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Cream Always Rises to the Top

By Alexa Dunne :  07/02/2009 :  Comments (25) :

Early in the season the league standings were topsy turvy. Hull were playing with passion and exuberance: They had made the Premier League! Their momentum carried them through games which I didn't think they should have won. Several teams were in unexpected positions ? including Everton. We just couldn't seem to get it together.

A demoralizing Off-Season ? helped along by a bad ending to the League after a sickening defeat to Fiorentina, transfer troubles and a manager that just kept pushing off signing his contract ? was apparently dragging at the hearts of everyone involved. The players just didn't have the pep that I was used to seeing, fans were frustrated with several things and vocal to max about them, even Moyes seemed disinterested. Nothing seemed to be going right.

I sat here and tried very hard to encourage optimism. I pointed out positives from even the most dreadful losses. And most of all, despite having my own moments of gloom, I said ?It's a long season, things WILL change.?

I feel now, more than half way through the season, that I am being proven correct. The top contenders, ?Sky 4?, are at the top, as expected, and Everton are about where I figured they would be. I admit I didn't see Aston Villa pulling off some heroics to get to third, and wasn't thinking it would be Wigan in 7th, chasing us. Yet for the most part, the table is a pretty accurate representation of the teams skills ? including maybe most importantly, the ability of the manager to get his lads on the same page.

David Moyes has proven himself time and again a great manager. He has had financial limits no ?Big 4? manager would ever live with. He fights to find players that will come to our club, and yet somehow he manages to find guys who love the Royal Blue. He has found gems throughout his tenure, and made managerial decisions ? moving guys to new positions etc. ? with such success I cannot even dream what type of team he would put out with more money and resources!

On top of that, he and the rest of the coaching staff seem to really get how to bring the youngsters in, without overwhelming them. I admit to having issues sometimes with the players he turns out, but at the end of the day Moyes sees these lads day in, day out in training. We don't know what is going on and so I trust he's putting the strongest, most dedicated team on the field.

We may not be a contender for the number 1 spot just yet ? as much as it hurts to admit, but our class, our camaraderie, our loyalty and our passion don't seem to be rivaled by any other team. I would love, as much as anyone, to win the league, seal a spot in the CL and have a good run there, and be consistently on top. I just want to do it the 'right' way. The Everton way. You can buy a talented player, but you can't buy loyalty. See Robinho for proof. We have a group of gifted players, exciting young guys, and a gaffer I'm sure most clubs would love to lure away. We are one of the top teams in the league and we deserve to be where we are. We can't go back and undo the mess we made at the start of the season. We can only go forwards.

Right now we have 13 league games and 4 possible FA cup games to go. I want to see our confidence and form continue. Guys like Baines have taken the chance given to them through injuries to others and they have shined. Arteta and Lescott have been magic since returning to their preferred positions, and everyone has stepped up in the face of overwhelming injuries to get things done. The cohesiveness of the team is something to be envied by others.

I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with the overlapping play I saw today ? If Baines went forwards, Arteta or Phil Neville dropped back, when Ossie came inside, Cahill or Jo went out wide, Hibbert, Neville and Gosling switched off and covered each other and Jags and Lescott well... 'nuff said!

The entire team went out there for each other, no one acted superior, no one was a diva, and with that friendship, respect and trust we are playing the best football I've seen in a while. A flowing passing game, where every time I shouted ?NO MORE LONG BALL!!!!? at the screen it was at a Bolton player.?

They say it takes time to settle, but in the end cream always rises to the top. We certainly took our time, but I have a feeling the next couple of months are going to be filled with some of the most exciting football our lads have ever played.

So... Bring on Villa next week ? sure I'll be nervous, but I'm also sure I'll be damned proud of how our boys in blue perform. Let's make a run for the Cup, and a great league finish. It is certainly a great time to be a Blue.

Reader Comments

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John Milligan
1   Posted 08/02/2009 at 09:34:45

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Alexa
good article.
Like yourself I too advocated early season that we should wait in judgement until the end of the season before calling for " Moyse to be sacked " " Lescott, Osman etc etc to be sold "
As you remember most mails were knee jerk, short term arguments.
Such was the defeatism on these pages that amongst other things I was requested not to continue contributing to the site.
It’s my ball and you can’t play was the sad attitude.
Like you I too feel vindicated.
We will still have poor games and performances, collectivelly and individually, but hopefully we will not have the bile we had early doors.
Alexa Dunne
2   Posted 08/02/2009 at 15:04:20

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First: Not sure what happened to my formatting, ! and "s are left out. I’ve been having problems with openoffice and formatting. So, Apologies - next time I use notepad only to type up the text.

John: I have to remember that a lot of people have watched Everton through a lot of rough times and heartbreaks. That knee-jerk reaction can be in a way justified. I just felt like pointing out how different we are now from the beginning of the season. People are hopeful and a lot happier with even more justifiable reason to be!

If Moyes manages to make one or two very good/great signings this summer without the drama of last year, we are ready to contend seriously for a top four spot. As wonderful as instant gratification is, long term, this team is going places.
Michael Kenrick
3   Posted 08/02/2009 at 15:37:04

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Yea, Alexa, the apostrophes were all messed up. Along with something else that I changed to a dash. Not sure what you mean about missing ! and "s though...
Michael Hunt
4   Posted 08/02/2009 at 15:23:12

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Great article Alexa, spot on in my humble opinion. What I think sets Everton apart is that real feeling of belonging, togtherness and shared desire and focus of the squad on the whole. Contrast this with many other teams, that on paper seem decent, and that is a real plus for Moyes?s values.

I feel his high standards (almost moralistic values) as a man are reflected in his sides. That is priceless... a team is supposed to be more than the sum of its parts and by that definition Moyes is a great. However, at Everton he is a football club manager and in football greatness is measured in trophies... Moyes?s boys deserve a trophy so much and so I?m keeping everything crossed that the holy grail of a trophy is ours under the Wembley as capt? Pip lifts the FA Cup!!!!

Oh to dream of course, but I genuinely feel we?ve as good a chance as any and a lot more chance than most. Even an away trip to Old Trafford would likely yield at least a draw I feel! COYB!!!!

Andy Crooks
5   Posted 08/02/2009 at 21:14:12

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Alexa, I actually believe that David Moyes has been a lucky manager this season. All season many people on this site have called for Arteta to play in the centre, for Baines to start at left back and for Gosling to get a chance. In my view circumstances rather than good judgement have forced DM into making changes.

Also, I believe that with a huge amount of money to spend, things would be pretty much the same. Money does not change managerial style, as Mark Hughes is in the process of proving at Man City.

It?s been a great week for Everton and David Moyes. I still think we should not easily forget the David Moyes we saw during the first part of the season. Things could and should be even better.

Alexa Dunne
6   Posted 08/02/2009 at 23:13:05

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MK: apparently I was having issues with firefox earlier, everything looks fine now. Thanks for that - if/when I submit another I?ll just use notepad to type it up.

Michael Hunt: I can hardly dare think past next weekend for the FA Cup. It would be beautiful to see, but that game is not going to be easy so we will have to see how it goes.

Andy Crooks: You bring up some valid points. I am trying to give Moyes the benefit of the doubt ? we all go through rough patches attitude wise ? and so I am hoping there was something we didn?t know about going on that was dragging at him. I think that in the long run he has managed consistently to bring our lads' quality out. Barring the start of this season, I haven?t heard of him going AWOL mentally before.

You are also right about money not meaning success. I am not asking for a ridiculous open check book a la Man City, but it would be nice if he had just enough to buy the players he wants (Manny Fernandes anyone?) instead of being saddled with the task of finding free/near free transfers each winter.

You also mention circumstances forcing him to make changes and give lads like Gosling a chance ? I?m one of those who has been saying since I first saw him that he needs at least 15 mins each game etc ? BUT it also contradicts our statement of loyalty.

Moyes tends to give the guys who are playing the chance to continue playing until they mess up, or injury forces them off. If he just decided to bench someone doing well to let Gosling have a go, what would that do to the state of said benched-player?s mind? I can definitely see both sides of the argument and I agree in part with both.

As for should/could be better, I think where we are is good enough for us at the moment ? it galls to admit it but I don?t think we?re ready as a team to take on CL. Our bench is not deep enough IMO. If we make a good run at the last 13 league games we have a great chance of sealing a Uefa Cup spot for next season. Depending on what happens there, and how well we pad our bench in the next year, I?m hoping we?ll make it to top four next season and have a great run out in CL after that.

Dan McKie
7   Posted 09/02/2009 at 11:47:26

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Its just a pity Everton didnt start their season in August like the teams above us did. With the games we normally win at home at the begining of the season (Blackburn, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Boro) we could and should have 10 points more at this point and would really be pushing the ?Sky 4?, it's so frustrating.
Dan McKie
8   Posted 09/02/2009 at 11:47:26

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Its just a pity Everton didnt start their season in August like the teams above us did. With the games we normally win at home at the begining of the season (Blackburn, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Boro) we could and should have 10 points more at this point and would really be pushing the ’sky 4’, its so frustrating.
Dan Johnson
9   Posted 09/02/2009 at 12:17:37

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I think that Moyes's attitude at the start of the season and him spitting his dummy out in the summer (the delayed contract etc) contributed to our bad start. It affected the players' confidence and mental state. You could even argue that Moyes's petulance pre-season may cost us a crack at the top 4.
Phil Martin
10   Posted 09/02/2009 at 15:49:18

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I struggle to believe some of the anti-Moyes comments still published here; "You could even argue that Moyes petulance pre-season may cost us a crack at the top 4."

What is that all about? DM was simply waiting for BK to fulfill his side of the deal by providing the promised adequate funds for EFC to target the ?next level? of players. In typical BK fashion, this never materialised until a day or two before the transfer window closed (coinciding possibly with the TV money being recieved?).

Do people honestly think DM simply ?dithered? because he couldn't be arsed or because of petulance? Sure his delay affected the players but it wouldn't have been wise for his career to commit to a club that couldn't match his ambitions

Perhaps you should ask, if BK had offered DM his long term big money contract with a guaranteed £25M+ spending spree, would DM have taken so long to sign the deal? The answer IMO would be ?NO?.

The whole "money doesn?t guarantee success" card is repeatedly thrown up on this site. Well sure it doesn?t, but I tell you what. Having no money absolutely guarantees no success.

Tell me this, If the current Sky 4 were given a limit of £5M net spend per year for the next 6 years. Instead the next top 4 (say EFC, Villa, Spurs, City) were given CL prize money for the next 6 years. What would be the outcome? I?d put my mortgage on most if not all the current sky 4 being replaced with the new rich. Why? Cos that's what money (in todays football world) brings you.

As if an excuse for our board's complete incompetence in producing a decent business model or attracting outside investment. We hide behind the fact Moyes has worked minor miracles to get us to where we are now. Think back to Wally Smith?s 3-0 defeat to Boro in the FA Cup just before being sacked. How grim were times then?

Sure we?re playing good football and we knocked the shite out of the FA cup. But unless we get substantial backing to buy 2 or 3 quality players in the summer, we will be 6th again next year.

Now just imagine (like O?Neill has at Villa) Moyes having proper backing to buy players like Moutinho, Mbia, Veloso etc without having to sell half his squad first.We would be truly onto something great then!

Andy Crooks
11   Posted 09/02/2009 at 19:32:41

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Phil, I don?t think it is anti-Moyes to wonder why the same squad we had in Autumn are now playing with confidence, belief and a little bit of flair. It is down to a change of attitude in our coach.

Can you not consider the possibilty that had David Moyes been a little less petulant we?d be better off now? Also, praising David Moyes by knocking Walter Smith is entirely unfair.

Jon J Cox
12   Posted 09/02/2009 at 19:56:52

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Phil Martin, Totaly correct. If I may be so bold as to give an analogy. As a musician playing rock music at venues such as "the sportsman" "moonstone" and my fave "the Empress, new brighton" when one of my guitar strings broke my guitar would go out of tune and so therefore the whole of the band would sound crap. Having said that all I could do at that precise moment would be to retune my guitar and go for the best I could with 5 strings.

Most of the time I was able to bluff my way to the end of the song. Later when I could afford an extra guitar this problem disappeared. The in tune guitar was at hand to pick up and carry on the song.

Some people will get this and some people wont so I?ll explain.

In the early days I didn?t have the money to have 2 axes so I had to make do with re-tuning the one, but, It was so much easier when I could afford an extra guitar and could just pick it up and carry on playing.

PLEASE this is where David Moyes is now. It?s make the best of a bad job.

For me he has done me proud and, I love him to death. At this rate with the current economic crisis that is hassling our greast nation I think we only have to wait a few years and we will be the Chelsea of the English Premier League.

Everton 2 Villa 1
Lee Rogers
13   Posted 09/02/2009 at 23:12:57

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Does anybody think that the loan signing of Jo had catches to it? Meaning they get first offer on Lescott in the summer??? ... I hope not!
Ped Pearl
14   Posted 09/02/2009 at 23:38:41

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WIth Moutinho rumoured to arrive this summer - and we hear there is a deal to sign Jo on a permanent deal... will Moyes have to sell to conclude both deals? We are looking at 30m for the pair of them! (of course Jo has only played the one game - but we will need another striker whatever happens).
Richard Lum
15   Posted 10/02/2009 at 02:15:49

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On the other hand, without the extremely compassionate supporters, whose arguments and views are always exaggerated, players and manager will turn complacent and take things for granted. Occasional wake-up calls will spur the team to greater heights.
Russell Buckley
16   Posted 10/02/2009 at 02:56:02

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Granted Jo and Moutinho would be welcome but we simply can’t sell to buy. Our squad is tiny but has quality.

The only way we could afford to pull that off is if a Man City type club paid stupid money for one of our players. Jo was impressive on debut but is still not proven in the EPL and the same goes for Moutinho. Would we be happy to swap that for the tried and tested performers we have now who could be sold for high money like Arteta and the Yak.
Richard Lum
17   Posted 10/02/2009 at 13:34:45

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On the other hand, the extremely passionate supporters are always exaggerating which prevents the manager and players from being complacent and take thing for granted while spurring them to greater height.
Roger Osborne
18   Posted 10/02/2009 at 18:54:27

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En-route to FA cup glory fourteen years ago now, we played Norwich City in the 5th round, and went home with smiles like Cheshire Cats as the Norfolk outfit were sent home after a 5-0 beating. After that, a nervous home game with Keegans exciting Newcastle, then that epic semi-final with Spurs at Elland Road, the rest I don’t need to mention.

This represents one of the best chances since then we have come to winning the tournament. Quarter finalists in 2002, but even with Gazza in the side it made no difference as Middlesbrough ran out comfortable winners. I go on about the F.A cup, but it’s a special competition, and Everton have a rich tradition in it, from Dean in ’33, Trebilcock against Sheffield Wednesday, the Scots partnership of Gray and Sharp against Watford, and Rideout in ’95. Not forgetting Sandy Young all those years before.

Sitting here again in my Everton shirt (washed since last time I might add), and supporters around these parts are few and far between, but thank god for forums, I’d be lost without my fix of these things. Great to talk to fellow Toffees about an exciting few weeks coming up, although the frustration of earlier in the season still lingers.
Ian Stewart
19   Posted 10/02/2009 at 20:40:47

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Alexa

I enjoyed your article and the resonses you provoked.

Phil

I agree with many of your points regarding how crucial money is these days and how the CL sustains the Sky 4 on a higher level than the rest. I dont see how this is BK?s fault. I am sure he would rather e a billionaire than a millionaire too!

I would much rather we continue to make steady progress as we have over the last 6 or 7 years towards building a good squad with a good manager. At the moment this probably means settling for UEFA rather than top 4 and hoping that a cup run brings some silverware (or at least some excitement as last year). As is pointed out elsewhere we would have killed for that 6 or 7 years ago before Moyes arrived.

What are the alternatives? Go for broke and ?live the dream? and play Leeds and Newcastle in Div 1 ? No thanks.

Sell out to some sugar daddy who then sacks the manager because you can only draw at home to Hull or lose to the RS in injury time? Or gotfor the arab money and turn footy into stamp collecting with a team of workshy mercenaries? Again not for me. I don't think there are any buyers for BK out there in this market let alone the ?right kind?.

We can currently see the Sky 4 brick it because Villa may spoil the party and run off with £20m of next years budget. A couple of years ago we nearly did it but for a hasty re-write of the rules to let the shite back in. With a decent start we would be challenging again this year.

Once somebody can break the cartel then they will have to budget in a similar fashion to us and the best players will start to be spread around more. If noy us then Villa will achieve the same impact.

Chelski and the arse are already wobbling. The RS have a nutter in charge (and long may he stay there) while fergie will start to use his bus pass soon, so the current order may not last forever.

Who knows: if villa think they can go for a CL place and play the ressies on Sunday , we cant gift them any goals this time either! After that we are due a fair draw and then Wemberlee beckons!

COYB
Phil Martin
20   Posted 11/02/2009 at 09:57:16

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Ian ,
I agree that we have a great chance of progressing in the FA Cup and am also quietly optimistic about this weekend

But I would never suggest we do a "Leeds" and go for broke and nor do I ever blame Kenwright for not being wealthier.
My line was more about why BK has NOT attracted any substanstial investment in the 8-9 years he’s been in charge. Why other smaller clubs have been bought out several times while we have not been seriously linked with anyone. Are those rumours that Lerner wanted Everton ahead of Villa, but was put off scent by BK, true? Because if they are, he is single handedly holding back this club. How many other potential investors has he warned off EFC because he doesn’t deem them "Worthy". Who says some Sugar Daddy is going to break/ruin the club?
Without money we can only hope (at the very best) to be were we are now next year, and the year after!
With regards Villa, they havent spent ludicrous amounts but they have spent big. Curtis Davis, Carlos Cuellar, Milner,Ashley Young all £10M each. Yes i accept they havent spent stupid amounts ala Chelsea or City on one or two players. But Moyes has never even had the luxury of spending what O’Neill has.

Going back to my original point. Something that I said last year -5 or 6th place in the league and a decent cup run is all we can realistically hope for without investment. And if our Board are not receptive to fresh outside investment (which may involved the board stepping aside) then this is our future for some time to come!
Brian Furey
21   Posted 11/02/2009 at 10:16:24

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I agree with most posters here that Moyes has done a great job in making us a consistent top 6 team and with the current mad money being spent by clubs, we will find it nearly impossible to break into the top 4 although this year Chelsea & Arsenal definitely have fallen back quite a bit.
I come from Ireland and support my local GAA county Tyrone. Like Everton we have a real strong team ethos. We have some very talent forwards but the we continue to be greater than the sum of our parts. We also have a very shrewd manager who in last years All Ireland final was not scared to make crucial changes for the good of the team. Commentators compared the team to lemmings where some guys are sacrificed for the good of the team.

I think maybe if we had a few superstars in the Everton team, just maybe like Rooney used to be, then the overall team spirit would suffer.

Of course you can only get so far nowadays without that little bit extra talent so if we can get the Yak and another good striker fully fit then we could push on and win some cup competitions. Winning the league or doing well in the CL is a totally different ball game nowadays & unless we get a new billionaire owner I think we can only realistically focus on domestic cups and maybe the UEFA cup.
Stuart Duncan
22   Posted 11/02/2009 at 11:33:04

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I have to add my support to Ian Stewart’s post. I don’t agree that any sale to a rich buyer, American, Russian or Middle Eastern is a great idea. I reckon most new owners would have shipped Moyes out early in the season, which would have been a huge mistake. Look at Chelsea today. They could come back under a new manager or slip further.

I think Moyes’s target now should be to catch Chelsea. 9 points is a big lead, but with 13 games left not impossible. If we can overhaul them, it could be us and Villa in the top 4.

COYB
Robbie Muldoon
23   Posted 11/02/2009 at 12:22:28

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These points I am about to make I am sure many of you will disagree with...

Going out the Uefa Cup was a good thing for our league performances. Less games on our decimated squad is a good thing.

Without the distraction of the Uefa Cup we can concentrate fully on our league games, which offers a greater financial reward in champions league qualification.

Let?s see if Aston Villa can maintain their league results once their European campaign starts up again...

Therefore why do we want to gain entry to the Uefa Cup this season? I would much rather be in the top 4 with no demands of European games in Romania on a Thursday night.

Another point, yes give credit to Moyes where it is due, he has rallied the squad to all be pulling in the same direction (except Anichebe, which is why he should be fucked off), but how damaging has the pre/early season ditherings of Moyes cost us?

We could have been in the top 4 now if we didn?t drop all those stupid points to Blackburn et al.
Patty Beesley
24   Posted 11/02/2009 at 14:27:22

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Alexa - [What a pretty name!!]...... Are you saying that Davey looks like the cat that got the cream???
Alexa Dunne
25   Posted 11/02/2009 at 14:53:55

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Patty - thanks - right now I think he looks like the cat who wants the cream... ;)

Some points that came up:

I haven’t said I want a foreign investor, infact I didn’t state anywhere that we need a buyer... I simply stated that it would be interesting to see what Moyes could come up with if he had some available funds. If he had 10-15mill pounds each summer, WITHOUT having to sell any players, I think our squad would be less ’bare-bones’ and while I hope we don’t get one primadonna ’superstar’ I would think we could get some of the names already mentioned above (mouthino was a good one!).

Robbie: I agree with some of your points. If we had added UEFA games at this point in our season I don’t think our league form would be as good as it is. The problem I see right now is that if we DO qualify for CL how is our squad going to hold up to that added pressure of extra games against the best teams in Europe?

I am really enjoying our current fine form, hoping for a 5th place finish, a good run in UEFA next season and 3-4 good purchases in the next two summers, hopefully without having to sell anyone. The League is looking more as it should - based on overall talent of all involved, players and coaches - and no more of the skewed standings from September. The next couple of years I can see the "big 4" becoming consistently the "big 6" if the wealth of CL is spread around a bit. Here’s hoping Villa knocks either ski or arse out of a spot and that next year we start off strong and continue that way all season. To say "think where we could be if we hadn’t messed up this season’s start" is something I try not to do. We can’t go back and get those points now, change those games. there’s no point in worrying about them. It’s onwards and (hopefully) upwards from here on out!

COYB!


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