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A Bit of Realism

By Stuart Reid :  18/04/2008 :  Comments (21) :

I?ve read a lot of opinions on this site. It?s always good ? after all, different opinions are what make life interesting. I believe there are a few problems with the judgement of some people however. Generally the problems are overly negative assessments of the quality of the team and totally unrealistic expectations of what we should expect. (You know who you are, and so does everyone else.)

To begin with, let?s take our performances against the Sky 4. People complain that they always beat us and I accept that it is annoying. Football is a simple game though ? they beat us because they have better players. The main reason why they have better players is because they have more money. Blaming David Moyes for us always losing seems a little silly. Tonight against Chelsea we were missing three first-choice midfielders, all attacking players. In a game we already had little chance of winning. I hate Phil Neville playing anywhere, especially in midfield but who else could have played? I think Gravesen showed why Moyes won?t pick him.

So what about the style of play? Most of the time it has been shocking, particularly recently, but earlier in the season, during the long unbeaten run, we did play some good stuff. Just as a small point, the run coincided with the return from injury of Tim Cahill. Since he got injured again we?ve been crap. The reason why we played good football earlier in the season is because we had the players capable of it. When they are injured, the players that replace them are not capable of it. I think Moyes? view is that when the players available to him are likely to lose possession, it is foolish to throw men forward. Let?s not forget, we have the best defensive record in the league bar the ATM 4.

When Arsenal throw men forward they leave their defence exposed, but they will probably convert a lot of their possession into chances, and in turn goals. With all the will in the world, our team of less-talented players will always create fewer goals. Therefore it is silly to pile men forward and open up our defence when we will still not score very often. Have we not noticed the people complaining that relegation-threatened teams are better to watch?

The point I am making is that I would love us to play like Arsenal but our players are simply not good enough. We have a first-choice XI that can play a decent passing game but not a squad. But as the squad improves the amount of games in which we can put on an attractive display will increase. Under Moyes we now have players in Arteta, Pienaar, Osman who can get the ball down and ping it about. The secret is getting them all on at the same time, giving the opposition several problems at once, and creating space for one another.

The number of people who really expect us to be challenging for the title is quite frightening. The fans that always pipe up with ?Nil Satis Nisi Optimum?, I?d like you to tell me if that puts money in the bank, Jose Mourinho in the dugout and Kaka in an Everton shirt. I?d like us to be up there but can we really blame Moyes that we?re not? I know that in the Eighties we were the best team in the country but today?s game is all about financial muscle. In the 1982-83 season Watford got promoted and challenged Liverpool for the title. It could not happen nowadays. To be brutally honest it is incredible that we are even contemplating 4th place, in a season in which Liverpool are well ahead of their average points total over the last few years.

If we really want to have a go at anyone it should be the board. They are really not fit to run the club. No amount of passion for the club can compensate for a lack of basic business sense. The fans have been fundamentally lied to about Kirkby. If it really is the best thing for the club then why are they so afraid to tell us the truth about it? The figures they have bandied about are blatant untruths, and I do not know anything about finance. If the truth is that it is not a great deal but the only one we can afford they should say so. We are adults, we are not stupid. We know we are skint. But there is a big difference between £78m and ?effectively free!?

So what about the future? First, we must sign Pienaar ? he is vital to our quality passing game. Good on the ball, committed, and an absolute bargain at £2.2m. The second thing we must do is sign Manuel Fernandes. I?m going to put my cards on the table here. I believe we should build our midfield around him. The boy has talent in bucketloads. He is pretty quick with excellent ball control and when fully fit looks a class above everyone else. People might complain about his attitude but attitude can be changed; an inability to play football cannot. He strikes me as a player who needs to feel loved to really perform. I would pick him in the centre alongside a powerful defensive midfielder, behind Arteta, Cahill and Pienaar, hand him the reins and tell him to make things happen. He has a bit of arrogance that we need instead of fear when it comes to big games. I really think he could get people off their seats, and I?m in a wheelchair. Of course, he has yet to prove all this and I told a friend that Berbatov would be a waste of money but I think he would be a good signing.

I think we have done well this year. Still, a win before the season is out would be nice.

Reader Comments

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Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
1   Posted 18/04/2008 at 18:44:52

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Very well said, Stuart, and lots to agree with here.
Ric Wallace
2   Posted 18/04/2008 at 19:08:15

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Stuart, I was planning on writing an article like this later but after reading yours I can see no reason too.

I agree with a lot of what you say, and I think at the moment the only thing we can be annoyed with Moyes at is the bizarre subs last night.

Otherwise we have suffered torrid injuries.
Would I be the only one in thinking Fernandes could have been our MotM last night?

He was really getting back to his old self, keeping hold of the ball. But with a static side around him he had to create things himself.
We should be signing him up before his form picks up and alerts Valencia to keep hold of him if they sack Koeman.
Gary Mortimer
3   Posted 18/04/2008 at 19:19:19

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Well said, especially about the folk expecting us to break into the Sky 4 - we have come close, but injuries to important (creative) players at the end of the season has highlighted our lack of strength in depth.

In my opinion we must sign Manny as long as the fee isn’t too big - he was the only player last night prepared to have a go and some of his passing is exceptional. I know he gets caught in posession a few too many times, but then again, he is (far too often) the only midfielder showing for the back four, so it’s not a surprise that the opposition quickly close him down and rob him sometimes.

Cars, after his purple patch earlier in the season, is starting to look off the pace. Surprisingly Phil Neville didn’t have a bad game last night - some of his defensive work was solid, but we can never expect him to carve open a chance. When he was switched when mad dog came on, his contribution tailed off badly. I don’t think it is his fault that he is not a good enough midfielder if we want to stand a chance at breaking into the top four.

I’ve been disappointed with the contribution from the forwards in recent weeks - why does AJ always look as if he’s surprised when the ball comes near him? He’s not on his toes and looking for any opportunity to pounce on. Now is the time that we miss James Vaughan - his never say die attitude is missing at the moment.

I hope that we can scrape enough points to keep in 5th, but it is now down to Moyes to lift the players, it’s down to the players to recapture the form that saw us mount a serious challenge to Liverpool for that 4th spot, and it’s up to us to support the boys and become the 12th man - how many times this season have we been playing the ref as well!!!!
Gavin Ramejkis
4   Posted 18/04/2008 at 20:07:08

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The quality of players is right but you could add that DM has not invested in a midfield playmaker/general for years and it has been needed for years, his signings have been generally good but also hard grafters rather than footballers. In response to who would I have rather than Phil Neville in midfield would hands down have been Leighton Baines who was sat getting splinters in his arse. As it turned out despite his age I would also have rather seen Jack Rodwell given a shot over an absolute waste of space Graveson on last night’s performance. All of the above is down wholly to DM, the squad is his, the formation is his, the tactics are his. When it goes well he deserves the plaudits but it appeared he played for a draw last night and when that went wrong he had no response, it was as if he then threw players on to hold on to the one nil loss rather than go for a draw.

The recently aired documentation on Kirkby shows that the current custodians of the club little interest in diluting their ownership and thus actively seeking meaningful investment in funds towards the squad. That is unlikely to change without a top down change.
Stephen Stuart
5   Posted 18/04/2008 at 20:29:04

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Enough already!
Same old, same old, from the Everton FC apologists who think that their ’realism’ is the only one that counts. I’m fed up with this tokenistic analysis of what is wrong with the club I have followed for decades. The club is in dire straights with the current Board, an aimless manager and poor quality team who can’t even pass to one another. This is a poor excuse for people who are paid no mean sums to perform each week, injury permitting, of which there are TOO MANY. Anyone else who claims Moyes is still learning and should therefore be absolved of any respoinsibility is arguably certifiable. Moyes is an average championship manager - no more. Kenwright is an alien to reality and Wyness - well??? What more can I say? How many more times do these things need to be spelt out? Call yerself an Evertonian - need a reaity check yourself mate. Where is Tony Marsh when you need him? Everton FC are going nowhere - FAST!!
Jay Harris
6   Posted 18/04/2008 at 22:01:11

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My heart tells me you?re right but my head tells me Stuart is absolutely spot on. I am no Moyesiah disciple but I do think he?s a good dignified honest man of above average ability to manage.
We all over react when we?re doing well ("We?re going to win the Carling cup,the EuFA cup and come 3rd in the league) and then overeact when we hit a bad spell (Sack the board,the manger, all the players, the tea lady etc.)

Remember we are still in 5th by 4 points with 4 games to go.
Moyes has at least given us a foundation to start with.
We now need to identify the hindrances to progress:
The Board (No vision,no ability,no money)
The lack of a number 2
The poor to average, the always injured and the hoof-ballers.

But lets not throw the whole team and manager out and start again with the same numbskulls running the club.

Aiden Jones
7   Posted 18/04/2008 at 22:42:06

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Moyes an "average Championship manager ".What a stupid thing to say. So you are suggesting any manager could lead a team to where we are now. Are you one of the "new breed " of fans who demands success straight away. Are you aware of the strides Moyes has made since he has been here and how diidficult to compete with the top four due to their financial strength.
I know lets get Warnock in as manager as he is probably an above average Championship manager with his record.
Alex Spelling
8   Posted 18/04/2008 at 23:27:47

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Can we start a sign Manuel Fernandes campaign? The sight of a crisply passed and weighted ball along the floor....I’m in heaven...yeh I know he’s far from perfect, but the potential is so there!

Or back to reality, he goes back to Valencia, we sign nobody, and the OS tells us in August: ’We’re going with what we’ve got’...
Ben Brown
9   Posted 18/04/2008 at 23:36:04

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Lots of sense spoken Stuart. Though I’m not so sure everyone will agree with you about our players not being good enough to play proper football. The point is that even without our best technical players, we should be good enough to be able to make short passes and move about a bit. The players in our side who we think are technically poor should still be good enough to outplay anyone in the bottom six because they are better than them. It’s Moyes’s job to make sure that we play in a way that allows our players to beat weaker opposition. That’s where a manager’s ethos comes in. All the successful managers have a certain way of playing that they think is the right way to play football. This never changes no matter the personnel. Moyesey doesn’t really seem to have an ethos, at least not yet.

RE: Fernandes. I love the guy. We haven’t had a player that can strike a ball like him for YEARS. His technique’s actually quite like Beckham’s. Remember when we got beat at home by Chelsea a couple of years ago 3-2? I said something about the fact that their goals were all long range shots, so it wasn’t a legitimate win. He said something along the lines of, "it’s not our players’ fault that they’re good at shooting". Manuel can give us a bit of that.
Derek Thomas
10   Posted 19/04/2008 at 01:04:29

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Jay, No reason we can’t move on from now, just as we moved on from Walter, who as we know gave Moyesie the nod.

I wonder can Moyes give the recommendation of a new Messiah.

We plateau-ed down with Walter, no reason not to change now because we have now plateau-ed with Moyes.

But, as stated else where, change must start at the top.

Build the team around Fernandes playing the Makelke Eissian role.
Mark Manns
11   Posted 19/04/2008 at 01:48:12

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Stuart there is a lot to agree with in your piece. I think most Blues once calm would agree with you.

What you fail to address is that football is a sport and so simply not able to be explained in a series of ever-more-expensive and thus ever-more-predictable sytems.

Teams with less money beat teams with more money all the time. There is only so much that we can attribute to cash. After all once you are earning £20k a week would you necessarily play better for £40k a week? In Spain Real and Barca are beaten frequently by teams who have spent a fraction of their budget.

There are people on this forum and others beyond who recognise that Everton are a team with real historical prowess and stature in this league. I am proud of Moyes? honest and hard-working team with smatterings of skill. I do not need to be told by the manager and fans that I should be grateful of a team in the top 6. We expect teams to be honest, hard-working AND play without fear and not-so-little-skill, ESPECIALLY against the top teams. If we lose in the process so be it.

Play without fear and be proud of what we can be. Let?s not have limitations for a change.

Sean Condon
12   Posted 19/04/2008 at 01:55:53

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Excellent, well-considered article. Last night was as dispirited as I have felt in about three years with this club, but mainly because of the relative lack of resources at Moyes?s disposal. How in the hell can seemingly every other Prem club attract mega-buck interest from abroad but not lowly EFC? Is this really down to Blue Bill and Wyness, or is the interest simply not there?

I totally agree with you re: Manuel Fernandes. He looks to me, also, like a player who needs a certain amount of coddling. Perhaps the sort that a man as rigid as DM cannot provide. What is beyond doubt, however, is the fact that the boy has bags of skill; the kind that is in short supply throughout much of the squad. There were moments last night when you could see the seeds of a ?midfield general? in the making. He needs to play in the middle and see lots of the ball, and he needs an enforcer beside him making physical space for him to operate.

I felt sorry for Captain Hoof last night. Huff, puff, make that four yard pass (gingerly), get the ball back, hit it fifty yards to Cech (or shank it into the crowd). Worst skill-set in the league.

Yakubu was as poor as Beattie ever was. Atrocious first-touch nearly every time. Johnson was, for once, horrible (although I reserve more sympathy for AJ than anyone, given the Sunday league service he?s been feeding on).

The awesome duo of Essien and Carvalho aside, I thought Chelsea were poor and ripe for the taking; a fractious, nervous side that knows their fifteen minutes are about up. Unfortunately, Moyes decided on the hour to hold onto that 1-0 disadvantage, and got exactly what he asked for. Who had more legs left at that point, Peanut or Carsley? Good grief.

Rob Beattie
13   Posted 19/04/2008 at 07:36:00

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Stuart, I agree in the main. I’m not convinced about Tim Cahill though. I know the facts points/form etc when he’s playing are hard to argue with, I don’t think the football is that great though. Tim gives 110% + and I certainly wouldn’t advocate selling him, its just that he’s no where near the fooballer Leon is. Ask the Wigan Beattie’s .... I’ve been harping on about Leon Osman for years, he’s a quality footballer and only just now starting to get the recognition he deserves.

Jason Tooley
14   Posted 19/04/2008 at 09:26:10

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I thought that Thursday was when we started to see the real Manny Fernandes that we should be signing as soon as poss. Some of his passing and his willingness to take control of the ball was good. Also his dead ball corners were much better than Mik?s have been recently. We have to sign him.

I think we need to let Gravesen, Valente, VDM and Wessels go at the end of the season and get Pienaar, Manny and Michael Bradley in to strengthen up the middle of the park. We need Bradley because as soon as Tim isn?t around we cannot play 4-5-1.

I think we have the makings of an excellent young team but we need to ensure that we also add a defensive midfielder as Cars looks finished by this point in the season. Neville is a RB only although his defensive work Thursday was very good. I would even go back and get Sean Davis at the right price as I think he would be a good option in defensive mid.

Give Ruddy a chance instead of Wessels as well.

All in all I think we have a lot to look forward to when the injured players are back and we can add the right quality around them.
Billy Coleman
15   Posted 19/04/2008 at 10:34:58

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We lost our spark just after christmas, when Arteta was playing with his injury. When Arteta plays Everton play, and I think that;s why our play hs not been good....... and then the loss of Cahill!
Dave King
16   Posted 19/04/2008 at 12:26:59

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I agree with your assessment of our season so far.I believe we need to sign Fernandes as he is one of the few midfielders we have who looks comfortable on the ball. What really bugs me is the inability of a few of our players to keep possession and pass the ball (Neville/Hibbert),basic qalities for so called professional footballers. We are desperate for a quality midfiled ’general’ who can dominate the middle of the park, but have we got the cash to buy one?. DM needs a no.2 who can add imagination to the way we play as we sit in our own half too much and allow even poor teams to dominate the game (Birmingham/Fulham) to name a few. just hope the board comes up with cash to spend in the summer.
Malcolm Murphy
17   Posted 19/04/2008 at 13:25:01

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One thing you are all missing boys...teams who don’t have the money and are maybe missing ’quality’ players must go out with a ’Dogs of War’ attitude towards the opposition. I was raging on Thursday night seeing Everton players laughing and joking with the ’Cockney Crew’ before the ko...then we had the ’Yak’ apologising to one of them for smudging their make up!
If ’The Dunc’ was Dead he’d turn in his grave! More ’bottle’ please or it’s into the Intertoto we go go!
Gavin Ramejkis
18   Posted 19/04/2008 at 18:58:07

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You know a name that has never been thrown into the hat as a number two for DM is Slaven Bilic, I stand by this and the soon to arrive flak but for 70k a year he has transformed his national side and drums into them some lovely football, has a good footballing brain and would be in our church mouse budget. Never liked the man as a player or the circumstances of his departure £1m wealthier already working in a law practice in Liverpool and strangely though retired from the game at Everton returned home to play. If he can offer us some more nous then I’ll swallow his return happily.
Darren Gough
19   Posted 19/04/2008 at 20:14:05

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Gavin, I totally agree with you and the situation regarding Moyes needing a number two by his side, someone who is tactically adept and knowledgable enough to maybe change his negative way of thinking. As much as I love the guy I wish he would start throwing caution to the wind and be more attack minded and also stop playing players in positions that don't suit them and in their natural positions. It seems at times he can't seem to make up his mind what role certain players have, especially in midfield, and a number two to replace Alan Irvine is needed asap.
Rob Smith
20   Posted 20/04/2008 at 05:03:03

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Leave off Moyesy being average, we are 5th after all, and this is with players like Hibbert and Neville in the side, although I think Neville is our best captain. We are also above teams that have spent double plus on players .... Portsmouth.... West Ham... Tottenham etc. Has not our fullback scored nearly more goals than our midfielders combined?

I think with Cahill fit and Arteta, Fenandes, Osman and then maybe someone like Asharvin and another... and a good right back.... we will keep going forward. AJ runs like a terrier but has not much power in his shots; might have to go.... Yakubu has done what he was brought to us to do... score goals; with better ball feeding to him he will continue to do this.

I just think we have actually done a bit better than we really may have been entitled to... without the massive money the top 4 have, slow and steady will win the race eventually. Everton forever.

Stuart Downey
21   Posted 20/04/2008 at 10:33:23

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I wanna talk about this "future". If Moyes says its going to take 4 or 5 years to get into the top 4, I’ll take that as the truth. But what I don’t like, is that this year we’re going to buy players we already have, Pienaar and Fernandes. I think both great players, but the squad isn’t progressing.2.2 and say 5 for Fernades, we’ve spent 7.2m, and the squad hasn’t improved from the end of this season, we relying on cahill and vaughan to improve the squad.

I think we need at least another, £10m player, and surely this semi-success this year has paid for that (and the sale of mcfadden) I’d love to see an out and out winger. Otherwise, are we moving forward?

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