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Failing to prepare

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With an International week ahead of us and anticlimactic transfer window behind us (I did watch the countdown on SSN, Mr Round, and all I got was the most annoying idiots in studio waiting for Big Ben to chime). I started to think about our limp starts we seem to have each season. A case of failing to prepare... or preparing to fail?

What puzzles me is the constant choosing of lower league opposition and, what I see is, substandard preseason teams. Maybe someone else on here has covered this, but can someone explain to me why, while we?re playing the mighty Melbourne Heart, our rivals are playing top quality opposition?

Here's a list of the teams from preseason on the OS (granted some of the games were just the reserves)

Sydney FC
Bangor City
Melbourne Heart
Brisbane
Airbus UK
Clyde FC
Forfar Athletic
Preston North End
Norwich City
CD Everton
VfL Wolfsburg
Sligo Rovers

The only decent team in that whole list is Steve McClaren's Wolfsburg, and we lost that 2-0!

As a build up this season,
? Man City played Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Valencia
? Spurs played Villarreal and Fiorentina
? Liverpoool played Grasshopper Zurich,Kaiserslautern and Borussia Monchengladbach
? Villa played Valencia, Feyenoord and Benfica.

All top opposition and enough to give the players a taste of what?s to come.

I can understand one or two lower league teams at the start to welcome the players back to the pitch and get fitness levels up but why a full preseason of them? I know the Oz tour was probably more to do with marketing than getting good match time under our belts against other top players, but surely games against top European teams is required.

I?d prefer to be losing to top opposition, than getting meaningless victories over lesser teams. You can learn more from defeat then victory.

Am I seeing this from too a simplistic view point? If it seems this obvious to me, why not Everton and David Moyes!...or am I missing something??
David McKitt, Dublin, Ireland     Posted 01/09/2010 at 11:54:13

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Mike McLean
1   Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:15:40

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In my view, your point is not simplistic.

However, I'm begininng to wonder if David doesn't have some sort of messianic complex, and refuses to see the blindingly obvious unless some clever person can present it to him as being HIS idea from the start.

I wonder if Bill, as his employer, hasn't fawned over him just that little bit too much.

These woeful starts to the season need to be examined thoroughly and not written off as "just one of those things".
Sean Smythe
2   Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:18:42

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Yes, agreed, a few higher class teams would be great preparation.
Joeynkoo Ludden
3   Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:25:08

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Jeez, pre season means nothing... some loons on here were talking of us winning the league cus we beat a few sides.

The problem with our "slow" start is the unfathomable team selections in the first 3 games... I'm no manager but...

Chris Keightley
4   Posted 01/09/2010 at 14:39:03

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I agree with you, David, a pre-season where the best side you play is Wolfsburg is not preparation for the grueling league campaign. It makes our good players look world class, and our average players Coleman, Beckford, Osman, Vaughan, look half decent - the ToffeeWeb supporter gets carried on a crest of a wave, title shot, fourth guaranteed etc.

I truely believe we will improve but not enough to finish top eight, look at Sunderland spending £13 mill on a 24-year-old striker, Stoke with Gudjonnson and Pennant, Birmingham with Hleb (how did we miss that one?) and suddenly reality bites.

Should we have beaten Villa? Yes, but them having played a European tie one day after our League Cup win, it should have been at least a point gained, but no... Villa? ? hold on, were they better conditioned? Who knows?

Should we have made a real effort to get a striker on loan instead of Beckford and Silva? Without doubt, yes; the Yak is overweight; Saha is just showing glimpses; Vaughan enough said... If we can't score goals then we have no chance of a climb up the table.

I am dreading the next two games as I only see 1 point gained, the gap to the fourth bottom could be 4-5 points... remind you of Tottenham two years ago ???

Brian Waring
5   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:25:40

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Couldn't we organize a 4 team tournament at Goodison, like Arsenal do with the Emirates Cup? Surely we could get 3 quality teams to come and play. Also, no travelling, and make a few quid along the way.
Ray Robinson
6   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:28:02

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David - agree totally. Last year we started off against Arsenal who are quick of thought and deed at normal times but who had played against quality opposition in a pre-season tournament. Consequently, they were lightening sharp and we were sluggish having played some mediocre opposition. The result wasn't all down to the Lescott fiasco.
Brian Waring
7   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:39:47

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The more you think about it, the more it makes sense playing better teams pre-season.
My little lad goes up to 11-a-side this season. They have played 3 friendlies up to now, the first they won 15-2, it was a stroll in the park, the second they won 8-0, again easy.
The third was against a team who they played last season when it was 7-a-side and who were decent, we won it 7-5, but the lads came off knackered, as they had to put more into the game to win it. Surely that's the purpose of playing pre-season games, to be given a good work-out.
Danny Broderick
8   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:45:32

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Couldn't agree more. We are in the most competetive league in the world, and every year we seem to play against sub-standard opposition in the build up to the season. Moysie must surely be aware of this now, as there has always been excuses for our poor start every other season - Lescott leaving, injuries etc. This year everything has gone as Moysie would have wanted.

It's all well and good going to America or Australia, but this must be tallied with some testing games in a mini-tournament, especially if this is what our rivals (namely City and Arsenal) are doing. They have flown out of the blocks, while we are still in 2nd gear. If we are to finish in the top 4 in future, that is one of the things we have to improve on...

Dave Lynch
9   Posted 01/09/2010 at 15:46:54

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Could it just be that we are not as good as some people on here think we are ?
Granted we have some class players now but we fall short when it comes to tactical nous.
We have started the season the way we finished last season, very inconsistent. Until we start playing to our players' strengths we will always be not good enough.
Norman Merrill
10   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:33:41

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Lets hope Moyes decides, and quick who is going to play in the problem position, on the right of midfield.
We have already tried three different players.
Jamie Morgan
11   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:48:50

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We can do this topic to death, but you are right, we do need to start slowly and play better teams closer to the start of season. Screw travelling all over the world for training camps and lets knuckly down and play decent European opposition home and away.
Tony J Williams
12   Posted 01/09/2010 at 16:54:10

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Man City played Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Valencia - Just been beaten by Sunderland!!
? Spurs played Villarreal and Fiorentina - Just been beaten by Wigan who were bottom of the league
? Liverpoool played Grasshopper Zurich,Kaiserslautern and Borussia Monchengladbach - Trounced by Citteh, just got their first win beating a mighty West Brom 1-0
? Villa played Valencia, Feyenoord and Benfica - Got laced by a newly promoted side 6-0 and out of Europe. First win against us!!

Sorry your point being?
Paul Henshaw
13   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:25:23

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Just a thought....when we won the league in 84-85 who did we play pre-season?
GJ Butler
14   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:34:04

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Well said Tony J.
Simon Jenkins
15   Posted 01/09/2010 at 19:53:48

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#13 Paul Henshaw posted: 'Just a thought....when we won the league in 84-85 who did we play pre-season?'

We started the summer of 1984 by taking part in a four club tournament in Geneva.

We beat Swiss side, Servette on penalties.
We lost 1-0 to Brazilian side, Botafago.
We then beat Swiss side, St Gallen 1-0.

We then moved on to Greece, where we beat Olympiakos 3-0.

We rounded pre-season off with a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Wembley in the Charity Shield.

We then bounced into the season, full of optimism... before promptly getting thrashed 4-1 at home to Spurs, then losing 2-1 away at West Brom the following week.
Ray Robinson
16   Posted 01/09/2010 at 22:47:32

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Tony J - you obviously know your stats but please don't tell me that Everton's pre-season last year (or this year for that matter) meant Evertton were mentally (not physically) prepared for the likes of Arsenal who ripped us apart? I see what I see and Everton are rarely mentally alert enough at the start of a season to cope with the big guns whose main attribute is sharpness.
Larry Boner
17   Posted 01/09/2010 at 23:15:35

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Tony J - Villas win was their 2nd of the season, they have 6 points, we have one.
Spurs are in the group stages of the CL and have 4 points - City are in the group stages of EL and have 4 points as are Liverpool.
Tony J Williams
18   Posted 01/09/2010 at 23:16:46

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Ray, not suggesting anything of the sort. Just pointing out that a pre-season of bigger names doesn't necessarily mean that they will start the season better than with lesser names.

You have to admit that the examples given by David, were...well,let's be honest,... a bit shit really if he was trying to prove a point.
Tony J Williams
19   Posted 01/09/2010 at 23:51:22

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Larry, what's that got to do with the price of chips? Apparently playing better sides in preseason make your team so much better, yet every one of those teams have bean beaten within the first three games of the season, some of them heavily.

Spurs got into the Champions League qualifiers through last seasons play, as did the RedShite with the Europa League or are you suggesting that Youngboys are a "big" name now?
Alan Kirwin
20   Posted 02/09/2010 at 00:50:11

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Something IS clearly wrong with Everton's preparations for every season under Moyes. Otherwise how can one explain how we start EVERY season so badly?

The quality of the opposition must be a factor because we almost never play substantial opposition and every season seems like it comes 2 months too early for Everton. It's not so much that we beat big teams, more that we are simply in the right frame of mind to play them.

I was worried that, after disposing of a raft of inferior teams, for our final pre-season game against Wolfsburg we didn't just lose it, we didn't even turn up for it. Frankly, for a team with CL aspirations (and even outsiders for the title) that performance was utterly unacceptable, yet all too predictable.

And, surprise surprise, this lethargy or staleness or lack of sharpness or whatever it is, carried forward into the Blackburn game. Even now, after 68% possession against Villa, we have thrown away 8 points from just 3 games and all in games we should really have won.

The result of other teams frankly doesn't interest me. I'm more concerned that this shit happens to us every August & September. When you miss out on the CL by 9 points, it's not too clever to be dropping 8 points in the first 3 games.

Wherever we end up this season, there is unarguably something wrong with the way Moyes prepares the squad for the season. I suggest the difficulty of our pre season games, as they are also the same every year, is part of the problem. Losing 2-0 to Wolfsburg, but more importantly playing so utterly shite, 1 week before the season, bears this out.

It's not about pretty football or possession, it's about intensity and sharpness. Almost all of our competitors have more of it than we do every August & September.

My support for Moyes is qualified. Two areas that need desperate improvement are pre season and selecting players in their best positions (or playing the best formation for the players we have).

I desperately hoped, and even expected, this season would begin differently. It hasn't. Frankly the same signs are there as always. I hope to be wrong, but I now don't anticipate Everton reaching full operating temperature until October, and possibly later.
Ron Marr
21   Posted 02/09/2010 at 06:20:26

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I agree with the OP. Arsenal played AC Milan and Celtic. Chelsea played Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg. Everton went half way round the world to play minor league teams WTF
Christine Foster
22   Posted 02/09/2010 at 06:50:30

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Frankly it is an issue and Alan K is correct in saying that there is something wrong in the teams preparation. Playing minor sides is not going to protect from injuries ( prehaps even more likely to cause a few) Nor are they likely to give the match awareness and sharpness thats required from day one. ( Not an eventual wind up to day 67)

No, Everton for me have lacked an integrated / cohesive team display and match fitness (mentally) Its as though they are still working our who plays where and what their jobs are.

It looked better against Aston Villa but the goal conceded was a lack of positional awareness in the back line and communication with each other.

The point was made about over training, well I think more time is needed in preparing / understanding the team requirements on matchday and awareness of each others roles.

Its like watching a team thats never played together before, so more time on coaching and tactics that running required??
Brian Noble
23   Posted 02/09/2010 at 10:08:31

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Our man has already explained that `we`ve forgotten how to defend`.What he failed to mention was that we`ve also forgotten how to score goals.Then,he`s never been to bothered about this irelevant aspect of the game!
Liam Reilly
24   Posted 02/09/2010 at 10:49:08

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Can't say I really agree with this. the football being played is excellent at times, the problem is scoring goals, not lack of effort or talent. All teams go through this occasionaly, and it'll just take a spark to get us going.

If we were playing hoofball and won all 3 games 1-0, there'd still be discontent.
Eugene Ruane
25   Posted 02/09/2010 at 12:24:25

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David Lynch - nail on the head (imo)
Charlie Percival
26   Posted 02/09/2010 at 12:33:35

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Sprry but correct me if im wrong but a team that has spent the most years in the top flight does not need to play Brazil in order to know who and what the opposition are capable of.
Neil Steele
27   Posted 02/09/2010 at 12:46:00

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Charlie, it's not about 'knowing' what they are capable of, it's about being physically ready to meet the challenge. You can't just turn it on and off like a tap, players have to carry momentum and a level of performance their body becomes accustomed to. Just because you know Blackburn are a Premiership team, it doesn't help you beat them if your body has been used to playing Chipfat United for the last 8 weeks.
Chris Butler
28   Posted 02/09/2010 at 12:53:27

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I wrote about something similar and was told it didn't matter ? fast forward a few months... it does. Anybody who denies that Everton have suffered due to the fact we play useless oppositon is off their trolley. Tim Howard said as much when being interviewed that he cannot work out why Everton struggle at the start of the season.

I believe it's a mix of never really having any proper singings before the seasons gets underway, ie Fellaini, Yakubu, must have an effect on the players. The Chile game was a decent idea for sentimentlaity purposes but really we could've won about 9-0 if we'd taken our chances.

I think a better idea would be to play someone like Ajax away from home as we're guaranteed to get about 1000 supporters travelling over, me included, as I can never afford to go to European away games. Also, a decent team like AJax would give Everton a good test and would introduce us to different styles of football.

Tony J Williams
29   Posted 02/09/2010 at 13:29:16

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What different styles of football?. Pass and move, it's such a simple concept it's unbelievable.

Players should not need to play against world beaters to know the concept of effective football. Even I know it and I hung up my boots many moons ago

Brendan McLaughlin
30   Posted 02/09/2010 at 16:23:19

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Who you play in pre-season friendlies makes absolutely no difference whatsoever as to how you start the season. If it did the Chelski's & Manure's of the world would only play friendlies against the very best clubs in the world.
Ray Robinson
31   Posted 02/09/2010 at 17:15:59

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Brendan, with respect that's a load of tosh. Perhaps we should have warmed up against Marine, Skem and Warrington Town then? Mental alertness comes with playing teams with quick, skilful players.
Iain Love
32   Posted 02/09/2010 at 18:40:58

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It does appear we're shite to start with, then get good, then tail off due to small squad size etc etc, or have our expectations become so high that we expect to win ALL our games.

Blackburn, hard place to get a result and but for a fuck-up by Howard would have been a draw. Wolves we should have won in the first 20 mins then another fuck-up by Johny & Saha cost us the points. Villa again very hard place to go and even more so after their twatting the week before, played well but another fuck-up by Screech and another loss.

The common denominator is not who we play pre-season, although I agree it doesn't help, is FUCK-UPs by our senior players; everyone does it, it's just happened in our last 3 games and cost us points, maybe we're getting them out of the way now ready for when we twat Manure, which I have no doubt we will. [Or was that my fuck up?]

Brendan McLaughlin
33   Posted 02/09/2010 at 21:32:46

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Ray 31
Fair point. I mean if we had warmed up against shite like that our start to the season would have been woeful. Thank God for that final friendly against Wolfsburg....it certainly made all the difference!
Guy Rogers
34   Posted 03/09/2010 at 13:16:09

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What are you talking about? We played one of the finest teams in the world pre-season ? Everton!
Ronan Mathews
35   Posted 04/09/2010 at 04:01:19

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Australia was a good place to get away to with all the transfer speculation that was happening.

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