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Clear Blue Water

By Paul Tran :  14/05/2008 :  Comments (11) :
So we finished fifth, five points in front of the sixth placed team. Record Premier League points total. A semi-final and a UEFA Cup run. For a while we even played some good, passing football. As someone who has previously constructively criticised Moyes, all I can say is job well done and please kick on from here!

Now that we've established some clear blue water between us and the 15 below us, let's look at how we can cement this position and look at the gap between us and those above us.

There is constant hysteria about the 'money' that the clubs below us have. Sure, but how many of them actually bought decent players that would improve our side? I can't think of anyone other than Defoe, who would look great alongside the Yak. Right now, can you really see any of these clubs buying anything other than reasonably good Premier League players, or taking a punt on unproven foreign players? Me neither. We can and probably will do this and in doing so I'll expect fifth again next season.

The clear blue water above us is another matter. If you have a well-organised , hard-working team you finish mid-table and if things go your way you finish higher. Moyes and Kenwright have discovered that if you sprinkle that side with a genuine goalscorer, one player who can pass a ball and one player who can take a man on, you can finish top six.

With the current squad we were never going to overhaul Liverpool. I'm sorry, Cahill was bound to get suspended/injured, Arteta was bound to get injured or just worn out from being the team's main (only?) creative force. Don't criticise him, criticise the managment for not buying more quality players who can share the load.

Fifth is as good as this squad can get. I don't know the budget, but we need more height and weight in midfield, plus a genuine general who does it on the pitch and not in pre/post-match interviews.

We've got some good young players who have got tired and made mistakes at the wrong times. Even the top players do this - remember how we gave the title away in 1986? It's time to get in some players who can help them learn more quickly. That's going to mean Moyes giving a bit more influence away ? can he/will he do this?

Let's look at last season for what it was. Better football, some progress, cementing our standing as 'the best of the rest', plus a couple of cup runs. Not my idea of success, but as close as we have been for years. Let's look at the Sidwells and Bradleys to bolster the numbers and maintain the progress, but let's look at a higher quality of player to get us real success. Over to Bill for the money and Davey for the persuading!

Reader Comments

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Trudy Boston
1   Posted 14/05/2008 at 16:25:12

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Can I speak up about the Owen Transfer that recently reared it’s ugly head in some tabliod I can’t recall the name of.

I would not be happy to say the least if he ended up Goodison.

I know it’s just speculation, all manner of names get banded about during the close season from Joe Bloggs of Truro to Kaka or Ronaldinho.

Granted, Owen is a good player, who can forget his performances at the 1998 World Cup, and since then he has come on leaps and bounds, injuries permitting, and is still a exciting player, not world class now though, by any stretch of the imagination.

I hope David does not see that man as the way forward to lead the attack with Johnson, Anichebe, etc.

Maybe there are those on here, that WOULD like to see Owen scoring for us in front of the Gwladys Street, but sorry, it’s not for me.

Hope to see some improvements or worthwhile additions in the summer anyway. It will be interesting to see what Moyes can put together.
Nick Entwistle
2   Posted 14/05/2008 at 17:21:51

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Good points given here. As Alan Hansen said on MOTD any world class talent will want to go to CL teams, so those below us despite their money wont be able to purchase anyone above the quality we’re after.
If Rafa reverts to type and stops playing his best team every game (who would have thought that tactic would have worked!) then we have a shout at 4th again... especially with a fit Arteta, Fernandes, Pienaar and Cahill.
Chris Jones
3   Posted 14/05/2008 at 17:35:57

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I see we finished almost 20 points ahead of Spurs who had the funds to pay £14m for Bent and in Berbatov have a player any one of the Sky4 would sign given a chance.

Doing so well on a much smaller budget surely demonstrates that as badly as some teams are managed, ours is led by a good man. WD Davey, I hope you sign another long contract.
Jay Campbell
4   Posted 14/05/2008 at 21:49:28

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Over to Bill for the money!!!!!

Look?s like we?re gettin Sidwell then.

By the way we lost the league in 86 because of 1 reason only Neville Southall got injured. End of.
Steve Green
5   Posted 15/05/2008 at 01:49:13

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Jay, sorry to disagree with you but it was Gary Linekar who missed the chances to secure 3 points that night at Oxford, not Bobby Mimms. Those points would have won us the league. Now if you want to talk about Neville?s injury costing us the 86 cup final well you may have an ally with me there. Neville wouldn?t have let all 3 of those efforts in I suspect. But I?m dammed if I can recall a league game where the presence of Mimms cost us points which otherwise would have won the title. Even a 0-0 draw at Oxford would not have been enough... which brings me back to missed chances!
Jason Lam
6   Posted 15/05/2008 at 02:51:48

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Let’s try to be objective here, Owen is actually a decent striker. IF Everton ever take him on then we can rest assure that his injuries will be scrutized according to our standard procedures (Forsell anyone?) and he’ll be forced to a huge pay cut. So it’ll never happen. Now that RS Beardsley was a fine player too.
EJ Ruane
7   Posted 15/05/2008 at 09:50:34

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The difference between 4th and 5th?

Touch and pace.

I’m going to repeat that.

Touch and pace.

And again.

Touch and pace.

United have it, so do chelsea and Arsenal.

Actually so do the lovables, but their balance is all wrong (too much pace or....something).

Anyway, that’s the difference.

If you don’t have touch, you give the ball away a lot (PHHHHHHHIL!!!)

If you don’t have pace, you don’t get beyond the last man enough times.

So how do you get enough genuine touch and pace to finish in the top 4?

You pay for it.

How much will it cost?

A lot, more than we’ve got.

So can we get beyond 5th?

Not really.
Tony Williams
8   Posted 15/05/2008 at 12:20:57

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Spot on EJ and I would add one more thing to that aswell...positioning.

I watch the better sides constantly and it amazes me, especially with MAnUre and Le Arse how much space and time they actually get on the ball, because when they pass the ball they simply look and move into space.

The one player who is head and shoulders above the rest for getting in space and finding other players in space is Paul Scholes. It seems so simple, he looks for space to get the ball and looks up just prior to receiving the ball (his touch is that good he can look away before receiving it) so he is aware of what is arounf him........can’t tackle for shit but his use of the ball and positioning is amazing.

Touch, pace and positioning..... the basis of football, looks and sounds so simple doesn’t it?
EJ Ruane
9   Posted 15/05/2008 at 12:58:55

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Agree Tony.

Under Walter ’Verra dissapointat’ Smith, we had players who, for whatever reason, obviously weren’t trying.

Under Moyes, we’re considered a hard working team and these days I never find myself thinking (or shouting) "You lazy shower of cuunts" or whatever

Plus team spirit seems really good - they all seem to get along.

But unfortunately, it just isn’t enough to break into the top 4.

I understand Moyes saying (at the start of a season) he can’t accept it’s not possible to win the league, but he KNOWS it’s not.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard EPL bosses, Keegan, Redknapp and Coppell, all say that with the finances available to the top 4, nobody else will win the league.

They’re right.

After Keegan said it, I actually noticed Sky immediately began a damage limitation operation.

ie: Every 5 minutes the anchor would be saying "Premier league, boring? Last day of the season relegation and title battles? I don’t THINK so!"

Plus Andy Gray being wheeled out to tell us why it was incredibly exciting and not at all predictable...was predictable.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read pieces by Johnny Giles and Brian Reade, who have both said basically the same thing.

The ’Premier’ League, because it’s based on greed/money and run by near-sighted puddins with little or no-imagination, it won’t be long before it begins to unravel.

I don’t know about that but I know SOMETHING’S got to give.
Joe Clitherow
10   Posted 15/05/2008 at 16:16:55

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Sadly, ’What gives’ is, I think what has already given - the fans.

Lads growing up these days do not pick a team on the basis of their locality or the team their dad supported - they pick one based on which one of the Sky 4 has just won the League (or RS if they want to appear radical and hip, bizarrely)

Not all fans are the genuine lovers of the game that I grew up with.

That’s what’s given. That’s the real problem.

Fans ain’t what they used to be....
Connor Rohrer
11   Posted 15/05/2008 at 18:24:58

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I think we need more mettle to be honest. More players with legs who can get around the pitch and a bit more power.

We have alot of technically gifted players with good touches who are able to find space and pass and move. Arteta, Pienaar, Fernandes and Osman are all very capable of this.

Pace would be nice in midfield. We have it at the back and upfront but we do lack it in midfield. Fernandes is probably our quickest midfielder (when he can be arsed running) and I wouldn’t call him quick. We definatly need a bit more pace.

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