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The Road to Nowhere

By Lyndon Lloyd :  01/01/2011 :  Comments (61) :

Stoke City 2-0 Everton

With just four wins all season, Everton came into the New Year clinging to the optimism provided by a surprise win at Manchester City 12 days earlier and their best run away from home in 25 years, but they trudged off the Britannia Stadium pitch with that record in shreds following a demoralising 2-0 defeat to start 2011.

It was a result and a performance that left the observer with little but an impression that the Blues are on the road to nowhere right now ? although "nowhere" would be preferable to another brush with relegation, a possibility that remains unlikely but possible if confidence continues to ebb away or if Tim Cahill's absence this month proves to be the crucial leg to be pulled from the stool.

Despite largely controlling this game against a workmanlike and unspectacular Stoke City side, Everton failed to force Asmir Begovic in the home goal into a single meaningful save in 90-plus minutes of frustration. That the final stats would show 10 shots for David Moyes's side owes much to the fact that, yet again, the Blues came up against a well-drilled defence willing to throw everything in front of the ball to protect their goalkeeper. A couple of great chances in the first half and a blantant first-minute penalty not awarded by the atrocious Andre Marriner aside, the visitors could find few ways through.

This has been a season dominated by debate amongst Evertonians about the team's striking problems, one that was ratcheted to new heights by Moyes's decision to play Tim Cahill up front on his own against West Ham on Tuesday, and though the manager reverted to using a natural striker in the form of Louis Saha ? and actually ended this game with three of them on the field ? none of them really had a chance to speak of.

And that is nub of Everton's problem right now; though chances have been missed by all three of Saha, Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford they have been starved of service all season and today was no exception. The Frenchman was robbed of a very early chance when the referee refused to award a penalty, mis-kicked a half-chance from a ball over the top of the Stoke defence, and saw two headers blocked by defenders from set-pieces but that was the extent of opportunites provided for Saha before he was substituted in favour of Beckford with 11 minutes to go.

Victor Anichebe also played 24 minutes but apart from a Leighton Baines cross that he half-heartedly tried to flick home, neither he nor Beckford got a sniff of goal and the limp manner in which Everton approached the closing stages betrayed a deeply troubling air of resignation at the team's collective inability to create scoring chances. By then, Mikel Arteta, who'd put in another indifferent performance, had been replaced by the equally ineffective Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini had been pushed further forward, but he is more stopper than creator. That left a static line of blue shirts strung out at times across the Stoke 18-yard line bunched with the home side's own defensive line and no spark of creativity to break it down.

The over-reliance on crosses from wide left by Baines was again evident but he rarely got to the byline and Stoke mostly dealt well with his service from near the left touchline. Seamus Coleman caused plenty of problems with his running and direct approach on the opposite wing when his teammates deigned to give him the ball, but his final pass didn't usually find a target... probably because Everton never seem to have enough players in the opposition area until they're desperately chasing the game in the final minutes.

Perhaps because they were resigned to their fate and collective ineffectivenss, there was no desperate effort from the players here today and supporters were left with the feeling that Moyes has exhausted the system and personnel with whom he is currently persisting. With little left to lose, he surely must now try something radically different now that he will be without Cahill for up to six weeks... but his track record of conservatism would suggest otherwise.

As ever, the Blues started well enough, passed the ball well enough ? though the recent propensity of the central midfielders to give the ball away continued ? and had a couple of early forays, one that should have yielded that penalty for a foul on Saha and another where Steven Pienaar's tame curler was easily caught by Begovic.

It was the Potters, though, who carved out the first real chance of the game when Kenwyne Jones flicked on Begovic's long punt and Ricardo Fuller found himself with just Tim Howard to beat but he screwed his effort wide from a central position.

Jones himself, though, opened the scoring six minutes later when Matthew Etherington made a monkey of Phil Neville by the touchline and crossed for the striker who rose unchallenged to power a header beyond Howard's despairing reach. 1-0 Stoke but plenty of time for Everton to recover.

They were almost level within three minutes and Cahill will wonder how he didn't notch his tenth goal of the campaign when Baines' deep ball found him free at the back post but he steered his header back across goal and past the post.

Begovic then poleaxed Saha as the pair contested a 50-50 ball on the edge of the Stoke box and was booked for his trouble, but, predictably, Arteta blasted the resulting free kick into the wall. A free kick from the opposite flank by Baines a few minutes later drfited behind before a terrific driving run by the same player ended with Coleman's low cross evading everyone in the box.

Pienaar must have thought he'd put Everton back on level terms in first-half injury time when he finished perhaps the visitors' best move of the match. The South African played a one-two with Saha in the midst of a fast break but Danny Higginbotham got enough on his shot to deflect it agonisingly onto the roof of the net.

Everton's general control of the game continued after half time but they never really got close to scoring, though Coleman was prevented from sprinting away on goal by a cynical foul by Rory Delap and Baines missed by a foot with a trademark free kick with 20 minutes to go.

But the Blues were already 2-0 down by that point, Jones having out-jumped the otherwise excellent Sylvain Distin and Fuller jumping into Phil Jagielka, forcing the defender into shinning the ball off the underside of the bar and into his own net. With the way Everton were playing in the final third, effectively game over.

The result leaves Everton sitting three points above 17th and five above the drop zone but with more questions than answers as to how they're going to recreate the form that made them so impressive in the first half of 2010. With individuals like Fellaini, Arteta and Saha performing so poorly and no money to bring in fresh faces, it's going to take all of Moyes's managerial nous to turn the ship around. It just remains to be seen whether he has the imagination or courage to make big and bold changes.

Player Ratings:
Howard 6, Neville 5 (Osman 6), Jagielka 6, Distin 8, Baines 7, Fellaini 6, Arteta 6 (Anichebe 6), Coleman 7, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7, Saha 7 (Beckford 5)

Reader Comments

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Nick Toye
1   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:12:34

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What annoys me though, Lyndon, is that he seems to be accepting this as a means to an end, and that there is this hope rather than expectation that it will resolve itself.

In short, there seems to be not a pragmatic word coming out of the manager's mouth as to how he is going to transform this disaster.

In previous seasons when they have not been performing, he has come out and said that it is not good enough, but apparently the performances are there, but no end product. For me, that equates to one and the same: poor performances.

Worrying times ahead.
Mike Hughes
2   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:08:22

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Good report, Lyndon ? but if we're now relying on "Moyes's managerial nous" then God help us. I'm not looking forward to the rest of the season.

At around 2:15pm, I heard Saha was starting up front and got that bad feeling I've had so often the past 3 months.

I was a Moyes supporter until the start of last season, have been wavering since, and now definitely think he's past his sell-by date. An unlikely stunning second half of the season won't make up for another false dawn and missed opportunity for me.

The tactics, the selections, the substitutions are complete and utter bollocks. Except that's something else we seem to lack ? bollocks.
Andrew Laird
3   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:22:16

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Mr Moyes interview on the BBC he is asked: "New Year's resolution, do you have one, do you believe in those?"

Moyes: "No, just keep doing what you are doing and if you are doing the right things you will get your results."

Oh dear...

Lyndon Lloyd
4   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:24:33

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Nick T: What annoys me though, Lyndon, is that he seems to be accepting this as a means to an end, and that there is this hope rather than expectation that it will resolve itself.

I completely agree. I feel like that if Cahill weren't leaving for a month he'd just keep on hammering away with the same formation and players between now and May hoping it would revert to the team it was around this time last year... with the glaring exception of Landon Donovan whose pace and energy did more for us than any player in the last 12 months, in my opinion.

This insistence on publicly blaming the strikers when they're getting almost nothing to feed on is a total abrogation of his own responsibility to get the rest of the attacking unit functioning.

Mike H. if we're now relying on "Moyes's managerial nous" then God help us.

What choice do we have, Mike? I don't think he's going anywhere soon so it's going to have to come from him... unless the form between December and April last season was all down the players making it work for themselves...?

Nick Toye
5   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:28:16

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@Andrew Laird

That just typifies the man. He's just not dynamic enough. He plays the percentages, and nothing else.

We may as well have Big Sam in charge and get that Zigic up front, just hoof it and we'll get a goal.
Daniel Johnson
6   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:28:07

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Jesus does Moyes even know the world is round yet?
Nick Toye
7   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:29:30

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Absolutely. But it's other stuff like Bily. A £9M benchwarmer.

Gueye? Baxter? Vaughan?

Also, why is Arteta getting a game with such woeful form, whilst Rodwell who is raring to go, is kept on the bench?

It's almost like he's afraid to succeed.
Trevor Lynes
8   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:18:25

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Fully agree with the excellent report and I must say it echoes everything I have been writing myself most of this season. Our tactics are laughably predictable and smack of the up-and-unders we employed when big Dunc played. Baines is literally our only creative attacker and our midfield maestro Arteta has not produced one defence-splitting pass all season... in fact he is playing MUCH TOO DEEP to have any impact.

He is not a Paul Scholes and does not make long passes, he does not have the work rate of Modric or the ball control of Nasri, he is strictly journeyman standard presently.

Fellaini looks clumsy and Cahill is a trier. Once Cahill goes, God knows where our goals will ever come from (maybe set pieces).

Fans and DM have moaned about our strikers missing lots of chances... well, I tend to disagree: the service to our strikers is abysmal and has been for years eg, Johnson, Beattie, Saha, Yak and Beckford.

Our creativity is non-existent and no-one seems capable or willing to take a man on except Coleman and Baines.
Pienaar does have a go too but he is the only midfielder who will. Since his injury, Arteta has stopped trying to beat his man so his ability is stifled.

The way we are playing is bad enough to get us into real trouble unless we start scoring goals.
Lyndon Lloyd
9   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:32:17

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Indeed, Nick, as inconsistent as that £9M bench-warmer's form was last season, it yielded seven goals and a number of assists. I think he needs to play even if he's never going to justify that price tag because I don't think we've got much to lose by giving him a run.
Ian Corky
10   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:37:59

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I have just returned from Stoke, I felt the need for several large vodees on the way home, what's the answer? We can't afford new players; we can't afford to sack Moyes. I believe as much as I have backed Davie that he has taken us as far as he can.

Martin Jol (tactitian) and Martin O'Neill have 1000 times the heart and passion Moyes is showing lately. The hierarchy at the club should be ashamed: for a club the size of us to be totally skint is a disgrace.

Ian Corky
11   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:43:30

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£20 million ? Yak and Bily ? sat on the bench deemed not good enuff to play against that mighty force Stoke!!! If we found a multi-billionaire I wouldnt give Moyes another penny.
Andy Peers
12   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:45:26

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Please try this starting 11.

Coleman Duffy Distin Baines
Bily Rodwell Fellaini Pienaar
Yakubu Beckford

As mentioned before this is an attack-minded team, we don't have anything to lose. Relegation is on the cards if not for dramatic change, this team is a start. Where in the hell is Gueye? I agree with your report and comments Lyndon except we are only 3 points from the drop zone not 5.
Marcus Kendall
13   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:44:04

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Martin Jol and the word tactician do not belong in the same line. Jol is a shocking manager who Tottenham fans hated for having NO tactical nous. He hasn't done much since leaving Spurs either.

And O'Neill isn't that great, and he a short-term thinking manager where we need someone young and dynamic who'll build Everton from the bottom upwards.

Gus Poyet for me.
Ian Smitham
14   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:45:12

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Lyndon ? As usual a well balanced report, I note from the tone that you are disappointed and without pre-empting Ken's input I suspect his normally upbeat demeanour is dimming.

Thank you for helping us all reflect on a difficult afternoon.

I enjoy the debate about the views we all have on here and again thank you. Best wishes for the New Year.

The "other" Ian @10 (if that is not disrespectfull), just wondered about the general demeanour to the Players and Manager at the game which I could not go to today. Can you give us an insight?? Cheers and respect to those that were there.
Steve Higham
15   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:42:42

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The worry for me is that, with Cahill's departure, he puts Fellaini up front. Our manager is one-dimensional ? he seems unable or unwilling to try anything different ? just look at his substitutions today. Does any one of the coaching staff offer any other opinion of how we play or set the team up? It appears that they are all yes-men unwilling or scared to offer a solution.

The general consensus I feel is that fans now want a change of manager but are scared of what would happen if this occurred; unfortunately both Moyes and BK have us by the balls and, as Lyndon states, the situation will continue for the forseeable future.

I have posted on another thread that, if Moyes had any respect for himself or the club, he would resign... but I think we all know this is not going to happen and the status quo will continue.

Ian Corky
16   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:56:05

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If my comments seem a tad bonkers, sorry ? I maybe clouded by vodka. The support as per usual, was plentiful and as amazing as ever, I just think there is a level of disbelief from the people around me how we can defend as if our life depended against City, but not against a very very ordinary Stoke.

I don't get to many away games, (only my third this season, thanks to nephews). As for Gus Poyet, hmmm... not sure... Spurs fans disliked Jol because he smiled his way through the bad times.

Andy Peers
17   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:01:58

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Does anyone else agree that Neville only had a place in the team because he improved team spirit? After West Ham and Stoke, our team spirit is awful, so now there is no point in playing him... right?
Ian Smitham
18   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:08:06

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Ian ? You went and supported our club. Do not please knock yourself. I appreciate your views, my effort was to gauge the opinion of the match-going away support, my reasoning being that, whilst I have supported the Manager to date, and any Everton supporter would naturally want the Manager to do well (surely?) but I am feeling a bit of wavering myself based on the lack of an apparent "Plan B".

Not sure I agree with your comments re Yak and Bily, often I look at a team and decide on the strength of the team by looking at their bench.

Anyway, I digress; Ian and others who went, I wonder what the feeling is toward the Players and Manager? ? as I think the future will be shaped by the fans and, as I see it, the easiest barometer is the views of the away support.

Sort of "if you lose the dressing room"... but in my case "if you lose the away support... "

Cheers, Guys
Andrew Laird
19   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:17:36

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Neville has a place in the team as he is one of the manager's favourites and is Moyes's tactical mouthpiece on the pitch. I would not expect that to change anytime soon, Andy. Does Arteta deserve to be playing at the moment?
Andy Peers
20   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:21:32

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No. I would not play Arteta, in fact I would sell him and keep Pienaar. Pienaar and Baines are a great pairing but unfortunately Moyes is going to let that go by the wayside with an inept stategy to keep Pienaar. See post #12 for the team I would start.
Marcus Kendall
21   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:24:30

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You never never apologise for your own opinions, Ian; I just disagree about Jol. Tottenham fans I know have told me he wasn't up to it, so that'll do for me.

Poyet is untried, granted... but he's got Brighton top of Division One, playing some great stuff also. Plus he's a biggish name so I imagine he has good contacts in the game.
Paul Rimmer
22   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:20:35

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I thought Pienaar was poor today. Every cross or attempt to play a through ball didn't come off. Cahill did little of note, and Saha never came close to scoring. Distin, Baines and Coleman can hold their heads up. I blame Neville for the first and Howard for the second. Stoke were solid but we didn't have the class to break them down. The referee stank too.
Ian Smitham
23   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:27:25

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Andy (#19) ? The first goal today and the lack of pace and continuous sideways movement make Pip unsuitable; however, he adds to the team by being a talker, a leader on the pitch which is another failing of this team, no leaders.
Ian Corky
24   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:25:13

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Thanks Ian, in my opinion, we are different to most clubs, as I don't believe for 1 second that the club listen to or hear the fans. I have seen fan power get rid of managers dozens of times. Despite the masses at home and the hardcore away fans, I don't believe Kenwright is the slightest bit moved by this. Maybe that's not correct, just my opinion.
Brian Waring
25   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:32:52

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You're right, Ian: BK doesn't give one fuck about what we say or feel. The silence for me says it all. This is the time you want your chairman to come out and at least say something.

Thing is though, he only shows his mug when things are going well.

Andrew Laird
26   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:25:05

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Andy, sorry if I was skirting round the point. I was trying to point out that Moyes has favourites and he will not deviate from playing them whenever they are available, regardless of ability or form.

A number of the fans would like to see different formations/tactics employed in games but, after 9 years, I have learnt not to wish for such things as disappointment is all it will achieve for me. I am one apathetic Evertonian at the moment.

Dick Fearon
27   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:52:45

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It is totally incredible that Arteta is allowed anywhere near a free kick. At the same time it defies logic to replace Mikel with an even slower Osman.

I guess our coaching staff have spent the last six months working overtime on Beckford's first touch. On yesterday's evidence, it is quite clear that they have failed abysmally or he is incapable of improvement.

It was ludicrous that, before coming on as a sub, Victor underwent a full five-minute lecture with much finger pointing from two pages of notes. Contrast that with Tony Pulis's approach of a simple slap on the arse and a 'Get out there, son!'

Andrew Laird
28   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:38:17

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Ian @23 ? Not sure if you meant Andy Peers but: Neville is an extremely limited footballer, always has been. A "Jack of all trades and master of none" if you like. I would never advocate him playing for Everton because, as you point out, he adds absolutely nothing to our attacking intent down the right side. Excelling in giving away silly free kicks or being skinned by anyone with an ounce of skill or pace he is the manager's mouthpiece nonetheless, and he will not be dropped.
Ian Smitham
29   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:45:41

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Brian ? the whole purpose of my question to Ian and the other fans/supporters (and to be honest, heroes) who went ? as opposed to me who did not, was to find out what the actual supporters on the gound/in the ground were saying.

What was the groundswell of opinion of those there? ? because they, for sure, are the fanatics; lose them and the rest of the pack of cards will follow. In my opinion.

Marcus Kendall
30   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:50:06

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You're not wrong, Dick; don't you just hate it when you pan to the dugout to see the substitute given a dossier of instructions? Moyes just needs to let the players play with freedom and not clog their minds up with mundane instructions.
Ian Corky
31   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:52:37

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Ian @29 my feelings are this: we could play shit every away game, get beat every away game and it would take years to lose the groundswell of support. As I witnessed today, following us away is like a religion, almost a way of life.

I do feel we are in a Catch-22 with Moyes; he has been here 9 years, it's not gonna happen I am afraid... he feels he can't walk, and Kenwright hasn't the money to sack him and pay for a new manager... so it seems we are stuck with it, ladies and gentlemen, and forgive me. Happy New Year to one and all.

Ian Smitham
32   Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:56:39

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Andrew @28, you know what, you are right. Trouble is, who else on the pitch shows any sign of being a leader?

I am sure you have played, and at no matter what level, every team needs a talker and we only have one.

Dick. Today, the Saha/Goalie free kick. MA, not to my knowledge got past the first man at either a corner or free kick, wanders up and hits the defender. If Ii can see it...

Best will in the world, JB has not got it, great workrate, but so have I.

Marcus #30, great point. If there are language barriers ? OK... But Victor?
Andy Tyler
33   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:09:58

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I'm not sure Moyes has the qualities to be able to turn this around although I would love to be proved wrong. This season?s results/stats show we have a problem, y0 he sends the same set of players out with the same tactics each week hoping that we?ll start winning. It won?t and now he has to step up.

I do fear he is too stubborn to change his current approach, to play more open expansive football which you never know may result in us scoring some goals or putting teams under real pressure. Combine this with a lack of bravery to drop certain players who aren?t performing (Arteta, Neville) and play others who might give us a new dimension (Gueye, Bily, Rodwell). Most worryingly, the striker situation sums up how indecisive he is. If he?s playing one up front, decide who that is and give him a run of games. The West Ham debacle sums all three of these points up for me.

Also, I?m sick of him saying how well we are playing. He seems to quantify this by the amount of possession we have. We are very good at keeping the ball; the trouble is we don?t do anything with it.

Colin Wordsworth
34   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:08:39

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We have conceded far more goals down our left-hand side this season than our right! Is that due to Baines's lack of pace (Not) or the fact that the cover in front of him is poor?

Our form this season has picked up twice.... once when Neville came back after injury, and the other.... well, every time Pienaar is injured! ? or can't play! (We win.)
Ian Corky
35   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:11:49

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OK maybe this team:

Jagielka Distin Wheater Baines
Arteta Rodwell Fellaini Gueye

Vaughan Loanee?

Sorry, guys, Wheater is up for grabs for a whopping £1.5 mil, loads of strikers at clubs not being used just now, some would jump at a 4-month loan for the shop-window effect.

Marcus Kendall
36   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:20:12

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Colin, I'd say it's down to Baines not being the best defensively.
Marcus Kendall
37   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:22:02

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I'm not sure if 4-4-2 is the way to go, 4-5-1 is a good formation if used correctly. Unfortunately, Moyes uses it poorly.

Coleman Heitinga Distin Baines
Neville (holding midfield)
Fellaini Rodwell
Pienaar Bilyaletdinov
Andrew Laird
38   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:14:15

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Colin, I would like to suggest that, as our play is so one-sided we leave ourselves open to counter-attacks on the left far more often than the right as Baines is the only defender who will get beyond the half-way line with regularity. If the team sets out to play one-dimensional football then opposition managers will target that area to either nullify our only attacking threat getting forward (Baines and Pienaar) or to quickly counter a broken-down attack and exploit the space. Not really Baines's or Pienaar's fault that they are the best in the team at providing this, surely?
Colin Wordsworth
39   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:23:28

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He relies on a certain person in front of him to give cover and not give silly passes away... Pienaar's form since the Arsenal game last season has been poor, essentially since Arteta came back in the team. I do feel they struggle to play together and Arteta has to drop too deep to accommodate Pienaar cutting inside and slowing play down.

Is it co-incidence that all 3 games he has missed we have won?... Our play is far quicker in the opposition half when he doesn't play.
Ian Corky
40   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:30:54

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Love him or hate him, we are a far better balanced team when Osman plays.
Ian Smitham
41   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:29:09

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Lyndon, thanks for the thread. Super content and rational non-offensive debate from observers with different views.

Well done.

Guys, I have also learned something tonight. I do not agree with you Colin, but that maybe because I have not seen what you have observed. SP is great but at least when I go on Wednesday I will have an alternative view to respect, all without the abuse and stuff that goes on, elsewhere.

Thanks Lyndon and I hope that none of the posts are deleted/edited just because they don't agree with you or me or any other constructive contributor.
Andrew Laird
42   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:40:34

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Ian @28
I agree with you and concede your point that there is a lack of "talkers" on the pitch, Cahill aside. I guess we will never know who can step up as nobody else is ever given the chance. I find it discouraging enough to see Moyes stand pitchside for the entire 90 minutes shouting instructions about every pass/tackle/forward run anyway.
Chris Robinson
43   Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:52:56

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Why is it we are so defensive? We have a potentally great team but all of our coaches are defensive, Moyes doesn't know what attacking is. I'd like to see us play a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 against the lower clubs.
Chris Robinson
44   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:56:58

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Starting 11:

Coleman Heitinga Distin Baines
Gueye (or Bilyaletdinov) Fellaini Arteta Pienaar
Beckford (or Saha) and Cahill.

Colin Wordsworth
45   Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:54:08

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I think at times Pienaar is fantastic to watch, but there is no end product with him. I am probably in the minority when I would replace him in the team tomorrow with Bily who I feel gives us far more going forward and can win a game for us despite not looking as 'busy'!

I feel it is Baines who makes Pienaar look good not vise versa!
Ian McDowell
46   Posted 02/01/2011 at 00:08:22

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It says it all when we are 20 games into the season and we don't know our best defence we don't know our best midfield and we don't know our best attack.

Brian Waring
47   Posted 02/01/2011 at 00:27:51

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Ian (#46) ? Moyes seems to have had this problem in all his time with us.
Roman Sidey
48   Posted 02/01/2011 at 01:04:32

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Good write-up, Lyndon. While it's your opinion, I do feel that your player ratings are very generous and would please Moyes. I agree Distin was our best tonight, but 8/10 suggests magnificent. This is the problem with a score out of 10. Too much room for mediocre. A 5 suggests a pass, so Nev and Osman were the only 2 to barely pass. I would have rated Arteta around 2-3, everyone else aroune 4-6. You should try the binary system of 0 and 1. Pass-fail. These players at the moment don't really deserve inflated ratings.

Otherwise, great artcle, not quite calling for Moyes's head, but planting the seed that something needs to give.

Andy Crooks
49   Posted 02/01/2011 at 01:08:44

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Ian Corky, you have my utmost respect and you make some excellent points. However, any money available in January should be used to pay off Moyes. It would be the best few million we've ever spent. Of course it won't happen. We've got a pernicious double act at Goodison park and they have much more damage to do.
Paul Rimmer
50   Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:12:31

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I agree with Colin (45). Bily can also take corners. At the minute ,we need goals and Pienaar isn't providing them. Osman should play in the middle too. Whilst Moyes has made mistakes aplenty, I think the priority should be to replace Kenwright asap. We need investment and, if Kenwright can't find it, someone else might.
George McKane
51   Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:42:12

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I wrote last week before the two games this week about the feeling of drifting to nowhere. It feels worse now than ever.

I listened to Moyes's post-match comments and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. For me, Moyes has totally lost it. He picks Saha for almost every game for weeks and yet the one game I would expect Saha to start,West Ham, he doesn't. We play Stoke a big physical team he leaves Rodwell on the bench. We are two down and he brings on Beckford but takes off Saha. I just don't understand what he is thinking or doing.

I have watched Everton since 1959, I go to every match and have a long history of being an Evertonian. I say this because, whenever I question Moyes ? and I have been for about 3 or 4 years now ? I am asked if I am a "real" Evertonian".

I believe in fighting for things you believe in or care about... but what can the fans do? I do not boo at the match, I don't want to stop going, even though I am bored senseless most weeks watching the drivel that Moyes calls football. There is a sense of apathy among myself and the many Blues that I meet with. We go to every game and then sit before and after each game discussing Everton. The feeling of uselessness is overwhelming, the sense that we are just drifting to nothing is not only apparent but it is overpowering.

I remember being in the pub after a Coventry game on New Years Eve, score 0-0, we felt that things had to change. For extreme illnesses, you have to take extreme medicines. Time for a massive shake up at Goodison. Moyes just cannot carry on the way he has been for the last few years. Its not new...

The players must be shaken up. Their apathy seems obvious and contagious. I remember when Moores sacked "good old" Johnny Carey for Catterick, when Carter sacked Lee and brought in Kendall. Big gambles. But we trusted the Management of Everton then.

Those who say In Moyes We Trust have surely had their time, their say; now it's time for those to shout that we have no trust in Moyes or the Management. Its time for change at Everton.

Frustration is the worst feeling, a sense of there being nothing I can do. I am an Evertonian, through and through. I am bored watching this team, and overwhelmingly fed up with Moyes's brand of football and management.

David Holroyd
52   Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:32:42

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Mr "24 /7" Kenwright has been looking for the last five years for some investment... Where has he been looking? ? at the bottom of his garden. The time to let Kenwright know we have had enough is the Spurs game.

Phill Neville ? when was the last time he got a good cross in? He is relying on Coleman to do everything now. Neville should be dropped, Coleman to fullback. Team:

Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Fellaini, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov, Rodwell, Beckford, Saha.

Rodwell should be used as a more attacking midfielder. Arteta has to stay on the bench for the time being.

Michael Brien
53   Posted 02/01/2011 at 12:54:15

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Our problems can be summed up in two words: David Moyes. He is a good manager... but he is basking in the glory of past achievements. His tactics have become preictable and over-cautious. For goodness sake, even Blackpool have been playing 4-3-3 in some matches.

If Moyes is not capable of changing his tactics then he should go. He is losing the confidence of both fans and players.

Ask yourself this question: The Blackpool fans and players have full confidence in Holloway and they know that he is loyal to the team ? when does he slag them off in the media? can we say the same about our Tartan Ditherer? Change your tactics or go, Mr Moyes ? it's as simple as that.

Michael Brien
54   Posted 02/01/2011 at 13:01:39

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Sorry that should be "predictable" tactics. Being an Evertoniaqn is like being a Labour voter ? the victory of 1997 promised so much but became a wasted opportunity. Just like Blair, David Moyes has wasted the opportunity; fortune favours the brave, Mr Moyes, not the cautious.
Michael Brien
55   Posted 02/01/2011 at 13:08:39

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He has me so annoyed that I can't spell!!! For David Moyes you could easily be speaking about Gordon Lee and his replacement of Duncan McKenzie with Mickey Walsh. Moyes is yet another in the list who has promised much but been unable to deliver.
Gavin Ramejkis
56   Posted 02/01/2011 at 22:28:20

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Michael, I can remember Carter sacking Gordon Lee, he had dropped to similar lows as DM; relegation threatened, devoid of ideas, fans clamouring for his head. I just don't think BK has the backbone to remove the only shield he has from the fans myself.

Difference between Lee and Moyes ? Lee got the boot after 4 years in which time he had got to the League Cup Final, FA Cup Semi and finished 3rd and 4th and did bring Ratcliffe and Sharp to Goodison as well as some hooky RS called "Just 1 more minute" Steve McMahon.

(For those too young or think Sky invented football, Doddy, look up the around the 1'-11" mark.)

Colin Johnston
57   Posted 03/01/2011 at 09:29:43

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A couple of years ago, Hull had a fantastic start as newly promoteds, then faded very badly.. Blackpool have played well, but they too may fade. Lyndon has written a very good article the other day about the situation at GP, which I and many others would agree with:

Just one small detail: Assuming Moyes walks or is sacked, WHO can we get to replace him?? All the obvious "candidates" would be a massive gamble or an obvious step in the wrong direction. Let's not forget, although we love Everton, our ageing "Stadium/Ground" and lack of financial future/security would not exactly be tempting to a potential manager with a -let's say- five year plan!

I fear we'll just have to write this league campaign off and hope for the FA Cup to bring us some solace from a desperate season (and beating the shite twice of course:-). But in the present situation, I can't see us bringing in a better manager than DM.

FINANCE: Oh where to begin!? Yanks with Investment Funds? ta! Citeh's Arab Billions? Yeah, ok but I would still be wary..not what we really want is it? Blackburn? yeah right!:-))

So what should we be after? GP will not get a H&S certification in a few years, so something has to happen.. but what?

Sorry if I don't really answer the questions raised..must admit to being a little pessimistic at the moment.

Gavin Ramejkis
58   Posted 03/01/2011 at 10:08:41

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Colin, you sound like a club plant with the H&S certificate lie, it was bullshit then and it's bullshit now, try writing or emailing them for the truth.
Michael Brien
59   Posted 03/01/2011 at 11:17:52

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Gavin - yes I well remember Gordon Lee, I seem to recall that his first match in charge was an FA Cup replay at Goodison v Swindon Town. I think a certain David Jones scored the winner. I didn't go to the match - I think I had just started Teaching Practice and felt a bit guilty, but I should have gone as I spent most of the evening listening to the game on Radio Merseyside!!!

You make some interesting comparisons between Gordon Lee and David Moyes. Personally I find them to be possibly the 2 most frustrating managers in my time as an Evertonian !!! Gordon Lee in his first full season in charge 1977-78 had us playing some very entertaining and attacking football. We finished 3rd after giving Nottingham Forest a good run for their money and the future looked to be very bright. However he got rid of McKenzie, changed to playing more negative tactics and the whole thing just started to go downhill.

In the same way Moyes has firstly steadied the ship and then we have moved forwarded finishing in the top 6 and getting to the FA Cup Final. The future looked bright - but now we seem to be looking at yet another wasted opportunity.

As an exiled Evertonian I often hear the usual "Moyes has done a great job with very little money" type of comment from workmates and friends. However I think that we are seeing a change in Evertonians, there seems to be an increasing number of fans who are becoming fed up with Moyes.You mentioned Gavin that you don't think BK has the backbone to get rid of Moyes. However do you think that might change if Moyes' popularity continues to go down with the fans ?

Personally I hope that Moyes can change, but being realistic and given recent past experience I am thinking that is very much a forlorn hope. If Moyes can't change his predictable, boring, negative tactics then the writing is on the wall for him and I think the likes of Hughton and Alardyce would have more of a case at feeling aggrieved.
Gavin Ramejkis
60   Posted 03/01/2011 at 12:04:28

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Michael I've a five and a half year old whose middle name is McKenzie as he was my childhood hero, I never forgave Lee for constantly dropping then getting rid of him. On the BK side of things, he is stuck in a catch 22 situation; DM has deflected a storm of fury from the fans directed at him through his top ten finishes, the FA Cup run and regular Europa action. Trouble is two fold now though, there are plenty of fans like us and older who remember more than getting to a final once in nine years and actually winning trophies and as results have slipped to unacceptable levels those fans are being joined by younger fans happy with second best/best of the rest pish and started calling for change. BK at some point will realise that he will be dragged into this too as a root cause, he'll set up some drama queen act to deflect the blame and save his own arse. Don't forget Gregg was a long standing friend, BK soon realised his arse was on the line and crucified him to save his own skin, I expect similar.

I usually hate talk of a manager has x number of games to save his job, but it's getting to the point where DM has x number of games to realistically keep Everton in the EPL.
Michael Brien
61   Posted 03/01/2011 at 14:09:38

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Gavin - I think Birmingham, West Brom, Wolves, Fulham and Wigan will finish below us - or at least they should do!!! But like you I am of the opinion that we shouldn't be involved in the relegation battle at all. I think we have lost the same number of games as Chelsea and Arsenal and that is revealing - if Moyes had shown some variety in his tactics and been more attcking we could have been challenging at the right end of the table.

Like to you I am not one who likes to see a manager sacked, but given the current situation I think Moyes is on thin ice and really when it comes down to it I think that he only has himself to blame.

I totally agree with you about Duncan McKenzie - I was at Goodison when he returned with Chelsea a few weeks after he had been sold - in my 46 years as an Evertonian I have never seen or heard an opposition goal cheered as loudly by Everton fans as Duncan McKenzie's goal that day - I hope Lee was squirming in the dugout that day - he certainly deserved to be!!!

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