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We've missed the Boat

By Steve Guy :  24/01/2011 :  Comments (12) :
This season will go down as an incredibly disappointing and frustrating one for all supporters. The one thing we all have in common is an abiding love and pride in the Club as an entity. Owners, managers and players come and go, but the fans remain, ?til death do us part?. In this regard, it doesn?t matter which side of the fence you sit on with reference to our current management set up; you take a position based on your wanting the Club to do well and win silverware. The Moyes and Kenwright ?bashers? state their case based on a view that the Club will never achieve these things under the management of these individuals. Those who support the current set up do so, in general terms, because they see themselves as pragmatists, with Moyes in particular exonerated because of the parlous state of our finances and Kenwright?s lack of financial clout.

For both sides of the fence, I would say that the expectations were high this season; partly as a result of the fine form the team demonstrated in the latter half of last season, as well as the optimism coming from Moyes and his squad in the run up to the start of this season. I don?t think those expectations were unreasonable and we have all felt let down by the performances of the team. Our pride has taken a massive dent and faith in the ability of Moyes to make amends has been further eroded by the loss of a key player in Pienaar, as well as the seemingly inexplicable loaning out of Yakubu (and, for me, Yobo too). A squad that was already seen as small has been stretched to what would appear to be breaking point; with square pegs in round holes and nothing like enough quality to beat teams we should expect to take 3-6 points off each season (like West Ham).

Was Moyes wrong to be so optimistic? I don?t think so for the reasons stated above. However, he took a gamble on Pienaar last summer which has backfired; I said some time ago that ?Peanuts? should have been sold at a time when we could have got substantially more for the player than we subsequently did (Peanuts by nickname became prophetic in terms of his eventual transfer fee). Moyes also gambled on the fitness of two forwards (Yakubu and Saha) and a freebie from Leeds. In hindsight this decision has backfired too; the money from Pienaar?s sale could have funded a decent striker, especially if Moyes had cashed in on Yakubu too.

A couple of seasons ago we were told we were about to embark on the second of Moyes? five year plans for the Club. Unfortunately, but for obvious reasons, this plan was not made public and your guess is as good as mine as to what it actually contained. My own guesstimate, based on what I see on the pitch, would say that it was based on continuing the policy of working within a limited budget but, through bringing on younger players, keeping the senior players and making signings as and when monies could be released, we would end up with a side capable of a sustained attack on the Champions League placings. The culmination of this strategy was that this was the season when we would see that happen and performances last season gave every vindication that this would be the case; even managers such as Ferguson and Wenger had us down as ?dark horses? this year.

How wrong we all were. Indeed, comment has been made as to Moyes?s general demeanour and post match attitude and I would say that much of this has come from his own sense of shock as to how poorly the team has performed against that upbeat expectation. Across the Club, the shock must have been similarly affecting and this is reflecting itself in individual performances and a seeming inability to only perform sporadically at the levels we have become accustomed to. Let?s be clear, this is the same squad pretty much that went through the latter half of the 2009-10 season hardly losing a game and playing some very nice football (even after Arteta was injured).

So where does that leave the original plan? In tatters? I think so. I think that as well as our underperforming this season, Moyes and Kenwright did not foresee how many teams would up their game. Apart from a few exceptions, most teams have become difficult to beat and even the better teams like Arsenal struggle to overcome robust defending. Man Utd. may be unbeaten as yet, but they too have struggled to impose themselves. Then you have the likes of Blackpool, punching above their weight in theory, but doing it nonetheless. Toffeewebbers have commented on our predictability; I?m not sure I would call it that, but we do have too few players who can unlock defences and pressurise the opposition, especially when Arteta is struggling and this is more obvious and a liability now that the rest of the EPL has made itself harder to beat.

Given the above, and assuming the cyclical nature of teams as they develop to fulfil their potential and then disband to re-form, the continued lack of investment may now see the club drop away again for a period whilst ageing players are replaced and styles of play change to accommodate this. Nor can we expect (like him or not) an ambitious (for trophies) manager to stay forever, watching moths fly out of BK?s wallet whilst elsewhere cash is seemingly splashed with abandon. At the moment many would say good riddance and with good reason on the face of it, but I don?t see other managers capable of taking over his mantle and succeeding any better with the aforementioned cash restrictions and that makes it difficult for me personally to willingly help push Moyes off the end of the plank.

We need a new plan and maybe a new manager to develop that plan. Maybe we just need Moyes to alter the old plan to one more suited to the new EPL reality. In either case, the promised land, in which we retain a foothold in Europe and push on for the Champion?s League?s Fields of Gold, seems farther away than ever.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 24/01/2011 at 21:51:43

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Apologies but we're getting swamped here at TWT... so I haven't had a chance to review this properly.

Steve (or any budding editors out there), let me know if you see any typos or want any other changes.
Mike Hughes
2   Posted 24/01/2011 at 21:57:40

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An excellent piece - well written from an analytical and grammatical perspective (for the editors!).

I think you've summed our situation up very well. It's Hobson's Choice at the moment. We are stuck with David Moyes's frustrating / illogical team selections and tactics while Moyes himself is somewhat hamstrung by the finances.

Alternatives to DM? Realistically I can't see one. On the RM phone-in tonight someone suggested Paul Lambert but I immediately thought of Mike Walker so......

Progress has definitely stalled big style. The frustrating thing for me is that I don't think we're making the best of what we've got (which isn't a lot).
Gerry Grimes
3   Posted 24/01/2011 at 22:19:44

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Good piece.
There is a sense of staleness affecting the club. A squad that prided itself on punching above its weight has suddenly started to do the opposite. Once more it comes down to money. The Rooney and Lescott transfers gave Moyes an opportunity to shop at the higher end of the market. Without incoming transfer fees we are back in bargain basement and loan deal territory. Our squad badly needs freshening up but without money we can't expect miracles.
I believe Moyes is an excellent football manager. If he left Everton tomorrow he would get a decent job very quickly indeed. He represents our club well but the past few months have left a strain on him that is beginning to show.Unless funds are made available it looks like the Moyes/Everton project will fail. Alternative managers will first take a good luck at the finances and the good ones will pass on the Everton job in favour of clubs with spending power.
Money is the key. Kenwright better be thinking hard on this. Somehow I doubt it.
Mike Rourke
4   Posted 24/01/2011 at 23:16:00

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I can't bring myself to blame Moyes while Kenwright remains in charge.

It occurs to me that if DM went to Stoke and they carried on spending at their current rate, he could turn them into a regular top 6 team, occasionally challenging for a Champions League place.

We have been left so far behind so rapidly that the future holds nothing more than battles with the likes of Wolves for the signatures of a young sparks from the likes of Barnsley.

I mean really, at the reputed £9million he's going for Adebayor is a snip, and just the sort I would believe Moyesy could get the best from...yet all we are supposed to do is cream ourselves about the loan signing of the geezer Monaco will be shipping out so as to accomodate their new signing.

It's true. Our ship has well and truly sailed.

Don't know where we go from here, but it doesn't look good does it?
Gareth Fieldstead
5   Posted 25/01/2011 at 00:01:36

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As stated above, good article but back in July when it was obvious that Moyes would only have money to buy players if he sold what he perceived were surplus to requirements. Moyes decided to go with attempting to get every major player at the club on longer contracts and ? together with a few modest purchases ie Gueye and Beckford and the continued development of the likes of Rodwell ? go into the new season hoping that would be enough.

Now living in Oz I was lucky enough to see the three games and when back in the UK in Jan & Feb of last year I got to see them a further four times. I felt then our needs were now, not in the future. I felt the cashing in of players like Yakubu, Peinnar, Arteta, Billy and Johnny would benefit the club if Moyes bought wisely. That would have raised around thirty million, easily enough for a commanding midfielder, winger and centre forward. We would have had the opportunity to revert to a 4 4 2 and have cover in every position.

This is certainly not a hindsight piece. The fact that Arteta had suffered such a serious injury suggested he was never going to be the same player again, plus the fact he was looking for a much improved contract. Pienaar refusing to sign a new contract, Yakubu told he could leave at the right price, Johnny informing anyone who would listen to him that he would sign for any big club and Bily hardly starting a game. Sadly now I think it will take a new manager and preferably a new owner to turn our club around. Let's just hope we don't go down.

Roman Sidey
6   Posted 25/01/2011 at 07:06:16

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You're all right in saying that Moyes has had no support from Kenwright, and that he's worked wonders in the windows with no money.
However, the way he has set his team up this season is no one's fault but his own. I am so sick of hearing people say no one else could do a better job. I guarantee that a manager that actually has his head in 2011 and not in 1989 would get these players playing good, effective football. Fair enough Moyes wasn't able to buy any real names in the summer, but with the squad he has, there is no excuse not to be further up the table. As much as I enjoyed the faint hope of Champions League football in his last 5 seasons, the way he has conducted himself this season, for me, can only end one way. If you listen to his post match interview on Saturday, he either thinks we are doing well, and therefore is dilusional, or he doesn't care how we are doing. Listen to his tone more than his words. There's a time for composure, and there's a time for emotion, and quite frankly, emotion is something the people employed by this club have never given us - with the exception of some of the players.
Tony J Williams
7   Posted 25/01/2011 at 09:04:02

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Roman, you are right, he has set his team up but, as per my usual mantra, why are the players not sharing the blame.

Moyes can be blamed for the formation and the poor substitutions (yet he never gets any credit at all when they work) but how can you blame him when one of your rising stars sidefoots a ball over from about 5 yards out?

Like 90% of the games this season, we have bossed the possession and had good chances, it's just a pity we do not have a "in form" Torres like player to slot the chances away.

I honestly think that if Moyes wasn't on such a tidy sum, he would have walked away from this team. I know I would have. Being outspent by every single team in the league around you and even most in the Championship is just criminal.
Roman Sidey
8   Posted 25/01/2011 at 11:08:55

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Tony, you are also right that the players need to shoulder some of the blame. Missing chances from 5 yds a la Coleman v West Ham is unacceptable, but happens every week. Don't mistake high possession rate as "bossing" games though. We haven't been in control of many of our games, as if we had have been, we would be scoring first, and not chasing the game the whole time. On the form side of it, I do honestly believe that Moyes has played them out of any form they may have had by putting them in the wrong positions, and by bringing the wrong players in and on at the wrong time. Is it any wonder that since Osman has taken Pienaar's place Baines has been off song. Moyes won't try anyone else there though because Osman is one of his favourites, thus, Baines, Osman, and whoever could also take the position are off form (I know the Osman lovers are going to point out the single good things he's done in each of his games, but I will point out the countless shite things he's also done).
I've said it on many posts, once the trade window is shut, you stop whinging about money and get on with the job. That goes for everyone from the manager down to the fans.
When the window is shut, you whinge about form and team selection.
Tony J Williams
9   Posted 25/01/2011 at 11:53:02

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Not an Osman "lover" as he is a very limited player, but he has more assists than Pienaar within two games.
Christine Foster
10   Posted 25/01/2011 at 12:43:05

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I think we are treading water as a club and have been for a couple of seasons now. This season is worse because of individual form and panic selections by Moyes.

Its clear that Moyes will go at some point, sooner rather than later, dependent upon the sale of the club.

That really is the crux of the matter to discuss, I believe Moyes is an honourable man but not a great manager, a shrewd one yes, a very good one indeed. But he has propped up an ailing regime in Kenwright and the board for a season too long and thats damaging his own market value.

The boards / chairmans Hail Mary pass was Kirkby. Like an outsider in the Grand National everything was gambled on it. It fell and there is no plan B.
There never was and how clearly that is apparent now.

We are in between a rock and a hard place in every aspect, The key to going forward would have to be a lower price for the club to generate interest, one without the probable strings BK would like. But thats not going to happen and in the meantime BK will be dependent on Moyes the Magician to find more from a leaderless team, inconsistent and looking disheartened.

Moyes has said we will stand still.. I think thats being optimistic, there are still some cards in the pack but everyone is holdng.
Richard Parker
11   Posted 25/01/2011 at 14:40:06

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There's been a lot of emails back and forth on the state of affairs at Everton and David Moyes' position; an awful lot of words taking up valuable cyberspace, when I think a single phrase can pretty much sum up the managerial question.

We're fucked either way, Moyes or no Moyes, until the club, as a business, gets its shit together.
Ken Buckley
12   Posted 25/01/2011 at 16:45:27

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A Sunday newspaper looked at each Premiership club regarding the new financial rules to be introduced. Part of the Everton portion said that the Sky money and gate receipts barely covered the wage bill. I don't how they know but if any truth at all in that then it would appear we are in quite a parlous position and quite a few financial balls will need to be juggled just to stand still. Might explain the lack of any meaningful transfer activity for a while now.

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