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Reality Bites

By Lyndon Lloyd :  15/08/2010 :  Comments (58) :

Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Everton

In their quest for the top four and qualification for the Champions League, Everton were given an immediate reality check as a combination of a farcical error by Tim Howard, a worrying lack of creativity and ideas, a general lethargy to their play, and, perhaps, the burden of expectation for a campaign that holds so much promise condemned them to defeat on the opening day of the 2010-11 season.

David Moyes's side had barely had a chance to find their stride before Howard raced to the edge of his area to claim a high-bouncing ball with one arm and contrived to drop it into the lap of Nikola Kalinic, who had an empty net at which to aim to give Blackburn Rovers what proved to be the winning goal in the 15th minute.

That should have provided the catalyst to spark the Everton that powered its way through the second half of last season on the back of top-four form into life, but the response from Moyes's side was so turgid, so lifeless and so depressingly familiar that it put the burgeoning optimism for the new season in a new, disheartening context.

There will be no Champions League for Everton if they continue to play this way. On too many occasions the long ball was employed to break down a robust and muscular defence equipped to deal with just that type of tactic. Louis Saha was, as has so often been the case in his time with us, isolated and forced to chase aimless flick-ons or into aerial battles he had no hope of winning.

From Howard to Sylvain Distin ? admittedly less to blame on this score ? to Jagielka, whose long-range distribution for so highly-regarded a defender is laughable, the patient build-up from the back used so effectively when Everton were at their best last season was persistently eschewed in the first half until the long ball was mostly abandoned after half-time.

There will be no Champions League if the manager doesn't use his best players. Put plainly, no team that boasts Leon Osman as a first-choice starter ? in his weaker, right-midfield role ? has any business in Europe's elite competition and, unfortunately, that fact was rammed home unceremoniously for the 58 minutes that he was on the pitch. Utterly ineffectual even when he briefly moved inside and Arteta went wide right, he was replaced by Jermaine Beckford as Moyes went 4-4-2 for all of 20 minutes while Jack Rodwell watched from the bench until the last 12 minutes.

There will be no Champions League if Moyes himself fails to adapt. Although his team improved markedly in the final 15 minutes before the interval ? they couldn't have got much worse ? it was clear that nothing was really working but no changes to the personnel or approach were made and the first 15 minutes of the second half had disappeared down the drain by time Beckford was given his chance. Unfortunately for him, he barely touched the ball at all until injury time and an extra striker is useless if you don't get the ball to him.

There will be no Champions League if Mikel Arteta doesn't turn up. The club's highest-paid player's head appeared for the first half an hour to still be in the room at Finch Farm where he put pen to paper on a new five-year contract. Even when he did start to come into proceedings more, at no point did he grab the match by the scruff of the neck and really start dictating things for his team. Tim Cahill, another player who has just extended his stay at Goodison, wasn't much better.

Instead, Steven Pienaar, the "contract rebel" who has yet to commit himself to Everton either way, was the one showing any real initiative and he, along with the impressive Leighton Baines, was the only one who looked likely to make anything happen.

There will be no Champions League if we defend as poorly as this. Blackburn are an ordinary side with an ordinary defence but while they were organised and repelled almost eveything that was thrown at them, Everton's looked panicky and disorganised, the central defensive pairing of Jagielka and Distin never looking entirely comfortable. We can also kiss the top four goodbye if we can't rely on a world-renowned goalkeeper like Howard not to merely give goals away through lapses in concentration. His was a mistake made under very little pressure and no contact ? he simply dropped the ball because he chose to take it with one hand rather than firmly grasping it with two.

All of this was made more frustrating by the fact that Blackburn are a decidedly limited and workmanlike team. What they had going for them was hard work and a consistent shape, though; they dared the visitors to break them down and Everton had few answers. It may have been a meaningless friendly but the warning signs of a team not quite ready for the big kick-off were all there in Wolfsburg last weekend.

Blackburn clearly looked the more ready and able in the early going at Ewood Park this afternoon but when Olsson beat the offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Howard in only the second minute he knocked the ball over the advancing 'keeper and the crossbar.

And after Howard and dropped his clanger it took Everton 15 minutes to muster their first shot on goal when Cahill scuffed an effort into Robinson's arms after Osman had seen his shot charged down. Saha then robbed Samba superbly but hit a similarly poor diasy-cutter before Arteta saw a direct free kick deflect off Ryan Nelsen in the wall and behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece, the ball eventually broke to Pienaar but Robinson got his body behind his powerful low shot and the rebound was hacked away.

Unbelievably, 20 minutes of the second half elapsed before the Blues created so much as a decent shooting opportunity, one which Saha wasted by lashing it high and wide with his weaker foot when Beckford was better placed in the centre. The Frenchman was replaced by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov shortly aftewards but there would be no goalscoring heroics from the Russian this time ? his only chance was blocked by another typically tenacious Blackburn defender in the dying minutes.

At the other end, Phil Jones and Nelsen, both defenders, had chances to increase the advantage but fired high and Nzonzi headed a terrific El-Hadji Diouf cross narrowly over.

With the sense of urgency finally kicking in during the closing stages, Everton pressed for an equaliser but continually came up short with aerial balls pinged into the box being repelled with ease and few moves employed designed to unlock the Rovers defence on the ground. A solitary chance of note opened up in the second minute of stoppage time when the ball fell to Jagielka but his well-struck shot was parried excellently by Robinson and Beckford's attempted overhead kick was cleared before it could threaten the goal.

And that was pretty much that. A depressingly disjointed and toothless display, the like of traveling Evertonians have witnessed up and down the country over the past few years. Unlike the last time these two sides met, when Everton were in their lucky black change strip, there was to be no moment of individual magic like that from Yakubu that created the winner for Cahill in stoppage time. Indeed, significantly, the Yak, like pre-season live-wire Seamus Coleman, wasn't even in the squad for this one, suggesting that his days at Goodison could be numbered.

The lack of finance available to strengthen the right flank and inject some pace into the side will hit home, though, if the players Moyes already has at his disposal don't step up and perform. Marouane Fellaini made a welcome return to the midfield but understandably lacks sharpness, Jagielka didn't demonstrate that his pairing with Distin is going to be a profitable one, Cahill was largely ineffective, and Arteta just didn't turn up for the first third of the match.

Of course, all is not lost because of one opening-day defeat ? just ask the title-winning side of 1985 or the Moyes team that lost 4-1 to Arsenal in their first match of 2004-05 and finished fourth ? but this will only prove to be a valuable reality check if lessons are learned from it quickly and if the now annual squad heart-to-heart that usually takes place around November happens now.

Next up is a quick chance to get a win under the belt with the visit of Wolves but there's not enough to convince that things have changed sufficiently to make Champions League qualification a reality this season.

Player Ratings:
Howard 5, Neville 6, Baines 7, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, Fellaini 6, Arteta 6, Osman 5, Pienaar 7, Cahill 6, Saha 6
Subs: Beckford 5, Bilyaletdinov 6, Rodwell 6

Reader Comments

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Joe McMahon
1   Posted 15/08/2010 at 17:18:49

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My concern is, I didn't expect us to win, the line-up was all too predictable (so few new signings over the last few seasons doesn't help). Moyes is now into his 9th year in charge, I am sick to death of the 'keep it tight, one up front' attitude. Would Osman get in the Spurs side? Nope, they are going, we ain't and won't until the mythical 24/7 search comes up trumps and either Moyes learns to attack with pace, from the back and midfield, or we find a manager who can. Blackpool can on their funds, so why can't we? The top 4 finish everyone was predicting ain't gonna happen.
Andy Crooks
2   Posted 15/08/2010 at 17:38:35

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Lyndon, I am quite sure that you never actually believed the champions league nonsense which filled the site in the last two weeks. David Moyes has a league one mentality and a mid table premier squad. Not an exciting combination. He is, however, what we have and is respected by people who know much more than me. We have the players to succeed and all we need is for our coach to be bold.

He is in a strong position. He will never be fired and, if this site is any kind of reflection, he has the support of the supporters.

Take a gamble, Mr Moyes. Be bold. Take a chance. Put out a team against Wolves which suggests your are not a League One, defensive, safety first coach. If you do, you will have the support of most of us.

Phil Rodgers
3   Posted 15/08/2010 at 18:22:39

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I am concerned that if we don't win our next game then the 'fear factor' will kick in. Everton often appear to be more scared of losing than confident of winning. I hope this is a blip because there are no real exuses for us to lose in the manner in which we did.
Michael Kenrick
4   Posted 15/08/2010 at 18:23:20

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Lyndon, I admit I had feelings like yours while watching, but felt I would not be too harsh on the team and the manger in my assessment as it was "only" the first game of the season.

However, I think your accurate criticisms are fully justified and directly reflect the reality of the challenges facing us if we are to "over-achieve" again this season.

Kind of ironic, though, considering your previous defences of Osman and his uselessness, that you single him out as one of the key failings yesterday. Why can't Moyes see this?

I'd hoped he would have changed this season but sadly there is no faulting Andy Crooks description in #2; he may still be learning but perhaps he's now too much of an old dog in this job to learn any new tricks.

David Hallwood
5   Posted 15/08/2010 at 18:26:11

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Good report Lyndon, but I think Blackburn's defence is a lot better than ordinary, it's a big Sam trait to sort his defence out, and there won't be too many teams getting much out of their defence this season.

That being said, I agree that Howard's howler took the spotlight off piss poor performances all round.
Mike Mulhall
6   Posted 15/08/2010 at 18:56:18

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As much as I respect Moyes and the job he has done at Everton, I can't help but feel that when we go one-nil down then the best we can hope for is a draw most of the time. I have limited confidence that Moyes has the ability to change a game when Plan A (which to be fair he does tend to do well on this) goes wrong.

This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to yesterday; at the end of the day, Blackburn under Allardyce have an excellent home record and maybe we were over-confident expecting to turn them over with relative ease. I just feel that, even if we had money to spend, there wouldn't be a massive improvement on the field when Plan A hits the fan. He has done a great job so far but I feel that, even with a cash injection under him, we will at times be tactically flawed.

Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 15/08/2010 at 18:50:52

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Spectucular tatics on show yesterday... among my favourites was playing Cahill in a 4-man midfield on the right wing.

Playing the best players in their most effective positions is not rocket science.

Business as usual at Goodison.
Brendan O'Doherty
8   Posted 15/08/2010 at 19:36:50

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Arteta has not found his form yet, and as we know, we are so dependant on him to make things tick.

Rodwell now deserves to start. He had a good pre-season.

I wouldn't throw my toys out of the pram just yet.

"Take a gamble, Mr Moyes. Be bold. Take a chance. Put out a team against Wolves which suggests your are not a League One, defensive, safety first coach. If you do, you will have the support of most of us."

Mr Moyes already has the support of most of us, Andy. If he does what you want him to do and it backfires, you and others will be the first on here slaughtering him for being naive.
Jamie Crowley
9   Posted 15/08/2010 at 20:01:35

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Brendan -
If he tries and it backfires, I for one won't criticize a lick. At least he would have gone for it.

I said yesterday and it bears repeating: Osman in no way, shape or form should be in the starting 11, especially on opening day. It's so incredibly frustrating.

Moyes has my unbridled support. I think he's a damn good Manager. But it isn't mutiny to ask aloud (because no one at the Club's gonna listen to a Yank in Florida) why the best 11 aren't starting.

Here's an idea ? START Rodwell and Coleman minimally. If they are ineffective, then substitute them with the likes of Neville, Bily, Beckford, Osman and Gueye, et al. NOT the other way around. I for one would at least be placated and think to myself, "well, Moyes tried."

And pls don't degrade the comment to "Beckford for Rodwell? A striker for a true midfielder?" You get the gist of my message.

Great report Lyndon ? again.

Here's to praying this is what we needed. THE wake-up call. I expect an entirely different line-up and effort next week.

The "slow start" syndrome has to end next weekend. It can't continue for 6-8 weeks. The competition this season is just too much for us to start like the turtle, finish like the hare, and still expect to crack the Top 4. There are 6-7 other teams that are truly competitive this year ? and It'll prove far too large a mountain to climb if we continue on this path in the late Summer / early Fall.

Kevin Hudson
10   Posted 15/08/2010 at 21:17:29

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Hopefully we destroy Wolves next week, and the doom & gloom merchants retreat to their bunkers.

Defo a must-win game. Defo must improve on last years start. Defo need to regard yesterday's defeat as a wake-up call. COYB.
Nick Entwistle
11   Posted 15/08/2010 at 21:16:35

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The team sent out was two years old with none of the new signings that have brought the team on in both quality and inginuity.

The 4-2-3-1 spoken widely about at the end of midweek looks all the more attractive.
Alan Kirwin
12   Posted 15/08/2010 at 21:52:14

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The result was disappointing and unexpected. Worst of all, I did not anticipate Moyes would almost revert to type with 3 lines of players and some (e.g. Osman) intrinsically played out of position.

No formation will do the job if the players don't turn up. Arteta seemingly out of sorts and too much same old same old early season blues. But one of the irritating aspects of the past 8 years has been those occasions when the manager hasn't turned up.

They are greatly diminishing, thankfully. But the way to beat a stubborn & attentive team like Blackburn was not through regimented 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, but through guile and through play that is inventive & disruptive. Yes, I am of course talking about playing between the lines. Asking questions of a well drilled & regimented opponent.

I truly thought that, if the tactics Moyes talks of as a pundit, and exemplified through his admiration for Spain, are now used at EFC (because we can, easily) then yesterday could easily have been a 3- or 4-0 job.

The fact that we started, YET AGAIN, leaden-footed, leaden-brained, long-balled, three predictable lineszzzz is exasperating. I desperately hope that yesterday proves to be a wake up call. Moyes and Round need to set the team up to retain the ball and drive through. With players like Areta, Pienaar, Fellaini and Rodwell available that should be a given.

I'll take a narrow win against Wolves to get the train moving. But I'd also be expecting 3 points from Villa Park a week later. No more slip-ups.
James Stewart
13   Posted 15/08/2010 at 21:59:18

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Ciaran's post is short and sweet but bang on. What possible point is there in playing Cahill wide right?

The fact that we don't have a capable right side has been glaringly obvious for years. I really thought after the Cup Final Moyes would finally address it, but no.... We are still trying Osman, Cahill, Vic, Bily etc there. Play people in their natural positions, for fuck's sake!
Christine Foster
14   Posted 15/08/2010 at 22:23:35

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Sometimes the first game of the season sets the tone for supporters to build their hopes for a new season. It's no surprise then that the frustration of all is clearly evident. All that has been frustrating about the manager, the tactics and the players were once again at the fore against Blackburn.

No spark, no grip. Poor tactics. Even on paper, Moyes must have seen it. The ultra cautious Moyes came to the fore, risk averse = another loss.

Players who didn't turn up, played out of position or frankly should not have been first choice on the team sheet ? all compounded by a total lack of tactical inspiration from Moyes. We have seen it so many times now, so many.

I am sick and tired of being told we are punching above our weight, which is what exactly?? We have good players who can fill the gaps but every player failed in a disjointed display against a poor team.

Play players in their right positions. Drop players who are not and never going to perform as they once did. Show us your building a new team to take us forward. Think outside of your current bloody box or get a new one.

Gerry Western
15   Posted 15/08/2010 at 22:00:25

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Unlike you to express such pessimism but truly warranted. I posted on another thread which posed the question "should we consider selling Osman?" I was unequivocal, we need to get rid. Others seemed happy to have him on the subs bench. However, as I stated then, I believe Moyes will always be tempted to include him in the starting eleven at the expense of much better players in the squad. Indeed given the stinging criticisms coming in from all quarters, it would be no surprise if he were to be made captain next week, it wouldn't be the first time.

Have to say, when the team was announced, my heart sank. I shudder to think what his inclusion must be doing to the confidence of players like Coleman and Rodwell. Particularly when you read quotes form Moyes such as "Rodwell has to prove himself".

Coleman may well be considered a defender but he's posed a much greater threat to the opposition down the right in a handful of games than Osman has managed in what seems like a lifetime of appearances in that position. If I never see this guy playing down the right again, it won't be a day too soon.

As for Coleman, he didn't even make the bench and if other sources are to believed he wasn't injured. That for me is the most worrying aspect.

Brendan O'Doherty
16   Posted 15/08/2010 at 22:55:26

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I take your point about Rodwell and Coleman starting, and then changing it if it doesn't work. I would prefer that myself. But what I won't do is jump on the bandwagon and slaughter the manager after one game because of his team selection. He has his reasons for his selections and we have to abide with them if not always agree with them. e.g. Coleman is not a great defender, yet. I love his mazy runs, but it's not as simple as that. If, however, after 6 games of the season, the manager's team selections were clearly the reason for some bad results and he stubbornly refused to change, then I and many others I'm sure would change our opinion. But it's not happened before ? we've always turned it around, so I think people should hold their fire a little, despite their frustration.

I don't expect a massive change in personnel against Wolves. What I would expect is a massive change in the attitude and application of the players, and Moyes's record of producing such a reaction is second to none.
Dick Fearon
17   Posted 15/08/2010 at 22:35:26

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Lyndon repeated just about all my long held critical views about Jags and Osman. Jags is forced into far too many desperate last-gasp tackles for him to be classed as a top centre-back. As for Osman, before any more damage is done, Moyes must recognise that he is a drag on the team effort.

My oft-stated view is that those deserving most criticsm are the ones who pushed him through the ranks when it must have been patently obvious that he lacks just about everything a midfielder requires.

Chris Leyland
18   Posted 15/08/2010 at 23:24:57

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Some people have short memories: 6. Mike Mulhall: "As much as I respect Moyes and the job he has done at Everton, I can't help but feel that when we go one-nil down then the best we can hope for is a draw most of the time."

Try Fulham at home last season 1 down. Won 2-1. Try Man U home last year went 1 down. Won 3-1. Try Chelsea home last season went 1 down. won 2-1. Fact is since end of Nov 2009 we have only lost 3 games after going one down in the league.

And as for the "League One mentality" of Moyes posted by Andy Crooks (2) and agreed with by Michael, this is once again a joke and in no way accurate. This supposed League One mentality has seen us finish top 6 for 4 of the last 6 seasons. So Moyes must have over-achieved by your definition as he should by rights have guided us into League One, Shouldn't he?
Andy Crooks
19   Posted 16/08/2010 at 00:14:30

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Chris, describing David Moyes as having a league one mentality is not to suggest he is a League One manager. I was making the point that if we have any ambition we should go to Blackburn and play them off the pitch. Too often we approach inferior teams like a League One club going to Chelsea in the Carling Cup.

We have a decent squad and we should go to Blackburn with the belief that we can stick 6 by them. I have been told constantly on this site that we are good enough to qualify for the Champions League. Will someone tell that to David Moyes?

Brendan, if David Moyes was bold and failed, I would never criticise him for it. My misgivings about DM have nothing to do with the result at Blackburn. We will be back and you will, rightly, talk about Moyes's qualities. Those who have over-reacted will be quiet for a while. We are fundamentally different in our views but to it is one game and I genuinely hope that the optimists (not apologists) are right.

Roberto Birquet
20   Posted 16/08/2010 at 00:45:08

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The lack of finance available to strengthen the right flank and inject some pace into the side will hit home,
First it is only one game. But I have found the near-unbridled optimism somewhat over the top.

Of the other contenders for top 4, which has such a poor right flank. Getting Landon ? or someone ? back is imperative. Teams are going to usher us down the right.

We may need to play to squad strengths, too. And that echoes someone mentioning 4-2-3-1. I have not been a fan of this, and am not sure we have the backs - unless we play Coleman. But we seem to have in Rodwell and Felli players who could make a great pairing, we may need to try them.

Assuming there's a way, I want Donovan, a backup to Baines, and likely a striker to come in. None of our strikers appear nailed on fopr getting goals. Saha, sickie, Vaughan, ditto; Beckford, untried in Prem, Yak, look like he's on his way. And apart from the Yak money, how will we get them? Pienaar money? ? can we lose him? So, four players in, two out. Sounds like we need cash or Moyes to pull another amazing loanee from his magic hat.

Next two weeks crucial, but not am not too hopeful ? except on Donovan, whatever Moyes says publicly. We need to murder Wolves. Get at 'em!
Chris Leyland
21   Posted 16/08/2010 at 00:55:13

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Fair enough, Andy, but can you therefore explain the 4 top 6 finishes in the past 6 years with this so-called League One mentality? If we approach all these inferior teams with this League One mentality you describe then why do we constantly finish above them all in terms of the league? As 9 times out of ten a League One team going to Chelsea in the Carling Cup (using the scenario you describe Everton's approach as) would lose then we should be consistently battling relegation or be down in League One, shouldn't we?
Afzan Yusuf
22   Posted 16/08/2010 at 04:29:12

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I think DM is giving his old guards reasons to shine early in the season. If they mess up, expect the likes of Beckford, Gueye, Rodwell and Coleman to get more playing times this season.

DM is loyal to his players and that's the reason they signed the contract extension. I for one don't believe DM is 'that' inept... but his unconditional loyalty to certain players really baffles me. Expect some changes in coming weeks as he gets the team together.

Btw, it's time to move on and if DM needs to sell Osman to Palermo or Madrid or Ulan Bator Kick Ass Utd... than please do so.

Jamie Crowley
23   Posted 16/08/2010 at 05:19:01

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Brendan (16)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that asking Moyes to not start the likes of Osman on the wing is far from slaughtering our Manager. The fact Coleman wasn't even a bench option surely indicates he's going down the tried-and-tested, safety-first road.

I agree with you he'll rally the troops. I trust him, I like him, and I think he's a fantastic Manager.

I just want the guy to stop playing second-tier players û and for God's sake don't play them out of position.

Want to play Osman? Give Arteta a rest when the Carling Cup comes along and play him in the middle.

I'm trying ? and failing ? to hold my fire because I have such high hopes for this season's squad. And Blackburn was, as Lyndon points out, such a sobering match for such high expecations.

Reina carrying the ball into his own net turned my frown upside down.... so it's not all gloom and darkness.
Lyndon Lloyd
24   Posted 16/08/2010 at 06:09:08

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Andy Crooks: Lyndon, I am quite sure that you never actually believed the Champions League nonsense which filled the site in the last two weeks.

I actually did, to be honest. I was genuinely convinced by the top-four form the team showed from December onwards and results like the victory at Manchester City that the team can qualify for the Champions League this season. Which is why, to answer Gerry Western, I am so let down and disappointed after the performance at Blackburn.

It was a performance so depressingly familiar that it went beyond just being able to write it off as "only the first game." This team was supposed to be up for it, raring to go. Virtually all players back, some new options from which Moyes could choose but he opted for safe, for uninspiring, for the same old, same old.

I've watched too many games over the past couple of seasons with a knot of frustration building in my stomach as Moyes's team try to either hoof their way to victory in an away game or just show a depressing lack of guile and imagination in trying to break an opposition team and this one just seemed to confirm that nothing has changed. That we will throw stupid points away again like we did against Stoke, Wolves, Bolton, Burnley, Birmingham, etc last season by just not finding the extra gear we know we have.

Finally, to answer Michael on Leon Osman, I don't recall ever really defending him much apart from for a spell in the middle of last season when he seemed to have found his natural position ? central midfield. But I've felt for a couple of seasons now that he's simply not good enough to be a first-choice starter, that he's too slow, too small, and too easily brushed off the ball. I'd rather Jack Rodwell played out of position or, more likely, £9m Diniyar Bilyaletdinov played because Bily can at least produce a match winner out of nowhere.
Mike McLean
25   Posted 16/08/2010 at 06:53:46

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Thought Alan Kirwin's post was excellent, and Ciaran ... you're spot on. Lyndon, I sympathise, but if it's only the last two season's you've noticed that Osman is a bleeding liability, I do rather wonder ... ! But thanks for this excellent report.
Eric Myles
26   Posted 16/08/2010 at 07:16:00

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Howard didn't claim the ball with 1 arm, he caught it with 2 hands and then tucked it away under 1 arm instead of pulling it into his chest.
Chris Perry
27   Posted 16/08/2010 at 08:48:13

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Its all too easy to critises isnt it? But let's be honest there are probably 3 or 4 reasons why Everton are Everton and why we fans feel the disapointment as we do.

1) Moyes, he is to loyal to players that would not get in to anyother team that was serious about challenging for silverware or the CL. Neville, Osman should never get the nod ahead of Johnny and Bily.

2) No Money, no one out there to buy us. Don't and never will believe this, ok we don't want to do a Portsmouth, but there must be investors out there, Kenwright is the problem and we all know this, until he goes we will be the same. Stoke fucking City are spending £8 or 9 million on players as are friggin Wolves.

3) Tactics. Are piss poor, we have no pace and no goal-getter. Anyone who thinks Beckford is the answer are on drugs or something. He is a late starter and played in the 3rd tier of English football.
Gareth Prytherch
28   Posted 16/08/2010 at 09:14:35

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And so it begins.....!
Jason Lam
29   Posted 16/08/2010 at 09:12:05

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I thought the performance was alright but for the mistake. We are missing an attacking threat on the right to balance out our play. The line up was all to predictable though.
Sam Hoare
30   Posted 16/08/2010 at 09:52:56

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Howard's bizarre mistake played perfectly into Blackburn's game plan. Not saying that I was happy with the teamsheet but in reality the only change I would have made would have been Rodwell for Osman.

It should have been a good enough team to win and for that I blame the players not the manager. He made the change in the 59th minute and that's pretty early for him!

The same players will constitute our first team for the majority of the season and it's up to them to do better. I have faith that they will.
Alan Clarke
31   Posted 16/08/2010 at 10:24:18

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There is a real sense of Groundhog Day the way Moyes's teams start the season. There has to be something wrong with his pre-season preparations. I'm not sure whether it's all to do with the standard of opposition or just the mentality of the players. It's almost like Moyes needs to get angry with the players before they start performing. Is that his best style of management? Is Moyes at his best when he adapts his psychotic steely glare?

At the start of the season, Moyes has no real reason to get angry with the players. Everyone associated with the club was still riding high from last season. Perhaps, though, that has allowed the players to become a bit too complacent. Maybe that's why we never win our first game. This season there's no excuses though. There's no Lescott, there's no contract situation, there's no European distraction and everything seems fairly settled.

I'm hoping this loss will allow Moyes to get back to his usual style of management of scaring the shit out of his players so they start performing.
David Hallwood
32   Posted 16/08/2010 at 10:20:21

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The frustrating thing is that Moyes knows that wide right is a problem position, and that it should have been addressed with the Bily cash. All our mids have played there, it's Everton's equivalent of the Monday Club, and none of them have looked the real deal.

To play Osman there when it is obvious to all and sundry that he doesn?t cut as a wide right is stubbornness as opposed to tactical naivety.
Ciarán McGlone
33   Posted 16/08/2010 at 11:15:12

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"I'm hoping this loss will allow Moyes to get back to his usual style of management of scaring the shit out of his players so they start performing. "


Scaring the shit out of them? He doesn't even have the balls to drop the shite ones.

The fact that he doesn't have a ruthless streak is one of his major failings..
Alan Clarke
34   Posted 16/08/2010 at 11:49:22

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I don't think it's he doesn't have the balls to drop the shit ones. It's more that he's not brave enough to put the new ones in. When Osman is and always has been woeful on the right wing, why does he persist with him there? Why not try Coleman right wing?

Osman aside, there were still too many players playing below par and not putting a shift in on Saturday. Too many players looked compacent like all they had to do was turn up to beat Blackburn. One thing Moyes' teams always seem to have is a good work ethic and that was lacking on Saturday. I just think it takes a defeat for Moyes to get at the players to make them fired up.
Gareth Humphreys
35   Posted 16/08/2010 at 13:31:35

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A few questions:

(1) Exactly how is it David Moyes's fault when Mikel Arteta doesn't play very well?
(2) Exactly how is it David Moyes's fault when Tim Howard drops a clanger?
(3) Precisely who should David Moyes have played on the right-hand side on Saturday?
(4) Why is one up front only negative when we lose but the best system for us when we win?
(5) Why does every single tv and radio pundit put Saturday down as a blip but the miserable bastards on here put it down as the same old Moyes?
(6) Is that the same old Moyes who has won more LMA awards than anyone other than Alex Ferguson?
(7) Is Osman being blamed because Hibbert wasn't playing?
(8) Was it just me or did we really miss Phil Neville when he was out injured last season?
(9) How many people on here saw Blackburn torn apart at home last season?
(10) Which of the players not playing could you make a reasonable argument for starting and where? Rodwell arguably, but he did very little when he came on.

Errr... end of list.

Ciarán McGlone
36   Posted 16/08/2010 at 14:35:38

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A few questions...actually, a single question...

Where exactly does the buck stop?

Moyes is not responsible for Arteta having a bad game - he is however responsible for putting out an unbalanced team who were not up to the job. He is also directly responsible for making rookie mistakes - for instance, instead of taking Cahill off, he moves him to right wing... Leaving Cahill on the pitch seems to be Davey's form of eternal optimism... Someone said last week that Cahill has a 'right' to be in the team ? no-one has a bloody 'right' to be in the team!

ps: We did not miss Phil Neville last season ? we did however have a lot of fans who didn't understand that we were just as shit before Neville got injured.
Joe Carroll
37   Posted 16/08/2010 at 15:13:40

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"...but there's not enough to convince that things have changed sufficiently to make Champions League qualification a reality this season."

I don't think much has changed (except that we now have a near fully fit squad) and I don't think that is the problem. Not that I think there is too big a problem.

This is the same squad (bar Beckford, Gueye, etc) that went 24 league games and losing only twice in that time. Our best sequence of results in a good 20 years or so, I believe.

All Evertonians seemed to be in agreeance pre-season that the most important thing was keeping our best players. We've done that so why need this 'big change'?

We're notoriously for starting the season badly. I believe it may take a few games but we'll eventually find our feet. Let's just hope its not too late!
Gareth Humphreys
38   Posted 16/08/2010 at 15:52:30

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Ciarán, exactly how was the team unbalanced? Right back at right back, left back at left back, 2 centre backs at centre back, etc. If your tactical nous suggests taking off one of our biggest and most consistent goal threats when we are losing, I think you need to have a re-think.

With regards to Phil Neville, If you don't think he improved the team after he returned from injury last season then you must watch a different Everton side to me.

Ciarán McGlone
39   Posted 16/08/2010 at 16:10:45

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I must watch a different side to you Gareth.
Brendan O'Doherty
40   Posted 16/08/2010 at 16:50:42

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Jamie - there's not a lot of difference between our positions.

Hang on in there!

Reina drops keep falling on my head......
Robert Pierpoint
41   Posted 16/08/2010 at 17:57:23

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Reality bites is a perfectly apt title, as I think many of us in hindsight were understanding Blackburn to be a comfortable showing.

I believe there is room for some optimism. Fellaini and Arteta will surely grow into the season, in Arteta's case a home game against Wolves has often been a type of game where he has gone on to shine in previous seasons..I remember the last two home games against Hull over the previous two seasons where he has the ability to rise against 'weaker' teams.

Also, the defence to midfield distribution will surely improve once we get Heitinga back at centre half. I have nothing against Distin, he is a good squad/rotation player, but the sooner we have the jags/heitinga partnership then not only should we tighten up but Heitinga's distribution is superior to any of our other centre halves.

Keith O'Brien
42   Posted 16/08/2010 at 20:39:24

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I have only a quick comment, please everybody chill out. It is only the first game of the season for heavens sake. I think Champions league football is still well away from us but I do honestly feel top seven finish and scare the hell out of the so called Big Boys again this season.
Martin Mason
43   Posted 17/08/2010 at 03:24:16

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I remember seeing an interview with Frank Lampard where he said that when coming up through the lower ranks Osman was the best footballer in the UK and capable of virtually anything. Is it fair to be so critical of the lad when he is constantly played in an unfavoured position.
David Ellis
44   Posted 17/08/2010 at 03:24:55

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Gareth Humphreys - spot on

Ciaran - Cahill ends up on the right side of midfield because he is a match winner and needs to stay on the pitch. He's the most likely source of a goal - not from the right wing, but from a set piece.

Of course its sub-optimal to have him on the right hand side, but given the resources of the squad on the day what were the alternatives? Bily or Rodwell or Beckford? I'm not sure than any of them are more natural right midfield choices, so I don't think this can go down as a tactical mistake.

Of course from a strategic view point you are correct to blame Moyes for us not having a viable right sided midlfielder. Bily was supposed to be the answer. Sadly he is not and the opportunity to fix this problem has gone. This is unfortunate, but all transfers carry a risk weighting of about 50% - Moyes' average is rather better than that, but he's got it wrong with Bily.

I suspect that Anichebe will be the mid-term solution in Moyes' mind. Not exactly heart warming. We need someone to burst through the youth system/reserves to fix this as the money is not there (as we all know).
Paul Olsen
45   Posted 17/08/2010 at 06:35:15

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Good rundown there Lyndon. Agree with most of what you say and the player ratings are spot on, except maybe Saha and Cahill down one rating.
Ciarán McGlone
46   Posted 17/08/2010 at 08:52:19

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"Ciaran - Cahill ends up on the right side of midfield because he is a match winner and needs to stay on the pitch. He's the most likely source of a goal - not from the right wing, but from a set piece."

That's probably Moyes's thinking as well. Personally I think that kind of thinking is rather self-defeating... and based on a very tenuous interpretation of the facts.
Sam Morrison
47   Posted 17/08/2010 at 10:54:35

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Agreed Ciarán (46). I'm fully behind Moyes but as others have stated we need to be able to match consistently the expectations he and the team have raised. In the last few seasons, we have often performed best when we've been expected to lose ? a pattern which is gloriously rewarding at times and fucking annoying at others ? like Saturday.

If we're to break into the top four places then we need to be able to perform when we're expected to. And we need Moyes to play the players he's invested in in the correct position.

Not writing the season off yet, but I am disappointed at the team selection ? I don't see us finishing fourth with Leon on the wing.
Dick Fearon
48   Posted 17/08/2010 at 11:26:48

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Gareth @ 35: If this club does not have a better right mid than Osman, we may as well immediately forget any notion about a top four.
James Lauwervine
49   Posted 17/08/2010 at 15:44:54

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Gareth, I watch the same side as you. Plus I feel no differently about this season as I did before the Blackburn game. I still think we will finish top 6 at least and I never look at the league table until November.
David Price
50   Posted 17/08/2010 at 19:27:04

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Spain 0 Switzerland 1,
Anyone know what happens next?
Christopher McCullough
51   Posted 17/08/2010 at 21:32:06

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Sorry if this has already been mentioned. Fellaini (who will only get better with games) hasn't played together with Arteta in this role. It was one off, one on last season. Previously, Fellaini played further forward. Even great players need time to develop an understanding. This, in combination with Heitinga's calm assurance at centre back and Bily's moments of brilliance, is what transforms Everton from a decent team with a good spirit to Champions League contenders.
Colin Noon
52   Posted 18/08/2010 at 21:32:10

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Christopher (51) - While I admire your postive spin on things, which I totally agree with by the way. Bily's "moments of brilliance" will be few and far between. He in my opinion is not and will never be suited to the Premier League I am afraid.

Everything else you have got spot on sir. Welcome back Johnny and get a settled 1st 11 and we will be back on track I am in no doubt whatsoever.

Doom & Gloom can fuck off coz it's not welcome :D
James Flynn
53   Posted 19/08/2010 at 02:25:52

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The Trophy lifted in May

Jesus, take it easy. We lost Game 1 from not converting opportunties.

Didn't get our ass kicked.

37 to go.
Greg Murphy
54   Posted 19/08/2010 at 13:04:55

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Bit late ? but I couldn't not acknowledge that crackin line about the annual heart-to-heart in November. Deepest midnight blue humour.

Worth the mirth, Lyndon.
David Booth
55   Posted 20/08/2010 at 02:56:19

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A lot of people seem to be missing Lyndon's essential points here:

a) This was a game we expected to, were capable of, and should have won comfortably.

b) It was not Osman's or Neville's fault and no-one is blaming them. This is not a witch hunt and they were no worse (or sadly, better) than their team mates.

Sure, it was only one game ? but it quite rightly was billed our most important opening one for years and we desperately needed to hit the ground running.

Now we're right back to square one, with so much to prove that we needn't have had to. There can be no excuse for that and absolutely no grounds for acceptance.

We're deflated and disappointed and the team must feel that way too. A thoroughly wasted opportunity, through a combination of player over-confidence/lethargy and managerial misplaced loyalty.

Time for urgent and reactive change, to go for broke and attack and dare to trust in players like Coleman and Rodwell.

There's no risk involved ? we have just lost at Blackburn for goodness' sake!
Andy Crooks
56   Posted 20/08/2010 at 18:55:11

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David Booth, have I ever been in agreement with you? Suddenly you have started talking sense.
Michael Kenrick
57   Posted 20/08/2010 at 20:34:36

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Hehe, Andy, I was thinking that too. I could have sworn Mr Booth was one of the more rabid Moyes defenders who jumped down the throat of anyone who had anything even slightly critical to say about the management of the side. I guess he's now seen the light...
David Booth
58   Posted 21/08/2010 at 00:48:37

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It's called realism guys ? but thanks for the unexpected compliments!

As for being rabid, well I may dispute that assessment, Michael. It's just that I prefer optimism to pessimism as a general rule.

But last week David Moyes got it wrong.

I do sincerely hope he gets it right tomorrow.

It's time we had 'Tales of the unexpected' with Coleman and Rodwell, plus Beckford when required.

Sadly at Blackburn we got 'Last of the Summer wine' and like the TV series, it's got to stop!

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