As the clock struck the 90th minute of Saturday?s game against Manchester United, there I was feeling depressed and pissed off, as I usually do after another inevitable defeat. I was going to write this article before injury time had even started, and most Everton fans would have expected it to be completely different at the end of those three added on minutes. However, after all the excitement and drinking has died down, my feelings are still similar.
It was an excellent and unexpected point gained from those final three minutes, but does it really change that much? The only thing that did change was that my football faith had stopped wavering. I have always been a massive Evertonian and general football fan/anorak, but after this summer?s World Cup, my enthusiasm for England has died completely. I always found it strange that a lot of Evertonians don?t seem to support England but now I know why. They are a bunch of the most over-hyped, overpaid, biggest let-down group of players in the world.
The last England team to play consistently with any pride any passion was under the reign of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson. Not long after, the Premier League was formed... and I feel this has ruined our national side in more ways than one, not just the amount of foreigners but the ridiculously high wages paid out by club sides.
A lot of fans may point out that the last two England performances have been greatly improved. This just makes it worse. Why couldn?t they do that in the World Cup? Perhaps the opposition was inferior in qualifying. Perhaps there was no John Terry disrupting the dressing room or no Frank Lampard disrupting the tactics or the fresh impetus of younger players like Adam Johnson fighting for a place in the team. Whatever it was, I don?t care about England any more; qualifying is pointless, it?s the big tournaments that matter and England always disappoint and let me down.
Anyway, enough of England... my focus is on my beloved Everton, especially this season. I?ve put up with relegation battles, Mike Walker, Peter Johnson, Walter Smith, Brett Angell, Stuart Barlow and many more before the hoofball years of David Moyes. But now, after 8½ years at the helm, David Moyes has finally got his team. A well structured, put together team of flair and creativity built on a strong defence with little money to spend and youth players coming through.
This is supposed to be the season that Everton break through into at least the top four places with the main players all hitting their peak. It has to happen this year or certain players will start getting past their best, Moyes will get disillusioned and leave, and the younger players will be poached by bigger clubs. Three games into the season and it?s our worse start for 13 years; next up is Man Utd. If Everton can?t get up for it against United at home, then we might as well give up and disband the team already, as we will never break the top four.
The game starts well and we lead through Pienaar. However, United come back into it and it?s business as usual as they lead 3-1 just before injury time. Now I?m pissed off: why can?t I have a bit of reward for my loyalty, a bit of success? Why do Everton always let me down, they must be just like England after all. Why do I put myself through this, is it all really worth it? Ok, the last three minutes restored my faith, in Everton at least, but why can?t we break the top 4, how do Man Utd be so consistent and always win even when they are outplayed?
I then started judging Everton?s players. Perhaps we?re biased and our players are not as good as we believe. The Premier League is basically split into three mini-leagues at the moment: the top four/Champions League places; the next four/European places and potential contenders; then the rest, the bottom twelve places, happy just to be there and just don?t want to get relegated. For this purpose, I?ve put Everton?s seasoned, professional, regular players into these three categories to find out if we have got enough Champions League quality players to be in those top four spaces.
Champions League quality players
Johnny Heitinga World Cup finalist centre-back, don?t understand why Moyes can?t play him there...
Marouane Fellaini Oozes class wherever he plays and still very young and learning
Mikel Arteta Now in his peak and preferred position and captain! Would get in most sides apart from the very elite, e.g. Spain!
European quality players
Tim Howard Can produce excellent saves and penalties but doesn?t command his area enough to be a Champions League goalkeeper.
Phil Neville Leadership qualities put him in this category like that tackle on Ronaldo
Leighton Baines Attacking and defending full-back
Phil Jagielka Turning into great defender, just can?t pass.
Steven Pienaar Undoubted class act, just needs to deliver a bit more to make Champions League standard
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov Plenty of ability but struggled to adapt to Premier League life.
Tim Cahill Talisman who gives everything and performs to best of his abilities, limited as they are.
Yakubu Goalscorer but needs to get back to his best
Louis Saha Champs League ability but inconsistent and injury prone to non-league standard makes him difficult to categorize
Average Premier League players
Tony Hibbert Reliable and consistent, just not enough quality.
Sylvain Distin Good PL defender but gets caught out against strong opposition
Joseph Yobo Too error prone for European standards
Leon Osman Works hard and has ability but definitely a central midfielder without the physique!
The younger players such as Rodwell, Coleman, Vaughan and Anichebe I considered to still be under the ?potential? category and will ?level out? to find their category. Beckford and Mucha haven?t had enough experience of the Premier League to judge them fully and therefore would come into the average Premier League player category.
I think that says it all; the majority of our players are of a top eight standard that deserve to be playing European football, but the Champions League seems a bit of a big step-up. Only Heitinga, Fellaini and Arteta I would consider great players that could get into most other teams in the Premier League. I truly believe that the potential shown by Rodwell and Coleman could make them Champions League players which would make five real quality players.
The other difference between Everton and the top four is that the others tend to have at least one world class player ? a player that can win a match by himself: Rooney, Torres, Drogba, Ronaldo, Messi, etc. Unless we can get a player of that ability, it could still be very difficult to break the top four consistently. As for Hibbert, Distin, Yobo and Osman, they should only be squad players and get a game when we have injuries.
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1 Posted 14/09/2010 at 16:09:20
I say again....... overpowering Manu.
The team played like the shackles had been removed, they were free men, so clearly we ARE good enough, but it hardly ever happens.
Unless this becomes a road to damascus moment for our management team and it registers that this is how we should be playing we'll be forever scratching our heads at this team.
I'm not holding my breath though.
2 Posted 14/09/2010 at 16:34:35
3 Posted 14/09/2010 at 17:21:19
4 Posted 14/09/2010 at 18:07:25
Matthew, I'm an England supporter and as with our beloved club we support the team and not just who is in that team at that moment.
We can all see what the Rooney problem was in the World Cup. I always thought it might have been a Gerrard thing.
"Now I?m pissed off: why can?t I have a bit of reward for my loyalty, a bit of success? Why do Everton always let me down, they must be just like England after all. Why do I put myself through this, is it all really worth it?"
Mat, Everton is like the woman you love, she cheats on you but what ever happens you just can't leave her alone. Get used to it son, she wont divorce you and you can never get away.
Welcome to the club.....
5 Posted 14/09/2010 at 18:23:24
Fortunately for us, to get into the CL we dont need to play like a CL team with CL players.We just need to be better than 16 other Premier League teams, most of which I believe we are 'leagues' ahead of in footballing terms.
I feel we are good enough to claim a CL place.Whether were good enough to PLAY in the CL; well that's another article Matthew!
6 Posted 14/09/2010 at 18:37:41
An exhausting article would see us breakdown each player from last seasons top 7 and opinionate accordingly as per the honest assessment of Everton in this article.
Man for man for example, Liverpool may have 3 players we would like, Reina, Gerrard and Torres (when he isn?t sulking) and that?s it.
Spurs look excellent on paper but on grass they?ve lost at home to Wigan, and got out of jail at Stoke and West Brom.
We are a match for Utd; we?ve put 6 past them in 2 games for gods? sake, Chelsea? The bullyboys are scoring goals for fun against Wigan, West Ham and West Brom, but seriously, would you fear a hiding the next time they play us, home or away?
Man City look terrified and ready to crack under the pressure of expectation with Villa set to implode once monsieur ?allo ?allo gets stuck into the job.
We still have this excellent squad from pre-seasons expectations, so are we good enough for top 4? Damn right we are.
7 Posted 14/09/2010 at 19:46:27
8 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:36:12
Winning the league? certainly not. But only the delusional wen withn that one before the season.
We are a decent top half team, and we are beginning to play decent football. A decent cup run is about as good as it will get for us...
Without significant investment we will never get anywhere near the League title. Them's the cold hard facts.
However, I'm really starting to enjoy waching us... for the first time is a very long time.
9 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:37:18
10 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:39:04
11 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:58:58
Profuse apologies if I've plagiarised your stuff.........speed reading you see, don't get everything.
12 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:10:42
The question then becomes are the shackles self-imposed by the players ? Are they inhibited by a mental block ? Self-doubt perhaps or paralysing fear ?
Or does resposibility for the players self belief etc lie with the manager ? I personally believe that a manager sets the tone for this but perhaps others see it differently.
13 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:52:12
Would be interesting to see him get a run of games to see if he can get a bit of form going as still think he could have a role to play ,even if it's only as a squad player.
14 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:41:14
Heartbreaking to admit but I've virtually given up on Moyes.
I see him in a few years as David O'Leary Mk II having had a crack at somewhere like Celtic, found wanting, then vanishing into the football wilderness.
15 Posted 14/09/2010 at 22:32:25
Can we wait more than 4 games before judging things ffs!
16 Posted 14/09/2010 at 22:49:18
17 Posted 14/09/2010 at 23:36:39
As a team when they are motivated and they click, it works really well. Except its not consistant
The real difference comes down to two things.
1. How good the players themselves actually are, the top four have some great players which cost a great deal of money. If they perform at 80% of their capabilities our guys have to be operating at 120% of theirs to compete. We can do it for a game but not a season. When they have an off day there are three or four others to pick up the reins, when we have an off day its painful.
2. Motivation & Management, I think Moyes is one of the best in the business when it comes to motivation, he is shrewd in purchasing but is defensive in approach and that shows in the team tactics, his most questionable area.
So are we good enough? on our day yes, over a season, not yet. We still lack balance on the right, still have a poor pairing at centre back and missing a preditor of international class.
18 Posted 14/09/2010 at 23:54:19
19 Posted 15/09/2010 at 01:16:24
Distin had a shocker on Saturday. But I have to say Baines needs to learn a few things on the defensive side, like the art of closing down. The space he gave Nani to cross for their first goal was just ridiculous. Talk about on a plate.
Lescott's departure signalled the end of our defensive balance & solidity and we are paying the price. All 3 of the ManU goals were shocking defensive mistakes.
It would be nice if Shane Duffy made the breakthrough and gave us another option. I liked what I saw of the kid in the Europa game last season.
20 Posted 15/09/2010 at 02:11:02
Chelsea are far and away the best side in the league but after that most teams have some deficiencies, not least our most recent opponents with their basically shite midfield. They only had one player with any pace on display against us.
We just need to play our best team and this will come together. For the life of me I can't understand why we are using plodders when we have much better options available.
Maybe the problem is our management setup? Moyes is outstanding at getting the best out of hardworking players and can certainly spot a bargain in the market. He also seems to have great patience and sticks to his principles without panicking when it comes to choosing players for our club. But that doesn't necessarily make him a matchday coach. There's something lacking there. Other clubs have high profile assistants who clearly play a big role - is that what we need?
21 Posted 15/09/2010 at 04:19:47
That effectively means we would have to spend more ( which is unlikely) and improve tactically ( which is also unlikely especially without the influx of better players.
However I do think the team would benefit from a number of changes positionally and tactically at the moment. We are not playing to our individual players strengths which limits our overall effectiveness and the results.
So I can't see it improving on a consistant basis until both are addressed. When we get it together its great to watch, but injuries, loss of form and poor tactical choices all impact on the club more than the top four.
Thats the problem
22 Posted 15/09/2010 at 08:23:42
23 Posted 15/09/2010 at 10:40:44
24 Posted 15/09/2010 at 11:01:41
Good enough to stay in the prem comfortably, yes. Good enough to win trophies, no.
This to me is down to the manager and his tactical nouse, or lack of it.
He will not and never has learnt from his mistakes. We do not kill teams off when we have them on the rack, he seems to spend more time worrying about how to contain teams when we go a goal up rather than how to kill the game off.
Eight years and counting.
25 Posted 15/09/2010 at 11:13:36
If we start pre-Moyes, with Farrelly, Carl Tiler, Scott Gemmill etc, Replaceabilty (marks out of 10)11, and desirability 0 (or even -1), so how does the present squad stack up? Well you could make a case that all the players could be replaced (with the possible exception of Rodwell) and make a fundamental difference, but now the replacement would take millions to replace them. For instance to replace Baines with a better player, it would have to be Evra or Cole. Likewise Arteta, it would need a Gerrard, Fabregas to replace and fundamentally improve the team.
Desirability- according to the papers at least 4 of the team have been the target of the ?big? clubs and it?s quite conceivable to see Baines, Heitnger and Fellani becoming targets.
To sum up, Moyes took over a quad with 10/10 replaceabilty and 0/10 desirability, to about 4/10 replaceabilty and 8/10 desirability, more work needs to be done but getting there. Just shows you what shite goes through your head when you're lying in bed ill with too much time on your hands!
26 Posted 15/09/2010 at 11:22:53
27 Posted 15/09/2010 at 12:44:48
No we're not and the results show that !
28 Posted 15/09/2010 at 12:56:09
With Rodwell out, surely that means Felliani holding and Arteta free to roam and dictate. For the Coleman enigma, he reminds me of Bale. Fantastic going forward, but not much of a defender. So why not start him on the right mid with Neville behind him. Pienaar on the left and Cahill plus one of Saha or Yakubu up front. Happily there?s others too pushing for those places, so that bodes well over the season. Moyes will get it right, as he always has done.
On criticism of the board and so called mismanagement of the club, let?s highlight what they have done right. 1. Managed to reduce a large debt effectively and more responsibly than many, many clubs. 2. Employed David Moyes. 3. Provided Moyes with the funds to massively improve the squad.
29 Posted 15/09/2010 at 13:13:22
Have to say on your player assesment nevile should be champions league class - he has a medal to prove it. Johnny and Felli both have things to prove Felli's renasance as a defensive midfiled general lasted less than 10 games before he got injured. And johnny as a champions league center back - on sat he got done for pace and power by fletcher of all people which leaves me wondering how much of a mess the likes of drogba would make of him in the champions league.
30 Posted 15/09/2010 at 13:21:32
Dave you say tactical nous, I actually think that he doesn't have good enough players, like your Essien's, Gerrard's etc, that consistently play well all season long, even their bad games they do something good.
Our best players are aguably Arteta, Pienaar, Fellaini and possibly Baines. Arteta is inconsistent and doesn't show too much against the bigger sides, Pienaar has been cack until the ManUre game and again is inconsistent, Fellaini, well many were calling for his head last his first season and Baines's defending this season has been a bit, let's put it, woeful at times.
These are arguably our best players, yet they have already had stinkers this season.
We then look at the rest of the team, who usually get slated by a large number of posters, yet it is somehow ONLY the managers tactics that is the reason that we can't win things.
We can't win things because we are not as good as we like to think we are and there are other teams so much better than us and they usually win the silverware, apart from the odd blip every now and again.
31 Posted 15/09/2010 at 13:42:51
You shouldn't be so quick to judge this team as it is. It needs time and our support.
32 Posted 15/09/2010 at 14:08:54
We are an above average team that on its day, when everyonr is playing well, can get results against the better teams; however when a couple of players are having an off day we revert to average again.
This team hasn't change much in a few seasons, so not really a quick judgment.
I have always said that it's madness that the same posters who constantly say how poor most of our players are then in the next breath have a go at Moyes because he is not making these "donkeys" world beaters.
33 Posted 15/09/2010 at 14:15:12
The point being we have proved we can play proper joined up footy.
Chelsea, Man Utd, battered Citeh on there own midden and murdered L,pool in the most one sided derby iv'e ever seen. Not to mention taking the game to the arse at the Emirates and coming away with a more than deserved point.
It has to be down to tactical nous, or lack of it.
34 Posted 15/09/2010 at 14:49:38
The fact of the matter is that on a good day, we can be as good as anyone else, unfortunately the playing staff we have cannot consistently have good days, that is why they didn't cost £30 each, like most of the players in the "big" teams. Money buys you consistent performers, we don't have any and we don't have enough consistent performer in our team, tactics or no tactics
35 Posted 15/09/2010 at 15:10:36
But look back over his history and you will see that his team changes and formations are at times baffling.
You are right in stating "he has it". It's just that he doesn't use it often enough, he reverts to type. Dour hoofball against weaker opposition. The man drives me crazy, i would love him to succeed cos that would mean we would be succesful and win trophies.
36 Posted 15/09/2010 at 16:13:14
Eh?? Was this paragraph wriiten with tongue in cheek??
37 Posted 15/09/2010 at 17:29:57
38 Posted 15/09/2010 at 19:51:09
Yes we're not consistent, but nor are most of these (eg Spurs lost at home to Wigan the other week) and we're actually only 3 points behind most of these and we're only 4 games into the season. We always seem to start each season slowly, so let's give things a bit of time and season how the pan out.
I know we'd all love to be doing better, but given the state of our finances it's just not realistic and I don't see many sides in a similar financial position playing at our level. Whilst we have some very good players now, I don't see many as being in the absolute world-class category, hence the inconsistent performances.
I know we're often pretty frustrated by some of the manager's tactics and selections, but I'd trust a man who sees these players in training every week more than most of us. Especially since although many of us criticise these selections/tactics at times, but then disagree as to what he actually should do.
The fact that he's highly rated by most impartial observers suggests to me that he's doing something right, no ones perfect and all managers make plenty of mistakes or do plenty of things we disagree with.
Right rant over- time for dinner!
39 Posted 15/09/2010 at 22:21:46
The first problem is that we have no natural wide midfielders and no pace in the squad. None of the players we play on left and right side of midfield would consider that their best position. When donovan was playing, we looked a lot more dangerous and effective. That is not a coincidence.
The second problem we have is that Moyes seems to be a very negative manager in terms of his tactics. I think this rubs off on the players. We seem to go into games to nick a goal and hang on for grim death, rather than get a goal and then continue to push to score as many as we can. That is either because those are the team instructions, or the coaching staff do not instil the confidence and belief in the players that they are good enough to do so.
Against Manu we didn't even have a striker on the pitch for 70 minutes. Its not surprising we created very little early on. Even against "lesser" teams we would expect to beat, we seem to play in a very negative fashion with a lone striker often separated by 40 yards of space to 5 midfielders.
When yak and the more attack-minded coleman came on, we actually took the game to manu and looked far more likely to score something than we had earlier.
40 Posted 15/09/2010 at 22:34:39
"On criticism of the board and so called mismanagement of the club, let?s highlight what they have done right: 1. Managed to reduce a large debt effectively and more responsibly than many, many clubs. "
Are you sure you're on the right club's site? We neither have a wealth of attacking talent nor have we reduced our debt... quite the oposite in fact.
It always amazes me whenever Evertonians fail to educate themselves about this club.
41 Posted 16/09/2010 at 00:44:23
We need a right winger who can provide quality crossing, Osman is a good center midfielder, but really not suit for this position. Also we need a tall and strong forward at front, who can give us a starting point for our attacking, Fellaini is brilliant player but the match with MU showed he is awkward at front, and need to work on the first touch and anticipation on the pitch bit more.
I think Coleman and Gueye will give us suprise at this season, Moyes just need give them more chances.
42 Posted 16/09/2010 at 16:46:03
43 Posted 16/09/2010 at 21:25:56
Coleman actually showed some pace in addition to his mazy runs ? although that is the only position left for El Capitano, who I belive is still greatly needed. Remember last year he was the catalyst for a our good run after returning in the Burnley game, so I'm not sure how that could be done, but I think Arteta's form is suffering from the Captaincy, as is so often the case when otherwise great players take this on; he is not a natural leader.
Anyway, I don't agree that Heitinga is a CL player ? he was quite good last year partnering at centre-back & since Joey has been forced out & Distin is so terrible, he has to go back in there... now!
44 Posted 17/09/2010 at 00:40:09
As Dennis Stevens said, Are you having a laugh?
Since Kenwright took over the club debt has risen from £5 million to around £80 million, despite selling off our training ground etc and £25 million for Rooney, which is why we're paying significant amounts of interest every year and can't make a profit.
As for supporting Moyes financially, Moyes has had the lowest net spend per season of any Premier League manager.
45 Posted 17/09/2010 at 10:26:43
With regard to the Net spend, I wouldn't disagree that Moyes has had one of the lower ones of the divisions. We clearly have no super rich oligarch to turn us into Man City. Still we have still managed to come up with the cash for Yakubu, Felliani, Bilyaletdinov etc. That implies to me that when push comes to shove, Kenwright has fulfilled his role.
I like Jamie's point about Moyes being in a better position to make player decisions based on his day to day dealings with them. He obviously has much more information than we do, so we should trust his judgement, even when it appears odd. I would argue that the same logic applies to Kenwright, possibly more, as we do not have access all areas to the financial data.
I'm not deluded enough to think that Everton can win the league. But I do think that there are many reasons to be cheerful. We have a decent chance of either doing well in the league or getting some silverware and that represents progress. COYB.
46 Posted 17/09/2010 at 14:26:41
You are joking, Alex? This is a man who, when asked a question, came out with "Don't ask me, I'm just the Chairman"!
47 Posted 17/09/2010 at 15:27:27
48 Posted 18/09/2010 at 14:03:37
Are you saying Southall wasn't the best around....Ratcliffe, Reid ,Bracewell ,Steven, Sharp, Gray , Sheedy...the list goes on.
IMO not ONE of the present team (not even Arteta) would get a regular place in either of those teams..and this squad should NOT be mentioned in the same breath as the teams of 85 & 87
49 Posted 18/09/2010 at 17:23:16
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