VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Everton 0 - 1 QPR
The heat may finally be building on Bill Kenwright and the Everton Board as the extent of the credit freeze gripping Everton Football Club, along with their inability to do anything meaningful to resolve it, has been laid bare this past week, but with more or less the same group of players as 12 months ago (albeit a year older) ? the same squad billed as the best to grace Goodison in two decades ? any genuine "crisis" (one borne mainly of ageing players and not enough funds to replace them) looked to be a couple of seasons away.
This demoralising opening-day defeat, however, the sheer predictability of the way it unfolded, and the resounding chorus of boos that accompanied it could usher in a crisis of confidence and supporter disenchantment much sooner if it marks the beginning of another run of results that plunges the Blues back to the bottom of the Premier League.
Predictable was the watchword of the day ? the 4-5-1 formation that has been David Moyes's crutch for almost all of his time in charge at Everton; the lack of imagination in the final third; the crucial defensive lapse; the wayward passing; the dearth of sustained attacking threat; Moyes's "we lacked quality" quote after the game; all the way down to Mikel Arteta taking free kick duties off Leighton Baines and driving a direct effort into the defensive wall.
And if Moyes's decision to leave Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini on the bench and then replace lone striker Jermaine Beckford with the Belgian midfielder after 64 minutes leaving the team without a recognised attacker on the pitch for 10 minutes wasn't all that predictable, it wasn't all that surprising given his propensity for such bizarrely negative moves against supposedly inferior opposition in the past. Nonetheless, the crowd gave the manager their disapproval with both barrels and booed Kenwright for good measure when his pained countenance appeared on the big screen shortly afterwards.
With no fresh faces added to the team this summer, the chances were great that the Everton side that kicked off 2011-12 campaign would be little different in terms of playing style than last season. Any hopes that the coaching staff might have freshened things up in terms of tactics and approach were dashed within the opening quarter of an hour; this team plays exactly the same way as last season, with the same useless punts downfield from Tim Howard to a striker in Beckford who is useless as a target man for such aerial service, the same susceptibility to moves breaking down on the edge of the opposition area, and the same slack passing.
The one difference? The one surprise of the day? The breath of fresh air that was Ross Barkley, a 17 year-old kid making his senior debut who showed up each of his outfield peers with a performance of such composure and self-assuredness that it's a wonder he shares the same Finch Farm training facility as everyone else. Whether it was spraying a pin-point cross-field ball to switch the play to the opposite flank, a quick change in direction to wrong-foot and beat his marker, or being the one player not afraid to put their boot through the ball when a chance opened up in front of him, Barkley's display belied his years and offered enormous hope that the Blues have unearthed another gem from the youth ranks that will save the Club millions. Unfortunately, though he came close with a couple of 20-yard efforts, Barkley wasn't able to rescue this game for Everton.
In the final reckoning, it's fair to say that this game could have turned out very differently had two incidents swung Everton's way. First, when their first spell of pressure ended with the feet of Jack Rodwell 10 yards from goal and he was clearly bundled to the groound as he lined up a clear shot on goal. Referee Kevin Friend, doing nothing to shed the impression formed last season that he is the worst referee in the Premier League, waved away appeals for a foul that would almost certainly have been given had it occurred anywhere else on the pitch.
Second, when Barkley was clipped on the edge of the box after 20 minutes and Baines stepped up to whip a now trademark free kick off the underside of the crossbar. Another inch lower and Everton would have taken the lead.
As it was, it was newly-promoted QPR who were thrashed 4-0 by Bolton on their own turf in their opening fixture last weekend who snatched the advantage 10 minutes later. The home defence eschewed a series of opportunities to clear the danger from a rare spell of Rangers pressure and then allowed Buzsacky too much space to thread the ball inside to Tommy Smith who, having lost Phil Jagielka as the defender was drawn off his marking duties towards another opponent, had all the time he needed to pick a spot past Howard and make it 1-0.
Everton took eight minutes to respond and came within inches of grabbing an equaliser when Beckford whipped a cross behind the visiting defence but Cahill, stooping inside the six yard box, somehow contrived to put his header past the far post.
John Heitinga then headed smartly back from the byline to pick out Beckford but he couldn't get enough power on his own header to trouble Paddy Kenny before Cahill despatched Baines' deep cross over the bar with the last chance of the first half.
Troubled by the familiar attacking failings on display, hope nonetheless remained for the Goodison faithful that things would change in the second half, perhaps with some dressing-room inspiration from Moyes or an attacking substitution during the interval. Neither really materialised, though, and while Rodwell spurned a gilt-edged chance off Heitinga's pass just two minutes after the restart and Arteta made his entrance after another eight minutes, a depressing sense of deja vu was setting in for the increasingly anxious fans.
Heitinga sliced wide from 20-odd yards just before the hour mark, Osman wasted a promising attack by ignoring the opportunity to carve the QPR defence open with a pass through to the well-placed Beckford and was closed down, and Cahill emulated Rodwell's earlier miss by firing straight the at 'keeper.
Having seen Moyes haul the increasingly sloppy Beckford off after 64 minutes and roundly booed the manager for bringing on Fellaini instead of Saha, the fans got their wish right on cue with 20 minutes to go when the Frenchman was told to start warming up. He finally entered the fray in the 74th minute as the last of three subs but, truth be told and Barkley aside, he was as bad as the rest of them.
The less said about Everton's pathetic attempts to rescue anything from this game the better. Save for two fine efforts by Barkley and a header at Kenny by Fellaini, the final quarter of an hour plus five minutes of stoppage time were a demoralising mess before referee Friend put them out of the misery and allowed them to escape the fans' verdict by disappearing down the tunnel.
With all due credit to QPR for a job well done, the painful truth for Everton is that they were rarely troubled by the West London side, Tim Howard really only called upon once to pick the ball out of the net following Smith's goal. The game was there to be won by a Blues team that should be so much better than they are but they just didn't look like they knew how to do it.
Quite why Moyes chose not to put his best foot forward with his best possible starting line-up ? preferably 4-4-2 with Beckford and Saha up front but at least with Fellaini and Saha on the pitch from the first whistle ? is anyone's frustrated guess. Arteta's lack of match fitness was known beforehand but unless the manager was shielding Saha and Fellaini from rushing back to competitive football after long injury layoffs, his decision not to include them smacked of disrespect for QPR.
Of course, all that matters now is the response from the players and manager, starting with the Carling Cup banana skin posed by Sheffield United in midweek. Moyes has been moved by supporter angst to shuffle his pack and formation in the past but there's no guarantee that he'll do anything different, and therein lies the concern.
Will his stubborn adherence to his rigid tactics preclude any attempt at a two-man attack? Will his unwillingness to mend fences with certain players keep a natural goalscorer like Yakubu in the shadows even if Beckford starts to struggle for form and confidence? Can he or Steve Round get the team playing the kind of football they've shown countless times over the last few seasons that they know how to play? Can he keep morale sufficiently high among the players as they take the next steps along what looks like a very long road to May 2012 as Board-level problems continue to bubble away in the background? And will the faithful be able to sustain their dogged support as the realisation of the death of the Champions League dream really sinks in?
Player Ratings: Howard 6, Neville 5, Jagielka 6, Distin 7, Baines 7, Rodwell 6 (Arteta 6), Barkley 8*, Heitinga 6 (Saha 5), Osman 5, Cahill 6, Beckford 5 (Fellaini 6)
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1 Posted 21/08/2011 at 08:09:54
2 Posted 21/08/2011 at 08:20:20
This was a player who was being talked about as the future of English football at one stage but on today's performance he would struggle in the Championship. His lack of movement and touch and pace would have shamed a non-league player. And when he was through one-on-one early in the second half, all he could manage to muster was a back pass to the QPR goalie.
Two observations: one, he was blatantly out of position ? not his fault but the managers and two, okay so you're not playing where you want to or think you should be playing but please show some initiative and desire.
Take a look at Barkley on the other flank; when the team was one down, he was the only player looking for the ball and running into space with the exception of Baines. I could go on all day about the poor passing of Osman, the God awful distribution from Jag and Distin and the lack of desire of Saha and others but for me Rodwell's performance was the most abject and worrying.
I have been saying for the last 18 months that we should cash in on him because each time he's played he's produced less on the pitch. Last season he was hampered with injuries but so was the rest of the squad and he had the chance to step up and make his mark but not once did we see him influence a game ? never mind run a game. Where has it all gone wrong?
Were we guilty of thinking he was better than he was or is what's happened to him just a symptom of the general malaise of what's going on at the club? Does Jack, the rest of the team, our manager and the fans simply need a change?
I have never called for Moyes's head because on balance I think he's done a great job over the last 10 years but to have to bear witness to such mediocrity on the first day of the season and to have to watch players who didn't have the ability or the desire to succeed against such ordinary opposition makes me think that the time has come for a shake up.
Sorry, this started as a post about Rodwell's 6 out of 10 (for me this should have been 3 and, really, I don't want to vilify the lad) but, like so many other Evertonians out there, I am bemused and confused. I want to support the team, the players and the manager but I'm finding it increasingly diffcult to do so.
3 Posted 21/08/2011 at 09:24:42
Lyndon, their is one answer to this and something I have said personally for the last two years, that is Tim Cahil, in a 442 formation he does not fit in and for me the starting line up yesterday was compromised to fit him in, he contributed not a lot yesterday also.
I like Tim Cahil away from home in a 451 is the best I can see for him moving forward but if we are to start playing with players playing in their true positions then Tim I am afraid is out.
Secondly, Barclay looked great but again what is his true position, I see him as someone behind the front man, were as yesterday he was right and left, I think he would be perfect supporting Saha/ Beckford in a 442.
The rest Fellaini just need to play in the middle of the park with Arteta, Johnny at best is going to have to e cover for Fellaini/Jags and Rodwell just need to leave now as he is never going to be good enough in any position.
Frustrating but still in my opinion their is a team that can do things this season if David starts to play players in their best positions, Yesterdays starting line up in my opinion had only the back four and Beckford in what is their best positions.
4 Posted 21/08/2011 at 09:48:21
5 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:08:09
Another season of frustration and half-watched games beckons...
6 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:21:55
7 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:14:42
DM has a problem with flank players.In his time at EFC he has bought more goal keepers than flank players.
We play too many players out of position.This game is all about maintaining your shape as a team.Once that goes then your finished.Such as the substitutions yesterday.Cahil started as support striker then went as lone striker with Felli in support then finished off as defensive midfielder when Heitinger was removed.
Pathetic cos it just makes the situation worse.
8 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:26:02
The point has already been made but one of the reasons we struggled against the so called lesser teams is that they've sussed us out-park the bus and we huff and puff,and play in front of them and that was the irony of last season, the better teams gave us freedom to play. Long, long season ahead and one I'm not looking forward to.
9 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:32:50
On another note I would happily sell Jags to the Arse for 15-20 million and go with Heitinga. His aimless hoofs are starting to really do my head in. With the Jags money we could by cover at CB and get someone in at RB. Anyone other than Hibbert and Neville.
10 Posted 21/08/2011 at 10:47:12
My thoughts about Kenwright are well known, a decade ago I wrote about the actOR Bill Kenwright is and the fantasist he is.
But it is Moyes and his tactics that totally bemuse me today. When I heard the team from my seat at Goodison, I knew we'd lose. The basic formation 4-5-1, Beckford who can't play the single striker role for toffee(pun intended), Neville at right back, Heitinga in midfield, Rodwell wide on the right, Osman and Cahill in no-man's land and on the bench Arteta, Fellaini and Saha, all suggested that David Moyes has lost the ability to put a coherent, balanced team out. Q.P.R. weren't terribly good, but they didn't need to be, when they had the ball they were more measured and they defended deep, knowing Everton would contrive to lose it. Cahill hasn't scored in the League in 2011 and he doesn't look as though he might.
Sheffield United , Warnock's old team may well give us a scare and Blackburn versus Everton will have the neutrals salivating.
11 Posted 21/08/2011 at 12:34:14
The is not over reacting either, the whole club is stale and needs new faces. Manager continuity is something that is good but every relationship comes to and end and I feel the manager needs to step down. I cannot think of another Prem side that is so poor at simply passing the ball and attacking the opposition. It really is embarassing at times but the frutrating thing is that we do have good players so there is something very wrong in the background..
12 Posted 21/08/2011 at 13:08:16
We should have been focussing on selling in order to buy this summer and i find it hard to believe that the cluc couldn't find any interest in Rodwell, Billy, Yobo or Yak...i suspect we were holding out for more than they are worth and as a result have not had time to bring anyone else in.
On the other hand, its early days. We were slightly unlucky yesterday and on another day might have won 3-0 or 3-1. Beat sheff utd and garner 7 points from the next 9 and we might overlook yesterday. But patience is at all time low...
13 Posted 21/08/2011 at 13:09:31
Awful team selection by Moyes is he purposely trying to ruin Rodwell's career?
For this game I would of went with 532 with Neville(who as captain is a disgrace) RWB and Baines LWB rest of the team would of pretty much picked it's self.
The 451 460 formations of Moyes are a disgrace to Football
14 Posted 21/08/2011 at 13:30:51
Replace 'save' with 'earn' as we all know how this will end.
15 Posted 21/08/2011 at 14:09:21
I have a bit of a problem with Gueye; however, we have nobody else apart from Bily who could do that role also, get Pienaar back and it would be perfect for me.
With options to go 4-5-1 in some instances with Cahill if needed and with Beckford and Anichebe as and when required, as I think they are more effective as subs.
Neville Jags Distin Baines
Osman Arteta Gueye
It plays all players in their true positions, Rodwell has a lot to learn at the moment for me; he would be better to try and push Fellaini for his place in the team.
16 Posted 21/08/2011 at 16:13:35
17 Posted 21/08/2011 at 16:01:35
From the off Moyes has done this stuff he got to 4th with it once and he's been untouchable since.
The phrases "ground hog day", "deja vu", "same old, same old" should be copyright at Everton.
Trouble is from the board down to a significant amount of fans there's either no problem or "it's nothing to do with me guv,"
We have the club we deserve.
18 Posted 21/08/2011 at 16:30:08
Anyway, Moyes needs to look himself in the mirror for that debacle. I would rather see an untried youngster played in his correct position than one of the senior players played out of position.
Lame, unbalanced, predictable plod along football. My patience is wearing thin.
19 Posted 21/08/2011 at 16:23:25
What the hell was he doing on the right flank yesterday?? I believe the lad has real talent but somewhere along the line, perhaps since injury he has gone backwards. Barkely looked the real deal yesterday, but I have little faith in Moyes ability to bring him on to the next level. Fergie will start sniffing around soon.
Everyone in the Media praises Moyes for bringing youth on but who?? Rooney left, Rodwell looks a shell of a player and Barkley will probably be dumped on the bench or played out of position to. Will Coleman kick on when he comes back? Who knows, yesterday's team selection was awful, tactics dire and the Fellaini substitution a joke. It time for a change on all fronts. There is an old guard at Everton that needs to move on. BK, DM and some of the backroom staff. Shit to hear Neville has signed a new deal. Wish he would fuck off back to Manchester, sick of his crap floaters into the box.
20 Posted 21/08/2011 at 19:15:42
Jags was awful yesterday. I was confused by DM's post-match comments. Is he sulking or being sarcastic, saying it was no surprise we lost?
We all know the problem and that is there is too much money in football now. No passion.
I have to say though when BK came on the screen, the booing was a disgrace. A majority of people in that ground behaved like kopites. I like BK, I know people hate him but I don't believe he has lied and, as he said in this week's meeting, he hasn't taken a salary or claimed expenses from the club. He's not a fraud, he just has no money. I would rather be playing in the lower divisions than be bought by a yank, Arab etc... so I for one don't blame him for being choosey.
By the way the lads who went to see him this week and recorded the meeting without permission should be ashamed. They for me have no credibilty whatsoever.
21 Posted 22/08/2011 at 08:47:57
22 Posted 22/08/2011 at 10:17:45
I find it amusing you quote the defunct and disgraced New of the World to have a go at Rodwell. The scum that frequented that paper on all levels are below contempt. Maybe you should look at the fact Heitinga was anonymous in a position Rodwell could have prospered in, then have a go at who is responsible for Rodwell not excelling. Moyes should never have played Rodwell on the right, again.
?We all know the problem and that is there is too much money in football now. No passion?
There is no-excuses for what went on at the weekend; I am still bewildered.
23 Posted 22/08/2011 at 11:18:18
Let's play two up front and go after teams, certainly those outside the top six. How many of us on here would rather come away having lost 3-2 having gone after teams rather than being subjected to that turgid display of one dimensional football?
For me the team from front to back picks itself. Howard, baines, jags, distin, Neville, Coleman, felli, arteta, barkley, Saha and beckford.
Time for Moyes to start earning his money and give us something to be proud of.
24 Posted 22/08/2011 at 14:57:15
We have to get in some strikers. This is what I would do.
Sell Rodwell ? he hasn't trained on. Sell Arteta ? he is not the player he was.
Buy Sam Baldock from Mk Dons ? young player, already good, will improve ? and maybe Rodallega, seems to be available.
Other than that, don't panic.
25 Posted 23/08/2011 at 00:00:35
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