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Attack the best form of defence?

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Firstly, let me say that David Moyes has been a good manager for Everton, being appointed at a time when we had to take a risk, and work it did.

Fast forward nearly 9 years, and football clubs have begun to employ young managers who have a different mentality to our present incumbent . Managers are not content in putting 11 men behind the ball, but they are playing with 2 and sometimes 3 forwards in the hope of scoring more goals than the opposition. Previously, Moyes's teams were based on a good defence (not an unusual premise) and then hope to grind out a 1-0 win (remember how we qualified for the Champions League).

Now, Everton FC are in danger of being left behind as our manager has not realised the shift in other team's philosophies, ie, attack being the best form of defence.

Already, we have dropped points at home to Wolves, Bolton, Newcastle and WBA ? teams that we would normally beat 9 times out of 10 at home. The common factor is that all the above teams attacked Everton at Goodsion, our supposed fortress, and we have picked up only 2 points from those games ? two of teams newly promoted from the Championship.

Now has Moyes got the bottle to throw the defensive manual out of the window, and prepare his teams to go for the jugular? Remember, it was not that long ago that we were playing some glorious fast flowing football, with the same players that have been playing for most of the season, bar one or two additions. What has gone wrong? ? we are all wondering...

Well, as stated above, more and more managers have got an attacking philosophy that Moyes does not possess and we are in serious danger of being left behind. I said to some of my work colleagues, that if Redknapp, Coyle or Holloway had been in charge of our team against Sunderland on Monday last week for only the last 20 minutes, we would have won that game. And that is it in a nutshell.

I think that Moyes has been found out and, unless he learns... and learns quickly, then we are in real danger of not only flirting with relegation, but actually being sucked in with the perennial fighters.

If Moyes were to go or if BK were to sack him, I do not know who would come in; I will leave that to other people to submit names, but my hope is that whoever is next ? whether next week, month, year or whenever ? that he brings an attacking mentality with him. However, my hope is that it is not too late to resurrect the current season, and if we were to suffer the ignominy of relegation, than at least go down with some attacking flair, and not with a whimper.
Mark Browne, Widnes     Posted 28/11/2010 at 20:05:34

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 28/11/2010 at 21:08:47

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Good comments, Mark. Nothing has frustrated me more in recent years about Moyes than his lack of attacking ethos. I have written many times that I believe the failings of our team to progress under his leadership is down to a dour defensive mentality that permeates every aspect of the team and the players, such that they choose the safe option rather than daring to be expansive, even when they have the upper hand.

I think the whole thing has come home to roost this season ? when incredibly we should be experiencing the exact opposite. Moyes was right when he said this was the best set of players he has had ? and I give him credit for bringing them together under difficult financial constraints. But the absence of a long injury list, combined the litany of mistakes many fans have already cited countless times on these pages, have ensured that it hasn't happened, and I firmly believe that is entirely down to his failings as a manager.

It was painfully ironic listening to 606 yesterday, and Darren Fletcher's astonishment that intelligent Everton fans should be phoning in to lambast Moyes ? the manager that he and the rest of these idiot pundits talk up endlessly. They even resorted to bringing on a Sunderland fan (!!) to tell these Evertonians how wrong they were.

People talk "knee-jerk" after yesterday's debacle, but the wiser ones know that the failings have been all-too evident in most games this season. As ever, I believe and hope, from game to game, that things will change... and occasionally they do (Everton 2-0 Liverpool). But I should by now know better: all I can really hope for from Moyes is dour negative, defensive, tactically inept football.

Jamie Tulacz
2   Posted 28/11/2010 at 22:20:22

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Good post. I've been a Moyes 'apologist' for a while but am definitely starting to turn. This season has been a breath of fresh air from a lot of teams especially the promoted sides who have been prepared to attack with a lot of success against some of the top teams.

Still believe that people's memories are far too short when you look at how successful we've been for the previous few seasons and especially for example the second half of last season. I know it's not been pretty a lot of the time though I genuinely feel our style has improved and that we probably wouldn't have had the same level of success using a different approach.

Having said that, starting to get seriously worried for this season. Even when we've started slowly previously we've normally picked up a bit of form by now and we just seem to be in disarray.
Nick Entwistle
3   Posted 28/11/2010 at 22:32:10

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So we're rubbish and defensive? I think we're attacking and rubbish myself.
Rob Teo
4   Posted 28/11/2010 at 22:35:51

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I think we're just plain rubbish, both as an attacking unit and a defensive one.

But I also agree that Moyes has an ultra-defensive mindset that simply beggars belief. This not only informs his tactics and the formation of his team, but also whether he's willing to drop under-performing players for "unknown" players or players with limited Premier League experience. Gueye or Mucha, anyone? And his delay in picking Coleman for right mid even though half of Goodison had known for quite some time that he would be worth a punt there.

I think this also informs his stubborn persistence in playing players out of position. It's not that he's trying to be adventurous or that he sees the potential the way Arsene Wenger does when he plays someone in a new position. Rather, I see it as a manifestation of Moyes's safety-first approach where he somehow thinks that an experienced footballer on the pitch in the wrong position is necessarily better than a rookie youngster in the right position.

Trouble is, the more we sink into oblivion, the less willing will he be to throw fresh blood into the fray for under-performing senior pros or pros in the wrong position. Sad to say, I think we're stuck with 4-5-1 with the usual suspects for a long time to come.

Then again, perhaps that's not surprising with a board that seems content to settle for mid-table obscurity, mid-level global brand recognition, mid-level investment (£12 million from Chang Beer... that's it!), mid-level marketing ideas, etc, than pushing for bigger, better, higher, more. That may be pathetic as fuck to us fans, but definitely in line with a "safety first" mentality.
Leon Perrin
5   Posted 28/11/2010 at 23:01:48

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Chad Schofield
6   Posted 28/11/2010 at 23:08:01

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I read this shaking my head. If it was as simple as just defensive mindset then George Graham, Italy and Greece would never have won anything while Norwich would be still in the Premier League.

Rob Teo makes far more valid points; as we've all seen, the second things go wrong, Moyes reverts to super defence like an over-zealous armadillo.

Arteta's ban forces Moyes's hand, but an attacking stance against Chelsea?!
Kunal Desai
7   Posted 29/11/2010 at 00:26:06

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Moyes is a 'Cautious Carol'. He's not changed his style of play for nearly 9 years, so what makes people think he's going to change now? Keep thinking he'll change it, I bet you it'll never happen.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
8   Posted 29/11/2010 at 01:04:00

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Sorry to single you out, Jamie @ #2, but I read this kind of thing a lot on here and quite frankly, I don't understand it: "people's memories are far too short".

What are talking about? Why should the memories of last season (that's LAST SEASON, FFS) colour how we assess Saturday's debacle? It was what it was, and there's no getting away from it, no matter how much you want to invoke "the BIG PICTURE" .. or "get some PERSPECTIVE" regarding what may or may not have been achieved last season. Now, it's this season, and that's what posters are concerned about ? quite rightly too.

I don't think anyone is suffering from a short memory; that's not the issue here... it never is. Courtesy of ToffeeWeb, we can cover every memory you need... Well, for most of the last 8½ years or so, at least. (Dead links notwithstanding!) Actually more like 15 years...
Russell Buckley
9   Posted 29/11/2010 at 03:17:46

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No argument here that we are in a deep deep hole at the moment. Strangely my mind goes back to the last derby match, where yes Liverpool were shit but we played fantastically. I loved everything about us that day. I was the only Toffee in a bar full of Redshite.

To their credit they, shouted me a beer and admitted that Everton played good football and deserved the win. Now, looking back at that game, I think where did it all go wrong? While certain players have fallen away since (e.g. Arteta, Heitinga), one thing jumps out: We were dangerous that day because we had a dangerous striker on the park. The Yak had his best game in years, holding up the ball, making strong runs and setting up others.

We haven?t had a forward put in a good shift since. Begs the question: Why the hell was the Yak dropped when he was getting back to form? Unless he was injured, it had to come as a slap in the face to him to sit on the bench and watch as Saha dragged his overpaid arse around.

Barry Ward
10   Posted 29/11/2010 at 10:25:10

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There's an interesting statistic in today's 'Times'. This season Everton have recorded 71 shots on target to 53 by their opponents. Only 3 clubs...Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd....have managed a greater such gap.

The main problem is blindingly obvious. We don't have a clinical finisher (apart from Cahill). Can you imagine the likes of Latchford, Sharpe, Lineker or even Cottee in this team ?

I don't imagine for one moment that Moyes will resign or that Kenwright will sack him, so talk elsewhere of a concentrated 'Moyes Out' campaign is ridiculous. Get behind the team, particularly the likes of Beckford, who is short on confidence, accept that realistically the best we can hope for next week is to grind out a draw, and really give them the vocal support they need against Wigan.
Anthony Millington
11   Posted 29/11/2010 at 11:12:47

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Chad, it may not be the best idea to go all out attack against Chelsea, but certainly in them home games Mark has mentioned we should have been more attacking from the off. Instead we start with 1 upfront and Heitinga in midfield and Coleman right mid, when we could be more adventurous and put Coleman as an attacking full back and then another attack minded player in. Instead, we struggle for long periods conceed a goal and then Moyes makes these inevitable changes when it's almost too late and we're chasing the game.
Colin Hughes
12   Posted 29/11/2010 at 11:36:34

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The issue with Moyes is that he goes into games to stay in them and not too WIN them. I have witnessed too many blunders by this fella for me to carry on contributing my hard earned money into the club.

Yes, it also comes down to investment and we know the failings of BK on this but as a regular match attendee of over 30 years I simply cannot watch the negative, predictable dross that he directs. The time for change came after the Cup Final ? not West Brom at Home!!

Alan Clarke
13   Posted 29/11/2010 at 12:01:14

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The thing is Barry is you can get statistics to prove anything you want. If you watch Everton, the approach play is so laboured and so slow, shots are easily blocked or the Everton player taking the shot is under so much pressure they lose all accuracy.

The total lack of pace in the side makes us very easy to defend. Granted our strikers aren't good enough but if you looked at each of those 73 shots, you'd see why we don't score. Also, remember who bought those strikers, remember who coaches the team so remember who's responsibility it is that we can't score.
Steve Pugh
14   Posted 29/11/2010 at 12:38:06

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Alan, if you can get statistics to prove anything, find me the stat that shows Everton are a negative side and don't attack? It's easy to find stats that say we don't score enough goals but I want you to prove we don't attack.

It is far to easy to let emotions colour our recollection of games, so statistics are what we rely on. As for those 73 shots, I remember some incredible saves and desperate clearances of the line.
Andy Codling
15   Posted 29/11/2010 at 12:38:16

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Chad, Sunderland went all out attack at Chelsea, what happened there?

Sick of hearing "short memories" or "fickle fans"... sorry but the guy earns £65 grand a week, and by that wage results should be demanded. And Jamie (#2), how have we been succesfull over the last few years? Being a runner-up is not succes in my view.

Phil Bellis
16   Posted 29/11/2010 at 12:59:22

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The only statistic that concerns me is that, with 23 games left, we're 24 points off safety.
Anthony Hughes
17   Posted 29/11/2010 at 12:58:45

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There's no way Moyes wiil go to attack Chelsea next weekend. Chelsea wiil be looking to impose themselves, with the poor run they've had lately I fear the worst for us. I think Moyes wiil be hoping to keep it tight and pinch a 0-0.

One of the problems we have is that I don't think our players are as good as we proclaim them to be. A huge portion of blame should be put on our board for not enabling us to compete in the transfer market and being able to acquire the quality what we need. However, with what he's had, Moyes has spent nearly 9 years assembling the squad we have and he is responsible for picking and putting the team out on the pitch each week. He can't expect to lap up the praise when we're doing ok and not expect to get it in the neck when we are struggling.

As a club, I really think we've peaked and are now on a slow descent on the pitch and most definitely off it. If we are to bring in a new manager, then he will require transfer funds and they will only come from a comprehensive sale of players.

Norman Merrill
18   Posted 29/11/2010 at 14:08:59

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A good comment, Mark, concerning the defensive attitude of Moyes, I am sure someone will come on and correct me if I am wrong?

When Moyes previous No2 Alan Irvine left, he appointed Steve Round, who if I am not mistaken was described at the time as a defensive coach? If that is correct, maybe he has too much influence, when decisions are being made.

I am not here to deflect the blame, as Moyes is the boss.

Jimmy Hacking
19   Posted 29/11/2010 at 11:26:26

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I don't understand what Everton's problem is this season, but I believe some of you are over-estimating the impact of Moyes's tactics and formations.

We HAVE played attacking football this season, but often lost or drew due to defensive lapses and cataclysmic finishing. of our midfield maestros, Arteta has been poor, Fellaini and Rodwell have barely featured, Pienaar has been mediocre. Howard has made more howlers already than he normally would in an entire season. Frankly, I believe our luck has ben rotten this season also; I honestly believe we deserved at least a point on Saturday, and yet somehow we lost 4-1.
Alan Clarke
20   Posted 29/11/2010 at 14:14:42

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Steve, my point is stats will show you anything. I'm sure there are stats that show we don't attack. I'm sure you could look at the amount of passes that go sideways or the amount of touches each player takes between passes or the time taken to get from one end of the pitch to the other. I'm sure there are stats that show how deep we defend too.

I can't be arsed to look them up because stats are fucking useless. An example is that I didn't go to the Blackburn away game. I checked the BBC website which said we dominated possession as well as shots on and off target. It looked on the stats that we did everything but score. A mate of mine went to the game and he said we were utter shite and could have played for 2 weeks without scoring. The match report on Talksport also said it was a dreadful game and updates through the afternoon on the radio did not report that we were hammering the Blackburn goal.

There is much much more to winning a game than a few favourable stats. All round team performances this season have been poor, not just our strikers. If Everton have attacked as much as you think then we wouldn't be in this position.
Anthony Millington
21   Posted 29/11/2010 at 16:12:49

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Jimmy, yes we have attacked this season but mostly only really when we are behind or are running out of time to get a goal. We rarely attack from the off and end up running out of time when Moyes eventually decides to put more attacking players on.

The thing is we always look more dangerous towards the end of games and start to look like the better team. If only we were positive and did this at the start of the game, I'm sure we would have more points now, especially in the home games against the likes of Wolves, Newcastle, Bolton and West Brom.

David Holroyd
22   Posted 29/11/2010 at 17:08:43

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EVERY SEASON we have a watershed game Tranmere Spurs Wigan time for a change
John Ford
23   Posted 29/11/2010 at 20:20:17

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Barry (#10) ? Your stat is more revealing regarding our current position than anything I've yet read or seen.

We're crap at shooting, this much we know. The high number of goal attempts isn't a false impression of desperate thwacks from 30 yards because we don't bother with those, preferring instead to walk the ball in. So the truth is (or could be) that were doing enough for nine tenths, but we just can't score. Yak seems to prefer the firm backpass these days to anything with real intent and Saha, well, he probably hasn't managed five shots all season.

I'm actually quite encouraged by this. The inference is that were creating chances but just not taking them. Surely we can deal with this? I truly hope we get a decent forward in January (sell Yak and Saha, they're not good enough anymore). I'd also like to see Beckford given a real go. I'd love to see whether getting into so many goal-scoring positions for him is fortune/coincidence or something approaching vision and talent. If it's the positive stuff then we may just have something. Let's see.

Time, support and confidence. Time, support and confidence

Dean Adams
24   Posted 29/11/2010 at 23:01:48

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We have attacked more this seaason than ever before and that is why we concede more than in previous years. Our defence is not good enough without two defensive midfielders constantly bailing them out and its not happening this season cos we dont have two fit and eligable defensive midfielders available to use.

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