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Blues need to start coping with Great Expectations

By Joe Carroll :  31/08/2010 :  Comments (44) :

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.

Reader Comments

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Dave Wilson
1   Posted 01/09/2010 at 07:54:38

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So that's the problem? I was under the impression that our inability to put the ball in the net at one end and keep it out at the other was the reason we hadn't won yet.

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.

Tony I'Anson
2   Posted 01/09/2010 at 08:06:13

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Nice Moyes era summary Joe. The only way to get our terrible start on the road is a convincing home win against Man Utd.
Colin Potter
3   Posted 01/09/2010 at 09:00:54

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It would help a lot if players were played in their right positions.
Shaun Brennan
4   Posted 01/09/2010 at 09:43:46

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Has Moyes ruled himself out of the Villa vacancy? You'd think he / the chairman would act quickly to fan out that fire.
Chris Perry
5   Posted 01/09/2010 at 10:11:55

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It wont happen! And here are four reasons why: Osman, Hibbert, Neville and Beckford.
Nick Entwistle
6   Posted 01/09/2010 at 11:15:18

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To me its a blessing we have Utd next. They have a couple of times in recent years been the catalyst for a turn around in our fortunes and this won't be lost on the players this time round.
After that we have some easy (cough) games with Newcastle, Fulham and Brum before the Liverpool Spurs games.
Mike Allison
7   Posted 01/09/2010 at 11:33:08

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This season is definitely a big change for us. We're now expected to do well because of the quality we have, and I don't mean just by us Blues, others have taken notice too. The players and coaches do indeed have an entirely different mental battle to fight to than they've been used to.
Ciarán McGlone
8   Posted 01/09/2010 at 12:19:52

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Moyes has undoubtedley assembled a better class of player ? the problems, however, are that he is making the exact same mistakes 8 years later.

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.
Jimmy Hacking
9   Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:19:59

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A bloody frustrating start, here comes another 8 months of playing catch-up.

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.
Gary Hegarty
10   Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:33:40

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What we need is a watershed moment......
Thor Sørensen
11   Posted 01/09/2010 at 13:58:59

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In my opinion, we need the players to show their professionalism and not to be needing a "watershed moment".

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.
Thor Sørensen
12   Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:02:26

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But with the current crop, yes I agree Gary Hegarty, what we need now is a watershed moment. Hopefully against Man.U.
Mike Green
13   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:43:33

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I totally agree Nick #6, Man Utd is exactly what we need to give us a shot in the arm one way or the other.

Ciaran #8 - what is Moyes best team - in your opinion?
Ciarán McGlone
14   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:03:06

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Moyes's best team? Well that changes from week to week, doesn't it?

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.
John Nelson
15   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:32:42

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Agree with Ciaran's team selection - except replace Hibbert with Coleman. This is no slur against Hibbo but Coleman has impressed at every opportunity and has GOT to be given a fair crack of the whip in my opinion. I mean what's the harm in starting him? If he bombs, then take him off and replace with a decent right back in Hibbert - not rocket science is it.

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.

Dennis Stevens
16   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:49:14

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"What does have to change is the mentality of the back room staff and the players themselves" - Joe, who should we look to to instigate such changes & why are we even having to talk about it after the season has started, surely Moyes should have been addressing these issues, like selecting his first XI, during the close season? It seems to me Moyes has steadily worked himself into a position where he now has a genuine opportunity to succeed & can only blame himself if he fails - mind you, he'll have to get to the back of the queue!
Mike Green
17   Posted 01/09/2010 at 17:19:45

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Ciaran - I admire you for stepping up to the plate, well done.

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!
Micheal Lynch
18   Posted 01/09/2010 at 17:50:39

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Why are people not saying coleman for the right side. His 20 min against Villa has been by far the best contribution from this position all season. a must for me against united and plus he has a defenders qualities.
Joe Carroll
19   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:19:40

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Dennis ? I'm not saying it's the only possibility, but I'm proposing that there may be a mental block among the players and staff.

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.
Chris Jones
20   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:44:40

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Ciaran that team is exactly right, I think Cahill should get the nod over Billy, if he doesn't come good within 4 or 5 games.

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.
Brendan O'Doherty
21   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:59:17

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Unfortunately, due to the non-event that was yesterday, I have also joined the 'Arteta to play wide(ish) right' camp.

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).
Mike Green
22   Posted 01/09/2010 at 21:53:47

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This'll get put the cat amongst the pigeons..... personally I'm bored shitless of one up front. Bollocks to it:

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
Mike Green
23   Posted 01/09/2010 at 22:06:05

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Oh - and that lad "Rodwell" (whoever he is!) on the bench for now too....
Dennis Stevens
24   Posted 02/09/2010 at 01:11:43

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Joe you could well be right, I'm certainly not disagreeing with your suggestion. In fact I'm rather making the same point in that regard as you proceed to make: Moyes has the responsibility in terms of psychological as well as physical & tactical preparation of his players & this issue should have been dealt with effectively during the close season.

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.

Chris Perry
25   Posted 02/09/2010 at 07:40:03

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Mike Green. I cannot believe you, I think you need more than a tin hat!! Have you not seen the clueless headless chicken that is Beckford? He makes Marcus Bent look simply world class. 3rd tier of English football, 3rd rate player and should not even be in our 3rd team.

Wow he scored some in pre-season... so what? So did Stuart Barlow, John Spencer and Brett Angell.
Dave Wilson
26   Posted 02/09/2010 at 07:05:36

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Fair play to you, Ciaran lad. I have no problem at all with people taking issue with team selection, as long as they are prepared to put up an alternative.

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.
Ciarán McGlone
27   Posted 02/09/2010 at 09:10:17

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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...
Alan Kirwin
28   Posted 02/09/2010 at 10:31:09

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As Mr McGlone astutely alluded to, there is much evidence to suggest that David Moyes comes up trumps when he has fewer decisions to make, or when they are made for him through injuries & suspension. Although he did lose the plot for a while at the start of last season.

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.

We need:

1. 4-2-3-1
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.
Jake Wilson
29   Posted 02/09/2010 at 14:49:28

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Well it?s been another slow start to a season that was full of optimism and hope. It looked to be going great, Cahill signed, Coleman signed, Baines signed and then Arteta signed. We had brought some fresh young blood into the team. In my opinion Everton only play well when they are underdogs or our backs are against the wall. I don?t get how we're not winning.

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.

Mike Green
30   Posted 02/09/2010 at 19:27:20

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Ciaran - who said anything about putting Rodwell on the right.....?
Brendan O'Doherty
31   Posted 02/09/2010 at 19:35:59

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Dave (#26)

Out of curiosity, what is the "Andy Crooks bandwagon", and where is it heading?
Dave Wilson
32   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:03:05

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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.
Michael Kenrick
33   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:39:42

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Interesting post here from a week or so back when there was apparently far too much clamouring going on:
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 that

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.
Guess that must've been from the 'other' Dave Wilson.
Dave Wilson
34   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:44:17

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No, it was the same one, but I clearly state that my opinion was altered at Villa Park.

Michael Kenrick
35   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:49:31

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Good to hear that the man with all that Wilson-like football knowledge can have his "opinion altered" ? is that a way of admitting you were wrong to lambast everyone so vehemently who was clamouring for Coleman to play?
Brendan O'Doherty
36   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:58:12

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Fair enough Dave. At least it wasn't the 'other' Andy Crooks bandwagon which has David Moyes heading out of Goodison Park.
Dave Wilson
37   Posted 02/09/2010 at 20:54:45

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Ah now Michael thats not strictly true is it? Questioning whether or not Coleman is "ready" is a million miles away from "lambasting" those who wanted him in NOW.

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?
Michael Kenrick
38   Posted 02/09/2010 at 21:20:13

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That may have been how it started off, Dave, but, as the tone of the quoted post demonstrates, it was a case of you indicating how foolish we all were to dare to fly in the face of that superior football knowledge.

I've made my point. You're clearly just going to twist and squirm as usual. But I'm done.
Stephen Kenny
39   Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:22:03

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He takes people on, creates goals and works hard. What more could we want before he gets a start? To be fair until Sunday I didn't see Seamus being the answer on the wing.
Ciarán McGlone
40   Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:46:51

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"Ciaran - who said anything about putting Rodwell on the right.....?"

David Moyes did..last weekend Mike...

I was merely weighing up the alternatives.
Ciarán McGlone
41   Posted 02/09/2010 at 22:48:48

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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!
Richard Pendregaust
42   Posted 03/09/2010 at 05:23:01

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Radical solution as nothing else seems to be working. How about a sweeper system as follows:

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.
Nick Armitage
43   Posted 03/09/2010 at 11:27:13

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Richard Pendregaust, sorry but I couldn't disagree more.

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.
Richard Pendregaust
44   Posted 03/09/2010 at 14:58:34

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No, not panicking, just looking at options. I agree that there is nothing much wrong with our passing, rather it is penetration and the 'eye of the needle' killer pass that is missing. I thought that the above set up would address that problem - but each to his own.

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