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Mindsets and inflexibility

By Jim Hourigan :  19/09/2010 :  Comments (28) :
After such an abysmal performance and such a poor start, it is all too easy to find fault and criticise, but in reality that is all we can do because all those early hopes and expectations are being dashed and destroyed by the what appear to be the same faults and problems. I would love Moyes to read this and respond / answer the following questions and comments. However, I?m not naïve enough to expect that... so over to my fellow blues.

Firstly, why is it that ? despite the opposition, despite the venue, and despite team form ? we can only ever play with ONE recognised forward? Indeed, how can we ever contemplate entering a match without a forward? (Cahill is not a forward).

It seems that Moyes is completely incapable of using any other system of play, even when the only person who makes it the slightest bit effective (Cahill) is missing. His reliance on one tactic shows such poor tactical ability that you wonder why other teams fear it! Or perhaps (like Newcastle yesterday) it is now so obvious and easy to combat that in fact teams have sussed us completely.

Secondly, why do we consistently play players out of position to absolutely no effect? Heitinga was a World Cup Finalist at centre-half yet he persists in picking him in midfield leaving Distin and Jagielka at the back. Difficult decision maybe, but that's why he?s paid such a phenomenal salary ? to make difficult decisions and drop one of them.

Osman will never be a winger whilst he has a proverbial hole ? no pace, no crossing ability etc. 40,000 people see it every week but apparently not Moyes. Fellaini is a holding midfield player and played his best football in that position last season, but it seems that, just because he?s 6? 4?, Moyes decides he can play up front.

Thirdly, why are we faced with the same issues and questions time and again? Why is Osman playing? What does Hibbert contribute to the team? Whatever these two show on the training ground, however impressive they be, the reality is that, on the pitch in match days where it counts, they show little or nothing to justify their inclusion. Equally, how does Osman stay on the pitch when players like Heitinga are withdrawn???

No matter how much I try and rationalise his thinking and tactics, I am continually faced with only one conclusion: Moyes is locked into a single mindset that he appears incapable of changing. Equally, the stubbornness and inflexibility he shows to criticism seems to keep him in the same mindset.

He appears unable / unwilling to adapt our system or tactics irrespective of personnel or opposition. When faced with Newcastle and no Cahill, he plays Fellaini and Heitinga out of position to accommodate the system ? not the players! His substitution of Hibbert at half-time is a tacit recognition that he offers little to the team but probably because of the criticism, he stubbornly continues to select him in the first place.

Finally, and maybe for some supporters a comment to far, but I think we are rapidly reaching a parting of the waves. The criticism of his tactics and selections is growing (judging by the views I heard as I left yesterday), and we all know that, once the crowd turns, the manager has to leave. Billy Liar may well be reluctant but he won?t take personal abuse if and when it gets directed at him. Unless Moyes adapts both his tactics and his stubbornness, I only foresee one outcome!!!

Reader Comments

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Brian Noble
1   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:04:27

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To Moyes and his ilk, the system is everything and players must adapt to fit into it ? whatever their particular strengths and weaknesses. He is by no means alone in this fetish but managers with imagination, eg, Happy Harry, vary the system to accomodate the players available.

It would take a seismic change in his thinking for our man to throw away that book he wrote and start concerning himself with the best way to deploy the players HE has brought in!

Dave Richman
2   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:08:58

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Jim, I could've written that article...... not yesterday, as it would have been chocker with expletives, but nicely said mate.

I reckon the vast majority of us here like Moyes, and appreciate the .... ahem .... progress we've made since the shambles of Smith. But it's the complete inflexibility and stubbornness and the utter refusal (or unwillingness) to see what's going on right in front of his eyes that's driving us all bonkers.
Joseph Strumm
3   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:18:26

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I'm sick of saying this but we all saw the balance the side got from having Donovan on the right. DM had all summer to address this and failed. I couldn't agree more about squeezing players into positions they can't play just to accommodate the system.

If I see Osman out wide right again, I will get dragged from the ground foaming at the mouth. For fuck's sake, can we try something different? Even moving Pienaar out to the right and giving Gueye a chance down the left... He mightn't be fully fit but the Yak has got to start against Fulham Taxi for Moyes?

Marc Williams
4   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:31:18

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Jim, I read an article by Moyes in one of the broadsheets in the summer. You know when he was moonlighting at the World Cup & freelancing to add to that pittance of a salary we pay him.

It made scary reading as he was effectivly saying that in the modern game 4-4-2 was dead & that there was no room for the kind of tradional centre forwards I certainly grew up idolising.

He drew reference to when he'd played Cahill as a makeshift striker & was pleased with how that went. Indeed he went on to predict that, in future, even 4-5-1 might not be applicable & that more midfielders may be the way to go & that forwards were effectivly redundant.

I can't get my head round this mindset & his perpetual playing of people out of position. With Cahill unfit yesterday, why not try Bily in that role? Surely he's more suited to that position than out wide.

Andrew Heaton
5   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:44:13

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Moyes is an idiot of the highest order!! People who end posts by putting IMWT are idiots too from now on!! (So are girls that put "woop woop" on their Facebook status but that's got now to do with this!!)
Michael Kenrick
6   Posted 19/09/2010 at 18:56:39

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Marc (#4), I've been slammed long and hard by the self-proclaimed "smart money" for daring to question the stubbornness and moribund mindset of the manager who they have proclaimed as the real deal, but to read that kind of nonsense from Moyes himself is indeed frightening.
Peter Laing
7   Posted 19/09/2010 at 19:12:57

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Totally agree with your assessment Jim, however does Blue Bill and the board take some responsibility for the lack of funds made available to Moyes to ensure the perennial issue of the lack of a right midfielder and striker that have become our archillies heel. Moyes would have I'm sure secured Landon Donovan, Ben Harfa or a forward should funds have been available. Moyes may be at fault for the abysmal start to the season but the board should also accept full responsibility for the meagre £1 million that was made available during the summer.
Marc Williams
8   Posted 19/09/2010 at 19:07:05

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Michael (#6) ? It's funny but at the time of reading that article there had been talk of squad numbers & the lack of a No 9. I like many others thought (desperately hoped in that illogical way I do every summer, against all experience & reason) that maybe it was being kept for a deadline-day signing. Having read the thoughts of Moyes I realised we just didn't need a No 9 anymore!

I know this is a stupid question (positively stoopid! in fact...) but have you ever approached Moyes with a view to a fans Q&A on all matters football on this, by far the best Everton related website? We could pose genuine questions & after you'd sorted out Doddy's sycophantic drivel & others rantings, I'm sure most would be well structured & sensible. I assume he wouldn't do it but just wondered if you'd ever tried.
Thor Sørensen
9   Posted 19/09/2010 at 19:28:56

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Moyes has been here for nearly ten years, and I still can't make my mind up whether he's a geniuous or an idiot.
Maybe he's both.

John Brennan
10   Posted 19/09/2010 at 19:38:45

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So many posters have said much the same thing in so many different ways on so many threads. I didn't see yesterday's game, but when the 0-1 appeared at half-time on Sky, I thought "Jesus, here we go again... no punch up front, no imagination, no drive, no spirit, no determination." You get the picture.

People have said on other threads that our players simply aren't as good as we (and perhaps they) think they are. I have thought that for some time, but really did have high hopes that this season, maybe we could challenge for 4th place. Obviously, that is now out the window.

I get the uncomfortable feeling that some of the players no longer have confidence in Moyes. Surely, if in a managerial position, you speak to the players, you ask them where they would prefer to play, and then play them. Isn't that how Clough treated his players?

I do believe that we have 2 good (ok perhaps not brilliant) players, in Fellaini and Bily. Moyes isn't using them properly, and neither is he using others, such as Cahill and Heitinga properly either.
I am afraid that for me, Moyes simply does not have the cunning, or tactical nouse to win games that will take EFC to the next level. I really thought that we were getting there, and that this season, we would start to throw some big punches. Sadly, its not going to turn out like that, and I am afraid David Moyes (much as I like him as a man) is out of his depth at this level. Yes, we may hang on again this season, but after 9 years, it has to be Thank You and Goodbye.

BJ Farrimond
11   Posted 19/09/2010 at 20:01:34

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I agree with a lot you've said, Jim. I'm pissed off with watching blokes whose decision-making and effort on the pitch is fucking shite. Give Gueye a go on Saturday and leave Tony, Ozzy and Distin on the coach. We need to shake it up a bit and stop picking players who are not pulling their weight.
Charles King
12   Posted 19/09/2010 at 20:36:03

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The excuse safety net's been removed, the squad is almost universally accepted as decent and unmolested by the rich clubs, effectively, his Everton managership proper started this season.

He's miles out of his depth.

Worse still he's doing the one thing a manager can't do, he's playing favourites, a sure fire way to monumentally fuck things up.
The players know the score, no wonder some of them look like they're just picking up wages.
This can't be allowed to drift on.

Repeating myself from another thread, the choice of manager by fans is a matter of opinion based on watching telly.
The actual task, a fundamental requirement of the board who (God strike me down) should be professionally scouring the industry obtaining a shortlist of 5 potential Wengers,
( any board member reading that reads Wengers)

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
13   Posted 19/09/2010 at 22:07:24

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Marc (#12); It's an interesting idea... We have done interviews with managers... but it was a long time ago, and we had a smart lad on our books who had a way of getting in and having a good audience with, in that case, Joe Royle. And not once but twice. The lad is now in Japan, and has been for a long time... which is why we haven't had such an interview for a long time.

I'm not convinced, however, that there really is much point. I mean, think about it: what ever question you might have of Moyes, I bet I can provide a pretty good estimate of the answer you will get. Let's try shall we?

Q: David, why do you almost invariably name Leon Osman in your starting XI? Can't you see he's not very strong, get's knocked off the ball too easily, can't really play on the wing, and cuts inside, reducing any width we might have?

A: Leon is a great lad and he looks really good in training. He has an excellent football mind and quick feet, and scores some fantastic goals. He always gives 100% and provides some much-needed balance to the midfield. If he gets the space he needs, I'm sure he can really make a difference.

Q: Okay, well... what about James Vaughan... Don't you regret letting him out on loan when he could be here and leading the line and hopefully scoring goals for us?

A: James is a great lad and he looks really good in training. He has an excellent football mind and quick feet, and scores some fantastic goals. He always gives 100% and provides some much-needed balance to the attack. However, at the minute, the game at the highest level is moving away from conventional strikers and towards midfielders who play in a number of different positions and score goals from all over the pitch. I think James is best served by getting some decent playing time under his belt, which is why I let him drop down a level and it looks like that is working out really well for him.

[See where I'm going with this...??? I'm bored already!]
Martin Clark
14   Posted 20/09/2010 at 06:29:09

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I thought I'd start with a positive thought: Still only six points behind 4th!... though at the moment it is very difficult to be positive after another very poor start to the season from Everton. Last year there were some obvious excuses but I can't understand how Everton can finish a season like they did and, with very much the same squad with a few additions, can allow these results to happen.

I'm a Moyes fan and at the beginning of the season was very optimistic about finishing high up the table after the form guide had us 3rd for the second half of last season. The only positions that we seemed short were a right-midfielder, a striker and cover for left back; also we now need a replacement for Yobo in my opinion.

We can't score at the moment, which is worrying, but the fact we can't keep a clean sheet at the same time is terrible. I really thought, "OK, Newcastle that can be where we kick-start," yet we failed miserably.

This bunch of players must realise they are truly underperforming, though the pressure mentioned by Jags is only going to get worse the longer they under perform. This team is capable of so much more and the come back against Man Utd gave us a glimpse of what they can do, rather than frustrate the hell out of all Evertonians!

Moyes needs to change his mindset, swopping like for like on Saturday was disappointing. Why not try 4-4-2 at home?

Come on Everton!

Marc Williams
15   Posted 20/09/2010 at 06:03:19

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Michael (#13), I take your point 100% as it's always the danger especially with the media training they get these days & the contempt most in the game seem to show the support.

I guess it's just frustration on my part based on two things:

Firstly, the media's narrative regarding Moyes & their total failure to view his achievements against his failures. He generally seems to get an easy ride & is rarely challenged / scutinised over his decisions. I mean look at this weekend's coverage, where he's effectively "washed his hands" of responsibility by blaming the players with his "I'd have booed too" comments. Well, David, you are first in line to take any plaudits so be consistent & take responsibility for our awful form & your selection choices.

Secondly, it's those team selection decisions which are at times baffling. It's not the first time we've seen this as he's "got form" as they say but some of the roles he's put players in this season are ludicrous. My 10 &13 year old daughters can see the folly of it & as I can't explain to them the logic of why he has done it, I was hoping maybe he could!

Mike Oates
16   Posted 20/09/2010 at 10:59:23

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Moyes has come out today and said we need to toughen up. We were steam rollered in midfield. Arteta said after the game we play too many long balls. Baines said we played too many pretty short balls in our own half and lost the ball ? we need more direct play (long balls) at times.

So that says to me that the players haven't got a clue what to do when things go wrong on the pitch and we haven't got the physical presence to fight our way through it when its needed against the physical/stong sides like er ... most of the rest of the Premier League.

Well after Moyes's comments I can safely say that against Brentford the team will be as follows ;-

Hibbert Jagielka Distin Baines
Neville (c)
Pienaar Arteta Fellaini Gueye
Yakubu (or Cahill if fit)

Bye bye Ossie , Heitinga, Beckford... and still no room for Bily.
Sean Smythe
17   Posted 20/09/2010 at 11:11:28

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There have been comments about seeing where we are after ten games, and doing my Mystic Meg bit I can reveal we'll be in 15th place on 8 points, just below Stoke and above Wolves. Not where we would've hoped at the start of the season.
Dick Fearon
18   Posted 20/09/2010 at 11:11:33

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Mike 13. It would require a complete mental breakdown for Moyes to drop Osman. Only when Ossie has plays a blinder will Ossie be dropped. As Jim 1. says it is a case of Moyes mindset and inflexibility. He thinks that 40,000 match goers plus millions of world wide viewers are wrong and only he is right.
To drop Osman at this stage would be a public humiliation that Moyes pathological arrogance would find impossible to accept.
Chris Robinson
19   Posted 20/09/2010 at 12:01:14

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Many a true word said in typo, eh? The last "parting of the waves" I'm aware of led to Moses leading his people to the Promised Land...Could that be where we end up after all this pain and suffering? Then again, I also recall that Moses just led his people there and did not actually get to enjoy its delights himself. Could this be the fate of the Moyesiah?
Paul Corbett
20   Posted 20/09/2010 at 12:38:20

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I bet we start with a 4-5-1 formation against Brentford!!
Nelaj Behajiha
21   Posted 20/09/2010 at 13:05:54

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We're just not good enough it's not the tactics. I blames Moyes for all of this mess. The way I look at it though is that we should get rid of Moyes after the end of this season. Then the new manager can buy new players get rid of useless players. We won't be very good this season but we will be far better next season without Moyes and with a new manager.
Paul Whittaker
22   Posted 20/09/2010 at 13:53:09

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There is a great saying in sport psychology and coaching that goes something like this, ' you must never weaken your strength to strengthen your weakness'.

Why I believe Moyes hasnt got what it takes to reach the very highest level of football management is that he a) hasnt learnt this or b) ignorantly chooses to ignore it. The real strength of the Everton team (please correct me if I am wrong) is Jagielka, Heitinga, Arteta, Fellaini, Baines and Pienaar. The rest of the team are 'journeymen'. Therefore the six names above should be the first names on the teamsheat, played in the positions where they are best suited and international class players. The rest of the squad then fill the holes. Moyes spectacularly does it the other way around. Pre Knee injury he has Arteta isolated out on the right wing - what happens when he's moved into the centre, he starts playing with a smile on his face, dictates play and we start winning.

Why now have we got the 'best midielder in the premier league' (Moyes words not mine) again playing up front? This is to make way for our No 1 choice centre back to play in his position in midfield? All because Moyes cant bare to take the pitch without a left footed centre back. This is the weak link centre back that has cost us at least 3 goals this season. Consequently we now have two disgruntled players, with one looking a right donkey when he misses an open goal at the weekend (Fellaini) and the other continually getting the hook because he isnt cutting the mustard. (Heitinga).

Please David put all six of them in their proper positions. If you are worried about height at the back play Jags, Jonny and Distan there. Play 2 fullbacks cum wingbacks in Baines and Neville (back in for his leadership) Fellaini the anchor man. Arteta as our playmaker. Pienaar and one of the weaklinks like Bily or Osman alongside and for the time being play Cahill up front until the Yak and Saha get fit.

Before somebody has me up on contradicting myself on Cahill, I believe he is as much a forward as he is a midfielder. i.e as long as he is on the pitch for setpieces anything else you get from him is a bonus.

Please David just give it a go. It cant get any worse!

Colin Grierson
23   Posted 20/09/2010 at 21:16:21

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Nothing will change. We all know it. Taxi for Moyes!
David Jenkins
24   Posted 20/09/2010 at 22:36:48

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Personally, I would like this formation and team used in the majority of Premiership games. In particular at home against the lesser teams.

Neville Jags Heitinga Baines
Arteta Fellaini Cahill Pienaar
Beckford Yakubu

Too much focus on not getting beat and not enough on winning at the moment. So much so it has seeped into our fans mentality. e.g we NEED a holding midfielder and another 4 in their with him!! Bullcrap.
Jamie Crowley
25   Posted 21/09/2010 at 02:45:40

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Echoing David'ssentiments / lineup, doesn't the pairing of Yak and Beckford up top seem logical?
Yak holds up the ball extremely well. Beckford can't. Beckford seems much more a face the goal, go at 'em Striker. The two would seemingly compliment one another, so why not try it?

Along with Seamus out wide on the right with Nev / Hibbo behind him.

Seems like it would be worth a try.

Nev / Jags / Heitinga / Baines
Coleman / Fella / Arteta / Pienaar
Beckford / Yak

Only arguement I see is keeping Cahill in the lineup - and if that's the case revert to an attacking 4-5-1 and put Cahill in for Beckford just behind the Yak.

Easy decision. Yet why do I get the sneaking suspicion Osman will be wide right and Distin will start? Or Heitinga at the back of midfield?

It's just so frustrating...
Chris Rudd
26   Posted 21/09/2010 at 10:32:47

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Jim - "what does Hibbert contribute to the team?"

Well as far as I can see he is often the one Everton player who does what he is paid to do. In his case - defend. How many crosses come in from the opposition's left when he is playing (answer - somewhere around zero) compared with the other side of the pitch (I think just about every goal we've conceded has come from there this season). Okay, his crossing is no better than some of our much vaunted midfield superstars... but it's often no worse.

And what's with the general 'Heitinga love-in from so many people?' A World Cup finalist who apparently can't be bothered either closing down or tackling. If he isn't playing in central defence, he shouldn't for my money be playing at all except through injuries.

But you're right about playing people out of position Jim. Everyone else inside Goodison can see it - why can't Moyes? Fellaini was awesome last season in his proper role and now he's reduced to chasing lost causes and fighting for ridiculously optimistic long balls with the assorted grocks from opposing defences. Ossie is woeful on the right. And Beckford up front on his own? Step up two divisions Jermaine and then we'll isolate you and feed you on scraps - wonderful. Give the guy a chance.

And talking of Gueyes - I see we're already building him up in certain circles, probably only to be the next big flop. He played a great cross in against the Huddersfield for Big Fella's goal but then proceeded to get dispossessed every time he received the ball until Moyes put him out of his misery. In time he could be decent but he's not the answer just yet.

And perhaps all those who've recently been calling for Cahill's head should watch Saturday's game again. No Tim = no drive, energy or fighting spirit.

As someone said, having no money to spend is not the manager's fault. But making the whole a whole lot less than the sum of the parts certainly is. Sort it Moyes now before it's too late!
Dick Fearon
27   Posted 21/09/2010 at 12:19:13

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He is a world class midfielder that all attackers hate. He is a top class defender who wins most high balls into our box. He is a world class attacker who always gives defenders a torrid time. He is the best box-to-box non-stop player in the Premier League.

This bloke never drops his bundle and fights to the final whistle. He has never been known to shirk a challenge. He is a constant source of inspiration to his teammates and his club loyalty has never wavered.

It is tiresome having to rebut those ridiculous suggestions that he is not good enough for a team that against Newcastle brought humiliating disgrace to the royal blue shirt.

Jamie Tulacz
28   Posted 21/09/2010 at 19:33:34

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Jim- good article, have to agree I'm afraid. Much as I'd like to disagree and usually fight Moyes' corner, he needs to start showing more flexibility, and putting players in their correct positions, and quickly.

Dick (27)- assume you're talking about Timmy Cahill. have to agree with you completely, I never understand the criticism he sometimes gets on this site. He's been our best player this season, is our top scorer so far, and never gives less than 100%. A lot of the players could learn a lot from his fighting spirit.

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