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The next level

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As it stands right now, Everton have failed to beat any of the teams above them for the 2nd. season in a row in the Prem. This may not mean anything to anyone but I believe that, despite another good season, they have not yet risen to the next level that we as fans would like to see them at.

Sure, we can blame lack of funds available to DM but he must take some of the blame for his lame duck managing when some of these games were up for grabs, such as Arsenal at home and Villa home and away. Also we ran some of the others quite close but not close enough and we did get by 3 of them in the Cup.

DM is learning and we can only hope that next season brings fruition in the Prem. providing that the strengthening in key positions comes about. Fellaini is one-paced and a rough diamond. If he can step to the next level by using his head both literally and figureatively then he, along with Rodwell, could become very imposing with Pienaar and Arteta in midfield.
Tom Bowers, Brampton,Canada     Posted 11/05/2009 at 09:52:31

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Mark Hill
1   Posted 11/05/2009 at 14:37:01

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How about we start then with the FA Cup final...???
See ya all there.!!
Phil Welsby
2   Posted 11/05/2009 at 14:40:40

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That is one way of looking at it ? the other is that, of the 10 league games against the 5 teams above us, we only lost 4.

And, as you say, if you include the cup games, we have only lost 4 of 14 games against those teams (Hopefully soon to be 4 of 15...). Doesn?t sound quite as bad that way round, does it?

Richard Parker
3   Posted 11/05/2009 at 14:29:07

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To be fair to DM results were markedly better this season against the Sky-4 despite no regulation time wins against them.

We only lost 3 out of 11 games against sky-4 opposition, 2 of those whilst we were playing like shit at the start of the season and the other to a single penalty. And in the last 8 we only conceded 4 goals

OK, so the fact that I?m talking about only losing however many games speaks volumes about expectation levels, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Who knows how we?d have done with our best players fit?

It?s clear that we need to step up a level to hope to finish top-4, we need another striker, winger and centre mid at least to challenge and we need to keep them all fit. But Moyes does seem to be getting a grip on how to stop the top teams from beating us, now we need the missing pieces to give us that spark.

Hopefully this summer will see the final pieces arriving..... but that?s not the first time I?ve hoped that.
John Cottee
4   Posted 11/05/2009 at 15:21:52

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I could have sworn we beat Liverpool, Aston Villa and Man Utd during our FA Cup run?
Tony Williams
5   Posted 11/05/2009 at 15:20:05

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As Richard has stated, our record against the teams above us this season have definitely improved. We had the terrible Derby and the rout at Arsenal, apart from that we have held our own. Arsenal at home should have been a win but for unbelievable shot from Van Persie, anyone in that position wouldn?t have scored. A contentious penalty at the Library and an unbelievable defeat against the spawny Villa.

What amazes me is when you see a comment like "The game was up for grabs", why was it? What are you basing this on? Our previous fantastic record against the top 4?

Villa away again was a fluke with a pen that wasn?t a pen and a free kick for their second that wasn?t a free kick, all from a ref I thought was the best out of a bad bunch.

We are playing Chelski in the final who have failed to beat us for the last 3 games in the league, haven?t beaten us at Stamford Bridge in years... so yes I would say we have improved.


"Lame duck managing" - God help us!
Damien Kennedy
6   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:04:22

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That?s right, have a go at DM. Someone always has to. The reason we are looking to finish 5th/6th in the Prem this season is that there are 4/5 teams better than us. And those 4/5 teams have the resources which we do not have. Leave DM alone please. The man is a god in my eyes!!!
Brian Lawlor
7   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:00:12

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What an unbelievably negative post. We have actually had one of our best seasons against the top 4 in recent years.

Drew at home and away against Chelsea. Drew at home to Arsenal (conceded an injury time equaliser) and Man Utd. Drew at Liverpool. Lost 1-0 at United to a dubious penalty decision. Unlucky away to Asrenal after leading for a large part of the game... Only the shite at home 2-0 did we deserve to lose against the top 4.

We have also beaten Liverpool and Man Uted in the FA Cup. Considering the gap in finances between us and the top 4 that?s pretty bloody good. You need to get realistic mate. I can think back to only a few years ago when it was a case of how many goals we?d lose by. We?ve got a lot closer (and will get closer) to the top 4 and give them a game home and away.

Stick to watching Ice Hockey over there.
Erik Dols
8   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:38:07

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At the end of the season, Man Utd will have failed to beat any of the teams above them for the 2nd. season in a row in the Prem. I don’t think SAF will lose a minute o’sleep over it.
Chris James
9   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:15:43

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God this is getting depressing... clearly European qualification and a Cup Final aren?t enough for some Evertonians. I?ve swallowed my commenting tongue on about 20 negative posts now, but I can?t let this go I?m afraid Tom.

The fact that we ARE making progress is surely absolutely, categorically beyond question isn?t it?

In the League: Consistency and knocking on the top 4 door
After several yo-yo seasons (themselves following a fair period when surviving relegation was considered an achievement), we?ve secured the consistency that everyone had been baying for achieving a third top 6 finish (and European football) on the bounce.

If we?d had a slightly less catastrophic start and hadn?t lost our first choice playmaker and goalscorer we would be once again challenging for the top 4.

In the Cup: One step from glory
Long an area where Moyes could justifiably be slated, knock-out football was all too literal a description for Everton at the start of Davey?s reign. Last year, however,we had a prolonged run in the Uefa Cup and a Carling Cup semi-final, this year we?re at Wembley for the world?s favourite domestic cup trophy.

Against the Sky 4
Whilst based on wins and points alone, this season?s stats may look like a backward step, out on the pitch it was a very different matter. With a bit of luck we?d have have beaten both Chelsea and Arsenal at Goodison (dodgy decision and last minute defensive lapse) and we certainly didn?t collapse away either (we were bossing Arsenal for the first 45 at the emirates and held Chelsea). Games against the RS really come into their own category that?s irrelevant to form or fortune, but even so the 4 matches this season read one loss (when we were playing terribly early on), two draws and a win. Which leaves only Man Utd who squeeked a win at Old Trafford, drew at Goodison and then were beaten on pens in the cup.

Ultimately the crucial thing for me is that whilst we might not have got the results we wanted, we equally weren?t outclassed or overawed and with a bit more luck could easily have come away with a much better record.

At the top level this game is all about mentality and belief, we used to believe I think that we?d be lucky to get a point from the top 4 and needed to stop them from playing to have any chance of a draw, now I think we do go into these games believing we can win.

Whilst I agree the performance off the pitch definitely needs to be improved (yes we know we don?t have cash ? let?s make the signings earlier though, eh!), even here we?ve had some encouraging signs of late with the new Kitbag deal (and crucially the presence of an Everton store in Liverpool ? I mean FFS!) and signing of young prospects.

Yes, there?s still a way to go and we need to keep up the momentum, but we have the core of a great side here and a truly fantastic spirit to boot which is worth more than all the oil in Qatar. With the return of first team players, 2 decent midfield signings (including a right winger with pace - please!) and a couple of other loanees, I can?t see why we won?t be able to secure a top 4 place and aim for some silverware next time round. COYB!

Matt Bone
10   Posted 11/05/2009 at 16:55:36

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Compare Chelseas record against the other Sky 4 teams and include us in their results and they dont fair much better either. Chelsea?s 1st win against other Sky 4 teams was yesterday.
Tony Marsh
11   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:20:45

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I can't understand Moyes and his treatment of James Vaughan. It now appears that James is getting the cold shoulder from DM yet again. It started a few seasons back and is still going on now. Why is the only decent fit striker at the club not getting a fair crack of the whip?

Forget Saha, who is a terminal sicknote, and Jo, who is not good enough ? we need James to be fully fit for the Cup Final but he isn't getting a chance... WHY?

I know it has been a great season but as always it could've been much better. This reluctance of our manager to play Vaughan when he is fit is one of life's great mysteries and I just cant get my head around it.

Come on, Moyes ? give the lad some real playing time in the next two games and let him be raring to go when we face Chelsea... Can't wait for the excuse merchants to defend this one though.
Damian Kelly
12   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:32:37

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"Lame duck management" v Villa and Arsenal. You're right ? Moyes really shouldn't have told our best defender Jags to make a horrific error for the first Villa goal at Goodison. It was also a mistake to tell the players to switch off after equalising in injury time. He shouldn't have instructed Pienaar to give the ball away in the final seconds against Arsenal for the equaliser. Don't know what the man was thinking of ? clearly doesn't know his arse from his elbow.

On a less sarcy note ? totally agree with Tony Marsh that the lack of game time for JV and to a lesser extent LS is strange ? if they are both fit enough to be on the bench, they are surely both capable of playing 30 mins and badly need the match time. Perhaps he has already decided we are going 4-6-0 for the final.
Brian Richardson
13   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:34:07

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Tony, Vaughan has come back from three potentially career threatening injuries and Moyes is doing exactly the right thing by holding him back. As we have seen in the past, Vaughan has regularly returned from one injury only to pick up another within 6 weeks of returning to full fitness. As Moyes has clearly stated, he has a real duty as Vaughan?s manager to protect the lad?s career and give him a chance to play into his early 30s at least. Give him too much game time now and he may be out of the game before his mid 20s.

I understand your desire to see him on the pitch but I really don?t think Moyes is holding him back for any reason other than his own good. Moyes knows what an exciting player he is ? but he also knows how fragile his ligaments are.
Tony Williams
14   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:40:29

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As one "excuse-merchant" or "Moyes apologist" or any derogative term you wish to use, can I ask on what are you basing your comments that he is our only "fit decent striker"? Is it on the handful of games he has played this season or last? Or the massive amounts of goals he has scored so far in his career? I assume you see him in training then and know he is fully fit and is banging them in for fun?
Tony Marsh
15   Posted 11/05/2009 at 17:44:49

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No, I haven't seen him banging them in for fun, Tony, but I am not talking about just this season's treatment of the lad. A few seasons back, Vaughan was in and out of the side like a yo-yo, however well he played. The big injury he suffered was while playing for England Under-21s and not us.

You see James doesn't get a game when he is fit, so stop making excuses up lad. Moyes doesn't fancy him and that's that. I remember a certain Wayne Rooney getting the same shit as well. If James can't dislodge a waster like Saha from the side, he may as well leave the club or give the game up if you ask me.
Mike Reynolds
16   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:43:08

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Just to pick up on one thing you said Tony: "Forget Saha who is a terminal sicknote."

And James Vaughan has been a picture of health in the last three years. Kinda undermines your point don’t you think?
Tony Marsh
17   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:58:06

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No, Mike, it doesn't. James is still a kid and has plenty of time left to carve a career for himself. Saha has been washed up for years now and was finished when Moyes took him from the Mancs. Vaughan was fit when he got injured but he was injured playing for England and not Everton. Big Big difference don't you think?
Tim Wardrop
18   Posted 11/05/2009 at 19:22:31

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How quickly the topic of a post can change!

Am I the only person who has yet to be convinced by Vaughan? Evertonians make him out like he’s the messiah, but everytime I’ve watched him he’s resembled a striker who huffs and puffs, chases things down, tries to get in the defenders’ faces, but lacks a lot of subtlety and can be found wanting when pulling the trigger.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s got a lot of potential and could turn out to be a world beater. But has anyone else thought that the reason he’s not in the team at the moment is because he isn’t good enough yet?
Jimmy Crack
19   Posted 11/05/2009 at 19:39:32

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Well from what I’ve seen, he’s not as good as Jo but I would definitely rather have him on as a sub than Saha...at least Vaughan brings a bit of energy. Did anyone else notice how all our momentum was lost when Moyes took off Jo for Saha against Spurs?
Jason McCormack
20   Posted 11/05/2009 at 19:35:44

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I think Vaughan has yet to prove himself.

On the other hand I’m not sure that we should be playing Jo in the last couple of games. He should decide to give Vaughan or Saha a couple of games so they can get used to playing with team and vice versa.

One last point re: ’so stop making excuses up lad’ - calling people ’lad’ comes across as quite derogatory.
Jim Slade
21   Posted 11/05/2009 at 20:36:14

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I am sick and tired of all the gobshites on here banging on about our record against the teams above us. Am I missing something here? What does it matter? What about the year we finished 4th and qualified for Champions League? I can't remember how we did against the top 4 that year and it doesn't matter anyway.

Change the record lads. We are improving every year and with our league place, cup final and europe qualification AGAIN we will atract investment and better players. Now start believing and stop whining.

Alan Clarke
22   Posted 11/05/2009 at 21:25:25

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I think you have to look at whether we’re making progress. Our results against the teams above us have improved this season, we’re on course for our highest points tally in a long time and we’ve reached a cup final. I do feel it is very much the minority of fans who aren’t pleased with how this season has panned out especially regarding how bad we were at the start.

I also don’t think the lack of resources can be so flippantly dismissed. It is very much the reason we can’t progress.
Alan Clarke
23   Posted 11/05/2009 at 21:31:42

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Also, how does the fact that Pienaar can?t hold the ball up in the corner for the final minute of the game against Arsenal make Moyes?s management "lame duck". What a ridiculous thing to write. Did you travel over from Canada to watch that game? You can?t have done because Moyes?s tactics were spot on.
Neil Pearse
24   Posted 11/05/2009 at 22:57:09

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Forget ’the next level’ - without a very substantial financial injection it simply isn’t going to happen. The gap between the Top 4 and the rest is big and it is widening.

This year the gap is likely to be a full ten points. Just take this stat. The cumulative positive goal difference for the Top 4 currently stands at 157 - that is, an average of 39 per club (certain to be 40 by season’s end). What is the cumulative goal difference of the next six ’challengers’ to the Top 4? 32. Yes - 32!! An average of 5 each. Everton and Villa don’t have the combined positive goal difference of Arsenal - who’ve had a very poor season by their standards (and are most unlikely to repeat it next season).

There is no comparison in the resources available to the top four versus the rest. Last year Chelsea (like us this) were a bit short up front. They signed Anelka. This year their manager wasn’t doing so well. Hiddink. Even Arsenal splashed out on Arshavin mid season to make sure that they finished above us and Villa. (We played Fellaini and Cahill as strikers.) They start with more, and if they are ’struggling’ (i.e. there is any risk they won’t finish in the top four) they go out and spend big.

The top four will outspend all but Man City on further reinforcing their dominance this summer. Indeed, only Man City have a realistic chance of ’breaking the top four’ in the forseeable future. Although they will need a better manager first as well as the players.

Rednapp said on Saturday that aiming for the top four was not realistic for Spurs (who will spend twice as much at least as us this summer). He was simply telling the truth.

The FT today ran a story about a review currently going on at the Premier League concerning the league’s ’business model’. Reportedly there is concern about the dominance of the big four (hmm, maybe...). It also points out that there can no major changes to the league’s structure until the current TV deal concludes in 2013. So don’t hold your breath...

Finishing in the top six will be a major achievement this year, just as it was last year.
Jason Broome
25   Posted 11/05/2009 at 23:31:01

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You gotta be kidding me!?

Brian Richardson
26   Posted 12/05/2009 at 11:46:40

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TONY MARSH, why on earth is there a "BIG BIG DIFFERENCE" between getting injured on international duty and getting injured at Everton?

The injury Vaughan picked up with England could just as easily have happened with Everton - that’s the nature of knee ligament weakness. As Dr Stedman has said, it was an injury waiting to happen - it just happened to take place whilst with England.

I really don’t understand what you are moaning about. Vaughan’s injuries have been so devastating that the boy even considered giving up the game. As anybody who knows anything about the injuries he has appreciates, Moyes has a real responsibility to hold him back and allow him to build up strength in his knees before putting him onto the battlefield. He needs gym work, carefully-planned pool work and well orchestrated training, plus a few minutes here and there to boost his confidence.
Damian Wilde
27   Posted 12/05/2009 at 12:40:15

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I think Moyes is doing a great job (and pretty much always stick up for him), but I wasn?t happy with him on Saturday and have to agree with Tony Marsh. There we were drawing and not looking likely to score. Saha comes on. Him and Jo are lazy (as the Yak is), they never chase things down. Who?s on the bench, needing minutes, who will chase around, being snappy, using his pace, maybe get you a goal?? Vaughan. Why not give him 20 minutes???

It was a fuckin mystery to everyone in the ground on Saturday. People might say, was he fit? Okay, maybe he couldn?t last 45-90 minutes, but if he can?t last 10-20 minutes, why the fuck was he on the bench in the first place?? Give the lad some minutes because we might need his pace and explosive energy on Cup Final day.

Heath Pearson
28   Posted 12/05/2009 at 13:20:15

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If we beat every team (aside from the top four) we?d likely win the league without beating a single top four side (or even getting a point from them).

First priority is making sure we can beat the likes of Spurs. It?s those games which make a lot more difference than top four. Even the top four themselves often cancel each other out ? it?s consistency against the rest of the league which matters. Look at the RS ? their big win against ManU won?t count for much because they haven?t been consistent enough against the rest of the league. If you?re in the top four then that?s just six games ? it?s the other 32 which win you a title.
Dennis Stevens
29   Posted 12/05/2009 at 15:43:29

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If Moyes plays Saha & Vaughan instead of Jo for the last two premier matches & they end up missing the Cup Final as a result of knocks they pick up, I wonder how many of those criticising Moyes now will be back on here defending him. For that matter, I doubt the same people will be on here praising Moyes if those players are fit & effective at Wembley & help us to win the Cup. Moyes seems to me to be doing a decent job & so maybe we should have some confidence that he may have a better idea than any of us do.
Tom Bowers
30   Posted 12/05/2009 at 11:26:49

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Beating the teams above us in the Prem was my comment ? not draws or cup games. DM is at fault on many occasions with his tactics and substitutions and if you like finishing out of the top 4 each season then sure ? go ahead and defend him and some of his obsessive team selections.

What I am saying is that we have the nucleus of a great squad but finishing 5th or 6th is no longer acceptable.

Tony Williams
31   Posted 14/05/2009 at 10:49:13

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....to you.

The way the season started a 5/6th placing and a FA Cup Final is very acceptable to me.....this season.

Why is it not acceptable? What are you basing this comment on? That we have the nucleus of a great squade, wouldn’t it be more fitting to say it would be unacceptable if we had a great squad, not just the nucleus of one?

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