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What will change this season?

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As an Evertonian 32 years old, it?s fair to say I?m more used to disappointment than anything else... so, against that background, please understand my question:

What has changed/will change this season from last season so that we win those ?must win? games that we simply didn?t win?

There were numerous occasions last season when it seemed like a win could propel us into Champions League contention but we failed to convert. Was it mental pressure? Was it lack of luck? Something occurred such that not only could we not win those games to contest 4th spot BUT we couldn?t eventually overhaul Liverpool either.

I know we beat Man U and Chelsea but the pressure was off by then. Those wins didn?t mean a lot. And even though it should have meant we were confident enough to win the ?must win? games, we didn?t.

I know there?s a lot of optimism around and I apologise if I dent that but I just want to know why everyone has by-passed this crucial question?

Please help?!

Kase Chow, London     Posted 12/08/2010 at 17:11:17

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Gerry Quinn
1   Posted 12/08/2010 at 19:35:41

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Kase - excellent observation as to the change in confidence. In my case, I strongly believe that:

1. The players are looking back on last season and have realised just how damn close they came to qualifying for Europe from a position of nowhere ? let's not make that same mistake ? start strong.
2. There are only minor injuries ? a great boost for morale compared with last season.
3. There are only minor injuries ? more stability in all positions, i.e., not having someone different playing next to you every match.
4. The World Cup has finished ? get on with the real, exciting football matches (well, the majority of them).

Andy Crooks
2   Posted 12/08/2010 at 19:54:32

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Kase, what I hope will change this season is the following:

Prior to last season, we were timid and negative against the top sides and comfortably bullied most of the lesser teams. Last season we were utter shite against the relegation fodder and finally turned up against United and Chelsea. This year we will approach every game with a belief that we are good enough. Hoofball will be plan C and not plan A, B and C as once was. David Moyes will be bold and confident and by Christmas we will have forty points. We will finish in our usual strong way and on the last day of the season we will need a point for fourth place. We will have already qualified for the Europa League via the League Cup.

Ah... a few beers on my Thursday off. It really lifts the mood.

Chris Wilson
3   Posted 12/08/2010 at 19:59:42

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The optimism stems from the run we had in the second part of the season where I believe we only lost two matches - third best behind Man U and Chelsea. And I have to disagree, the Chelsea and Man U matches were very important at the time; the pressure was still on. I agree with Gerry, one of the reasons Evertonians are excited is the lack of injuries coming into the season, and the attitude the players have taken. Baines, Cahill, Rodwell, and Arteta have all committed to long term deals, and you get the sense that the players all around are a little pissed off that they got so close but failed really in the last month when they were unable to find the telling goal in draws to Wolves, Stoke, West Ham (just off the top of my head).

In my opinion we had two waves of injuries that struck us, the begining of the season where we were forced to play a lot of the kids and some of the new signings like Heitinga hadn't had a chance to adapt to the league yet. Then we had the second minor injury wave where we lost Felli and we often missing other players for a couple of matches at a stretch. Those who were playing on just ran out of gas at the end of the year. This season, the squad is intact (although Anichebe has missed the last two pre-season matches due to injury... again, and Cahill might be a concern), and there's been no internal chaos despite the attempts from Arsenal and Man City.

I say this could be a special season for us, and possibly the most wide open PL season ever.
Chris Wilson
4   Posted 12/08/2010 at 20:32:15

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On an unrelated note (sorry Michael, I just think it's cool), but how freaking sweet is it for Sparky to be experiencing an unsettled side with Schwarzer demanding a transfer to Arsenal right before the season? How does it feel Hughsie?!? What comes around goes around! Karma is such a bitch, 'taint it!?! HA!
Joey Brown
5   Posted 12/08/2010 at 21:00:13

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I think the good pre-season and healthy players have a lot to do with the optimistic feel for the start the season.

Also, you are right about us not stepping up when it mattered last season but the pressure was not off when we beat Chelsea and Man Utd. We still had an outside shot and, had we beat either Liverpool or Tottenham that month, things could have been different.

Not to mention that both Chelsea and Man Utd were in a title race and were not playing lazy by any means.
Brendan O'Doherty
6   Posted 12/08/2010 at 21:08:37

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"I know we beat Man Utd and Chelsea but the pressure was off by then. Those wins didn?t mean a lot. "

I see what you're getting at Kase but those wins meant a hell of a lot. They were part of a February which was a major pyschological breakthrough.

But if we put the best parts of the 08-09 season together with the best parts of last season, we will do well. And this time we are starting off with practically a clean bill of health, which should make a massive difference.

Thought you needed a drink Andy...
Phil Bellis
7   Posted 12/08/2010 at 21:14:42

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I think we now have, for the first time under Moysesy...
? the capability of playing different lineups depending on the opposition
? players who can come off the bench and make a bloody difference

I hope Moyes will give the midfield the license to interchange during the game ? I recall the bewilderment of the opposition defenders when we played 1-4-6-0
David Price
8   Posted 12/08/2010 at 21:22:42

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Stand out differences from last season are:

? Moyes isn't delaying over a contract,
? No-one has poached one of our best players,
? Hetinga and Bily have had the dreaded foreigners first season in the Prem out the way,
? Jags is back,
? Fellaini is back,
? Arteta is back,
? Yakubu is back and just in case, we have Beckford signed and raring to go,
? Rodwell has gone from boy to man,
? Coleman has emerged.

All the above was not applicable to this time last year apart from Fellaini but how good is his reputation now compared to August 2009? Last seasons run, 2 losses in 24, should we have lost them, probably not on analysis of the matches. Of the 9 draws in that 24, how many of those did we scrape a point, answer none. Everyone had a late equaliser conceded, leads lost or numerous chances not put away. Of the 13 wins, granted a few last minute winners, but we deserved the wins against Blackburn, Fulham and Portsmouth easily.

So analysing the facts available like our German friends in an earlier piece about England, then there are indeed more than three reasons to be cheerful.

Gary Creaney
9   Posted 12/08/2010 at 21:41:53

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I really don't see the problem in being optimistic, even if its unrealistic, excessive, unjustified etc. I'm quite happily prepared to set myself up for a fall when it comes to the blues. I'm quite happy to say right now that we'll finish in the top 3 and I don't care if anyone tells me that I'll end up being disappointed as usual because if I do then that's life and i'll get over it.

A lot of things have changed Kase none more so than having a non chaotic summer
Tony J Williams
10   Posted 12/08/2010 at 22:37:18

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I am feeling cautiously optimistic but nowhere near as optimistic as those posters with the daft 24 year rule and the "we will get 4th" brigade. I hope I am wrong... my my expectations are for top 6. I want us to win the league but we are not consistently good enough unfortunately.

However, what's this rubbish about the ManUre and Chelsea games not being pressure games?
Dennis Stevens
11   Posted 12/08/2010 at 22:32:54

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Last season was only the 23rd since our last League Title, whereas this season will be the 24th ? which means we will be Champions again!
Brendan McLaughlin
12   Posted 12/08/2010 at 23:37:18

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I think Kase has actualy sumned up in a nutshell why we will be finishing 5th to 7th.
Tony Cheek
13   Posted 13/08/2010 at 04:40:11

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Yes Kase, I also found the run in last season really frustrating. So I can see your point. Points squandered all over the show. I was not really worried about qualifying for the Europa League, but was really gutted that we let the RS finish in front of us.

I thought DM's team selection had a lot to do with it. And that's what I am most worried about this season as well. Yes, I have put a bet on on them to win the league, but still feel that the only thing that can balls it up is Moyes's team selection.

Saturday's team will no doubt include Hibbert, Neville and Osman... this is DM's weakness and will cost us too many lost points ? as it did at the tail-end last season.

Ernie Baywood
14   Posted 13/08/2010 at 05:55:19

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Very good post Kase. I agree with David Price that there are key differences between this season and last but they weren't the reason that we were drawing against shit teams in the last couple of months.

So why do we beat them this time around? I think the difference might be confidence. Confidence that we belong at this level and that we can and will do it.

As Gary Creaney said, I'll take a fall for Everton if I have to but it feels very good to be this confident in the team and squad we have.
Anthony Hughes
15   Posted 13/08/2010 at 07:56:41

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Although keeping my feet firmly on the ground, it does seem that all things are primed and set to go with us. Come on Moysie pick our best players in their best positions (injuries permiting).

Let's go out and play attacking adventurous football and let other teams worry about us and not vice versa. Play this way and at least we can say we've had a right good go this season from the start, this is our best chance in years for a trophy... let's have no regrets boys.

ps: I just heard on the radio that Man City striker Caicedo is having a medical at West Ham so that looks like the end of their interest in the Yakster.

Col Wills
16   Posted 13/08/2010 at 08:44:27

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Reasons to be cautious:-

1) Still no cover if Baines gets injured
2) Will the Yak be fit?
3) It's a bloody tough league this year
4) Have we got a nailed on starter up front?

Reasons to be optimistic:-
1) Emergence of Coleman
2) Another year, same team, continuity
3) Heitinga and Jags at the back
4) Felli and Arteta in the middle
5) Baines and Pienaar on the left
6) Bily's first Everton pre-season completed
7) Rodders
8) Cover in most positions
9) Moyesy
10) the crowd ? let's intimidate all
11) Gueye ? surprise quantity
12) No Euro games and travel
13) Smart kit

by the way, I'm as optimistic as anyone and have backed that up with bets with our red bretheren that we'll finish above them (at least).
Andy Amey
17   Posted 13/08/2010 at 10:00:10

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I think that for most of us, it is strange to be this close to the seasons start, and not be too bothered about the club bringing in any new players. This shows how much confidence there is in the team and squad.

On a related note I think the less desperate we are strengthens our position as a buying club and,conversely, in thrashing out contracts with the players already on our books.
Gareth Humphreys
18   Posted 13/08/2010 at 10:20:27

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I don't know what will change this season but I am actually concerned about how far we can go.

One trait of David Moyes's Everton sides is that they go on runs ? good and bad. If we can get off to a good start and keep the momentum going with only the League Cup in the way, who knows? It's 11 v 11 every week and there are only games at Stamford Bridge and the Old Trafford that I would not be confident of getting something out of.

I think the lads are going to have a real crack at it this season. We were only a last-second Aston Villa goal away from 7th last season, fact fans.

Nick Wall
19   Posted 13/08/2010 at 11:06:58

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Kase, last season we got to the situation where practically every game was "must win" because we were playing catch up. As others have said, a good start can make a big difference. If we're talking top 4 finishes, it's all about consistency, and I think the key to this is having the right level of fitness and mental attitude to treat every game as a "must win" game ? competing against the big guys, but also minimising the amount of points "thrown away" against teams in the lower half.
Dennis Stevens
20   Posted 13/08/2010 at 11:12:23

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Tony, you may think the 24-year rule "daft" but, since our first League Title back in 1891, Everton have won the Title every 24 years & in between we've alternated between a further 2 wins or no additional wins. So, not only am I looking forward to our Title success this season but also another 2 Titles before our Championship in 2035. Unfortunately the subsequent long wait until 2059 may be too much for me as I'd be nearly a hundred by then!
Tony J Williams
21   Posted 13/08/2010 at 13:17:19

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Dennis, I really do hope you are right but I don't subscribe to coincidences.

Do you honestly think we have a good enough team/squad to win the league?
Sadly I don't, we are simply not consistent enough and are only a couple of injuries away from having an ordinary team. i wish it wasn't so.
David Ellis
22   Posted 13/08/2010 at 13:05:46

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As others have pointed out there are a lot of differences between this season than last - so real reasons for being positive.

For me one big difference is that Heitinga will hopefully be playing central defence from the off. This will make it much harder for the weaker teams to squeeze the life out of our midfield by crowding them out. He is an extra outlet for starting counter attacks with his great distribution. This should make it easier to dispose of the cannon fodder - we too often struggled to put away some of those teams last season.

All our competitors are in Europe this season and we are not. This must pay dividends come the end of season when tiredness starts to be a serious factor.
Dennis Stevens
23   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:33:55

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Tony, for the first time in over two decades I do think it's not inconceivable that we could actually win it. Obviously we are not favourites or anywhere near & we'd have to not only continue the sort of form we showed for roughly the second half of last season, but to improve on that form & then maintain it for the whole season ? a big ask indeed.

Of course, a few mishaps could derail our season & perhaps we're more vulnerable than the obvious candidates, but sometimes luck can run with you instead of against you ? hard to believe for most Evertonians, I know! Perhaps it's a coincidence that we seem to have assembled our best squad since our last Title success, just as the 24-year thingy comes around... but perhaps there are no coincidences, in which case you're right not to subscribe to that view.

I don't think it's a coincidence, maybe it's something more like destiny?

Michael Kenrick
24   Posted 13/08/2010 at 16:10:56

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Nicely put, Dennis.

It's a pity the realists are so determined to rain on the parade here. We all start from null points. Yes, there are lots of logical reasons why it won't happen... but there has to also be that possibility that it COULD happen.

One thing that I think needs to happen is that Moyes needs to stop talking up the opposition manger and all their achievements before every game. To my mind, that provides exactly the wrong mindset before a game. Far too acquiescent... As someone else wrote, it needs to be Fight, Fight, Fight!

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