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We've seen it all before

By David Jones :  08/03/2008 :  Comments (43) :
I, like many thousands of Evertonians, am of course completely gutted by our performance against Fiorentina the other night. Unlike many though, I am not in the least bit surprised by it. I think the thing that bothers me more than the performance, and I have felt the same in the past, is the vast number of Evertonains who are left scratching their heads after such a display and more worryingly, how so many are desperately scrambling to find excuses or justifications.

To me it is really very simple. If you take some time to go and look up Opta statistics for Everton FC from this season, last season, the season before..and then compare them to the 'Big 4' and even Spurs, another team who have enjoyed moderate success, you will notice something fairly obvious. The number of passes we play and the percentage of successful passes we make is WAY down on the top sides.

Now, what does this matter, some will say; surely it is results that count!? Well, in my opinion it matters a hell of a lot and the implications of such statistics are massive.

Surely, in any line of work, if there is a proven blueprint for success in your field, if YOU too want to be successful, you follow it, no?? If the top 4 teams in the country, the teams who are CONSISTENTLY the best of the best, play substantially more passes than any other teams, and more successful passes at that, surely it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that, in no small way, a certain 'style' is absolutely key to success??

Despite many Evertonians, starved of even decent football for maybe a decade now, eulogising and going way way OTT with regards the improvement in our style this year, it has long been my view that the basic foundations of our game, ie, simple ball-retention skills and a little composure, are missing completely and will, inevitably, always trip us up come crucial points in a season.

Last year, Manchester United at home, 2-0 ahead. Now, everyone knows how good a side Manchester United are, of course. 2-0 ahead, though, on your own turf, vociferous crowd behind you.... What does a good side do?? You see out the game don't you!!

That has never been a capability of our side in recent years though ? and it isn't now. To 'see out a game' or to 'take the sting' from a game, all you really need is the ability to control the possession to some extent. This doesn't have to be quick, incisive, hot-knife-through-butter Arsenal-esque Champagne football... just the ability to string maybe 10 passes together and shift the ball around, into space, to feet, away from danger will do just fine.

Outside of the top 4 in England, maybe due to the financial pressures of staying in our league, teams don't take chances. If a team tries to play out from the back and loses possession and concedes a goal, their world ends. Maybe because of this mentality, teams, nearly all of them outside the elite, ourselves included, tend to hit the ball from back to front fairly quickly. This is a tactic that we are comfortable defending against and, as much as we surrender possession through poor, unimaginitive, play oursleves, we tend to receive the ball back fairly quickly through the same logic.

When we face a top side however, or, bringing us to Fiorentina, a decent European side, we simply hit a wall. When we punt the ball and don't actually get it punted straight back at us it presents a problem we simply don't know how to deal with. Instead of maybe pressing the ball high up the park and trying to pressure these sides into mistakes, we invariably end up camped in our own final third leaving a 40-yard drift between our midfield and isolated attack. The ball drops to a defender, maybe Joseph Yobo, and he does the only thing he knows....HOOOOOF!!!

Having sat so deep, though, there is now no midfielder, no Timmy Cahill, no Steven Pienaar, no Leon Osman to fight for the inevitable second ball as they are penned 40 yards behind the play. Worse still, the opposition, being used to playing another way, don't immediately hoof the ball back to us...and so the cycle goes on.

Common sense tells you, in the end, more often than not, something will give. It's one big vicious cirlce. The midfield cannot press forward because the defence are not composed or good enough to be trusted to find them with possession and in sitting deep it means that even if the long punt does find a forward it is only a matter of seconds before he is engulfed and loses it again.

It is my opinion, one that I have held for a while, that in mnay ways we have put the cart before the horse in the past. We have signed players fundamentally to get short-term results but at the cost of putting the basic building blocks in place that will allow us to achieve our ultimate goals. This is certainly something that can be put right but to put it right we first need to recognise the problem.

I repeat again, ALL of the successful teams in this division play more passes and more successful passes than any of the other sides, vast amounts more. Quite simply what that tells us is that the style needs to change.

What that then leads onto is another question, a question of bravery and of committment. Clearly these changes need to be made in order to give us a chance of any tangible success at any point in the future. What if the changes come to a short term detriment though, is that something people can handle??

Footballers of worldclass talent who maybe don't base their game around lunging into challenges and running around like headless chickens will need to be integrated to make things work, the likes of Manuel Fernandes for example. If many recent opinions are anything to go by, though, the answer from many blues would seem to be 'no thanks, I'll stick with Lee Carsley'!! That would be the same Lee Carsley who's performance on Wednesday, with all due respect to a great servant and very decent human being, was completely inept.

You then have to look at a couple more of 'the usual suspects', Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert. I must admit, even I myself after some of their occassional decent displays will find myself thinking 'maybe he's ok after all'. No, that is what we need to get out of. We have seen the pair of them produce displays like they offered up the other night so many times.

The time has come, if we are really serious about competeing, to say 'enough is enough'. These guys are never going to make the grade and it is these same players, consistently, lacking the ability and bottle to produce the goods in big games when put under pressure.

Joseph Yobo is another one. I read on 'The Peoples Forum' last week a post that made me chuckle at the time. "Yobo is one of the best in the world" someone said. A few agreed, I was gobsmacked!! Here is another lad who, on his day, can look a world beater. Trouble is he can't master the basics, like passing to a blue shirt, like taking time when you have time and hoofing when you have to. Yobo is now an experienced player, an international captain, he should be leading by example, quite simply he isn't though. Depsite his superior physical talent when compared to the likes of Hibbert and Carsely he is, IMO, equally if not more of a liability than either of those lads when it comes to the crunch.

Every debacle I can think of more or less in recent memory... Bucharest, Kharkiv, Bolton, Aston Villa, West Brom etc...Yobo and one of his numerous clown displays has been at the very hub of it. How many times can we let him off the hook and say 'he's learning' and look to make excuses??

I am sorry but for me his performance in Florence was BY FAR the worst of any of our players and the panic that he creates amongst the rest of our team by absolutely losing his head when we are put under any pressure says to me, beyond any doubt, that he isn't up to the job. Sentiment needs putting aside, do we want to win things or do we not?? You do not win things with a centre half who aims flying slicing kung-fu kicks at aimless punts into your box when put under no pressure whatsoever, simply not good enough.

The problems are there for all to see and if you think it through logically and minus the blue-tinted specs, things are fairly simple I believe. Many of the commentators who cover our games pick up on these things yet blues will happilly label them 'negative' or 'kopites'. It's a fools paradise I'm afraid.

The answer is simple. Get rid of the hoof merchants, the dead wood. Carsley, Neville, Yobo, Hibbert. These players have no place in a successful Everton Football team. If they want to stick around and offer options, fine. If they are first XI picks though we are on the road to nowhere.

On top of that Mr Moyes needs to further refine his strategy and approach. He has improved, no doubt..we are not there yet though. Far too many of our players resort to the hoof as a first option, not a last resort. It is really pushing the boundaries of common sense to think they would continually do this if it resulted in the hairdryer treatment from the manager. What Davie needs to do is look at the best, see how they do it and begin the long hard process of duplicating that.

We have enough good players now to ensure we will not get into any serious trouble in the process and a fundamental change in style is crucial to our development. Let the players be brave. That goes for the fans too. If Manuel Fernandes squanders possession 5 times a game whilst building his match fitness, instead of being so short sighted and naive and getting on his back, try and appreciate that he is the only player in the squad capable of whipping a 40 yard disguised ball into a forwards feet inside the penalty area without a telegram or flapping of arms!!

In a slight adaptation of the words of The Sex Pistols I think there are a lot of people who 'know what I want but don't know how to get it'. I know what I want and I know how to get it.

I just hope David Moyes does too.

Please though, instead of walking around in blind faith and talking up average sides like Fiorentina as 'just too good' or putting these performances down to 'just one of those things' or hiding behind 'we've had a good run' ... have a little think about it in future. NSNO, keep the standards up and keep looking to excuses required. Let's hope Mr Kenwright will give DM the support he needs in the summer to start replacing the 4 or 5 players that are clearly not going to be coming with us if we are ever to hit the heights we all aspire to and finally get another tin pot on the mantle piece!!

Reader Comments

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Steve Pendleton
1   Posted 08/03/2008 at 06:44:02

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Great article David. You?re dead right!! The players you have named are squad players at best. Of the lot only Yobo would get a game in a top ten team in prem league. Can you really see either Carsley, Hibbert or Neville getting a game for any teams in the top ten?? I for one can?t.

Like you say, tough calls need to be made during the off season and I personally wouldn?t resign Carsley, Hibbert or Neville because their cheap and give us 100%. We need to move beyond that thought process and of course we need some fucking investors to jump on board for this to happen.
Kevin Mitchell
2   Posted 08/03/2008 at 09:07:34

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100% spot on David.You’re watching the same game as me.
How many of us cringe when we see Nevile in midfield with Hibbert at right back, we know exactly what were going to get.
Hibbert at best is a championship player who is a decent tackler but is a liability in all other departments.
Central midfield has been a black hole all season. I can’t remember a game this season when we have dominated through the middle, even in the Sunderland game, which sounds ridiculous given the score line. We’ve had success this season against teams below us because were pretty solid at the back with a decent keeper and crucialy can score goals.
How about applying for the no. two job David.
Paul Joy
3   Posted 08/03/2008 at 10:03:05

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David - it sounds like you should be supporting someone else not Everton. Pure vitriol mixed in with some sense but you state the obvious - yes my missus would like to shop at Harrods with money no object - but she can’t she has to go to Asda and Tesco’s. Same for Moyesy - class costs big money mate simple as that and we just have not had it for a long time. We are improving gradually but be realistic without a major sugar daddy it won’t happen overnight. Be patient and trust 1 of the best managers around.
Arthur Jones
4   Posted 08/03/2008 at 09:54:55

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I agree with everything you?ve said David. Our abiity to lose possesion in central midfield when Cars and Phil Neville play there is at best embarrasing. Let's just hope Manny is fit for the return game and hope DM plays him. We?ve played really well this season despite our shortcomings which speaks volumes about the better players in our team.

I really hope Moyesey stops the 4-5-1 policy and reverts to 4-4-2 with AJ and Yak terrorising defences. At least when AJ plays we have someone who can chase down the misplaced pass and cause havoc when a good through ball is played, which never happened on Wednesday. Tim Howard gave us a small chance of rescuing our dignity... lets hope we take it with both hands!!

Christopher Mowll
5   Posted 08/03/2008 at 10:47:39

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What a nice depressing, pessimistic and unconstructive article. One bad result and all of the Carsley, Hibbert and Neville bashers come out of the woodwork ? and now you?re adding Yobbo to the list?

Why not detail the whole team and list everyone?s flaws, David? What about Arteta?s inability to deliver a decent cross? Osman being too lightweight and easily knocked off the ball? Cahill not being able to tackle? I know, lets us put to one side all of the good football we have played this season shall we, and let's just focus on the negatives?

And as money appears no object to your grand plans David, why don?t we just replace the whole team? £150 million should do it? Ok, £200 million then. So - where would you prefer the money to come from? Shall we sell out to a Russian ?business man?? What about an Asian ?business man?? How about an American corporate machine then? What would make YOU happy?

We have a team here for the first time in years who all want to play for Everton. They share our passion and they have been delivering the right results on the pitch. There are no champagne Charlie?s in our team, just honest footballers, some with more skill than others, some with more flair than others, but all with a passion for Everton FC.

For the second time in 3 seasons we are up there with the Sky 4, and it is all on our terms. The future is looking bright ? so don?t forget that.

Stay off the Gin and get on the beers this weekend, and get behind the team that we have here and now.

Tony Connor
6   Posted 08/03/2008 at 11:07:00

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Steve Pendleton

?The players you have named are squad players at best. Of the lot only Yobo would get a game in a top ten team in prem league?

All the players mentioned regularly play in a top ten side, and their contribution along with others is WHY they play in a top ten side.

Sheesh, it ain?t rocket science is it?!
Steve Pendleton
7   Posted 08/03/2008 at 11:20:53

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Tony Connor, you?re in dream land if you think those players would get a game for Tottenham, Blackburn, Aston Villa et. al.

Granted, Moyes does seem to get the best out of these players but their limitations will eventually hinder us if we have aspirations to be contenders in Europe. It ain't rocket science is it???
David Jones
8   Posted 08/03/2008 at 11:25:31

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Paul Joy, your response is typical of the kind of excuses people hide behind "it’s all about money, we aren’t Chelsea"etc. What I am saying is it is not about money, more to do with a basic footballing philosophy. I mean, that Fiorentina side that just turned us much is it worth?? How many of their players have you heard of touted as the cream of european talent?? At the end of the day mate they are a collection of technically proficient yet average players. The problem I have is the players I have listed for criticism cannot even master the basics..when put under ANY pressure they are not even techncially proficient, if i’m being honest they are carthorses. Look up the opta statistics and see the point that I am making for yourself. I don’t believe that it is JUST down to four poor players, there has to be an element of management instruction there also. That is why I say Moyes must be brave. Maybe a more expansive style that starts from the back will cost us goals here and there, maybe a few points. Long term these building bloks need putting in place though, what is the point otherwise?? If we are not going to win a competition personally I would rather see us go out at the first hurdle and let the players rest up. I think everyone must agree, in these knockou competitions, when it comes to crunch time, we don’t even look like winning anything because quite simply we don’t have the basic disciplines to fall back on.
Shaun Cook
9   Posted 08/03/2008 at 11:26:36

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Cracking article I must say not full of negativity but realism I feel. We have a good first eleven which could be brilliant if we get rid of the crap ? Neville, Hibbert, Carsley. These players can tackle......that's it ? and offer nothing else, we all know that. I mean Neville and Carsley in midfield is a joke and not good enough to test the top teams. Carsley is out tomorrow so at least we are spared that debacle.
Jip Foster
10   Posted 08/03/2008 at 11:55:37

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I think the same could be said of the vast majority of British players - somthing behind why the national teams do so poorly despite their apparent talents.
Tony Connor
11   Posted 08/03/2008 at 12:48:15

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I don?t give a monkeys whether those players would get into Blackburn (8 points behind us), Spurs (21 points behind us) or Villa (5 points behind us)

That doesn?t matter

The facts are:

These players play for Everton

Everton are a top ten TEAM..ergo I DO see them get a game for a top ten side

As to whether the are of sufficient in quality as individuals to form part of a team to see us rampage through Europe...well I doubt that but that wasn?t the initial point you made was it?

David Jones
12   Posted 08/03/2008 at 13:22:16

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Tony, you must surely accept that if the players mentioned aren’t of a sufficient quality to play for teams below us then they are most certainly not good enough for us?? I can’t understand why anyone would consider that point irrelevant. The fact that those teams are below us is more than likely because they are weaker than us in other areas, or we have been together as a side longer or, dare I say, we have a better manager!!

With regards to "ramoaging through europe", I don’t like talk like that. To me it is a silly comment and detracts from the real debate. Our performance the other night wasn’t just below par, it was pathetic..embarrassing. Bearing in mind that, if you accept my earlier logic, Fiorentina are real nothing more than an ’average’ side..surely you can see there is something in between being embarrassed by such a team and "rampaging through europe"?? It becomes tough to debate anything when those kind of terms are introduced because it then becomes and argument of either "we are the bestest team ever and Davie Moyes is God" or "we are absolutely the worst team going". How long before someone says "remember what it was like under Walter Smith" I wonder!!??
Alex Storm
13   Posted 08/03/2008 at 12:47:00

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Agree totally with the post. I believe that we have a good team, a potentially great team but the most obvious and glaring defiency in our game is playing possession football.

9/10 the opposition have more possesion and create more chances in a game than Everton. We don’t often play teams off the park but we do have a greater team ethic, work-rate and convert a better ratio of chances into goals.

The football has definently improved, few would disagree with that but not to the extent to which many seem to think that it has in my view. Even when we face lower League opponents they often come off the field saying "you couldn’t tell the difference between the two sides, we had plenty off the ball and had opportunities to win the tie but premiership players finish their chances when they get them" they rarely say the same thing when beaten by other premier league teams.

It’s the inability to dominate a game to control and be comfortable after taking the lead which I think its stopping us from progressing into a REALLY top side. The likes of Hibbert, Carsley and Neville I think have to be sacrifised if we want to play attractive, expansive football and compete on the field against the very best. Hibbert and Carsley, though limited can at least do a job, although I doubt a top ten team would have either one in their starting eleven.... but Neville I’m struggling to think of one decent FOOTBALLING attribute he possesses. Tackling? Passing? Heading? Pace? Creativity? Technique? If so he disguises them well.

Under Moyes we have improved significantly I had my reservations as to whether he could succeed as Manager at our club but I am happy to say I have faith in what I have seen him doing at Goodison Park over the last year or so and think he could be the one to bring a long awaited trophy back to this club.

What I would like to see him implement along with our confident and winning football is FAR better keep-ball when in possession (most premier league teams can pull off 15-20 pass moves comfortably whilst we often struggle to string more than 5-6 passes together before cheaply surrendering the ball and inviting further pressure)

Despite this we are still one of the top six sides in the Premiership overall if we could just improve in that area and If we could find a few quid down Kenwright’s old sofa in the summer for a couple of transfers I think we could take it to the next level both domestically and abroad.
Michael Hunt
14   Posted 08/03/2008 at 16:10:37

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Good article Dave and there is a lot of merit in your points. It is too simplistic though e.g. Carsley actually win and retains possession well and gives it simple (like Makalelee and Mascerano), Cars’ pace is OK e.g. as quick as Makalelee who is regarded as the best in that role. Cars is getting old though so needs replacing I agree. Jagilka and Lescott can both pass from the back and Yobo is great in reserve. I agree re. Hibbert and Neville though. If the likes of Gosling can’t step up then we may have to spend a lot so hope Moyes gets the funds needed.
Moyes has commented that he wants to change the style and has done so to a degree this season. It could be that our key personal get fit soon, plus Fernandes, and that would help no end. IF Fernandes does not reach his potential though, Moyes will likely need to spend big to get the quality centre midfield addition we are crying out for.
Ben Jones
15   Posted 08/03/2008 at 17:05:08

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For god sake.. Yobo has one bad game and now let’s get rid of him, some people say here. It’s ridiculous.. he’s been playing really well for us recently except for that one game. Basically the whole point of that article is buy a creative midfielder.. i could have said all of the article in a sentence! It’s ridiculous!
Jay Harris
16   Posted 08/03/2008 at 17:12:06

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Good article but I totally disagree with lumping Carsley and Yobo in with Neville. The problem lies with midfield and we have seen this for a long time.
The other night the whole team were crap so let's not judge people on one game. For me pienaar and Osman need using sparingly depending on the opposition. So I do believe we need 3 new midfielders not 1.
Defenders will always come under pressure if the midfield is not looking for the ball or not going into space ? especially with a five-man midfield.
I may upset some people but Pienaar is not good enough for a top team. He is mostly good going forward but too lightweight and piss poor at winning the ball back or defending.
Neville just needs dropping ? no more needs to be said.
Hibbo is a good backup for RB but no more than that.Carsley is a proven international who is now being caught up by time but is still our most consistent player.
Paul Rigby
17   Posted 08/03/2008 at 17:33:59

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Great piece, David, and bang on about Yobo. His performance was atrocious. The trouble with us is simple: under pressure, mediocrity will out. Boy, is there a lot of mediocrity in our team.
David Jones
18   Posted 08/03/2008 at 17:41:25

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Ben, no, that is clearly not the whole point. Buying one creative midfield player will not stop Joseph Yobo having no composure in big games, it will not turn Phil Neville or Tony Hibbert into players of a technically acceptable standard for this club and it ill not knock 10 years off Lee Carsley!! I expected a few to defend Cars and I deliberately made a point of acknowledging his excellent service and attitude, the fact remains though that he is nowhere near good enough anymore. The fact he os often lauded as an undsung hero is that he plays a more limited role than maybe any other central midfield player in the Premier League. I am sure there are countless players out there who could be considered a success if their only duty was to patrol a 20 yard square and break the play from time to time. Sadly, in this day and age, a central midfield player needs to cintribute infinitely more than that. As I also said, it is not just about changing personel, it is about doing more work on the training ground. We still play far too direct, despite what some will have you believe, and some of those players who play the ball direct ARE capable of far more. Someone made an excellent point earlier and it was very true. He said in 9/10 games, even in victory, you find we have less possession than the opposition. I don’t think it’s 9/10, but maybe 7/10 or so but the point stands. Looking at our league position you would expect that to be the other way around in our favour. It is my view that, at the moment, we still win a lot of games based on a very simplistic tactic of having a great, solid defence and having enough individual attacking talent to pinch something at the other end. What I think we need to develop is a more sophisticated, deliberate, pre planned and heavilly praticed system of attack that is built around proper ball retention and extra movement off the ball. Due to the poor standard of sides we face most weeks domestically people kid themselves into believeing we are a lot better than we are. Only when we face an actual good side, like one of the top 4, or a decent european team, does the penny even begin to drop that, at times, we can still look absolutely clueless.
John Owens
19   Posted 08/03/2008 at 18:49:03

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There really is some crap being said on here. We ARE a top ten team and have been for some time. Two top ten finishes in the last 3 seasons and well on target to do it again this season.

We are nowhere near the top 3 and will never be until we can afford to attract a number of top players - to do that we need to be qualifying for the CL on a regular basis - that is where the real money can be generated.

The club has done magnificently this season with the limited resources available to DM. To replace Hibbert, Neville and Carsley with players who could get into a top 3 team would cost £25 million at least! Money we haven’t got. So for gods sake get real.

The biggest disappointments for me this season are that Fernandes has failed to impress at all and the injuries we have had to Osman and Arteta. If all three had been available and playing well our peformances would have been better and maybe even the results might have generated a few extra points.

Den Martell
20   Posted 08/03/2008 at 20:16:30

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Spot on!
Steve Hogan
21   Posted 08/03/2008 at 21:07:53

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Watching Everton is admittedly, frustrating at times, we are nearly there, but always seem to be 2/3 players short of being a top side.

Whilst I admire much of Moyes's work, albeit on a limited budget, we have never really addressed the issue of having a top-class midfielder with real stature and physical presence.

Wouldn?t you love to see someone making a great tackle, then spraying a 30-yard pass with the outside of the foot?

Also, I wouldn?t lay the blame solely at the players' feet, I?m not sure defenders are encouraged to play the ball to feet when bringing the ball out of defence by the current coaches or managers.

Maybe that will be the next piece of the jigsaw, and also part of Moyes's development as a manager?

The close season should be an interesting one in the transfer market if the manager recognises the concerns of the fans in strengthening the team.

Then he has a real decision to make concerning his own club captain (where does he fit in) as we look to really take the team to the next level?
Jay Harris
22   Posted 08/03/2008 at 22:26:42

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Spot on John Owens.
It was only a couple of years ago that everybody was critisising Yobo for staying on the ball looking for a quality pass.
The back 4 will always look shite when the midfield is non-existent in front of them.
With the exception of Carsley, who have we got who can make a tackle or defend when we have to and please nobody say Neville because he couldnt tackle a wet fish.
We haven't got the money to buy the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Makalele or Essien so we have to have 2 players for one which is why we look better with a 5-man midfield.
Then if they run their bollocks off and all play well as a team it almost compensates for the individual lack of talent in midfield.
That is why it looks like we are playing 12 men when we come up against the top teams.
I hate to raise it again but if we are going to compete we need a moneyed chairman.
Ottar Gadid
23   Posted 08/03/2008 at 22:51:46

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We aren’t the real deal yet, and we have a long way to go. But some basic elements of this argument are flawed: Fiorentina are currently fourth in the Serie A, they beat Juventus away at the weekend and sit some four or five points ahead of Milan, who won the Champions League last year (admittedly they are on the wane, but still). They have Mutu, who showed his quality in his first half season at Chelski (and then his affinity to white lines not made out of chalk), they have Montolivo and Pazzini (who scored a hat trick for the Italian U21s at Wembley), else they are considered an up and coming team with a weak recent history (like us). Losing at their ground can happen, although it isn’t pleasant.

Second: The criticism of the players: Against a team of skilled offensive players away in Europe many teams would play two defensive midfielders; Milan played Gattuso and Ambrosini, Real played Diarra and Gago, Arsenal played the rather defensive Diaby on the wing in addition to Fabregas and Flamini. Now, our two best defensive midfielders are Neville and Carsley. We surely need another, but those two have showed adequate in more than one game this season. If Mikky and Manny are injured, I assume that most of you would rather see Neville than the Grav, who combines erratic passing with lack of grit.

Yobo lacks stability, granted. But he is still a good player, and he has improved massively. I at least trust Moyes to bring him to unknown heights. His physical attributes are there, and there is no reason that his development should stop now.

Good right backs are at a premium these days. How many good ones are there in the prem? Chelski and the Mancs don’t really have one, Finnan is crap, that leaves Sagna in the Sky four. He is good though. Else there is Eboue (who is a liability), Chimbonda (who is leaving Spurs, blessed with a team spirit of the level of Pennant, Cashley Cole and Reo Coker), Hutton (9 bleeding million) and... Noone. No wonder Chelski almost paid 30 million for Alves. And considering this: Hibbo is not a good passer of the ball, does not have much technique to boast of and is not particularly pacy. Still, he has tamed Petrov, Ronaldo and pretty much everyone else he came up against. To win a football game the most important thing is that your back four can _defend_, not attack with flair and verve.

We have our history, and I am no proponent of the kind of crappy football played across the park, but keep in mind: we’ve played some good football this year, for example against Arsenal. And the only way that players will be prepared to play that way is if they know that they can fail, not that every misplaced pass is a goal against like for the barcodes. There can be no doubt that as long as Hibbert and Neville are first choices we won’t win the Champions league, but Moyes knows this. We don’t have unlimited funds and build our team with patience. Until we are there keep off the boys’ back, they are part of something that will hopefully be better than they ever will be themselves.

And a 2-0 away loss isn’t decided. Let’s hope that is proven twice in two weeks at Merseyside this year.

Come on, Toffeemen
Colin Grierson
24   Posted 09/03/2008 at 06:27:57

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Moyes has done an unbelievable job when our financial situation during his tenure is taken into account.
I’m sure Moyes knows the limitations of players such as Hibbert and Neville. He must get as frustrated as the rest of us when the passes go astray. Hibbert never cost us anything and Neville didn’t exactly break the bank.
The players Moyes has introduced more recently (Lescott, Piennar and Fernandes)all look to play football and pass the ball well generally.
Some people on here seem to disregard the financial constraints that Moyes has had and still has.
Given these constraints, Moyes has worked miracles!
I think anybody who knows anything about football would agree that if we are to challenge theclubs at the top of the Premier League and European sides of note then we can’t afford ANY weak links in the side.

I think it is unfair that Carsley is being lumped in with Neville and Hibbert. We will need to replace him soon and it wont be easy with the funds we will have available. HIs role has been crucial to our success and it is in this area we need to invest next. The problem we are experiencing at the moment as a group of fans is that of unrealistic expectations. We are starting to experience a modicum of success. We’ve tasted it and we want more.
It’s tough to be patient when you’ve waited so long for silverware. I personally wouldn’t swap Moyes for anyone else. In Moyes I trust and I urge you to aswell.
Peter Corcoran
25   Posted 09/03/2008 at 13:59:04

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I predicted last week that a posting of this sort would be ready and waiting for when we didn’t play well.

Why did you wait for a poor performance to materialise? How long has your article been ready to send? Why did you not air your opinions before the inevitable time when we played badly.

Regarding the quality of some players not being good enough to play for some clubs below us - absolute rubbish. Who would have said that the likes of Wayne Clarke, Alan Harper, Paul Wilkinson and a good few others would have been good enough to play for teams below us in the 1980s?

Have you been to many games this season, because I think that we have at time (and for prolonged spells) played some really good football and for you to focus on so much bad makes me wonder why we are not fighting relegation.

If things are so simple DJ why are you not a coach managing a top flight football team? How would you cope with the finances that EFC have?

How long did it take for Chelsea to get where they are today?

How much have Chelsea spent to get where they are today?

Where are Chelsea in the Premiership and does it represent value for what they have spent?

Everton are building a good team and it takes time and patience. Despite my previosu crticisms of Moyes I am prepared to give him time to improve things further. We just do not have the money to buy success.

Before Chelsea, who were the previous team to buy succcess and are they above us in the table now? Answer - Blackburn Rovers!

By the way the only statistics that matter are the Premiership points gained and our position in the table. Maybe I can be accused of being unambitious but I would have taken what we have now at the start of the season.

However, here is one statistic for you. Arteta is the most fouled player in the Premiership.

..... and here is another one. Everton have not been awarded a penalty in the Premiership this season

...two statistics that seem to be at odds with each other.
Darrel Pugh
26   Posted 09/03/2008 at 19:10:21

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What a load of crap, so Dave Watson one of our best ever centre halves could pass a ball compared to Yobo?????? Gary Stevens compared to Hibbert technically gifted????? Carsely cant pass compared to Reid?????? We obviously need Tiler. Linderoth, Tony Thomas and we will be fine. In fact David, Moyes should hand you the transfer budget a we will be fine.
Sonny Phillips
27   Posted 09/03/2008 at 19:37:50

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Ottar, Colin, Darrel and Peter, well said lads.

By the way that liabilty, Hibbert, has just given us (arguably) a man of the match performance at Sunderland.
Pfff, another crappy 3 points playing shite unimaginative football.

Players being coached well and playing to their strengths is what it?s about (and I mean the ones we actually have at Everton, not some fanciful signings some people WISH we had).
Steve Ryan
28   Posted 09/03/2008 at 22:11:43

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Excellent article however if you were honest, you would add Jageilka to list of players who are incapable of passing a ball with Lescott is not far behind.
Paul Price
29   Posted 10/03/2008 at 03:07:55

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These accusations at our players are tiresome, it would be ok to moan about Hibbert had he cost us any money. The guy is poor at crossing and passing, but I dont think you can fault him for supressing a wide attacker. For a player who cost nowt I don’t think you can complain.
Yobo has a bad game and he’s public enemy number one, in the early stages of the African Cup of Nations he was said to have had a "perfect game" by a Times or Guardian critic I’d love to see the day when one of you Toffeeweb pessimists bestows such compliments upon the boy for just one of the great performances he puts in frequently.
And you’re all talking rubbish about Carsley, he’s one of our best players. Diarra would have been a good replacement for him once he retires but that would cost £6m, money we don’t have, or need to spend. Cars is class.
Oh and the comment about the Man U game last season was ridiculous, we all know it wasn’t the team that let us down, it was clearly Ian Turner who was awful.
It’s not a game of Football Manager, god knows i’d like some brazilian wonderkids holding the backline like Marcelo or Ratinho but it’s fanciful.
To get serious commitment from admitedly lackclustre players is fantastic, that alone is worth it’s weight in gold, as you can see by our league position. On the subject of hairdryer treatment, you cannot implemented hairdryer treatment unless you have options, yeah let’s bollock Yobo for his hoofball on the back of this Fiorentina game despite us having not lost a game in 2008 yet. Let’s have him all nervous and jittery for the next couple of games, cos we wll know that self concious players are class (see Paul Robinson) Sometimes people have bad days, get over it. We gave them too much respect, the weather was poor, we played into the wind in the first half which destabilized us.
Also: Mo Money, Mo Problems! even if DM had the backing to go out and buy these expensive players there is no guaranteeing they are going to be class (see Afonso Alves) and bad signings add pressure to a very able manager. I think we are better using utilitarian style players and forcing them to commit wholly to our fight. Also the lack of money forces Moyes to think about signings with his head rather than with the amount of money he has. So in this current state we get wholly commited (if not technically brilliant) players who cost relatively little, a manager with little pressure and a team that is unified. That is what football is about, there’s no skill in counting how much money you can spend.
I just can’t comprehend the posting of this type of lambasting article. Why is it even relevant when you consider our league position? Yes, the article is mainly about Europe, but you can’t use one performance to employ sweeping generalisations in full knowledge of the progress we have made. Liverpool have money and they have spent a lot of it, tell me many points do they have?
Jimmy Rimmer
30   Posted 10/03/2008 at 09:30:30

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I agree and have said the same thing on here myself.

The point for me is that I?m really grateful for the job Moyes has done on such limited funds to turn us into a consistently good, winning side. We are now competing for cups and high league placements. I?m happy and enjoying the ride.

BUT I think Dave Jones is right. IF we want to take the next step, we need to get some more footballing footballers. It?s no coincidence our improvements this season have been married with, Osman?s form improving and the introduction of Pienar.

I?m not demanding new players now but I?m hoping Neville, Hibbert, Yobo, Carsley get phased out. Carsley however only due to his age and Yobo unless he gains some composure. You cannot expect to win games against good opposition regularly by lumping it to them at every opportunity.
Dan McKie
31   Posted 10/03/2008 at 10:46:11

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I cant believe some of the comments about Yobo being rubbish, I really cant! He would get into most premier league defences no problem and I include Arsenal in that (I mean c’mon,Senderos??) ! If he is hoofing it out of defence all the time then it must be because he is being told to do so in training otherwise the likes of him and Jags would get rockets up their arses for not following instructions! I think we are just starting to see a little panic in our play as we get to the business end of the season which I hope does not continue, but also I dont believe Davey Moyes and his staff are quite brave enough yet to start letting our centre backs take too many chances!
Tony Williams
32   Posted 10/03/2008 at 13:12:03

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The problem lies within the midfield area of the pitch. When our back four get the ball they look up and if the midfielders haven’t made themselves any space, what do you expect a defender to do? I haven’t seen many defenders go on a mazy run and take on players (Apart from Le Arse)

Therefore option is left for them but to try and punt it upfield to the forward line or pass it back.

I know Hibbert constantly gets stick for his passing but if you actually watch him, he always looks for the simple pass to Arteta, who makes space for himself. The only time Hibbert hoofs the ball, usually out of play, is when a poor ball is given to him and he is under pressure.

Neville on the other hand is simply colour blind!!

Phasing out it!!!
Greg Doyle
33   Posted 10/03/2008 at 15:49:36

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I wonder if Chelsea fans are calling for their players heads after their shock defeat at the weekend.
Gareth Humphreys
34   Posted 10/03/2008 at 15:27:35

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Time for a bit of perspective me thinks.

We are having the best season we have had for a long time - Semi’s in the League cup, great run in Europe & only 2 points down on last season’s haul despite not yet reaching Mid March.

Irrespective of this, the doom merchants are out there and this is because in football with any club there is always room for improvement. Football fans are never happy and always want more - as such our own motto will always be used as a stick to beat us with.

Exactly what is "the best" in our motto ?

Football is a team game and whilst I would like Carsley to actually be Patrick Viera, Phil Neville to be Genarro Gattuso and Tony Hibbert to be Cafu unfortunatley it ain’t going to happen. It’s horses for courses and if you put 4 dogs in the middle of the park it ain’t going to be a game for the purists but there’s a fair chance we won’t conceede too many. Likewise if we pack the middle of the park with Osman, Pienaar, Arteta, Fernandes & Cahill we would look great going forward but Tim Howard would probably spend most of the 90 minutes diving around his penalty area.

I do not want to come accross blinkered as I understand the limitations of Hibbert, Neville e.t.c but I also understand their qualities and that is why they are in the team. Players get picked for what they can do not what they can’t. I suppose it all comes down to if you are a glass half full or half empty type of person - this season despite the horrible defeats to Oldham and Fiorentina the glass is definitely half full. 2008 league form reads P9 W7 D2 L0 - give the lads a break and lets start praising what is without question the best squad we have had for 20 years.

In answer to my question regarding our motto, to me I think you can interprate it as being better than you were the previous year and making progress. As such I think we are living up to that at the moment and I think that is because and not in spite of Hibbert, Carsley and the Club Captain. A club Captain who has 6 title’s to our clubs 9 !

Footnote - I have excluded Jospeh Yobo from this article as in my humble opinion he is pretty much irreplaceable. The untouchable Joleon Lescott is playing left back not beacuse we are short of left backs !
Dave Whitwell
35   Posted 10/03/2008 at 16:32:26

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I think there’s some merit in the post, yes we are all aware of the technical imcompetencies of some of our players as I sure Mr Moyes is. The crucial difference between us and the other chasing teams, with the possible exception of Blackburn is money.

If fernandes was at any of the others i’m convinced they would buy him in the sum as he offers something different, the difference being if he doesn’t fit immediately then they can afford a couple of others at similar values. i.e bent £16m for spurs.

Moyes at this stage prefers to buy a dead cert, those that give him 100%, thats because its a results game and he knows how to get results.

Think about it almost every season he has got us outperforming genuine expectation. I’m sure everyone of us this year would have settled for Uefa cup qualification via any route, and before anyone brings up Barnsley/West Brom/Cardiff and Spurs all showing the way in the cups, I bet all of those sides would swap with Everton’s league position and that is the only way of genuinly assesing the consistency of our season.

The logic is simple, we don’t have money to speculate on flair players so we have to get that through improving incoming streams, i.e high place finishes, potential champions league and TV revenue. We do that by getting honest hard working players.

When Moyes arrived stage 1 was building from the back, we now have a goalie and defence that are hard to break down, then we all said we needed strikers to score goals, this year and last we have added goal threats with Johnson & Yak, next up the final chapter before competing with the best a mobile & passing midfield. I’m sure that is Moyes priority for the summer.

In Moyes we Trust!
Andy Burke
36   Posted 10/03/2008 at 17:26:18

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Some fair points but why focus on all of the negatives!!!!??? The glass is always half empty eh??

Are we not 5th in the premiership, playing better football than we have for years and up until recently were having an excellent run in the UEFA cup? Which, by the way, I still don?t believe is over.

Of course we need further talent to improve. Of course we need to be better to beat the Uniteds of this world.

The main thing is though is that we are improving.
Mark Varela
37   Posted 11/03/2008 at 17:03:10

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My view is this:

- Yes, our squad is having a great season this season and has done well over the last couple of years with 2 European qualifications and a top 4 finish. This does not detract from the lack of quality in our play or our squad and our ability to produce better results - as found out by Fiorentina and I believe will be cemented by another defeat tomorrow night.

- Yes, Carsley in particular does a job that proves worthy in some matches but he is not good enough for where we want to be in terms of quality. Same goes for Hibbert, Neville and Yobo.

- The reason I say this is to ensure that we never become complacent as fans. Do not settle for what we have now, but strive for what we want next. Otherwise what is the point? Let’s get real. These guys are professional sportsmen and do not need molly coddling. They need to have the best demanded from then and if that is not good enough we need to replace them.

- Much of this rests with Moyes and his tactics and some with the players, finances, board etc. Most will agree that Moyes is doing his job well but now needs the backing to buy the right sort of players at the end of this season to ensure we continue to progress. If Moyes had the financial backing of RB then we would expect more but he hasn’t so we are saying ’job well done so far’. Now the board must back Moyes and he must continue to move the team on in terms of quality and results.
Chris Williams
38   Posted 11/03/2008 at 16:29:12

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Interesting debate for the most part with some good points being made. I suppose the point is that the team is very much a work in progress. Arguably this has been DM?s approach from day one. He?s really had no option given the state of what he took over and the cash available.
Yobo was his first signing who stood out like a beacon compared to what was around him. Carsley and Hibbert were also among his initial teams too. They also were among our better players.
Since then over a number of years, regulars like Naismith, Unsworth, Myrhe,Simonsen, Stubbs Linderoth, Ferguson, Moore, Radzinski, Pembridge have been quietly moved on. Others like Beattie, Kroldrup and McFadden have been bought and moved on and I suppose in time VDM. will follow them.
And of course there was Rooney.
The replacements have been Martyn and then Howard, Lescott, Neville Jagielka, Baines, Valente,Arteta,Pienaar, Osman, Johnson, Yakubu. Osman, Anichebe and Vaughan have come through the ranks.
This has taken six years so far. Rodwell looks to be the next one coming through maybe with Gosling, Ruddy, Jutkewiecz too.

Slow and steady - coat according to cloth - baby steps but undeniably an improvement over time.

DM talks about ?the next step and money? doubtless a hot topic during the upcoming contract talks, but that iswhere we are. We are currently 5th 6th or 7th standard with an ability to overachieve a bit because of management and fitness and organisation.
But we can?t beat the best even occasionally really.
The next step(s) will include some of the issues aired above. Any team with Wessels, Hibbert, Osman, Carsley,and for a different reason - Anichebe, in their first 16 on a regular basis is not going to compete with the rich 3. This does not take into account the current shortfall in midfield as well.
So look to see another 3 players coming in next season and maybe one on loan. Two could be midfielders (plus Pienaar) plus a versatile defender, plus a striker.
Then the same again the following season.
We will definitely be better than now provided we buy well, but whether we gain ground on others will depend on what they do too!
David Jones
39   Posted 11/03/2008 at 20:08:13

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Wow, one of my points being endorsed by no less than Fabio Cappello himself.............

"The Premier League is a very rich tournament," said Capello. "It’s full of star players, the best strikers such as Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Dimitar Berbatov and Emmanuel Adebayor play here.

"The top four clubs, and I would also include Tottenham in there, play a different type of football from the rest with a winning formula."

I must say, I really do know my stuff a touch don’t I!! Maybe Fabio read my submission??
joe headliner
40   Posted 12/03/2008 at 17:10:15

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cmon, yobo the hoofballer..what a joke...and a joke no one is laughing at, no wonder howard is under more pressure than he needs to be.

Awell written article, and bang on!
Hibbert and shrek’s brother neville...simply cant be relied up on to pass the ball, let alone string a number of passes together. This isnt about 1 game its about the whole season.
Neville is the real issue here, 99% of times he gets the ball, you can guarantee he will pass it to anyone but a blue shirt...jeez he struggles to make a 2 yard pass let alone anything meaningful. Hibbert is just as bad with his passing..atrocious is being kind to the pair of them.

Cars while be a great stalwart for the club over the years, should not have been resigned this season..the only reason he was, as I presume it to be, is the fact moyse couldnt get anyone else in to fill that position. Funny how most people outpace him...he is now simply too old.

The reason we have been so good, is because of Lescott and Jags at the back, trying to make continous ammends for the errors that neville or hibbs makes. True we have a great goal getting in the Yak, and it’s him we can thank for our current placing, along with lescott and Johnson to a lesser degree.

The issue we have here is financial cant turn neville into a world beater and a passing god, nor turn the years backward with cars. What we need is investment...the kind Davey needs and has demanded to change the style of play he envisions for the future success of the club in winning things.

With neville, hibbs and paranoid yobo in the box, i just cant see us winning anything at all.

It’s ironic that the matches we have played well in this season, has been against poor sides...we sit back and shite ourselves should we take the lead against the bigger teams...look at manure and arsenal...whilst playing the arse of the pitch, they still wallop us badly...why? atrocious defending, cars being outpaced.

Jason Broome
41   Posted 13/03/2008 at 04:58:04

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There is a reason why I waited to respond to this thread. I knew the weak willed would jump at the first sign of trouble. We lose one game & everybody?s an expert.

Kick them while there down. Where was your thread when things were going well? All of a sudden our players are shit, should be sold and we aren?t moving fast enough. Don?t tell me you still feel the same after what you witnessed last night!

In a short sighted, paleolithic period of premiership boom and bust David Moyes is a uniquely evolving entity. A craftsman who is willing to learn. He has mastered the hardest aspect of management. Hence the reason why you can only criticise the aesthetics and not much else.

Thanks to Moyes, Everton stand upon a foundation of consistency, hard work, loyalty, passion, determination and a player by player love for our club. Only Manchester United, Aston Villa & Arsenal can boast of the same.

The players have realised that Everton is more than them, the manager, the stadium & even the fans. It is an institution predicated upon an ideology that reaches as far back as 1878.Greame Sharp still walks the Goodison hallways, still loyal to that ideology, still living the dream. Look into Cahills? eyes and you will see the same. You will see that playing for us has again become special.

Yes we have flaws and I guess you did well in finding them, but Rome wasn?t built in a day. In the here and now a new era has officially begun. We are a European club, a global brand, a team that stamped it?s authority on Europe and went out winning!

I?ll admit our one-off Keystone cops performance left us looking like the Clampetts, but Opta statistics aside? the league doesn?t lie. We are equal to the team that passes more than anybody. And compare our Opta statistics with last season and the season before that and you will see that we have improved. However emotively pushing the bar way too high will always leave us coming up short.

Like us the founders of our motto lived in reality and they knew that our greatest challenge is overcoming our own limitations. And as of now I am proud to say that we are giving nothing but the best!

? In Moyes we trust!
David Jones
42   Posted 13/03/2008 at 17:39:01

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Jason, behave yourself ma.."one off keystne cops performance"..."Opta statistics aside". Why don’t you just go the whole 9 yards and say "your entire argument aside"?? It wasn’t a one off at all, it was a repeat of something, like the title said, that we’ve seen many times before. Last night proved how poor Fiorentina really are and whilst I am immensly proud of the lads display it also highlights, again, how the complete ineptitude we showed in that first leg has cost us so dear. We can get better and I am sure we will, please live in the real word though.
Jason Broome
43   Posted 13/03/2008 at 23:18:23

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Cute. Only natural that you would defend your article.

Riddle me this Batman, Don?t tell me your whole argument was primarily based on Opta? Was it?

Spurs haven?t won the league since 1961, but boy can they pass! Chelsea can?t pass water, while Liverpool complete more passes in a minute than a seasoned quarter-back, yet haven?t won the league in 18 years. What is your point?

One performance does not a season make. The Benny Hill Horror show that it was does not detract from our progress this season.

It took Man Utd years to perfect their continental style (by playing continental football). We have only just arrived, and Moyes gets a year. In time we too will build a team capable of adapting to continental challenges, as for now? relax.

I cannot believe that your only solution was a fire sale! How would that help with team moral? The Opta teams you mentioned are competing in the high end of the market. When you can?t buy your way through a season you have to inspire, motivate and make do with what you?ve got. David Moyes has done that brilliantly.

Further, what world-class players would come to Everton, on our wage structure, yo-yo Premiership placing, vastly limited funds, non-existent European pedigree, and hollow trophy cabinet?

Fact: Everton cannot jointly oligopolise the juicy European places therefore we are restricted to a smaller pool of talent. Of that talent Moyes has bought well.

Over the years Osman has taken more hits than Elvis, yet he was MOTM against Fiorentina. Don?t tell me he hasn?t improved. Not good enough for the top ten sides, right. Funny how the media are touting him for England!

The truth: David Moyes has raised expectations so high that for some he is not allowed to lose. When he does the knee-jerk artists crawl out with arguments reiterating nothing new? that the unholy trinity of Carsley, Neville & Hibbert gripes their arse? Yawn!

In future let me save you the muscle cramps and finger spasms? WE KNOW!

Over the next three years I will understand your article arriving on my desktop, but for now David Moyes is exceeding his fiduciary expectations and will continue to do so!

Oh and one more thing? Fiorentina weren?t ?poor,? we were just fucking brilliant!

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