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Why are we surprised?!?

By Robin Byrne :  23/08/2010 :  Comments (37) :
All the talk this pre-season from pundits and a majority of fans was that this was going to be THE season for Everton. Alex Ferguson et al were waxing lyrical about our second half to last season when we had most of our injured players back, the defeats of Chelsea and Man Utd in particular serving as warning to the rest of the league for the season ahead. Two games in, 1 defeat and 1 home draw against Wolves (Wolves for fecks sake!!!) and the optimism is gone. What I don't understand though is why is anyone surprised at our start to the season?

Think back to the second half of last season, particularly away to Arsenal and the two big home wins against Chelsea and Man Utd. Now, think back to the games we played when Donovan went back to LA: Draws against Wolves, West Ham, Villa and Stoke when we really should have won (the home match against West Ham really sticks out for me), plus scraped victories against Blackburn, Fulham and Portsmouth.

We finished the season just 2 points behind Liverpool, and playing some really frustrating football where we just fell to pieces in the final third of the pitch. The teams that started last week against Blackburn Rovers and on Saturday against Wolves looked a lot like the team that played the last 6 or 7 games of last season, and you know they played pretty similarly too! Lots of nice possession, good passing, but unable to take chances in front of goal. We just don't seem to be able to put the ball in the net regularly and kill games off.

For the second half of last season we were in the top 3 teams in the form table, but that was largely due to the results we got between January and March when we had Donovan. I'm not saying that Donovan is necessarily the answer to Evertonian prayers, but I do feel we played some of the best football I've seen from an Everton team when he was on the pitch, most probably because we had a threat down the right wing as well as down the left.

Without that threat, we are just so one-dimensional in our attack its not funny. Maybe a 20-goal a season striker would help, but we have or had one of those and he seems to have disappeared down the player rankings quicker than his value slipped from £6M to £1-2M! On his day, Saha is definitely a class act, but put too much pressure on his shoulders and I think he bottles it. Beckford may turn out to be great for us if Moyes's comments after Saturday are anything to go by, but from what I've heard about his debut I won't be holding my breath.

I'm trying not to be pessimistic, as I'm confident we'll start picking up points and performances sooner than later and climb the table, but the way we're playing at the moment, it'll be 1-0 wins which could easily be 1-1 draws or 0-1 defeats. We're playing exactly the same as we finished last season, and if that continues we won't be achieving anything special this season ? then see how many of our key players want to hang around for another season.

Reader Comments

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Charles King
1   Posted 23/08/2010 at 15:08:50

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Robin, I agree wholeheartedly the predictability of this team is its flaw, when Donovan brought another dimension it was a seminal moment, results and general play were taken to another level.

Subsequent games when Donovan was dropped and a lack of enthusiasm to replace him (or get him back) leave me to believe this just is'nt Moyes' way of playing.

I suspect the footballers among the squad..... Saha, Arteta and Pienaar are pissed off with this approach.
Andrew Ellams
2   Posted 23/08/2010 at 15:50:21

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Charles, whilst it obvious things need to change on the pitch, how do you come to the conclusion that Arteta is pissed off with Moyes' approach. He had a chance to jump ship this summer but instead signed on for another 5 years. Doesn't sound too pissed off to me.
Steve Edwards
3   Posted 23/08/2010 at 15:38:19

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Good article Robin, I think you have probably hit the nail on the head. We certainly lack a cutting edge and your right, its not just the two games of this season. Just look at the game at Wolves last season, we should have won 4-0 but instead it finished 0-0. We can only hope that something happens between now and the end of the transfer window but I doubt it.
Dave Lynch
4   Posted 23/08/2010 at 16:10:15

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We will never be a free scoring team under Moyes, so get used to it. He will deploy Beckford as a lone striker and destroy his confidence in the process. All the great strikers need a foil to play off and take the weight off them during a game. Moyes does not utillise strikers this way, he turns them into channel runners aka Johnson and latterly The Yak. Mark my words, the lad will start to suffer hamstring and strain injuries because he will run himself into the ground.
John McLoughlin
5   Posted 23/08/2010 at 16:19:46

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Every striker we have had with Moyes end up chasing the ball into the corners, proven goalscorers stop scoring. Its our style of play, grind out the results. Yak, Beattie, Johnson even Saha now spend little time in the box. As we play for corners & free kicks.
Brendan McLaughlin
6   Posted 23/08/2010 at 16:27:36

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John #5
Its a bit of a stretch to label Beattie, Johnson & Saha as "proven goalscorers". I wouldn't disagree with the Yak but he did have a very successful spell under Moyes before his injury.
Ray Robinson
7   Posted 23/08/2010 at 16:51:49

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Totally agree with you Robin. Our great run last year was flattering to deceive ? ok we rarely got beat and at times we were magnificent (Arsenal away, United and Chelsea at home) but the more lasting memory for me was struggling to break teams down. 0-0 away at Wolves and 1-0 at Wigan were typical games where we dominated for large parts but struggled to find a winner. Reason? ? lack of pace to open teams up. Donovan gave us a brief glimpse of what we're capable of. Sadly, Osman and Bilyaletdinov, clever footballers that they are with the ball at their feet, are no Donovan. So yes, we should not be too surprised at the start this season.
Charles King
8   Posted 23/08/2010 at 16:58:56

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Andrew #2 just going on his performances post contract signing, Arteta is a thinking footballer and like many supporters could be forgiven for wondering why Rodwell, Coleman are'nt figuring.
I'm of the opinion they represent a positive mindset and if not chosen when fit, why not?
Just supposition I know, but I'm at a loss as to why our main man seems unhappy after resolving his future........ unless his future is not what he imagined.
Brendan McLaughlin
9   Posted 23/08/2010 at 17:13:20

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Charles #8
I think since she got the ring on her finger the former Miss Spain ain't been putting out for our Mikey. Hence his relatively low key performances J- on the pitch that is, I hasten to add! Just supposition I know but a hell of a lot more believable than that pile of shite you've just posted.
Charles King
10   Posted 23/08/2010 at 17:45:02

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Brendan #9

The voice of experience???
Brendan McLaughlin
11   Posted 23/08/2010 at 18:27:26

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Charles #10
If only Charles. Have you ever seen what an ex-Miss Spain looks like?
Joe McMahon
12   Posted 23/08/2010 at 19:05:02

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Brendan, both Beattie & Johnson had scored over 20 goals in a season for other Premiership clubs, why not us? And if you've forgotten Yakubu was in awfull form before his injury.

It's true Moyes is so fucking defend defend, nick one, he doesn't know how to play pacey attacking football, he never will, in his 9th season at Everton and we have won.................................(tumble weed).
John McLoughlin
13   Posted 23/08/2010 at 19:08:52

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#6 Brendan, by proven goalscorers I mean that's what they are in the team for, not to be the workhorse partner who chases long balls, or hold up play to bring in the midfielders. We paid a lot of money and wages bringing them in to score goals.
Denis Byrne
14   Posted 23/08/2010 at 19:22:03

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Don't worry chaps, It's all part of a fiendish strategy to fool everyone into writing us off (completely), a (mini) bad start to the season followed by a surge after half a dozen games to see us take the league with a few games to spare, doddle.
Brendan McLaughlin
15   Posted 23/08/2010 at 19:21:46

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Joe #12
Don't deny that Joe but one good season does not a proven goal scorer make. Also if they were proven goal scorers how come they never rediscovered their shooting boots even after they left Everton and were freed from the shackles that Moyes apparently placed on them.
Nick Entwistle
16   Posted 23/08/2010 at 19:36:46

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Incase anyone is interested... Everton ressies at Chelsea now
Alex Carew
17   Posted 23/08/2010 at 22:53:49

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Well said, exactly what I was thinking.

It is clear that we have no width on the right and Billy and Osman are not the answer.

Pienaar and Baines make each other and they should both never move from the left. We need an answer for the right hand side and Donovan proved that.

Fingers crossed Moyes can see that too!!!
Andy McNabb
18   Posted 24/08/2010 at 03:59:24

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Excellent post, Robin. You have saved me a lot of typing time! That hits the nail squarely on the head. We actually finished last season in quite an average fashion. Certainly not relegation form but "frustrating" as Robin described. We have simply carried on last season's form in the last 2 games.
Dave Wilson
19   Posted 24/08/2010 at 06:24:39

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The confident on-the-carpet football we were playing started to fade long before Donovan left.

Sure we won 2-3 games, even got a glimpse of good footy at Eastlands, but the style and polish which with which we had been playing virtually disappeared at WHL.

When JH was removed from the back four, we stopped building from the back... Hoofball returned.
Afzan Yusuf
20   Posted 24/08/2010 at 07:29:14

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For years and years I believe we just need a pacy right winger who can break and cut through the defence, cross the ball and take the opposition left back wide for the midfielder to capitalise on the 'hole'.... Well... for years and years I've been disappointed. The last right winger we owned (loan not fit the bill) worth mentioning is Kanchelskis...

This is not rocket science; our problem will be solved.

I'm really fed up with this issue, up to the extent I don't mind anybody playing there as long as he can run really fast. We are so fucked up on the right side, even Anichebe looks good there....

Alan Clarke
21   Posted 24/08/2010 at 10:41:41

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I just wonder what goes through Moyes's head when he's watching the right side of our team. Why can't he see what everyone else sees? Why does he persist with Osman and Neville/Hibbert? Moyes must have seen the impact Donovan made so why hasn't it been addressed? I sincerely hope there is something happening with the sale of Yak that will fund the move for a pacey right winger.
David Chait
22   Posted 24/08/2010 at 11:39:41

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Beat me to this.. I wanted to do the study of results with and post Donovan cos it really did slide as you point out.. from wins to draws... We became predictable again....

Funny how Moyes still believes playing very good players out of position, in other words, away from their strengths means they can still perform... Any individual in any team contributes best when they are allowed to play to their strengths.. anything else is just adequate to poor.. and attitude doesn't cover for those deficiencies.
Ciarán McGlone
23   Posted 24/08/2010 at 13:38:17

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I agree wholeheartedly - we played our best football with a balanced midfield..

It was pretty obvious that we needed either Donovan or a similar player to fulfill that role this season... We didn't buy that player ? and it is the obvious missing piece.

However, this analysis also ignores Moyes's contribution to the last two games... We have players that could play together if used correctly. Moyes has failed to get the best out those players so far with some frankly ludicrous team selections and substitutions. I fear that this season we will again have to rely on injuries to make Moyes pick his best team... He doesn't seem to be learning from any of his mistakes over the last 8 years. Pity.
Dave Wilson
24   Posted 24/08/2010 at 14:40:46

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Here's those Donovan stats you were talking about, David.

He was here for a total of 12 games. He was selected for the first eight of them. We won 7, lost 3 and drew 2 of those 12 games.

We played 8 games after he left, winning 4 drawing 4 and losing none.
John Nelson
25   Posted 24/08/2010 at 14:33:28

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Well said Robin. I must admit Moyes has proper pissed me off with his selections and tactics in the first 2 games, and also the fact that he seems not arsed about getting a right midfielder in (if Guaye was bought for this then why hasn't he played or given a decent run out?)

Going through each area of the team, Moyes has either completely ignored the promise of pre-season or has reverted back to type. In defence, why he is still playing Distin with Jags is beyond me - yes I know Jagielka was twatting it for a laugh on Saturday, but with World Cup Finalist Johnn y H next to him, football would be played (as pointed out by Dave Wilson). I think Distin is decent don't get me wrong, but Heitinga has GOT to be first choice.

As for Neville... now Moyes has got to give up his stubborn ways and put him on the bench, captain or not. If we have any realistic aims of winning the league / top 4 then Neville cannot be in the team, I'm sorry. I will probably open up another can of worms here but seriously what harm would it have been in starting Coleman the last 2 games? The lad can't do any more to be given a go, and if worse comes to worse take him off at half time and put Hibbert on! Providing he does well the pecking order for right back has got to be Coleman, Hibbert, Neville IMO.

Now, midfield... without a doubt in my lifetime the best midfield we have that I have witnessed. I believe all the positions pick themselves apart from right-mid, which again Moyes decides to pick Osman and go back to where we were 3 years ago nearly. Before anyone slates me I'm not having a go at Osman - he's a centre mid, and given time on the ball a very intelligent one might I add - but as we all now HE IS NOT A RIGHT MID and unfortunately the premiership doesn't allow the luxury of loads of time on the ball, so I believe he should be on the bench. It doesn't surprise me that Palermo were after him because in Italy Osman probably would look class given the relaxed nature of the game there. So, like Coleman, why not give Guaye a go, or put proper effort into getting an established right mid?

As for up front, I know he might be leaving but for fucks sake Moyes just give the Yak a go - he fits best into the 4-5-1 passing football formation, and to add to that Beckford is still adapting and Saha has done fuck all since he signed his contract. Not even putting him on the bench where he made such a difference last season is just plain daft.

I just hope that rather than dithering and playing a different team each week Moyes finally fucking clicks and realises that he has a fully fit squad - add to that a very good fully fit squad - to pick from for the first time in years, and 8/9 out of 11 players should easily pick themselves and their proper positions every week. We'll get back to the proper football we seen in the 2nd half of last season.

COYB - we are better than this shit.
Mike Allison
26   Posted 24/08/2010 at 15:54:59

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I'd take Kanchelskis as he is now. He'd still be our best option on the right.
Jon Cox
27   Posted 24/08/2010 at 18:38:25

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John Nelson, totaly agree about Leon, I have said in another thread that In the UK I always saw him at Arsenal.

But you're right. On the continent he would be equaly as good. It's not that our team is bad it's just like he doesn't seem to fit.

It's like a jigsaw puzzle. You spend days doing it then right at the last piece you find that the piece belonged to a different puzzle and wont fit.

Result, frustration.

I think if we all look back at our Euro exploits, we always saw the best of Leon . How do we sort this out? I haven't a clue. But whatever, the lad is still a class footballer. Just not with us, and I for one will never slag him off.

Also you are right as in "we are better that this shit"

I'm not sure, but we do have to be patient. Out of everything that has been written about, on numerous threads it is now obvious the two main bones of contention are right mid and striker. I notice it's gone very quiet from our club in the past week or two regarding transfers. This maybe a good sign meaning signings are imminent but are being kept under wraps.

God I hope so because the predictability of our side at the moment can only be detrimental to our season.

But as a true blue I still have faith and I still wouldn't want us to prostitute ourselves to a sugar daddy who has no soul and only wants Everton football club as a medallion to hang around his neck.

Tomorrow will be Moyes's best chance yet to experiment with players like Coleman Guaye and the goalie. I still stand by the tactic of putting Coleman right mid. At least for the first half. WE HAVE TO KNOW IF IT WORKS.


Jon Cox
28   Posted 24/08/2010 at 19:11:24

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PS Mike Allison, #25, Didn't they break the mould.......
Matthew Tait
29   Posted 25/08/2010 at 09:51:31

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Just to echo what everyone else has said really. Osman is a fine player, in centre midfield. At right mid, he stinks pure and simple, and it seems to destroy his confidence playing there.

I'm really suprised and disappointed that Moyes has put him back there at the start of this season. Anyone out of Anichebe, Bily or Coleman would be far preferable for me, and even if they're all injured or need resting I would shift Arteta out there and put Rodwell in the middle rather than hang Osman out on the right.

I've given Moyes the benefit of the doubt on most of his decisions for a long time, but this one really has me scratching my head. I really just can't work out what he's thinking, last season should have been enough to tell anyone that Osman should never play right mid again... very strange.
Dennis Stevens
30   Posted 25/08/2010 at 10:26:05

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I share the general disappointment & frustration, but I fail to see how anybody can be surprised to see yet again what we have witnessed so many times before under Moyes.

Moyes has had more time to build his squad than any previous Everton manager & it is now time for him to deliver. If he doesn't get his finger out he will have failed before the season has really got going.

Should it prove to be the case that this season is a write-off then I will have as much confidence in Moyes's ability to deliver as I have in the current Board : somewhere between nil & zero!

Jimmy Hacking
31   Posted 25/08/2010 at 10:34:41

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We can turn our season around with a 1-0 win against mighty Huddersfield, perhaps even limp to the fourth round of the League Cup with a following wind. Then all the naysayers with be eating humble-pie. COYB!
Chris Briddon
32   Posted 25/08/2010 at 11:17:19

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You seem to have very selective memories here.

As for the Donovan's stats, I will specify a bit more

Whilst he was here, we played 13 games: Won 7, Drew 2, and Lost 4.
This period includes all our defeats of 2010 including Liverpool Away, Spurs Away, our FA Cup exit to Birmingham City and the 3-0 defeat in Lisbon!

After he left we Won 5, Drew 3, and lost 0.

You also seem to forget that our biggest win was 5-1 v Hull City when Landon came on as sub when we were already 4-1 up!.

It's good to see the good old fashioned stats bending to fit the arguement still works eh!
Ernie Baywood
33   Posted 25/08/2010 at 13:41:06

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The original post hits the nail on the head... this isn't so different to the end of last season. We've just dominated possession in two games. In the most recent we also had the chances to finish the game but couldn't.

Its frustrating that we're a couple of players short (a striker and a right midfielder) and Moyes doesn't seem to be addressing the problem from within or externally (if he has the means).

But I'm confident that if we monopolise possession and create more chances than our opponents then our league position will be healthy at the end of the season. We're not Arsenal or Chelsea level yet so it will take us some time to hit top gear. Its still te best squad we've had in many a year and it will come good... doesn't mean I'm not frustrated with the start like of the rest of you, though.
Alan Tyndall
34   Posted 25/08/2010 at 14:35:17

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Good article by Robin. I think all the remarks generated by his comments are basically the same and would rubber stamp the suggestion that Ossie doesn't play right mid again. There is obvious frustration by all Blue supporters, but given a couple more games I"m sure opinions will change as will team selections. COYB
Dave Wilson
35   Posted 25/08/2010 at 16:53:57

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I firmly believe our problems are at the back, so trust me, I wasn't bending stats to suit anybody's argument. I left out the European result because I think the entire Europa campaign was a disaster and believed it unfair to put it in only Donovan's stats.

But the stats I gave after Donovan's departure were accurate, 4 wins, 4 draws.
Chris Butler
36   Posted 25/08/2010 at 19:39:23

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This is frankly stupid, all this nonsense about best team in years. We do not have a team at this current moment for challenging Spurs or Manchester City and we might even struggle to challenge Liverpool.

The difference is, while all those teams have moved on, we are still the same. We are run like a Championship club and frankly I do think some spotlight to be shone on how Everton operate. Moyes is stuck in his stringent ways, this whole thing is run around like headless chickens and hope it gets us somewhere. We lack anyone capable of unlocking defences or someone who can pass.

Fellaini has excellent potential and could be top class yet doesn't seem too bothered about it, just lazing back in games. Arteta is good but not great and is used too keeping the ball which he does well but has no similar minded players around him. Rodwell is good but is still not the finished article. Pienaar is good but again relies far too heavily on Baines. Beckford was never meant to be the our top striker, just a reasonable player to bring on as a sub.

It seems to me Moyes is just waiting for a phone call from Manchester United... and then where will Everton be? Until changes are made, don't be surprised if in October supporters will be talking about next season.

Chris Briddon
37   Posted 26/08/2010 at 12:31:35

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Dave (35) - It wasn't you spefically I was referring to (although you provided the info) but the OP suggested how much better we were when Donovan played compared to when he was missing.
I think it's slightly rose-tinted glasses stuff, as we didn't lose after he'd gone but lost 4 times whilst he was here, so to claim him as the answer is a bit stretching the point.

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