Terriers, Wolves, Yard Dogs, Villains and Devils. Football is back at
Goodison Park and in force. Four Premier League games and a Carling Cup
tie into the new calendar and there's already a lot to chew on for Everton
It's safe to say that things haven't exactly gone to plan for the Blues so far, with frustrating draws, goalkeeping errors, and unlikely fightbacks already chalked up as the campaign is in it's infancy. Having taken the first steps in the marathon rather gingerly against Blackburn and Wolves, the Toffee's have roared into life in the last couple of games and. but for a lack of luck, might have had more to show for their efforts.
It would be quite easy in the aftermath of the romantic script of the last match to gloss over a lot of the worrying trends that have started to emerge in our most recent fixtures. Worrying trends which span both the team selection and team tactics. A lot of Everton's missed opportunities so far have been entirely of their own making and the buck must stop ultimately with the manager.
David Moyes has laboured to make things click with his team this season, hampering the marvelous squad he finally has entirely at his disposal with negative tactics, predictable and slack substitutions in matches, and poor team selection. The pulse-racing comeback against Manchester United does not disguise the fact that this is not the start to the season of promise that Evertonians expected and demanded. The signs were there for all to see on the opening day as curtains went up and little has been done since to rectify these problems.
For starters, the manager is still in his die hard old habit of playing some of his favoured lieutenants rather than more exciting talents behind them. Though a fine player and a great club servant, Leon Osman is neither a right midfielder nor of the quality required to merit a starting berth every game if we're looking to meet our lofty ambitions.
Many would also attack the selection of Tony Hibbert ahead of the more exciting Seamus Coleman but, if properly observed from a few steps back, Moyes is taking the right approach with the firey Irishman. Not only is Coleman a rough diamond with as many flaws as strengths to his game at this point, Hibbert has excelled himself so far in the games he has played, likely in response to the challenge posed by Coleman. Despite his criticisms, Moyes knows what he is doing when it comes to developing young players and will often resist the calls to throw his prodigies in at the deep end if he doesn't feel they can swim strongly enough yet.
One issue that cannot be excused though is the selection of Sylvain Distin ? often as baffling as it is frustrating. The big Frenchman too is a decent player with distinct physical qualities but he is far from being a player on the level where the Blues want to be competing. Distin continues to be selected while World Cup Finalist John Heitinga either warms the bench or is shoehorned into midfield.
Sylvain Distin can be an impassible mountain on his day but those days are rare... and while he displays a complete lack of common sense on the pitch, we have a much better option in our ranks. On top of being a full-blooded crowd favourite, Heitinga is on a different level of composure altogether than Distin. A proper footballing defender who has intelligence and vision to match his steel and guile.
The popular line of thinking is that, in selecting a Distin and Jagielka partnership at the heart of defence, David Moyes satisfies his need for balance and physicality in the back four. I'd prefer, however, to have more faith in the Scot's talent as a coach and as a student of the game than to subscribe to that common belief. Such tactical thinking is straight from the footballing dark ages and one cannot reach the level that David Moyes finds himself at with such a lack tactical nouce. The actual reason for the reluctance to play Heitinga and Jagielka together remains to be seen but the lions share of supporters hope to see this overcome sooner rather than later.
Another self-inflicted wound Everton seem to be carrying at the minute is negative tactics for positive players. While lesser lights like Wolves and Blackburn set themselves up to bully and harass Everton off their stride, our plan to combat this is often to indulge the opposition in a dogfight. Everton are at the point now in their development where they're seen as a major scalp for a lot of teams as well as an expansive footballing side ? not a compact and rugged team as they have been for a long time.
After perfecting the art of cutting more attractive teams down to size with muscle, the Blues now find themselves the victim of their own technique. Few teams will try to outplay Everton this season and David Moyes must devise a way to overcome opposition who set out to choke the life out of games. Playing one striker at home against a team like Wolves is not acceptable and Evertonians will not permit it.
Many are clamouring to play two orthadox strikers in games and, while there is some logic in that, I don't entirely back that cause. The current formation is one that suits the players at the club and when effected properly, allows us to control games.
What does not work however is playing the system like a 10-man defence. Playing Jermaine Beckford ? a traditional box striker with a love for running at defenders ? up front alone, with his back to goal, trying to hold the ball up against lesser teams is not how to win games. By getting supporting players like Tim Cahill and Steven Pienaar in and around him and playing to his strengths by giving him balls between the defence and keeper to attack, we may yet see the best of our new striker.
Much has been said about the Aston Villa match but such a game happens at least once a season, where the result is a total freak and doesn't reflect the match so no more will be written about that here. Coming to more recent events, the match against Manchester United which should provide a springboard for the rest of our season. Overall the play from the team was encouraging and, barring a few of the aforementioned habits persisting, we lived up to a lot of the expectation we placed on ourselves in the pre-season.
Whilst the manner in which the point was secured was somewhat fortuitous, it was fully deserved. There were periods in the game when we bossed, making Man Utd look second rate but for some calamity defending, proving once again we take 10 minutes to warm up after half-time. And considering Osman's inability to finish from 10 yards, we may have actually won the game.
There is however no point crying over spilt milk and now must be where the club truly shift gears and takes off before everybody else is too far ahead in the race. Yet, if we are to truly do that, then some early season lessons must be learned, and learned quickly... starting with better team selection and playing to our own strengths rather than making life hard on ourselves ? that would do for now.
Overall, our marks so far for the 2010-11 season? B for effort; D for application ? improvement needed.
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1 Posted 13/09/2010 at 17:23:33
I agree with your assesment for the most part. Distin is a liability against good football teams, he's caught out of position too easily. But he can have a role against the more route 1 teams.
We definitely have not seen the best of Beckford yet, he's not a hold the ball up kind of striker.
2 Posted 13/09/2010 at 19:33:08
3 Posted 13/09/2010 at 19:22:33
We have four possible centre backs at the club. Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin and Duffy. Duffy's turn will come but in the meantime it's two from three. It's wrong to pick them individually, it has to be the best combination. In my view Distin, yes he had a nightmare , but he's got the necessary height and is left sided, must start. I'd play him with Heitinga. To be a top club decent players must be on the bench and that's where I'd have Jags.
Tim Cahill should never lead the line again. Much as I admire him I think he will be an impact sub. Beckford should start with the Yak in a fluid 4-4-2. with Coleman wide right in front of Hibbert. If we have some luck with injuries David Moyes might just find his best eleven. He certainly doesn't know it at the minute.
4 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:02:31
Although its not his natural position, I thought Cahill was excellent on Saturday. Vidic was reduced to frequently complaining to the ref throughout and was well and truely riled.
Add that to Tiny's contribution in extra time, what else could he have done exactly FFS.
5 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:28:58
It's like you get really close... and then you pull the punch. Take this classic:
"I'd prefer, however, to have more faith in the Scot's talent as a coach and as a student of the game than to subscribe to that common belief. Such tactical thinking is straight from the footballing dark ages and one cannot reach the level that David Moyes finds himself at with such a lack tactical nouce."
That is EXACTLY the problem with our incredibly well-paid and endentured tactical genius!!! Underlined by the fact that you cannot provide a better explanation!!!
Moyes is the Peter Principle in it's prime footballing application... How does he manage to get away with it?
Consistently over the last 8½ years, Moyes has demonstrated these unfortunate traits, and yet his positive aspects are so often trumpeted by his acolytes ? all the while sweeping this match-critical stuff under the carpet.
Sadly for me, we play in the image of Moyes: defence is Job One. Jagielka hoofs because he is instructed NOT to take the ball forward; players are static because they are NOT trained in fluid attacking moves, and must always be thinking about "shape" should they inevitably lose possession: they MUST be ready to defend at all costs. Set-pieces, which should be our coup de grace, are poorly executed with incredible consistency that the only explanation has to be inadequate preparation on the training ground... because they are all focussed on doing defensive drills. We know the players are capable of better but I am increasingly convinced that it is the mindset and overriding philosophy of the manager that is holding Everton back.
Trouble is ? and this is the biggest indictment I can cite for the man who wrote the book on defending in Scottish Football ? his charges have lost the ability to provide a water-tight defence!!! No clean sheets so far this season, and every goal preventable with a little better defensive discipline. That in itself is criminal negligence by Moyes's own standards.
So what's his solution? Scream like mad at the referee because his "gameplan" of scoring three goals in added time was thwarted by an early whistle?!? Utterly laughable, I'm afraid. It's gonna be a long hard season at this rate.
6 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:30:08
A shamefully poor start to the season so far - can Moyes turn it 'round & save the season? I suppose it depends on what your definition of 'save' is : survival? top half? Europe? Cup? CL? Title?
7 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:24:16
Terry- agree with your evaluation of Saturday's match. Think that some of the criticism on here has been pretty harsh and that we passed the ball about really nicely for long periods and were absolutely battering United for the first 15 minutes.
Beckford- whilst I agree with early impression that he's not a lone striker of great quality, think we need to give him more than 3 games to prove himself. Think he has been lined up as 3rd choice striker only when Saha/Yak are injured, but a decent free signing since we have no money to spend.
Thought Timmy Cahill was magnificent on Saturday and really wound Vidic up. Still has a big role to play imo not least for his goals.
Surely the Jags/Heitinga combination has to be at least given a chance, as Distin has been shown up one too many times now. Distin's height and physical presence would be useful against big physical sides, but wouldn't use him otherwise.
Give Coleman a chance at right midfield. At least he looks a natural wide player and with Hibbert/Neville behind him wouldn't be exposed too much defensively.
8 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:46:58
And I'll agree with Michael Kenrick (sadly?!), the obsession with shape means that we see very few improvised attacking moves and running off the ball. I only wish DM would take a look at SAF teams to see how it's done.
9 Posted 13/09/2010 at 20:48:35
10 Posted 13/09/2010 at 21:18:14
11 Posted 13/09/2010 at 21:26:16
I'm sorry but it seems like Moyes will leave at the end of the season if Fergie decides to leave. Fergie clearly considers Moyes as his ideal replacement; whether the people in charge do is another matter...
Anyway, going to on-field matters, it was evident to me from watching our games this season that we have nobody capable of unlocking defences. We lack a winger with serious pace ie SWP, Aaron Lennon, Bale. Too often against United we just ended up turning backwards or sideways, which often halted our play. We have no pace on our central midfield which often makes it quite easy for opposing central midfielders.
What amazes the most is how poor Everton's players are at passing. I'm a bit of sad act at watching our games over and over, seeing where our problems are... and I think we do lack any creativity in our side. Pienaar was largely doubled up on by Nevile and Nani, which often left Baines having to support him... which United took advantage of by constantly exploiting our left-hand side on the break. Often, Baines ended up leaving Distin on his own in the match, which I think contributed to Distin's poor performance .
Too often in the game we ended up with Arteta, Fellaini, and Heitenga all playing in defensive midfield. Osman spent much of his time after Coleman came on just running round like a headless chicken and getting in the way. I do worry about our squad and the way Moyes will handle our team when Rodwell comes back. We can't have a repeat of Aston Villa with 2 defensive midfielders on the pitch with 1 playing on the right wing.
Moyes should reward Yakubu with a start against Newcastle with Cahill playing in behind as Yakubu did look to be a lot more moblile that usual and the chance he worked for Osman was excellent. On another point, does anyone know when Saha will be back?.
12 Posted 13/09/2010 at 22:59:10
Ed ... Why not publish the comments from last October when we were bottom, then compare them with those in March when some were saying we could get in the CL?
13 Posted 14/09/2010 at 00:25:35
14 Posted 14/09/2010 at 00:47:10
15 Posted 14/09/2010 at 01:51:44
1. Moyes's selections suggest that he is playing with a fear of losing not a desire to win. And we have been punished. If we cannot get at least 6 points from our fixtures so far, we are in a sorry state. 2 points from 2 home games when most posters say that this is the strongest side in years. Moyes seems constitutionally incapable of being daring or taking risks which is not the same as being reckless or desperate.
With Saha injured, we need more goals from the midfield and he refuses to play Bily or even try out Gueye (who scored pre-season). Rather than figure out how to make Beckford work, he has benched him (even against a team who he scored against (and whose performance against probably got us to buy him). And he always waits until the seventieth minute to do anything. Its like he's paralyzed by the live drama. He is a victim rather than a master of the reality unfolding before him... again... and again... and again.
2. Blind loyalism to players who should not be starting and who should be impact subs. And regardless of Cahill's towering performance on Sunday, I include him here.
3. Playing players out of position: Rodwell and Osman at right; Fellaini as an attacking midfielder; Heitinga as defensive midfield. (And the only "out of position" decision that is worth exploring--Coleman at right mid, he can't seem to see).
Read 10 different online Everton forums. Read endless threads and you will read the same poinyd.
I realize we are all back-seat drivers and "that's why Moyes is the manager," but this has been an appalling opening to our season and I think it has totally scuppered our hopes of a top 4 finish. Every team bar West Ham have managed a win. And West Ham are a total basket-case at the moment. And we have had 4 teams that should be soft or were weaker than they often are: Blackburn; Wolves (tough physical sides but who the fuck do we expect to roll over during the season!!); Aston Villa (with a caretaker manager and recovering from a European hangover and a drubbing); Man Utd without Rooney.
Not good enough.
16 Posted 14/09/2010 at 02:16:25
17 Posted 14/09/2010 at 09:15:17
18 Posted 14/09/2010 at 09:27:47
19 Posted 14/09/2010 at 10:43:44
"And regardless of Cahill's towering performance on Sunday". So despite admitting Cahill performed very well on Saturday playing out of position against one of the best defences in the league we should still not start with him?
That to me is up there with the classic comment about Cahill we had last season "If you take his headed goals away he does not score that many goals". Do headed goals not count for as much as other types of goals?
I find it staggering that we have a player who when fit for the majority of the season will get into double figures for us and still people want to drop him.
20 Posted 14/09/2010 at 11:33:22
I'd be more concerned if the performances had been shite, but in the last 2 games, we've played very well, and the wins and points will come. Demot thinks we've scuppered our top 4 hopes already, bloody hell, he may be right, after all we are already 5 points behind the mighty Blackpool! GAFG.
And Michael, whilst you make some valid points, if you saw a 4 player charge towards a potential winning goal as 'defensive', one of those being our CB, then you wanna re-read the definition of defensive. In fact, if you thought our performance against either Villa or Utd was defensive, I think you watched the wrong games.
21 Posted 14/09/2010 at 12:07:40
Richard, I respect your right to have your opinion and also respect the conviction with which you repeatedly express it. However, "in days of yore" we won titles, trophies etc playing expansive,entertaining football. Why should we settle for the continual mediocrity of "stability"? If we accept that finishing 8th etc is "good enough", then we might as well pack it all in.
My main worry is that the relationship between BK and DM is too close. Neither of them rock boats.
Football has always been winning. That's what generates the pressure on managers,chairman and boards. If enough people like yourself wish to take that pressure of BK, DM etc al .... then frankly we are screwed.
22 Posted 14/09/2010 at 13:54:55
Seriously, you all owe the bloke a lot. Get a grip and back the team and the manager.
23 Posted 14/09/2010 at 13:51:46
What I have seen so far is a talented bunch of players with whom the manager is trying to work out his best starting eleven for any given game. The hype surrounding the best squad in 20 years falls a little flat with me as I see it more of the best talent for many years but certainly not a squad. A squad that does not contain a quality striker nor a quality right mid-field player can't be called a squad.
The manager will have to get the best out of what he has got until such time as the club is in a position to allow the purchase of players of sufficient quality to really make us into the best squad for 20 years. Finding the magic formula to shoot us up the table will not be easy but that's what the manager is very well paid for. For the fans' sake, I wish him all the nous and luck in the world.
24 Posted 14/09/2010 at 14:19:53
25 Posted 14/09/2010 at 14:47:41
Richard, You continue to exemplify what's wrong with your faction of our support: you have no experience of great, winning Everton teams and are, therefore, happy with the state of plucky, little EFC as we are better than we were in the 90s.
As for Moyesey's knockers being wrong, what about Beatties?
26 Posted 14/09/2010 at 14:43:25
I don't think anyone is accepting 8th is "good enough", but considering we spent more or less the first half of last season with one of the worst injury crisis any club has suffered in the history of the premier league i think you could give the manager and the team a bit of slack.
Also, we did go something like 2 defeats in the last 20+ matches when we had something like a fit squad which is hardly mediocrity.
27 Posted 14/09/2010 at 15:34:25
28 Posted 14/09/2010 at 16:20:58
It may be that some people are happy in their confidence that Moyes won't get us relegated, will most certainly have us in the top half of the table by the season's end & may possibly even get us into Europe, but although I appreciate what Moyes has achieved, I'm not grateful for such continued mediocrity. That may be unreasonable, unfair, unrealistic even, but such is life in general & football is no exception.
29 Posted 14/09/2010 at 17:26:56
30 Posted 14/09/2010 at 17:55:41
31 Posted 14/09/2010 at 18:52:41
32 Posted 14/09/2010 at 19:30:22
Of the other 3 trophies that could have been won, 2 of the 3 winners are now playing championship football so i think i would prefer to be in our position, others on this site may prefer to have a league cup trophy in the cabinet but be playing Doncaster and Scunthorpe in their league schedule. The only other winner is Spurs who have won the league cup with one of the richest boards in the UK.
33 Posted 14/09/2010 at 19:54:01
I take no account of ancient history when the game was played purely by domestic players rather than world superstars as now!
34 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:00:25
Do you disagree with my synopsis at #9 above?
If so, can you expand on what is wrong with the simple points I'm making (I'm not on my own, by the way, in stating the bleeding obvious)
Ricahrd, I presume you sing
"and if you know your results and placings sice the PREM was formed
It's enough to make your heart go Dixie fuckin' who?"
I'm ashamed of you
35 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:20:47
The only superiority that modern players have in the Prem is that they are paid obscene amounts of money compared to players of earlier times.
If you have found an unquestioning belief in BK and DM then I am happy for you since you must sleep easy at night. Who am I to challenge your use of the rose-tinted spectacles ?
36 Posted 14/09/2010 at 22:37:00
Howard vs Blackburn, Heitinga (although probably fouled was still dispossessed after a bad touch) vs Wolves, Fellaini vs Villa, and some awful defending (mostly Distin) vs Manure has cost us...
added to this is a lack of a consistent goalscoring threat - a 'tap-in merchant' (especially with Saha out) and the result is...
Rule out stupid mistakes, get Saha or Yakubu fit and confident and we'll be fine ... any side with the quality of Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Arteta and Pienaar at the heart will come through.
Top 8 by Christmas.
37 Posted 14/09/2010 at 22:26:07
38 Posted 14/09/2010 at 23:01:08
I agree with most of your points to a certain extent. I think Coleman should start to be involved more regularly and i am sure David Moyes does to. Do i think Coleman should start every week at this moment in time, no i don't. Do i think Heitinga should play in defence, yes i think it is his best position and on saturdays evidence he should play ahead of Distin this Saturday. With regards telling them stuff before the start of the game, for all we know they could be the exact words he does use. Don't get me wrong i am not saying Moyes has not made mistakes, i have not missed a game home or away for the last 10 years so i know better than most were he has made mistakes, but i do think he is moving the club in the right direction to the place us as fans want everton to be.
Please don't tell me what i am or am not happy with, i find it very insulting. Do you really think there is a fan out there of any club who does not want their club to be the "top dogs" in their league and in Europe etc. I expect a lot from David Moyes and admit he has made mistakes and left me frustrated on certain games however, in my opinion he is a manager who can bring silverware to Goodison.
A question for you Dennis, if Moyes gets us in the top four this season but does not win any silverware will that in your opinion be mediocrity?
39 Posted 15/09/2010 at 00:03:35
Of course our position will improve but if we miss out on champions league by three or four points then the comment that four games is too early to judge will look even more ludicrous than it does now. David Moyes is not infallible and he proves it with every team selection.
40 Posted 14/09/2010 at 23:56:39
I broadly agree with your comment re Moyes moving us in the right direction - I suppose I'm starting to wonder whether he's reached the limit as to the level of progress he's able to achieve, or is it just becoming even more gradual. I'm not remotely arsed about supporters of any other club - & let's be fair to Moyes we're only able have this debate at all due to the progress he has made over the last 8 years or so. Please don't think I'm anti-Moyes - I'd be only too pleased to see Moyes prove my doubts to be unfounded.
I do commend you for being the first person to have responded to my expressing my doubts about whether Moyes has what it takes to win silverware at Everton, by actually stating you do believe he can do so. As far as I can recall nobody else has shown such faith in him, even while they laud him for the progress he has made to date.
Regarding your closing question, of course winning the Title could only be described as success. However, as we've seen before, reaching the top 4 only really takes you to to the cusp unless you reach the lucrative CL group stages. Hopefully, come May we'll all be carping on about the 24 year rule & how it was always Everton's destiny to win the title this season!
41 Posted 15/09/2010 at 08:32:11
What a stupid comment "the money argument doesn't work this season." I think Everton have got one of the best squads WE have had for years. However, of course money matters? it always will whilst the clubs we are trying to compete with can spend vast sums each summer but we cannot.
"Winning the Title could only be described as success". In that case I don't think you are going to be very happy come the end of the season. Whilst I think the club will have a very good season, I don't think your expectations are going to be met.
42 Posted 15/09/2010 at 16:03:07
43 Posted 15/09/2010 at 16:16:07
What are your expectations?
44 Posted 15/09/2010 at 17:28:51
45 Posted 15/09/2010 at 17:32:38
For example, i would consider everton finishing in the top four as a success?
46 Posted 15/09/2010 at 17:34:46
47 Posted 16/09/2010 at 16:54:01
I expect Moyes will guide us away from the relegation zone & into the top half of the table, we'll probably challenge for a Europa League spot & may well get it; we may possibly challenge for 4th place but fall short. So that means that, in terms of my expectations, Moyes is no longer progressing ? I only expect of him what we already know he can do.
I no longer expect him to finish in the top 4 or to win any silverware. I hope he confounds my expectations, takes the club further forward again & lifts all our ambitions for the next season.
48 Posted 16/09/2010 at 18:54:29
49 Posted 16/09/2010 at 20:00:03
50 Posted 16/09/2010 at 21:41:06
However, what I will say is, although results thus far have not gone the way we all would have hoped, I have been fairly happy with the majority of our performances this season and, except for Chelsea there is no other club that has really impressed me and made me think we cannot compete with them this season.
I don't think I can really answer your question with regards who I would blame if we don't finish in the top 4 as I would have to see how the season goes and make my judgement at the end of the season.
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