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Editors' Blog

Occasional thoughts from the ToffeeWeb Editors

More frustration than “joy”

The vuvuzela horns have grabbed most of the negative press in what has, frankly, been a poor World Cup thus far, but the Jabulani ball has done more to ruin the World Cup for me than the much-maligned "angry bee" drone. Yes, it would be nice to hear the various chants from fans of the competing nations, but, to be honest, I've been able to mentally tune out the monotonous and repetative tones of the plastic noise-makers fairly easily.

Much harder to shrug off, however, is the constant disruption to the flow of the game by over-hit passes, shots launching into orbit and balls flying over players leaping in vain to control bouncing passes that would probably be routinely controlled on the chest with, say, the Nike balls used week in, week out in the Premier League.

And it's not just at altitude that this travesty of a ball is plaguing the matches in South Africa — there's been no noticeable difference between how the ball has behaved in games at sea level in Cape Town and Durban and those at 4,500 feet in Bloemfontein or 6,000 feet in the Gauteng or Rustenburg matches.

Now, Adidas are saying that the players complaining are from those federations or leagues that declined to practice with the ball for long enough when it was introduced in February. The ball was used extensively, for example, in the German Bundesliga and by the French and Argentine national teams — which makes sense when you consider that Germany and Argentina appeared to have no problems with the new ball in their opening games and that Thierry Henry was one of very few players to have put a direct free kick on target so far — but the Premier League has an exclusive contract with Nike and England's national side with Umbro so Fabio Capello's players have only been training with the Jabulani in the last few weeks.

So, it's not strictly the exact same for all teams going into the tournament — and the ball wouldn't really be a significant advantage for any particular team if they all stroked it around on the deck like Brazil — but the fact that Fifa insist on fucking around with the official match ball every World Cup really makes a mockery of the importance and integrity of the biggest tournament in football.

By their own admission, Adidas, "presented the technology and underlined the requirement to get used to it because it is a different ball and a different technology," but any change to the dynamics of the game that requires players to familiarise themselves with it in a short space of time and that alters what has become second nature to them is ludicrous if it's not necessary. And this certainly wasn't necessary.

Quite why they couldn't give it a different visual design, slap an Adidas logo on it and call it good is be a mystery to me. You'd still sell the same number to fans looking to buy the official ball and you'd have a tournament where one could focus on the talent on show.

Instead, you have a ball that behaves as if all the games are being played on artificial turf and some of the best footballers in the world are made to look a tit as what he thought would be a perfectly-weighted pass races ahead of its intended target and over the byline for a free kick, his cross flies out to the far side and out for a throw, or his inch-perfect diagonal ball over the opposition defence takes two huge bounces out into touch before the overlapping attacker can get near it (basically some of the biggest reasons why the FA banned plastic pitches in England in the 1990s). That's not to mention the way shots are ballooning way over the bar if there's any air whatsoever underneath it at the time of contact.

Yes, I know people are sick of people whingeing about the Jabulani — it means "joy" in Zulu but that's a hell of a misnomer; maybe tse (fly), umoya (air) or izula (traveling at random) would have been more appropriate! — but if the audience for this competition doesn't express its opinion, then annoyances like this are bound to continue. The World Cup comes around once every four years and is supposed to be an exhibition of the best that the game has to offer. Instead of creating goals with a ball that moves unpredictably in the air like its predecessors, Fifa have foisted a ball upon us that may actually be preventing goals because so many crosses, passes and shots are going astray.

I live in hope that as the tournament progresses, the players become more accustomed to the ball and the stakes get higher that World Cup 2010 will come into its own, but for now I can't help feeling that the Jabulani ball is contributing to a big disappointment.

Billions spent in preparation, blood, sweat and tears expended by the players to reach the Finals, and Fifa do their best to ruin it with an £80 football...


Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 16/06/2010 at    Comments (50)

Not such a Big Game?

Although we're doing our best to get on the hootin' tootin' bandwagon to Rustenburg in ramping up the tempo for this weekend's massive World Cup clash between England and the USA, I can't seem to suppress this nagging feeling that the game will inevitably be a disappointment. I shouldn't say it, but the first games in each group are usually cagey affairs, with no-one taking any risks, and either side often happy with a draw as that keeps their options open.

Don't get me wrong — the prospect of seeing Tim Howard and Landon Donovan show up the non-Everton dandies of England has me quite jazzed. Not that the USA are much to write home about — if anything, I think they are one of the poorer teams to watch in terms of entertaining football — or the lack thereof. But the prospect of an upset (if that is what a win for them would be) is too good to resist.

It would have been better perhaps to have them meet in the final group match with everything hanging on the result... although often things can already be decided by then, so the middle game might actually have been the best. But I hope the USA really do sense the wonderful opportunity to recreate the shocker from 60 years ago, when a bunch of semi-professional ex-pats playing under the USA flag wopped the Limeys 1-0 in Brazil. I hope this time they remember that victory, and go all out to 'stun' England!

So it's New World versus Old World — both geopolitically and in terms perhaps of the way football is going as the long slow ascent of the National USA side continues, supported by an equally slowly but consistently growing MLS.

Many Brits continue to underestimate the level of interest in real football (aka soccer — originally a very English word, BTW!) in the States, almost in spite of the number of American players that have featured in the Premier League over the last few years... and especially in the Royal Blue of Everton.

Soccer surpassed baseball as the Number 1 participation sport in the USA some years ago, and the TV coverage they have planned for this 2010 World Cup on ESPN (1 & 2) is way more than in previous years. It seems they may use even more English commentators who actually know what they are talking about.

I'm one of those Evertonians who have no affinity for the current players in the England squad, and far more interest in players who have a much more meaningful connection with my club — Everton. So, for me, it's GO USA!!!
Michael Kenrick     Posted 09/06/2010 at    Comments (57)

Much ado about nothing

"Pienaar blasts 'failed' season" screams the headline from Sky Sports, as if Everton's player of the season is somehow twisting the knife on what was a frustrating season that has now given way to an uncertain summer as key players in the squad mull contract extensions.

If you read what the man the South Africans call "Schillo" actually said, as presented in a more balanced way on his personal website, he's merely putting the 2009-10 season in its proper context.

Our objectives for the campaign were probably as simple as to emulate or surpass the two preceding 5th-place finishes, qualify for Europe and make another cup final.

Whatever the reasons — and we all know what they were (the Lescott drama, late transfer business and crippling injuries) — no one can deny that when couched within those parameters, the season just passed was a failure.

You can question the wisdom of making the comments — though I'm willing to bet they were made in the course of a normal interview looking back on the season and he was guided to them by his questioner — but I don't think you can argue with them.


Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 29/05/2010 at    Comments (46)

At Last!

Everton have been playing some great football in the last few games, and today at Blackburn was no different. But the vulnerability to a well taken goal was still there to make this one a nail-biter until the end.

The quality of the passing was at times scintillating... all the more reason to find the final misplaced ball so frustrating. We were so much better than them, we should have been out of sight yet again — how many times have we said that this season.

I'd vowed not to get myself too enthused after far too many disappointments this season but two really excellent away performances this week literally had me salivating. Perhaps it's the fact that these were both for once tremendous games of football that makes the difference. And that's the irony: it's those defensive failings that make for a lot of the great atmosphere and exciting drama that is the Premier League at its best.

Seems it was after Anichebe came on for Bily that things really started happening. I was very impressed with Big Vic's performance today. It's a pity in a way that he replaced Bily, whose skills, vision and trickery are on a slow upward trend toward the heights of that other Russian (Ukranian), one Andrei Kanchelskis. I particularly like his fast flat-trajectory crosses.... pity no-one seems to have done the prep for them in training! He could — and hopefully will — become absolutely brilliant for us.

All setting up nicely, I hope, for a real and sustained attack on the status quo next season. Just when I thought I'd pretty much had enough of this malarkey...

Michael Kenrick     Posted 17/04/2010 at    Comments (45)

What The USA Team Can Learn From Everton

Apologies firstly as this item from the USA is now a month old... but it serves as an interesting footnote to the all-too-brief Landon Donovan loan spell, and provides an at times amusing thought that the USA national team, who face England in Rosenberg in 2½ months from now, can learn as thing or two from the way Everton play(s) the game and maximize their limited resources.

It appeared as Canales Corner, a blog by Andrea Canales, Chief Editor of Goal.com North America.

Some interesting observations caught my eye... more perhaps for the sense of irony, as they have been exactly the issues of most concern for some of us for much of the current season, if not a number of previous ones:

  • Playing through the midfield is one particular thing Everton does excellently... They succeed because they play to their strengths of capable midfield players and they keep the ball on the ground.
  • Everton excels is doing less to get more accomplished. That means not forcing the issue at a constant, monotone pace of predictable attack.
  • The focus on not losing possession and having the patience to find the right play is the top priority.
  • Moyes has built Everton into a versatile squad, slotting different players in a manner that presents opponents with a new look.
  • Moyes thinks carefully about his tactics versus a rival. For the match versus Manchester United, Moyes didn't simply put Leon Osman in place of the injured Marouane Fellaini. Moyes shifted Donovan as well.
  • Moyes is able to integrate the young players on his team very smoothly. He trusted Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell to play important roles as substitutes versus Manchester United, and they rewarded his confidence with goals.
  • The oft-defensive mindset of the Americans against big teams seems to leave them more afraid of making a mistake and thinking less about how to positively impact the game.
  • What Moyes has done to turn Everton into a giant-killer is remarkable, but it isn't revolutionary. It can be duplicated, and the USA would do well to emulate the example.
On the rare occasions I have bothered to watch the USA national team in recent years, their football has appeared pedestrian at best. But with the Everton link so strong going in to the World Cup, and little other than the incredible form of Wayne Rooney to admire about the England team, the parallels drawn in this blog provide an interesting backdrop to the build-up for what could be a fantastic battle come 13 June.
Michael Kenrick     Posted 22/03/2010 at    Comments (18)

Coleman goes out on loan

I put up a lead story on Friday regarding the loan move of Seamus Coleman to Blackpool but it seemed odd that Vital Football was the only source I could find confirming this story.

It must have been completed on Thursday because of some loan deadline I was unaware of... so the usual puzzle about why nothing whatsoever was mentioned on the Official Everton Website until well Friday night.

Now they could have been waiting to confirm the temporary transfer of his registration but, if there was a deadline, surely that would have had to be completed?

I'm just puzzled as usual that we don't have anything about what I consider to be a very important story actually on the Everton website — even as a possibility.

If it was really going on, why could they not at least say something? All I could find was a small item form the Mirror in What the Papers Say"... speculation from a week ago!

As to my feeling about the wisdom of this move... well, it could be a great opportunity for the lad, obviously. An opportunity he is clearly not going to be getting any time soon under Moyes — unless we get hit by injuries... something which seems to have been a common theme in recent seasons as an excuse for failure of the team to push on to where it clearly is capable of being when unencumbered by such injury problems.

Clearly a tough decision, of course, but I think a wrong one. I would much rather see Seamus Coleman running with the ball down the right wing in an Everton shirt that in the tangerine hue of Blackpool FC.
Michael Kenrick     Posted 19/03/2010 at 14:57:15   Comments (41)

To His Apologists...

I've gotten plenty of flack for daring to question the exalted position of David Moyes, and his continuing failure to really step up to his post as Manger of Everton Football Club. A lot of it was precipitated from yesterday's tirade about the level of "respect" the man deserves for his faltering attempts at progress.

Today's fantastic result will of course be used as proof that I am wrong about David Moyes. The irony, though, surely lost on all the contributors who have who posted a myriad of pathetic excuses for a continuing dirge of failure and lousy football, is that this game today epitomises just exactly what people like me have been asking for from Everton under David Moyes for months and months and months.

Unlike the massed ranks of the Moyes Apologists, we knew it was not unreasonable to expect the players Moyes had collected to play to this high standard and produce this kind of fantastic result. Yet we were repeatedly told by wiser minds — who claimed to know far more about the current game called Premier League football — that such things were not possible.

For the record, we have been told repeatedly, AD NAUSEUM, that:

  • The Premier League now is all about money and Everton are skint
  • Everton do not have the resources to beat the Sky 4 on a consistent basis
  • Everton cannot be expected to play flowing passing football on the ground — we don't have the players... we can't afford them.
  • We have no other option than to play hoofball, which is a valid form of defensive play in these modem times.
  • Parking the bus and hoping to nick a goal was our only hope for success against better teams
  • Producing expansive football in open play against teams that cost hundreds of millions to assemble would simply be suicide.
  • Our squad is so small, we be cannot be expected to perform when we have crucial first choice players (Jagielka, Cahill, Fellaini anyone?) missing or out injured.
  • David Moyes has done the best he possibly could with one/both hands tied behind his back through lack of support from the Board of Directors.
Put all of the above statements against the performance today, coming as it did hot on the heels of a similar performance against Chelsea 10 days ago (and therefore clearly not a one-off) and there is only one conclusion: what a load of utter shite people have been spouting.

Every single one of those points has been blown out of the water and shown up for being absolute garbage. Today's game showed what the current Everton are really capable of.

And for the record, my lack of respect for Moyes is only enforced by the fact that he fucked about for months at the start of this season (and last!!!), totally defeating any chance we had to really progress well into the top four — something which should have been fully within our grasp based on the "progress" you acolytes have been touting.

Real progress is a steady upward curve — not the lurching roller-coaster ride we have had — and may well continue to have — under David Moyes. Time and time again since we finished fourth ("over-achieved", supposedly) we have failed to kick-on, and for me that has been down to the continuing failings of David Moyes. In my judgment, these have far outweighed any positives since 2004. [and please, let's not have the Walter Smith crap for the umpteenth time... surely we are well past that now?]

In other threads, people have talked about balance and giving Moyes credit while recognizing his weaknesses. Well, I hold him to a higher standard and I make absolutely no apologies for doing so. Because today's victory is vindication for everything I believe in in terms of what these players, this team, the club and our supporters are really capable of.

What has been missing is self-belief and a winning mentality. And for those glaring omissions, the finger points unerringly at one person — David Moyes. Is it something that has now finally changed? I bloody well hope so... but only time will tell.


Michael Kenrick     Posted 20/02/2010 at 13:35:16   Comments (116)

On the derby scrap and Seamus Coleman

Although it's against Chelsea — and I've pretty much stopped expecting us to beat any of the Sky Four now, preferring to be surprised now when it does happen — I'm glad our next game after the derby defeat has come around so soon because it'll be nice to reflect on something other than the crushing disappointment at Anfield on Saturday.

The new adage that it can be harder to play against 10 men than 11 these days certainly seems to hold true but the fact that our attempts to break Liverpool down were so weak and so bereft of any guile has me genuinely concerned, particularly for our hopes in the Europa League.

A couple of things said in the aftermath of Saturday bemused me, though, first of which was the contention by David Moyes and that objectionable arsehole, Steven Gerrard, that fans love to see a good scrap on the field during a local derby.

Now, perhaps I'm in the minority but what possible joy can you get from watching two teams assault each other with their studs? Where's the fun in wincing through every full-blooded tackle in fear that your best players are going to get seriously injured... and then have those fears confirmed with Marouane Fellaini getting hauled off on a stretcher?

The derby wasn't always this way but as the atmosphere off the pitch gets increasingly bitter and as the two teams get closer in terms of ability, the more the players seem to start these games under the mistaken impression that damaging opposition players physically is evidence of a burning desire to win. If I wanted to watch a kicking contest, I'd watch Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Now, while I can't deny that those YouTube clips of Tim Cahill pinning Xabi Alonso to the ground by the neck in a Goodison derby a few seasons back don't elicit a wry smile because of how much I can't stand the Dark Side, at the end of the day, I'd far rather we played the bastards off the park like we did at Arsenal a few weeks back.

And, yes, I say that fully cognisant of the fact that Liverpool wouldn't let us play that way in the first half. Jamie Carragher's freight train-esque poleaxing of Steven Pienaar set the tone early on and though he was no angel himself (I think his tackle on Mascherano was more clumsy than malicious, however) the South African was kicked from pillar to post all game with very little support from Martin Atkinson.

Moyes's other confusing comments after the game concerned his players. Having made so much in the build-up to the game of his team's "top-four quality", he ascribed the Blues' failure to overcome a 10-man opposition to a lack of "special players in forward areas."

And yet, while Liverpool had perhaps their worst offensive line in recent memory, one that troubled Tim Howard just twice all game, his was a side boasting Louis Saha, the team's top scorer and a very special player when he's on top form, Pienaar, one of the jewels in Moyes's crown, an admittedly less-than-sharp Mikel Arteta, Landon Donovan, and, by the manager's own boasts, an in-form Tim Cahill.

Donovan especially impressed with his willingness to rise above the physical scrap and was perhaps the only forward player to emerge from the game with any credit for Everton. Yet since the Manchester City game he's been wasted on the right flank because of the near total lack of attacking ability shown by Phil Neville recently. Donovan has been criticised for his positional sense in recent matches and was slated after the cup defeat to Birmingham for coming inside too often. Well, I think if every time my fullback got the ball, he completely ignored me and chose instead to lump into the box, I'd want to go inside to look for the ball as well!

Which brings me to my current bugbear with Moyes and that's the refusal to play Seamus Coleman. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about his youth (he's 21, FFS), his inexperience (he's played in Lisbon and in Athens, brought us back from the dead against Spurs and not shown a shred of fear doing it), and his supposedly shocking display in the first game against Benfica. On the last point, as I've said before, I must have been watching the wrong game because apart from being caught out badly for Di Maria's first goal ( in retrospect, and even that's a harsh assessment), I don't recall him doing all that badly — to the contrary, I thought he did pretty well for his first ever game and for playing on the wrong side of defence.

The other refrain from those who would stand resolutely behind Moyes on this issue is that the manager must know which players are his best in each position but I was one of those bleating about him perservering with Joleon Lescott at left back when I believed that Leighton Baines was better and it was months before he was finally given the chance to prove it... and he hasn't looked back.

The fact is that to these eyes, Coleman has shown himself thus far to be the equal of Tony HIbbert defensively and superior to him and Neville going forward in every measurable way. He's done more than enough to warrant a starting berth and I, for one, hope he gets it before Donovan goes back to the US not having had the opportunity to really show us what he's made of.
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 09/02/2010 at 21:21:59   Comments (44)

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Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 27/01/2010 at 03:52:31   Comments (28)

Sometimes the win is all that matters

No it wasn't pretty and "winning ugly" doesn't exactly fit in with the School of Science legacy, but when you've lost another three key first-team players to injury and illness, you've got a much-maligned full-back deployed as an emergency centre half, you're on the other side of the Continent playing one of those notoriously tricky eastern European sides, and the rain is lashing down, sometimes the only thing that matters is getting the victory.

And that's exactly what Everton did in Minsk this evening and it is to the Blues' credit that they not only rescued a game that seemed to be drifting away from them midway through the second half but then went on to win it against a mobile and highly capable BATE Borisov side.

David Moyes must have been tearing his hair out when Joseph Yobo strained a thigh in training yesterday leaving him with just one fit and eligible centre half in Sylvain Distin. That mean that Tony Hibbert had to move into central half but it's to his enormous credit that it was he and not his more accomplished central defensive partner who was taking the plaudits at full time for deputising superbly.

Indeed, Everton probably felt hard done-by at half time, having seen Diniyar Bilyaletdinov thump a shot off the post after 11 minutes and then fall behind to Dmitri Likhtarovich's wonder striker from 30-plus yards that looked destined to set BATE on their way to victory.

And when Jo left the field on a stretcher in first-half injury time, it really did feel as though our luck was well and truly out. Even though he returned in the second half, the sight of him and Yakubu both looking less than comfortable leading the line, combined with the increasing propensity of the team as a whole to give the ball away cheaply, it felt that just getting a draw would be beyond us at times in the second half.

Of course, with those key missing players, Steven Pienaar in particular, it wasn't surprising that Everton's performance was, on the whole, sub-par but, if you have to be critical, it was a situation really crying out to Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini to step up and take command in midfield. Dan Gosling was having a torried time at right back and while you wouldn't normally look to Leon Osman to get hold of the ball and keep it, the other two, as established internationals, could have been expected to do better.

But both Fellaini and Cahill came through where it really mattered, though — in front of goal — and that, in the end, is all that matters. To have come away from the Dinamo Stadium with a win under difficult circumstances was hugely satisfying and the boys are full value for the pride gushing their way from the Everton faithful.

Five consecutive victories, 14 scored and just one unstoppable goal conceded, a 100% record in Group I, the growing feeling that this team can find the will and the goals necessary to win when it matters... all we need now is some luck on the injury front and the season really will be firmly on the rails after a disastrous start.


Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 01/10/2009 at 20:08:57   Comments (15)

Call it curiosity...

At ToffeeWeb, we've been around the internet a long time... providing this staunchly independent virtual arena for fan comment, opinion, information, news, and edification on all things Everton.

We can handle most of what's thrown our way, brickbats we get usually seem to come from people who somehow disagree with our "Mission Statement" as penned above, and will often use this maddening word to describe us — "negativity".

We are even informed by some there is a whole slew of avid Evertonians out there who won't come close because they perceive the entire website as "negative". My inclination was initially to ignore it as simply unrepresentative of those who come on the internet, like me, presumably to satisfy the craving outlined in my first paragraph. Yet we now hear repeatedly this "negativity" thing more and more... I guess it still just bugs the hell out of me because:

a) Aren't we all just Evertonians who are curious to know what's going on?

b) Aren't we all just Evertonians who have our own views and opinions about players, coaches, managers, Chairmen, CEOs etc etc, and want to read those of others?

Yet one contributor wrote to me, after claiming that "All we seem to get on this forum is criticism", saying "there are lots of people like me who don't really want to get involved in the negativity."

Is that really true? I'm honestly puzzled because I have no terms of reference for such a mindset. For me, that attitude just puts up lots of red flags (pun intended) — it just sounds so much like the worst aspects of communism and the control of information.

So, if something is bad, they don't want to talk about it... they don't want it talked about?? Above all, they don't want US to talk about it??? Isn't that just a little bit naieve and unrealistic? I honestly don't get it...

I mean, yes, I can understand it could be depressing, it might personally affect your mood, make you sad about something you love... I suppose I could convince myself that there are some Evertonians for whom that sentiment is far more important than the Need to Know — the quest to be informed about what's going on with "our" club.

What I don't understand is that these people are so quick to reject the wealth and breadth of knowledge, opinion, information and diversity this site carries... quick to characterize a lot of our traffic — even the entire website — as being "negative" because it perhaps panders to this need of what must be, I can only assume, only a portion (majority, minority? I have NO idea) of Evertonians who do want to know. Also quick to accuse US of lack of "support" for the club!!!— Equally astounding... why would we be doing all this but for our support of the club??

To me, those who share our quest are not negative in any way: they simply have an open and curious mind, they continuously want new current information on which to base their judgements and formulate their opinions (about players' current form, for example). How can it possibly be "negative" to want that? What on earth is wrong with wanting that?

Do some fans really want to believe that all our players are fantastic and play fantastic in each and every match? Surely not... But when someone provides analysis of their performance on here, someone else inevitably labels that analysis as "slaughtering" the player...

The remainder I guess don't want to deal with negativity, bad news, criticism, the possibility that something — anything about the club they love may not be absolutely wonderful.

Have I got that right? Or am I mis-characterizing your stance? Speak up, self-proclaimed "anti-negative" people. See if you can explain to me your different take on the world and what this website might look like if we were cast in your image instead of mine.
Michael Kenrick     Posted 11/09/2009 at 14:25:10   Comments (75)

Only half right, Joleon

While Joleon Lescott has conducted himself with a lot more dignity and tact than other departees from Goodison Park in recent seasons — *ahem* ... Andy van der Meyde... *cough* Wayne Rooney... — in his first public comments since leaving Everton, I can't see how he can appear so wounded by his treatment by David Moyes.

He signed a vastly improved contract and committed his future to Everton only last summer, only to then demand a transfer at the first sign of something better.

Granted, that's the nature of football — indeed, the nature of employment in most walks of life — but he neglects to mention that a few days before he was "sent to Coventry", he asked not to be included in the Arsenal team because his "head wasn't right" after his manager had knocked back a transfer request, tacitly asking him to show some loyalty and honour that recently-inked contract.

Though I don't know what was said behind the scenes, you could perhaps argue that Moyes was a little harsh in making him train separately and dropping him from the Sigma squad entirely. But Davey demands loyalty and I would bet he was a little put out at Lescott's desire to leave. After all, it represents the breaking up of a very tight unit of players and the compromise of the legendary spirit that exists in his team.

The other aspect of his press conference from Eastlands today that will probably raise the blood pressure of a few Evertonians is Lescott's assertion that "City are better equipped to get [to the Champions League] faster than Everton.” It's been mis-represented in some quarters as him saying that City are a bigger club than Everton, but I don't think that was his point.

In fact, I think he's got it dead on — they are better equipped than us, not just financially, but now in terms of personnel as well. It just remains to be seen whether Mark Hughes can turn them into a team that equals the sum of its parts.

No doubt money played a large part in his decision — at £94,000 a week, how could it not?! — but you've got to think that he would not have been nearly so tempted had Everton strengthened to the degree they should have earlier in the summer and shown that they are equipped to challenge the top four.

They clearly didn't, and as a player entering the peak of your career, you have to look at that and make your decisions accordingly. Make no mistake, if the right kinds of players aren't brought in before the close of the transfer window or, perhaps, in January, and the team struggles to a mid-table finish, we could see more of that foundation that Moyes built start to crumble away, starting with the obvious candidates like Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar.
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 26/08/2009 at 22:17:10   Comments (74)

Everton v Malaga

Lyndon is away on his jollies so I'm afraid you have one of my rare glowing match previews to digest instead....

The final match of what has been a rather uninspiring... no, let's call it utterly frustrating pre-season campaign, overshadowed by the constant uncertainty regarding Joleon Lescott and the tempting forces form Eastlands.  How much of a role, I wonder, has all that nonsense played in unsettling the team and contributing to the poor attitude David Moyes cited in critiquing his players' performance at Blackpool?  How well is the famous team spirit standing up?

It's unlikely we'll get an answer to that question tonight, but it is the final chance for what passes as match practice before we finally get serious in just eight days time, with the visit of Arsenal in the first real game of the season.  Everton have been resolute regarding Lescott, and he is expected to turn out for the Blues tonight, having missed the last two games with a hip injury.

While it may be reassuring to still see Lescott in a Royal Blue shirt, the player we have perhaps missed the most (at least of those not chronically crocked) is Steven Pienaar.  What little scope remains in the rump of Moyes's squad tends to lie at the feet of the tricky South African, but he too has been nursing injury.

Then there's Marouane Fellaini, who's problems last season were put down to joining the team so late and missing out on pre-season.  Well, he's had a pretty tough summer it turns out, with some sort of viral Wire in the Blood that has seen him lose far too much weight, probably negating any perceived benefit pre-season training may have provided him.

Then there's Louis Saha, perhaps the only player we have who can strike the ball properly, but he's suffering from asthma attacks...

As for Hibbert and Osman... are they STILL carrying injuries? And are these STILL trotted out as valid excuses for their continually limited performances?  Shouldn't Leon have had some sort of operation this summer to fix whatever is wrong with him?

Deary me... it all sounds so bleak.  But unfortunately there is very little to shout about as we head for the big kick-off.  And Goodison is supposedly sold out for tonght's pre-season friendly?!? That'll be the day!


Michael Kenrick     Posted 07/08/2009 at 14:08:40   Comments (13)

He is the Chairman after all....

There have certainly been a lot of posts about Bill Kenwright's continuing ownership of Everton Football Club this close-season... nothing unusual about that, you may say — this is ToffeeWeb afterall, and our critcs just love to pigeonhole everyone of us all as "Bill-haters", no matter what diversity of opinion is forthcoming.

Personally, I think there is an element of unreality in the calls for Bill Kenwright to be replaced. But I see it as a shorthand for fans’ frustration at an opportunity lost — an opportunity to really kick on.

I am convinced that, if we had started last season with the vim and vigour we showed in our best spells, we would have been up there mincing about in the Champions League places on the last day. The fact that we squandered this incredible opportunity through an utterly ridiculous pre-season will take an awful long time for this Evertonian to forget.

And what exactly is different this pre-season? The squad is still under strength, and seriously depleted in key areas by long-term injuries to key players. Are we really gonna be in any shape at all to make a decent fist of it from Day One? I fear that losing to Arsenal will be tough to recover from, and a draw will simply not be good enough. (Although I am reminded of a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal on the opening day of the season that saw us clinch 4th! It’s a funny old game...)

You could argue that Peter Johnson was displaced by fan power, when the masses really turned against his "mismanagement" of the club. Will the same thing happen with Blue Bill? I seriously doubt it. While almost every post from Richard Dodd confirms he is on the lunatic fringe, there are enough fans buying into the BK bullshit to make sure he will never experience the heat that pushed Johnson into a deal with True Blue Holdings.... (And what exactly was the purpose of that little creation? Does anybody know? Neal Pearse???)

I wish I knew the definitive answer to Jay Harris’s oft-repeated claim that Bill Kenwright bought the club on the sly, burdening the club accounts with the loans taken out to enable the purchase of Peter Johnson’s shares. There was not even a hint of such shenanigans at the time, but it certainly does seem to be the modus operandi for club owners to secure ownership these days...

If more people knew that was true in Bill's case... would it be enough to start the revolution? No matter... methinks he will still make out like a bandit (just as Johnson did) when it really becomes time to sell. And where will we be then?
Michael Kenrick     Posted 02/08/2009 at 22:24:33   Comments (51)

Superstars in Seattle

Temperatures had cooled off considerably for Everton's last day of training at the Starfire Sports complex in Tukwila, just south of Seattle, where they were greeted by a boisterous group of fanatical Evertonians... including ace photographer Dermot Reilly (Click pictures to view larger versions of Dermot's brilliant handiwork)

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The Heroes arrive

The lads looked a little jaded as they strolled along the access path and into the fenced area where training was set to take place. No wonder — they had been out on an impromptu meet & greet with a few lucky fans in an Irish pub down in Seattle's famous Pioneer Square district the night before... But today was all about conditioning and some ball work, so, after some sutably mild warm-up routines, it was pleasing to see David Moyes right in there, setting the tone as he paired off the players for a spell of "nogginball":

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Tim & Pip play Nogginball

There was plenty of standing around but thankfully no arguing, and you could tell Moyesy kept a tight ship, with discipline and teamwork... my question is: What's with the bras!?!?!

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Why is Tim wearing a bra?!?

Tim Cahill was obviously too embarrassed to show his face... but not to worry, the kick & run stuff soon started in earnest, with a complex routine that involved two strikers bearing in on a lone defender — Moyesey himself — while superb pinpoint crosses were belted in from the left wing by Stevie P and Leighton Baines. Fellaini and the others sharpened their shooting skills while Hibbo just kinda stood around in the background.

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David Moyes explains the importance of staying onside

Moyes proved to be such an effective defender that Tim Howard and Carlo Nash, who were supposed to be getting shot-stopping practise, also just stood around, ball-watching and holding up the goalposts.

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Tim & Carl admire the Manager's defensive prowess

All in all, it was a good session for the lads, with Moyes *& Round putting them thorough their paces while the fans looked on in awe. They looked well primed for Saturday's massive challenge in the Edmonton CUp against River Plate.

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Photographer Dermot Reilly with ... who is that ugly guy with the false beard & dark glasses?

Photograhs by Dermot Reilly
Michael Kenrick     Posted 25/07/2009 at 00:19:32   Comments (15)

Opinions are like...

I'll spare you the end of that sentence but I'm intrigued to know what fellow Blues make of The Times' Top 50 Everton Players and how they came to the decisions they made.

I'm not sure how Wayne Rooney can be placed higher than Mikel Arteta, for instance, or Anders Limpar can be rated higher than current Talisman Tim Cahill unless footballing ability carries as significant or more weight than the player's importance to the Club at the time.

Few would doubt that the Swede was better technically than Cahill as a player but perhaps there's a case for saying that Dave Watson was more important to Everton than any of the Holy Trinity individually (though not collectively, surely). And Thomas Gravesen on that list at all? I'd wager that a player like Joseph Yobo or Joleon Lescott have already proven better players than the Mad Dane. Certainly, they are more consistent.

I'll leave it to our more seasoned readers to decide whether such vexing questions as to whether Alan Ball was better than Alex Young, but it's an interesting discussion starter if nothing else.
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 09/03/2009 at 19:22:21   Comments (0)

Of offensive ads and revenues

A Mr Jones of Runcon writes:

Are Toffee web skint? answer yes. how do i now you have Redshite adverts on your website. I am totally disscusted you will be selling there shirts and tickets next.

We get similarly indignant emails about this every now and then so it's worth addressing once and for all.

The adverts served by Google are context-sensitive — in other words, they are served based on the textual content of our site, hence the ads for football-related apparel and paraphernalia, toffee and related confectionary, and the occasional plug for merchandise related to rival football clubs, including, of course, Liverpool FC.

We don't knowingly display those ads. Other than to not have Google ads on the site at all, we have no control over these ads until we see them or they are reported to us. If we have the URL of the offending advertiser, we can add them to the growing list of sites that are filtered out of the rotation of ads that are served to our pages, but we aren't able to pre-empt the appearance of such ads on the site.

So, if you see one of these ads and are suitably offended, then please take a note of the URL and let us know through the Feedback page. Or you could just ignore it — or better yet, click the link — and be content in the knowledge that ToffeeWeb is earning a few cents off the RS.

Google ads, as our primary revenue generator, help us keep the site going and allow us to upgrade our hosting platform to cope with the demands on resources created by the various reader-generated facilties we've been adding over the years.

Regular visitors during busy periods will no doubt have encountered those annoying "Service Unavailable" errors and it's these problems caused by load on the database servers that will, in all likelihood, force us to again upgrade our hosting plan, a move which, given the falling ad revenues as the global economy tanks, would put ToffeeWeb into the red and then we, as a site, would be skint.

So, yes, the ads are annoying and we'd love to not have them but they allow us to not only keep this behemoth alive but keep improving it in the name of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 12/02/2009 at 02:53:47   Comments (0)

Actions speak louder than words

First it was Phil Neville expressing surprise at how quickly and how easily Marouane Fellaini has racked up 10 yellow cards, and now it's David Moyes's turn to cite something other than the Belgian's own actions for the two-match suspension that he now serves during the back-to-back Merseyside derbies.

Moyes says, "I think that the language barrier and how things are put over at times, and even how referee put things over can be a problem."

I don't buy it. First of all, most of Fellaini's bookings have been justified on the basis of persistent fouling — he is clumsy and his lack of pace often means he is chasing opponents from behind and either tripping them or bundling them over because of his size. The fact that he isn't learning to compensate for this is more worrying to me than referees' treatment of him.

Secondly, the referees are making their decisions and reaching for their cards before Fellaini even gets to attempt to surmount the language barrier. He's not talking his way into the book, it's his actions during play that are doing all the talking.

Furthermore, as others have pointed out, Fellaini could, with a harsher or more observant official, have picked up a straight red for elbowing Kamil Zayatte and then Michael Turner against Hull City. On both occasions, he wasn't even penalised with a foul but it could have been much, much worse.

Fellaini's job is simple: learn to control that gangly frame and learn to jump without using his elbows for leverage. It's no coincidence that he was "victimised" to the same degree in Belgium as he has so far in the English Premier League — he is the problem, in my opinion, and his reputation will now, unfortunately, go before him.

It's a shame because while I personally don't think he has thus far justified the huge fee Everton paid Standard Liege for him, he has without doubt become one of our most important and effective players. He'll be missed against Liverpool... though you'd have to admit that he'd be a red card just waiting to happen in a game like the derby!
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 17/01/2009 at 15:27:59   Comments (0)

Welcome to the Editor's Blog

The Editor's Blog is a new section at ToffeeWeb that we will be launching at the same time as rolling out our new Membership system.

It will serve as a place where the site editors can post occasional thoughts that don't merit a full-length column piece; we're not sure at this point how often we'll be posting here but if nothing else it serves a nice testing forum as we pilot the Membership facility.

If you are a registered ToffeeWeb Member, you should be able to post a comment using the form below (if you're not logged in as a Member the form below will be closed). By posting a comment (it doesn't matter what you say as these temporary comments will be removed later) we know your registration was successful.

Cheers!
Lyndon Lloyd     Posted 05/12/2008 at 16:41:03   Comments (0)

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