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You Can't Buy Team Spirit

By Luke O'Farrell :  08/05/2011 :  Comments (17) :

Big Dunc was on the pitch before the game and it got the crowd going. I was personally overjoyed to see the big man back at the club; he was my hero growing up as a young Evertonian. You get the impression, like with Cahill, that he genuinely loves the club, the fans and knows how much it means to us all.

The team showed the one change from the poor Wigan showing with Heitinga taking Cahill?s place; who hadn?t trained all week, so he was not fully fit. I assumed this meant Osman on the right with Rodwell supporting Anichebe. However the game started with Rodwell on the right and Osman behind Victor. I couldn?t help but think we had too many defensive minded players so we might struggle against Toure and Silva in the middle of the park; this proved to be true. As we had no recognised central midfielders in the middle of the park, we just kept surrendering the ball to the opposition.

About 20 seconds into the first half, we tried a clearly rehearsed set piece that Osman tried to send out of the stadium. That was one of our few attempts in the first half. Both sides enjoy a few spells of possession, although we kept running out of options and playing aimless long balls forward; Jagielka being the main culprit. I wish Moyes would tell him to watch Distin and learn from him.

With the game almost 10 minutes old, City were beginning to get a grip of the game and Silva was becoming an increasingly prominent figure. He has graced the Spain national team and his first half performance showed why. De Jong aimed a rugby union style up-and-under towards the Everton right back position and Hibbert was caught napping. Silva plucked the ball out of the air with a feather like touch; many home fans applauded, it was that good. The little Spaniard then twisted Hibbert inside out and lashed a shot just wide of the far post. This was a close escape that was to get even closer shortly afterwards.

Milner dinked a lofted through ball over a static Everton back four and Silva, on the volley, guided a cross into the 6 yard box. Thankfully for us, it was left to the unrefined finishing skills of Viera to put the chance home; he couldn?t oblige. Row P of the Park End gleefully accepted his shot. These were ominous signs though, our midfield wasn?t getting tight enough and Rodwell looked lost in an unfamiliar wide right role. Our next attempt was an Osman half volley from the best part of 30 yards; it was nearer to the big screen than the goal. He had time and should have advanced with the ball.

A City goal was looking increasingly likely and just before the half hour mark it arrived and it was oh so worryingly simple. The ball was worked down our left hand side; how many goals come from that side?? Distin dived in, missing the ball; Silva darted into the gaping hole in the back four and laid the ball off to Toure. The Ivorian had lost his marker, Baines, and dispatched a crisp strike past a despairing Howard. Our first meaningful riposte came just before half time; Rodwell guided a header wide from a cross from the right hand side.

We had been sluggish and poor in the first half; Moyes got the team selection and tactics all wrong in my opinion. Too many of the team looked uncomfortable in the roles they were being asked to perform and this contributed to our disjointed first half. The natives knew something needed to be changed and, fair play to Moyes, change it he did. Beckford was on for Hibbert with Neville reverting to RB and Mikel moving into CM and Anichebe playing from the right.

We won a free kick just after half time, Baines drove it goal wards and it took a nick along the way. Rodwell looked poised to bury the rebound but a great tackle from Kompany cleared the ball for a corner. We looked much more purposeful after the break, with Anichebe and Heitinga in particular looking up for it. Rodwell was looking livelier and Arteta was so much more comfortable in the middle. We were still living dangerously though and another City break almost resulted in a second for the visitors.

Toure was played through on goal with Osman making a valiant attempt to get back and put him off. The gangly centre mid forced a good save from Howard who made himself big and Neville was on hand to clear the danger. The next 15 minutes saw chances for both sides. Dzeko saw a header drift just wide off the far post whilst Beckford tested Hart but it lacked in power. Dzeko then came even closer as he opted to go it alone from a break and shot just wide of the left hand post.

The introduction of Cahill sparked the Blues into life. He didn?t necessarily do much with the ball but he was a nuisance and on all set pieces he had two City defenders marking him. He just has an impact against the bigger teams, especially City. They will probably throw a party when Tim retires. We won a free kick down the right and Arteta reminded us that he can take a good set piece. The best little Spaniard we know whipped a ball into the danger zone and Distin rose well. His header was powerful and towards the corner but Hart probably should have saved it. I didn?t care though and Goodison erupted; game on.

With 20 minutes to go, the turnaround was complete and we were in front. Osman provided the coup de grace with a header that Big Dunc would have tipped his hat in appreciation of. A combination of intricate passing and some well won tackles provided Neville with a crossing opportunity. The skipper delivered a cross towards the penalty area and Osman was ghosting in. He somehow, quite magnificently, rose above Kompany and looped a header into the far corner of the goal. The little magician suffered a bang on the head for his troubles but he soon recovered. We saw the remainder of the game out relatively comfortably with Beckford nearly adding a third and the closest City came was a deflected Milner effort.

I felt the manager got his tactics/selection horribly wrong for the first half but redeemed himself with his second half tactics. Although this beggars the question why start with that team. . . Anichebe had his best game of the season, by some distance and Arteta looked a lot better in a slightly more advanced role in the centre of the park. That was also the best Heitinga has played in the holding role to date. He won tackles and hustled the life out their team. I would like to see the second half team start the next match. We looked better with Neville at RB and out of midfield. This is no slight on Hibbert; unfortunately we just look a better team without our loyal right back in it.

See what we can do when we go at the bigger teams with some purpose and intent. West Brom next; boy do we owe them for our Goodison debacle. Let?s hope we can keep it going into next season. . .


Howard 7, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 6, Distin 7, Baines 6, Arteta 7, Neville 7, Heitinga 8, Osman 8, Rodwell 7, Anichebe 8

Subs: Cahill 7 (for his impact), Beckford 6

Reader Comments

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Jim Potter
1   Posted 08/05/2011 at 08:01:01

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A spot on match report Luke. I thought at half time that it could end up 0-3 or worse. I thought Moyes really sussed it well for the second half. The moaners of course will never admit that and just point out that he got it "really wrong in the first". The guy just can't win with some.

Strangely, we have no divine right to win all our games and we play badly at times or for periods of a game. "Burn him"!!! He also has to cut his cloth accordingly - given a limited squad, no money, injuries, etc. His job is to get us the most points he can with what he's got - sometimes he gets the tactics wrong or they appear negative - as he is against a formidable team or the players just don't perform. "Stone him"!

We were playing a team who have outspent us zillions to one. And yet - we beat Citteh - again. "Er .... he got lucky... again".

To some (the majority on this site?) Moyes seems to have become a Bin Laden type target - to be blamed for all our ills - and they want rid. To me, he has kept my Mecca alive when it could easily be in a Ground Zero like state - relegated and without hope.

Well ... he doesn't have a beard (ginger and blue don't mix that well) and I'll back him forever and a day - because, to me, he's a great manager and a true blue. The only time I'd hesitate is if the 50 virgins are offered in exchange. (I guarantee you girls - I have a great first touch ...).

My player scores would be slightly different as we have to remember that first half:-

Howard 8, Hibbert 5, Jagielka 6, Distin 7, Baines 6, Arteta 6, Neville 7, Heitinga 7, Osman 7, Rodwell 5, Anichebe 6.

And - Mancini is a twat.
Alan Clarke
2   Posted 08/05/2011 at 09:16:27

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Why couldn't Moyes make early changes like this in other games? I was furious at half time yesterday. He had set the team up purely for a nil-nil. A midfield of Heitinga, Neville and Rodwell with Hibbert marking the best left sided player in the league, was never going to win us a game. It was strange but very pleasing that Moyes then decided to make the changes early. Out of character, really.

Why has Moyes not done this more? Sometimes managers do get it wrong but good managers see this and act early. Too many times we've seen Moyes stick with his initial selection that hasn't worked only to wait until the last 10 minutes to try and change things.

We've drawn 15 games this season. That's the same as 5 wins and 10 losses. If Moyes had been bolder in those 15 games, like yesterday, would we be any worse off? It's likely that at the very worst we'd have won 5 and lost 10 so we'd still be in the same position. Perhaps though, by being bolder in his tactical decisions, more of those draws could have been wins. Even if we'd just won 7 and lost 8 of those 15, we'd be 4 points better off and now within touching distance of a European place.

Moyes has proven he can do it now and make the right changes early on. If only he could carry it on.
Edward Robinson
3   Posted 08/05/2011 at 09:16:34

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A great second half! but we were lucky to escape the first half. Silva was real class - what a player!
But what an effort from the blue boys. Keep it up at West brom, lads
Dave Wilson
4   Posted 08/05/2011 at 09:17:40

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Moyes will be eternally grateful to the wise and the knowledgeable.

Now they have pointed out where he has been going wrong, perhaps this Victory against City will prove to be more than just a one off.

One of these days the penny will drop, its not negativity thats the problem, its our inability to overcome others peoples that have cost us.
Wayne Smyth
5   Posted 08/05/2011 at 09:34:24

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Agree completely with your assessment, Luke. This game pretty much summed up DM and our season for me.

First half with 2 central defenders in midfield, our central midfielders on the wings, and not enough support for vic, we were unable to create anything of note. Hardly surprising.

Second half when DM introduced a second striker, put Neville to right back - a position more suiting his ability - everything seemed to click into place. Why DM often seems unwilling to start with players in their natural positions and a more positive formation is beyond me.

There were some things I never thought I'd see though. One was Vic putting in a real shift. Infact all of the players looked really up for it, especially in the second half, and that is one of key things that has been missing from the players in the games we have lost this season, a bit of desire.

All in all a fantastic performance from the players and a superb result against a very good and expensively assembled squad. Just wish DM would start with an 11 to go out and win the match rather than wait till we're a goal down. On another day we may not have been in a position to come back, Man City missed a lot of first half chances.
Gary Mortimer
6   Posted 08/05/2011 at 10:24:04

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A great 2nd half comeback, why we let Vierra and co have so much space in the 1st half is beyond me.

That's 7 wins out of the last 8 matches against the Citteh - can we play them every week?

One thing that did bring me down a bit, on the way home, was David Moyes' interview on BBC Radio Merseyside after the match. He said that against a side with that much talent and resources (City) we would only expect to win 2 maybe 3 games out of ten. With such negative thinking like that, I am afraid I am moving to the 'he's taken us as far as he can' brigade. To have that attitude as Everton manager is, in my opinion, not good enough.

No wonder we always roll over at Old Trafford.
David Price
7   Posted 08/05/2011 at 10:56:19

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Not a problem with Moyes being realistic rather than classing his comments as negative.
While football is generally a simple game, this "why can't we start a game like we finish" is ignoring some classic tactical planning from Moyes.
So you're playing a side that, even with a large squad, has been through a lot of games coming up to the business end of the season. The pressure of competing on more than one front can take it's toll.
The key from Saturday was to stay in the game and keep it tight.
Then later in the game to ramp up the pressure, up the tempo, bring the fresh legs on, then physically and mentally smash the life out of a side lacking in team spirit when the shit hits the fan.
The last ingredient was the crowd.
When the fans sensed the change the atmosphere was second to none.
Sometimes you take a positive risk in football by looking negative.
Didn't work at Old Trafford due to bad luck at key times, this time it did.
We can't go toe to toe with these guys for 90 minutes as the game could be over after 20 minutes and be 3 nil down.
Great performance from the lads, one point not noticed was Heitinga's double challenge to win the ball to set up the move for the winner.
Johnny has been slated for missing tackles, not so this time.
Great fighting spirit and while we are financially in this state, then the faithful will have to accept that we will have to play like this.
Top 6 results this season makes decent reading with Chelsea to come .
The secret now is developing a tactic to nail the mid to lower table sides and turn those draws to wins.
We've got a Manager who knows what he is doing and i'd like him to somehow finance a deal for Sturridge to give us that cutting edge.
Trevor Mackie
8   Posted 08/05/2011 at 11:25:38

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Jim @ 1

"doth protest too much me thinks". Moyes makes mistakes - if City had put away their chances we'd have been looking at a cricket score.
Norman Merrill
9   Posted 08/05/2011 at 11:45:43

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Having seen Big Dunc on sky's Goals on Sunday coming onto the pitch, he was very emotional, being in the park end all you see is his entrance, and it was a joy to see the big fellah back home.
And our second half performance reminded us of what Duncan brought to the team.
All the players can take credit for the
effort and team spirit shown.
Jimmy Hacking
10   Posted 08/05/2011 at 14:07:09

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It's just as well that team spirit isn't something you buy, as we'd never have any.
Luke O'Farrell
11   Posted 08/05/2011 at 14:54:22

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Could just about see from my seat that Dunc was a bit emotional coming out. Was puffing his cheeks out and seemed overwhelmed by the reception.

Distin and Osman provided their own tributes with two cracking headers.

This game should hopefully show Moyes that Neville will never be a CM and we need Arteta in there; not out wide.
Martin Mason
12   Posted 08/05/2011 at 18:41:02

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To be fair, after watching United destroy Schalke and Chelsea (they were brilliant tonight) it puts our performance there into true perspective. We actually did very well considering we have no resources compared with them. There is no shame at all going down there and we had them totally frustrated for long periods. I think if we perform well at WBA next week and give Chelsea a good game the week after we can say we have had a very good season consider the dire position that we were in at one time.
Roberto Birquet
13   Posted 08/05/2011 at 18:54:03

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"....although this beggars the question why start with that team."
Is the selection of Anichebe not simply giving him playing time at the end of a season with nothing still riding on it?

So to prove to us and himself? I can't see selecting him as anything else.

Beckfod is all we've really got as a striker right now. Either Anichebe shows he's worth keeping, or we'll have to bring in two strikers rather than just one this summer.

Hopefully it's a... that is, two strikers.
Derek Thomas
14   Posted 09/05/2011 at 07:59:18

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You can buy class players, but you can't buy class it's self.
Eugene Ruane
15   Posted 10/05/2011 at 07:38:47

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Jim Potter (1) it is disingenuous to say..

"To some (the majority on this site?) Moyes seems to have become a Bin Laden type target ? to be blamed for all our ills ? and they want rid".

I have posted on more than one occasion to say I would like to see Moyes replaced (and I would) but have always made it clear it is nothing personal and that I DON'T see him as Bin Laden.

Shades of grey please!
Andy Crooks
16   Posted 12/05/2011 at 17:26:44

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Luke, good report. Michael has tutored you well. How about going tabloid this weekend? Kick some shit up. You have the ability to write something important and special, do it before the season is over.
Luke O'Farrell
17   Posted 12/05/2011 at 21:32:32

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Thanks Andy,

I like the sound of your idea; although I've just started a freelance journalism course so I need to get into the habit of not kicking shit up.

They advise not to offer opinions; a bit of an awful concept to be honest.

However, depending on how we do on Saturday and against Chelsea, you may yet get your wish.

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