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Resources... or Resourcefulness?

By Michael Kenrick :  27/01/2009 :  Comments (0) :
So... just four days left of the much-vaunted January transfer window... and nothing to show for it.

How many of you who have been hankering after new blood, for what seems like months now, to swell the ranks of our threadbare squad? Believing this is what must be obtained for us to progress any further?

Hands up, those who have rationalised away our increasingly defensive performances on the basis that "resources are limited" and "if only we had more, better players" and "Moyes will improve the side when he is given the money to spend that other sides have."

Has the penny dropped yet? Or are you all still going to blather on like toddlers in a toy store?

The Everton squad is what it is. We may get a loan player or two; more than likely, we will not. But plenty of contributors seem to ignore this basic fact and hide behind this term "reality" to justify their interpretation of where the club should be, based on whatever sequence of misfortune has recently befallen us — be it suspensions, injuries, LCC denying Bellefield planning permission, yada, yada yada.

The reality is the manager has to cope with what he has — not what he could get in the transfer window; not with vague hopes of "new investment" that (it must surely be clear now to anyone with half a brain) simply is never going to happen. THAT is reality.

David Moyes is doing a good job of managing these limited resources, although personally I feel he should have done more to increase the experience of his very promising youngsters (Rodwell, Gosling… Baxter's been injured) by giving them more playing time as substitutes. The difficulty there, however, is that the limited strategy of "Play it tight and grab one" means that we have at best a one-goal advantage (stolen at a set piece) and there is no safety margin in which to indulge OTJ training for the youngsters.

The reality is we ARE limited... but history has shown and current performances reinforce that this does not mean we have to be incapable, if those limited resources are combining as a team to be the classic over-achievers — "better than the sum of its parts".

Unfortunately the blame for a substantial part of our failure to kick on from previous highs lies firmly with David Moyes, who (a) effectively threw in the towel after being dumped out of the Uefa Cup by Fiorentina; (b) then took a long hard look over the fence at where he might move on to next... instead of buckling down over the summer and doing the preparatory work needed for the new season; and finally (c) pitching a strop over his contract that had the clear knock-on effect of devastating the early months of our new season, all the while with his team playing some of the most atrocious football I have ever witnessed.

So to continually heap praise on the man for elevating us out of a slump that was in the main of his own making... it's a bit rich if you ask me.

Moyes did a great job for part of last season to get his limited team playing "the best football seen at Goodison in 20 years", but subsequently, he criminally failed to build on that. He threw away six months of hard work by allowing everything to descend into an unforgivable slump while he focussed selfishly on his own future, to be rewarded eventually with a massive new contract (when he presumably accepted that no-one else was going to take him on?). And it was only then that he got back to work, sorted out the famed Everton defence that was his rock on which the squad was built, and finally got Everton playing again with the spirit, cohesion and determination they were showing this time last year.

So we are now back to effectively where we were at the half-way point last season — 6th in the Premier League. One key difference is that we are out of the two cup competitions that played a significant role in driving the momentum of last season. Reflective of that, we spent the entire first half of last season in the top half of the Premier League; this season, it was spent mostly in the bottom half... not really what you would consider to be "progress".

The "explanation" provided by the "realists" on here is that we have limited resources... which obviously begs the question: what better resources did we have last season that gave us such an edge on this season?

AJ?... Nah, sorry, not buying that. Carsley? Maybe... but people have convincingly argued both sides of that one. I think we were lucky to get one last good season out of him... Stubbs? Don't think so... McFadden? The consensus was No.... Gravesen? Don't make me laugh. Perhaps the one convincing factor is Cahill... but in some games he does nothing. And Arteta was poor (due mainly to injury).

It's hard to make these comparisons stick but I think We actually have more people injured or missing now than we did during the early months of the season, yet our results are so much better.... how can this be if the "reality" is all about resources? Or lack thereof?

No, the difference comes down in the end to how the manager sets up the team, how they are trained, how he inspires them to go beyond their limitations. Resources are merely the cards you are dealt: it's how you play them that counts. If that's what explains the "impossible" results achieved at Anfield against overwhelming dollar-signs, then the corollary is the distinct lack of such leadership provided earlier in the season that saw essentially the same resources floundering shamefully.

Many have said, "We're 6th... if only we had gobs more money and x,y, z players, who knows where we'd be?" — Back to the resource driven model, conveniently ignoring the lessons provided by Tottenham, Man City and Arsenal. But look at the real equation, with the resources we actually have... compare what they can achieve, playing as they did last season, and what they clearly failed to achieve after Moyes so blatantly abrogated his responsibilities as manager.... followed now by what they are finally achieving now under the duress of losing yet more resources.

My point is, it's not totally resource driven, and to keep on bleating about resources we don't have misses the point. A manager must use the resources he has, but he must do so effectively, and consistently if he's going to achieve lasting results. That's where Moyes's record of itinerant inconsistency comes in. He can do it in bursts, catches the eye of the pundits, and gets all the plaudits... but he seems to have a real problem doing it consistently for a whole season.

As a full-time Everton supporter, not a general interest football observer, that's what continues to concern me about this man.

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