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Where do we set the bar?

By Anthony Newell :  19/03/2008 :  Comments (11) :
I just read Tony Marsh?s article and it?s hit upon something for me and it explains why there will always be angst between supporters who are happy to file away defeats like Fulham (and going out of the Cups) and those who simply demand more and won?t rest until we get it.

Maybe it just purely comes down to a generation thing - if you had the fortune to witness mid-eighties Everton in their pomp then it familiarised you with that taste of real success. Once you have tasted the finest Aberdeen Angus, reconstituted burgers from Aldi will just not do. Negative reactions to defeats like Saturday should not be simply cast aside as knee-jerk reactions. Scratch beneath the surface of the tangible progress we have made this season and you will always find a critical underbelly of supporters who will constantly demand more ? they should not be castigated for this, they simply want better because that?s what they were brought up on. They're not bi-polar or depressives, just starved and hungry!

Equally, those brought up during the Walter Smith era have a different set of expectations as they never had the fortune to see those triumphant homecomings on Queens Drive ? they should not be castigated either.

You could argue that, after the barren years we have endured, we should be bloody grateful for a season like this. I understand this argument but simply don?t sit in this camp. I for one worried during my visits to places like Plough Lane and regular hidings at Highbury whether we would ever get to this point again. I?ll be honest enough to tell you that I did actually have a word with myself the other day to say ?what a difference that we have reached this part of the season and it is important for positive reasons not relegation ones?.

I have to admit that I was one of the people calling for Moyes's head not so long back but I now realise that jibbing him would have been a suicidal move (great hindsight isn?t it?). He has completely turned the iceberg-bound Everton liner around and is getting us closer to the ultimate aim. That said, there is room for improvement and the installation of a technical coach versed in European football would really help move us on and challenge Moyes in some of his thinking, line-ups, tactics.

As I?ve said before and I?ll say it again ? I want Moyes to improve and I want him to be the best. He undoubtedly has the passion and determination (and has also got better at quickly recognising and eking out crap which I hope applies to Neville this summer) but is also prone to petty fiefdoms in his team selections and occassional brain storms in tactics/line-ups. You could also say that on occasions he is too negative/reserved/sets the side up to defend.

My biggest disappointment this season was not the Uefa Cup. It was the second leg of the Carling Cup, one goal down and one up front at home, all to play for... What did we witness? ? 70-odd frustrating minutes of Johnson up front on his own. Totally useless and I was raging.

The problem and reality is that we do actually care what the redshite say if were completely honest with ourselves. I grew up with their ?banter? in my face and it?s something I don?t endure now simply because I no longer live on Merseyside. Maintaining a healthy difference of opinion and some respect has been completely destroyed for me recently by their condescending twat of a manager. If we didn't care, why is their result the one we look for straight after ours and why do we walk around beaming when someone turns them over?

I was at Manchester Airport last year and heard a load of their shower (Athens-bound for the final) taking the piss out of the possibility of Everton meeting Bolton in the final. Sorry, it devalued what we were doing and I have to say that the Uefa Cup IS the lucky losers cup. (If Champions League drop-outs weren?t allowed to go in, it?s worth would increase no end for me).

For someone whose footballing support did start in the early eighties, I also grew accustomed to watching Ian Rush piss on our chips on many occasions and I can tell you that there is no better feeling than beating them ? I've been fortunate enough to have been to most of the Derbies where we have come out of top but also unlucky enough to see McCall?s efforts come to nothing and dodgy referees denying us our just rewards - Poll cancelling out Hutchison's goal; Twattenburg etc etc. The reality is that Liverpool through their relentless spending have acquired a potent weapon to use against us in the next Derby (as well as their customary luck) and I can see tears before bedtime. I hope I?m wrong...

I suppose what I'm trying to say in a round-about way is that the level I and others set the bar is different to many and is a direct function of what we have seen during our living, breathing time as Evertonians. Personally my bar is set at going into games like the Derby with a realistic hope of winning them. That also means a realistic chance of winning trophies each season.

Let's just try and respect that there are differing groups with differing ideas on where the bar should be set and leave it at that. Let's drop all the sniping at each other and remember that we are all fortunate enough to be following an Everton side who have moved away from the dark days. This is football at the end of the day and not about reaching the intellectual high ground or obliterating fellow opinion into a thousand pieces. Let's hope we put the further blocks in place to take a quantum leap this Summer.

Reader Comments

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Connor Rohrer
1   Posted 19/03/2008 at 21:19:39

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Happy to accept defeats at Fulham? What a load of shite. No one no matter what Everton generation you come from is happy with getting beat its just some people react differently. Some people accept that it is possible a team can have a blip and some go all out negative and go on about the "next level" and "where we are heading."

I think its a case of having realists and having fans who believe because we where once successful for about 3/4 years in the 80s we have the right to demand trophies and the league every year.

Why bring the 80s team up? Its got nothing to do with this current team. If you grew up watching that team like a lot of people did then you also saw the 90s aswell. A decade wretched in failure. Surely you?ve seen enough of negativity and failure to bring you down to earth. I certainly have. This is a completely different team, with different goals and players who aren?t all the level as the best team in our history. Maybe that will change in a few years but at the moment it hasn?t.
Ryan Holroyd
2   Posted 19/03/2008 at 21:39:56

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Can someone tell me what this mythical ’next level’ is please that everyone brings up after 1 defeat?
Brian Waring
3   Posted 19/03/2008 at 22:39:24

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There you go! Someone dare say how they feel, and they are castigated for it. It?s a joke when we have fans around, who say fucking stupid thing?s like, "it?s good we went out the FA Cup, because we can now concentrate on Europe." Anthony and Tony are right, maybe some of us have higher expectations than most, and can?t put bad results down to ?just one of those things?. Also Connor, why not bring the 80s team up? Some fans are always happy to remind us of the Walter Smith days.
Connor Rohrer
4   Posted 19/03/2008 at 23:26:40

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"Also Connor, why not bring the 80s team up? Some fans are always happy to remind us of the Walter Smith days."

In some ways I disagree with people bringing up Walter Smith?s Everton aswell but if you think about it that is the team Moyes inherited and some of the players on our books now like Carsley and Gravesen for example are where very much part of those teams. At least that team has a connection to Moyes era whereas the 80s team doesn?t. That team was the best in our entire history and whilst this one is improving it isn?t at the same level.

I don?t think any of us have different expectations. I seen the great 80s and my views are generally different to Tony Marsh?s and Anthony Newell?s. It doesn?t really matter what generation you are from.

"maybe some of us have higher expectations than most, and can?t put bad results down to ?just one of those things?."

If we where losing week in week out or even losing more than we win I?d be concerned but the fact of the matter is where not. Since the Derby which for me was the turning point in our season look at the stats:

Games Played: 33
Games Won: 22
Games Drawn: 4

Are you telling me that is terrible form? We're one of the form teams in the country so that gives me the confidence that the Fulham defeat was a blip. If its not I?ll hold my hand up but the team have shown this season and especially since the Derby that they can bounce back. The fact is a lot of teams have blips. Liverpool where beaten by Reading not so long ago, Arsenal couldn?t score past Wigan and Utd where beaten twice by Man City. Obviously there?s room for improvement like there is at every other club in the country but saying things like "we're not good enough" or how are we going to get to the "next level" is just ridiculous in my opinion.
Steve Templeton
5   Posted 20/03/2008 at 09:40:26

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Well said Connor.

I also witnesses the exploits of that great team in the mid-eighties at first hand and was present in Rotterdam when the Rat lifted our first European trophy.

My expectations will always be to compare any Everton team to the achievements made during that era but that does not mean that I am not realistic.

I don?t understand this line of argument which suggests that if you disagree with somebody who thinks our first defeat in nearly three months is some kind of disaster you are somehow happy with being mediocre. I?ll never be happy with Everton simply being mediocre but you cannot just expect us to be the best team in the country and win every trophy in sight unless we had the spending power of Chelsea who incidentally for all of their milliions haven?t done all that well lately.

You can only compare our performance in relation to how we are performing against teams with similiar resources and in that regard we are exceeding expectations. Not only that but we are now starting to compete with the ?big four? whose resources outstrip ours by a country mile.

The naysayers amongst you will no doubt label me a ?Moyes Apologist? and suggest that you simply have higher expectations than I do - you don?t, my expectations are simply tempered with realism.

I would suggest that unless one or two of you temper your own expectations with a dose of realism you will never be happy.

But then again maybe that?s the way you want it to be?
Richard Parker
6   Posted 20/03/2008 at 09:24:41

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Some fair points Anthony, there will always be differing opinions between fans. I?m not 100% sure that your demographic split is necessarily the reason but anyway....

The problem is not differing levels of expectation, we ALL expected to do Fulham, even if Lawro did predict us to win. We were all disappointed with the outcome, but some of us accept that there will be the odd bad result for every team including Man Utd, etc.

The problem is the overreaction we see to this, there were 2 or 3 pieces spouting bollocks that our midfield is crap, they?re not up to the job, blah, blah, blah..... I?m sure that some of that was borne out of frustration at the end of our UEFA hopes, plus the ground we lost on the shite. But I think it?s safe to say that the lads have done sterling work up to this point and 4th is still to play for.

I don?t think that by enjoying this season (which we all have every right to do, it?s the best one we?ve seen in 2 decades), we are accepting less than the best. We all wanted to finish top-3, win the Uefa Cup, the Carling Cup etc, but it?s still a good season. I think we?ve exceeded expectations in most cases, reserving judgement on the league finish.

We can enjoy this season, but want more. We have a lot of reasons to be hopeful and I for one am hopeful. My dreams haven?t been realised in 2008, but with 2 or 3 quality signings the outlook for 2009 is promising. And any real improvement on this season will really see us up there vying for something nice and shiny for our cupboard!
Terry Maddock
7   Posted 20/03/2008 at 12:50:43

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Having a sense of reality does not mean you are defeatist or settling for second best..a lot of the castigating of DM and the board is born purely from frustration of not keeping up with our neighbours..

Only Liverpool , Manchester United and Arsenal have ever had the type of year in year out success that we currently crave..we have never had it..
4 trophies in four years during the 80?s was our best ever sustained run..4 years..!!! The red shite went from 1973 to 1990 and won over twenty trophies...Man utd and Arsenal for the last 18 years have had sustained success..and the the russian millions pushed Chelsea into the equasion.

Manchester city have huge support and are being bankrolled big time, Aston Villa are the biggest club in the second biggest city,Newcastle have spent hundreds of millions..and are the only club in that city..yet we are strill staring down at them..and everybody else bar the top four..

Why?....because we accept mediocrity?..No it because we a have a manager who has worked miracles..

I would have loved to have seen the look on the faces of the Tony Marshes and Brian Warings of this world..if somebody had turned to them 30 seconds into Moyes 1st game and said.." He will have us in the champions league in two seasons..!
The idea was totally ridiculous..yet he did it.
David Moyes was brought in with the remit of " keep us up".... Look where we are now...he hasnt got half way through the job that he intends to do..and that is to win everything..it too sounds daft..but that is what he wants..but he has a plan, one that is clearly working..from avoiding relegation on the last day of the season..to champions league in 3 years..!!!!!
It hasnt, mostly, been pretty to watch..but we had to acquire a winning mentalty..the result was all important..
Now we have a team capable of a sustained challenge for a champions league place, a team that now..mostly..plays attractive attacking football..a team that is defying what the curent media driven monopoly want..

Just take a look at the right result league..if, just if.. in 3 games this season the referee /assistant had called it right..then we would be 3rd now..on merit, on good management....
We are not a big club..we cant spend 30 million on one player, we cant pay 100 grand a week..we cant win every game..
we dont have 500 mill for a new ground (borrowed or not)... But we are without a shadow of a doubt moving in the right direction..and that is the reality..and because we have taken such huge leaps forward in a short time..the expectation levels of some supporters have become unrealistic..not in that they expect us to win things, because I do to...its expecting us to win things NOW...
I honestly think that time will show our neighbours across the park..that they cant buy the league..not with the curent manager..he has a different agenda..and if they dont pip us this year..walls will tumble et al Leeds utd...
All i ask is while still wanting us to win every game every time..keep a realistic perspective..pull out your old programs from 1999.. look at the sqad , look at the league position..and look at how lucky we are to have David Moyes and Bill Kenwright.
Damian Wilde
8   Posted 20/03/2008 at 13:21:10

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Steve Templeton some good points. Brain Waring you?re spouting off again, calm down lad. I want us to win badly and think we should have high expectations and was so down after the last few games. But, we?re not saying Everton has come to an end because of one league defeat. Every game we go into I?m like ?ye, we should win this?, none of this ?I?ll bite ya hand off for a draw? bollocks. As well as aiming high you have to take all factores into account, there are many variables difficult to control e.g. other clubs have better foundations, more money, etc. We love high expectations, but let?s have a BALANCED VIEW and be calm!
Dave Moorcroft
9   Posted 21/03/2008 at 01:23:45

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I have watched EFC for 41 yrs now, ups and downs. But this is the BEST I have felt since the 80s... Apart from 95. Think about where we started from. Last game of the season against Coventry; relegation staring us in the face, with agent Johnson in control. Totally negative footy with Walter, I think it was something like 7 home games on the bounce without a goal... it may have been a couple more.

I have criticsised David Moyes in the past over tactical things, but I APOLIGISE unreservadly. He is a Miracle. It's the people upstairs who don't give him the support he deserves. Why are we the ONLY club in the Premier League who are always crying fucking poverty? And we have done for fucking years. Everyone who's involved in football is BOASTING about how much money is coming into the Premier League... why the fuck are we crying poverty all the time? Give the man the money when he has more choice.

Ian Ankers
10   Posted 21/03/2008 at 21:59:28

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Terry Maddock, Damian Wilde and Dave Moorcroft. . . .

I agree with everything you guys have said, you are spot on in everything you comment on.

Most views expressed on TW that are different to my own I read with interest and in fact on the odd occasion i’ve actually had my mind changed by some threads and comments, but I cannot and will not for the life of me ever see how you can fail to be anything but happy with Everton at the moment! I’m not making do with second best or any of that rubbish that the less realistic TW members spout on about. This is one subject that just makes me laugh though, I really cannot believe the moaners on this one! I’m sick of writing about it now, I just cannot take the doubters and moaners seriously on this one anymore. Where do these people come from? I think they are employed by TW just to stir up debate no matter how ridiculous the argument. Every Evertonian or any club football fan that I meet face to face laugh there back sides off when I tell them that some Evertonians are not happy with us and Moyes at the moment. So come on doubters and moaners, give it up, the joke’s over, you were havin a laugh right?
Brendan McLaughlin
11   Posted 22/03/2008 at 00:44:31

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Absolute crap, Anthony! I too have had the good fortune to support Everton through the glory days of the mid-80?s. But I?m realistic enough to know that we have fallen dramatically from those heady days and it?s thanks to David Moyes that we have a chance of bringing some modicum of success back to Goodison.

Tell me this Anthony, you?ve admitted that you?ve called it wrong once by calling for David Moye?s head. Any chance that you are still calling it wrong?

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