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Simple effective football; why not have a go?

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Having watched West brom play Pompey on Saturday, it got me thinking: Why the hell can a team of our level and ability not play simple passing football?

Now I'm not talking about Ajax in the 70s passing football but the simple game that so many other teams below us seem to be able to do with aplomb. Watching the Blues can be a laborious task bar the odd occasion like the Fiorentina and Sunderland games.

Our players are paid Premier League wages and are mostly venerated from all points at Goodison but we never really get to see flowing attacking football. West Brom played lovely football on Saturday as they have done most of this season, and although they are in the Championship this should take nothing away from the fact that simple effective football is not a preserve of the elite teams.

Is our dour and mostly agricultural approach down to our defensive-minded manager or is it that we do not possess professional footballers who are able to string more than four passes together in movement towards the opposition's goal?

My opinion is that its the former. I am an admirer of Moyes's tenacity and man management but we sorely miss a back room man with a footballing brain, someone to bring a bit of verve to our playing style.

So, as much as we need a quality midfielder and a sturdy rightback, we just as much need an advocate of the beautiful game to help mould our boys into a team once again worthy of the School of Science tag. NSNO
Chris Lawlor, Derbyshire     Posted 07/04/2008 at 09:17:49

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Michael Kenrick
I have been regularly pilored for making similar observations over the latter Moyes years, Chris. And of course, everyone and their mother will tell you West Brom lost, thus raising a question-mark about the "effective" accolade, but I know you make a valid point.

Unfortunately, such a reasonable enquiry is likely to produce the usual shower of abuse, which is really becoming tiresome. Please, if you must disagree, keep it civil. Thanks.

Patty Beesley
1   Posted 07/04/2008 at 13:58:25

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West Brom may play lovely flowing passing football but they still lost! against Portsmouth!!!! So it didn?t do them much good did it?
Tony Williams
2   Posted 07/04/2008 at 13:56:23

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Chris I wish it was as simple as that.

To be watching the likes of Arsenal. Man Ure and dare I say the Redshite, the passing is not the biggest difference in our game but the movement off the ball.

You can say Moyes is defensive all you want but he has bought ball players in Arteta, Osman, Piennar and Fernandes. It’s just that the players around them don’t move for the ball so they either pass the ball to a marked man or get tackled because they have delayed passing the ball to a marked man.

I was arguing (politely) with a lad behind me in the match yesterday when he was giving Fernandes loads after he miscontrolled a ball that was pumped to him at waist hight with some venom, now I agree Fernandes has been poor of late but it seems that even the shite balls to him are his fault.

He is a skillful player who has probably just got back to fitness.

Passing is a simple game, unless you are Pip, Yobo, Jags or Carsley but the movement off the ball is what makes the passes that much more dangerous.
Chris Briddon
3   Posted 07/04/2008 at 14:04:20

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Why is it every time we have a few dodgy results, people always spout on about not playing passing football.

Why don?t you go back and watch games like the one against Sunderland or numerous other games this season when we were on top of our game. We passed the ball around far more than Liverpool or Chelsea do.

The last few weeks we have been struggling through both form and fitness of the midfield & without this functioning at full strength passing through it becomes alot harder.

So give us all a break and make judgements on the whole season rather than the last few games please.
Bob Turner
4   Posted 07/04/2008 at 14:32:01

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Spot on, Chris - I think it’ll be when the season DVD comes out that people remember just how well we’ve played over the whole season
Phil Hamer
5   Posted 07/04/2008 at 15:21:52

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No Michael, Chris won’t get abused because he put the point articulately and without arrogance, aggression or verbosity. Chris I agree that we should keep the ball on the floor more but that side of things improves with confidence, and we become more confident year on year. I expect further improvement next season, especially if we retain and improve Manny.
Ian Tunny
6   Posted 07/04/2008 at 15:26:52

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Its quite simple really: Everton don't have enough ball players. Moyes took on a team of yard dogs with a dogs of war mentality thats strength was not its quality of football but battling qualities. Players such as Stubbs, Unsworth, and Carsley. Bit by bit these sorts of players have been allowed to leave replacing them piece by piece with players like Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Arteta, Pienaar and Cahill.

The signs from this season show that with a fully fit squad we can string a few passes together. In a couple more years and with a few more additiions to the team i think we will see a lot more football. It's not as tho many teams below us play better football than Everton anyway.

Brian Waring
7   Posted 07/04/2008 at 15:50:56

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This is the only season where we have actually played some decent stuff, now and again. But, most of the last 5 yrs under Moyes, the football has been fucking awful to watch.
Alex Storm
8   Posted 07/04/2008 at 15:19:06

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We can and do from time-to-time play good, winning football but only in fits and spurts and rarely ever for more than a half. Good passing sides will play attractive entertaining football for the majority of the 90 minutes and for the most part of their seasons.

Our football seems predicated upon getting the ball, as quickly as possible into the channels when Johson plays or high into the air for Yakubu to win which doesn’t play to our strengths and doesn’t often work against well drilled defences.

We play far better when the ball is passed through midfield and where we have won more games this season. The players are more than capable of playing this way and it’s great to watch. Not only good attractive fotball but winning football at that.

Which is why I find it so strange that we are so quick too launch it aimlessly forward as much as we do considering the best results we have acheived this season has come from passing the ball on-the-deck.

I don’t know what the players do on the training ground but they often look far too disjointed and lacking in movement when going forward. And as soon as a little presure is exerted on them they quickly employ the dreaded "hoofball".

It’s not just the last month but it stretches back for seasons even when we win the oppostion invariably has more possession and looks more accomplished on the ball. Everton, thankfully happen to be more effecient than most teams and finish off the oppostion with the few chances that are created.

Whilist we can still triumph in spite of concedding possession to teams at the bottom of the table. When we come up against top sides our sometimes one dimensional football is lacking and we struggle to impose ourselves at all upon the game.

Apart from last season we seem to struggle at the tail-end of seasons and usually only win three league games from March till May. Its like trying to sprint the marathon. If the players played with a little more composure on the ball and forced the opponents to exert themselves instead gifting them cheap possession and having to press to get the ball back maybe the players wouldn’t tire as much and be as mentally and physically fatigued at the end of a league campaign and we wouldn’t have to try and limp over the finishing line.
Paul Tran
9   Posted 07/04/2008 at 16:15:38

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The talk of passing football being a ’reaction to a few dodgy results’ is nonsense.

We have played some great stuff this season, when the few players we have who can pass and move are fit and mentally strong. We just need more of them. Take Arteta - he’s getting stick because he’s off form. My hunch is that he’s physically and mentally knackered from being the lonely creative hub of the team. The fact that he’s the most fouled player in the league tells you everything - stop Arteta, stop Everton. Put more players around him who can pass and move and you’ll see the difference.

Wanting and buying better footballers is not a criticism of the club and management. Moyes has bought more footballers this season - the league table and general quality of football speaks for itself.

All the best sides play hoofball when they have to. They can also take things up a few gears. We’ve done it at times this season - we need a better quality squad to maintain progress.

Is that really criticising the club and it’s management?
Gavin Ramejkis
10   Posted 07/04/2008 at 16:31:29

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I’ve debated this type of question before and to me it has always boiled down to one burning question; how many current Everton players are there that will take on a marker and go around them? Some of the most entertaining football to watch is seeing a player turned inside out the way Christiano Ronaldo or Fabregas or similar players can, we have seen Arteta and Fernandes do it last year. It offers so much more to a team when they can attack and go past a marker than a hoofball hoping to go over the last marker or hopeless runs into a corner. The training ground should still be the place to teach this basic skill but we seem increasingly devoid of talent in this area.
Michael Kenrick
11   Posted 07/04/2008 at 16:46:06

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Some excellent points being made in this discussion. I think Alex Strom nailed it for me. Great post. (and of course you too, Brian Waring ? always spot on.)

A point that is coming out for me is the question of playing the full season. The fact that Moyes’s Everton teams have always flagged badly for the run-in would seem to fit with the idea that they are all totally wasted at this stage, having run themselves into the ground with his almost moronic emphasis on athleticism and hard work at the expense of ball-playing a nd intelligent movement off the ball. There has to be at least a grain of truth in there somewhere...
Chris Lawlor
12   Posted 07/04/2008 at 16:55:21

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Thats my point exactly Gavin. I cannot remember a player of ours in the last 18 years who could run his marker ragged ala Ronaldo etal. The most frustrating thing is that we have 3 or 4 players capable of playing like this but they seem shackled by the team’s overall ethos of kick and rush football. The like of Arteta, Piennar even Osman are continually let down by Neville, Carsley, Hibbert etc. The balance is not yet right in our team, and this can only serve to continually frustrate our better players.
Teddy Draper
13   Posted 07/04/2008 at 17:19:43

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Chris, Simple effective football? Simple effective answer, get rid of ARTETA! Hold on guys, think about it. The whole season he cannot lift a ball past the first man, free kicks, corners, Iam sick of watching promising moves breaking down because he (ARTETA) is not good enough, if i can see it, you can see it, surely Davey can see it. Maybe there is nobody else in the club who can take corners etc,etc. I doubt that one very much. Why oh why, do they put up with him. Get someone who can do all the things hes supposed to do and we are back in business
Jason Lam
14   Posted 07/04/2008 at 17:28:00

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That is because the theory of probably states that defend like Chelsea or Greece 2004 will win you more matches than lose. Modern football has developed so far that there are so many ways to concede that you need most if not all you players to defend - to give you a chance of winning. Take Chelsea. They crowd the midfield and there?s no way getting through the middle. They force you wide, and you have to beat Ashley Cole. If you beat him you cross the ball and have to beat John Terry. Once you beat him you have to beat Petr Cech. Plus extra training on set pieces on defending. Now, to get into the top4 you need that extra 1 or 2 star attacking players. The rest of the team are simply peripherals whose job is to defend and support the 2 star players. Simply put, the manure against top opposition will rely on Ronaldo and Rooney to break the deadline, the rest will be busy on forming their own deadlock. AC Milan and Kaka is another example.
Jim Hourigan
15   Posted 07/04/2008 at 17:18:06

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One classic moment from yesterday?s game summed up both the players and the tactics. During the first half Howard threw the ball out to Neville who went forward 10 yds or so, and then knocked the ball into the centre of midfield to Fernandes who played it to Carsley. Carsley panicked it bounced off his shin and he ended up losing the ball and they attacked without causing any problems. Carsley made a point of coming up to Howard and quite openly told him "stop fucking about and just get the ball up front". His words were as plain as day and he let Howard know in no uncertain terms what he expected.

Yes its a single incident, but for me it summed up a number of key points. Firstly our main central midfield player has no intention of having passes given to him, he wants the ball hoofed up front to our 5-ft-nothing midget and our goal-scoring centre-forward who is never going to win balls in the air.

Secondly it suggests that when we make a mistake the response is hoof it not try and play, don?t encourage good football revert to type. Thirdly throwing the ball to full backs and trying to play through midfield was clearly not part of the game plan against the bottom of the table side. How sad is that !!!!

I?m sorry whilst Carsley (and a few others) are playing for us we will never play a passing game. Putting Fernandes in the holding position and getting another central midfield player is an absolute minimum. Bringing Jagielka on in the centre just sums up our intentions. If you listed our 3 worst passers I?m sure it would read Hibbert, Neville and Jagielka and we play 2 of them as midfield players - footballers with bags of effort seems to be DM?s way.

Varun Rajwade
16   Posted 07/04/2008 at 18:28:05

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Yeah right!!! We should play like West Brom... But where are they?? In the Championship... we are 5th and trying for 4th in the EPL..

If beautiful football was so successful then Arsenal would be winners, Brazil would win every WC and Greece would not be Euro-trophy holders... I know the simple route-one football is boring, but its effective... Greece showed it, we too and dare I say so did RS
Gaz Greenie
17   Posted 07/04/2008 at 18:38:39

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Some good points have been made here but the one I agree with most with is Jim Hourigan’s. Carsley, Hibbert, Jags and Neville just can’t pass a ball. To be fair to them, their main duty is to defend, which they have done very well this season.
I think what we, or what I would like to see, is for DM to bring in a quality and influential central midfield general who can break play up and is comfortable on the ball. A player like Sidwell would be a very good signing for us. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that for us to move forward as a team our whole emphasis/pattern of play needs to change. I’m sure that if we can bring one or two players in who like to take control of midfield (Reo Coker is another good example) then this will encourage our defenders to perhaps play it through midfield because these players will want/demand the ball. At the moment our defenders just don’t have this option because Neville & Carsley are just not comfortable doing this. Let me know what you think
Nelly Blythe
18   Posted 07/04/2008 at 19:24:33

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One of our biggest problems is that we have no pace in our midfield and thus our moves tend to either slow down or at worst breakdown because we have no one with the ability to leave his marker behind, by which time defending teams have usually gotten behind the ball again. Remember the mercurial Kanchelskis he just used put the pedal to the metal and leave em trailing in his slip stream. (...meep meep !!) and usually meant a goal or at very least a shot on target. If only we could find one or two like that now to compliment Arteta, Fernandez etc. I think Osman is a good technical footballer but unfortunately NO PACE and that will always stop him from being a GREAT player. Carsely not a bad stopper but NO PACE , Arteta as good as he maybe technically...NO PACE. The modern game is all about speed and strength but sad to say we dont have too much of it in our team particularly in midfield.
Ste Kenny
19   Posted 07/04/2008 at 19:30:59

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The player who typifies this poor movement off the ball more than any other is Andy Johnson, the amount of times per match where he should be looking to run off and get in behind, but instead stands in front of the centre back and tries to get it to feet is a joke.

When we first signed him I thought this was because Arteta was our only creative outlet, but now I feel this is poor coaching, as we should be looking to use his most dangerous (possibly only) asset, his pace.

Also is anyone else sick of our strikers coming back to mark at corners. Since when did we bring everyone back for them?
James Corbett
20   Posted 07/04/2008 at 19:39:30

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I was at Wembley on Saturday and at Goodison yesterday so can perhaps offer a perspective.

Both were poor games, the Wembley encounter enlivened by a good crowd. I don’t think there was particularly much to admire from any of the four teams, but I don’t understand why you’d aspire for football of the West Brom variety. It was fine, played around in triangles, and Philips looked good dropping back, but it wasn’t better than Everton and it ultimately lacked any sort of cutting edge. ’Effective’ it was not.

If West Brom come up I think they’ll stay up, but a key ingredient of a team’s success is mixing good simple football, which Everton play a majority of the time (particularly with the excellent Pinear there to keep things flowing) with the direct stuff. All the ’top’ clubs do that, and we’re becoming one of them thanks to Moyes.
Nelly Blythe
21   Posted 07/04/2008 at 19:44:08

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Totally agree that Jagielka , Yobo, Hibbert, CARSLEY & NEVILLE in particular cannot pass a ball. As for bringing everyone back into our goal area for corners..DON'T GET ME STARTED !!..AAARRRGGHHH !!
Stan Sheppard
22   Posted 07/04/2008 at 19:36:53

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West Brom?s manager Tony Mobray is a young manager who tries to get his team to play the ?right? way. Some posters have suggested that because the Baggies are in the second tier of English football and they lost to Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi final that their style of play/approach is something that we should not try to emulate.

Of course it?s nice to simultaneously win and play attractive football but how many teams can claim to do this on a regular basis? Does this mean we shouldn?t try?

I would agree with those who say that we play too many long balls, however it is important to remember that this has not been the case all season. The great run we went on at the turn of the year saw us play some great passing football cumulating in a fantastic unbeaten run and a 2-0 demolition of Fiorentina which was perhaps our best offensive performance of the season. Since then we have been god awful. The reasons? UEFA Cup exit, low morale, injuries, tiredness, Carsley, Neville all of the above.

The truth is that the best teams can win playing beautiful or ugly football. Our most creative players, Arteta (of the boil), Pienaar (Injured), Fernandes (unfit/poor form) are vital to our success yet they have been feeling the strain at the wrong time.

For me I think we have a tendency to play to our strengths, or rather, go with something until it gets figured out which, as we have seen recently, leaves us with the inevitable long ball (Plan B). I have no doubt we can play better, I just hope the 1-0 slog over Derby helps it happen before then end of the season.
Clyde McPhat
23   Posted 07/04/2008 at 20:59:54

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Let me have a polite go at this....Let?s look at the back four first.

Neville... horrid passer but a fantastic organizer of the defense, which do we want?

Hibbert... can hold a decent player down, but couldn?t get a cross in properly if his mother was being held hostage.

Jags... up and down season, but I dont truly care if he can pass the ball as long as he defends as well as he has at times.

Cars, I know there are those out there who truly dislike him, but he will defend, defend, defend. In time, he will be gone, and we will do better.

Yobo and Lescott are terific central defenders who other clubs will be coming after soon. Baines shows great promise on the flank and will only get better as he gets older and injury free.

Arteta is clearly hurt, and the corners and free-kicks have to be a by product of the injury. No one could be putting those crosses and corners in like that without being hurt. We know he can do better. Manny had one of the great lead passes for a goal this season to Osman yesterday so we know he can pass to feet.

Osman has played very well this year and has scored math winners in almost every competition. Steve P has been hurt the last month. But, he has had a very good year, except the Man U penalty. But, I think the main reason our form has dipped of late is the missing player in the midfield, Tim Cahill.

I did this quickly and I might be off a game or two but Cahill featured in only 5 losses this year (I got us for 14 defeats in all competitons) and 4 ties out of 8. He adds soomething that the other team has to defend against. And I truly believe if you look back at the season, the matches he missed were the matches that were dour and lacked something. He truly is a sparkplug, and an instigator that the opponent has to watch out for, thus freeing up others to do their best work. Bad form in the early part of the year, no Timmy, great run, Timmy, bad form at the end, no Timmy. Let me know what you think. I would also love to hear what MK thinks of this too.


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