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Barca Brilliance

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After watching one of the most complete footballing displays it has ever been my privilige to witness, I sat there and went through the Barcelona team and the Everton team and asked myself one question ? would any Everton players get anywhere near to the Barca team?

Arteta no, Cahill no, Jagielka no, Saha no, Yakubu no, Rodwell no, Fellaini possibly, Coleman no. Then I came to Baines and Pienaar and I thought they epitomise the Barca/Cruyff philosophy, skill allied with commitment allied to composure under pressure "the tight circle" type of pressure training Cruyff introduced.

Barca work harder without the ball than with it, closing down, stealing posession then building attacks with short sharp passing, all players part of the same idea, including the keeper.

The ritual for free kick taking at Everton is painful to watch, let the opposition get back in position, loft into the box etc. Barca just drop the ball on the floor and keep the mesmerising passing movements going (I have noticed Blackpool adopting this). corners are well thought out, quickly taken, CBs are playing short passes in their own box with the keeper.

They had 8 of the starting 11 that had come through the youth system, at the final whistle that had gone up to 10 I think, so the money argument does not come into it ? set up a system, coach all young players to develop through this system, majoring in skill under pressure... do we have that at Everton, we have a good production line of players, but is their first idea defend, when in doubt boot it anywhere?

To come back to Baines and Pienaar, I see them harrying and trying to play football long after any of the other 20 players on the pitch, so it can be done; we need to coach players to express themselves rather than be safety first.

I am of the opinion that Mr Moyes is too set in his ways to allow people like Rodwell, Coleman, Fellaini to express themselves. We usually win games by overpowering teams, outlasting them, Sunderland have moved on and improved since that 7-1 loss to us; better players, better manager, better tactics... we have stayed the same.
You don't have to have world class players to play a world class system ? you just need the will to do it; the rest will follow.
Larry Boner, Liverpool     Posted 30/11/2010 at

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 30/11/2010 at 20:27:08

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Ooops... sorry Larry, I stole this off the thread but forgot to press the On button. Wish I had seen the game...
Nick Entwistle
2   Posted 30/11/2010 at 20:33:00

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So Everton are not Bacelona and that's Moyes's fault. End of. Fact. Get rid. Nuff said... etc etc.
Graham Holland
3   Posted 30/11/2010 at 20:52:00

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After watching last night's Spanish game at Barca, I am telling the lads something I never thought I would say...

Everton play just like Real Madrid.

Jeff Magee
4   Posted 30/11/2010 at 20:58:01

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I am struggling to understand your argument, Larry ? your comparison actually points out that our squad is not that bad as you say that Fellaini is a possible and that Baines and Pienaar play in a Barca style. Do your comparison with all the other Prem teams and see how many would get in the Barca team ? very few, I would suggest.

I fail to see the point of the Sunderland comparison either as, if the ref and assistant had been doing their jobs correctly, we would have won 1-2 and, if Beckford could hit a barn door we would have won 1-3, so have Sunderland come that far? Or have we fallen that far?

Again your comments about youth production lines ? the difference in quality is more down to nationality rather than club. Do your comparison of players at an international level ? how many English players would even get in the Spanish squad, let alone team? I would suggest none ? the only one that might have a chance is a certain ex-Bluenose... but, on his from since March, would not!

Peter Laing
5   Posted 30/11/2010 at 21:20:26

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I was schooled in the Terry Darracott era of coaching i.e. if in doubt, kick it out. Never mind all this total football nonsense, Larry, Barca / Cruff philosophy... we play good old-fashioned hoof-ball circa David Moyes 2002-2010.
Brian Waring
6   Posted 30/11/2010 at 21:48:12

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I couldn't believe that 8 of that team came through their academy. If only.....
Jimmy Hacking
7   Posted 30/11/2010 at 22:14:53

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I don't think Barcelona are a good side simply because their players are given free reign to "express themselves" or because of their training methods or philosophy. They are a good side because they are the biggest club on the planet who can buy any player they want.

Alan Mullally
8   Posted 30/11/2010 at 22:15:07

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Amazing performance from Barca but to be honest, no other team in the world come close to them at the moment. It is without doubt their golden generation. They wont be like that forever and won't keep on producing the same number of quality players from their youth system. Normally, only one or two come through.

Getting back to Everton, although you could never compare this Everton side to that Barca side, one of the main reasons we did so well in the second half of last season was by doing exactly what Barca do. I know, you're all laughing and for the most part you're right to do so. However, taking the skill and close control under pressure side out of it for a minute, what Barca are really good at is pressuring the ball high up the pitch until the opposition loses it. This leaves the defense in a state of disarray and goals come easier. Everton did this really well from Jan to May last this year but it is something that has been seriously lacking in this season's games and we don't have the class to break down teams that put 11 men behind the ball. We need to get back to pressuring as a Team, from front to back. Nick an early goal or two and it changes the game completely.

We're all sick and tired of slow starts and seeing things come good in the second half of the season but I do think that this will happen again and we'll end up in a European spot. The league is tight enough that it's still a definite possibility.
David Holroyd
9   Posted 30/11/2010 at 22:23:46

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Would any of the Everton team get near BARCA? Yes... if they put on WAITER'S JACKETS.
Gerry Grimes
10   Posted 30/11/2010 at 22:53:10

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Best football performance I ever saw. They made Madrid look like a pub team. Anyone who hasn't seen it, at least look at the goals on 101, it will give you some flavour of what it was like.

Could we ever play like that? It would need a revolution in how the game is coached in England. In fairness to Arsenal, they try to play it in a similar way but most of their players are foreign. The rest of the Premier League prefers power over guile.

First touch is everything, that's what last night showed.

Sean McCarthy
11   Posted 30/11/2010 at 23:08:34

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Pienaar for Barca??? Do me a favour!!! Some how Idoubt they'll come calling when the window opens!!
Jason Lam
12   Posted 01/12/2010 at 06:48:16

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We have this setup in Hong Kong. The team went 10 games scoring 100+ goals. The keeper almost froze due to boredom.

The boys have been to Camp Nou for training.

Barca have been setting up schools all over the world.
KPR Williams
13   Posted 01/12/2010 at 08:37:38

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Heitinga apparently...
I remember seeing Milan take Barca apart in much the same way in the 1994 European Cup final... 4-0 Now that was a footballing lesson...

Correct me if I'm wrong but hadn't Barca only won one European Cup prior to scraping a win against 10 man Arsenal a few years back?

Anthony Hughes
14   Posted 01/12/2010 at 10:41:54

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Yes Barca have nutured fantastic players through the system but when they needed a goal scorer then went out and paid 34 million euros on David Villa. At the moment they have it all, a great youth set up and bags of dosh to spend if they need it. We are light years away from that. Even Arsenal who are the closest English comparison got a football lesson off them last season.
Norman Merrill
15   Posted 01/12/2010 at 11:33:11

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I never thought anybody would mention Barca & Everton in the same article... But, then again, always a first time.
Larry Boner
16   Posted 01/12/2010 at 11:03:24

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At no time have I said, "Get rid of Mr Moyes", at no time have I said, "Pienaar would get in the Barca squad". My analogy was based on their ability (Baines and Pienaar) to play the game, skill over safety first, attempting passing moves that are quick and incisive, keeping focus even when the game is almost over, chasing the opposition down, winning back the ball etc, etc ? Barca's philosophy.

Mr Moyes has been at Everton for 8½ years, had the foresight as a player to take all his qualifications (unlike a lot of lazy bastards now who just want to walk into a coach's job). he has travelled all over the world looking at training and coaching methods to bring back to Everton.

There is no doubt that the second part of last season we were more than a match for any PL team and with a good start we would have been top 4, but the niggling doubt remains, when path-changing games come along we invariably fall short, the Anfield derby a prime example, along with Birmingham in the FA Cup, Wolves away, 2-0 up away at Birmingham in the league etc.

The semi final against Utd was a great result the year before, but masked a dour performance by Everton against a second string Utd, but our long injury list also impacted on that game and the Final.

I think Mr Moyes IS a good manager, but he will not or cannot move his team to the next level; we seem to flourish when the chips are down, with our backs against the wall ? the coaches, the team, the supporters all as one.

The Barca comparison is this: we don't have their players, but we can have their system, we can and should adopt the playing from the back, the variation on corners and free kicks, the keeper releasing the ball as quickly as possible, to close defenders or midfield players ? these are basics, but unbelievably we watch the same errors, week-in, week-out.

I think if Barca had been playing Everton that night it could have been 20-0, they would have laughed at the willingness of the CBs of Everton to launch the ball 50 yards, the lack of pace, the slow build-up play, no end product apart from a cross to Cahill from Baines.

Barca had just beaten Real, one of the world's best clubs, with the double CL winner as coach, not because they had better players, but because the free spirited Guardiola triumphed over the defensive minded Mourinho.

What I am trying to get across is that Pep Guardiola has learned the Cruyff system: players like Iniesta, Xavi, Messi have come through that coaching ethos and it is being allowed full expression on the pitch. Liverpool under Shankly, Paisley etc had their system coached and it manifested itself on the pitch, they were unbeatable for a number of years, winning everything. Then a young coach came to Everton, brought his system, coached the players and eventually was successful; his name was Howard Kendall.

How I see it now with Everton, is that Mr Moyes has developed his system, it manifests itself on the pitch, the players have some success with it, but it has a flaw: it does not deliver a winning team who can sweep away all before it... we get to a point, then fall back.

Now you may say that this is down to lack of support from the board, but the board doesn't tell Jagielka to hit the ball 50 yds, Arteta to play so far back he is totally impotent, waste basically every corner and free kick we take.

Mr Moyes, as I said, has been here for over 8 years, why are we playing a raw fullback right side of midfield? Why has he not coached, brought through, whatever you want to call it a fast right-sided player?

I see the same problems every game with Everton; I wait to see what is addressed by the coaches and what changes... but nothing changes. We will see the same basic errors against Chelsea; Wigan ? safety first, play Hibbert not Coleman, play Heitinga not Rodwell ? even Neville instead of Rodwell. Maybe Mr Moyes has no options, but that is why he is paid £65k/week ? to have other options.

James Stewart
17   Posted 01/12/2010 at 13:05:25

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A nice post and well thought out. Sadly possession football is not in many English clubs' nature.

I used to play for Leeds Academy up to U18s and there was nothing more frustrating than defenders and the keepers hoofing it. But at no point was it pulled up.
Mike Hughes
18   Posted 01/12/2010 at 13:40:24

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Sorry mate.... but let's compare ourselves to West Brom first. That would be a more appropriate starting point than Barcelona.
Mike Allison
19   Posted 01/12/2010 at 13:56:39

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I wrote an article, probably a season or two ago now, about our youth system.

I think we are complacent about it because we do produce players, occasionally very good ones, but we should be aiming for far more. Barcelona's success today began about ten years ago with an overhaul of their youth system, an emphasis on technique, of playing the way the 'club philosophy' dictates and of getting the players to feel privileged to be part of something.

None of that is beyond our reach, we already produce decent (and some very good players) and I sincerely doubt the youth system is as good as it could possibly be. We have one strength left, and that is that Merseyside is still one of the absolute hotbeds of football player production (rivalled only by London's East End and the North East) we need to capitalise on it to the full, getting youngsters on board early, focusing them on technique, and educating them in the professionalism of football (to keep them away from the kind of things that have ruined promising scouse players in the past) and the 'philosophy of the club'.

The worrying thing for me is that after nearly a decade of simply not bothering, Liverpool FC have appointed a former Barcelona youth coach to overhaul their system, and our effective monopoly on local players will now be split again. I fear we have failed to make the most of a big opportunity that Rafa's short sightedness allowed us.
Brian Waring
20   Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:08:48

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Jimmy (#6) Barcelona may be able to but anyone they like. But that team the other night, contained 8 players that they brought through their youth academy.
Larry Boner
21   Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:12:01

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@ 18, very well put, this is the comparison I am trying to make, Evertons youth system (with Colin Harvey) produced one of the worlds best players, Wayne Rooney, he was that good that he transcended the Everton system he was asked to play in, which is why, I believe, that he was used very sparingly by Mr Moyes.

Imagine the same Rooney brought up with the Barca coaching regime and settling straight into the first team at Barca, 16 years old, nothing strange, no long ball tactics, just playing the way he has been coached, not limiting his skill, but expanding and nurturing it.

I may have done Jack Rodwell a disservice when i said he wouldnt be good enough to be at Barcelona, I now think he would, if he was brought up and coached the way Barca juniors are and allowed to play that way for the first team.

Reverse the scenario, Iniesta signs for Everton and spends the season watching the ball fly 10 yards over his head, we would have people screaming that he was shite.

James Marshall
22   Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:30:06

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Not one of our players would even make the Barca squad, let alone the team.

The game on Monday night was one of, if THE most complete performance I've ever seen by any team, ever. Stunning in every department, passing & movement to die for, I was gushing from every orifice watching them play.

Xavi & Iniesta as a 2 in midfield are by far & away the best partnership of modern times - then couple that with the fact they have willing runners, and ffantastic passers of the ball in every position (even the keeper), and you have the finiest football team in the Wolrd by a stretch. They made Madrid look like Sunday league players.

If you haven't seen the game, search it out and watch it - its truly amazing to see.

Guardiola is a quality coach, and the Barca 'model' is what every club should aspire to. Getting your centre-halves to run out wide when the keeper has the ball, dropping your holding midfielder into the hole they leave as cover is a masterstroke, yet so simple. The way they one-touch pass and create space for each other, then rotate around a congested midfield is the way modern football should be played.

Sometimes I wish I was Catalan.
Anthony Hughes
23   Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:39:41

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Larry, you haven't done Rodwell a disservice, he wouldn't get anywhere near a place in Barca's team.

I like Rodwell but he still has along way to go before he can be talked about in such illustrious company. I think we're all rating him far too highly at the moment and he can't even get a regular start in our first team. He may develop into an excellent footballer in time (possibly not at our club).

Larry Boner
24   Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:50:28

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Anthony, exactly the point I am trying to make, put good quality players into a world class coaching system and you end up with world class players and a world class team. Put good quality players into a poor system and you end up with poor quality players and a poor side.

Look at some of the passes Puyol made when he was cornered by Real players, the passes would have put most of our midfield players to shame, Jagielka would just lash it into the stands.

I think Rodwell would prefer to be more like Puyol than Jagielka, dont you? How many good players have we lost not only at Everton, but England too, who are asked to do things alien to their beliefs through poor coaching?

Andrew Clare
25   Posted 01/12/2010 at 15:49:00

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Excellent observation, Larry. Arsenal do the same thing by coaching their players right from schoolboy age to first team to play in a certain style.

If we had 11 players like Baines and Pienaar, I would be very happy. Most of our best play comes though these two.

Barcelona's performance was one ? if not the greatest performance by a club side that I have ever seen ? absolutely fantastic.

As for Everton, David Moyes has a good eye for a player with one or two exceptions but he is too cautious and this rubs off on the players. He tends to play people out of position and his tactical decisions leave a lot to be desired. Along with this I also wonder about his motivational skills ? for example, last season at times we looked like we could beat anybody, and we did... but, this season, we have been terribly inconsistent. A good manager gets his team playing at the top of their game, week-in, week-out.

Larry I share your sentiments entirely.

Guy Rogers
26   Posted 01/12/2010 at 16:40:26

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Larry, spot on. I don't even need to read all of your article, I have said it many time on here BARCELONA are the template they simply outplay any English team.

Remember when they played Chelsea, they never got the ball. Manure outplayed in the final. I know we can't hope to be as good as Barca right now but surely that has to be the aim and philosphy...

David Barks
27   Posted 01/12/2010 at 16:52:46

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Barcelona is also in an insane amount of debt. Sure, they bring players through their youth system, and then they pay insane amounts to keep them. We brought Rooney through, but couldn't afford to keep him. Do you not think our team would be in a different situation right now if we had Rooney in attack instead of our current strikers?

It's not as simple as is made out. It is always easier for clubs like Barcelona to have a large portion of players coming through their academy because they have the money to spend on scouting them all over the world beginning basically at brith, and then keep them their with huge contracts. Messi came through Barca's academy, they brought him over from Argentina and paid huge amounts to his family and on medical treatments for his growth.

It's not just a case of having a great academy, which they most certainly do. It is also just as important to have an insane amount of money to be able to fill that academy with the best youth prospects from around the world and be able to afford every single one of their contract demands when the time comes.
Kunal Desai
28   Posted 01/12/2010 at 17:14:43

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This again boils down to the grassroots of our national game. Where in this country the focus has never been on technical ability hence the reason why England failed so miserably in the World Cup.

What you saw with Barcelona the other night was a game where the simple things were being done perfectly, it's all about passing and moving, passing and moving, and once you pass the ball you move into space, not just stand still or wait for a player to pass the ball to your feet in the position you've stayed in after your first pass.

Who wants the ball?? They all did... and when I watch Everton, there isn't any of that 'I am here, I want the ball'. The strikers just stand in the 6-yard box waiting for a cross to be put in.

Sadly if Everton had played Barcelona on Monday night it would have been a cricket score and probably double figures I'd imagine.

Oliver Molloy
29   Posted 01/12/2010 at 17:34:55

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Larry, there's only one player currently playing in England that might get a starting place in the Barcelona side and we all know who that is!!

Only the best will do...

Trevor Lynes
30   Posted 01/12/2010 at 17:47:40

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Let's face it... Fabregas cannot get a place in the Spanish national side while Xavi and Iniesta are playing. They concentrate on skills and passing ability throughout the team and they are ENTERTAINERS. Football is supposed to be an entertainment for the fans.

The British methodology seems to be fitness and physical confrontation... even when we won the World Cup Nobby Styles consistently fouled Eusebio and in today's game would have been sent off.

If we are to manufacture a great England side, we will need to concentrate on skill more. It is not just a coincidence that most flair players in the Premier League are foreign and most of the hard tacklers are British.

If Arsenal had Tony Adams and Viera back, they would win the league with their present squad. Our best players are foreign too (apart from Heitinga)... only Baines and Jags stand out as good English players, the others are run of the mill, mediocre drones.

Until we start to concentrate on our youth systems seriously, we will NEVER produce the goods.

I wrote in separate submissions that Barca are not playing the same game as we are... its like Diamonds compared to Zircons....

Larry Boner
31   Posted 01/12/2010 at 18:08:16

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Oliver, I heared you the first time.
Leon Perrin
32   Posted 01/12/2010 at 18:09:14

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When you see a display like Barca's, it reinforces how simple football is when not fucked up by over-coaching, get players who are comfortable on the ball throughout and encourage them to play.

In my time these great teams have done this and complimented their gifted players, simply magnificent.

Brazil, 1970 ? Pele
Ajax ? Cruyff
Bayern Munich ? Beckenbauer
Holland ? Cruyff
Argentina ? Ardilles
France ? Platini
AC Milan ? Gulllit
Real Madrid ? Zidane
Barcelona ? Messi

David Barks
33   Posted 01/12/2010 at 18:31:38

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But every time a manager or a player talks about the physicality of the English game, all the English media, fans and managers come out and say how brilliant the English game is. The passion is great, the football is becoming pretty poor to watch.

I watched a Newcastle match recently and was amazed at how effective it was for them to just run around charging at people like rabid dogs and lofting the odd ball high into the box hoping for their tall Number 9 to get a touch on it. That's not football, that's shit.

And that's Everton's football, get the ball out wide to Pienaar and have him curl balls into the box hoping Cahill will get there first. It's boring, but it generally keeps you in the top division which apparently is all that matters these days.

I love watching Barcelona, it's amazing. And for that matter, most of the Spanish league is entertaining to watch without even knowing most of the players.

Italy bores me a bit with how slow it is and the never ending acting, but even that is a better product of football than anything you'll find in England most weekends.

Jamie Sweet
34   Posted 02/12/2010 at 02:25:01

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Oliver... I don't know who that is... can you please tell me.

They might put Gueye in their squad. Every team needs a "secret weapon!"
Andrew Clare
35   Posted 02/12/2010 at 14:43:14

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David (#33),
You are right. When Barcelona ? and in fact most Spanish and Italian sides ? get the ball near the edge of the box, they are looking to play quick one-twos and wallpasses in the centre of the edge of the area; all British teams look to get the ball wide so that the ball can be lobbed in the box for either the goalkeeper or central defenders to take care of. It is boring and unimaginative to watch.

Also, how many times do you see players in the Premier League taking one extra touch and then losing possession or the chance to score! Leon (#32) is right, it is a simple game that requires quick simple playing patterns to be effective.

There has got be a manager out there who can get our team playing intelligently, Moyes does it maybe 5 or 6 times a season and that's it!

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