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Did it meet your expectation?

By Jamie Rowland :  19/05/2009 :  Comments (22) :
I rarely comment on the ability of footballers, other than the usual post-match shred-tearing in the pub, because I am probably one of the worst footballers in the world. I sometimes can?t even kick a ball straight and considering that I am from a footballing city, I find that terrible. I don?t beat myself up over it though? However, I want to get my thoughts in before the Cup Final and break my silence as to how I feel the season has gone for my beloved club.

As I write this, I am a happy Evertonian. We are in fifth with one game to go, qualified for the Europa League and I have a ticket for the FA Cup Final on the 30th. For an Evertonian, I?m not sure I can ask for more (although I do). If I remember back to the 90s, where we are now seems a million miles away and at this point I would like to take my hat off to Dave Hickson. Dave told me (when Mike Walker was in charge) to not worry. He said ?this is Everton, we?ll always be the best?. At the time, I thought he was raving mad but he was right.

So on to the season?s overall performance ? both on and off the field.

On Field:
After a shaky start against the likes of Blackburn, I wasn?t too bothered because I thought that quality football was being played. The goal that Arteta and Yakabu put together against Blackburn was probably one of the best pieces of football I?ve seen all season. So I wasn?t concerned. Annoyed but not concerned.

The bad run continued for a bit and many pointed the finger at Moyes and his delayed contract signing. Quite what the delay was really about remains a mystery. It surely wasn?t due to transfer funds because he still hasn?t got any. Some blamed the bad start on the side not gelling due to late signings and foreign languages. Whatever the reason, the football in my opinion still wasn?t bad. We were never going to struggle.

Although home form did not improve greatly, our away form was nothing short of brilliant and the side started to look like it had its bite back. The season continued a bit on the damp side but for one vital moment?

Phil Neville became an Evertonian.

No doubt Jagielka was the player of the season. His performances in defence were easily of an international standard and most definitely inspired the others around him. They brought out the best in Lescott and more noticeably, Leighton Baines. But for me, Phil Neville has been the unsung hero. He has commanded the team and put his heart and soul into our club. Regardless of result, he is the first Everton player on the pitch and always the last to leave, applauding the fans for their support. Although not the most technical player we have in the squad, his professionalism oozes class. He deserves that armband and I believe he feels it an honour to wear it.

Another contributing factor to this season?s success was the return of Mikel Arteta to the middle of the park (where he originally started for Everton). Class, creativity and composure. We looked a different team when he was running that midfield. The FA Cup replay against ?that lot? proves my point.

I can go on praising players all day. Tim Cahill, Tim Howard, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman ? all have had good seasons and dug in when it mattered. For me, we have just had a good, professional season.

This year we have seen the introduction of several youngsters. Gosling, Rodwell, Baxter, Kissock spring to mind. And I for one have been over the moon to see more academy talent (with the exception of Gosling) make it into the first team. Moyes gambled and it paid off. We look as though we have some real talent in our ranks, waiting eagerly for their chance to shine (I am looking forward to seeing it).

I also think that Moyes?s policy on young players raises the profile of the club. Many young players, with bags of potential, are sitting in the darkness at top clubs all over Europe. They can now see a back-to-back European club offering them chances and opportunities. That can only be a good thing and is probably the only way we can bolster our squad with top quality players. We may have to nurture them but the reward will hopefully outweigh the effort. It would be nice to attract the next Ronaldinho?(okay, maybe not... but at least we could attract the best of British!).

On now to the off-field affairs:
Moyes is often criticised for his transfer policy. I have always felt that criticism to be harsh. Apart from Shandy and Krøldrup, I cannot really recall him signing a player that wasn?t at least ?useful?. Moyes has probably got the best transfer policy in the Premier League. He keeps his cards close to his chest and he checks, checks and checks again before signing a player. He knows his dressing room and he knows what works.

He only seems to sign players that (a) can play good football (b) are not lazy (the Yak being an exception) and (c) can fit in with the other players. I can imagine our dressing room to be full of banter and wind-ups. Probably more so than any other club (Band of Brothers and all that!). If you still doubt Moyes in the transfer market, ask yourself one question: "What is our ?pound per point? performance?" You don?t even have to compare this to the top four. Compare us to Villa, Tottenham and City...

Moving on ? The new CEO
Mr Elstone has given Evertonians a sense of relief. Wyness has gone and we no longer seem to be getting as much lip service. Elstone a mouthpiece for the Board? I don?t think so. He is honest, open and determined. Determined to do his best for our club. Whenever there is an announcement to be made, he makes it. His presentation at the EGM was well put across and informative. His comments over the FA Cup Wembley games have been well received and his decision-making is always backed up by sound reasoning.

Mr Kenwright made a good decision in promoting Elstone.

As for Mr Kenwright, I leave opinion to each and every Evertonian. We haven?t heard much from him this year (other than on the Stadium debate) but I still believe that he is a True Blue and wants the best for our club. Sadly, he is the right man but it?s the wrong time. He simply doesn?t have the money and is honest about that.

To say that he should sell up is an argument that I agree with but I like his policy on not selling to just anyone. I prefer that he vets potential investors before opening up talks. He learnt his lesson after the Fortress Sports Fund and I think he is cautious about approaches from foreigners. Man City, Chelsea etc worry me. It surely is only a matter of time before the ?endless pot of gold? bubble actually bursts and ruins the game? Make your own mind up.

Well that?s about as much as I want to write. There's more of course but no doubt it's been covered in some of the superb articles that are sent to this site. Let's hope that the FA Cup Final puts a shine on our already great season!

Oh? and Dan Gosling thanks ? for that goal!!!

Reader Comments

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Lee Hind
1   Posted 19/05/2009 at 14:36:57

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Really good article Jamie, I agree with the majority of points. For me the season has exceeded expectation in terms of Cup progress (I genuinely thought we?d had it at semi-final stage) and if I?m honest we?re probably 2 places higher currently than I had us finishing at the start of the campaign.

IF Moyes is backed this summer ? just relatively well with say £15-20m, then I think the next stage in league terms can be achieved. Despite Bill?s passion though, I don?t believe he has the ££££s....
Vinny Garstrokes
2   Posted 19/05/2009 at 15:46:42

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Good article Jamie, I also agree that our shaky start was due to the contract signing stall from Mr Moyes, but I believe this was due to the fact that he was concerned as to what his position would be if there was a takeover and he needed the necessary guarantees and get out clauses before he could sign. I don’t think there was any coincidence that his signing triggered what has become an outstanding season. I watche DM interview on Inside Sport last night and his passion and drive just shines through. Interesting to hear him say that the only job he would not consider is the England one!
Tony Hughes
3   Posted 19/05/2009 at 16:09:50

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Jamie, agreed with everything you said until you mentioned Osman having a good season! That made me laugh out loud!!!
Adam Drewery
4   Posted 19/05/2009 at 16:32:30

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Great article and I agree with all your points, particualrly about the young kids coming through. It makes us feel confident that what’s happening at the moment isnt just an overnight fad but a strong solid foundation for us to build upon for the next 10 years. All credit to Moyes and onwards and upwards to Wembley (where I also have a ticket!)

Proud to be Blue
Gareth Hughes
5   Posted 19/05/2009 at 16:52:42

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Agree totally about Neville, hugely under rated. However Kissock has not made a breakthrough at all from academy and is reportedly leaving this summer.
James Boden
6   Posted 19/05/2009 at 16:40:29

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A decent article on the whole except there were a few points I did not agree with. Firstly pointing out your disinterest in Gosling moving up. 2nd saying Osman had a good season- HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And 3rd, although you are entitled to your own opinion and while Kenwright may be honest to an extent regarding money he also lied about how we would sign a superstar. Or must I forget this? But overall, a decent article.
Dave Hadwin
7   Posted 19/05/2009 at 17:19:47

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You make some very good points and I’m broadly in agreement. I would say though that one key point that you could have added was the way the team took the big blows (Yak injury, Arteta injury) and came back stronger; first with Cahill & Fellaini stepping up their games up front and then with Pienaar playing out of his skin in recent weeks.

Oh, and Shandy was useful once at least - he put the cross in for ’that’ goal!!
Paul Gladwell
8   Posted 19/05/2009 at 18:59:03

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Just read our chairman calling Moyes a genius for realising Felli was not cut out to do the job he spent £15Million for him do. He said it was so clever that he realised this and moved him up front.

Now I happen to like Fellaini and think he will be a major player in time, but there is nothing clever in spending so much on a player only to realise he is not the type we actually thought we were getting.
I don't mean to be cynical in these times of smiles, I just wish he would keep his trap shut as he talks utter shite.

Steve Mink
9   Posted 19/05/2009 at 20:43:59

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Nice piece, Jamie. Agree with a lot of it.

For me, the most heartening aspect of this season has been that - slowly but inexorably - we seem to be turning into a side that plays football the way it ought to be played.

James Lauwervine
10   Posted 19/05/2009 at 20:51:18

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Agree with a lot of what you say Jamie. I think Moysey’s done a phenomenal job to turn us round from where we were last October. I remember the low point of the season for me was after the Newcastle 2-2 draw (the return fixture comes a close second for different reasons) when we’d just gone out the UEFA Cup and had Arse and ManU next two games. I really thought at that point things were looking bad and we were leaking goals at an alarming rate. That we’ve come from there to where we are now, while losing the spine of the team in stages along the way, is a great achievement.

There’ll be 11 evertonians (young and old) crowded round my TV here in a little Oxfordshire town on the 30th hoping for the perfect end to a memorable season. I’m really starting to believe now that Moysey’s onto something. IMWT, COYB, FTRS, IYKYHIETMYHGOOOO... and other such acronyms.
Ian Seymour
11   Posted 19/05/2009 at 21:52:36

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At last someone singingthe praises of Phil Neville. Whilst there are many players rightly getting credit for their performances this season Phil Neville is often overlooked. He has also stepped up a notch in recent months and has arguably been our most consistent performer of late. He’s always the one organising the troops, encouraging the youngsters and shows a real desire to get the best out of those around him. He has shown to be a great ambassador for the club and at a time when we really needed one, a great leader on the pitch too.
Lets give our boys the best vocal support ever on the 30th.
Andy Morden
12   Posted 19/05/2009 at 22:20:09

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Apologies if I seem to be ruining the jolly jolly love in, but isn?t this article a little too glowing? Where is the balance? Credit where credit is due, players like Phil Neville have had a good season and we have done well in adverse conditions.

However, Osman has had a shocker of a season. We were playing gash football at the start of the season. Some truly abysmal displays. Indeed, we have put some in over the whole of the season, but the early games were poor. To say we were playing quality football glosses over the problems we have with squad depth and our lack of adequate preperation.

Has the season met my expectations? No. It has actually surpassed them because I was not hopeful at the start of the season. So that is a positive!

But as we all know, the season is a topsy turvey beast. It looks ok from this end of the season as we have finished OK. But don?t omit the lessons to be learned ? prepare properly, we need a board who won?t shit us over the ground move / will fund players, and Moyes needs to not fanny around be it on transfers (if he has cash) or on his own future.

James Lauwervine
13   Posted 19/05/2009 at 23:11:04

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I used to live in London in Clapham and work in Angel. Anyone who knows the tube will know that that’s the northern line for a journey to work. Couple of times a week I would be on the way home after a number of post-work beers and fall asleep, and sometimes that would mean missing my stop and waking up at the end of the line. It was always a depressing end to the evening as I’d either have to get a taxi back at the cost of 30 quid or at best face a 30-min tube ride back with the risk of falling asleep again and waking up even further from home. That station is called Morden, and that word has since meant a depressing end to an evening to me.

Well done Andy, you just lived up to your namesake. Maybe next season we’ll win every game 12-0 and do the quadruple - maybe then the boys will be worth a pat on the back.
Andy Crooks
14   Posted 20/05/2009 at 00:13:52

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I?m glad Andy Morden has brought some balance to this thread. It?s been a good season but could have been better. I was one of those who was disappointed when David Moyes signed his contract. I felt we could do better and I thought his dithering was damaging to the club.

I am happy to admit that I was wrong. He has done a fine job and is becoming a better manager. However, this close season is his biggest test. Let?s not be making signings five minutes before the window closes. Let?s have a proper pre-season with a squad, even if there is no money to spend, assembled as soon as possible.

It's time for DM to show he is the man to move us on and that he is more than a crisis manager. Early in the season, he played his part in creating a crisis and I hope he can prove that he is not an adversity manager in the Sam Allardyce mode.

Tom Edwards
15   Posted 20/05/2009 at 09:39:28

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I would like to add to this thread that Phil Neville has been an exemplary captain and obviously plays with passion for the team. Very unfairly treated in these forums in general. He deserves to lift the cup, although I would love to see Jags go up there with him, (as long as his crutches will bear him all that way!) and lift the cup with him.
jamie rowland
16   Posted 20/05/2009 at 10:15:24

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Just for Clarity (James Boden) - I ’singled’ out Gosling when talking about youngsters from the academy because he didn’t come from our academy - we signed him for Plymouth Argyle (or Yeovil - one of the two) for 1.1m...

Apologies for the confusion!
Jamie Rowland
17   Posted 20/05/2009 at 10:19:52

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Just to defend my position somewhat.

I may gloss over what was a poor start ? but I did genuinely think that it was nothing to worry about. Our footballing talent was still there, it was just a matter of time. We were playing Castillo ? then Fellaini in the most important position in football ? centre mid. It takes time to gel in a team that doesn?t know you! Enough said...?

On the other points that I have ?glossed? over. Nobody thinks Villa have had a bad season ? yet they haven?t won a game for ages but because they had a tremendous start, everyone thinks that they are having a great time. Not so true.

As far as the boo boys go, I can only put that down to one factor ? they weren?t season ticket holders during the Mike Walker, Howard Kendall (Part III) and Walter Smith years... when we were, to put it mildly, SHITE.

Osman ? for me, he has done well. He gets the flack - but I personally feel that is because he gets the ball more than anyone... and nobody moans about Pienaar when he keeps hold of the ball then ?dribbles? too long (like most South African footballers). Osman has certainly tired as the season has gone on but nobody can call into question his playing ability. He?s just the scapegoat this season because Hibbert has been injured a lot! But that's my opinion!
Andy Morden
18   Posted 20/05/2009 at 10:48:32

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James Lauwervine - quality story mate, sorry my name is a harbinger of doom and gloom for you!

I’m not saying the boys don’t deserve a pat on the back. I just think we sometimes lose a bit of perspective at times. It is either all doom and gloom or oh happy days. Ok, granted football is an emotive and in many respects irrational hobby horse, but is it wrong to provide a bit of reflective inquest? I am merely suggesting that we need to learn from our mistakes.

Jamie Rowland - I do think Villa have had a shite end to their season. Much to my delight! I have many Villa fan buddies and they inform me on a daily basis how poor their season has ended up to be.

Let us just hope that come the 30th we do over Chelsea and we’ll all be in oh happy happy joy joy mode!
Jamie Rowland
19   Posted 20/05/2009 at 12:35:03

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Funny link... If only Moyes had that kind of cash to BLOW! Makes you realise just how good is in the transfer market.
James Lauwervine
20   Posted 20/05/2009 at 12:47:26

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Andy, glad you liked the story. The points you made are actually pretty fair on the whole when I re-read them today - my reaction last night was a little alcohol-fuelled.

This summer will be crucial as a number of people have mentioned, Surely Moyes must have learned something from the previous one.

One other thing, how sweet was it to pass Villa at the weekend after all the crap about them being the challengers to the Sky4 this season. A flukey run of results either side of Xmas is what got them noticed and now they’re back where they belong - below us! I’m gonna stick my neck out here and say that I think both Villa and the boys will lose this Sunday, so 5th and the cup it is!
Peter Howard
21   Posted 20/05/2009 at 15:06:55

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Cut back on your consumption or you’ll end up hitting the buffers.
Phil Bellis
22   Posted 20/05/2009 at 16:17:07

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I think one thing Moyes’ll have learned from last summer and recent pronouncements is not to expect to be provided with cash early on
Will we see another 10 to midnight Fellaini?
Mind you, I suppose Bill could be deliberately pleading poverty to keep purchase prices down - or he could be lying?

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