted 04/03/2008 at 00:00:56
7 Posted 04/03/2008 at 01:21:04
Unfortunately OUR brand of hoofball only results in giving the ball away to the opposition and doesn’t provide us with any scoring chances. Which is why WE should not be using those tactics.
8 Posted 04/03/2008 at 08:45:10
Also to me Moyes has led the charge against referees with his comments about the dreadful Clattenburg - so true that the Premier league had to drop the charges and crawl away.
Finally yes the Champions league has become a farce - some of us remember the days of the European cup where only the true champions played. How we went out to Inter Milan and that disallowed Roy Vernon goal at Goodison. No instant replays, no silly pundits but by heavens we all knew we were robbed that night. Sorry I have digressed.
9 Posted 04/03/2008 at 10:54:30
There’s 50 nations within Uefa... that’s enough for one team from each nation to play in the European Cup... but then if it was to revert to this then you’d get the G14 types break away and form their own Euro League... money money money.
10 Posted 04/03/2008 at 12:00:49
I have seen Toffeeweb commentators round on Jagielka earlier in the season and pleaded for patience with him. Also many commentators put the boot into McFadden, and I strongly objected to that as the boy is a genius. If it wasn’t for the Eduardo injury that game would be remembered as the McFadden game the other week and I really hope he has a brilliant career with Birmingham, he has talent no doubt. Great win v Portsmouth. As for the RS v Bolton game another cast iron example of their pact with the devil, how did Diouf, Cahill not score and just how does Bolton’s goalie (I can’t spell Jaskelainnen) let that opener in? My dad and the local Catholic priest were convinced they had done a deal.
11 Posted 04/03/2008 at 13:48:48
12 Posted 04/03/2008 at 18:25:54
I picked up on your post.
I cant see Baines replacing Neville at RB but I agree that Fernandes has not lived up to expectation so far.
I am also concerned with the Arteta injury?and the frequent visits to Spain.MF is already our achilles heel and I do not like Neville there at all so I hope we can get through to the summer without too many injuries/suspensions particularly in MF.
13 Posted 05/03/2008 at 03:40:30
The unsung Osman, though still frustrating at times, has been integral to the attacking creativity of the club all season long.
Many fine points in yr post, Kevin. And a little schadenfreude at the end was nice.
14 Posted 05/03/2008 at 13:39:24
Just one point. SK Brann weren?t that good, but you can only beat the opposition that are in front of you; a win is a win, and winning can easily become a habit.
WE MUST ENJOY BEATING ANYONE.
15 Posted 06/03/2008 at 05:09:53
It’s a champions league in name only but the addition of top 4 teams from the best leagues surely makes it the best competition in terms of quality. wouldn’t you rather measure yourself against teams like sevilla, milan, barca, bayern, roma, sporting etc (teams who did not win their leagues last year) on a fortnightly basis than against champions of minnow leagues?
16 Posted 06/03/2008 at 12:38:20
Not sure about the Champions league bit though. Platini is talking of taking a CL place away from us at the moment, in my opinion he should show some balls and cut it back to one per country or leave it as it is. All taking the EPL down to 3 will do is reinforce the stranglehold of the big 3.
17 Posted 19/03/2008 at 20:19:57
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