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The Dark Arts

By Joe Jennings :  13/04/2009 :  Comments (19) :

?Tim Cahill is the master of the dark arts? was the comment ? if not compliment ? Sam Allardyce made in the media prior to his side?s game with Everton only last month.

Safe to say however, there is nothing ?dark? about the way in which Tim Cahill goes about his game. For me, it?s a charm that he has about him; intelligence, gamesmanship, situational management? a nudge here, a push there? a moan at the referee.

After yesterday?s sorry surrender, I can say with some certainty that we have too many nice boys within our rank, who rely upon the brain in their legs as opposed to the brain in their heads. We have an honest bunch of lads at Everton but, Cahill aside, they seem to lack nous. Those bunch of players, in going 2-0 up, should have been capable of taking the sting out of the game when we were under the cosh. They sadly didn?t, and we ultimately paid the price.

We can take pride in what turned out to be a ?thriller?, ?a great game for the neutral?, ?typical when Everton meet Aston Villa?, or we can strive for perfection. David Moyes seemed pretty irate at the goals conceded during the game from the dugout ? particularly the second ? but seemed suitably tranquil come his post-match interview. Was he masking his anger?

Phil Jagielka is one of the best centre backs in Europe, Joleon Lescott is an England international and Tim Howard is usually quality. But rest assured, they need to be raged at and told what is expected of them after a shocking showing, not told ?never mind, you?re usually good?.

Having the right frame of mind, coupled with a real mental toughness, is often what detaches the winners from the losers at the very top, just at look at Manchester United, and, whether we care to admit it or not, Liverpool. We need to be taking that sort of approach into games.

What angers me most is at times during the game, we exposed Villa for what they truly are ? dross. They are so bad, defensively at least, but in the second half we made them look like Barcelona, with Tony Hibbert making Ashley Young seem like Lionel Messi. We played right into their hands. Making it so easy for the opposition, it felt like we had regressed back three years.

Given Villa?s league position, it?s easy to say that they?re a good side, but look at the defence they put out, we should fully expect to go and get goals against that. Letting in three at the other end though, when we are at full strength, is not acceptable.

Tim Howard was terrible but we made it too easy to get at him. I have not seen our defence look so nervy in a long time. While we did, admittedly, play some really good stuff, it?s no use knocking nice little triangles if you can?t retain general possession and draw the sting. We?ve seen that all before against physical sides haven?t we?

Look at our third goal. Baines finds Jo, some 40 yards from goal, and the Brazilian returns the ball back to the feet of our left-back. Leighton then knocks it down the line for Jo, who despite being surrounded by two Villa players, worms his way out and finds Baines again. Neville gets it next and he drills it into Osman, who dummies delightfully, allowing Steven Pienaar to slam home from some 18 yards to send the Evertonians into raptures. The passing, movement and interchange was little short of spectacular, School of Science stuff. That is what this side is capable of, and that is the standard we should be setting ourselves each week. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum and all that.

It?s the one we?ve all been waiting for next, and given we look more solid defensively, who?s to say some of our players won?t atone for their Villa Park misdemeanours? Belief is everything. Fear United and watch them tear us to pieces; stand toe-to-toe with them and maybe this team can come of age. Maybe, just maybe, they can all become acquainted with the beauty of the dark arts?

Seeing is believing. Up the Toffees.

Reader Comments

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Jamie Carroll
1   Posted 13/04/2009 at 16:14:09

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It should have come from Pip Neville yesterday when 2-0 ahead; it should have been a case of kill the game (ie, kick the ball out as much as possible for the game to die down, at least for 10 mins 'til half time). Another lesson for Moyes...
Kevin Sparke
2   Posted 13/04/2009 at 16:48:37

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If we stand toe to toe with Manchester United in an agressive sense ? we?ll be down to 9 men before you can say ?cheating baldy twat?.

For Mike Riley, master of the flashing card and good friend of Sky Four clubs is in charge of the Semi...

We?re fucking doomed.... help us Obi One Kanobi ? you?re our only hope...
Andy Crooks
3   Posted 13/04/2009 at 16:50:44

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Spot on,Joe.We have nothing to fear from Man Utd.At the moment they are a frightened side.If very player stands up and believes we can win.Does David Moyes believe we can win?Let’s not try to sneak a result.Let’s beat them with football.My God we’re better than Sunderland and Fulham.
Karl Masters
4   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:05:33

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Nothing to fear, but fear itself.

?90% of football is played in the head? pronounced Peter Reid during our Halcyon days in the ?80s when asked how Everton had been transformed in under a year from Relegation candidates to an unstoppable machine.

How right he was and still is....
Karl Masters
5   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:08:23

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One thing that does concern me though is the hatchet job done on TV in the last 24 hours regarding Fellaini over the elbow thing. That and Mike Riley make Moyesie giving him a good pep talk about CONTROLLED aggression vital some time this week.
Dave Wilson
6   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:12:29

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As preps go Joe, it was probably not that bad, we gained confidence when in possession and were given a timely reminder of some of our shortcomings.

Kevin Sparke... I sincerely hope you're joking about Old Mother getting next week's game.
Jon Beck
7   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:21:22

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Over-reaction in my view, Joe. What is needed is cool headed analysis, build on our strengths, work on our weaknesses, not this patronising nonsense. You seem to be going for quantity rather than quality with your articles; less is more.
Joe Jennings
8   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:27:26

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My article is no attempt to patronise.

The facts don’t lie, and it’s worrying to say the least to concede so sloppily a week before the biggest game in years.

There’s no point in shirking accountability for what was a very poor defensive display.
Luke Dunn
9   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:32:07

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Poor article, slagging the side for conceding. Howard could have done better for the second goal, you cannot account for the poor penalty descision. Also I don't think anyone else has scored 3 at their place this year. Are you another member of the ?Moyes Out? brigade when things don't go our way?
Joe Jennings
10   Posted 13/04/2009 at 17:37:52

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Far from it Luke, as it happens. I?ve backed Moyes from day one, and will continue to do so, because I know he?s a very good manager.

I do however, believe in the Latin on the club?s shirt. Some people don?t get it, but with Everton, I won?t be satisfied until we?re the best. Everton Football Club should be striving for perfection. Villa were there for the taking and we caved, it?s that simple.
Larry Boner
11   Posted 13/04/2009 at 18:02:05

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The sole reason we did not totally humiliate Villa yesterday was the disgraceful antics by the Villa players continually diving and the pathetic performance of the referee to allow Ashley Young to dive at least SIX times, how can an honest team like Everton compete against this behaviour?? What protection was given to Tony Hibbert or any other Everton player, who would certainly have been sent off for any attempt to tackle anyone on the pitch.

Unbelievably, BBC then focussed on Fellaini's elbows!!! The lad is physically assaulted every game, which is why Cahill hides behind him for every corner!

I fully understand why Liverpool are so successful in European games and it's because they can influence the referee when the game is tight, look at the diving that went on against Chelsea, wait 'til you see it tomorrow night. Remember the last-minute penalty given to Liverpool against Marsaille? I think it was where Gerrard dived into the back of the defender, went down like a sack of cement and the ref fell for it, after the game apologising to the French side for his mistake!

We either go down the route of the Sky 4 and Villa, who are prepared to blatantly cheat to achieve success, or we attempt to play the game the way it is meant to be played and try to be successful that way, but if Riley is the ref on Sunday then I see us again playing against 12 men as we did yesterday.

The worst thing about all of it was O"Neill complaining after the game that Carew was not given another penalty!!! Absolutely obscene, considering his teams have cheated their way to the position they are in while we have done it through hard work, team spirit and commitment.

Surely we are on the right path??? Surely this is not the future for football, the world's best players prepared to do anything to achieve success. Gerrard, Torres, Ronaldo Young etc ? you don't need to do it, you are destroying the game I was brought up with.

Tony Williams
12   Posted 13/04/2009 at 18:46:29

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Dave, just read it on the OS, Old Mother Riley is now taking the semi, no reason at all given why they have changed from Bennett.

He is bad enough but now we have to content with one of the worst refs who has given 112 yellow cards in 29 games and is probably a ManUre fan.

Anyone want to buy a ticket?
Anthony Dyer
13   Posted 13/04/2009 at 18:51:18

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Larry, this is the shape of modern day football, when clubs can spend billions of pounds that they don?t have, the pressure to win games increases ten fold.

How you win ? according to those ?Big Clubs? ? is not important as long as you win.

The BBC is supposed to be a non-commercial public service, yet it puts the other media outlets to shame with it?s love for all things relating to Sky 4 and LFC in particular. I don?t know why they don?t just start a BBC service called This is Anfield and broadcast 24hrs a day.

Everton are hardly a realistic threat to those clubs ? yet every time there is an opportunity to scrutinise and highlight ?dirty? play or blatant cheating by any of the boys in blue, they are examined in great detail.

Unless and until the journalists reveal and highlight the truth relating to the game and its officials, the modern trend will continue.

If our loveable neighbours get the result they want tomorrow, it won?t matter if Chelsea have players sent off unfairly or that dodgy free-kicks and pens are awarded, it only matters that they win. Obviously I hope they get nothing from the game, but it seems strange that one English club going away with the scores level is considered to have lost the tie, whilst another beaten by 3-1 at home is predicted to overcome the odds and nobody will be surprised if they win.

Martin O?Neill, Alan Shearer and Harry Redknapp, don?t forget, are former pundits for the BBC and as such are immune from criticism.
Colin Jones
14   Posted 13/04/2009 at 19:02:34

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I thought the defence allowed themselves to be bullied yesterday by Carew. Can?t remember anyone doing it before... even Drogba.
Ian Tunny
15   Posted 13/04/2009 at 20:22:52

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Joe, you say we ?concede so sloppily?; let's get it right: one was a wonder free-kick, one was a penalty from a harsh decision, and one was a counter attack which is their specialty, and they are probably the best at it in the country with the speed of Young and Gabi.
Derek Thomas
16   Posted 13/04/2009 at 22:23:02

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Spot on, Joe, an article of well considered points and imho, dead right.

Much is made of ?xxxxx 101? meaning the basic steps in this, that or the other. Well we have, or seemed to, for some parts of the game, mastered the the joined-up football aspect of the 101 part. We have also, for the most part, rid ourselves of most of the hoofball parts.

We have yet to get to grips with the 'killing teams off' parts: a) score a few more; and b) kick lumps off them (in of course the best possible taste) and stop them even thinking about getting up off the floor.

It?s a good coach's job to put the mental bricks for the battering ram of the self-belief thing into their heads, but he can?t apply it for them. A good coach?? Sometimes I think the only trick to good coaching is better players, horses to water on the battering ram thing and silk purses and sows ears for the quality.

This could sum up the whole club on and off the field from Blue and / or black Bill down.


For once... no ? make it twice, in London, can we get it together on the day.

Steve Edwards
17   Posted 14/04/2009 at 09:53:01

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I?m as disappointed as the rest of you that we didn?t hold our lead but give credit where credit's due. Ashley Young is one hell of a winger when he?s on his game. In fact he?s just the sort of player we need to move us up a notch. How many of you wouldn?t like to see him in a blue shirt?

I know he was playing for a penalty on two or three occasions but so what? That's what players do in this modern game. They play any advantage they can get. The ref kept waving play on but I?ve no doubt that was what influenced him in finally giving a very debatable penalty later in the game. The pressure had been built up by Young.

People are forever coming on this site and saying that we need a world class winger. Well there are not many of them about but the lad at Villa is about as good as they get. Ask Tony Hibbert.

Neil Steele
18   Posted 14/04/2009 at 18:15:19

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Well considered as always Joe and you make very good points, points it appears that most, not all, are missing.

This is no demolition of our performance, merely a comment on an area in which we can improve.

I disagree completely with the suggestion someone made that we should have kicked the ball all over the place for 10 minutes at 2-0. For me that is exactly what we DID do and how it cost us.

It’s all very well saying Villa are good at this and that but do you see them causing the top sides, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United(please dont quote last week with a majeshift defence as proof) these kinds of problems?? No, no you don’t.

It’s well too saying that we had a couple of dodgy decisions against us but that too is missing the point. You would have to be blind not to see we were rocking like a sail boat in a storm for large periods of that game...more or less the entire second half. The 10 minute possession stat at one point hit 75/25.

The top teams draw the sting out of situations like this by taking dives, amking tactical fouls, moaning at the ref and drawing intelligent fouls. We did none of this.

The team spirit we have and the honest, workmanlike and thoroughy likeable bunch of lads we have at the club are a credit to the management team but we are missing something and games like that prove it.

When the aforementioned teams visit Goodison Park and grounds around the country they generally go away hated and having left a sour taste. A big part of that is the gamesmanship they employ and the nous they show in getting the job done, they indeed employ "the dark arts".

That, for me, is the simple reason we threw those extra 2 points away..we weren’t ’cute’ enough.

It’s a problem we have often shown when faced with a hostile atmosphere and a problem we have particularly had during key european away legs. When a team builds a head of steam and gets the croud with them we, generally, collapse like a deck of cards.

Experience will improve things but words need to be had and the mentality needs to change. Tim Cahill is maybe the only one who knows what it’s about and he needs tro impart that knowledge on some of his less wiley colleagues. The way Ashley Young, a completely overrated footballer, was allowed to completely embarras Tony Hibbert empitomised the problem.

Before we are ready to win things we need to wise up and get some mental toughness.
Anthony Dyer
19   Posted 14/04/2009 at 22:06:58

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Neil , you mean the same mental toughness that Chelsea?s team of All Stars showed in the first 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Admittedly they looked more at it in the second half , but still nearly threw it all away again near the end. Football is a game where mommentum is all important and when we failed to go 3 up at Villa Park the game switched and Villa had the upper hand. I?ll settle for a dour 1-0 win on Sunday as following last Sunday and tonight?s game my nerves won?t stand any more epics.

I was amazed that the Referee gave a penalty tonight, but having said that I wish our Referees would do the same as free-kicks and corners are becoming farcical with all the pulling and shoving going on. COYB

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