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Progress A Fickle Beast.

By John Cottee :  17/08/2008 :  Comments (31) :
Building a great team takes time and every now and again you have to rebuild that side and that usually results in what appears to be a backwards step.

Think of the great Man Utd sides that Sir Alex Ferguson has built. There have probably been 3 or 4 great Man Utd teams under him but between each of those teams there's normally a period of rebuilding where the team underperforms and looks like its taking a backwards step. Arsenal are probably in such a period now.

Progress is not always the steady constant that we wish it was. Progress tends to be more heading in the right direction but experiencing ups and downs along the way. When Moyes took over Everton there was an immediate improvement, a high finish and what looked like the end of our troubles. But then as Moyes slowly started removing the dead wood of Smith's side and bringing in his own younger players there was a bit of a lull resulting in a poor finish in the bottom half of the league.

The next season, as Moyes players started to come into their own, we were back up again and even cracked the Top 4. Then as Moyes tried to add more quality to the side to cope with the added pressure of Euro football it was back down again with a disappointing mid-table finish. Next season it was back up with another Top 6 finish and then last season it was Top 5 with a decent Uefa Cup run. Throughout all these ups and downs Everton have steadily got better and the lows have been less dramatic.

Last season was probably the best we could have hoped for with the current squad. There was the record breaking amount of Premier League points earned, a League Cup semi-final and a decent Uefa Cup run. But let's be fair and admit thats there's always a feeling that Everton were punching above their weight. Players like Neville, Carlsey, Jagielka and Hibbert are never going to world class but they did essential jobs for Everton.

On paper Everton have never had the players to finish best-of-the-rest but thanks to great team spirit, a capacity for hard work and the manager's ability to get the best out of players, that's exactly what Everton have become: best-of-the-rest. Although last season was a particular high for Everton it was also the end of an era. To make that next step up certain players were going to have to be replaced (Carsley) and some real world class talent needed to be added. The question now of course is how does Moyes turn this best-of-the-rest side into a serious Top 4 side and maybe even challenge for the Premier League. Because ultimately that's got to be Moyes's long-term plan.

My guess is that Moyes has made a decision to stop bringing in players who can "do a job" (Kilbane, Bent, Fernandes) or players to just make up the numbers (Gardner, Gravesen) and has instead decided to only bring players to Everton who can take Everton forwards. At the end of the day, the only way to break into the Top 4 is to sign players good enough to get into their sides. Moyes simply isn't interested in adding average players to the squad just to make up the numbers and I applaud him for that.

I hear a lot about Pompey overtaking us because they have signed Crouch; Spurs have got Bentley... and Villa have got some other players that the Top 4 had no interest in signing. If we want to challenge Man Utd, we have to get the players they want. Crouch and players like him weren't good enough for the Top 4 so why should they be good enough for Everton?

Moyes did bid for Aaron Ramsey this summer so did Man Utd and Arsenal. This was a player two of the Top 4 and so did Everton. Another player is Moutinho who by all accounts is world class and could play for Arsenal or Liverpool. The main problem is that Moyes is trying to sign players but is finding it difficult because Everton don't have the financial backing required. So its decision time, does Moyes give up on trying to sign players good enough for the Top 4? I'm sure this week he could go out and purchase several players who would do a good job but are they going to be good enough to push Everton into the Top 4? No they are not.

I would rather Moyes landed just one single world class player than waste time making the numbers up with Crouch, Nugent, Richardson, Koumas etc.... This season is a time of rebuilding, it's about giving some talented youngsters the chance to improve (Gosling, Rodwell, Baxter) and hopefully adding one or two really great players in an attempt to seriously challenge the Top 4 in the next few seasons. Our league form may suffer (although I still expect a Top 10 finish) but hopefully by this time next season Moyes will have a decent squad, the youngsters will be better players (Rodwell will eventually surpass Carsley, Baxter becoming better then AJ) and hopefully one or two world class players will be around.

I say we don't panic, Everton haven't become a bad side all of a sudden, we finished 5th and still have the same side except for Carsley (needed replacing sooner or later), Fernandes (not as good second time round) and AJ (never gonna get enough goals for a Top 4 side). If we have to endure a difficult season because Moyes is struggling to secure the world class players he really wants then so be it. If we have to lose a couple of games while we wait for the youngsters to gain experience then so be it. What I'm saying is let's look at the long-term plan and accept that we may have to drop down a level to eventually go up a level.

One last final note is that I find it offensive that people like Tony Marsh are already calling for Moyes head. We finished 5th with a record number of points and good cup runs last season, is losing one 5-goal thriller to Blackburn really enough to sack Moyes? Don't we at least owe Moyes a season after all the success we have enjoyed recently?

Moyes's biggest crime this summer is that he's set his standards so high that the club is struggling to financially live with them. Do we want our manager to lower his standards?

Reader Comments

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Mike Oates
1   Posted 17/08/2008 at 20:28:43

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John a well written article and I agree with a lot of the content. I think the only problem we seriously face is that we are not only 3-4 down from last year as you stated but with Cahill, Pienaar, Hibbert and Vaughan also out for next 3-4 weeks we are so depleted that Moyes just has to bring in quantity and its too late for 1-2 quality.
Vincent Lysaght
2   Posted 17/08/2008 at 20:38:38

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Best piece on the subject in a long time. Thanks John.
Alan Reddish
3   Posted 17/08/2008 at 20:29:31

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I have been watching things (not) develop at Goodison this summer, and I am inclined to agree with Mr. Cottee (there?s a name from the past ay!). I truely believe we have got some money but the problem has been David Moyes has set his sights really high with respect to incoming players as he isn?t prepared to see Everton stand still. The problems have been exaggerated by Bill Kenwright getting a bit excited by it all and opening his mouth where it would have been better to stay quiet until we had successfully completed the transfer(s).

Reading between the lines now, it looks like Moyes is saying "I ballsed it up a bit and will have to look at getting my ?b? list players in now if we are to keep up with where we are."
I really rate our manager but I hope that his obvious ambition for success isn?t going to be our undoing.

Steve Grimshaw
4   Posted 17/08/2008 at 21:08:07

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Sorry but we have had 3 months to recruit players and something should have been done by now. We lost yesterday purly because we didn?t have the numbers. Its all well and good to talk quality and rebuilding, but I believe we will struggle to stay out of the relegation battle as things stand. The foundation of our rebuilding has really been compromised by our lack of numbers, and I am at the point where I think this is going to be a very long stressful season!! I hope I am wrong!!
Stephen Stuart
5   Posted 17/08/2008 at 21:18:01

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As I?m not Tony Marsh I will apparently offend the author by asking for Moyes?s head:


The latest bit of media nonsense from the man suggests to me that he is not fit to manage this once great club. He should tender his resignation if he is the man of principle you suggest. Personally, what I see is a man who earns £3M a year and doesn?t want to give it up; is totally unable to field a decent team; is totally unable to play other than negative hoof-ball; is totally unable to deal in the transfer market for players - aren?t these basic requirements for a job of this standing??? The man has had 5/6 years in the job and won ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Nick Marsh
6   Posted 17/08/2008 at 21:26:01

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Stephen Stuart, "Personally, what I see is a man who earns £3M a year and doesn?t want to give it up" I'm not that great at maths but I'm sure he has not signed the contract yet so I think Moyes is not earning £3M. Calling for his head after all the things he has done for our club, 1 game into the season!!!! Maybe you and Moyes have a lot in common as you both have very high expectations this year! The thing is Stephen, I can see why Moyes has his.
Anthony Newell
7   Posted 17/08/2008 at 21:37:05

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The plain fact is someone has to take the blame for taking us into a new season woefully under-strength - no excuses. If it is Moyes?s fault (as he say?s it is) then he deserves all the flak sent his way. People calling for his head are well within their rights. What should have been a season building on fifth place will now turn into a struggle to stay in the division. It doesn?t matter what has gone before, what matters is now and right now were FUCKED
Steve Jones
8   Posted 17/08/2008 at 22:17:22

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A great analysis of the situation John - I totally agree with your points. Moyes has said a number of times he has set his standards and is not prepared to lower them in order to get the right players.
I just wish he had communicated his strategy more clearly to the supporters so it would be clearly understood that its one step back to take two or three forwards.
I also understand Anthony’s view - clearly something has gone wrong with the financials to delay the signings and cashflow may have been the issue as suggeted in another thread.
We would all agree that blooding the youngsters is the right thing to do and we love to see them coming through - but only in a team which is performing well were they can slot in and out in their correct postions ( I dont think Jose has ever played left mid before, but to do it on your debut to win the game ?!)
The strategy is sound but has backfired this summer leaving us all frustrated - lets not add to the pressure on the team though and cause them to lose confidence and feel sory for themselves, we all felt that yesterday.We just need clearer communication regarding the direction and plans in place and I am sure we can live with it as we can clearly see improvement happening over the longer term.
Brian McLaughlin
9   Posted 17/08/2008 at 22:21:06

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What the fuck? We are a team punching well above our weight in a very difficult league & it?s all down to David Moyes. OK maybe even he was convinced by the "there?s money there" crap but there ain?t. So if he?s considering his position, can you really, deep down - blame him?
Steve Carter
10   Posted 17/08/2008 at 22:41:48

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Top article, John. A fair reading (which, with respect, I don’t think TW’s editorial of it is) of the most recent interview with DM on the OS suggests what you’re saying is essentially correct. Most posters on this site are really saying, ’Just buy someone, anyone’. But, as you say, how does it really benefit us to dwindle our money on the next Kilbane, McFadden equivalent or by paying manifestly over the odds because others think we’re desperate (Mouhtino). I for one would much prefer David Moyes, which I think he’s doing, to hold out for the next Arteta or Cahill and, in the meantime, seek to uncover and develop gems on our own doorstop like Rodwell and Baxter (who I thought was, aside from Arteta and Yobo, our best player when he came on).
Ray Robinson
11   Posted 17/08/2008 at 22:41:17

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John, I do understand what you are saying but there are several flaws in your argument in my opinion.

Firstly we want better quality players to move to the next level but even if we could afford the transfer fees involved, our pay structure would not allow us to compete. If we can’t compete or are unwilling to modify the wage structure, let’s be honest rather than embarrass ourselves like we appear to do in most of our transfer negotiations.

Secondly, if I want to improve (say) the quality of my car, I make sure that I have a better replacement ready BEFORE I decide to sell the old one.

Thirdly, if we do dip into the bottom half after two years of qualifying for Europe, some of our existing quality players will probably want to leave anyway - so a step backwards remains exactly that.

Fourthly, you do not disillusion the fans by missing a golden opportunity after a season like last one’s. This was the fantastic chance to move forward by acquisition rather than re-build by wholeslae selling. I’m sure Moyes’s second 5 year plan didn’t involve going backwards again!
Ric Wallace
12   Posted 17/08/2008 at 23:06:47

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Brilliant article.
Like a gentleman said above, whoever is to blame for our poor summer should rightly be given the flack. At the moment we need to hold fire. There are 15 days left and something could happen. Let?s reassess our situation after 5 games rather than one?

And people give it a break about us being thrashed by West Brom. If we play like we did in the second half in terms of attacking prowess, and just learn basic defending, we will be fine.
Darren Dempsey
13   Posted 17/08/2008 at 23:19:28

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Great article, John, an honest read unlike a negative Tony Marsh. I totally agree with what you have written. Would Man U be where they are now if they sacked Fergie when all was bad at Old Trafford? I'm not saying we will go on to dominate the way the Mancs have but what he has done for our club and supporters is raise our hopes and expectations. Unfortunatley, we have raised them too high too soon. So let's get behind Davey and the players and vent our anger or frustration at the board. COYB.
Chris Highton
14   Posted 17/08/2008 at 23:32:32

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Stephen Stuart, Ok we get rid of Moyes.
So who are we are going to get to replace him? .....Mike Newell? Peter Reid? Dave jones? or Jose Mourinho?

Not even that fat spanish waiter down the road could have achieved what DM has achieved in the last six years whilst working with the tight financial restrictions. Moyes is a victim of his own success and we have punched above our weight the last 3 years. It hurts me to say but our club is not financially set up to break into the top 4 and wont be for a long time.
Jay Harris
15   Posted 18/08/2008 at 00:55:38

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People get real please.

David Moyes (And I’m not his greatest fan) has achieved absolute miracles for our club on an average of 4.5 million a year transfer budget.

He has made our club synonymous with dignity and pride unlike Ratha beneath us and his like.

Moyes was ONLY responsible for identifying his targets NOT for getting them in.

The Chief Exec and it now appears Philip Green had that responsibility so if we’re going to apportion blame aim it where it belongs at a totally incompetent board.
Jarrod Prosser
16   Posted 18/08/2008 at 01:58:09

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Excellent peice, and if Moyes is working on this theory then more power to him. It’s the only real way to breakl into the big 4 monopoly.

However, we are not building a team from the ground up. We need to have a squad & then add quality to that squad. At the moment, we are far to succeptible to injuries/suspensions.

Let’s get a real live squad together first, then add the quality.

To that end, Moyes’ apparant attempts to sign Alan Smith, point towwards him realising that numbers are at this stage as important as the world class signing.
Stephen Stuart
17   Posted 18/08/2008 at 04:14:54

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Come to think of it, this article should have been titled:

Everton Supporters Have Heads in Sand.

What more does it take for you guys to understand that the Club is in a bit of bother and the backward moves made by Moyes are a contributing factor. No Club talks about ?making progress? Winners talk about WINNING SOMETHING. This debate is an pedestrian as the bloody team!.

Kenwrong OUT
Moyes OUT
Wyness - he gone already!!
Trevor Lynes
18   Posted 18/08/2008 at 05:24:29

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I do not believe that DM is just 'looking for quality' as he puts it. I believe it's a smoke screen to cover for the lack of signings... otherwise why are we still supposedly trying to bring in the Smiths, Tiagos and Lundbergs?

We took Gardner on loan and Gravesen etc etc... these are all panic stopgaps. We need a Moutinho plus two or three others who still have some mileage on them and NOT injury-prone has-beens who are in their twilight years looking for a job. The clubs who have these players are looking to unload their salaries on to us. We should have done the same with our deadwood in the past instead of allowing them to pick up salaries without playing or even in some cases not even making the bench .The fans need someone to rekindle some excitement. Moutinho and M?Bia plus one or two of our more promising Kids maybe the answer.

It's at least worth a try. We desperately need someone to bring out the best in our limited playing ability and the likes of Smith will not. He will just add another drone to the ones we already have... give the fans someone to hero worship and make them look forward to watching a ?proper? EFC side who can play!!!

Santosh Benjamin
19   Posted 18/08/2008 at 07:24:30

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Well written article, John. Its hard to accept the truth about this season, but we have to. We are unlikely to have any quick fix solutions. I am sure of one thing: we need to keep Moyes. We do need some hard workers to help the so called quality players... maybe we could at least signed some of them before the season started. Just saw how Spurs got beaten at the weekend... despite such huge names in midfield! Hope we can stem the rot next weekend away at the Hawthornes. COYB
Nathan Snell
20   Posted 18/08/2008 at 08:37:05

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What a breath of freash air Stuart!!! This is exactly the attitude that we (Evertonians) need to convey at the moment. All good things....
Choe Lee
21   Posted 18/08/2008 at 09:32:00

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Having read Moyes latest "in depth" interview, he stated that there is a combination of factors that caused the failure to sign nre players. Apparently, the "people brokering the deals" and "starting too late" were 2 of those factors.

It makes me think that Wyness could be the one who messes everything up. Moyes told him the targeted players, Bill Kenwright agrees (he always agrees with Moyes) and they the CEO to take care of things.

Because he is thinking of leaving and resigning, signing new players for Everton is certainly not his priority. When he resigned with no work done, shit hits the fan.

Let’s hope that between Blue Bill, new CEO and Moyes, we can work something out in th next fortnight.
Ray Robinson
22   Posted 18/08/2008 at 09:35:46

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I realise that progress is not necessarily a steady upwards curve but surely it didn?t have to involve going backwards which is what we?re seemingly doing now? By all means ship out some of the lesser quality players - but get replacements first!

I would have settled for a 5th or 6th again this season if the quality of the squad is improved for next season. But to me, the squad will be barely good enough for a top half finish ? and no matter which way I look at it, that doesn?t represent progress.

I don?t disagree with the principles of he article, I just doubt the way we are going about it. For me this season will represent an absolute golden opportunity missed.
Dominic Duerden
23   Posted 18/08/2008 at 10:19:54

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Peter Crouch at £9 million was a great buy for Pompey, Rafa was crazy selling him. We should have bought him, Yakubu and Crouch would have been fantastic.
Andrew McDonnell
24   Posted 18/08/2008 at 10:37:51

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a great article summing up what I think many of us instinctively feel. I especially agree that it’s better to take a while to bring in the right players than to rush in the wrong ones. It’s all about where we’ll be for the next few years, not the next few games.
Steve Carter
25   Posted 18/08/2008 at 12:11:07

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Are you kidding, Dominic? Crouch is a weakling. Centre defenders have long worked that out, and now just beat him up.
Garry Martin
26   Posted 18/08/2008 at 11:59:25

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Interesting theory, however, I think the majority of people at Goodison on Saturday may just have seen a slightly different situation. You must always assume a team will have a constant injured amount of players at any one time, taken that into account, we can expect this every Saturday.
My point is, which manager would allow such a situation to be created ?
Dutch Schaffaer
27   Posted 18/08/2008 at 12:48:33

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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whats gone wrong this summer.

Moyes delivered his list of transfer targets expecting at least two or three to be signed.

Unfortunately a combination of CEO Wyness departing, the ground move collapsing and bad agents have all hindered Everton’s attempts.

Chances are that Moyes has now given up on his original transfer targets (Moutinho, Love, M’Bia) and has probably been forced to draw up another list of players (Smith, Bullard).

Its a real shame if Moyes has been forced to drop his standards.
Dave Whitwell
28   Posted 18/08/2008 at 13:10:27

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John, a sensible article carefully constructed, my biggest concern with Moyes recently though, is that every time you here him in an interview you are just left further confused after, thats not something he has always done.

Only a few weeks back he was himself setting expectations by stating that he was looking for us to be in a lot of games this year, what with cup runs and challenging the top 4, whilst I don’t doubt that he should aim high, it has never been hes style to reveal his optimism to the fans, in fact quite the opposite. This is a massive change in style from him.

The contract situation is ridiculous, I stated way back at the end of last year that I was concerned that Moyes had apparently agreed heads of terms but not signed the contract, since we have been led to believe there is no issue, he & bill speak all the time & have no concerns, he’ll sign in the next couple of weeks, and now its not neccessarily linked to incoming players! so what is it then?

This club needs stability to move forward and first and foremost it has to come from the manager, he needs to sign his contract, fair play to Neville (not my favourite) but hes the club captain and had no quarms about signing his deal. Also Arteta, Cahill, Lescott, Osman have all comitted there long-term future to the club. Its time for Moyes to do the same.

I don’t despute there may be personal issues involved but then why tell the media that he’ll sign in 2 weeks?

I don’t mean to be negative and I would be happy for this season to be a rebuilding one if that is what it is to be, but they need to start being honest with us fans. It takes me approx 3.5 hours to travel to goodison (one way) to watch a match and I do so as often as I can, I do so like many of you because I love the club, I just want them to be honest with us so that at least we can all move forward on the same hymn sheet.
Andy Burke
29   Posted 18/08/2008 at 15:14:14

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A great example of keeping your head when all others around are losing theirs! I am not a pessimistic fan but have been struggling of late to have a positive outlook on what has been happening at EFC. Reading what is IMHO your sensible, well considered article on TW has made a great change from reading mainly pieces typed by the doom-mongers and naysayers who (and I must admit, myself included) seem to be running around like headless chickens panicking about our situation. Now, I don’t think anybody would be blase enough to suggest that we are not in a difficult (possibly very difficult) situation. However, this does not mean that Everton is a club that is about to implode, as many of the fans appear to believe to be the case. I could be well of the mark but i am begining to believe that this season will end up as being looked upon as a stumble, albeit a rather serious one, in the grand scheme of a very good manager improving our great club. A couple of good signings, a return to fitness of the remaining first team players and a few wins under our belt and things will soon look a whole lot different.
GVarry Martin
30   Posted 18/08/2008 at 19:49:33

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DM stated 4 weeeks ago he would be signing his new contract within 2 weeks, that 2 weeks has spread over onto another 2 weeks, We love you Dave, but, your are definetely sending out the wrong messages...
Jay Harris
31   Posted 18/08/2008 at 21:18:51

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the messages he’s sending out are that he’s not happy with the performance of a certain chairman.

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