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Gut feel... us — in The FA Cup

By Rahman Talib :  21/01/2010 :  Comments (28) :
You can call it unguided optimism but that’s my gut feeling. Especially now when Liverpool and Man Utd are no more in the race. As for Chelsea and Arsenal, we managed to deal with them on their own turf. We nearly sent Arsenal to the cleaners last time we played in the Emirates. We very nearly had their ass if it wouldn’t for that damn deflection.

And with our players coming back from injury in droves, it’s like the great DM just made a truck load of purchase during the January window. While Arsenal and Chelsea are currently bogged down with new injuries and a tighter schedule at the European level, they will tend to lose more men to injuries before they cross path with us.

So... I am optimistic about our FA Cup chances, but I do have to suggest we make one sacrifice. That sacrifice being: Our European campaign.

Last season, we were able to concentrate on reaching Wembley since we were forced out from European action very early in the season. Kinda like what Aston Villa is going through right now. They’re having a swell time and managed to book their place in Carling Cup final.

I say, let's ditch our Lisbon game by fielding our second string. Let fate decide. Give some play-time for the likes of Mustafi, Coleman, Baxter, Nash, Peterlin, Cody Arnoux (this guy French or Indian?) etc. We can also give opportunities for those coming back from injuries to gain some match fitness: Arteta, Jagielka, Yakubu, Vaughan, Anichebe, Rodwell and the likes.

Use our senior players where it counts and where gain looks imminent. We know the European campaign is a dead end. Pushing on the European front is like heading towards the Abyss. It’s not worth it, given the present circumstances.

No point losing key players in an endeavor we know we won’t prevail. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can take the fight in three fronts given the limitation of our resources and players. The players coming back from long-term injury will not be at their optimal level until the start of next season, mind you. Look at Yakubu. It’s been 2 months and he’s still not the same Yakubu we knew and loved. But he’s getting there.

Unless, of course, some rich Arab decides to pump truckloads of dough into our bank accounts in the next week or Bill Kenwright decides to sell his soul to the Devil for the extra cash we need to buy the extra players we need to fight on the 3 fronts, I say let us sacrifice our European dream for this season and concentrate next year.

It’s the only practical thing to do.

ps: Bill probably has already sold his soul to the Devil. So, that’s not an option either...

Reader Comments

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Conor Waters
1   Posted 21/01/2010 at 06:19:57

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Seriously? I can never understand fans who have this urge to forfeit competitions at the expense of others. WE WANT TO WIN EVERY FUCKING GAME!

And don't give me that crap about how you can benefit from it. You mentioned how Villa have achieved such success this season — think back to last season, when they played weakened teams in Europe in order to concentrate on 4th place — that really worked out for them didn’t it... end of.

Dave Wilson
2   Posted 21/01/2010 at 06:18:42

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I think our injury crisis has rather perversely done us a favour. Round about Easter, when other teams start to tread water, our players will still be galloping, none of them should be feeling the effects of a long hard season as they will have all benefited from an enforced rest at some stage. I’m expecting a "see the stars"-like finish from Everton.

If we beat Sunderland, we will be a mere nine points behind Spurs with an awful lot of points to play for, so honestly I’m not ready to throw the towel in on Europe (winning the trophy or qualifying again) just yet.

I would love to go back to Wembley too, Rahman, but, unless we sustain another batch of injuries, I see no reason why we should "concede" other prizes; I think we are in a healthy position to continue to fight for all three fronts.

It's been over 20 years since I’ve been this excited in January... Hang on to your hats, guys!

Kevin Spencer
3   Posted 21/01/2010 at 06:00:37

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Due to an extremely bad preparation during pre-season, we fucked up our Premier league campaign early doors. We were also kicked out of the League Cup in October.

Since then, we managed to qualify for the knock-out-stages of the Europa League by fielding a team full of reserves or players out of position in every match. This is the only "success" we have had this season. Do you really want us to mess this up too?

Now we see our big-name players coming back from injuries, one by one, and things are starting to look good again. From now on, there is no such thing as "deliberate loosing" by playing untried reserves. In case of suspensions and injuries, yes... but that doesn’t mean resting the whole team. Some of the reserves have actually impressed me, such as Duffy for example, so playing him wouldn’t mind me at all.

As you said, United and Liverpool are out of the FA Cup, so this could be a great chance of winning the cup for the first time in 15 years. But there are many matches still to be played and there is still Arsenal and Chelsea left. What would you say if we fielded the reserves in Lisbon, crashed out of the Europa League, and then still don’t win the FA Cup. That could be considered as a crime.

Looking at the team that beat City last weekend, it was still missing players such as Arteta, Jagielka, Yakubu, Yobo, Osman, Rodwell, Hibbert, Gosling, Anichebe. Having all those players back in a couple of weeks, we could really challenge on three fronts.

You said: "I say let us sacrifice our European dream for this season and concentrate next year." — Winning the Europa League this year might actually be our only chance of having that European dream to concentrate on next year, as our league position is nowhere near the top six.
Patty Beesley
4   Posted 21/01/2010 at 08:19:14

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Let’s beat Birmingham first before we start dreaming about doing well in the FA Cup. They are playing well helped by the fact that they have not had any injuries for about the last 10 games and are doing well in the Premier League. They seem to have the "want it" spirit and comraderie that Everton have and will be a formidable opponent come Saturday. One hurdle at a time methinks!!
James Boden
5   Posted 21/01/2010 at 09:57:04

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Is this a joke? Are you suggesting that they sacrifice a European Competition which we have a decent shot at winning to make a huge gamble to put things right in the FA Cup? I’m sorry but it isn’t worth the risk.

We have to play our strongest side possible in both competitions. We can win one but not if we sacrifice one. It will bite us on the backside if we take that attitude, I can gurantee that.

Ed Staunton
6   Posted 21/01/2010 at 10:15:22

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Totally agree with all the comments so far, never go out to lose. Also, half our team as been missing for weeks or months so no-one should need to rest.
Ted Smeethes
7   Posted 21/01/2010 at 09:37:31

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I understand the point about going for success in just one competition but this is very risky, and I belive foolhardy strategy. I also think we have a good chance in the FA Cup but also believe it’s worth taking the Europa League/Cup seriously also.

Sporting Lisbon are not as good as Benfica (Sporting are currently 4th in their league and 12 points off the top) and we now have a really good balance and posititve mental attitude as well as more of our top players back fit since our games against Benfica. I think we can get at least to the Quarter Finals.

Atletico Madrid are 11th in the Spanish League and 23 points off the top of their league, Galatasary are 2nd in their league granted (is Turkey’s domestic league any good?) but are by no means unbeatable. Good teams all, but not beyond us winning.

I disagree with ditching any competition — we worked hard to get into the Europa League last year. There are very good teams left in the competition but if we don’t try, how will we ever get anywhere?

I know players may get injured and may affect our final league standing but, if we don’t go for it in everything we do, what is the point?

1 month/2 months ago it was doom and gloom and fighting relegation was all the talk. We are now playing well but know the opportunity of finishing in the top 5/6 is really asking an awful lot so what is there to lose? A 7th/8th finish in the table is now more possible and would be respectable (albeit disappointing in relation to the last couple of finishes) considering our rubbish start and injury problems.

Russ Quinlan
8   Posted 21/01/2010 at 10:33:17

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I can never understand why any club would ’sacrifice’ European Competition after spending the previous season striving so hard to achieve it!

Fulham and Vila both did it last season but now they now both seem intent on getting into Europe again this year... why??!!

Eugene Ruane
9   Posted 21/01/2010 at 10:37:15

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For ’gut feeling’, see falling anvil-type FA Cup hex.
Simon Jones
10   Posted 21/01/2010 at 11:01:21

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Go and find out what the Latin on the club badge says. It definitely does not translate as "Let’s Sacrifice a Cup Competition."
Alan Kirwin
11   Posted 21/01/2010 at 12:55:47

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What an utterly ridiculous suggestion. You spend a whole season trying to qualify for a tournament, and then flunk it in favour of a national cup?

I want to see Everton in the Hamburg Arena in May, ideally playing a big European name. That brings fame, kudos, more money than some on here realise (due to the redistribution of Uefa funds) and attracts players.

To win the FA Cup would take another 5 games max. The idea that you focus your season on 5 games is uber-nonsense. We are now getting back almost all our players from injury. We should go all out in the league, and the FA cup, and definitely the Europa Cup.

I’d rather win the Europa Cup than the FA Cup. I’d rather see us beating Valencia, or Juventus, or Benfica or Werder Bremen or Marseille on a big European night in Hamburg. These are the kid of games you want to see (well I certainly do). if we win the FA Cup our reward is... get back into the Europa Cup. Work it out.
Neil Turton
12   Posted 21/01/2010 at 13:37:02

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Someone had already made this point but I’ll ask again because the suggestion is so utterly ridiculous; is this a joke???
Jay Harris
13   Posted 21/01/2010 at 13:56:16

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Concentrating on one competition?

Bit like Black Bill having no plan B and look what happened to us then!

Also bear in mind the extra revenue for the club from the extra games, the rise in our profile and index rating in European standing and as many have said the enjoyment of a European night match.

Leave the thinking to Moyesy and the players!!
Liam Reilly
14   Posted 21/01/2010 at 13:38:51

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Really important the club take this competition seriously and responsibly. It provides visibility and kudos for the club for up and coming young players, both home and abroad. Even more importantly the further the side progresses, the greater coefficient we get in Europe. No more Villarreal’s in our qualifying fixtures, when we finally get there again.
Matthew Mackey
15   Posted 21/01/2010 at 13:54:26

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Although I agree wholeheartedly with the general consensus that there is a good vibe going round the club at the moment (what with good results recently and players coming back from injury) I feel that we should not get over confident just yet. Yes, release the reins of caution just a little bit, let that hair down a little and treat yourself to that extra pint... but let's keep those feet firmly upon the ground.

Everton’s recent change on fortunes could be compared to the economy where there are "green shoots of recovery". Let's not over water those shoots and kill them off! Remember, being an Evertonian we are, by nature, a cautious, wary lot always expecting an unexpected kick in the teeth and on a lot of occasions we are proven right to be cautious.

Let's not start talking about sacrificing our hard-earned Europa Cup place so that we can concentrate on the... FA Cup! I don’t quite see the logic in such a suggestion. Would you not like to see a bit of revenge over Benfica or the opportunity to dump the RS out of another competition?

Yes, give some of the kids a run-out, but introduce them in the right measures where they are surrounded by our more experienced players who can cushion them and correct any errors. And yes, change the team selection round for certain games. That’s what having a fully fit squad is all about.

I know, Everton having a full squad of first team players to pick from does seem a little strange, but some of those players are going to take a while to get up to speed, especially the likes of Mikel and Jags when they return. So let's not put too much pressure on them and ourselves by expecting too much too soon. Let's take it easy, lets use the old cliché "one game at a time" and of course — In Moyes We Trust.

Play one game at a time, play players in their preferred (best) positions, treat EVERY game like a cup final, get behind the manager, play for the shirt... and remember, class always come to the surface eventually and you win fuck all for being in a great position in January. It’s where you finish in May that counts!!!


Mike Green
16   Posted 21/01/2010 at 14:46:54

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Eugene, spot on — ha ha ha!

"Let's ditch the Lisbon game and play our second string....."

Well OK, lets just ditch the whole thing then and fold the club.

As for FA Cup, I think we’ll go as far as we can until we meet Arsenal or Chelsea, just can,t see us getting past them but can,t wait to have a good fucking go!

Mickey Dee
17   Posted 21/01/2010 at 16:41:10

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You battle for 38 games to enter the competition in the first place, then play two qualifying legs and six league games to get where we are now, and after one victory, yes fucking one, in the FA Cup, you want us to throw our hand in in order to win a domestic cup that will get us back where we started?

Have I skipped a few pages? We are Everton Rahman, we enter competitions to win them. Fans have spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds already chasing this dream and you want it snatched away from them.

I despair sometimes, I really do.
Matthew Mackey
18   Posted 21/01/2010 at 17:22:27

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Mickey Dee;- you and me are on the same wavelength here. Only difference is you’ve got straight to the point whereas I was trying to be nice about it!

Rahman;- we should play EVERY game to win. We are not yet successful enough to pick and choose our trophies. Look what happened to Aston Villa last season after MON (Man Of Nonsense) was arrogant enough to put a 2nd string out in Moscow and they got tanked. After that they never won another fukign game for three months. We don’t wanna go there my friend!
Andy Crooks
19   Posted 21/01/2010 at 18:03:46

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Spot on, Alan Kirwin. If the Europa League means nothing then why not settle for 16th place. Any side that fields a weakened team in a match that counts for anything (Bate is an example of what doesn’t) isn’t worthy of support. I respected Mick McCarthy until he proved himself to be a second-rate loser.
Ste Traverse
20   Posted 21/01/2010 at 18:27:49

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Can’t agree with this article, with nearly 15 years without silverware we shouldn’t be too fussy what we go for.

After working so hard to get into Europe, it would be criminal to just ’do a Villa’ and meekly go out of it, look what happened to their season a year ago when they did it.
Stewart Littler
21   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:08:11

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I still don’t understand when people say our squad is too small to fight on 3 fronts. How big do you want your squad to be? For me, you need to have 2 players for each position. Well:
full backs - Neville, Baines, Hibbert, Coleman
centre backs - Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Yobo
wide midfield - Pienaar, Donovan, Bilyaletdinov, Anichebe, Gosling
centre midfield - Fellaini, Arteta, Rodwell, Osman
attack - Saha, Cahill, Yakubu, Vaughan

We should* have had our injury hit, and can expect all the above players to play a part over the remainder of the season. To get to Hamburg and Wembley (surely the target?), we will pretty much have 2 games a week for the rest of the season. The test for Moyes will be utilising his squad and not over playing any players.

Ted - don’t know how good Turkey’s league is, but certainly not one of the top 5 in Europe. Gives you an idea though when our potential last 16 opponents have just signed 2 players, who, let’s face it, wouldn’t get in our matchday 18 when all are fit.
Stewart Littler
22   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:15:02

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* any more injuries (serious ones I mean) and someone, somewhere is just taking the piss.
Dennis Stevens
23   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:35:24

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Rahman, you seem to be in a minority of 1! It’s a crazy idea. Apart from anything else already mentioned above in the many sensible responses, players want to play these matches & if we want to do well in europe we need to gain more experience as a club playing at that level. Furthermore, a good cup run, of any kind can build momentum — think back to the season we had a decent run in the uefa cup & contrast with villa’s loss of momentum in the league after doing just as you’re suggesting. I really don’t see why we can’t do well in, or even win, both cups — together with a respectable finish in the league as well!
Pat Finegan
24   Posted 21/01/2010 at 22:04:53

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Spot on, Dennis. To add to that, why would we sacrifice the Europa league for the FA Cup? (assuming we somehow could) If we try in both competitions, we are twice as likely to win one. We aren’t even close to wining one yet. If you said this while we were in the semifinals of both or something like that, I could understand. But Europa and the FA Cup, (and the Prem) are all far from over.
Matthew Mackey
25   Posted 22/01/2010 at 12:06:59

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Rahman, I will be doing a 200 mile round trip to get to Goodison for the match against Birmingham tomorrow.
With two young kids in tow I guess i’ll be spending approx £200 for the whole day (tickets, petrol, goodies for the kids in "Everton 1"
In return I expect my beloved EFC to give me 100% and bust a gut to get a win because I like you would like to see us win the cup!
Then in a couple of weeks i’ll probably be doing the same for our next Europa Cup game against Sporting. Again, ill be expecting the same return from the Blues. You can’t expect fans to spend shed loads of money on watching their team if the club disrespect that commitment by fielding a 2nd string side.

We play to win - EVERY time !!!!
Jamie Rowland
26   Posted 22/01/2010 at 13:38:22

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I want to win everything and find it unacceptable that we ’scarifice’ anything... but if we have to — I’d rather win in Europe.

FA Cup has the history thing but Europe is where the team is recognised and is how we will bring in better players etc.
Just look at the difference in the side now compared with before we were in Europe — nobody is talking about the bubble bursting for us now are they!?
Yusuf Bobat
27   Posted 23/01/2010 at 22:50:18

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How’s your gut feeling now? Should have known they would return to type after the Man City game!!!
Kevin Spencer
28   Posted 24/01/2010 at 16:49:06

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Here is the thing. Even when top teams like Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal are out of the cup, there is always the chance you will get kicked out by a fucking journey-team like Birmingham. We should never ever sacrifice one tournament for another. I want to win every single match, as "only the best is good enough".

Our only chance for success this season now, is winning the Europa league. If not, we need a miracle in the league to not see this season as nothing but a catastrophe.

Since this thread was written, we didn’t even play one second of the Europa league, and yet we couldn’t even get draw from a home-tie against a shit-team! So what if we had deliberately lost against Lisbon? We could well have been the next team to get punished by Reading or Leeds. Yesterday's loss is a shame...

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