I was relatively happy with 5th place and a bit of decent football last season. I would have preferred 4th and consistently nice football but I was happy with what we achieved. But even I, who thinks he sees blue overflowing flavoured milk in every empty glass, remain convinced that Everton lacks an understanding of how it wants to play and what players it needs to make this mysterious system work.
David Moyes has built a team with a reasonable level of individual skill in the attacking half of the pitch. In doing this, he has leaned toward players of slight stature in the midfield who really need the ball on the deck to prosper. In EPL terms they are not quick, so need the ball to feet and to use their quick wits to move the ball around.
They are also not a quick counter-attacking bunch ? being more concerned with preventing the counter-counter attack than the benefits of countering quickly themselves. They are supported by a centre forward (The Yak) who needs ball to feet, back to goal, to really show his worth. He is best on the turn, using his strength and power in the space he is facing.
Yakubu is not a stereotypical ?targetman? who meets the ball delivered from wide. He is supported by a couple of players who are quick, but who are not naturally good in the air (except Tim Cahill) and who also benefit from the ball on the deck. While they are willing to chase long balls to the corner flag, this is not where their individual football attributes are best displayed.
To make these players play to their strengths, clearly Everton need the ball from the back to come with quality and on the deck. And? this is where the system fails. Because, all of our fellas at the back, including the keeper, seem afraid to do other than punt the ball long to a contest, where they appear to expect Bob Latchford to win the ball and knock it to an inside forward to score against an old-style slow and static defence. The problem is that modern defenders are strong, smart and really quick.
I?m not sure if Moyes has explained to the guys at the back what the system is supposed to be. I do know that I would be very frustrated playing in front of these fellas. They are very good defensively, and particularly so when screened by a deep lying midfielder. They know how to go for Row Z and none of us mind when it is appropriate.
But? they need to get with the system being used in the forward half of the pitch or we need to amend that system to reflect what they are trying to do. Right now we have two systems in different parts of the park and they clearly don?t compliment each other. I know that most of us watching prefer the ball on the deck that the forward half of the team is built to achieve.
Question: Why is it that our guys at the back feel the need to lump it all the time? Why does Tim Howard feel the need to belt it to a contest when he could roll or pass it to a defender in space? Why is it that the fullbacks don?t naturally look for the ball from the keeper and then attack from the back?
If I thought that they couldn?t do it, I could probably live with it, but I don?t think this is it. They look to me to lack the confidence to have a go, too afraid of the ramifications of making a mistake than of success. Does this reflect poorly upon them, DM or us? Or, do all of us lack the culture that we aspire to and refer to as our School of Science ? including the forgiveness required when it goes awry?
What I do know is that in an improving team there is little future in continuing to have a mixed football ideology in the two halves of the field. DM needs to determine how he wants them to play and make the buggers conform. If they cannot then they need to move aside and let someone who is prepared to have a go. Baines anyone?
And so I wonder who and what David Moyes is targeting in the transfer market. Will he seek to get skilled players who compliment what we are trying to do in the forward half of the field (as we all hope), with the risk being that we can only lump it to them and prevent them from doing what they are good at? Or, will he seek to find a couple of defenders who can play it on the deck and trust what he has in the forward part of the field? Or, will he seek to rehabilitate the defence?s approach to football and sprinkle whatever quality he can afford across the park?
My suggestion? Lay the law down to the defence (particularly to Jags) about the long punt ? play it clever or get benched. Remind the fullbacks that the halfway line is not electrified and tell them that part of their task is to pick the ball up deep and stay wide when we have the ball. Encourage Joey and Joleon to trust their talent and keep it shorter and anchored to the park. Get it through to Tim Howard that the high ball to a contest is not in the team?s interests as the ball just comes straight back. And finally, get hold of a deep lying midfielder (or two) who is genuinely comfy on the ball and set him (them) the task of coming to the defence to pick up the ball and play it through the small but skilled midfield. Oh, and a couple of genuinely quick fells who can play the ball around and who have the School of Science ethos we all crave would be nice.
I don?t know whether I?m looking forward to 08-09 or not. I?m probably the archetypal Everton fan in that I fear to dream. I do know that another season of mixed systems will see us outside the top six because the rate of improvement in 08-09 will be significant. Spurs, Villa and Portsmouth all play decent football and just need to tweak a couple of players to make their systems work successfully. I?m not sure we know what our system is and we need to solve this philosophical dilemma over the summer and well before we spend our limited and hard earned readies.
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 21/06/2008 at 13:39:45
The back four aren?t all to blame. There are times where the likes of Jags, Lescott and Yobo have no choice but to boot the ball up field because of the lack of movement and willingness to have the ball from the midfield. I exclude Neville from that because he just does it naturally whether he?s under pressure or not.
Getting in two players who are comfortable on the ball is the way to go, play Baines at left back, bring a new right back in and we will improve dramatically. The more technically gifted footballers we have on the pitch the better.
I think its no secret that we need to add pace and strength to the team. I think every Evertonian knows that. We have alot of clever technically gifted footballers like Arteta, Fernandes, Osman and Pienaar who all play football in front of teams. Pass and move football, one touch football and trying to open up defences with there creativity. None are direct or pacy though. You?re not going to see any of the players mentioned getting behind teams and giving us a different option. A direct winger is definatly needed or at least someone with a bit of pace.
Strength is also something we lack. Our lack of height hurts us mostly at set pieces which is why the Yobo, Jags and Lescott combo have been used with Baines being dropped. I don?t blame Moyes for doing this as it was needed. If where playing players like Osman, Arteta and Pienaar in the same team then we need as many tall players as possible. Hopefully next season Moyes will buy two players with physical presence and make us alot more competitive. The more options we have in midfield the better.
It?ll be interesting to see what Moyes goes with next season. 4-5-1 or 4-4-2? If we buy two excellent out and out centre midfielders we may revert to 4-4-2 and give Johnson/Vaughan a chance up alongside Yakubu, or we could stick to 4-5-1 which has suited us so well over the years. I think the systems are there it?s just about finding different options to make it more fluid, harder to judge attacking options.
2 Posted 21/06/2008 at 14:09:10
3 Posted 21/06/2008 at 14:41:29
4 Posted 21/06/2008 at 15:51:43
5 Posted 21/06/2008 at 15:03:36
I agree that our defenders are generally poor on the ball and do not have the ability / confidence to give 15/20 yd passes to the midfield. However, as an opposing manager what I would say is stop them using Arteta as an outlet and Everton will pump it long. Carsley, Cahill and Osman do not have the ability to pick up balls deep, retain possession and then threaten with forward runs or forward passes. I agree with you that what we need is a balance of midfield players who are comfortable on the ball, strong enough to keep possession and have the pace to attack. I suspect we both have similar views about what we need my argument would be that its not down to players its down to team selection and tactics. If you select Jagielka you know exactly what you will get - 100% commitment, bags of enthusiasm but zero quality on the ball. Play Lescott at LB and you get a quality player playing out of position in order to present a more formidable defensive option. Playing Carsley puts another defender in front of the back four - I would never say he was a true midfield player that worked in both ends of the field, for me he was a defender who played 10yds in front of the centre backs.
I genuinely believe that we rarely if ever set out to attack sides and go for the jugular, but that we try to stifle and defend in the hope that they will make a mistake and we will profit. That's why games like Fiorentina were so frustrating. Having to win the match put a positive mind set in the players and management from the start and they responded. Conversely the 2 matches against Chelsea highlighted the flaws in our tactics. With 20 mins to go at Chelsea they are down to 10, they take off their CF and replace him with a RB and obviously expect us to attack and they would be happy with a draw - we all know what happens we sit back and try and defend, they realise we?re the ones running scared and the smallest man on the field scores a header because the mind set is all wrong. At home we?ve got nothing to lose but try and sit off them waiting for a break and they are rarely troubled all night. How many big matches have we won in the last 3 years with these tactics?
Players are important, as is selecting the right ones, but of far more importance are the tactics used and the mindset players go out with. If you tell players to defend and get behind the ball don?t expect them to be adventurous or creative, their first reaction will be safety and hence get the ball as far away from the goal as possible as quickly as possible.
6 Posted 21/06/2008 at 17:43:17
7 Posted 21/06/2008 at 18:18:19
Our defence is world class!
Phillip Neville is one hell of a crosser. He is a super distributor. Lescott is also first rate. Tony Hibbert and Jagielka are great, great defenders. And Yobo is fast and has it all.
Leave them as they are. Maybe buy David Wheater?
8 Posted 21/06/2008 at 23:51:14
9 Posted 22/06/2008 at 00:25:41
Tim Cahill: 66% pass completion
Manuel Fernandes: 79% pass completion
Leon Osman: 76% pass completion
Lee Carsley: 74% pass completion
Phil Neville: 72% pass completion
Thomas Gravesen: 82% pass completion
All our midfielders pass completion’s last season. Pretty much show?s who retains possession well and who doesn’t. I’d say high 70s is excellent, mid 70s decent but anything under is pretty poor.
I think it more or less shows which midfielders are part of our future if where going to play pass and move, joined up football. Only Arteta, Fernandes and Pienaar fit into that category. They pass consistently and they try harder passes than the rest of the players mentioned yet complete more.
Obviously that depends on what type of football we are looking to adopt. If we want direct, long ball and in your face football then passers and distributors aren?t really as important. Players like Cahill and Neville would probably be more useful in a more direct game as there passing stats aren?t very good and they don?t retain possession well enough. I suppose its up to Moyes.
10 Posted 22/06/2008 at 01:08:21
11 Posted 22/06/2008 at 03:54:15
When we were shit to watch in the last third of the season, the aim still seemed to be to get the ball into the channels but instead of building through the midfield we just lumped it forward for Johnson to chase down the channels. The bridge between midfield and attack seemed to have been lost and Johnson was often isolated and is not good enough to hold the ball up for long enough to allow the midfielders to get foward in support.
I’d hoped by bringing in Fernandes we would see some more incisive passing through the middle to play through balls to Johnson so we were playing to his strengths but he failed to do this for whatever reason. We desperately need a ball winning, incisive passing central midfielder to give us more options going through the middle and a tall target man who can win a header and connect with the many crosses that are supplied. I still think a right back should be priority too as Neville’s crossing and HIbbert’s for that matter is very poor and often good attacking play is wasted by them. Oh and some money from the board to buy them!
12 Posted 22/06/2008 at 16:47:03
Thats not enough for me. I want my captain to be a leader but I also want him to be one of our better players and show some consistency in his play. Neville isn’t consistent, he doesn’t drag the team on and he’s our worst player in the current team.
The way we play needs needs quick, athletic attacking fullbacks. We don’t play with natural wingers so the likes of Pienaar and Arteta need a fullback who’s going to get beyond them and give them a pacy option. We have it on the left side with Baines and Lescott but Neville isn’t capable of doing it. If we had this type of fullback on each flank we wouldn’t need to worry about getting a natural winger in and it’d give us alot more width and energy going forward.
He tries his best but he’s sadly lacking in a number of areas. Along with centre midfield, right back should be one of the places we should be looking to improve.
I’m expecting posters to come on and say I’m judging him on his central midfield performances........thats not the case at all. He had enough games to prove himself at right back last season and failed in my book. Continually wasting possession, he’s the first to look for the long ball and he has a bad tendency to back off his winger until they are inside the box. His crossing was also very hit and miss last season.
If we want to improve our football then players like Neville should be improved on and hopefully they will. I can accept players like Yobo and Jagielka because they only hit the long ball when there isn’t a short option to be made. Neville however seems to hit long whether its under pressure or not. He just likes to do it and its part of his game. Really suprising for such an experienced player who came through a good academy.
Right back is definatly a position we can improve on.
13 Posted 22/06/2008 at 19:20:07
Is it just a meaningless statistic that unimaginative TV producers think we can?t see through?
Maybe in the future, things could be decided by this statistic. It could be just like the fair play award (Respect to club officials, anyone?). Fewest cards...finished 7th.
14 Posted 22/06/2008 at 19:23:46
It is no good at all having a new ground with a team that is threadbare. Arteta and Johnson are rumoured to be on their way, this follows McFadden and Carsleys exit.
We look like needing at least four or five new players to maintain our squad numbers as they stand. We should be strengthening our team by adding players not just treading water.
Im heartedly sick of hearing about the Kirkby move and I just wish the management would concentrate more on supporting DM and putting a decent team out EVERY week.
15 Posted 22/06/2008 at 21:55:32
I agree with you I don?t like this style of play. The style of play in which Unsworth did so regularly but Moyes must feel that it is effective and gets results. I hope that we can get a player like Englaar from FC Twente, a player who is comfortable on the ball and who can drop off and get the ball off Yobo and jags and bring it forward in doing so releasing the likes of Osman, Pienaar and Arteta. Something which sadly Carsley couldn?t provide. However I love the man to bits for his effort and his effectiveness in a defensive capacity. But to move forward we need a player who can boss the midfield.
16 Posted 23/06/2008 at 00:46:46
17 Posted 23/06/2008 at 02:35:06
Question: What doesn’t Everton have the funds to sign the players you’re dreaming about?
18 Posted 23/06/2008 at 06:36:38
19 Posted 23/06/2008 at 07:43:40
We haven’t signed Fernandes yet, so what is wrong with playing 3-4-1-1?Howard - Yobo, Jags, Lescott -Neville, Arteta, Osman, Baines - Cahil - Yakubu...
Neville and Baines have defensive qualities but can also put in telling crosses while playing three centre-halves means we can have three accomplished passers in the middle of midfield.
20 Posted 23/06/2008 at 09:30:42
I like the man, think there’s very few who could have done what he’s done with us, for the same ackers.
I hope he stays.
That said, the most frustrating thing for me is our urgency to ’get the fucking thing up there’.
Players and supporters alike
I realise the ’big 3’ have players better able to keep possession, but we seem (at times) incapable of keeping hold of the ball - in fact (seemingly) willfully wanting to just ’red rid’
Three passes along the back and BANG!
Another comfortable ball for the oppositions centre half and...oh look, we’re on the back foot again.
When you watch Chelsea, a lot of the time they’re NOT steaming forward, in fact all they’re doing, is keeping hold of the ball and waiting for something to open up, which it invariably does (nb: keeping hold of the ball - not to be confused with all charging forward like lunatics and getting frustrated coz you’re not two-up after 4 minute).
Think how many times you’ve seen us play a ball up the wing and you’ve followed the flight of the ball assuming there’s someone...um..’unsighted’, who’s going to fly after it, only to realise there is actually nobody (unsighted or otherwise) up there.
When I see that, I almost lose the power of speech
I’d just like us relax/calm down a bit when we have the ball.
By the way, not sure what Kirkby has got to do with our transfer funds.
Are they saying there will (or won’t) be money if we do (or don’t) go?
21 Posted 23/06/2008 at 10:55:46
But I think a lot of supporters believe that our style of play and the results we get don?t match and we win purely on luck??? We win not because of tatics but because Moyes fielded a team with the hope that the ball would come off one of our strikers arses and end up in the back of the net???
We play the way we play because quite simply Moyes decides to play to strength. Sometimes it isn?t pretty. Sometimes it doesn?t work. But judge him at the end of each season and he has got us where we are. With the right backing and a bit of luck in the transfer market we will sign the right players to play better. And I think watching us since Moyes has taken over that is what has happened. We do play better football. The "hoof ball" is only applied in the odd game. Where as, previously with Big Dunc it was how we played all of the time.
A lot of supporters do knock Moyes for his tactics but he is great on tactics. He is a winner and wants to get the club competing. With the right backing he will get us there.
22 Posted 23/06/2008 at 13:36:08
But that's not really relevant to this discussion. I bet the majority of you who watched the Spain vs Italy match were rather bored by the way Italy played and were quite happy to see Spain win. It might have been because you just dont like Italians but I suspect its because you thought their negative approach to the game was uninspring.
Well, if you ask me thats how most of sky tv subscribers react when they see Everton on the box, so if you are expecting players like Arshavin to consider signing for a team like us without being offered stupid amounts of money or guaranteed trophys then I think you are living in a state of denial or deluded bliss.
Moyes encourages percentage football and always will do. It keeps him in a job on a small budget. He buys limited players for a reason: because on Everton?s budget we will never be able to afford players of true class. He believes we will never be able to outplay the opposition only through effort and a bit of luck will we be able to obtain the odd point here and there so he buys players accordingly and tells them to play to their strengths.
Italy tried to play to their strengths aswell. Despite what Shearer says, they have only one or two players of genuine creative skill so they pack their teams with defenders and hard working midfielders and hope for a breakaway goal (or penalties).
Its pragmatic football, its helped Italy do well over the yars and helped Moyes finish high up in the league. So some of the blame has to be given to Moyes because he has created this combination of players (some have been good some bad). I hate watching his brand of football personally but until BK buggers off you are stuck with it.
23 Posted 23/06/2008 at 13:54:29
1) I found your analysis depressing and negative.
2) Sadly, I agree with every single word.
24 Posted 23/06/2008 at 13:57:21
At times last season we played some excellent football. Some games we played teams off the park. It is against the sky4 that I would generally agree with you. Moyes gets the players to revert to strength. That doesn’t make us boring. It’s a fact that we have to live with; we can’t compete with the teams with Billions to spend on players or players wages.
And you are right that in BK we don’t have a wealthy owner. But in Moyes we do have a great manager. His "brand" of football "Play the fancy stuff when you can, the rest of the time get the result you can". Is that massively different to, say Mourinho? Moyes would be different given the funds. Some of the players he has signed are not "hoofers". Arteta, Cahill, AJ, Peanuts, Yak, Manny. These players can play a bit. I for one believe we are a million miles better than Walter Smith’s EFC teams or Joe Royles "dogs of war" or even Kendall’s ageing warriors.
25 Posted 23/06/2008 at 14:30:50
Barry, I agree we did play some good football for a while last season and it was great to see again. (I'm also not saying Moyes is a bad manager) I think your comparison with Mourinho is a good one as they are both very ?pragmatic? managers. In a way it's sad that we will probably never get to see what a true Moyes team would play like (ie a team with top class players) at Goodison or Kirkby but when you watch football played by the likes of Russia I begin to question whether Moyes has got the balance right in terms of productive and attractive football. If, as Moyes seems to accept, we don't have a chance of winning the league then why don't we try and play better football... we've got nothing to loose it seems.
Of course, if we were finishing 10th every season I?d probably be pleading for ugly football again!
26 Posted 23/06/2008 at 15:51:19
That?s why I made that comparison "pragmatic" maybe but "winner" also.
I think you have point about playing better, more attractive football but IMO I believe your gripe is not with Moyes, it?s with the elitist league that we play in. The Premier League is making a lot of teams play with the same idea.
The Russians have played really well during the Euros but have a team full of very talented players. IMO that is where Moyes is trying to get to.
27 Posted 23/06/2008 at 17:42:08
I'm amazed that Darren Bent is a supposed target when he is hardly ever played and scores a lot less than he once did. What is the point of selling AJ if we are not improving the team????
If Arteta is allowed to go then I will be really dismayed. On his day he is as good as anyone in the Premier League and he is the one player who can add guile to the side. If we can't afford Arshavin then we should not settle for anyone less as a replacement for the little Spaniard. It was patently obvious last season that the team needs more squad members. We finished the season like a five furlong horse in a mile race... good at the start but tailed off at the finish. We need top quality and we should have signed Arshavin ages ago.
28 Posted 23/06/2008 at 21:19:22
I dont agree with you about Darren Bent. He is 3 years younger than AJ scored 56 premier league goals in 11 starts, is as quick if not quicker, stronger, better at getting on the end of crosses, better in the air and has I think played more times for England. AJ?s game is based on pace and many strikers of his type are ineffective in there late 20s once they start to lose it.
29 Posted 23/06/2008 at 21:28:04
30 Posted 24/06/2008 at 00:04:17
31 Posted 24/06/2008 at 05:22:53
32 Posted 24/06/2008 at 07:23:10
1. To build from the back
2. To play the ball through midfield, retain possesion and pick holes in the opposition defence
Now ask yourself, is our back four good enough to take the ball from TH and pass it around until a central midfielder makes space and takes the ball off them? secondly, Is there a midfielder in last seasons squad that is good enough to take the ball from the defence and play a through ball,winger in behind the fullback, find the striker in space around the box etc. the answer to both questions is a resounding NO!!! And thats why we play hoofball. If we buy better footballers we will play better football.
I personally don't blame DM for this as you can only buy what you can afford, IMO he has bought well the majority of the time and the football I see has improved.
The thing that's playing on my mind is, last season a few people thought we could either catch or get close to chelsea. They have just spent our expected summer?s transfer budget on a right back.
33 Posted 24/06/2008 at 08:24:02
I guess we will never know. If DM was given anything like a decent transfer kitty then IMO I think we would see some brilliant footballer played. But I have to ask, what is your idea of being entertained? I’m just thinking back through the 80’s, 90’s upto present day. Are we saying that we were last entertained at Goodison watching Tricky Trevor and the boys? Or watching the tricky Russian speed through the defences in the 90’s? IMO we are playing some very good football at times. Okay I agree in the "big" games against the sky4 (which would be the Live games selected) we do play defensive football. I would love to see us go out and play Man U off the park but at the same time I am a realist. My feet are firmly planted on Earth!
The example of Chelsea’s football is a decent example. But other than, again, the "big" games, did you watch them play? Did you see Robin take on 4 players at Wigan? Ballack scoring brilliantly from 25yds. Lampard, Malouda, Cole inter-changing through the middle. At times, and I stress at times, they do play some good football. The rest of the time they are crap and they are not my team. BUT the point I’m making is; as football supporters we want to be entertained but to be successful that has to be balanced. The flip side is a team that DOES try to play attractive football; Steve Coppell’s Reading say....... ???
34 Posted 26/06/2008 at 02:50:57
35 Posted 27/06/2008 at 08:20:40
I find myself in a quandry though because while I would like us to play attractive football every week winning ugly is necessary to stay in the top half of the table. There have been lots of comments about playing the ball long, but only Arsenal of the teams about us last season would be able to claim immunity. My gripe is not hoofing it forward because it depends on what the effect is. If we have a fast forward (like Johnson) who with a hoof forward into the area behind the fullbacks can put them under pressure, then that to me is a good thing. It does two things it relieves any pressure we are under and it means that the opposition back four cannot move 15 yards up the pitch and close our midfield down. I think, because I haven’t spoken to Moyesy for a while, he is playing the percentages and looking to play in the opposition half.
Where this theory hits a snag is against the Sky 4, their back four are quick and skillfull enough to cope with this tactic and can break quicker than we can respond, good example Joe Cole long ball goal in Carling Cup.
I can’t agree with some of the posts that we should get rid of Neville he does drive them on but I would concede that we need a 1st team right back and use Nev as back up.
The Arshavin story and the posts that we should have bought him are a little wide of the mark, I have been in Russia for the last year and have seen him on TV almost every week, he is great but he earns 50K a week is in the Champions League and is a god here, realistically ( unfortunately) he was never coming to us. The only clubs mentioned here for him have been Barca, Chelsea and Man U.
I believe, hope pray, that we are moving in the right direction but I can see Moyes packing it all in if the board don’t support him with money for the players he wants and we need.
36 Posted 28/06/2008 at 22:01:38
If when we hoof it its a 50/50 ball and we win 40% of them then thats 40% of the time we have the ball in the opponnents half. They key to this is getting support from midfield once we have won it, which isnt often enough.
It also means that the ball is in the oppositions half and not ours thus less likely to concede.
Its that simple.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment to Column articles, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and MailBag submissions across the site.