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The Right Attitude!!

By Stuart Ansell :  23/11/2010 :  Comments (23) :
Like many Evertonians, you're probably feeling perplexed after watching a team that is producing fairly good consistent performances but not delivering the results we yearn for. I think last night's match against Sunderland was a perfect example of our season so far. We had good possession, played some excellent football in patches and created chances. But yet again we failed to make the most of our opportunities in the final third and gave away sloppy goals.

To me, we can argue all day about who should play where and what formation to play, we all have our favourites and on their day they can all deliver the goods. To me, the players attributes aren't really the problem ? it's their attitude.

For example... last night we went one-nil up very early with a fine cross and superb header. Straight after the kick-off, with the right attitude, we should've been straight into them, hunting for a second... but No. Typical Everton, we sat back almost onto our 18-yard box, lost all ability to string two passes together and became the hoof kings of the world... Why? Attitude.

Why is it this season we seem to play our best football when we're losing? ? because the players know that they have one option: 'attack', to get back into the game. The team as a collective is thinking forward, producing the right attitude. As soon as we get ahead, our immediate response seems to be defend, sending negative backward-thinking signals through the team. It doesn't seem to be, "Let's get another and put this game to bed". All the great teams in the past, including Everton in the 80s, had this attack mentality. Okay, it doesn't always pay off. But I believe if we just had a real attacking mindset and had a go at most of these teams, then this year we may have lost a couple more on the way but I bet we would've turned a good few of those draws into wins.

Last night, how many of you were screaming at the telly for the lads to shoot when we were in a and around the box? 9 out of 10 times we didn't shoot and ended up getting caught stringing together a number of sideways passes and then having to scramble back to cover a Sunderland attack. Arteta's goal just showed what can happen if you give it a go, we got a well deserved break for a change.

Also, I believe the right attitude is important for our defence. Countless times, I watch as our team are caught on the defensive because we've over played it further up the field and lost the ball. The opposing team have a break away... so the attackers generally are on par with the number of defenders. The idea at this point is to slow the attacker down to give time for more players to get back or guide the attacker away from the danger area... we seem to do neither.

The amount of times our defenders just back off and back off until they are literally 12-18 yards from goal, which gives the attacker a great opportunity to get a shot off at decent shooting range... the only exception I've seen recently was Heitinga when he played centre half actually had the belief and the attitude to step up to the player and force the attacker to make a decision outside of the danger area. He may not always win the ball but you can normally guarantee the player is not getting past him.

I really like the team we've got now and I do have my own opinions on where it could be changed... but that's for another time. I love Moyes, I think he's put a great squad together under the resources he's been given, but I just wish he oozed a bit more positivity which might cascade down to the team... Maybe he should do a sports psychology degree ? it just might help!

I think as a fan at the moment our best form of defence is attack. The players just need the belief that they can score and if they do score they can get another. Moyes just needs to hammer it home to the team that they can go out there and beat teams 3 and 4 nil and most of all believe it himself.

Attack... Attack... Attack!!!!

Reader Comments

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Michael Coville
1   Posted 24/11/2010 at 02:26:36

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Spot on, Stuart. Unfortunately we did not get the Sunderland game on DirecTV in the US, so I can't comment about that game but I did watch the Arsenal game and Arteta was terrible. In fact I believe one of the problems we have had this year is Arteta's loss of form. He lies too deep in our half, so he is often bypassed and when he does get involved he passes sideways or backwards and his dead ball kicks have been woeful.

If you look at the effort Pienaar and Cahill make as an attacking force compared to Arteta, there is no comparison. I know it will bring howls of derision but I would rather have Osman (when fit) than Arteta in that position unless we see some significant improvement from our little Spaniard, at least Osman will give it a go.

Paul McGinty
2   Posted 24/11/2010 at 03:37:00

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Michael C ? aside from the game FYI I have FIOS and DirectTV and for a reason I am not sure about can access the games including Mondays on ESPN3.

We can argue the merits of who plays as the holding mid... personally, based on recent performances Heitinga would not get my vote.

Cahill has to play... it's clear that nothing is working with Saha and this weekend it really has to be Yakubu up top... no?

Personally, I think the return of a fit Vic over the Christmas period, if not before, will give us something different off the bench or out wide.

Talking about going forward, assuming Pienaar does leave, he is in my opinion a real tough act to follow. When Arteta is out or off-form, Pienaar is our most creative player; I just hope the manager has somebody lined up.
Derek Thomas
3   Posted 24/11/2010 at 07:59:56

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Who is it that TELLS them to sit back and defend?

Who bought the players??

Who picks the team???

Who decides the formation.????

Who defends with ALL 11 in the box for corners and certain the ball comes right back at us?????

All together now.......

Em Oh Why Ee Ess

Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse Tactics

Mickey Mouse performances

Mickey Mouse Results

Other Mickey Mouse characters who make Dopey look good... Heitinga, Arteta, Bily, Saha.
Dave Lynch
4   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:06:21

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Are you saying our manager is Loony Tunes?
Paul Olsen
5   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:27:43

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All this about Pienaar making an effort. Yes, he runs a lot and sometimes looks real useful. How many times a season does Pienaar contribute with a goal or an assist? Sure, he's a pretty good player, but he is nowhere near as good as some make him out to be.

Some cons:

1) Inefficient, there is no arguing that;
2) Goes down to easily;
3) Sideways player and, as many point out, we are too slow ? for me, Pienaar is one of the main culprits there... he takes on men occasionally, but to what result?
4) He runs a lot, but he is lightweight nonetheless, his defensive contribution is next to nothing.

And not to be overly critical, he's is one of our top 6 players, but I think he receives too much credit for his efforts. He somehow reminds me a bit of Steve McManaman in his last months with Liverpool. He looked great, but he never really made the team any better.

Colin Potter
6   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:30:30

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Looney Tunes is about Moyes's level, Dave.
Brian Wilson
7   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:12:42

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Stuart, I agree that the general level of play has improved and hope we don't revert to hoofball (if so to who?). We are still stuttering from Arteta's lack of form with Pienaar currently the only one genuinely showing for the ball and trying to use it.

But it is our attack that is woeful. Saha is simply rubbish, I'd rather have Marcus Bent for heaven's sake! Yak and Becks must be given a chance to start as the current formation is simply not working and costing us points.

I think the team doesn't have faith that we can score more than one and so tend to close up shop when we do nick a goal rather than risk exposure in the forlorn hope of scoring another ? something I suspect is reinforced by the manager.

David Smith
8   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:58:21

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Mickey Mouse, Looney Tunes? Wrong franchise.

What you mean is that, more often than not, Moyes Disney seem te know what he's doin.

(Walks away smirking to himself.)
Matthew Mackey
9   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:47:59

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Stuart, your comments are bang on ? especially the one about shooting when around the box.

There was one incident in the Sunderland game (second half) which basically summed Everton up this season. We were attacking and put about a dozen passes together. The ball was bobbling around in their penalty area before it came out to Neville on the 18-yard line. Any other player in the whole of the PL would have instinctively wellied it towards the Sunderland goal as it was sitting up so invitingly. But not our Pip... he tried to pass it again through a crowd of players and guess what ? the chance was gone and Sunderland broke out.

That one little passage of play just summed up our team at the moment and it's so frustrating. Some of them are like rabbits caught in the headlights when it comes to attacking whilst others have the proverbial "nose bleed" when in the final third.

We need to rediscover the "attitude" we had when beating Man City and Chelsea at home last season when the team went through a period of "attack, attack attack". Why can't our beloved manager recapture that attitude? After all, we're using the same set of players.

Ted Smeethes
10   Posted 24/11/2010 at 10:34:29

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Sunderland are a better team and we were lucky to get a draw. We're a mid-table team with average players, I said it same time last year and got criticised but truth hurts ? we're just average with a bunch of so-so average players with no money to buy better players; be grateful we are where we area.
Charlie Dixon
11   Posted 24/11/2010 at 11:26:08

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I'm amazed at how deep Arteta is playing. Surely it's time to play him in a more advanced role?

Also, I thought when Beckford and the Yak were brought on, Cahill should have stayed in an advanced position instead of being brought back to help Arteta in DM. Simple things like this contribute to our negative style that, bar a few tweaks and a new centre forward, we'd see our position improve drastically.

I think Osman would have been ideal at Sunderland when we're in and around their box on Monday. Too few players with quick feet, means we end up stagnant in the final 3rd.

On a positive note, Gueye seemed to play well last night, and can hopefully see some more game time with Pienaar's inevitable departure come January.
Dennis Stevens
12   Posted 24/11/2010 at 11:22:15

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Hear! Hear! Stuart. You are absolutely right that a positive winning mentality would turn this squad from also-rans into genuine challengers for silverware. Unfortunately, Moyes seems unable to display these attributes himself so it's no great surprise his squad falls short in terms of mental attitude.
Michael Coville
13   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:12:05

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Thanks for the info Paul. For some reason I don't have ESPN 3 on DirecTV in Florida so never get the Monday game. Bit frustrating, will give them a call to see why!
Richard Diver
14   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:11:04

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Stuart, you might also ask why we have scored a relatively high percentage of late goals this season ? Sunderland, Arsenal, Bolton, Man Utd (2); it?s only late on, with the game going away from us, that the team is given the players and the licence to go on the offensive.

I?ve always liked Moyes for his honesty and hard work, but his hell-bent desire to RE-act instead of PRO-act is driving me absolutely nuts. At 1-1 v Sunderland, with the game there for us, I was crying out for some sign of real intent from the manager that we were going for this.

But I knew, like everyone else on this site, it would only happen after conceding. That game was only ever going to end 1-1 or 2-2. The fact that we DO score ? or at least make clear-cut, genuine chances ? when we have these periods of attack only makes it worse.

For the Baggies, Yak AND Becks/Saha up front, Cahill driving from midfield. And from minute 1, not minute 81.

Stuart Ansell
15   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:05:33

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Ted Smeethes:- on the game I witnessed on Monday, Sunderland were not the better team... we just let them dictate parts of the game because we displayed a negative attitude, most obvious after we scored our first goal.

The main difference in that game between us winning rather than drawing was Danny Wellbeck's all round performance... he was superb. He was strong on the ball, held it up well, link-up play was excellent, he had the confidence and attitude to take on players and most of all finished the chances shown to him. God if only we had a forward like that on his game at the moment... rather than having to rely on 7 goals from Cahill.

Team on team, I think we were the better team, especially considering we were the away side... we just haven't got that one player at the moment that can convert our chances into goals. Take cahill out of the side and it's hard to see where the next goal is coming from.

We play a 4-5-1 system and it's only been in recent games that Moyes has actually been going for it in the latter parts of games... who would've put money on us having 3 attackers on the pitch against Arsenal with 25 minutes to go? Okay it took 15 minutes for the team to touch the ball again but is Moyes starting to get the right attitude and give it a go? You never know, he might even start playing 2 up front against the lesser teams at home.

In all, the squad and the quality of football is so much better than where we were 5 years ago... Moyes in my opinion is still tactically inept ? especially when it comes to substitutions, I hate those really late pointless substituion he loves making, but I really believe in the last few games he's starting to turn a new leaf. Maybe only due to the fact we were losing but maybe just maybe he may learn from this.

I thought against Liverpool we were under the cosh a bit in the second half but Moyes was forced to bring on a second striker which totally change the dynamic of the game. Our useless hoofs out of defence started falling to a player in a blue shirt which took the pressure from our team.

I really don't know what our fans really expect from a team with such limited resources. Moyes has risen our expectations to want Champions League and when he doesn't deliver it he is a Disney character. I think we should be thankful we're not in League 1 or 2 like some other big clubs.

Moyes actually gives us not just a dream but a real chance or European and Champions League football. You may mock but this season is so tight that when we start playing the attacking football we're capable of 'CONSISTENTLY' we should shoot up the league.

I love being a blue... you've got to admit it's never boring!!

Stuart Ansell
16   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:37:49

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Totally agree, Richard.... do you think Moyes reads ToffeeWeb? If you do Dave... just go for it! It's not like we're going to keep many clean sheets so we might as well try and get some goals.
Peter Norris
17   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:42:35

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Stuart - you can't have watched the Sunderland game properly. We did NOT play a 4-5-1. Look at it again and you will clearly see Tim Cahill played on the shoulder of the last man all game and only dropped back into midfield when Becks/Yak came on. (This reference to 4-5-1 when it is not true is becoming a bit repetitive and I think it is as soon as Cahill is on the teamsheet it is what is expected.) Granted Saha did sweet fa next to him.

I would play Tim and Becks on Saturday ? both UP FRONT

Stuart Ansell
18   Posted 24/11/2010 at 13:09:04

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Yeah, fair point, Pete... if a striker is only rated on the goals he scores then at the moment Everton only has one striker who is really an attack-minded midfielder. He was dropped back later on but yeah it was almost a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

I don't really mind the formation we go for as you adapt to the different teams you play. I just don't want to see us camping out on our 18-yard box after we've taken a lead with 80 minutes still to play.

If only Beckford had put that 94th-minute chance away... I was jumping for joy expecting to see it break the net. Really feel that could've kicked his season off but it has probably had the reverse effect and dented his confidence even more... Shame as his previous goal was a beauty.
Lee Courtliff
19   Posted 24/11/2010 at 13:37:26

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Peter Norris, I agree entirely. Almost every game Cahill is playing right up top and has done for a while now. So many seem to completely miss this when they are slagging Davey for only playing one striker.

Also, if Arteta continues to be ineffective, I would play Tim as an orthodox midfielder and put Becks up top with the Yak. Tim would still get a few goals and hopefully this would put a rocket up Mikel and get him back to being our best player. Surely it's worth a try.COYB.

Michael Kenrick
20   Posted 24/11/2010 at 14:27:47

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Michael (#13) ? access to ESPN3 is via their website:

However, there is something about your internet service provider (ISP) that pops up. It works if you are on cable... not sure it's the same for DirectTV.
Paul McGinty
21   Posted 24/11/2010 at 15:42:35

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Michael (13) ESPN 3 is accessed via FIOS plus other servers, provided you buy ESPN through the service provider (or so I was advised by the helpline). Since I access ESPN through Direct TV in theory I should not be able to access on the computer but I can. My advice would be to try it. Follow ESPN 3 link on the web. Good luck working through it.
Martin Mason
22   Posted 24/11/2010 at 19:11:50

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Excellent and positive write up Stuart. I find so much to be positive about our position now, we have a good but painfully shallow squad and whilst we are struggling for points we play good football and we can give even the very best a decent run for their money.

Strip away the conspiracy theories and the pathalogical hatred for Moyes and BK by some and you have a small and financially challenged club that has skilfully put together a good squad that is generally well thought of by everybody except Evertonians. Many things have changed at Everton since I first went in 1958 but the most tragic is that we have gone from being far and out the best and fairest fans in the country to being a bunch of out and out moaners especially in the blogosphere. When I see our away support though it really does warm my heart sometimes. Why can't the armchair critics and experts give similar positive support?

If we can unload some of the dead wood and make a couple of shrewd buys in January we can be a consistently very good side but what won't change is that we will consistently be a small and underfinanced club that needs support from its fans and not Man city style destructive criticism of anything and everything.
John Ford
23   Posted 24/11/2010 at 21:27:41

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Stuart, fair point about Welbeck. If we'd had an in-form striker, or indeed a striker who could be arsed in any way, we'd have rolled them over.

Com'on, Davey boy. Do your stuff in the January sales and let's start getting the results we know we're capable of.

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