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Enjoyment Versus Points

By Colin  Grierson :  23/04/2008 :  Comments (27) :

Having read all of the recent articles and the subsequent comments in reply it is clear that there are two distinct camps as regards our current progress and the tenure of Moyes as manager.

I have to admit to having splinters in my arse over this issue as I don?t think it is as easy as some of the recent articles make out. I feel that in some ways I have a foot in each camp.

The gulf between the Sky 4 and the rest of the Premier League is massive. It is down to money and squad size, basically, and things can change but not overnight and not by simply picking up bargain gems from the lower leagues.

Moyes has brought some excellent players to the club and in so doing has given us a stability in the sense that we can hope that we get into Europe rather than hope to avoid relegation. Regardless of what you think about Moyes, we have made progress during his tenure.

Without a significant investment (Chelski like), I don't think that we will ever be able to challenge for the Premier League title and that's not Moyes's fault it's Sky's.

The best that we can hope for in my opinion is for us to play good football. I've had a glimpse of that good football this season for the first time in years. It's not so much made me hungry for success as it has made me hungry to see MY club playing entertaining football.

A good mate of mine who is a West Ham fan feels the same way about his club. I fancy that if you asked fans from Villa, Tottenham, etc they would agree that they don't enter into a season any more wondering whether they will challenge for the title but rather whether they will get into the Uefa Cup.

I for one hope that Moyes buys a crowd pleaser in the summer. Somebody who lifts the atmosphere when he gets the ball. Someone who receives the ball short from the defence and turns it into attack.

Recently we have chased points by playing negative hoofball. I would rather we lost every game trying to play good football. Ninety minutes of football should produce some exciting moments. We played out of our skin in the second leg against Fiorentina. We lost. Even though we went out I was still buzzing having witnessed us play so well.

The recent games against the RS, Derby, West Ham, Fulham, Brum and Chelsea we have been awful. I came away from all of those games feeling gutted and cheated by the team's performance. We beat Derby and got a point against West Ham and Brum but I didn't enjoy any of the games.

Now we have had injuries to some key players recently and this has played its part in our demise and should not be ignored. Moyes selection and tactics may have been shaped somewhat by these circumstances.

I propose that Moyes should be given praise for what he has done with limited backing from the boardroom as regards transfer budget. However, I think he should now buy the class couple of players we need to consistently play 'school of science' edge of your seat football or resign because the board wont back him.

For all those who keep harping on about how good we have been this season and points hauls etc. Remember this 'You are only as good as your last game.' So we are currently not 5th best in the league! Far from it. Moyes is playing a dangerous game at the moment ?enjoyment versus success?. It seems we can?t have both. I would rather enjoy the games than win them, but I would prefer both!

Reader Comments

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Alisdair Denny
1   Posted 24/04/2008 at 06:39:48

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I am obviously a bit different to you then Colin; I would rather win ugly than lose pretty. Of course, I think everyone would prefer to win pretty and hate us losing when playing ugly football. I see it as a good sign of progress that we are no longer complaining about the results or final league positions, rather the main complaint in last couple of seasons has been the type of football we play. This means that there must be some degree of satisfaction with the results we have achieved. I am certainly not suggesting that we should all be delighted to finish 5th or 6th - I think everyone wants us challenging not only for the top 4 but for the title, and that is what I want as well. However there seems to be 2 camps in this area as well. One side can see that we are making progress and realise that patience is the key. The other side suggests that 6 years is long enough and want to see results now.
Both sides choose carefully selected "facts" to back their case and I don’t think that is going to change. I suppose the only ones who can see both sides are those like yourself - sitting in the middle and I think points of view from you and your ilk are the most important and objective ones.
Jason Lam
2   Posted 24/04/2008 at 07:09:07

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"I would rather we lost every game trying to play good football" - losing games is not my definition of good football.

I think you are referring to the spuds, Ossie Ardiles playing 5 forwards. Good laughable fun, unless you’re a spuds.
Paul Niklas
3   Posted 24/04/2008 at 09:54:38

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In a perverse sort of way, I would find it quite funny and therefore entertaining if we were absolute rubbish every week and scored by way of own goals and silly mistakes by the opposition and we won won every game like that.

Could you imagine how much fun it would be watching everyone sqirm at us winning the league and representing the so cold elite Premier League in Europe.

Basically, I don't care how we win and believe you me neither do most managers in the Premier League ? if not all of them.
Colin Grierson
4   Posted 24/04/2008 at 09:52:50

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Jason,

I’m not endorsing ’Keegan-like’ gungho football, simply pass along the floor and move into space football.
My definition of good football is not losing games, however, neither is it simply winning games. You seem to have a simplistic view of the game if winning is the sole objective. If you don’t want to go and be entertained then you might as well just watch final score.

Alisdair
We aren’t winning ugly we’re just playing ugly. The only game we’ve won since the Fiorentina game is against Derby. Our closest rivals, VIlla demolished them playing attractive stuff. We played nervy hoofball and just about managed an embarassing 1 - 0 win. If we accept these tactics that is what we can expect.
Jason Lam
5   Posted 24/04/2008 at 10:06:07

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Colin, I know where you’re coming from and my comments weren’t a personal dig at you, for the record.

Personally I prefer ’effective’ football. If the opponents are tractor boys, we should be playing to their weaknesses and sheperd them into rings across the park. If we’re playing the Arse, we bombard them with the aerial artillery. It’s tactics. The tactically objective is to win the game based on your opponents. There is also the strategy side to the game, how and when to deploy your troops, what positions they can play, backup etc. Over the 38 games + cups. Moyes clearly thought we would be short in numbers at the back, and brought in Gardner (injured player at the time...). He probably thought the forward and midfield lines would suffice and accepted the risk. Anyway he has Pip who can play anywhere.

(I play striker myself though) I’m fascinated by the defensive side to a team for some reason. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing Everton let in a cheap easy goal. If we were beaten by a good goal fair enough. Problem is, by playing attractive football you will be exposed more. Winning 1-0 and 5-4 is the same: 3 points at the end of the day.

Another thing I find weird about Moyes choice of tactics is that he’s very static when it’s plain obvious something is not working. Particular against the top4, and our recent slump. It’s not the case of ’good’ football. It’s simply what’s on show is not working ’effectively’. This needs to change.
John Lloyd
6   Posted 24/04/2008 at 10:22:58

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Winning at any cost is the most important thing.
I dont know if this is a british thing as we seem to love a good/plucky/unlucky loser but I believe it is not a scouse mentality.
Winning has to be the number 1 priority that in turn will breed confidence and confidence makes for better players leading again in turn to a better quality of football.
When fergie started at Man U his biggest job was to install a winning mentality then results would come, then trophies then better football (not in that order!) but I hope you are folloing my drift.
Winning breeds more money for better quality players it improves your current squads confidence it HAS to be about winning games.
Succesfull teams dont care how they win, they wanna just win, its only lesser clubs and teams (Newcastle, hammers etc etc) that have that mentality of exciting football being better than a winningteam.
I accept Moyes’ everton are falling short of thier standards for the season at present & seem to be like a marathon runner stumbling over line as opposed to a sprinter finishing strong but he has installed a winning mentality into this club again (as it should be) and we are right to demand better from the players & I believe we will get that but to suggest good (losing) football is better or wanted more than winning at all costs is not a mentality I want associated with my club.
Messrs Dean, Catterick, Young, Labone, West, Wilson, Lawton, Hickson, Ball, Harvey, Royle, Reid, Southall, Rat, Gray, Sharp, Kendall, Sheedy etc etc worked too hard for us to be anything like the fucking geordies
Jeoff Barker
7   Posted 24/04/2008 at 10:37:08

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I think it is essential in our situation (ie no dosh) that we win at all costs including ugly football in the short term, coz we need to get our stock up as they say. Winning gets us not only points but money and hopefully European exposure don’t you know and that should allow us to develop in the right way. Surely that’s what Moyesies 5 year plans are all about.
Brian Richardson
8   Posted 24/04/2008 at 10:41:02

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Great post, written with insight and reason. I agree with all of that. Moyes?s Everton have made astonishing progress, and our expectations have soared under his stewardship. It?s a measure of his success that he is now attracting so much criticism from the Tony Marshes of this world. Six years ago, I began each season by looking at the fixture list and reassuring myself we could beat at least enough teams to steer clear of relegation. I know do the same thing but try to calculate where in the top 6 we will finish.

We can?t yet hope to win the league at this stage and it?s pointless to say "Nil Satis Nisi Optimum" as if that?s an argument we should expect this. The fact is, the game has changed immeasurably and you now need money to really challenge the top 2/3. In terms of progress, Everton have made more in the last 5 years than any other in the league, if you look at our starting point. That reassures me that these top 2/3 positions can be our domain within not too long at all, providing Moyes is given sufficient support in the transfer market.

As for the style of football, we all want to play better. It?s infuriating at times when we see players missing out the midfield with 50 and 60 yard balls to nobody. But we have played some excellent football at times this year. When we put out our first 11 we are a match for most sides and it?s clear from Moyes?s comments about Pienaar that he is desperate for us to play this stylish brand of football. When we were on our 2 month run after the Derby, Moyes kept saying that this was the kind of football he had always hoped we would play - he wants the same as we do but he is also astute enough to know how to pick up points.

COYB
Adam Payne
9   Posted 24/04/2008 at 12:18:11

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Excellent article Colin and am with you on a lot of points.

There is no doubt we have made major progress under Moyes and has established us as a top six club over the past few years.

I think the question a lot of blues are asking is can we continue this progress onto actually winning trophies and challenging the top four in the next few years.

If this is simply a question of finances then any manager would struggle with this objective. However if it is a matter of attitude, tactics and selecting the right players available for each specific game then this is where the managers input is vital. Moyes has made this clear in recent weeks by selecting the more defensive Neville instead of Fernandes or Baines (who would at least give us some width) in midfield. We are totally set up to not to lose games rather than win - if this mentality does not change over the next few years then I fear we will always be ’nearly men’.
Tony Williams
10   Posted 24/04/2008 at 13:29:16

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For the remainder of this season I would gladly sacrifice enjoyment if it could give us the points to stay the challenge of Pompey and the Villains.

I prefer to be entertained at Goodison but I will always walk away from the Old Lady with a smile on my face if we have won the 3 points (possibly Derby excepted) and I will never go along with the prefer to lose pretty idea, that is the way to relegation worries, just ask the Spuds and The Toon supporter from a few weeks back.

Adam, not having a go as I see where you are coming from but most of the fans up until recently were slagging Fernandes off and it?s quite ironic that you mention the choice of Neville being too defensive but would want the left back Baines to play in midfield.
Paul McCann
11   Posted 24/04/2008 at 13:20:26

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Excellent post Colin.

Sums up how a lot of us feel I think. We’d all like to see better football being played.
Your point about bringing in a couple of playmakers in the summer is an interesting one, and I think tells us a lot about how far the club has come under Moyes. There are several regular contributors to Toffeeweb who constantly bemoan the lack of good football. To play good football its generally accepted that you need good players. When Moyes took over, you could count the good players at the club on a couple of fingers, but now, you might need to borrow somebody else’s hand [depending on your point of view on individual players]. We even have a couple of potentially ?great? players. As a consequence, the style of play has slowly started to improve. Moyes has achieved this overhaul by spending relatively little money. We have established ourselves as a top six side, with fourth, sixth, and hopefully fifth placed finishes in the last four seasons [and an eleventh place thrown in, just in case I?m accused of only telling half of the story].

When Moyes took over in 2002, the type of playmakers that we would all like to see arrive at the club this summer wouldn?t have looked twice at Everton. If fact, they wouldn?t have looked at all. Now, after progressing slowly [the only option open to Moyes due to the financial constrains at the club], we are in a position to attract those types of players. Not only should this enable us to get better results, and challenge the clubs above us, it should also enable us to play some better football. The truth is, no one really knows if Moyes can take us this next step, but judging on the progress and stability which he has brought to the club so far, I for one, will be giving him plenty of time to find his feet at this new level. Will he be backed by this board in the summer and in the future? I hope so.
Colin Grierson
12   Posted 24/04/2008 at 10:53:44

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I understand the points being made and again I am not saying that winning doesnt matter cos that would be plain stupid. John, I’m not a geordie in disguise! And, what exactly is a ’scouse’ mentality?
I do think though that in our current position that if we are to make ’the next step’ that will see us contend for a CL place that we mustn’t play long ball tactics against sides like Derby et al.
Jason, I fully understand your argument and agree that tactics must be tailored to the opposition. But shouldn’t that mean that we don’t play the long ball game against Derby. We don’t have the personnel for that style of football even when everyone is fit. I’m not saying we shouldn’t play percentage football but in my book that means retaining possession rather than hoofing it long. I’m a defender myself and the best form of defence is to have and retain the ball, something we don’t do at the moment. Patient football with the occasional risk at the right end of the pitch is the way forward.
Any decent player watching our tactics at the moment would surely want to go elsewhere and play decent stuff.
Have any of the top clubs put a string of dire performances together like us? NO! All clubs suffer injuries and lack of form but we have resorted to a brand of football that wins nothing and is nonsenical. The top clubs keep playing proper football and therefore do better than us.
Jimmy Rimmer
13   Posted 24/04/2008 at 13:46:05

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Patience.

Moyes took over an ageing, relegation battling team and didn?t have the money to buy his way out of the problem. His priority for 4 years therefore was winning at the expense of creative, watchable football.

I noticed from the first kick of the ball this season that something had changed. I believe Moyes wanted to play more attractive football, while winning and for a period we did, particularly when we had the players fit to do it. Like anything else, the metamorphis, into an attractive, effective, footballing team will take a couple of seasons, phasing out players suited to our older style and bringing in ?football? players like Pienaar, Fernandes, etc.

We should be thankful Moyes has taken us from battling relegation to the opposite end of the table battling for Europe.
John Lloyd
14   Posted 24/04/2008 at 13:57:02

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Colin, I don't think your a geordie in disguise, you spelt all your words correctly and you are using a computer which is beyond most geordies!!
I think your piece was good and I, like all of you, am not enjoying the stuff getting served up at the minute but what I didn't want to sneak in was that type of mentality which you suggest in your article. As I say, winning has to be paramount.

The scouse mentality you mention is another article in itself, but from my point of view & the people I surround myself with we don't seem to follow the opinion of the general british public and the plucky loser that is loved in this country is not in Liverpool ? we much prefer people who have actually acheived and had success.
Colin Grierson
15   Posted 24/04/2008 at 15:38:06

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John,

I understand your sentiment but really what I am advocating is that we leep going forward with our transition and maintain the style of football which has brought us relative success this season.
This season has been the first for a long time that we have shown real promise as far as playing entertaining football. Like many fans I have been delighted with the performances of many of our players and with the way we have played for a fair amount of the season. I do realise that it takes time to develop a top class side but I also think that it is essential that we stick to playing football on the floor or risk regression to the bad old days.
How long do you think the quality footballers will stay at the club if we resort to the hoof?
I think the way we have played has had an affect on the class of player we can now entice to the club. Our position in the league at the moment is due to the good quality football we exhibited earlier in the season rather than the dross we have served up recently. I just hope Moyes adds quality in the summer and gets back to the style we employed earlier in the season for our next campaign.
Jack Calvert
16   Posted 24/04/2008 at 16:43:22

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2 teams here we should consider - Chelsea and Arsenal.
The former play some of the dullest, most boring, stifling football ever and are second in the league with a fair shot at a major European final.
The latter play some of the best, most exciting, exhillerating football and are about to have their 3rd consecutive season without a trophy. They are also hitting a poor run of form which has fucked up their season which threatens to do likewise to ours.

Thinking about it I?m not too sure what my point is exactly - maybe to ask the question which would we all rather see; a side winning boringly or losing excitingly.

Surely for Everton to pay "the Arsenal way" is too accept defeat in trying to challenge above us. Arsenal have no recent prize for their style, flair or panache. What is the point of playing brilliant football and achieving nothing?

Joe McMahon
17   Posted 24/04/2008 at 17:00:12

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Sadly at the moment we have neither.
Jason Lam
18   Posted 25/04/2008 at 02:43:14

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Colin, we all wish our defenders can keep the ball like their European and South American counterparts but I’ve lived in the UK for most of my life to know that the British don’t play football like that. Being very candid and objective here: European centerbacks have more ball playing skills than British midfielders. Is it the weather and the cabbage patches we grew up with that caused this style of play? Or maybe we got away with the huff and puff and physical style for far too long. Anyway the point is our defenders (incl Cars) are just not comfortable on the ball and will get rid of it as though it’s a ticking timebomb. If that’s all we got then I’ll gladly accept it. I’m sure we recall the lucky incident by Jags against West Ham. We didn’t play good football against Derby I agree. But 3 points and we move on.

Jack, of the 2 styles you mention, I personally believe under the Theory of Probability, Chelsea will come on top more often than Arsenal. It’s just that Arsenal are more palatable when they lose. But as John Lloyd states, which I am in the same camp, I want Everton playing winning football, at whatever cost. There is no place for the gracious loser in the history books. Beautiful football died with Brazil in 1982.
Colin Grierson
19   Posted 25/04/2008 at 05:44:22

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Jason,

Lescott plays the ball out of defence when possible as will Baines we just need to keep adding players of their ilk.

Jack, I understand the comparison in the two contrasting styles of Arsenal and Chelsea. Arsenal are great to watch but seem to bottle it too often. Chelsea play percentage football of the type I am advocating. If you watch them play the sides that they are a class apart from then they show flair and take more chances. If you watch them when they play their rivals then they are more conservative but they still aim to retain possession.

I don?t expect us to become Arsenal nor Chelsea, I would just like us to play possession football as if we have the ball the opposition can't score. If we hoof it , we don?t have a proper target man and therefore they have the ball and may score. Chelsea looked miles better than us the other night and they didn't really play well. They did show however, that they can pass a ball. Surely we MUST expect players being paid 20 grand plus a week to find someone in a blue shirt more often than not, regardless of their position on the pitch.

Derek Thomas
20   Posted 25/04/2008 at 05:52:18

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One of the first replies was "I would rather win ugly than lose pretty" ...reality check here... we are doing neither.... we are losing ugly.

The 'play badly and win' scenario only applies for teams doing well for the odd game in 12, by enlarge we haven?t played well since Christmas.

Playing pretty and losing, again does not apply to us. It is just another version of above, eg for teams playing well week-in, week-out, that for the odd game in 12 forget that you have to put the effort in... you have to fight for the right to party, as the beastie boys have it.

Playing proper football... as wished for by Colin, as in, pass, move, support, NOT HOOFBALL, NOT GIVING THE BALL AWAY.

Will win you more games than you lose... add a bit of effort to that and we won?t mind waiting a year or two for all the pieces of Moyes?s (or whoever's)jigsaw to fall into place.
Pete Marsh
21   Posted 25/04/2008 at 08:41:12

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Reading were last year’s darlings of the pretty football brigade, also Fulham until Chris Coleman left. Where are they both now?

With little transfer kitty and largely what you might call 2nd tier players no team can do well in our league. but we are doing well. And we are improving. Be a bit more patient you lot. Your craving for better football will be satisfied with the current regime.
John Lloyd
22   Posted 25/04/2008 at 10:15:27

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Colin I think your point sort of proves my point in a way, you say - "This season has been the first for a long time that we have shown real promise as far as playing entertaining football."
The reason for this is the mentality that DM has brought in of winning and being succesfull as opposed to scrapping relegation & fighting for points mentality, which we had been reduced to for most of the 90’s for a number of reasons.
As I said in my (over the top!) initial response it is a progression, winning breeds confidence & also attracts better players which in turn improves the quality of football.
We have seen a glimpse this year in the middle part of the season but due to the ANC, injuries and sometimes loss of form we havent had the squad to be able to deal with these things resulting in the quality of football & also results dropping off. If Moyes continues to improve the squad then the quality of football will increase for longer (hopefully) all periods of next season.....basically.
Lets just hope with Mikel, Ossie, Manny, Peanuts back in midfield we can get over the finishing line in 5th.
Jeoff Barker
23   Posted 25/04/2008 at 10:40:26

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Couldn’t agree with you more John Lloyd. Fingers crossed for Sunday

COYB!
Colin Grierson
24   Posted 25/04/2008 at 15:32:14

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A picture of Steptoe (PN) would have been more apt than Jag for this article fellas. You probably know how I feel about him by now.
Nick Smith
25   Posted 25/04/2008 at 20:43:15

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I agree entirely, Everton are never (at least in the next 10 years) going to be as good as the elite 4. I think that we have to keep on playing our football with the players available to us and pay no attention to what is happening at the top of the table. The elite 4 will change eventually and Everton have to be ready when that happens.

As regards to attractive football vs winning games, I would certainly like to see both but the priority must be a top 10 finish and pushing for Europe.
David James
26   Posted 26/04/2008 at 04:58:51

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I think we have played some good stuff at times and remember the match report in the Gaudian for the home game against Arsenal. They said that for 45 minutes it looked as if the teams had come out in the wrong shirts. Dont you think Moyes would seriously kick some arse if he could. We dont have a squad so the team more or less picks itself. Moyes is doing a hell of a job adding quality in the only way he can, little by little and cheaply.

Wins breed confidence. I hope we play without fear against Villa and get the result that we deserve. Ok the football has been dire since Fiorentina but let's judge our team on the performances over the whole season. Let's get behind our small squad who, unlike the reds, are not afforded the luxury of a rest every couple of weeks. Let's tell Bill to back the best manager we?ve had in a long time. If we get into Europe again, confidence will grow. If Bill backs Davey in the summer, confidence will grow, results will get better and so will the football.

Declan Brown
27   Posted 26/04/2008 at 18:42:01

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Paul McCann, that was very well put.

I’d agree with every single word of that.

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