As pleased as we all are today, I think it?s safe to assume that nobody here is ecstatic about how this season has turned out, and we?ve all gotten a little grumpy about unrealized expectations. But I think that?s misplaced. My perspective is that this season could have been a whole lot worse, and some key people prevented that from happening.
Back in August, we all had high hopes ? perhaps even a fifth-place finish and Europe ? for what we saw as the best Everton team in years. But those hopes would have looked pretty silly back then had we been able to look ahead to April and know that:
? Eight starters would miss large chunks of the season;
? Both of our midfield drivers would perform miserably, and one would leave the club while the other would be lost to injury again for the run-in;
? Our best goalscorer would start only 14 games, and our only real creative force would be the left back;
? Of our two young budding midfield stars, only one would develop into a true top performer, and he?d be blown out by injury;
? The loaner who sparked us last winter would stay home in LA;
? By spring we?d be so depleted as to send out a side featuring SEVEN nominal defenders and three players projected as reserves back in the summer;
? Our only real Player of the Year candidates would both be defenders.
Had we seen all that in the crystal ball last August, I think most of us would have expected to find Everton staring at the relegation abyss come spring.
Instead, after all that catastrophe, with today?s win we?re a solid 7th, one spot ahead of last year?s finish and only a slot or two back of where we had hoped. And if we can get past the RS into 6th, I'd say that would make it a pretty decent season.
I think we owe a great deal of credit to four people who get little appreciation, at least on ToffeeWeb. In ascending order, they are:
4. Tim Howard ? Yes, his distribution is terrible, but I don?t care. A goalkeeper?s primary job is to stop shots, and Howard is one of the best shotstoppers in the world. He makes every save he should (no bleeders or dribblers getting through) and more than a few that he shouldn?t. He?s kept us in games we could have, and perhaps should have, lost.
3. Phil Neville ? On most teams, the captain is usually the best player. On ours he?s one of the worst (today?s screamer notwithstanding!). But while Pip?s skills may be lacking, his leadership is breathtaking. He doesn?t just impose his will ? he uses it to drive his team on. The true test of a leader is his effect on the people around him, and Everton are a much, much better side with him in it.
2. Sylvain Distin ? Baines may be brilliant, but he?s able to rampage forward ? and get away with his soft defending ? only because he has Distin behind him. The big guy hasn?t lost a step at 33... he still has blazing speed and tremendous power, and he has made crucial plays in almost every game, with very few mistakes. As far as I?m concerned, he is Everton?s Player of the Season in a walkaway.
1. David Moyes ? Okay, here we go... I can hear the howls of the Moyes-out brigade from 5,000 miles away. Yes, his strategy and substitution choices drive us crazy sometimes. But a manager is judged by results, and year after year Moyes gets better results with less talent and fewer resources than anybody else in the Prem. Again this season we are looking down at teams with much higher payrolls and considerably more expensive talent. And again this season the only clubs ahead of us are the ones with all the multimillionaires. I?ve yet to see any of the fire-Moyes flamethrowers here actually nominate a potential replacement whose record matches up with Moyes?s. I?ll take this guy anytime.
Mike Gaynes, Posted 09/04/2011 at 16:20:02
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1 Posted 09/04/2011 at 21:39:15
2 Posted 09/04/2011 at 21:40:50
Almost all of us matchgoers take it as it comes, warts and all. We celebrate, we moan, we blame all and sundry and then come back for more. We all want better and have done for years. The fact we don't get it seems to matter little as our misguided optimism knows no bounds as we follow the team through thick and thin. Win, lose or draw, your average Blue will find something to cheer them on a match day. Don't we just love this most unpredictable of sports?
3 Posted 09/04/2011 at 22:10:50
Ken, spot on; I would just like to add that, since we've had so many injuries, it's great to see how Osman and Hibbert have responded. Both have their fair share of critics and both have, I believe, answered them all.
Osman has had to come more inside where he's far more effective, though his crosses today were brilliant. Hibbert would still have been warming the bench had Neville not had to come into midfield.
Well done to both.
4 Posted 09/04/2011 at 23:06:03
Hibbert is another who falls in the same category. We desperately need a class right back next season. Distin has been great this season and Jags is coming back to his best. Neville's experience shows but Heitinga is an enigma these days.
All-in-all, this makeshift squad have battled well to bring the season round somewhat. It would be an unexpected bonus to get into the Europa Cup given some of the very poor results we had earlier in the season. I like Beckford, he has that little turn of pace which gets him into space but his decision-making is poor on occasions and so I hope Cahill is back next week to support him against Blackburn.
5 Posted 09/04/2011 at 23:36:23
Yes, it would be nice to have a bit more money to improve the squad further, but this was generally recognised as our best squad for many a year. Therefore, I find myself frustrated, yet again, by Moyes's apparent inability, for whatever reason, to get the best out of his best players.
6 Posted 10/04/2011 at 00:57:47
7 Posted 10/04/2011 at 04:49:27
8 Posted 10/04/2011 at 06:12:43
We do love this game and this team, don't we? Maybe someday you and I will share a beer and Blue day at Goodison.
9 Posted 10/04/2011 at 06:59:21
Trust me, the level of ignorance you see every day is nothing compared to what an Everton fan deals with on the far side of the Pond.
10 Posted 10/04/2011 at 08:16:52
It is going to be very hard this summer and I do sometimes fear the worst of losing players and worst of all Moyes. Kenwright needs to bring in some investment by hook or by crook.
But I am proud to be an Evertonian.
11 Posted 10/04/2011 at 08:50:04
It would be nice if we do sell big for Moyes to find a few good bargains but you can bet Kenwright will pocket half and we will hear his mouthpiece tell us half the cash off Rodwell or whoever has been used for our new signings' wages.
12 Posted 10/04/2011 at 08:46:35
The injury crisis we have at the moment looks worse because we have probably the smallest squad in the Premier League, and several of them are out on loan. But if you take the season as a whole, our luck with injuries has been no better and no worse than any other club.
The problems have lain elsewhere: the failure of the likes of Arteta and Pienaar to deliver match-winning performances; Bily's indifferent season; the fact that Rodwell hasn't yet stepped up to the next level; the woeful lack of form of our strikers before Christmas.
Of course, credit is due to Moyes and the players for the manner in which they've turned things around since the new year, but let's not forget that six games ago we all thought that we were in a relegation dogfight. A few spirited if rather scrappy wins can't and shouldn't be allowed to gloss over what has for the most part been a disappointing and frustrating season.
13 Posted 10/04/2011 at 09:07:01
Picking up the injuries now has nothing to do with how we have performed for most of the season.
14 Posted 10/04/2011 at 09:24:55
Yes, other teams have had big injury lists but I have yet to see one of such importance to beat that. Teams have players out from different positions but that's our whole midfield.
15 Posted 10/04/2011 at 09:35:08
The lad cannot win, he has been the reason we never got dragged into a relegation dogfight with his goals and assists and it is about time certain Blues recognised that.
16 Posted 10/04/2011 at 10:11:21
The team have been playing great over the last 6 games or so and everybody rightly celebrates. What this post fails to capture is that this season has been shoddy. If we can play like this now, WHY weren't we playing like this at the start of the season?
Some state there have been injuries. There were a couple to none major players but this season we started with pretty much all our star players and it's only now when we've lost most of them that games have flowed and the results have come.
The team has performed exceptionally well lately; however, over the season, it has significantly underperformed... this season will be the first where I say "we could and should have done better" and Top 4 was definitely within our grasp.
17 Posted 10/04/2011 at 09:45:47
As for the 'Moyes Out' philosophers, yes, his decisions can be frustrating at times but who would be a serious contender to take his place? Most of the so-called 'top managers' like a lot of money to spend... Jesus, even Awwy Wedknapp was complaining in the press last week that Spurs didn't give him enough! There's nobody better than Moyes out there who would look at Everton given the state of the finances.
There's always Big Sam of course, Christ, wouldn't that be a step up? O'Neill left Villa because he felt the club did not provide him with enough financial support so little chance of him then... and in any case he's an overrated whinger in my opinion.
This season has been poor in many respects but that has been due to an inability to turn chances into goals especially early in the season and a leaky defence. Nevertheless, it has not prevented the team, despite a few terrible performances (and who doesn't have them?) from playing some pretty decent stuff. When I go to the match nowadays I expect to see the lads play a bit of decent footy and even if our shortcomings this season mean we don't always get the result, I usually do. As disappointing as this year has been, that dire 'boot the ball down the middle and hope for the best' shite that we used to suffer every week not so long ago is now largely a thing of the past.
Football is a funny game and confidence plays a huge part. We played Blackburn and Villa off the pitch at the start of the season on their own gorunds, played great stuff and got beat. That happened time and time again, home and away. Confidence starts to ebb away, panic sets in, booed off the pitch twice at Goodison so playing at home becomes riddled with anxiety. Add to that another long list of injuries making it impossible to get a settled team on the pitch not to mention a creche on the bench and is it any wonder we're not where we expected to be?
There is a lot wrong that needs to be fixed but FFS there is also a lot that's right that needs to be recognised and encouraged.
18 Posted 10/04/2011 at 10:11:15
I have noticed that comments from match day supporters tend to differ from people who watch the game on line or via other media (TV based).
We were getting battered for the first 20 minutes, our passing was shite and the players were really all over the place ? for me, Neville was probably one of the worst. If Wolves had had a decent striker, we would've been a couple down... but hey, Neville and Heitinga seemed to have a couple words, a bit of slagging match, then presto. Heitinga breaks up play, the ball is played to Osman (and something that may not have been noticed on screen was the obviously rehearsed, but bloody quick, movement by Beckford, Bily and the French kid Magaye?? ? this state of play put at least three Wolves players out of position and led to our first goal.
From that moment on, we were always on top; Distin and Jags were, for me, playing for fun ? Wolves were not going to score, end of. Our movement was now absolutely spot on and the man marshalling all this was Mr Moyes ? any player moving out of his zone was soon earmarked by the Moyes man himself or Neville.
So yes, Osman and Distin both had good games, but the guvernor was there in all his glory yesterday and those 11 players played Moyes's game to a T.
19 Posted 10/04/2011 at 11:32:16
20 Posted 10/04/2011 at 11:25:46
The home fans had given us some usual abuse, ie 'out of work' crap, and their rendition of the YNWA but after Bily had scored that screamer, the sounds only came from the fans in Blue, sending some early-exit Wolves fans home to the sound of "You're going down".
Not a great game but the result and the goals gave all the travelling fans something to talk about on the journey home.
21 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:10:29
22 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:07:30
The loan system is a terrible thing for clubs (like us) as we lend out too many players to be able to cope when we have inevitable injuries...everyone and his dog knows that Saha is prone to injury and he is very much like Ledley King...can only play a few games before needing treatment...
I honestly feel we were lucky yesterday as our start to the match was absolutely abysmal and I agree with the article that stated that our seasons best players have been in defence.
Distin has been terrific and a true bargain buy...he is a consumate professional who is always in condition and still has good pace.
He and Jags are a great double act with Hibbert/Neville and Baines being the real hero's collectively.
Howard is a decent keeper (not great).
Osman is having his best form that I can remember and his block in front of our goal saved a certain goal when we were playing rubbish.
Im still not happy with Heitinga and Bily as they are really not worth the money spent on them when you compare them to Distin.
Becks is showing improvement and its a shame that he has not been able to strike up a real partnership due to Saha's injury.
Just a second mention of Ozzie...if he played like yesterday every week he would be ousting Barry from the England squad.
23 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:24:52
24 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:49:36
I wonder if players ever read sites/blogs where they are slagged off no end?
He has shown both character and ability and it's about time he got some credit. I firmly believe without his influence we would be sitting just above the bottom 3 instead of top of the form table.
25 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:43:03
Our inability to convert chances has cost us big time.
As for Moyes, I think, in the main, has done a great job at our football club. There is no "Moyes Out" campaign amongst regular match goers. There really isn't.
If we could just start a season half decently......
26 Posted 10/04/2011 at 14:31:21
Osman was particularly excellent. He was full of running, effective in possession, and really rallied the players around him in terms of effort and standards.
As Gavin (19) stated, the run from Beckford that created the space for Bily to fire in from 25 yards was superb. It shows that Beckford does have good instincts - and is prepared to do the selfless, unglamorous work that Moyes loves in his strikers. I wonder if Yakubu would have done the same...
The league this year has been very strange. We have underachieved - but so has almost every team in some way (except maybe Blackpool, Bolton and WBA) - and we are looking at a possible higher finish than 12 months ago. It doesn't, however, disguise the fact that this season has seen Everton struggling to find any kind of fluency, and that Kenwright cannot continue to rely on us fortuitously treading the choppy waters of the top 8 in the Premiership on his diet of no investment and rising debts.
27 Posted 10/04/2011 at 14:48:55
28 Posted 10/04/2011 at 15:18:53
29 Posted 10/04/2011 at 16:05:48
The reason I didn't mention either one in my list was a preference to give recognition to full-season contributors who don't get the credit they deserve. As crucial as he has been recently, Osman was pretty much a non-factor for the first half of the season. And Cahill, who scored so many thank-god goals early on, hasn't contributed much over the past couple of months.
My point was for the season as a whole, the guys I did mention have been the most important contributors.
Great points by Nick and Jay. To Ryan's point, I'd suggest that the absence of a top-class midfield playmaker has been an even greater problem this season than finishing. So many final balls have just been terrible. The one thing about this season that completely stunned me was the dropoff in Arteta's level of play... he created virtually nothing.
30 Posted 10/04/2011 at 16:33:42
They've got our old friend Richard Dunne; we've got Distin. They've got Houllier and headlines about mutiny in the ranks; we've got Moyes. They've got Petrov as their captain; we've got Pip.
We're 7th; they're 16th.
31 Posted 11/04/2011 at 04:40:15
When the opportunity was there to achieve something we weren't up to the challenge. Players didn't have the nerve and the manager didn't have the nerve. We trotted out loads of possession against some poor teams without actually trying anything different.
Now we're on a little unbeaten run I'm supposed to be happy with somewhere between 6th to 8th position? No chance - this was entirely predictable. The league finished for us in about January. What we've done since doesn't matter.
I'll always enjoy an Everton win but I'm not reading anything into these performances or results. Win a few in the 3 or 4 months leading up to next Christmas and we will still be in the competition.
This season was marked as a 'fail' a few months ago. I'm not giving them more marks once the real test has finished.
Apologies if I sound like a miserable bustard. Its because I am.
32 Posted 11/04/2011 at 04:49:14
I would say neither of us.
33 Posted 11/04/2011 at 12:21:01
By 9 places and then about £5m in prize money.
34 Posted 11/04/2011 at 13:01:05
As for the difference between 7th and 16th... they're just degrees of failure.
We get 'junk time' points each year. Not good enough no matter how many teams sit below us come season's end.
35 Posted 11/04/2011 at 14:16:39
The team have not done as well as they could or should this season and the season is not a complete write-off.
The impression I get is that Moyes's failure to bring in a known quality striker adversely impacted the team's ability to score. However, I would also say that the team has not played to the best of its ability for a large proportion of the season, regardless of the striking options.
Of course Moyes should shoulder some of the blame; however, I do not think it is all down to Moyes. How come the players are suddenly performing well? Is it something Moyes has changed? Not from what the man himself is saying.
I remember back to when England lost a match whilst Beckham was still playing and he came off the pitch saying "No-one said play long balls, we just did it". There is only so much any manager can do once the players cross the side of the pitch.
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