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Ugly Football

By Dave Wilson :  11/11/2008 :  Comments (0) :

Why do we do it? We don't like it, the players don't like it, the media don't like it, even our manager claims he doesn't like it. So why on earth do we do it?

It could be argued that there are a number of reasons our players continue with the almost logic-defying habit of aimlessly booting the ball into opposition territory.

The speed of the game in the EPL, the quality or the intelligence of the player, desperately poor coaching. These can all be offered as contributory factors, but they are issues that should all have been overcome over a period of time. I believe our problem is much deeper rooted and can be summed up in one word... Fear.

Our club is in the grip of fear from top to bottom. Everton have played more top-flight football than any other team in England, and we are all incredibly proud of our record. This was clearly demonstrated by the level of terror we felt when our top flight status was threatened during the early nineties.

Bill Kenwright remembers the early nineties, he's still haunted by them... and his worst nightmare would be for EFC to be relegated on his watch. He knows that, given our financial circumstances, if we were to be relegated there would probably be no way back; so he plays safe, he guards his investment, he sticks with a man who will not be relegated.

Davey Moyes could easily have been ditched this summer and Blue Bill could have attracted a far more flamboyant manager with the wages he was paying, but it was never going to happen.

Moyes is steady, he's reliable, he'll settle for the mild success he's had and the respect he receives from his peers for running such a steady ship. He'd love to play the swashbuckling football he so admires when played by teams like Arsenal or Man United, but that would mean taking risks and Moyes is not one for taking risks. The percentage football DM insists his players adhere to would suggest he is far more comfortable when the odds are stacked in his favour.

Moyes will not gamble with his reputation, It has taken him a long time to build it and the fact that he can almost guarantee over 50 points a season has earned him a lucrative contract.

There can be little doubt that the ultra cautious approach from the powers that be at EFC has rubbed off on the players, they too are gripped by fear, even when we are on a winning run, we generally need to go a couple of goals up before the players relax and start demanding the ball. Playing consistently good fotball requires movement and courage; really good players like Fabregas and — dare I say it — Rooney are fearless, they will still demand the ball even when an opponent is shirt tight.

Our midfield, on the other hand, are often reluctant to even show for the ball unless it's in the opposition's half. Our defenders become isolated in possession and are invariably faced with Hobson's: If the try to play their way out and come unstuck, they risk the wrath of the manager... but if they put their foot through it, they invite the now inevitable abuse from the crowd.

Is it any wonder they look like rabbits caught in headlights when they have the ball?

Then there's us, the fans. We'd had a bad summer and we didn't exactly hit the ground running at the start of the season, but who outside Goodison could have understood the hysteria that swept through our ranks? "We're going down" was the cry as panic set in.

The club is in the grip of fear, it trickles down from the top; until we get a bolder, braver Chairman who will sweep the place clean and instill belief into the troops, we will just have to grin and bear it.

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