The transfer window has passed us by once again with no ins of notability and, not for the first time, our on-field expectations have exceeded the reality of our first three Premier League results. If the statistic doing the rounds in the national press is to be believed, then Everton have made their worst start to a league campaign for 11 years. With the coffin-dodgers of Walter Smith's reign, then such a start would be within most fan's expectations ? but not under David Moyes!
We all know how far Moyes has taken the club since his arrival in 2002 ? the likes of Gascoigne, Hughes and Ginola were ousted in favour of the youthful and up-and-coming. Whilst initially tormenting us with some yo-yo years, the Scot ultimately assembled a better, fitter and stronger squad that eventually made consistent improvements year on year.
However, the consistency we would have all wished not to have had was the matter of size ? small squad, big problem. Although, whilst Moyes and fans alike would regularly bemoan this 'little' matter to news reporters and on fan forums, it fast became our greatest tool.
The fact that we were not expected to be battling with the likes of Spurs and Villa for regular European places, only helped our ambition to do just that. Everton under Moyes quickly gained a reputation for being organised, efficient and dogged in approach; terms used so much that perhaps Moyes could have coined us 'Everton ? The Annoyingly Hard to Beat Club' instead.
If we track Moyes's time at Everton back to his appointment and work our way to the present day, then we come across a familiar trend. Everton were overwhelmingly tipped for relegation and appointing a fairly unknown rookie from the division below didn't instill everyone with confidence. But the Scot won his first game in charge and led Everton to Premier League survival and 15th place.
His first full season in charge saw him take his relegation candidates to the dizzying heights of 7th place ? a 'magnificent' achievement with limited resources. Everton got going thanks to a six-game winning streak and the stunning arrival of a teenage prodigy no one but us Blues saw coming. I won't name Waynes... I mean names.
After a dismal season-long flirtation with relegation in 2003-04 that ended in 17th place, no one saw the 2004-05 season playing out in the way that it did. An opening day 4-1 hammering by Arsenal was the wake-up call no-one saw coming, and Moyes's underdogs (of war, to borrow a phrase from the decade before) defied all the odds to clinch that heaven-sent 4th spot, and the chance to play in the Champions League.
And if we jump to the season that has just passed us by, with a threadbare squad stretched to its last when the season kicked off, the slow start to the season meant that no-one was rushing to their nearest bookies to place bets on Everton making a late dash for a European spot.
What we notice in these instances is that with every 'success' that Everton has enjoyed, Moyes has had the gift of adversity. He may not have had the financial backing of his Chairman, but himself and his team had their backs to the wall on more than one occasion. This 'war-time spirit' defined the team and was instrumental in our campaigns to continually force the national press to eat their words.
Now we have our best squad under Moyes, the man admitted it himself, and I'm sure no Evertonian can argue otherwise. But, in some strange twist of circumstances, when all the ingredients are in place for us to potentially serve up our best season in recent years, the resulting concoction has just not cut the mustard.
Even Phil Jagielka has been heard this week in the media trying to put his finger on the reason behind Everton's bad start: "I know it sounds strange but sometimes our strength has been backs against the wall, knowing we've only got 12-13 senior players fit for the next few months and now, every week, five or six internationals are missing out." (SkySports)
Whilst the first three games have yielded just one point, we have to admit that we've started poorly (not that anyone's arguing that statement). Yet three games do not decide a season and with so many games left to play there is more than enough time to turn things around. I don't believe a managerial change is the answer to picking up points.
What does have to change is the mentality of the back room staff and the players themselves. They must realise that with a better squad comes expectation. When we lose, we can't look to our bench and moan that we've had to fill it with kids. We have great players on the pitch now and they must realise sooner rather than later that they have to get results. The alternative is wait until everyone has completely written us off, and then start proving them wrong.
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1 Posted 01/09/2010 at 07:54:38
I`m doing my level best to stay off Moyesie`s case this season, but let's not kid ourselves here, he still enjoys the most lucrative no-lose situation in football.
2 Posted 01/09/2010 at 08:06:13
3 Posted 01/09/2010 at 09:00:54
4 Posted 01/09/2010 at 09:43:46
5 Posted 01/09/2010 at 10:11:55
6 Posted 01/09/2010 at 11:15:18
After that we have some easy (cough) games with Newcastle, Fulham and Brum before the Liverpool Spurs games.
7 Posted 01/09/2010 at 11:33:08
8 Posted 01/09/2010 at 12:19:52
Not dropping players for repeatedly poor performances, playing his favourites irrespective of their influence, playing players out of position, making bizarre substitutions and repeating these mistakes ad-infinitum...
I was hoping that with this new season we'd eventually see David learning from his mistakes - unfortunately there's no evidence of this at all. All I can hope for is that injuries and suspensions come to the rescue and force Moyes into picking his best team.
9 Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:19:59
I gave up trying to rationalise the mentality of our squad about 4 years ago. Nothing would surprise me any more. We could Beat Manure 3-0 or just as easily lose 6-0.
10 Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:33:40
11 Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:58:59
Professional footballers should be able to play to, or close to, the maximum of their ability, without needing special "moments" to give them a kick up the backside.
12 Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:02:26
13 Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:43:33
Ciaran #8 - what is Moyes best team - in your opinion?
14 Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:03:06
In my opinion, our best team is the following:
With no player who can competently play from the right, then unfortunately Arteta is our best choice there. I think this team will be balanced and work well against anybody... bruisers and all.
15 Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:32:42
Also I think a good solution for Cahill - which is tried and tested - is to put him up front should our strikers continue to under-perform (chances are he probably would do better than them anyway!). Now is the time to again give another player a go in Bily, in which I firmly believe he has the credentials of a top class attacking mid, NOT a left winger.
16 Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:49:14
17 Posted 01/09/2010 at 17:19:45
Brave putting Mikel on the right having watched him suffer out there for a couple of seasons but there we are.
I think we need ot give Bily a go "in the hole" - otherwise his EFC career is going to be over before it's even started.
Me? I havent got a fucking clue what his best side is!
18 Posted 01/09/2010 at 17:50:39
19 Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:19:40
The team has played for so long as 'underdogs' that with all the praise that came our way before the season opener, perhaps players are struggling to cope with the much weightier expectation.
For the benefit of the article, I suggested this as a potential reason. It could well be were just not scoring goals...
Who should bring about this change? I believe it should be Moyes and his staff. As manager, he is responsible for his team and should be doing everything he can to change the mindset of his players if they have not taken it upon themselves already.
20 Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:44:40
We've all criticised Moyes this season but I've just watched the opening three games again and hand on heart we played really well in all of them. In the opening two games we through away an away draw and a home win through stupid mistakes from Tim and Louie. Last Sunday was just a joke - I've not seen a game like it for years.
Let's all take a step back, safe in the knowledge that we've been prooved wrong before and as Dave Wilson so eloquently put it 'let's put the ball in the back of th net'.
United could be in for a shock a week on Saturday - here's hoping and believing.
21 Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:59:17
It's a case of 'needs must' I'm afraid, and it would also mean that we could accommodate both Rodwell and Fellaini in the middle.
His delivery from the right when he played there before was excellent, and it was certainly a definite ploy to try to work the ball out to him.
At least until Anichebe gets back (if ever).
22 Posted 01/09/2010 at 21:53:47
Coleman - Heitinga - Distin - Baines
Pienaar (!) - Fellaini - Arteta - Gueye
Beckford - Saha
That'll leave Mucha, Neville, Hibbert, Jagielka, Bily, Osman, Cahill, Yak to choose from for the bench.
I'll get my tin hat... :D
23 Posted 01/09/2010 at 22:06:05
24 Posted 02/09/2010 at 01:11:43
Let's hope the turn 'round starts against Man Ure. For all their qualities, they are a team that you can play against if you're prepared to try & take the game to them ? that may suit us if we can find the cutting edge that's been lacking so far.
25 Posted 02/09/2010 at 07:40:03
Wow he scored some in pre-season... so what? So did Stuart Barlow, John Spencer and Brett Angell.
26 Posted 02/09/2010 at 07:05:36
I have to say, up until recently, I`d have gone along with you too... but, after the Villa game, I`m now on board the Andy Crooks bandwagon.
Arteta was on more than one occasion voted Player of the Season playing wide; however, Rodwell's injury will kick your suggestion into touch. This may be the "forced hand" "watershed" "turning point" ? call it what you like moment.
Moyes had both Ossie and the Tiger available on Sunday, but he looked elsewhere to fill the right side. I don't believe we will see either of them play there again.
Dave Lynch is exaggerating, Coleman only touched it 4-5 times, but he`s not wrong about the effect Seamus had, not just on the game, but on his team mates ? Hibbo thought he was Cafu.
I still worry about Seamus defensively, but by fuck he knows how to go for the jugular, when he left three Villa defenders sitting on their arses in their own box, he had the entire stadium out of their seats.
Let Hibbo worry about Seamus`s defensive duties... and let the Coles and the Evras think twice about leaving their posts to go galloping down our right.
27 Posted 02/09/2010 at 09:10:17
I don't remember Arteta 'suffering' out on the right wing at all... I remember him playing very well on both the right and left wings. Clearly he's not as effective as when he plays in the middle but the question you've gotta ask is: Who loses more when played on the right ? Rodwell or Arteta? ? And the answer is quite clearly Rodwell.
Now, while I'm advocating playing Arteta out there, I wouldn't be limiting him to wing play... I would see the attacking midfield three of Arteta, Bily and Pienaar as a fairly fluid unit. Apart from the quality in those three, I think this would also confuse the shit out of opposing teams.
I'd have no problem giving Coleman a go in place of Hibbert either...
28 Posted 02/09/2010 at 10:31:09
There is also little, if any, evidence to the contrary, i.e. that having our strongest, most talented & fittest squad for many years leads to better performances & results. It is almost bizarre to observe that it plainly doesn't.
To me it is unacceptable that a manager being paid best part of £4m a year and a squad where personal earnings have, in many cases, tripled over a few years, should still have difficulties playing joined up football and putting the ball in the net.
I understand that it might be harder to make big decisions when one is so close to the players involved, and some of whom (e.g. TC) have almost become mini legends. But THAT is part of the job description for earning £3.6m a year. It appears that the vast majority of Evertonians share an almost identical assessment of Tim Cahill. Firstly that we love him, his commitment and contribution to our relative success in the last 5 years has been immense. On and off the pitch he has been fantastic. But...
TC is neither fish nor foul. He doesn't have the skill that a modern midfielder needs, nor the strength & pace that a striker needs. But he does retain the element of surprise around the penalty box. Those, I suggest, are the attributes of an impact player, not a starter.
I know some people simply trust in Moyes without question. I never have. I actually wanted him replaced when he dithered over his contract and unsettled the whole operation 2 years ago. But, conversely, credit where it is due. I believe his powers of motivation are second to none. It is, sadly, the more technical and intellectual side of his stewardship that continues to frustrate.
The obvious example: The only natural wide players we have are both full backs, Baines & Coleman. We have a surfeit of strong & talented central midfielders who can hold, pass & move, but none of whom have real pace. Remind of you of any other team? Without gilding the lilly too much, this is more or less the make up of Barca and Spain.
The way to exploit the strengths of this profile is by employing 4-2-3-1. This goes further than any other formation in ensuring (if played right) that you have sufficient numbers at either end of the pitch when you need them. It also lends itself to effective counter attacking (something which seems beyond our DNA so far). Our offensive play is usually so laboured and involved that our opponents have as long as they want to get back to defend.
Rodwell, Arteta, Bily, Osman and even Fellaini have great shots on them and offer a strong goal threat. But the bastards rarely get into position to do anything with this 4-5-1. Playing ANY of our midfielders out wide is as pointless as it was when Gerrard did it for England. They stray into natural territory, causing overcrowding in the middle and leaving gaps for opponents to exploit in the channels.
2. Tim Cahill on the bench.
3. Arteta, Rodwell & Pienaar nearer to our lone forward & nearer to their penalty box.
4. Width & surprise from Coleman & Baines.
I truly hope Moyes doesn't confirm himself as the managerial equivalent of Theo Walcott, i.e. the more options he has the less decisive & effective he is.
29 Posted 02/09/2010 at 14:49:28
We didn?t play well against Blackburn but we deserved at least a point. We dominated wolves and should have been three or four up. There was nothing more we could have done at Villa apart from change out corner taker. If we had 19 corners, surely after ten corners, they must have realised that it?s just not working and change to Baines, Pienaar even Coleman. We are playing well but it?s in the final third, the team just suddenly look like strangers. If Beckford's upfront drill the ball across the box, he will nick a goal or Cahill or Fellaini will. If Saha's upfront he can win balls in the air as can Fellaini and Cahill.
We need to play to each others strengths. I think if the Yak is fit I would play him against United, Beckford needs a striker up front with him. Holding the ball up is not one of his strengths. Example against Huddersfield he was non-existent most of the game but when Saha comes on within seconds they had linked up.
For me we have too many like-for-like strikers. Saha likes the ball into him and so does Beckford and so does Yakubu. I think Vaughan and Anichebe offer us something different. They are willing to chase balls down and run at defenders. I would like to see João Silva get a run out one game soon to see what he can do.
30 Posted 02/09/2010 at 19:27:20
31 Posted 02/09/2010 at 19:35:59
Out of curiosity, what is the "Andy Crooks bandwagon", and where is it heading?
32 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:03:05
Although we all knew Seamus could go forward, we questioned his ability to "stay focused". Andy suggested that DM should use Hibbo as an insurance policy and play Seamus further up the park (right mid)
The idea has since gathered support, many TW`s using Gareth Bale as an example. Andy may not have been the first to come up with it, but he was the first I had heard.
I only remember because I know Andy seldom ventures too far away from the way he thinks the game should be played ? nor from his loyalty to the Irish boys.
TBH I put it down to the latter to begin with, but after the Villa game I`m convinced there`s mileage in this.
33 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:39:42
Andy; when you ? and others ? say you have seen Seamus many times, I wonder at what level. I admit I`ve only see him play an hour at the top level, but then that's because it's all he`s played ? unfair to judge him in the Europa League so I don't count thatGuess that must've been from the 'other' Dave Wilson.
I don't get why so many people are sure he`s the answer. How can they possibly know?
Can there have ever have been a player, anywhere, who has had so much said about him by so many, who have seen so little of him?
I wish to fuck Moyes would play him if only to put us all out of our misery.
34 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:44:17
No, it was the same one, but I clearly state that my opinion was altered at Villa Park.
35 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:49:31
36 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:58:12
37 Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:54:45
Besides, saying I`m warming to A Crooks`s idea of having an insurance policy behind him, isnt quiet the same as joining the "Coleman for right back" crusade ... is it?
38 Posted 02/09/2010 at 21:20:13
I've made my point. You're clearly just going to twist and squirm as usual. But I'm done.
39 Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:22:03
40 Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:46:51
David Moyes did..last weekend Mike...
I was merely weighing up the alternatives.
41 Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:48:48
Only seen your post there - If Rodwell's injury actually keeps him out of the next few games then I'd happily jump upon Andy's bandwagon too..
It's a brave move...actually it's probably a no-brainer with Hibbert playing the mop up and overlap role...
However there's absolutely no chance of Moyes being that bold against United though!
42 Posted 03/09/2010 at 05:23:01
Coleman Jags Distin Baines
Arteta Felli Rodders Pienaar
Yak (if fit and on his game) or Saha
Heitinga would provide a little extra defensive cover for Seamus and could step out of defense with the ball, looking for Mikky or Pienaar. If we are ever chasing a game, then Heitinga off and Bily on to play in the hole.
43 Posted 03/09/2010 at 11:27:13
How is that set up, thereby overloading the defence, going to make us score more goals?
As for nothing else working, we tonked Villa and they nicked their customary stuffy goal. Wolves were lucky to get a point but granted, the Blackburn 2nd half performance was shite.
We are only 3 games in and fans are alerady passing the panic button. GET A FUCKING GRIP.
44 Posted 03/09/2010 at 14:58:34
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