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Let's Take Stock

By Mike Oates :  28/11/2008 :  Comments (11) :
Whilst we all acknowledge that the team isn't playing anywhere near the levels it reached last season, I've tried to do a bit of rational thinking and tried to take stock on how the season is going so far.

The season started so badly for us with the well-publicised cock-up of both a poor pre-season and the late transfer rush after our failure to get our primary targets. I still don't think we have recovered at all and, to be absolutely brutal, I fear we may not ever get anywhere near last season's levels of football as the balance of the team has been lost, key players are devoid of any confidence both in the club, team and themselves. The new entrants Saha, Fellaini, Castillo, have struggled to show their wares and even the young lads Vaughan, Anichebe, Rodwell have failed to step up to the plate and grab a place. Some might argue they haven't been given a chance? But I don't!

On a statistical basis and at ⅓ of the way through the season we were still only 1 point away from last season's equivalent timeframe points but somehow it hasn't instilled in me a feeling of we are on course for the 5th place. The next 4 games are crucial, Spurs, Villa, Man C and Chelsea ? we need 11 points out of the 12 to stay on course as last season and somehow I think we'll be lucky to get 3 or 4 points.

I wrote an article only a month or so ago highlighting that we were aiming for a total of 55 points (we had 65pts last season) which would normally place us about 7th. Updating that today, the new figure is 53 points and this still is looking like 6 or 7th place, mainly due to the complete topsy-turvy season the likes of Portsmouth, Blackburn, and Man City are having as well. On current form we have no chance to take the 5th position either from Aston Villa or Arsenal.

On a player level

  • Howard ? recovered from nervous start and looks back to his best form
  • Neville ? looking good as a full back , certainly better than Hibbert for passing and attacking
  • Yobo ? looks very shaky to me , distribution poor and showing no signs of leadership.
  • Jags ? without doubt our best player this season, covers well , distribution poor
  • Lescott ? completely lost it. He is a shadow of last season's top performer.
  • Baines ? I suspect will leave if he doesn't get a fair chance. Moyes has a major dilemma with him, not from any form himself but how he fits in Jags,Yobo and Lescott. Arteta ? I don't believe he doesn't care or is not trying , in fact he's trying to hard get involved as I see it , but the balance with his midfield colleagues is wrong and as a consequence his form is suffering.
  • Osman ? plays well when we're on top, but cannot change a game our way. Too lightweight when we get closed down or muscled out of it. On the positive side does score goals.
  • Cahill ? another Moyes dilemma where and how to fit him in . His form is suffering , and cannot fit into a 4:4:2 shape. Still gets into positions to score (Wigan 2 good chances) but we suffer as we get caught short in midfield on the counter attack.
  • Fellaini ? let's give him time, but again how to get best from him? Difficult for him at the moment as he's joined a poor team, and because of the £15m tag is carrying all the flak. I don't see the flak or moans from other teams with their £15-20M players, ie Bent, Keane, Jo, Bentley, Modric etc ? GIVE HIM TIME.
  • Castillo ? I don't believe we'll ever see him other than in an emergency. I said at the beginning he's too slow and hasn't got the energy levels required to do a Carsley role.
  • Pienaar ? suffering with injuries, but when he plays it certainly improves the balance of the team and I think there is more in his game than Osman's.
  • Rodwell ? again where to play him. On one hand we get told he'll be in our next generation of centre halves, but the lad can and does look comfortable at times in midfield. But at 17, he is too young for us to pin our hopes and wishes on him just yet.
  • Saha ? an in and out player. Scores 2 at West Ham and is non-existent against Middlesbrough and Wigan.
  • Yakubu ? to me is the one of the best scorers in the Premier League and I'm sure other clubs will come knocking in January if our form continues as it is now. The trouble ? we can't feed the Yak, only with tripe. He looks and possibly is lazy, but when are we ever ever going to give him a cut back from the byeline or a quick incisive pass through the middle between the centre halves? We have this ability to destroy good forwards ? Johnson, Beattie and now the Yak.
  • Vaughan and Anichebe ? some people will cringe but to me neither will ever make it. Vaughan is a nightmare, he hasn't got a clue of when or when not to engage, press, rest ? he's just just one time bomb waiting to self explode. Anichebe just the opposite, so laid back and daft. As Steve Round said recently the only thing stopping Anichebe is himself.
  • Moyes ? hasn't demonstrated that he's got a grip on team formation, team balance and how to get the best from his players. I certainly think his mis-management in Jun ? Aug period has knocked him back. He's unsure of how now to keep us on course with assets at his disposal, both short-term and long-term.

Way Forward

We are desperately short of any creativity and Moyes needs to bite the bullet and sort out the left back position and to me bring back Baines at the expense of Yobo. He needs to sort out the centre midfield holding role and I know you wont like this ? but stick Neville there for now and switch back to a 4-5-1 formation with Yakubu upfront and Cahill just behind. Arteta and Pienaar wide and Fellaini helping Neville particularly with distribution. Leaves the right back role, Hibbert for now but give Lars a go asap.

Reader Comments

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Andy Crooks
1   Posted 28/11/2008 at 23:17:29

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Some good reasonable points, Mike. I feel that unfortunately you are right about Neville. In some ways 4-5-1 is a backward step but our players seem uncoached in anything more positive. Quite frankly, I?d just be happy to get some more points on the board. Our confidence is at such a low ebb that a couple of defeats could send us into freefall. It?s a sad indictment of the management that right now I?d settle for the season to be over and Everton to still be in the Premier League. What a sad waste.
Derek Thomas
2   Posted 29/11/2008 at 02:59:55

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Mike well thought-out points, nothing earth shatteringly new.

The main problem is how to remotivate the players to get the energy effort and commitment back.

I somehow think that these mega paid so-called super stars with maybe the odd exception know that their £xxk per week is safely buffered in the squad system, no matter if you are AvdM sitting all wrapped up in your overcoat on the bench ?supporting the lads? or Jags busting a gut... where has the spirit of ?04 gone.

My solution is, given you have to play a system that suits what you have got, like we?ve got much or have any other choice. The ?04 4-5-1 only came about coz in effect, we only had one fit forward, Bent and we had to play 5 in MF coz we didn?t have 4 good enough.

We have to cut our suit according to our cloth, drastic times etc

3 at the back, Jags, Yobo, Lescott.

2 wingbacks, Jacobsen or Neville... Baines or Neville

1 holder Castillo or Neville.. yeah I know it all seems a bit nevilletastic at the mo, but the suit and cloth rule applies, he can cover those positions (step up Capt Pip).

3 MF from all the usual suspects.

1 willing channel runner, J.V.? (ala Bent, sad I know, but yet again suit and cloth )


1 Target man, (has Big Vic got the bottle) or loan in some one who has and will.

Fancy Dans and other idle bastards (if the cap fits, Yak or Arteta, whoever) Management 101 basic, page 1, para 1, line 1.... If you don?t like it fuck off!!

God help you lot (from BK down plus the players) if the fates ever give £500 mill. Feet would not touch the ground

Rant over.
Jay Campbell
3   Posted 29/11/2008 at 07:08:46

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Arteta and Lescott should be the first to make way for any changes. They have both been shite!!

Osman should also be lashed.
Ciaran Duff
4   Posted 29/11/2008 at 09:49:49

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I basically agree with Derek. To me, playing 3 at the back with Nev & Baines as wing backs is the best use of our resources. Both Nev & Baines are reasonable at the back, good crossers and give us some width. It also allows the 3 in the middle (esp Arteta and Pienaar) to play a bit more centrally and get more involved. Where I’d differ is that I’d ditch the holding midfielder (as we don’t seem to have one) and have 2 up front (Yak & Saha or even Yak and Cahill).
Kevin Quinn
5   Posted 29/11/2008 at 11:24:27

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Agree with a lot of the points made, Baines needs to play more and Jags can't be dropped so that leaves either Yobo/Lescott for the other centre back space. Midfield should be Pienaar, Arteta, Fellaini, Ossie and Cahill with the Yak up front. This may sound negative but with this formation last season we played some excellant stuff, Sunderland at home 7-1; games against West Ham twice in a week etc. The bad form is more down to lack of confidence than anything else, you only have to listen to the players in interviews to know that's what's lacking.
John Andrews
6   Posted 29/11/2008 at 16:10:34

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I believe that the players no longer accept the methods that Moyes is trying to instil into them. How Billy Bullshit agreed to THAT contract is beyond me.

I also disagree that Jagielka, "Mr. Hoofball" cannot be dropped. I have to admit that he has not been hoofing it quite as much recently but give it time.

I would still prefer Yobo and Lescott as our regular centre backs with Baines at left back. This will probably earn me some howls of derision.
Just my opinion.

Bob McEvoy
7   Posted 29/11/2008 at 17:10:07

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This article smacks of complacency. I live abroad so have only managed to see the Middlesboro game live but I have been able to watch most of the games online. This is the worst performing Moyes team by some distance (including 03/04, when at least we had Rooney to give us sustenance). This team is devoid of spirit, nous, determination and pace. Fortunately, what we haven?t been short of is luck, which is just as well and makes a pleasant change. Discussions about 7th/mid-table finishes leave me cold; I?ll be made up if we finish outside the bottom 3.
larry bird
8   Posted 29/11/2008 at 19:36:20

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I have put the blame at the foot of Moyes in the past and I’m not inclined to change my opinion now. He has to take ultimate responsibility for the poor standard of football currently being played.

He gets about a squillion quid a week and therefore must take the blame when things aren’t working out.

Just want to put a different slant on it though. Mr motivator has come out and stated publically that we haven’t got a pot to piss in and that we will be shopping in the bargain basement for the foreseeable future.

The thought that we won’t be able to compete depresses me more than anything, especially after the real promise that we showed last year and Moyes/Kenright’s promises that we would strengthen in the summer just gone.

Imagine how the players feel.
Tim, Arteta, Lescott, Hibbert, Ossie etc were basically conned into comitting their best years to the club with promises of new arrivals and the possibility of challenging the top 4.

They, like the rest of us, now realise that we have no money or ambition and they are at a different club than the one sold to them at contract extension time last year..
I’m not surprised that performance levels have dropped as this depressing realisation takes hold in the dressing room.

Moyes however new the story BEFORE he signed his megabucks contract. He has stated openly in the past that the club needed to match his ambition but he sold out when he signed that contract. He surrendered his morals when a wad of cash was waved in front of him. If he had any decency he would have refused to sign the contract and walked away when he realised the truth about the money available for squad strenghtening.

I certainly would have had more respect for him if he had stuck to his guns and walked.
Martin Cutler
9   Posted 30/11/2008 at 00:45:38

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Everything said above is reasonable and to one degree or another spot on. I?d like to add one specific point (it has already been touched on but I?d like to press the point home so to speak).....

Why is that our players seem unable (unwilling?) to play to a standard week-in, week-out that justifies the huge amount of money (Moyes included) they are all earning. Even the lowest paid player on the team (not sure about the youngsters) is still earning a ton more than all (I assume all!) readers/posters to this website... yet if we don?t perform we?re out! If I was earning £20, 30, 40 grand a fucking week I wouldn?t need my boss to motivate me... I wouldn?t be worried about contract promises, or any potential new owners, or how the new players or young players are gelling / performing etc., etc., etc!

It is ludicrous to go on about any given formation or whether Neville merits being in midfield or Lescott should be a centre-back or who to pick between the experienced proven Saha or the keen, eager to please (and get injured) Vaughan etc, if these players are simply not giving 100% and proving to us that that is exactly what they are doing week-in, week-out, even regardless of the result, then it?s all pointless..... bench the fucking lot I say.

I?m tired of going into a game expecting to lose, worrying about teams like Wigan or reading honest match reports that clearly state we were just dire. I?m tired of it! We know the entire team and Moyes can do better... so why the fuck are they not going out there each week and performing like the team we expect, like the team that played during that brilliant run last season?

I don?t have any answers (nobody does by the way) but I?m tired of the team playing the way they are.

At the start of the season I stated quite clearly that Arteta was playing like crap... his dead ball delivery was exactly that... dead! People shouted me down (to be fair some of his stats weren?t too bad earlier on) but come on... as good as he is potentially (and has been in the past) right now he?s crap. Lescott is nothing like he was last season. Anichebe and Vaughan will be collecting their pension before they blossom, Osman can play better soccer than a feather... just about, Cahill is hit ?n? miss, he even playing, why did we bring Castillo in? If Lars were fit (three players for one spot???) then what does that mean for Hibbert and Neville?

I would suggest that our midfield to all intents and purposes is just non-existent... virtually every game (based on reports) it would appear we create nothing, passing is woeful... an incisive defense splitting pass? You gotta be kidding!

We?re just lucky right now that Howard has got back to his best form... that to me is the only bit of good news... he seems to be the only player, literally the only player, consistently earning his money at the moment. I guess I might add Jags to that too, at least he?s fairly consistent.

It worries me that the Spurs game is being shown on the tele tomorrow (here in the USA) and I?m scared to watch the game... a few weeks back I would have said that the game would have been easier but somehow the arrival of Redknapp has transformed the team (just our luck, eh?) and I dread the idea that I will watch the game and, again, we?ll be dire.

Of course I will watch the game but I?d give anything for an entertaining, 100%-effort given by all, exciting passing/possession game, shots galore, chances created and so on... by Everton that is, not Spurs! Somehow I suspect it will be the other way round... I?d love to be wrong.

I?d love to watch a game where we totally dominate, score a bunch of good goals... I?m asking too much I know... but the bottom line is that I?m tired of this poor-poor performance we have by all right now.

As always... COYB!!!!!!!!!!

Alan Rycroft
10   Posted 30/11/2008 at 10:59:13

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Dear Matin,
I agree with you completely. I would give the youngsters more of a try ? anyone know what happened to Baxter? The lad showed some real spots of skills and class, and scored a cracker I saw once! I don?t know Lutkiewicz but he can?t be worse than the current lot and he?s scoring for the reserves so give him a go and Gosling who looked good to me when I saw him once.

And bring in Baines for left back and give the boot to Lescott. I would keep Arteta in but threaten him witht he shaft if he doesn?t perform ? no more prancing ineffectually about the field and delivering crosses to the goalie?s arms, a nice innocuous little floater the perfect cross, for the opposition!

Same for Fellaini I think it?s criminal the guy cost £15 million, I think he was a knee jerk reaction to not getting nobody as they say! And boy does he look like it. Give him time they say, well I don?t know about that. A guy for £15 million should be real class from the go, of course he?ll have stuff to learn like any mortal but he should have all the basic skill and ability in place, to build on, no doubt about it. How many of us would start a new job and our boss would come and whisper sweet nothings in our ear till we settle in 6 years later! it doesn?t happen and we don?t cost no £15 million!

My team would look something like this:
Howard, neville, Baines, Yobo, Jagielka, Rodwell, Pienaar, Gosling or Baxter, Arteta, Lutkeiwicz, Yakubu or Saha...

Bring in some new blood please, let's pray for a miracle at Spurs and catch the Harry napping! Well, we live in hope!

Ian Geraghty
11   Posted 30/11/2008 at 12:29:03

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I reckon of the youngsters, Baxter in his few chances earlier in the season is the one who has shown he should be the next one to step up. His goal against Forest in preseason was awesome. In the game against Preston his set pieces were of a standard that would put him at the top of the order in our first team already. One free kick early doors rattling the cross bar and then a corner whipped in over the first man onto the head of Jags for our goal. Not sure which game it was but Paul Merson raved about him on soccer saturday one weekend. Up until Baxter came on we were playing our usual long ball game with no pass and move. Baxter came on and Paul Merson’s comment from then on was that Everton’s best chance of getting anything from the game would be to give Baxter the ball at every opportunity, as it was he who was pulling all the strings so to speak.

I dont think we will see him until much later in the season as with him being an attacking midfielder, he is to similar to Cahill, Osman etc for Moyes to drop one of his more established players to give him a spce in the team. From looking at the bbc site just now he is in the squad so maybe he will get a place on the bench. I would be more than happy for him to play the last 20 minutes if things have gone stale for us in the creative department.

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