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Moyes and A Winning Mentality

By Kieran Fitzgerald :  12/04/2008 :  Comments (30) :
You have to wonder about whether or not David Moyes really has instilled a winning mentality into this squad.

Team spirit, a winning mentality, all in it together. This is what the Moyes era has alway reputedly been about. You would think that at the most crucial stage of what has been an excellent season, it would be at it's strongest. Yet the lack of fight, the lack of a winning mentality within the squad has been a very real and frightening thing over the last five or six games now. It has not been a gradual thing either but has hit with a bang after the second Fiorentina game.

With the exception of a small handful of players, very few of the current ones have experienced European football. Having had a decent taste of it this season you would think that this would spur the squad on even further. That the squad would be fighting tooth and nail to guarentee it again for next season. Yet the opposite appears to be the case.

Right now, if I was David Moyes, I would be fuming. I would be tearing my hair out in frustration and disbelief. Where and how could things have gone so badly wrong? How could a team who played with such swagger earlier in the season have come to this? Injuries have not been helpful but we still have had access to enough of the players that were doing things so right earlier on.

Imagine how Moyes must be thinking about what there is left for him to say to these players. This isn't just a blip. He has had to sit down after each of five or six truly awful performances and speak with the squad, analyse things, try and lift spirits. Yet nothing has changed. Nothing he has said after our last five or six league games has changed anything.

What has changed so drastically since the Fiorentina game from what was there before? Moyes must be asking himself where has the mentality from before the Fiorintina game gone that he cannot get it back. Everything he said before that game was gold dust. Right now he couldn't buy a performance. Most of all, he must be asking himself if it is his fault or the players.

What must be worse for him is to see that no one player ? not one of his senior players ? has shown leadership and fight on the pitch, despite his best efforts. Moyes is a fighter, he demands fight and guts from his players. Yet he has had a complete capitulation. It would look like his players, who he has worked so hard with, just don't care anymore.

Can teams really run out of steam mentally? Is there a knack to instilling a season-long mentality that Moyes hasn't mastered yet? Or have these players just let him down?

I would hope that this squad takes a long hard look at itself over the summer. As professional footballers, every single player should be digusted with himself for allowing such a run of results to occur, especially in the context of the season overall. You would hope the squad will benefit from such introspection next season. Then again, they're professional footballers, I wouldn't hold my breath.

As for David Moyes, I think he has just found his hardest challenge at Everton yet.

Reader Comments

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David Edwards
1   Posted 12/04/2008 at 22:02:57

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Quite right Kieran (and Santosh in a parallel post). In recent posts this week l’ve discussed my feelings of foreboding about our current form, as well as a heartfelt plea for someone to tell me what Captain Pip brings to the team.

I’ll forget about those posts, because after this performance, I see a team absolutely floundering and the season’s end can’t come soon enough. Was the Floretina defeat the catalyst? It seems so, but to see a team with so much lack of back-bone, organisation or quality at present (injuries accepted) is very depressing.

How can a team who looked liked they feared no one at the start of 2008, look like on that is happy to hang in there against inferior oppostion like they have in prevous years. Is Cahill the missing factor? Surely one or two players doesn’t make this much of a difference. Where is that EFC fighting spirit that our lesser players had in past years (such as the Dogs of War)?

I’m very down - which given our 5th place position, shouldn’t be the case. But I’ve seen better this season and the club has raised my expectations. Tell me why I should feel so low at this stage and why I should think that this summer doesn’t need a bit of tockering anymore, but might need wholesale changes? Is Davey thinking the same thing?
David Edwards
2   Posted 12/04/2008 at 22:18:25

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Excuse the spelling - ’on’ means ’one’ and ’tockering’ means ’tickering’ - please could the moderators do the correcting - my emotions clearly don’t match my typing skills tonight!
John Spray
3   Posted 12/04/2008 at 23:19:31

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I agree totally. We look a spent force, physically, mentally and creatively. It seems like belief has drained away after the Uefa cup defeat. The ball is just going long all the time with desperation. Will someone in midfield please just take the ball off the back four. It’s so frustrating after watching our football of a few months ago. I just want the season to end and pray Portsmouth let the FA Cup distract them from the league because I can’t see where our next win is coming from.
Sean Howard
4   Posted 12/04/2008 at 23:57:14

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Could the rapid deteriation in our squad bring the realisation from Moyes that he really has taken Everton as far as they will ever go?
Just asking!
Derek Thomas
5   Posted 13/04/2008 at 01:52:25

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Hear, hear. well said Fitz.

To quote ( or is it misquote) the much maligned Gordon Lee...’ just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you have to lie down ’

It’s all down to what used to be called LMF LACK OF MORAL FIBRE or the US version lack of intestinal fortitude aka guts, the discipline to put in an honest days work for your pay.

Too much money equals lack of hunger, so why bother.

The only true discipline is SELF discipline.

Too much to expect in this day and age and that goes twice for the, by enlarge, overpaid, shallow hals that seem to inhabit football, safe in the knowledge that they are in the squad and paid wether or not added to that there is no proper reserve system pushing them for their place.
Bob Parrington
6   Posted 13/04/2008 at 02:16:02

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I’m not so sure about the moral fibre sort of thing but, judging by yesterday’s performance, the wheels seem to have fallen off. I can’t remember seeing 2 decent passes going together. Fernandez looked lost. We tried the loooong ball stuff a lot (maybe because of this), they defended deep and Yak & AJ couln’t make any meaningful runs.

Many will blame this performance on the injury list but, frankly, if we’re going to get in to the top 4 we need to be able to get over this.

The game finished at 1.30 am here in Adelaide. My missus asked my why I was in such a bad temper! End of season performance blues (or is is Blues peformances?).

Martin Toohey
7   Posted 13/04/2008 at 02:26:14

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If’s there is one thing I’ve learnt over my lifetime it’s that people or things are very rarely as bad or as good as we think. A few weeks ago many people were (I thought over-optimistically ) talking about winning the Uefa Cup (easy to say now I know but you still had good teams - notably Bayern in the mix). Now we are not playing well but look like finishing somewhere between 4th and 7th and many people are focusing only on the disappointing form of the last few weeks. I believe that a realistic perspective of where we stand and what we have achieved this season will only be known when we consider our entire situation at the end of the season.
James McCarthy
8   Posted 13/04/2008 at 01:48:26

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It is becoming more apparent that the second Fiorentina game was a false dawn for our aspirations.
The Italians did what was expected from any euro team and particularly an Italian one with a two goal advantage. They surrendered large tracts of field and defended in depth.
Allowed to ponce around without any real physical challenge our puny midfield were made to look like world beaters In the first leg they did not get the freedom of the park and it was a different story.
John Sreet
9   Posted 13/04/2008 at 06:24:43

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It?s simple, Henry Ford once said ?whether you think you can, or whether you think you can?t, right?...... Clearly right now they think they can?t, but at some point ? hopefully Thursday ? they?ll think they can!
Ajay Gopal
10   Posted 13/04/2008 at 06:22:47

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Nice post, Kieran, that got me thinking.

IMHO, you give too much credit to DM. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is the best man for EFC, and it would be wrong and foolish to let him go at this stage. But, he still lacks in a number of crucial attributes that are holding him back from being a truly great manager.

I have a mental image of Moyes:
Extremely hard working and expecting the same from his players.
Honest and upright to a fault
Never compromise on this principles -believes in the right thing (right player wages, right transfer fees, etc).
Unforgiving towards those whom he perceives have let him down (AvDM, Gravesen for some reason this season, etc)
Slow to react and change
Likes to be in control (hates to delegate authority, responsibility)
Is not blessed with a ligthening brain that can react to situations quickly on the field.
Not a great communicator - he probably goes into a sulk when the team/players under-perform. He probably does not know the art of gettng players enthused, excited, ready to die for the cause.
etc, etc.

You may disagree with my analysis, but I really do believe in this.

Anyway, the point is that IMHO, DM needs help - he may not accept it, but he needs a deputy/assistant, who can cover up his deficiencies.

I would say that a major reason for our season to peter out towards the end is the lack of managerial assistance /advice that DM could fall back on, when things start going wrong.

The priority for us this summer should be (along with strenghtening our playing squad of course) to get a inspirational choice as assistant to DM. This will be crucial to our future success.

Teddy Draper
11   Posted 13/04/2008 at 08:45:12

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Two words that are the most opposite in the english language, MOYES / MOTIVATION!!!!!!
Neil Scott
12   Posted 13/04/2008 at 08:52:34

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I think the team is badly missing one thing. The winning mentality that somehow only seems to have been about this team when Cahill has been around this year.

When Cahill got injured towards the end of last season we still had players coming in and making a difference like Vaughn (remember Chelsea away?) and Manny (2007 version) who led by example chasing balls down and playing with STYLE, POWER and POSITIVITY right up until the last game.

So to get something out of the last few games we need to work out where that has gone and how we get it back. I’m pretty sure that DM sees captain Pip as a natural winner/leader and Carsley as a ’never gives less than 100% man’ but for me that’s the root of our problems - Moyes is too loyal to his ’solid pros’ and too inflexible when it comes to changing a system and bringing in the youngsters.

No doubt it helped last season that Moyes learned a lesson from the Spurs game at home but we need that to happen again. If Jack Rodwell was good enough for the UEFA cup then surely he’s a better option than Neville in midfield. Or even Gravesen - who on yesterday’s evidence can still thread the passes that Yak and AJ so badly need - and is always an influence on the team when he’s on. Then again, how bad must his legs be if he’s not trusted on the pitch for more than the last five minutes?!

So, in short, fuck knows. Complete overhaul required in summer of that midfield and demote PIp and Cars to squad players at best. I like the sound of Bradley as he would allow us to play the same way - with or without Cahill - and he for me is the missing link we badly need right now.

Mike Hughes
13   Posted 13/04/2008 at 09:19:56

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As a season ticket holder I think we?ve had a pretty good season and I?m as disappointed as anyone about current form. If the results against West Ham, Fulham and Birmingham (and one or two earlier results) had gone our way we?d be in a much stronger position. However, I think the bottom line is that we?re down to the bones with injuries and probably a few legs have gone. Perhaps one or two players need to look at themselves but don?t have a go at DM. He?s just about the best thing that?s happened to EFC for a long time. He may have his faults as we all do but at least he?s not an odious Spanish waiter. Imagine what DM. would have achieved with Beneathus?s spending power.
Ric Wallace
14   Posted 13/04/2008 at 11:05:16

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Neil, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.

I was reading through Toffeeweb’s History pages and noted that, I think it was last year, we had our best run-in with Moyes.

W-2, L-2 D-1.

It seems to have always been a flaw at the end of the season with Moyes that either:

a) The players play at such a high tempo all season they just run out of steam.

b) Moyes can’t motivate them to finish the season.

And I really do think the answer is the former.
You can try to motivate tired players to play well but on the field if our players’ bodies just pack in after one half what can Moyes do? There is very little! The players themselves to an extent, have to self-motivate and currently, apart from a few, we haven’t seen that.

Like Neil said the past few seasons we have benefited from talismans inspiring the team until the end of the season.

05-06: Vaughan
06-07: Fernandes
07-08: ??

So far there hasn’t been a spark that just really makes the players push on till the end of the season.

Maybe if Liverpool start slipping up they will get more motivation.

I don’t know, but perhaps it should be on Moyes’ agenda to either blood some new young players in midfield especially to give us some tenacity,bite and quality.

Or perhaps, the least favourable option to many of our fans, start with Tommy Gravesen in our midfield for the last four matches, or at least give him the last 30 minutes of matches.

The guy may have knackered legs, but when he is tired let a youngster take his place.
The guy offers something different, and when he came on against Birmingham yesterday he played a beautiful ball for Hibbert, and just gave us a new edge.

Right now I think Moyes has battened down the hatches and is trying to steer us the hard way home.
It’s to his credit that he seems to be doing a lot internally to motivate his bunch of players, taking them away etc.
But he has other options that don’t immediately reveal themselves too. he just needs to take a step back and look more objectively.

Ben Brown
15   Posted 13/04/2008 at 12:58:03

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I still feel that the only player we’ve got that is a real matchwinner is Cahill. He should have been made captain after the old boys went. Neville tries to be, but deep down he knows he isn’t good enough.

16   Posted 13/04/2008 at 13:14:13

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Message in ALL CAPS suppressed; please use Mixed Case
Tim Wrench
17   Posted 13/04/2008 at 14:27:01

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I despair when people like Brian Tommina come on this site.

I thought this was a safe-haven from the 606 Everton lot, with people giving rational views.

Brian does us a favour, and go post your tripe to people who care about doom mongering and really crap rumours.
18   Posted 13/04/2008 at 14:31:19

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Message in ALL CAPS suppressed; please use Mixed Case
Tim Wrench
19   Posted 13/04/2008 at 15:36:03

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Les can i quote:


Where is Brian?s positivity there?

People throughout this thread have actually posted positive and rational views.

Brian?s offered us the view that Moyes isn?t bothered cos he is leaving at end of the season. The players aren?t bothered because the best of them are leaving too.

How is that positive Les? All I?m hearing from Brian is the pathetic view "he supports Everton through and through" - as though we don?t and just find any reason to criticise the team!!

Posters like Neil and Ric gave positive views. I don?t come here to read about a guy SHOUTING at me he is an Everton through and through.
Brian Tommia
20   Posted 13/04/2008 at 15:50:09

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Is this better? I support Everton no matter what. Good bad and ugly. Doesn?t mean I have to like what I see every week. I read the article above, which basically question Moyes's ability to do the job in hand, it also questions the players' drive at this time of the season to push on and finish the job and secure 5th place at least. Am I wrong in saying the way they are playing I don?t think they are gonna do it? And it will be a crying shame to throw a good season away at this late stage. So who?s gonna step up to solve our problem? It's got to come from the top and include the players. But they don?t look like they want it. And that's not ramblings, That's the impression they are sending out. COYB
Colin McPhail
21   Posted 13/04/2008 at 16:35:00

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I hate to say it, but there is a huge problem with "bottle" when it comes to the games that matter this season. I guess that this is part of the ongoing development of the team and Moyes needs to address this pretty quickly - I’m thinking of Both Derbies (clattenberg at goodison included), Chelsea - both legs of semi final, both United games, Arsenal at home, Oldham !!!, Fiorentina, followed by the most painful 3 of Fulham, West Ham and Birmingham. All games of consequence and all disapointments (admittedly with a fare share of bad luck... ).

My fear is that we may lose 5th place due to our current form, and that would be a disaster after such fine season..

Come on Moyesey....Get it sorted !!
Andrew Brophy
22   Posted 13/04/2008 at 17:49:12

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We look burned out. We’ve struggled to score goals, and in some games, create much of note, for a while now. The Fiorentina game was a glaring exception.

I honestly think that this staleness, along with the injuries to Cahill and to those trying to play through their knocks, are a direct consequence of the way we play.

We simply don’t make the ball do enough of the work, to coin a phrase. We have been one of the hardest working sides in the Prem for some time. Why? Of course it’s partly because that is what we should be. But this should be the minimum we can expect, almost a given.

Yet we always make great play of it. Do you think United don’t work their socks off? My point is that we need to get back to emphasising the skill factor as well. After all that is what the whole ethos of the club was built on.

Of course, resources play a big part in this. That’s inevitable. But it is also an attitude of mind. I hope that our manager gives as much emphasis to the ability to passing the ball well as he does to workrate.

If he does then some players are letting him down. If he doesn’t he’d better start if he wants to be the man to really take us to the next level.

We work so hard, in part, because we have to, in order to make up for our own mistakes. We don’t pass the ball well enough often enough. We throw away possession far too easily. And for all the good football that we have played at times this season, and some of it has been seriously good, we still fall back on hoofball far too readily.

I hope it isn’t too much to ask that we can find four more good performances to finish off the season. A final flourish would give the season an ending a bit more in keeping with what has gone before.

If we don’t, then I honestly worry that the point at Brum might be our last this season. And that could mean 7th and hoping for the Intertoto Cup. Which would mean a very early start to next season, and the prospect of the inevitable burnout starting in February, if we don’t mend our ways.

I hate sounding like a doom-monger, but I do honestly wonder if Moyes will be given what he needs to make the changes that I still believe he wants to make, in terms of the points I’ve mentioned.

On the other side of the coin, a good finish will secure 5th place (let’s be realistic), we’ll all head into summer in a brighter mood and we’ll be able to add the kind of quality that we need to genuinely challenge for a top four place next season, although not the title just yet!

We all know what we would call when that coin is tossed. Let’s just hope we call correctly. We cannot afford to do what we did after qualifying for the Champion’s League, i.e virtually nothing. Our whole future may well depend on what happens between now and August.

It’s gonna be the usual Everton headwrecker.
Anthony Newell
23   Posted 13/04/2008 at 21:30:54

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Burnt out? - always staggers me when I hear this. At in excess of £30K a week, on a tip top diet and exercise regime and asked to put in 90 minutes of physical exertion every 4/5 days, burn out is no excuse anymore. I would turn the initial post on its head and say the problem is the ’not wanting to lose’ mentality that’s at the root the problem - "defend, defend, get rid of the ball at all costs, that’s right ,just launch it!"
Andrew Brophy
24   Posted 13/04/2008 at 21:56:28

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Anthony - didn’t offer it as an excuse. Suggested that is how we look, mentaly as much as physically, and then argued that the way we play has a lot to do with it. Don’t think we’re too far apart on this one are we?
Jason Lam
25   Posted 14/04/2008 at 03:01:35

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This is another great piece on TW. I go with Derek Thomas on "The only true discipline is SELF discipline", or self-motivation.

Professionals do not need to be told why they need to put in an honest shift of work. Just ask Anichebe.

I read the recent interview on the official site on Manny. He says along the lines, "at the moment, I need to play for myself". What an honest and professional remark! If you’re not self-motivated, self-disciplined, you will get nowhere, no matter how talented or naturally blessed. I don’t categorize these players as mercenaries but ambious. Which is why I admire Bentley as much as his footballing talent.

A club like Everton should attract the most ambious players. Passengers should take the bus out of here.
Bruce Wayne
26   Posted 14/04/2008 at 16:32:32

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What a load of rollocks. At least it’s given the doom mongers a chance to come out en masse again.

Look at the lot across the park. Benithez was roundly critisized for rotating players early in the season and he gave as his reason that he wanted his key men fresh for now. Now sure this strategy caused them to faulter at the start of the year but they look pretty strong at the moment.

Compare that to us and we simply don’t have that option. We pretty much have to play our best team every week and the result is clear. The boys look drained, mentally and physically and are staggering over the finish line. Arsenal are in a similar way at the moment. It doesn’t take much of a performance drop for things to fall apart.

All this nonsense about a lack of motivation is a slur on our players name and all those who have suggested as much should be ashamed. Nevertheless it confirms the sad English disease that whenever a team loses the first thing we moan about is a lack of ’bottle’ or ’effort’. Never mind about poor technique or bad tactics, if only we ran about a bit more everything would be solved. It shows a flagrant lack of understanding about how the game is played at the top level.

Alongside this is the accusation that professional players should be able to play several games a week with no problem. People even offer up their own experiences trundling about in the Sunday leagues as evidence. It beggars belief. I’m sure the players could play several games a week, but the issue here is playing each game at 100%. Paula Radcliffe trains for marathon running but she wouldn’t perform at her best every time if she had to run two or three marathons a week.

If many of the fickle above consider themselves supporters of our club they may wish to consider changing allegiances. Someone like Newcastle perhaps would be more deserving of them.
Ciarán McGlone
27   Posted 15/04/2008 at 10:26:21

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You are a complete tit.
Bruce Wayne
28   Posted 15/04/2008 at 14:37:12

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Indeed. Well done.
Nick West
29   Posted 16/04/2008 at 14:22:45

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I guess people have a lot of spare time on their hands as I can?t think of any other reason why so many bogus reasons for Everton?s recent slip in form are offered.

Bruce Wayne?s the only guy who nailed it. It?s not tricky. Small squad, always playing your best players ? who don?t get a break, Cahill out, Arteta playing injured for most of the season (witness Fulham away where he kept off-loading to other players), Pienaar and Osman ? both spordadically injured, Gravesen fluid on his knee all season, Fernandes searching for fitness.

The only teams who aren?t stumbling are Man U and Chelsea... now take a wild guess why that is? Because they can field two top quality teams.... and that?s it. No mystery. Maybe if we?d got lucky with injuries we?d have pipped the Shite.

Surely, let?s rejoice in great progression this season. we?re now on the brink of being a top quality side where we can hold possession in the opposition?s half and then punish them. Pienaar has been a fantastic addition in this respect, as has Yakubu.

If Moyes keeps this team together and adds a top quality central midfielder we could well claw our way into the Champions League honeypot. And I?m sure I speak for lots of blues...can we not stop the moaning? We all want to win the league again but we can?t splash £50m in one go to do it.

Moyesy?s in the red by £24m across 6 six years of transfers... and the Shite... £150m. We?re up against it but the man?s doing a sterling job.

Anthony Fox
30   Posted 16/04/2008 at 16:02:09

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Has nobody else realised that the main reason for our poor performances is the fact we are playing 2 up front.. Granted this has been brought about by injuries but we just dont have good enough midfielders to play a 4.. Especially when we have a few injuries.. If we play 2 up front we revert back to long balls, except now we have no sort of centre forward who can win a header or hold the ball up.. We need to invest next season in at least 3 very good midfielders and play our prefered 5 in midfield and pass the ball.. Any comments that "its Derby at home he has to play 2 up front" is rubbish.. You dont hear Man Utd fans argue when fergie plays one up front. Why? Because his midfiled is top draw and he has two of them!!

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