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For the Good of the Game

By Kevin  Gillen :  03/03/2008 :  Comments (17) :
Everton Need to Make the Champions League For the Good of the Game

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

Reader Comments

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Sam Morrison
1   Posted 03/03/2008 at 17:07:46

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A good post Kevin - up to your point about the Champions League, which I find bizarre. The Champions League would only be demeaned entirely by having eight Premiership clubs in it. It’s supposed to be the league of champions; hence SK Brann and the like are justified in being there, and will occasionally pull off a shocking and exciting result.

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?
Alex Baker
2   Posted 03/03/2008 at 17:17:41

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It’s bad enough that there are four English teams in the CL. It is supposed to be a CHAMPIONS League, not a ’clubs finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th are allowed in too’ League.
Scott Eaton
3   Posted 03/03/2008 at 19:08:14

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The Champions League was only ever formed as a way of making rich clubs rich and keeping every one else out. The original European Cup was fine as it was,more of a Champions League than the current incarnation.
Steve Hogan
4   Posted 03/03/2008 at 20:24:33

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Some interesting points but you are way off the mark if you honestly believe the waster Van De Meyde has ANY part to play in the remainder of Everton’s season.

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.
Clyde McPhatter
5   Posted 03/03/2008 at 21:32:19

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How is it possible that in the last two weeks Vandy has been mentioned as getting some playing time? I pointed out to my mates that he would probably now be 15th choice in the middle of the field. We had 3 strikers on the subs bench yesterday and no one who could be called a midfielder by trade. Andy is just being payed his wages to show up for training before he goes to play in Serie B or C next year.

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.

Donka Doran
6   Posted 04/03/2008 at 00:00:56

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Hi all, I?ll confess I am too tired to read all the article now but after reading the begining I must point out I think the main man in the side must be the unsung Carsley. Ever since he came back into the fold after the first few weeks he has been immense. I think Moyes had him down for a Stubbsy type back- up this year but he?s proven to me and everyone else what an influence he is. When you consider the money paid for this type of holding player (ie Carrick, Hargreaves and that little shit Mascherano at the Shite) I would love him to be 6-7 years younger because he?s every bit as good as them. I?ll read the rest later but I?m sure it?s got a lot of good stuff in it. COYB
Eric Myles
7   Posted 04/03/2008 at 01:21:04

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Clyde, I only saw the first half of the Bolton game but they looked pretty good with their hoofball and getting it to their own men for a chance to score. They could have been 3-0 up at half time.
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.
Mick Wrende
8   Posted 04/03/2008 at 08:45:10

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Generally an excellent article though I feel it unwise to pick out 2 or 3 players as we all have our favourites. Granted Yakubu has added a lot with his goals and Pienaar has been a revelation but so has everyone else. We badly miissed Arteta down the right on Sunday and isnt it fantastic to have two fast central defenders.
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.
Nick Entwistle
9   Posted 04/03/2008 at 10:54:30

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Hands up who prefered the European Cup played on Wednesdays, Cup Winners Cup on Tuesdays and Uefa on Thursdays... each trophy meant something too, unlike the Uefa now which is like the league cup... not that I wouldnt mind winning it!
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.
Kevin Gillen
10   Posted 04/03/2008 at 12:00:49

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Thanks for your comments guys. As for Shandy Andy - think about it, we all have people at work who don’t quite make up in to what they can be. As a dedicated trade unionist I like to think that we should look at people’s potential, not their faults or failures. Marx thought that people had great potential if only they could be liberated from the shackles of Capitalism and the processes ofalienation.
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.
Neil Styles
11   Posted 04/03/2008 at 13:48:48

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Alot of interesting posts here guys. On the subject of midfielders battling for position (among them AVDM) is anyone else of the feeling that Manny Fernandes wont be getting a permenant contract with us? I say this because thus far he has under performed, Leighton Baines is being tipped to replace Phil Nev in the back with our captain playing a more midfield oriented role recently and with both Pienaar and Osman playing out of their respective skins, is there even a starting place for Manny? Ordinarily you would say the player needs to fight for his place but I just dont see Manny doing that with us-Id love to see him prove me wrong though.
12   Posted 04/03/2008 at 18:25:54

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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.
sean condon
13   Posted 05/03/2008 at 03:40:30

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I’m worried about Arteta, too, but six months ago success without him would’ve been unthinkable. By god, how far we’ve come.
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.
Tim Welsh
14   Posted 05/03/2008 at 13:39:24

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Good, heartfelt article.

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.

Michael Arteta
15   Posted 06/03/2008 at 05:09:53

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To those who say the champions league is a farce or prefer the return of the european cup are being hypocritical. I wonder how many of us would be singing the format’s praises if it was us and not liverpool contesting the competition year after year?
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?
Greg Doyle
16   Posted 06/03/2008 at 12:38:20

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Some interesting stuff there Kevin, I agree with you about our first eleven being superior to the Reds at the moment. There are only two or three players I would take from them at the moment.
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.
Paddy Gillen
17   Posted 19/03/2008 at 20:19:57

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Nice report Uncle Kev! Seems like you know your ’blues’!

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