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Season 2011-12

Everton's Attacking Struggles Continue

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  06/11/2011
 19 Comments (Last)

Newcastle United 2 - 1 Everton

Everton fell to a sixth defeat in seven games in all competitions as Newcastle United continued their impressive start to the season with what was their seventh win of the campaign so far. That they could afford David Moyes's incohesive outfit the majority of the possession in the second half as they searched in vain for an equaliser and still hold onto all three points owed much to the Blues' lack of attacking threat but they also profited from typically poor refereeing by Andre Marriner.

Everton were a goal down early in the second half when Dan Gosling, a one-time hero on the Blue side of Merseyside, diverted Louis Saha's goalbound shot past the post with his arm, apparently out of the sight of both the referee and his assistant because no action was taken for denying the French striker the equaliser.

Had that shot crept inside Tim Krul's left-hand post or the Blues scored from a penalty, it would simultaneously have flattered them and been just reward for assuming the upper hand for long periods of this game against an unbeaten team lying third in the table at the start of play.

Moyes's side were constantly undone, however, by slack passing, a frustrating lack of movement, poor individual performances and that now achingly familiar combined lack of creativity and firepower in the final third of the field.

Of course, the real damage had been done before they'd really even settled into the game. A scrappy opening 12 minutes in which neither side seemed capable of taking charge of proceedings had seen Seamus Coleman squander the only clear chance when he bobbled Saha's flick-on across Krul's goal and well wide of the far post before calamity struck at the other end.

Danny Simpson whipped a wicked cross in from the Magpies' right flank, Tim Howard advanced off his line to claim it but apparently without giving John Heitinga a shout and the Dutch defender stuck out a leg to try and divert the ball behind but could only steer it into his own net. Given his lack of resources, keeping it tight and being hard to beat is a central tenet of Moyes's strategy these days but his team had shot themselves in the foot.

Everton's response was slow but, after another 12 minutes had elapsed, they did start to ask some questions at the right end of the field with Royston Drenthe, back in the starting line-up after missing the Manchester United defeat through suspension, finding Jack Rodwell with a left-footed cross and the young midfielder forcing the first meaningful save from Krul with a glancing header.

A minute later, Drenthe's trickery took him to the byline where he pulled the ball back to Leon Osman but he shot straight at the goalkeeper when the Dutchman's great work really deserved a better finish. And Saha had a couple of chances to improve on his recent scoring success, first when Phil Jagielka picked him out perfectly with a long ball over the top that left the striker in acres of space but he ballooned over with his weaker foot, and then when he dragged a poor shot wide from 20+ yards.

The Blues' hill became a mountain just before the half-hour mark when a wonder strike by Ryan Taylor doubled Newcastle's advantage. Rodwell's clearing header off a corner went only as far as Taylor on the Magpies' left and, with Drenthe slow to react and close him down, he had all the time he needed to unleash a dipping shot from the corner of the box that flew over Howard and into the far corner by way of the underside of the crossbar.

2-0 was so nearly 2-1, though, just three minutes later. Terrific work by Coleman, who had temporarily switched flanks with Drenthe, set up a shot for Phil Neville but when the captain's scuffed effort fell to Saha, he smacked a left-footer off the base of the post. Coleman collected the rebound and crossed low across the six-yard box for Drenthe but he drilled a shot into the side-netting.

Everton changed the complexion of the game significantly, though, in first-half stoppage time when Tony Hibbert's attempted cross was deflected behind for a corner. Drenthe swung his kick into the danger zone where Rodwell had the fairly simple task of powering a header inside the post to make it 2-1 going into the interval.

The second half was set up, therefore, for the Blues to complete their comeback if they could just create something meaningful from the possession they were enjoying. Indeed, the home side barely had a shot on goal to trouble Howard in the entire second 45 minutes, which left Everton huffing, puffing, squandering possession and generally failing to carve open enough chances aside from Gosling's hand-of-God intervention in the 54th minute.

The absence of Marouane Fellaini, suspended for one game after picking up his fifth booking of the season last weekend, was keenly felt in the Everton midfield which looked a much poorer outfit without him there. Heitinga was mostly awful after moving out of defence five minutes before half-time because of a reoccurrence of Neville's hamstring injury that and saw Sylvain Distin come into central defence and the Dutch international was rightly withdrawn after he was booked for a foul on Marveaux.

Tim Cahill replaced him and instantly gave Moyes's side a more potent look with some nice movement and decent passing and he forced a low save from Krul with his first shot on the hour mark. But there were too many players in Blue putting in sub-par performances, with passes going astray all over the place and individual players making far too many poor decisions.

With no consistent partner down the left, Leighton Baines's form is visibly suffering and he had as bad a game as any this season. Rarely venturing forward and now regularly failing to beat the first man with his set-pieces, he is a depressingly diminished attacking threat.

Osman again offered next to nothing, improving slightly when he dropped back into central midfield later in the game, Coleman betrayed his lack of technical ability on the ball on a number of occasions and Drenthe was his now usual mix of offensive catalyst ? but unable to carry the team on his own ? and defensive liability.

Chasing the game with increasing desperation, Moyes had the option of throwing on Denis Stracqualursi, Ross Barkley or Diniyar Bilyaletdinov but instead he chose James McFadden, a player he sold four years ago for half as much as he paid for the Russian because he wasn't deemed good enough. It was no surprise that the Scot made no impact on the game at all save for a poorly-executed cross with four minutes to go that drifted harmlessly beyond the back post.

If this performance confirmed anything it was just how toothless this Everton side is. Most of it is now the legacy of the failings of the Bill Kenwright Board and the asset-stripping that the mounting debt has necessitated. But the manager's own tactics and player selection choices must also be factored in to any analysis of the malaise that is gripping this team.

A victory for Wolves tomorrow over Wigan would leave the Blues one place above the relegation zone and deepen the anxiety. Moyes will have a fortnight to ponder his next move before the home game against the Wanderers but, unless it involves some significant changes in approach or some shuffling of personnel, it's hard to see where the goals and the points are going to come from.

Player Ratings: Howard 5, Hibbert 6 (McFadden 5), Jagielka 6, Heitinga 4 (Cahill 7), Baines 5, Coleman 5, Rodwell 6, Neville 5 (Distin 6), Drenthe 6, Osman 5, Saha 6

Reader Comments

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Dave Wilson
1   Posted 06/11/2011 at 06:48:01

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A fair report Lyndon.

In many ways, all the more damning because you haven't really laid into them.

A desperate day that was never going to be ours.

You mentioned that Newcastle hardly managed a shot in the second half; we were having a beer with a few Geordies after the game and I also mentioned this.

The older one, who wasn't getting carried away with all the Newcastle hype, leaned over and said to me, "It was worse than that, we only had one on target in the first half... and you still managed to be two down. I`d be worried if I was you"

A desperately disappointing day.
Dick Fearon
2   Posted 06/11/2011 at 06:20:01

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Lyndon, as you pointed out the Wolves game is of grave importance.A loss would drop us into the relegation zone and I am afraid we carry a number of players who do not have the bottle for the battle. It may not be immediate cause for panic but the fickle finger of fate would definitely be hovering over the button.

At times like this we need a leader of men and Moyes would be advised to drop his whinging whining hang dog attitude to lead by example.

If he is half as good a manager as his admirers make him out to be the first thing he would do is take a cold hard look at his squad and decide who among them is mentally and physically up for a fight.

Regardless how arty farty or how much potential a player may have he must show a willingness for the hard physicality and non stop work rate of a true fighter.

Having decided which players have those basic requirements Moyes should instil in them an anything goes attitude and back them to the hilt.

At the same time he must analyse his own performance starting with his fixation on his lone striker syndrome. That one thing has resulted in years of god awful and unsuccessful dross.

A good manager adapts his tactics to suit the players at his disposal.
Andy Crooks
3   Posted 06/11/2011 at 09:05:11

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The introduction of McFadden was a new low. An example of how little a once passionate coach has to offer and a slap on the face to the rest of the bench. If that was truly the best side available yesterday then this squad is relegation fodder; fortunately I don't think it was. With a new injection of ideas and enthusiasm maybe we can make the best of what we've got.
Derek Thomas
4   Posted 06/11/2011 at 08:10:21

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Dick; If Moyes hasn't twigged by now that He is part of the problem and he is, well the short term on the field problem any way. He won't be able to get anywhere near any sort of outside 'his' box solution.

The medium term problems, having his players sold out from under him due to lack of cash, is out of his long as he keeps taking Bill's Shilling.

Once he stops, It's not his problem and thats his problem he can't or won't stop.

It's obvious in his whole demeanor that he is not happy, the question is how long can he stick it...Devotion to Duty, Loyalty or 65K, all make for a powerful anesthetic to the pain.

2 weeks wait now until our next season defining game.

As to who is up for a knock down drag out scrap.

GK, not Tim

RB, Hibbo, deffo

CB's, All 3.

LB, Baines is a confidence player...without any.

RM, Coleman, will run and try.

CM, Barkley, it's his position and opportunity.

CM, Cahill, back to basics, backs to the wall

LM, Drenthe

Saha, who else? do you think Bily is up for it.

Vellios, has a point to prove...also Stracq, same point to prove, may not be up it skill wise but there aren't many others left who have a point to prove and may want to prove it.

Subs? fuck knows.
Nick Entwistle
5   Posted 06/11/2011 at 10:00:16

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Drenthe obviously has talent. But can he show it when no other player is on his wavelength? He seemed the only one to try and get frustrated at what was going on, but no one else could support him, make him flourish.

Coleman, as much as his moments of true attacking inspiration cause teams, can the other 89 minutes of nonsense give him a starting position when times are tough? Surely its time to keep Drenthe on the right and bring in Osman (cough) or gueye on the left, and bring in Bily behind the striker?

McFadden. Looks like he's on crack, but at least his passing wasn't the prosaic sideways nonsense. He looked to want to carve something out. First game back for ages he seemed... ok. And ok just about gets you Everton man of the match nowadays.
Michael Winstanley
6   Posted 06/11/2011 at 10:16:50

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Just watched the highlights on the OS. I'd play Drenthe up with Saha (How many chances does he need??? The new Beckford? sorry for the cheek!).

We missed Fellaini... Neville shouldn't be played in midfield ever and as for Osman???? Rodwell should played as our attacking midfielder with Fellaini holding.

I would continue with Coleman as he always has a go... what about our secret weapon???

And Howard should be dropped...coz he's shite.
Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 06/11/2011 at 10:38:24

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Cahill 7?

Didn't see it myself. Thought Jack was our most consistent player yesterday.
Roger Trenwith
8   Posted 06/11/2011 at 11:28:52

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Moyes in stating the bleedin' obvious: "We've got to do better and win some football games." Ho hum...
Ajay Gopal
9   Posted 06/11/2011 at 11:23:18

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Agree Dick (#1) - for the next do-or-die game:

Howard (because of the TINA - There Is No Alternative - factor)
Hibbert (again TINA - with Neville out injured)
Jagielka (TINA)
Heitinga (in spite of his error yesterday)
Baines (one of the few class players)
Drenthe (has done enough to be an automatic choice now)
Fellaini (one of the other class players)
Rodwell (steadily improving)
Barkley (youth , energy & surprise factor)
Cahill (getting long in the tooth, but always ready for a fight, and this game is too important to lose)
Velios (Moyes getting bold)

SUBS: Saha, Bily, Distin, Osman, Mucha, Gueye, Straq
Steavey Buckley
10   Posted 06/11/2011 at 11:26:27

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I have just examined skysports player ratings:

Everton received mostly averaged 5's some sixes.
While Newcastle were in the 7s and 8s.

But the match statistics say something different:

If tackle success, (2 poor goals conceded) and 2 extra corners for Newcastle were taking out of the equation, it is a different game, that has been explained of late.

Newcastle Everton
3 Shots on Target 4
6 Shots off Target 8
3 Blocked Shots 3
5 Corners 3
14 Fouls 16
5 Offsides 4
2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
70.1 Passing Success 74.9
21 Tackles 19
85.7 Tackles Success 68.4
43.7 Possession 56.3
49.8 Territorial Advantage 50.2
328 Total Passes 431
Peter Cummings
11   Posted 06/11/2011 at 13:36:42

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LL. Your report said it all, the game was there for the taking in the second half but as usual we couldn't break down a massed defence. We were caught in possesion time and again, lousy passing, especially by Drenthe, and their 'keeper, as well as ours, was virtually unemployed. The only 'plus' was a great shift by Tony Hibbert. Saha went AWOL after a good first half etc...

All-in-all a desperately disappointing result. I watched 'the other crowd' afterwards and what a great performance by Swansea who played them off the park and could have won it except for the Everton malaise, poor finishing.
David Holroyd
12   Posted 06/11/2011 at 14:11:45

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Tim Cahill has plenty of fight but he doesn't have enough mobility by himself, he needs help. But Moyes still stays with his lone striker.

Lots of times yesterday there were not enough in the area. We need Donovan or someone like him. We have to get rid of Bily, he is just a waste of a squad shirt, Heitinga is another who needs to move on.

Our next few games on paper are easier but we need more support up front.
Paul Ferry
13   Posted 06/11/2011 at 18:16:49

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How about: Howard 5, Hibbert 6 (McFadden 3), Jagielka 6, Heitinga 3 (Cahill 5), Baines 4, Coleman 3, Rodwell 5, Neville 4 (Distin 6), Drenthe 5, Osman 2, Saha 3.

Yet another awful performance, and I was sorry, in particular to see Rodwell fade away in the 2nd half (I felt that Rodwell and Fellaini were the bright spots from the last game), partly perhaps because he was not working in combo with Felaini. Osman is an absolute disgrace, I simply can no longer think of anything else to say about this short-arsed timid, lightweight, tepid 3rd division player.

I must eat some humble pie as I've argued for a while now that Heitinga ought to be in the centre back pairing: I was so wrong. Saha would make Jim Pearson look five-star. I fear for any team in which he is thought to be the top striker and watching him run round cluelessly in the 2nd half was almost as embarrassing as watching druggie McRooney amble onto the pitch to do precisely what? Cahill should from now on be a hopefully (big hope this) impact sub.

On the brighter side, Jags had his best game for a while; Hibbo is nowhere near as poor as he is often said to be; and Drenthe has something in him that is worth persevering with (if only that he can now and then breathe fresh air into the team).

Fellaini will be back for the Wolves game and anyone with the smallest piece of footie nous would pray after yesterday's gutter performance that Barkley, Vellios, and Stracqualursi are all in the running to start the game.

Woy played 4-3-3 yesterday at Arse. His team did not win the game, that's true, but my Sheedy it was so good to see a team from the Prem 3rd-tier playing with guts at a Sky ground and doing their level best to get something out of the game with forward thinking footie. The Baggies lost with dignity intact... and Everton?

Swansea: Moyes, watch Swansea quiet Anfield and then watch it again and fucking learn ? you short-sighted, dour, stubborn-as-a-mule puritan, how to go head-to-head with the teams you say (before even a ball is kicked FFS) that, with their money, a 2-1 or 2-0 loss is no mean shift and worth each one of those inflated pay packets.

Some spirit please. We will not this season have the brighter second four months that have allowed us to climb the table in the last handful of years. We will not because Moyes is not even the coach he was this time last year; because he has no clear idea what his best team is, and we know that it is not our best team, because we cannot pass the ball consistently well, because we lack commitment to take over a game and finish it, and because we will bring in no-one to shake things up in the New Year.

We will be in the middle of a tough relegation scrap in the Spring, but we will stay in the Prem... just ? and let's hope that a manager we can all admire and praise and feel good about will be in the driving seat.
John Crook
14   Posted 06/11/2011 at 19:31:54

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Very worrying times indeed, and considering the anual injury massacre hasn't started yet, this has got to be the most pessimistic i have felt since Howard Kendall, Chapter 3.
Roman Sidey
15   Posted 07/11/2011 at 02:03:51

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Fuckin hell! What constitutes a 5? That's a pass mark, and no one except Drenthe passed the grade. We need to get used to not having him for next season because his shop window is getting plenty of viewers, and he's that much better than anyone that has anything to do with Everton FC.

Moyes is spineless.

Can those people who were saying Osman was the business last season please stand up and be accounted for? Fark, has anyone seen him play? Easily the worst contracted player in the Premier League.

The hype around Newcastle is full of shit. Spurs are the best team they've played, and that's the only reason they're so high on the table. A few seasons ago, we wouldn't have blinked at this rabble. Now, we're making excuses.

Good article though, sums it up, and if we get anything less than three points next week, that ginger twat had better walk...
Jimmy Sørheim
16   Posted 07/11/2011 at 02:38:13

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I said on here that wee would lose if Neville was replacing Felli, I suggested Cahill or Osman/Bily. I think it doesn't matter who gets picked as long as we play that 4-5-1 which brings out all the worst qualities in our set of players. 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2 would fit much better, as we have poor creative players in the middle. I don't wanna see the next game cause I already know Moyes will do same as before and lose.
Ciaran Duff
17   Posted 07/11/2011 at 05:59:18

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I wrote a fan article recently about whether we should be looking at different formations (in particular 4-3-3).
Have a look at this article from another manager at Everton if you want to see what I mean :-
Michael Brien
18   Posted 07/11/2011 at 07:19:01

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I thought the comments of Neil Warnock on MoTD were very interesting. He basically stated that they had seen Man City and thought that if they got men behind the ball and gave City space they would lose so he thought it best to "give it a go". Yes they lost 2-3 but they pushed City all the way and I think they were very unlucky to lose. Given that they pushed City all the way ? I think their fans and players will have been "fired up" by that performance.I contrast that with the defeatist approach of David Moyes.

Moyes says that some of our defending against Newcastle was rubbish. Well, David I think some of your tactics are rubbish. A manager is supposed to provide leadership ? I think Moyes is providing very little of that at the moment.

We are not scoring many goals at the moment ? does perhaps the fact that we are playing one striker virtually every match suggest a link to this lack of fire-power? How about being radical and playing two strikers?

Vellios and Strac are unknowns ? but a good manager would use that to our advantage. If we don't know much about them then neither does the opposition. In the 2 months that he has been with us, Strac has hardly been given much game time has he?

Watching the match on Sky at a mate's house, we both correctly predicted when Moyes would bring on an attacking player. I was transfixed by Moyes's pitch side conference with Steve Round and Chris Woods. I think peace treaties have taken less time and required less discussion than a David Moyes substitution.

To those who say 4-5-1 is the best Moyes can do given the squad and lack of money ? I say what a load of rubbish. We have a decent squad ? which is badly managed/coached/ led by Moyes. He is our most frustrating manager since Gordon Lee. How would Moyes have dealt with Duncan McKenzie I wonder? And to the "in Moyes we trust" brigade ? do you really think that clubs like Man United/ Arsenal/Tottenham would want David Moyes as manager? The only way he will end up in charge of them is if he plays Football Manager/FIFA 2011.

At the Wigan game, it was obvious that Cahill needed support, that we needed more attacking options. Moyes took an age to react and, although we won 3-1, it was in spite of the manager's tactics rather than because of them. The question was put that evening on TalkSport: "Did the win vindicate David Moyes starting without a specialist striker?" Well surely those tactics would only have been vindicated if we had won 3-1 without having to make any changes. The fact that we had to change tactics clearly shows that Moyes's tactics were not working.

The same at Newcastle: Coleman is a player that I like but he was not having a good game ? he had been started wide right ? was switched to wide left and then ended up at right back when Hibbert was taken off. So, in the course of the game, he was played in 3 positions!! Surely it would have made more sense to leave Hibbert on ? he was playing well ? and take Coleman off?

And Distin ? who has been one of our best defenders ? didn't start? If you are placing your trust in Moyes to get us out of this situation, then I have sympathy for you. Rather than the solution to our problems, I think David Moyes has become part of the problem.
James O'Connell
19   Posted 07/11/2011 at 13:15:12

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Post match interview with Moyes said it all, he has run out of ideas and cant even motivate the players he has. Putting on that blue shirt should be incentive enough to move mountains yet alone beat an average Newcastle side. Wolves at home a pivotal game? What have we become.

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