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Everton's footballing style

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As I find revising for exams in university very tedious, I thought analysing a topic of discussion in a lot of mailbag and articles, which is of course the way play Everton play their football, would be a good idea. The majority of Toffeewebbers have of course played Mr Moyes.

If we look at all the teams who play good football, how are they so successful? In my mind, there are five things:

1. A good defence ? we need a good foundation. That's why Blackpool are doing rubbish in the league, they play great stuff yet could get relegated.

2. Players with good passing and comfortable on the ball.

3. Players to make space ? Players need to be intelligent enough to outwit defenders and make space so they can receive the ball in enough time to pass to the next player.

4. Creativity ? We need creativity to create chances for strikers.

5. Good strikers ? Good enough strikers to actually score.

Now, Barcelona are good at all 5 points, and teams like Blackpool probably good at 2 or 3. That's the difference between success and failure with good passing football. What do Everton have? Well, I reckon 2, maybe 3 at best.

We clearly have a good defence, and that has been the benchmark for our success definitely. They perform a shambles at times, but are generally very good and consistent.

I also think we have good players with good passing skills. I could name Bily, Osman, Arteta, Fellaini, Rodwell etc all good passers and all comfortable on the ball.

But the problem is the other three. Strikers is an obvious one, speaks for itself how many goals we have scored this season.

Creativity I argued maybe one we do or do not have. An iffy one. We have Baines who is fantastic at crossing, we have Osman and Arteta who are good at creating chances. We maybe need one or two more quality additions to sort that out.

The space is a worrying one for me, and I think that is down to Moyes. He can surely integrate more pass-and-move training, focus on that, to create space which enables us to pass a lot better. Just look at Jags and Distin, when they hoof the ball, people ask why? Well, because we have no one to pass it to! Teams like Blackpool and Swansea are that comfortable to build from the back, and that is because the mid-fielders find space
Ben Jones, Anglesey     Posted 19/05/2011 at 14:48:33

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Ian Kearney
1   Posted 19/05/2011 at 21:51:37

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You need pace, it's an athlete's game now... more so the higher you go up.
James Flynn
2   Posted 19/05/2011 at 21:56:49

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Good post Ben. Interesting stuff.

Might have used ManU instead of Barca, since the former plays in the top league and the latter a minor one. Still would have "good at all 5 points".

Point 5 is the killer. We don't have a final 3rd attack that scares anyone. So they push up and congest the rest of the pitch. Or park the bus for the same reason.

Fear of an opponent's scoring ability is what opens up the pitch for Points 3 and 4. We're stuck mid-table due to the lack of Point 5's effect on Points 3 and 4.

Trevor Mackie
3   Posted 19/05/2011 at 22:01:40

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"Everton's footballing style" has become an oxymoron.

Ben, some good analysis there but I don't agree we have a strong defence I say we have an ordinary defence enabled by a defensive set up.

I'm loathe to criticise individuals for lack of ability because if you're set up to get behind the ball most of the time how are you going to demonstrate creative ability.

I suspect we have a good team in there somewhere ? if only someone could find it.

Gavin Ramejkis
4   Posted 19/05/2011 at 22:19:56

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Some very valid points, the defence this season has been ropey to say the least keeper included but the formation and style doesn't help when they just lump it straight back to the opposition for another go at attacking us or set plays like corners with no one near the half way line meaning any clearance comes back with a vengeance.

We have little pace in the side and creativity has been muzzled by having too many defenders on the pitch, they are in essence not attacking players or likely to take on a player to past them. I posted a link to a lad from the Spanish fourth division on the Beckford thread the other day, I'd pay bloody good money to see footwork like that a few times a season:

How often has an Everton player got you screaming in joy this season through skill?
Dennis Stevens
5   Posted 19/05/2011 at 22:24:11

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Hear, hear! Trevor.
Luke O'Farrell
6   Posted 19/05/2011 at 22:59:25

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Without wishing to rain on your parade Ben, we only have one of the five and that is the defence.

Although that could still do with improvement.

We have a team were too many of the starting XI and first team squad are not comfortable in possession. That is the main problem for us and the reason we play such awful football at times.

Also the generally negative mindset doesn't help much.
Luke O'Farrell
7   Posted 19/05/2011 at 23:02:01

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I forgot one final point; Rodwell is not a good passer!! Everything is backwards or sideways.
Ben Jones
8   Posted 20/05/2011 at 02:01:19

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I disagree Luke, our players are definitely great on the ball. Look at the West Broms and Swanseas of the world, would you say with our strongest team, that their players are better than ours at passing? Just because Rodwell passes sideways and backwards doesn't make him a good passer, it just means he ain't very creative.

It's all down to Moyes and his coaching. However, you can't criticise him too much as his methods are getting us in the top half regularly and it is very difficult to play good football and be successful.
Eric Myles
9   Posted 20/05/2011 at 02:16:16

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I hope it comes up as an exam question Ben otherwise you're probably stuffed on your degree... :-)
Dave Wilson
10   Posted 20/05/2011 at 05:30:30

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Decent article.

Injuries forced Moyes to play Neville and Heitnga in midfield, They both played in defence earlier in the season when we played with less defensive-minded players than any other team in the Prem.

Our inability to find space worries me too, but that's something natural intelligent footballers do instinctively. Is that a skill that can be taught? It's certainly not a skill anybody at our club is capable of teaching.
Rahman Talib
11   Posted 20/05/2011 at 07:19:31

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Our footballing style is sumed up in these words:

"Do or Die"
Eugene Ruane
12   Posted 20/05/2011 at 07:33:20

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I think you're half right Rahman.
Chris Matheson
13   Posted 20/05/2011 at 11:42:25

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Thanks for this, Ben, and good luck with the exams.

I don't think we have a good defence and the low number of clean sheets this season stands testament to that. But it is in attack that our real problems are. As Gav Ram says at No 4, we lack speed and we get the basics wrong such as leaving everyone back for corners.

But in terms of our footballing style there is more to it than that. We pass too short and always to feet. Now playing to feet is better than whacking it at a team-mate's midriff or lumping it aimlessly forward, but playing into space is more preferable than either. We rarely do that.

Next, we never vary the attack. It is always played out wide and then lumped in. We rarely do low, hard crosses and we hardly every play it on the ground and through the middle.

Take that game against Villa earlier in the season. It is said that we battered them. But we didn't really, we had lots of possession but only a couple of clear-cut chances. All the rest were crosses lobbed in to be easily headed away.

When we attack, we attack slowly, we are no good at breaks and instead look to "hold the ball up", which is seen as a positive attribute ("he holds the ball up well" etc), when in fact all it does it give the opposing defence time to get back into position.

Do we play like this because the manager sets us up look like that? Or does he set us up like that because we have not got the players to play in a more positive fashion?
Sean McKenna
14   Posted 20/05/2011 at 12:53:46

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Footballing style is defend at all cost... Look at our front 3-4 players there's no interchange the movement off the ball is pathetic except Beckford. And look how we pass... We pass at the man, not in front of him; this then slows our play down. Moyes needs to let the guys off the leash.
Brian Waring
15   Posted 20/05/2011 at 18:10:12

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We are a good passing side going forward, the problem is that its all done at a snail's pace.
Andy Crooks
16   Posted 20/05/2011 at 18:12:04

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Look at us this Sunday. The movement from the midfielders is appalling. Watch Beckford (if selected): he constantly moves into good positions but gets long balls form Jagielka. Watch Arteta, his movement is incredibly poor. He is good on the ball but rarely makes himself available to the back four. Heitinga is a footballing centre half and can play the ball comfortably out of defence, who to?

Our midfield seem to be ordered to protect the back four. We need a box-to-box midfielder, Fellaini, much as I admire him, isn't the answer. Scott Parker would have won us enough points this season to take us to the Champions League.

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