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A Winning Philosophy

By Paul  Connell :  10/05/2009 :  Comments (18) :
I've read a number of posts recently proclaiming 'if only we'd beaten [insert team], we could be so many points better off'. Well, I don't go along with the 'what if' brigade or the belief that a change in tactics would've somehow brought greater rewards.

We start each season talking about the possibility of 4th but fall short. The hope is that one of the Sky 4 has a bad season and we can take advantage. Well, to be honest every year one of them does and we can't. This is because a bad season for any of them still means 70+ points (with the exception of 2005!) and at least 20/22 wins in a 38 game season. Correct me if i am wrong but the most we have won has been 18. This would make it seem that, if Everton feared no one and played with more adventure, we could hit this total and turn a few draws into wins.

In truth, I think it's more complicated than that. My point of view is that Moyes has been successful because he understands the limitations of his squad. He generally sticks to what works. In Everton's case, what works is solidity. For the majority of Moyes's reign the general philosophy is, if we can't always be better than the opposition with the ball, we can without it.

Now we have progressed beyond relegation fights and mid-table mediocrity, this approach is not to everyone's taste. However, that progression is still based in this philosophy because we still don't have the creative quality to change.

I see Pienaar and Arteta as our only genuinely creative players. How can we be adventurous with one of these crocked? If the other doesn't play well, we are left looking impotent and relying on set pieces or the presence of our bigger players.

The truth is our best chances of a result (especially away) in any game is to play to our strengths and remain solid. The fact is this will result shit performances on occasion (eg, Newcastle and Blackburn). This is I think a necessary evil until we get more creation. The alternative is to lose our shape which for me is our biggest asset, and can only result in losing even more games to shit teams.

I am not going to moan about shit results, what ifs and if onlys because the truth is we are where we deserve to be and a pretty good representation of our ability. This is not intended to be doom and gloom. Far from it. Our two creative players are better than what most other Prem teams have and two more or the same ilk (and some luck with injuries) would give us an outstanding chance of 70+ points next year.

I know some will disagree with this assessment and will respond by attacking the manager. It's a matter of opinion and I understand from the purist point of view. The fact is Moyes is a winner but a pragmatist. With a Man City blank cheque he would still be more likley to turn us into Chelsea than Arsenal because of his philosophy. Again this is not to everyone's taste but IMO with a blank cheque he would bring us a title. That's why I won't criticise the man, despite some shit draws to shit teams.

Reader Comments

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Colin Potter
1   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:09:23

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Progression, yes. Successful, remind me Paul, when was that? Adventurous...? I doubt Moyes knows the meaning of the word.
Dennis Stevens
2   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:34:55

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Not a bad assessment, really. To do even better than we are under Moyes I suppose we either need a new manager who can get even more out of what we can afford or/and a new board/owner who can afford a liitle more than the current incumbents. I suspect finding a new manager who can do even more with the scraps Moyes has to get by on may be even more unlikely than one of these mythical potential buyers of the club emerging from fantasy into reality. In some ways the better we do the more frustrating it becomes that we can’t do much better.
Tony Whitby
3   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:35:54

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Colin... You really need to take a few reality pills!!!

I don?t know what you expect when the sides above us can spend more on one player every year than Moyes can spend on all his reinforcements put together. Anybody who questions his lack of adventure and success really doesn?t have their finger anywhere near the pulse of the modern money driven game that is the Premier League.

Tony Silver
4   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:47:02

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Living in Birmingham, I am surrounded by Villa fans who tell me O?Neill had taken them as far as he can and has been caught short in the run-in. Whilst I think he is a far more adventurous manager than Moyes, he has had to learn the reality of life in the Prem and like Moyes has discovered that he is hitting his head on the ceiling with his team of predominately ?ordinary? players.

The reality is that both Villa and Everton are scrapping to be ?the best of the rest? ? and that?s 10 points behind the lowest of the Sky Four. Only difference between the clubs is that Martin O?Neill is too proud to spend his Chairman?s money and our Chairman ain?t got any!

Ken Buckley
5   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:34:14

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With our manager now publicly lauded by most inside and outside of the game as the best manager on a shoestring and a cup run that saw two of the big four fall to his team, then I think he has passed test one, getting the most out of what you have and over achieving on a regular basis.

Test two will come when the club is in the financial position to afford and maintain a squad of sufficient number and quality to compete in major competitions and be genuine contenders. It may not need blank cheque mentality but enough to get about 25 top players (including any the academy can produce) weld them into a tight knit unit to genuinely make it a top five race for honours.

As others have found out over the years, just throwing money out for players is not the answer but having enough money to sign the players needed and those players proving to be the right players for manager and club alike. So really it?s what the club can do on the investment front that will ultimately determine if our present manager can take on test two and be successful or otherwise. Let?s hope winning the cup can bring those whispered ?Middle East? investor stories closer. UP THE BLUES

Dave Wilson
6   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:49:41

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The trouble is the progress is slow, but only a fool would deny progress. In Arteta, Lescot, Baines, Pienaar, Jagielka we have players who would get a game for the top four teams. We even have an understudy ? Yobo, who would be a very welcome addition to their squads. Ok, they?ve been here a while but this season they have raised their games and shown themselves to be top notch ? Phil Neville's influence?

We?re all excited about the potential of Rodwell and in Fellaini we have a guy who SAF calls one of the best prospects in Europe. The average age is coming down and the football is slowly but definitely improving.

We don't have a lot to spend, but there are affordable players who can improve us. A natural wide player ? the Irish kid at Stoke? The Yak (on top form) for 25-30 games and a surging midfielder and any sort of luck would make a CL league place a very realistic goal,

Dean King
7   Posted 11/05/2009 at 21:07:50

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Tony Silver, got to disagree about O?Neill being too proud to spend his chairman?s money. Villa brought 8 players in last summer at a cost of around £40 million.

Curtis Davies (West Brom) Undisclosed Fee
Steve Sidwell (Chelsea) £5million
Brad Friedel (Blackburn Rovers) £2million
Brad Guzan (Chivas USA) £600,000
Carlos Cuellar (Glasgow Rangers) £7.8million
Luke Young (Middlesbrough) £5million
Nicky Shorey (Reading) Undisclosed Fee
James Milner (Newcastle Utd) £12million.
Plus Heskey in January for £3.5 million.

I don?t doubt for a minute that Villa would be eating our dust if Moyes had that kind on money at his disposal.

Derek Thomas
8   Posted 11/05/2009 at 23:53:06

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Paul, I have to say you are pretty much spot on.

It is, especially in my case and I think for a good percentage, to come out and admit that we are somewhat schizo in nature, able to, at the drop of a bobble hat (even if we have to drop it ourselves) find no problem in indulging in a large dose of double-think.

Though marked by gross indoctrinations and falsehood, especially when used in self indoctrination... Doublethink; is a vast system of mental cheating. Orwell.

I myself see it as being able to, given 2 contrasting views of circumstanses on 2 seperate occaisions firmly hold 2 different opinions.

1) Yesterday; If only we were more expansive and adventurous... yeah fuckin right.

2) 30th May; we?ve got to go with 4-5-1, keep it tight... yeah do that and we?re halfway there.

There is no cure, you are never cured, one day at a time.

Hi, My names Derek, I?m an Evertonian

Hi Derek.
Eric Myles
9   Posted 12/05/2009 at 01:57:07

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Paul, I understand your view on the ?what if? scenarios and some of our draws / losses could not really have been turned around but there are 2 glaring exceptions that I can recall:

2-0 UP at HOME to Newcastle and only taking a point...
And pulling back an equaliser at HOME against a Villa and then throwing the points away.

Keith O'Brien
10   Posted 12/05/2009 at 09:23:24

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Eric, just speaking of ?what-if? games, don't forget the Arsenal game at home where we well controlled the game and then let Van Persie in with the last kick of the game. I was at that game with my fellow toffees from Ireland and it hurt badly

But it just shows that this season has seen a massive improvement against the top four. Let's hope it continues May 30th

Chris Briddon
11   Posted 12/05/2009 at 10:01:51

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Keith & Eric.

The problem is for every one of those, there are counter arguments such as Bolton away, West Ham away, Man City away even Hull away & Liverpool away.

We have scored a lot of goals late on in games this season and have conceded very few, for every game we could have won, there are a number we could / should have lost ? that?s football!

On Martin O?Neil, he has spent lots but seems reluctant to spend it sometimes, when he complains of too many games & small squad, well that?s his own fault, he has the funds to spend if he wants but he doesn?t, whereas we don?t have it in the first place!
Damian Kelly
12   Posted 12/05/2009 at 12:19:28

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Spot on analysis Paul in my opinion. Think the comparison with O?Neill is a good one ? I?ve always considered him to be one of the few managers working in the UK who is better than Moyes. However, I?ve also heard loads of bitching from Villa fans that he?s taken them as far as possible, that he?s made loads of mistakes in the transfer market, that he is tactically a one-trick pony and that he bottled out this season and doesn't have the killer instinct! Sound familiar?

Most neutrals would consider these Villa fans to be idiots and would ask who they would reasonably expect to get instead who would take them further ? in the same way that most neutrals think any Evertonians who have a downer on Moyes are idiots.

I think it's human nature to look at what you have and point out the things that are wrong or not the way you want them to be. Sometimes life is more enjoyable if you appreciate the things that are right.
Alan Kirwin
13   Posted 12/05/2009 at 18:44:18

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We have gone from regular relegation candidates aspiring to mediocrity, to regular top 6 and European football. We have a team of mainly young, strong & very valuable players, compared to the ageing disjointed rubbish of the previous 10 years. We don?t get battered anymore by anyone & these days it?s news if Everton concede 1 goal, nevermind 2, 3 or 5 as we did in the past. And all this has been done when our competitors are, in theory, making it much much harder for us. Look at how much Tottenham, Villa, Man City, West Ham and Sunderland have spent, before we even start on how much the Sky 4 are raking in.

Yes, Moyes has played it too conservative on occasions. I have been pissed of with this, but I venture to suggest that he has now moved himself and the team on to a different stage & one where he will genuinely have a go in almost all circumstances. This positive approach is helped when you don't have your best midfielder and best attacker out injured.

Anybody who is not happy with Everton right now is living in cuckoo land. Our achievements/resources coefficient must be the best in the league.

The glass is more than half-full. Next season, I will start the same as I do every season, fearing that we will suffer at the new found wealth or fortune of many clubs. Hopefully I will end up as surprised and happy as this season, and last, etc etc when we consistently achieve more than I expect.

Expect less and enjoy more. There are always more important things to get upset about.
Monty Collins
14   Posted 13/05/2009 at 08:42:51

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I can only say that O?Neill is the only manager I would swop for David Moyes. Sure he?s had money but he?s only had two seasons to get Villa to fifth whereas our man has been at it much longer.

On the other hand, it might all go pear-shaped for Villa next year ? just look how crap we were in the season after Moyes broke the Sky Four monopoly!

Matthew Mackey
15   Posted 13/05/2009 at 13:28:30

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Paul, couldn?t agree more with your comments and opinions here. Moyes knows how to get the best out of what he has. He probably approaches every aspect of his life in the same way so fair play to him.

Finally, I can?t resist asking Colin Potter (Mr doom and gloom); - if we didn?t have Moyes at the helm, who the hell would you put in there to get us to the next step stage of our development.?

Honestly...there?s no pleasing some people! Show a bit of respect son, the mans worked miracles over the last seven years. Sometimes it is better to appreciate what you have rather than moan about what you don?t have.
James Boden
16   Posted 13/05/2009 at 22:27:32

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Matthew Mackey ? you are typical of what people are like on this website. Colin Potter said we had made progression under Moyes he never denied that. He just wanted to know what success we have had. Success as in winning medals.

Nobody is denying we have made progress under Moyes and in that sense, credit to Moyes... but, as Colin correctly pointed out, we haven?t won a thing ? at least not yet anyway.

And I am also wondering where the writer got adventurous from. Although I suppose I will credit Moyes for an improvement in the quality of football this season.

James Bowman
17   Posted 14/05/2009 at 04:18:05

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I have to say, I?m no fan of O?Neill. Whether it?s because he reminds me of a bloke I work with or just because the media love him... I just don?t rate him.

Tactically, I think Moyes knows how to get the best from his players and knows the value of teamwork; I don?t think we can truly criticise his tactics given the personnel available to him. O?Neill showed his colours when he put out the reserves for what should have been a big European night for the Villa. It ultimately killed their season off and I don?t think they have recovered since.

Looking at his purchases, the only one I read on there worth looking at would be Milner and I have to admit, the Villa fans have got a point when you see Heskey on there. He is straight out of the 'buy success' camp and is only concerned with the CL.

Most of the time when I see the interview with him after the game, it?s almost like he?s been at a different match. Always trying to keep his team up and protect them, then he pulls a masterstroke by ruining their season. We all feel we could have been up there if a few more results had gone our way, but Villa WERE up there and they can only blame O?Neill for not being there now.

But the best thing about Moyes IMO, he rarely looks for excuses and shows great respect for his opposition; he even defends the ref when we all know the ref got something wrong... highly professional. Unlike O?Neill who seems to only respect himself and not the club around him or the competitions they play in. Personally I hope their poor form runs into next season because I can?t wait to hear some more of his fictional excuses.

At least we will be in contention for silverware this year, what have Villa fans got?... another European competition that they know their manager doesn?t want to be in!!

Paul Connell
18   Posted 16/05/2009 at 11:21:33

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James Boden wrote ?I am also wondering where the writer got adventurous from?

James you really should read the article before you pass judgment. The basis of my analysis was to offer a rationale why it is NOT pertinent to play with adventure (especially away) with the current squad. I?ve no problem with anyone disagreeing with my comments but if you throwaway remarks that don't match what was said, you just come looking stupid.

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