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Moyes Ponders Attacking Ethos

By Robbie Riddal :  16/05/2011 :  Comments (35) :
It's been another disappointing season for the long-suffering supporters of Everton FC.

Manchester United continue their era of supremacy with a 12th title in 18 years, spearheaded by the greatest young talent Everton have ever produced; Manchester City have finally ended their 'dry spell' and look set to embark on an era of sexy football and even sexier rewards... whilst even the dastardly and terminally despicable red shower of shite appear to have turned the corner.  (In fact, they are so far around the corner that historians and cartographers have denied the existence of the cobbled pot-hole riddled 'Hodgson Way').

All the while, Everton appear to have at optimistic best reached a plateau, at worst started a descent back into the depressing nadir of mid-table mediocrity.

And so inevitably, the sharks ? or the online ones, at least ? are beginning to circle around David Moyes, demanding an immediate scapegoat in the same kind of blood-thirsty manner as those philistine students who ran amok around London recently in protest at government spending cuts.

So what of Everton and David Moyes?

Unquestionably Moyes is a capable manager; in terms of accruing sufficient league points to finish in a respectable position and for delivering results in trying fiscal circumstances. The spirit he has instilled into the squad, in terms of playing and believing until the final whistle, is one of our biggest assets. Think of the games we've rescued points from this season when all seemed lost: United at home, Bolton at home, Sunderland away, Chelsea away, West Ham at home, Blackpool at home, Villa at home, Wigan away, City at home. That's at least 9 games this season where we've clawed our way back into a game late-on. The mental toughness Moyes has instilled in the players is to be commended, and is perhaps the difference between where we finish in the table now, and where we used to finish in the table under the likes of Walter Smith.

With this in mind, it is difficult to criticise Moyes. Everton don't lose many games. We are generally always in with a shout, we rarely lose heavily. Even against the top teams, or should I say especially against the top teams, there is usually only a goal in it.

This resilience is a solid foundation to build upon. The problem is we haven't built on it yet. We showed glimpses a year or two ago when we finished 5th and got to the FA Cup Final, but we still lacked any real creative or clinical quality to win games.

We tend to have a large share of possession but, this season especially, it's been obvious we haven't got a clue what to do with the ball in the attacking third. Our only plan when in possession appears to be to get the ball out wide and swing a cross in; it's this one-dimensional approach which casts doubt over Moyes's ability to take his team any further than a resilient outfit who play pretty football.

He certainly does himself no favours by fielding 7 defenders in an end-of-season dead rubber away at West Brom; these are exactly the kind of games you want to blood 'fringe' players and maybe try out new ideas. The starting line-up at West Brom was bizarre yet still in view of the first half at home to Man City the previous week.

The situation Everton find themselves in is a huge problem. We have a cautious manager who is unlikely to ever allow his team to bare their teeth, either because he doesn't think we have the requisite quality in order to become more cavalier, or simply because it's not his style; the problem is we are unlikely to ever find out which is the case until he is given adequate transfer funds in order to sign the kind of attacking flair players who come at a premium, without having to facilitate these signings by the sale of our 'resilient' players who offer graft as opposed to guile.

To confuse matters yet further, it's also arguable that Moyes's best transfer business is concluded at the lower end of the market spectrum and furthermore, achieves better results with limited options in terms of team selection, which raises yet another question: could he be trusted to invest a significant transfer fund wisely?

Personally, I'm not sure. I believe he deserves the chance, but I am becoming increasingly confident that he won't get that chance and even if he were, we would still fall short.

What is clear is that Everton are further behind the top clubs than we were 2 or 3 years ago, and something must change, lest Everton will continue to find themselves lolling around the Premier League like a buoy in the ocean.

Reader Comments

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Sean McKenna
1   Posted 17/05/2011 at 16:05:59

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Robbie, excellent post, you are 99 percent right. The 1 percent which is wrong is that we don't play pretty football.

I watched Swansea v Notts Forest last night and what a joy to watch. Both teams slicking the ball around like Barca... now if that was Everton under Moyes in the play-off and we went 1-0 up, it would've been backs to the wall for the rest of the game trying to hang on...

That's Moyes's way. That's why I want rid of him. He still can't see that the best form of defence is to attack. Moyes will always grind out results but he will never play the type of football our long-suffering fans deserve.

Tri Tan
2   Posted 17/05/2011 at 16:30:13

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Moyes's greatest belief is that continuity the way for success. This year proved that a club only wants/needs continuity if it is already successful. Obviously EFC have a long way to go. Continuity explains keeping Yakubu around? Cut your losses already ? should have sold him for $5M to West Ham when we had the chance.

What Moyes needs is a bit of spontaneity and the desire to manage and play to WIN OR LOSE. A more daring attacking mindset and formation will make that happen. This applies to transfers. Trade up. Arteta playing like crap. Sell. Rodwell can't even break into starting lineup yet Man Utd/City want to shell out $20+M? Sell to the highest bidder.

I know this is not popular but we must keep the game changers: Fellaini and Bainsey.
Tony J Williams
3   Posted 17/05/2011 at 17:26:34

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I don't get the "blood fringe players"... why?

Every point counts; yes, we lost to West Brom, but the team playing had just beaten Citteh the week before and we should be playing to win, not field a weakened side to get a fine from the FA, because we would.

Points mean prizes (£-wise).
Tony J Williams
4   Posted 17/05/2011 at 17:32:38

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"To confuse matters yet further, it's also arguable that Moyes's best transfer business is concluded at the lower end of the market spectrum" - Arguably our best player is our most expensive one - Felliani.
Rob Riddal
5   Posted 17/05/2011 at 17:52:30

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@Tony (#3 & #4)
I understand the argument of trying to finish as high up the league as possible in terms of £s, but ? if an end-of-season game away at mid-table West Brom is not an ideal time to play the likes of Gueye, Beckford, Rodwell, Bily ? then when is?

I cannot fathom why Heitinga was in the team alongside Neville. What was the thinking behind it?

As for #4 ? I completely agree that Fellaini has been a good signing for us ? at £15M he should be ? but I think it's fair to say that Moyes's best business has been the likes of Nigel Martyn, Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka; all signed for under £6M.

The Yak has done OK for us but at £11M and little re-sale value, would he be considered one of Moyes's better signings? I think not. Clearly Bilyaletdinov has potential but again, have we had value from him? I don't think so.

For me, the jury is still out on Moyes's high-end transfer dealings.
John Ford
6   Posted 17/05/2011 at 18:05:31

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The only reason we're further behind the top clubs than 2/3 years ago is that two more clubs ? Spurs and City ? have paid their way to get to the top table. The money these two clubs have spent over the past couple of seasons (including raids on Everton's best) makes Moyes's job a near impossible task.
John Ford
7   Posted 17/05/2011 at 18:14:51

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"The Philistine students running amok around London"... this is poor form.

You've really lapped up what the media wanted you to. The march involved half-a-million people with genuine concerns. There is an argument that direct action should be part of this, or maybe not, but either way you've missed the whole point of the day.
Phil Martin
8   Posted 17/05/2011 at 18:24:48

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@ John Ford #6

I agree completely. Add Villa to that list (who were ahead of use until they sacked O'Neill).

@ Robbie,

It's easy to play sexy football when you have options. But when you can't afford to even bring loanees in, then you what chance do you have? Seriously, take Blackpool, all that attacking football and all the plaudits that come with it. But perhaps as they face needing to win at OT to stay up, they should've thought about a more balanced approach.

I'd rather us play in an efficient style that brings us wins. Rather than attractive just for the sake of it.

Perhaps, if the powers that be sort our club out, Moyes might get some of the funds he's owed. Two strikers and a wide midfielder could make a massive difference to our confidence, style of play, and consistency.
Robbie Riddal
9   Posted 17/05/2011 at 18:47:25

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@John #6
I agree; You can't sell two of your best players ?Lescott & Pienaar? and hope to progress. Whether Moyes could have handled both situations better, however, is open to debate, I'm sure you will agree.

As for #7 ? it was intended as a sweeping generalisation, just a reference to the minority of idiots who used the situation as an opportunity to become Vinny Vandal for the day, just like the sharks circling around Moyes demanding his removal.

@Phil #8 Point accepted. Moyes has underlined time and again, on record, that he is all about results; which is a great attitude to have, but I still find his approach can be overly cautious even when results aren't hugely important. We ended up losing at West Brom with his cautious approach anyway, yet even if the game was played again this weekend, I'm certain he'd approach the game in the same manner.

Rob Hollis
10   Posted 17/05/2011 at 20:43:57

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The bit I can't reconcile is that in the second half of last season we got it. Good football, bit of steel and many points. I thought we were off and could not wait for this season. I can't believe how the team fell apart over the summer. I now expect nothing.
Dennis Stevens
11   Posted 17/05/2011 at 22:53:19

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Sadly, I'm with you Rob - I now expect nothing. What's worse is that I'm fairly confident that our Board, Manager & players will deliver exactly that. There seems to be no objective other than survival. The only strategy seems to be to await another DK-type opportunity in a new location.
Luke O'Farrell
12   Posted 17/05/2011 at 23:19:08

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#3 Tony

Sorry but don't buy your point at all.

The team that started the WBA game was, bar one player, the same team that stunk the place out in the first half of the City game.

Surely the team that performed so well second half should have started the WBA game..

Tony J Williams
13   Posted 18/05/2011 at 00:00:24

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But that wouldn't happen if we blooded new players.
Luke O'Farrell
14   Posted 18/05/2011 at 00:32:44

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I agree with you on the blooding new players part as, like you said, we need every penny we can get from league placings.

Just think the team that ended the City game should've played last time out.
Roman Sidey
15   Posted 18/05/2011 at 02:51:42

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Oh for fucks sake!!!

Robbie, good read. Well done. I don't agree that Moyes deserves more funding to prove that he is a good manager though, and the people on here that keep saying "the board should be giving him the money he needs to make us successful" obviously have short memories and low standards.

Whichever way you look at it, any money the club gets from any avenue is the club's money, not Moyes's. That said, this is what his track record looks like when the club has given Moyes the right to spend their money:

Beattie: £6.5 mil ? one alright season.

Johnson: £8.6 mil ? two good seasons, then left to rot on the bench. Selling for a profit seems bittersweet now.

Lescott: £5 mil ? great player, good profit made, but handled by Moyes attrociously, arguably leading to a 6-1 defeat at home on opening day.

Yakubu: £11.25 mil ? Best season for a Toffs striker in 20 odd years, gets injured, then is selected and dropped with the logic rivaling Scientology.

Fellaini: £15 mil ?- yet to complete a full season, worth about £3 million at the time, now worth more, but not worth £15 million.

Distin: £3 mil ? has worked out well, but how much longer will we have him for?

Heitinga: £6 mil ? Everton's first genuine player to possess both a winning AND mongrel mentality. Moyes then keeps him on the bench unless completely pressed for a warm body.

Bily: 10 mil ? A great talent, but probably worth £7 million at a stretch. Shows signs of promise then left on the bench and given 2 minutes per game to do anything.

To reiterate, Moyes has been allowed to spend the club's money, and quite frankly, has spent too much of it, mainly due to dithering until August 31st, or spent it on players he grows tired of after a season.

Chris Bannantyne
16   Posted 18/05/2011 at 04:00:44

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Good post.

Moyes doesn't know what he's doing anymore.

The board never knew what they were doing.

It's fun being an Evertonian...
James Hollister
17   Posted 18/05/2011 at 04:44:28

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With Regards Bily, the lad needs to be sold in the summer for all concerned before his value drops. In fairness to the lad, he isn't cut out to be a Premier League player.

For me the pace of the Premier League is just too much for him. Sell him to a European club and he'd probably thrive quite well, where the pace is much slower than the breakneck speed our league is.

His inconsistency stems from the fact he is just too lazy. Remember the Utd match? The lad was so far out of his depth he had to be removed by half-time, most times he couldn't be bothered to pick the ball up, whenever he got the ball he immediately gave it away, and his pace was slower than a snail's that day.

His body language to me is one of not wanting to be here and play for us. He knows he is out of his depth, and I think he also knows that he will never be Premier League standard.

A couple of screamers is not worth the £10 mill paid for him, not when Moyes should still be looking for a winger and a striker.

I think Distin this year as been outstanding, apart from some of the goofs he has made. A worthy replacement for Lescott? Imho, I think he is a much better player all round.

The bad starts to the season is something else. I know we don't miss elephant face in the slightest.

James Hollister
18   Posted 18/05/2011 at 05:09:47

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What I'd like to know, is why does Moyes play Fellaini further up midfield, when his best position is just in-front of the back 4. Last season he had an absolute blinder of a season, this year doesn't remotely compare to it.

Which brings in to question, why did he spend all that money on Heitinga, when Fellaini is clearly by miles the better choice? (When he isn't injured)?
Moyes has made some really loopy and bizarre decisions this year. I know Arteta was out, but at the end of the day I get a feeling half the goals we did concede this season wouldn't have been scored if the big lad was back there.
Derek Thomas
19   Posted 18/05/2011 at 08:16:40

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9 games we clawed our way back into, This seems to me that it was the poor Plan A in the fisrt place that put us in that position... Citeh, prime example.

Then we add all the ones where we were never even at the races in any shape or form, 1st half or 2nd.

So just how many points lost to the 'keep it tight and pinch one' philosophy is that then.

Short version: this is as good as Moyes and therefore us will get. Money is only a factor in getting players for the team. Not how they are told to play.
Tony J Williams
20   Posted 18/05/2011 at 09:06:24

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"Mainly due to dithering until August 31st" ? Or probably waiting for some money from a sale of an asset or the Sky money.

He always says it is important to get players in early, you can't do that if the cupboards are bare and the banks won't extend any loans. Selling players is the only option and of course he will try and get the most because he knows not all of the transfer money will come to him.
Dave Lynch
21   Posted 18/05/2011 at 09:31:29

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Stopped reading at the: "We rarely lose heavily, even against the top teams."

I must have missed all those thrashings by Arsenal, Man Utd, Newcastle in the past. Not forgetting the mighty WBA at home this season.

You don't have to concede a bucketfull of goals to be beaten heavily.
Jamie Barlow
22   Posted 18/05/2011 at 11:23:40

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Roman, you say Moyes shouldn't be given money to buy and then go on to name eight players out of which six were good buys.
Roman Sidey
23   Posted 18/05/2011 at 12:52:30

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Jamie, 6 of them were good buys for a short amount of time. Out of the eight, Fellaini is the only one we could get profit from or a lengthy stay at the club due his age, and Lescott was the only one we made great money off of and were able to replace quickly.

My point was, Moyes spends large amounts on players that have short spells at the club before he begins to hold some sort of grudge.

Dithering until 31st to get the money to buy players? How long did the Lescott saga go on for? He should have sold him at least a month earlier. As for Fellaini, I find it hard to believe that the club would shell out £15mil for him on deadline day if they weren't willing to pay maybe £10mil for him a month earlier. Everyone harps on about how good he is. He's pretty good for us, but I honestly think he wouldn't make the cut in the big 3.
Tony J Williams
24   Posted 18/05/2011 at 16:34:50

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How long did the Lescott saga go on for? - Long enough for us to rape the Sultans Of Salford to the tune of £24m, or should we have let him go for cheaper a moth earlier?
Roman Sidey
25   Posted 18/05/2011 at 16:54:34

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They offered us £20mil at least a month earlier, Moyes contradicted the fuck out of himself by saying he is not for sale at all but would go for £30mil. Then, he waits until the player physically shows that he has no desire to play for us in the worst possible way, so Moyes sells up for four fifths of what he was holding out for.

In the meantime, we lose a winnable opening home game 6-1 due to the stubbornness of two people at loggerheads, thus catalysing an atrocious start to a season.

I'll let you make your own mind up...
Luke O'Farrell
26   Posted 18/05/2011 at 17:02:17

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Saying we lost 6-1 to Arsenal on the opening day of that season, because of Moyes and Lescott?!?!

Tell me your joking, the reason we lost was because we were terrible and they were very good and once they got a few in front we crumbled.

Blaming Moyes for that defeat is ludicrous, although you do seem blinded by your hatred for the man, I will admit to not being his biggest fan but blaming that capitulation on him is ridiculous.

You'll have people calling you Tony Marsh II if you keep having a go at Moyes for the everything, even stuff that's not his fault.
Tony J Williams
27   Posted 18/05/2011 at 17:05:24

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That's still £4m more than what they offered a month before.

A winnable opening game against Arsenal... behave yerself.
Roman Sidey
28   Posted 18/05/2011 at 17:25:09

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I'm not saying that loss was all Moyes's fault or all Lescott's fault. What I will say is that the summer of 09 was completely marred by the Lescott Saga, and the team was ill-prepared for an opening game at home.

Until that point, our home record over Arsenal for a few seasons had been decent enough with a couple of wins. Had we lost that game 2-1 or something, maybe that would have been acceptable, but 6-1, home or away to anyone is bad to a point where the players that took place should not have even been paid their weekly wage.

How Lescott behaved in this game was atrocious, and that Moyes didn't control the situation better to avoid such an embarrassing end to a good Everton career was down to ginger stubbornness.

Wayne Smyth
29   Posted 18/05/2011 at 17:51:29

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Great post, Robbie. Agree completely with you.

I think every Evertonian is grateful to DM that we are not scrapping for our survival every year, and he does appear to have a lot of the qualities we'd like, such as imparting a work-ethic and resilient nature as you mention.

What's so frustrating is that he doesn't appear to be able to put out a team to win a match... regardless of the opposition. Quite often we initially have at least 6 defenders on the pitch and most of our games have involved starting with just 1 striker.

Against City we were lucky that they were profligate in the first half and we were able to change things at half-time to a more positive formation. Against West Brom we were not so lucky and paid the price. Bily's sending off had no real impact on the game.

I recall a few seasons ago losing to Spurs at home with some really negative crap. The crowd made it known in no uncertain terms what they thought and the next game we had 2 up front and went on to win it, if I recall correctly. But unless he is backed into a corner, DM always seems to revert to type and go with a 'safety first' mentality.

I think if he could only try to have more belief and trust in the players' ability to attack sides he could be a great manager for us. As it is, I think we'll only ever be treading water with him. He has been with us for so long now he isn't going to significantly change his ideas or mentality.
Jon Cox
30   Posted 19/05/2011 at 15:49:03

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It's not just a lack of money, although that's part of the problem. DM's main problem is his lack of creativity.

It's one-dimensional football all the way and teams have sussed us out long ago.

The football at GP for a few seasons now has been tired, wearisome, and above all stale.

Time for a change all round imho.
John Ford
31   Posted 19/05/2011 at 19:49:02

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You won't get many disagreeing with you re the fans desire to be more attack-minded. However, there is no more likelihood of us winning more games this way. The 'attacking teams outside of the rich elite just don't fare well in the Premier League. They can look good at times (eg, Blackpool, Wigan, WBA) but over a season they never do as well as Moyes's Everton. This is the case season after season.

If you're saying "let's take a risk", and we may get better entertainment, then I can respect that. But the point is it is indeed a risk. We may be a bit dour but we are more successful than any club of similar stature who attempt the more free flow style. I would also argue that Moyes teams can play good stuff ? last season we were passing beautifully at times.

The mistake is assuming that being more attacking equates to a higher league position. There is no evidence or examples where it does. I'd love to see it, but only when we get big money players who won't risk us conceding more. These attacking teams may be easier on the eye but often end up scrapping for their lives.
Daniel A Johnson
32   Posted 20/05/2011 at 12:29:11

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Moyes started a match TWO times this season with NO STRIKERS.

You can all dream on if you think he's gonna change.

After 10 years, it's gonna be the same old shite.

But some fans here love it so who am I to complain?
Roman Sidey
33   Posted 21/05/2011 at 08:09:14

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John Ford, fair enough, attacking football does not guarantee the we will climb the table. However, if you look at Everton's track record this season, as well as seasons dating back to maybe 07, defensive football isn't helping us climb the ladder either;

(one season 5th and a Cup final are the only things keepin fans happy, the next it's nought but 8th in the table and it's "the best we could have hoped for!!!!")

... it doesn't seem to be pushing us into top four positions now does it?
Ian Edwards
34   Posted 21/05/2011 at 13:03:48

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Contrary to the article Moyes is unquestionably a bad manager.

Negative tactics.
Poor expensive buys.
Puzzling substitutions.
Players out of position.
No Plan B.
No pace in the midfield.
Misplaced loyalty in team selections to his favourites.
Failure to spot when players need to be moved on.

The reason why we score late goals is as a result of having to chase games due to the negative mentality of" keep it tight at the start and try to soak up pressure for the first 20 minutes".

Teams have worked out how to play against our one up front with Tim just behind and if we use it again next season we will be taking a personal interest in survival sunday.

The sooner we get rid of Dreary Dave the better.
Gavin Ramejkis
35   Posted 22/05/2011 at 01:15:25

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John #31, ever thought about Moyes only having one game plan the old 4-5-1 no matter who we play and like for like subs when they are made which rarely changes that one tracked game plan? Ever thought changing the tactics to suit a particular game instead of reverting to the same plan week in week out all season for the best part of ten years is getting a bit long in the tooth?

What if Moyes adopted an attacking line up against a team that had conceded the second highest number of goals in the league WBA yet didn't and we lost twice deservedly or sending no strikers on at the start of the game against a piss poor West Ham away. A great manager will have an array of formations and tactics to his disposal not just one trick which if it fails he's fucked, he may not have a squad of 25 galacticos but he has players and they can play decent football but shouldn't do for the last 20/30 minutes of a game chasing it.

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