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Ball players and Tiger...

By Sam Hoare :  21/01/2010 :  Comments (25) :
One thing that has brought a smile to my pasty white face over the last few has been the metamorphosis from hoofball to possession football. A delightful progression, perhaps most evident to me when, after the first half at The Emirates, I saw that we had had something like 64% of the ball. Not a feat many teams hope to achieve.

It was the same determination to try and keep hold of the ball and play it mostly on the deck that saw us dominate the upstarts at City and claim a most satisfying 3 points.

I would like to think that all the time spent talking tactics and coaching from Moyesy and Round has something to do with this but I suspect the real reason is a team full of ball-players:

  • A centre back in Heitinga who distributes purposefully and accurately.
  • A midfield general in Fellaini who whenever possible takes the ball down (rather than starting a game of head tennis) and can start attacks quickly and effectively.
  • An attacking trio of Pienaar, Billy and (to some extent) Donavan who all possess great touch and footballing brains.
The only person who may not fit into this pattern is Tiger Tim. Cahill has been one of my favourite players and has definitely upped his game in recent times but against City I did feel he was the one person who looked most likely to lose possession (one such time saw City break and Tevez an inch away from a goal that might have turned the match).

Tim has many strong qualities but touch, technique and accurate distribution are not what his game is about. Perhaps his overall contribution lets us overlook these occasional deficiencies?

With a full team to choose for might Moyes be tempted to play two strikers with the Yak and Saha? Or maybe move Arteta into central mid and Pienaar to play the hole? Or perhaps I'm being pedantic and am trying to fix what ain't broke?

Whatever happens, long may the exile of hoofball continue!

Reader Comments

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Ian Tunstead
1   Posted 21/01/2010 at 14:09:28

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’’I would like to think that all the time spent talking tactics and coaching from Moyesy and Round has something to do with this but I suspect the real reason is a team full of ball-players’’

Have you ever thought that perhaps Moyesy bought these players specifically so that his team would play better football? Can we give credit where credit is due please?

I also thought Cahill was a pain in the arse to City the entire game and was needed on the pitch, he also almost scored one of his trademark headers. Like you said, it aint broke so don’t fix it.
Mark Reid
2   Posted 21/01/2010 at 14:16:10

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Tim Cahill’s got technique as good as anyone. Remember his overhead kick against Chelsea last season?

You can’t have a team made up entirely of "ball players" you invariably start to try and walk the ball in, and you also become lightweight — just like Arsenal.

You need a mixture of everything. That's how we battered City and that’s how you have a successful team in the league. You have players to play multiple systems and change things.

Cahill’s a scrapper when he needs to. Also, his record of being the highest goalscorer in the Premier League records, with his head says that ANY team would want him.

We need him scrapping in the box. Just like we sometimes need to bring Vaughan on to chase tired defenders, or we need Fellaini to get the ball down.

As for the "play football" thing. Moyes has always tried to play football, but that's sometimes determined by the opposition and by our own players' form. The City game, every player on the pitch was a "Moyes Player" he’s introduced to the team.

If that doesn’t say something to people, I don’t know what does. He defeated a £200 million team with a team less than half that. Actually about a quarter.

We brought on three players — Vaughan, Coleman and Baxter — combined fee: £150,000. City brought on Robinho, Benjani and SWP — about £60 million. And we didn’t break stride.

Some humble pie needs eating considering the slating Moyes was getting earlier in the season.
Mark Reid
3   Posted 21/01/2010 at 14:22:32

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Oh and Billy had two chances that resulted from knock downs (from longer balls - neville put one in and that led to the free kick for Saha).

You mix it up. Its about possession, but importantly - using possession properly.

Why do people always look for extremes is what I want to know?

A good team makes itself unpredictable to the opposition.

Thats how we kept Asharvin and Tevez out of the last two games because we (Moyes) predicted their game plan... and did our own thing.
Kenny Lloyd
4   Posted 21/01/2010 at 15:26:15

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Ian and Mark – absolutely spot on.

The thought that David Moyes and Steve Round give their instructions about team shape, how to play etc and then players like Heitinga, Fellaini, Pienaar then ignore them and just go and do their own thing is nuts.

It’s been said in another recent thread and by myself in a thread a couple of weeks ago but the mere fact that David Moyes bought all these players tells me he wants to play good football. If he wanted out & out hoofball, he’d have bought Kevin Davies from Bolton for £15 million not Fellaini.

And for what it’s worth – I thought Cahill’s work rate against City was incredible. Maybe it sometimes goes un-noticed but the chasing down defenders and not letting them settle was class – a total pain in the arse of the other side and I loved it. I still think, when he’s in form he should be in the side for his work rate and goal threat.
Sam Hoare
5   Posted 21/01/2010 at 15:35:03

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Ian, Tim’s ’trademark headers’ have become more of a rarity this season. I guess my question is that without his goals contribution how much does he offer?

The answer is his workrate and commitment. Essential qualities, but enough on their own? Perhaps.

’Have you ever thought that perhaps Moyesy bought these players specifically so that his team would play better football? Can we give credit where credit is due please?’

Er... yes is the answer. I’m not a moron. I’m a fan of moyes and am not trying to discredit him at all, merely pointing out that its the players in the team that make the difference and pleases me. The players that (obviously) he has chosen.
Ian Tunstead
6   Posted 21/01/2010 at 15:33:01

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Well said, Mark. Another thing people need to appreciate is that when Moyes took over he had a team of players who were not blessed in terms of pass and move style of football. Moyes set up his tactics to best suit his team to get the optimum performance and results. If playing hoofball instead of pass and move suited our players more and got enough points to finish 4th then so be it. Now that he has brought in his own players who are more comfortable with the ball on the deck then that is how we will play.

It is more to do with the players than than the manager and his tactics how the team play but the manager is responsible for what type of players he brings in, and the majority of them have been skillful technical passing players with the odd player who is effective and gets stuck in.
Jim Bean
7   Posted 21/01/2010 at 15:33:56

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If Tim's technique is so poor, how do you explain his superb assist for Pienaar's goal at Arsenal or when he dribbled around Gallas? Granted he’s no Bergkamp but he’s better than people give him credit for on the ball.

Agreed on everything about Fellaini. I wonder how long before he starts getting man-marked, like Makelele was for Chelsea? Managers realised all their attacks started through him so putting a man on him forces you to go long ball.
Ian Tunstead
8   Posted 21/01/2010 at 15:42:55

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Sorry if i misunderstood what you were trying to say, Sam, it came accross that you were trying to get a little dig in at Moyes about his tactics and style of play.

As for Cahill's trademark headers being a rarity, it is no coinicence that he has scored less headers while Arteta has been injured. When Arteta returns, Cahill's headers will become much more common.
James Stewart
9   Posted 21/01/2010 at 17:23:46

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Cahill has been instrumental in the last few games he will be the last one to be dropped!
Andy Crooks
10   Posted 21/01/2010 at 17:55:35

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Ian, I was happy to admit that I perhaps over-reacted when I suggested that we were in a relegation battle. However, my God, you seem to believe that David Moyes is beyond someone having "a dig" at him. We have played some nice football lately and long may it continue... but I certainly haven't ruled out Davy resorting to type, ie, safety first negativity.

If we continue to play football, well I’ll be happy to be wrong again.

Ian Tunstead
11   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:39:58

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Andy, If the dig is a fair point then fair enough but most of the criticisms on here are not fair, I just like to point out the other side of the argument.

Sometimes you’ve got to try and put yourself in David Moyes's shoes and see it from his point of view rather than be blinkered and not look at the bigger picture.

I would rather Moyes played it safe then replicate the Leeds, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Charlton etc way.
Keith Glazzard
12   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:57:25

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The brother usually gets it right. Everton play better with Tim and Cap’n Pip than they do without them, he says. And nobody really knows why.

Cahill and Neville, of course, have massive experience and full tool kits of skill necessary to play well in the PL. But they bring more to the table than that. That is what an "X Factor" actually is, not to be a poor karaoke act, but to do something special - which others can’t copy.

Thank heavens our squad is now so good that these players aren’t absolutely necessary, but we will miss them when they’re not there. Remember Lee Carsley?
Derek Thomas
13   Posted 21/01/2010 at 19:51:41

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There is nothing wrong in being ( to some people ) ’ The (seemingly) worst ’ player in a very good team.

From the sublime now, Cahill, back through to the 60s and 70s. Clough brought John McGovern from 4th div Hartlepool to the European cup final. Tommy Jackson and Dennis Stevens???.

Coaches mostly know or they wouldn’t keep picking them. Do the simple things, run all day, tackle anything, play anywhere and never complain, will cover the seeming multitude of sins of omission as seen by those who only look but don’t actually see...He, isn’t as good a A at xxx or B at yyy or C at zzz etc etc.

But even after a poor for him season the stats still stack in his favour we win more with him than with out him.

As Tim says he would run through a brick wall for Moyesey, why? because he knows he is valued

This year is after all the year of the Tiger.
Rob Sawyer
14   Posted 21/01/2010 at 21:18:05

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Tim’s strong points have always been an "Aussie" will to win, timings of runs into the box and heading ability.

First touch, pace and ball playing kills have always been more limited - maybe these are becomimg more apparent as he passes the 30 mark?
Iain Love
15   Posted 21/01/2010 at 21:38:38

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Some interesting comments about Timmy most of them have a certain validity, as the team develops the need for certain types of player either increases or diminishes. If we take Carsley as an example he was a great servant for us but in order to progress we needed someone who could not only break down attacks but also spark our own. It took some time but in Fellaini we now have that.

The same can be said for Osman and Hibbert, Tony is a great defender but little else, Ossie isn’t bad in the middle but doesn’t have a great engine or build which in turn impacts on Hibbert at right back.

Timmy is a pain in the arse and puts a shift in every time he plays, he also is fantastic in the air, but he does lose the ball through touch or silly fouls he commits which breaks down our attacks and gives the ball to our opponents. I for one would certainly keep Timmy but would be looking for a long term replacement in that role.

Paul Rimmer
16   Posted 21/01/2010 at 21:29:34

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The thing that irks me most about the comments on this site is the "Moyes team plays hoofball" rubbish — as if he gets them down to Finch Farm to practice hoofing it all day long. Football requires you to be able to play in a variety of ways. Every manager including Moyes would love to see their team play like Arsenal — equally I bet Wenger would love his team to be able to do this and do the physical side of the game.

To me it’s a confidence thing. When the team is playing well you’re likely to show pass and move, if not then you’re more likely to play it long. Also it depends on the players. If you have Big Dunc to aim at who can push the play 50 yards nearer their goal then as a defender you’re more likely yo play that way. Some players eg Yobo don’t really have the skill to play the ball to midfielders as much and don’t want to give the ball away in their own half with a sloppy pass. So they’re more likely to play the longer ball.

Football is a results based game — a club’s survival can depend on it — the long ball works sometimes.

I want to see Everton play the ball on the ground as much as anyone but am realistic/pragmatic enough to realise that we can’t do this all the time. Playing the direct ball isn’t a sin. I for one am pleased that Everton can mix it up and see that they try to play football on the ground when they can. So please can we not try to make out that Moyes wants us to play like Wimbledon 1988 (when they won the Cup).

Dick Fearon
17   Posted 21/01/2010 at 21:53:20

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As he is often referred to in the land down under, Timmy eventually will say goodbye to the old dart and return to the warmer climes of his own country.

When that news is announced, managers and players around the PL will let out a collective sigh of ’good riddance to the annoying little bastard.’

As old Jonesy would say, "They don’t like it up em" and Tim was an expert at doing just that.
In that respect he reminds me of Davy Hickson, another annoying little bastard who didn’t give a shit about getting in the enemy’s face.

After facing up to those two defender in any game would know they had ’been in a game.’

As with past greats of our club Cahill will be fondly remembered.

Guy Hastings
18   Posted 21/01/2010 at 22:43:19

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For all the so-called and self-styled ’class acts’ that Kevin Ratcliffe faced, Mick Harford was the opponent,more than any other, who he knew was going to knock six or seven bells out of him. Every team needs one and I’m so glad he’s ours. I wouldn’t fancy 90 mins against Heitinger either.
David Hallwood
19   Posted 21/01/2010 at 22:43:24

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Cahill has had a difficult season and looked burnt out and over-played. But maybe it was the Christmas pud, he’s back to the Tim of old and the game against Man C was his best in a blue shirt all season. When he reaches that level of performance he must play — rotation excepted.
Keith Glazzard
20   Posted 21/01/2010 at 22:54:26

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Hey Dick, you old bastard - I’m too young to remember Dave Hickson playing for us, but not for Tranmere and Ellesmere Port, where he came from and was my dad’s office boy.

Cahill’s name is already engraved in the Everton Hall of Fame, no doubts, but he hasn’t finished yet. Good times still to come.
Keith Glazzard
21   Posted 21/01/2010 at 23:02:58

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Guy - now there’s a name in the original post which has been overlooked - Johnny Heitinga.

TWebbers can be quick to judge, and our favourite Hollander was castigated by many for ’hoofball’. I recall that he was good at the long pass. A subtle difference, lost to many.

Hard as nails, Heitinga knows his, and everyone else’s job, and tells them. He is a great leader. Ratty restored to us.
Stuart Vine
22   Posted 21/01/2010 at 23:37:10

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This whole debate really shows how much we have come on as a team in the last couple of seasons. That we now have players that show up Timmy's weaker areas occasionally should be applauded.

I believe what Tim lacks in touch, he more than makes up for in spirit and effort. A team needs a few kick-arse players like Tim and Pip — they are the engine of side 100% every game. All the great sides have had them and plenty of names have been trotted out that prove this point... McGovern et al. His recent performances have been top notch harassing the opponents touch players and not letting them play and now we are starting to actually get a subs bench back DM can risk giving his legs a rest and stop him burning out.

Sam I think you are right with the statement "don’t fix what ain’t broke" tinker with it a bit though to allow for Mikey coming back

. A team where Tiger Tim is our least skilful player is one that I very much like!! May it long continue.

Paul Maguire
23   Posted 22/01/2010 at 03:11:05

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Just been listening to that slaphead prat Steve Stone on BBC Monday Night Club and he said on a number of occasions Everton were a "physical" side and repeatedly compared us to Blackburn and Bolton ("always in your face" "tackles flying in") and that Robinho couldn't cope cos he was too skillful a player. What a cunt.
Wilson Tan
24   Posted 22/01/2010 at 12:56:59

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"A team where Tiger Tim is our least skilful player is one that I very much like!! May it long continue."

I agree 100% wholeheartedly. If Timmy is the worst ball playing player we have in the team, we aren’t too bad!
Jamie Rowland
25   Posted 22/01/2010 at 13:34:51

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You can’t drop Cahill because there is a better ball player than him.

Pienaar is a better ball player than him. But Pienaar can’t win a header or hassle a defender or play in goal mouth scrambles or lunge inot 50/50 tackles.

Cahill - can and does.

While you need superb players who can produce the tricks and flicks, you also need some grit and determination.

Neville can’t pass a ball to feet all of the team and he can’t go past a player - but he is in the same boat as Cahill...

You hear the finesse players shouting and screaming in the tunnel and urging the players forward. Cahill - a much needed and required resource.

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