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The Mail Bag

Critical Appraisal versus Criticism

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An earlier thread on here about Andy Johnson seems to have provoked a mixed reaction in that some, myself included, don?t think he?s quite as good as we thought he was and those who believe that he?s fine really and that he is merely suffering from a crisis of confidence and from the strange tactics that we employ to try and get the ball up to him (which is also undoubtedly true).

This led to me to consider what is critical appraisal and what is out and out criticism. I would never boo an Everton player no matter how bad he was unless he clearly wasn?t trying. Fortunately, I haven?t seen too many of those sort. However, equally I wouldn?t want to necessarily criticise anyone on here for expressing a less than totally rosy, but sensible, opinion about a particular player ? after all that?s what this site is about surely ? a discussion forum.

What really matters is how the manager sees things and, if Moyes is doing his job properly, he will see that Hibbert and Neville have gross distribution problems, that Howard can improve his decision making with crosses, that Arteta should be able to put better crosses in from dead balls, that Johnson?s ball control is poor, etc etc. It?s called critical appraisal and is the way that individuals / teams move forward, recognising at the same time, of course, that no player is ever perfect.

The current squad is the best we?ve had for years and everyone has played a part in it (well maybe not Andy van der Meyde!). The team spirit is obviously fine and I would hate to see a player ditched for no good reason. However, there is no room for sentiment in the Premier League and you have to move on ? or someone else will overtake you. That?s why, budgets permitting, Moyes will probably be looking at certain positions and attempting to improve them. If that means selling Johnson, for example, at some point, despite his obvious selfless efforts for the team, it should be done.

We?ve seen McFadden go recently despite the man having obvious talents and despite having a key influence in certain games. Further back we saw Derek Mountfield depart, despite scoring lots of goals as a centre back, to be replaced by Dave Watson because the latter was clearly a better defender. At Arsenal, Wenger gauged the time was right to sell Henry...

I don?t want to make comparisons with previous players and be satisfied with what we?ve got. Probably every player we have now is better than his counterpart 10 years ago. I want us to move on to the next level ? whatever that is ? and it can only be done by attracting players who are consistently better than those we already have.

If that means a certain player has to go at some point, or become a squad player rather than an automatic choice, so be it.
Ray Robinson, Warrington     Posted 16/02/2008 at 11:52:02

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Mick Dempsey
1   Posted 16/02/2008 at 15:34:18

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Ray good points and agree with most of them but your main point is about Andrew Johnson not being as good as we first thought he was... I go to most games and have had a decent look at Johnson over the last season and half. For me he is one of the most hard-working and honest players I have seen, but he will not improve playing the single-striker role.

He as pace and to take advantage of that pace he will need a target man to play off and needs the midfield to give him a quality pass to give him an equal chance against a defender over 5 yards or so but to hoof a ball 50 yards in the air you are giving the defender the advantage.

Like I have said before, play him either with Vaughany or Yakubu and he will prosper and score. The next time you go the match have a look how he pulls the defence all over the the last third ? what we should be doing is getting forward in that space he has created. He works harder than anyone and his luck will change in front of goal.

But 1 in 3 is still good in my book for the modern striker. At this moment in my opinion he is one of the best in league for that type of player: he can score, get down the flanks and cross a ball, and worries the shit out of big defenders. More to his game than you are giving credit.

Jay Harris
2   Posted 16/02/2008 at 21:20:54

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Ray some good points well made. I think its unfortunate that we come on here slagging players off but its all about opinions and as you rightly say critical appraisal should be for the better.

I totally agree with your point on Neville who is a hail fellow well met and hardworking pro but that does not make him a first choice RB at a top Premier League club. I also think Howard is very second rate with crosses, decision-making and distribution although he compensates a bit with his excellent shot-stopping.

My choice for positions to be improved at the end of the season are GK, RB and sign Manny and Peanuts.

Before anyone says we havent got the money - we had £11M earmarked for Manny at the start of the season and we have just got £5.5M plus for McFadden. And I am sure we didn't budget for (hopefully) achieving such a high position this season.
John Andrews
3   Posted 17/02/2008 at 00:24:03

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Ray, I have to agree with most of that which you said. However do you really believe that either Vic or Vaughan are ready to take over from AJ? I most certainly do not think so and suspect that it will be another couple of seasons, at least, before either will be good enough.
AJ is by far our best option at the moment and must not be sold. Give the bloke a break!
Sean Condon
4   Posted 17/02/2008 at 08:03:28

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I?m all over that shit, Jay.
However, I wouldn?t be so quick to dismiss Captain Hoof, or understimate his value to the team. Yeah, there?s little doubt in my mind that he?s one of the worst technical players in the league. He makes a frightening error in nearly every match. He?s a poor passer, so on and so forth.
Yet, still, he?s the captain of the club in 4th place in the toughest league in the world. And he?s an automatic first choice every time out. />
I think that motivation and preparedness are significant factors in the performance of any team over the course of a given season. And whatever else you can say about this team?s various strengths and shortcomings, the way they compete in every match is surely beyond debate.
Over the last couple of seasons how many times have they just flat out not shown up? Maybe in winter ?05-?06 when they lost 4-0 three times in just over a month.
Something good is definitely going on in that room. It?s only logical to assume that Neville has a large role. If not, wouldn?t Carsley or Yobo or Cahill be skip?
Mark Pendleton
5   Posted 17/02/2008 at 12:15:33

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Yes, Neville had an off day in terms of distribution in the Brann game but when he?s playing right back normally I think he gets up and down that flank like a 20-year-old and he?s whipped in quite a few crosses that have put he ball on a plant for the finish. It?s quite evident the guy is a winner, never stops communicating with team mates and has kept himself exceptionally fit.

As for AJ, he runs defenders ragged, chases lost causes and has cropped up with some very important goals. He?s been a bit unlucky with injuries but I?m of the opinion that with formations employed now with often one up front you?ll not see a great deal of strikers with 20-plus goals a season any more. You?re going to get far more quality 15-plus goals a season "forwards".

At the moment, AvdM aside, this Everton squad is carrying no passengers. There?s a tremendous togetherness, a will to win and not to accept being beaten. The players wanted Moyes to bring in competition, players are wanting to join us or stay with us. Players came out in support of Yak. He took his punishment, didn?t complain, explained his willingness not to let it happen again then went on to come back and produce one of his finest performances in a long while.

IMWT Everton - You?re in my heart, you?re in my soul...
Kieran Fitzgerald
6   Posted 17/02/2008 at 12:34:29

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Jay Harris: was that money not spent on Yak just before the deadline, once the Fernandes deal feel through, also at the last minute, In general though, I do agree with you. There is some money there for transfers, and yes, a better than budgeted for league placing will generate extra cash.
Brian Garside
7   Posted 17/02/2008 at 23:28:53

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AJ has suffered by being deployed alone with Cahill running in support when Howard,Nevill etc play long high balls/passes whilst being marked by big strong center halves. Even I comprehend that as a tactic it´s a none starter. Does DM really believe that they will win enough second ball to make the tactic worthwhile?
As a goalscorer AJ will never be a" Great."
He will however get 15 a season and create a whole load if played to his strenghs. We say "feed the Yak........." this applies to AJ too.
I think he will be sold after next season as the squad improoves.

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