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Season 2011-12

Lack of Creativity Hampers Toffees

By Luke O'Farrell   ::  18/03/2012
 25 Comments (Last)
David Moyes bore the brunt of Evertonian anger in midweek, as his weakened side produced a lacklustre display with one eye seemingly fixed on today's quarterfinal. However, team selection was not to blame for today?s failure. That failure, in the most part, came about due to a lack of creativity. The absence of Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson compounded this as Everton lacked incision and rhythm going forward.

Everton began in sluggish fashion, a familiar trend when playing teams outside the Top 6. Everton struggle when the onus is on them to seize control and dominate. Visiting teams sit back and Everton lack the threat and ability to break them down. The top sides come to Goodison Park, looking to win, and this provides Everton with more time and space. The visitors made the brighter start as James McClean headed a Seb Larsson free kick wide. Leon Osman had Everton's first effort, heading over, after good work from Marouane Fellaini and Seamus Coleman.

Everton fell behind with the visitors gaining reward for a purposeful start. Sunderland caught the home side napping with a quick free kick leading to Phil Bardsley's opener. The full back's low drive whistled through a crowd of bodies leaving Tim Howard helpless. McClean headed another chance over for the visitors, whilst Everton tried to find a way back with Osman and John Heitinga firing wide.

With one goal in his last fifty outings, it was a surprise to see Tim Cahill get Everton back on level terms. Nikica Jelavic headed goal wards and, with the ball heading wide, Cahill rose to head Everton level. Jelavic, impressing once again, fired an ambitious effort into the side netting. Cahill met a corner and Distin fired the rebound over as Everton rallied before the break. Royston Drenthe came within inches of scoring as his free kick struck the angle of post and bar. A last-ditch tackle from Heitinga prevented a Sunderland chance as the half time whistle approached.

Coleman fired wastefully wide and Cahill forced a low save with Sunderland content to sit back. Another Cahill's effort lacked power and Jelavic headed narrowly over as Everton pressed for a winner. Jack Colback's tame shot from distance represented Sunderland's total output in the second half. Mignolet saved Sunderland with a smart double save keeping out Heitinga's header and Jelavic?s follow up.

David Moyes swapped Cahill and Fellaini over, as the game wore on. The decision backfired as both players performed worse after moving into their new roles. Drenthe proved to be a threat but he has had better days. However, unlike Osman, he always looks to get involved. Osman can have moments of influence during a game, his assist v Spurs is testament to that, but he rarely takes control of a game.

Heitinga and Distin produced another accomplished display with the two centre backs looking comfortable alongside each other. Heitinga just edged out his defensive partner in the man of the match stakes with honourable mentions for Jelavic and Cahill. Baines was his tireless self but he plays better with Pienaar ahead of him.

Sunderland will be much happier with a replay with Mignolet wasting time during the first half. Everton will view today as a missed opportunity but the Toffees are now unbeaten in 16 against Sunderland. However, Martin O?Neill appears to hold the managerial edge with Moyes winning one of their 10 meetings.

The worry for Everton is that their two most creative players, Pienaar and Drenthe, are on loan. Everton's midfield is the thinnest area of the squad with just six first team midfielders and that includes Barkley and Rodwell. Do not worry: the creative player Everton are missing will be at Goodison Park in four days... Unfortunately, he will be wearing an Arsenal shirt.


Howard 6, Neville 6, Heitinga 8, Distin 8, Baines 7, Coleman 6, Fellaini 7, Osman 5, Drenthe 6, Cahill 7, Jelavic 7.

Reader Comments

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Brennan Finnegan
929   Posted 18/03/2012 at 01:35:52

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Hi Luke,

Great report on the match and I agree with every comment except the Gibson one re creativty. This has been a missing piece of our jigsaw for some time. So many have been tried beside Felli since Arteta left and none can come near matching his creativity.

The focus has been on the uselessness of our so-called strikers overlooking this area. Keep up your good work and hopefully you'll have something for the final fanzine of SFTH.

You're Blue Peter or Kingburnsey from twitter.
Nick Entwistle
951   Posted 18/03/2012 at 08:49:27

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I presume Fallaini went up in support as Sunderland were putting all their effort into stopping Everton from crossing from the by line (Peter Reid analysis) so Fallaini was the better option with his height to get on the end of the crosses coming from deeper positions.

That's what happened as Sunderland sat back, so Moyes made the right move. Moyes out blah blah...
Barry Rathbone
952   Posted 18/03/2012 at 07:50:59

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Quite right Luke, creativity or lack of is the price we pay for Moyes.

This week has seen the beloved money excuse AGAIN exposed by a mid table spanish side whipping the EPL champs and a welsh team led by an idealist progressing impressively - both teams playing with pace, creativity as well as organisation.

The contrast with the uninspiring policy of Moyes couldn't be greater.

You highlight the switch of Cahill and Fellaini, a perfect summary of 10 years of huff and puff nothingness followed by the long ball.

Persistent? - if at first you don't succeed try, try and try again (just use someone taller!).

Stoneage football designed to exist not succeed.
Steven Pendleton
953   Posted 18/03/2012 at 08:58:01

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'That's what happened as Sunderland sat back, so Moyes made the right move. Moyes out blah blah... '

How did he make the right move? Correct me if I'm wrong Nick, but we didn't score with this strategy did we? Moyes's complete and utter fuck-up with his team selection earlier in the week with the derby put a huge amount of undue pressure on the lads to get a result. Piss poor managing and after 10 years, you would think he'd have more of a fucking clue.
Sam Hoare
963   Posted 18/03/2012 at 09:36:53

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Midweek was awful. Yesterday was just frustrating, deserved to win it on balance.

The good news is we are still in the cup. The bad news is that Sunderland with Sessegnon and Cattermole back at home will be very tough. I suspect we have blown our chance.
Peter Barry
965   Posted 18/03/2012 at 09:51:41

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With Moyes We're Bust ? WMWB
Nick Entwistle
990   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:44:12

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Because the right strategy always always brings goals doesn't it Steven. I agree there's a lack of creativity, but there are two teams out there and Felliani going up was the right call. Sunderland parked the bus for the last half-an-hour and yeah, we always struggle in this situation. Cahill would have come redundant if there wasn't a change... and didn't Fellaini nod down to Cahill who shot tamely into the GK's arms? Should have been a goal. Ossie should have scored. Jelavic had the double chance at the end. We should have won, didn't. Onwards to the replay.
Dick Fearon
998   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:36:09

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After 10 years in sole command and complete security of tenure, Moyes ought to have well and truly put his stamp on the first team down to the academy. By now, we should be watching clever attackers and intelligent defenders. The players should be exuding confidence as they display wonderful skills learned from the maestro.Sadly, what is dished out is exactly the opposite.

For all his good intentions and hard work, it is plain to see that Moyes is struggling and out of his depth. His methods are pre-Premier League. I regularly watch Npower Championship games on TV and, quite honestly, the football on display and its entertainment value puts Moyes and his negativity to shame.

We need not fear of him leaving because the clubs that can afford the kind of money and their fans would not have a bar of his rubbish. Yes folks, love him or hate him, we are stuck with him for as long as he wants.

By the way Luke, that was a good report but how on earth did Osman deserve 5 points? The blighter was mostly invisible and note this, he played where his fans reckon is his best position of CENTRE MID. Let's hope we read no more such nonsense from them on that score...
Nick Entwistle
018   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:31:23

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Dick, these clever attackers and intelligent defenders that exude confidence when displaying these wonderful skills will cost how much?

The ones we have are being sold off for more money than we could ever afford and the money goes straight to the bank.

You know this but don't let the facts get in the way of a good bashing.

Brian Waring
023   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:41:38

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Nick, it's like when fans come out with 'To play football, you need the players who can play football, the problem is, these type of players cost millions'. If that's the case, then how come a team like Swansea, who play football most games, can do it with a squad of players that cost buttons? Could it be down to their manager, who coaches them to play that way? They even passed Arsenal off the park.
Nick Entwistle
026   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:46:40

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Brian, they're doing very well, as often promoted teams do, like Norwich are.

But Swansea's style of play was implemented by Roberto Martinez.... who is rock bottom.

Generally, you look from the bottom up in the table and there will be a progression in terms of style in play, and in budgets.
Norman Merrill
027   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:45:41

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While Sunderland will have the two disciplined players back, we will have to hope that we don't pick up any bad knocks v Arsenal & Swansea.

One big bonus will be that we won't have to put up with that totally incompetent referee Marriner. Even reporters from three different newspapers said the same about the idiot who did not see that corner cock-up during a Blackburn game earlier this season.
Steve Barr
031   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:48:56

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Brian, you are right in my opinion.

Let's be clear, all professional players must have a certain level of skill and ability to be where they are.

I'm sure a lot who post on this site have played with good non league players in their time (either on their way up or down, due to age) and been impressed at just how good they are. Just imagine how good you have to be to play in the Prem.

I've posted before that we have the basics at this club and that Moyes's coaching style is dour and defensive, regardless of the talent at his disposal.

Just imagine how much time he has with the squad to work on playing football. Something is very wrong and in my opinion it is the coaching.

10 years is more than enough time to have delivered more than mid-table mediocrity. The yearning for a new manager is not a knee-jerk reaction, rather the realisation we are going nowhere under the current regime.

The argument that no-one on earth could do better is akin to burying one's head in the sand! Of course there are managers out there that could do better and it is up to the board to set out the plan, detail what they want as far as the playing style of the future, and then get out there and find that man.

Business does it all the time.

We are like a deer in the headlights as far as Moyes is concerned, it's time to get out of the headlights!
Phil Brown
033   Posted 18/03/2012 at 13:03:31

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Nick #018 Cost of Barkley £0 ? where was he? Ideal situation for him during the last 20 mins:

Cahill off with Barkley playiong off Jeli round the edge of the box with Feli remaining in his best role.

That's Moyes's biggest problem ? he won't drop Timmy from the very position that will give us the missing creativity.
Luke O'Farrell
046   Posted 18/03/2012 at 14:08:28

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"Moyes out blah blah" ? Nick, please point out were I've said Moyes out at any point in this article. Actually, I challenge you to find an example of that in any of my articles.

Cahill has never been any use when played CM, it was totally the wrong move. Fellaini can be effective further forward, however, it doesn't always work. Both players dipped in performance after the switch it was totally the wrong move.

Regardless of that, it was also only a minor point in the article; it wasn't as if I've got the pitchforks or banners out.

Barry Rathbone,

I agree with that, we need to have more about us in terms of tactics and positional changes. However, Moyes doesn't have much to work with. The problem is that whilst there is no money, Moyes's flaws are more evident.

With the lack of finances, the manager has to be resourceful and inventive with his players, tactics and his substitutions. Moyes, despite his strengths, fails miserably in this department.

After 10 year, we're still bringing everyone back at corners; that is just a shambles. We continue to lump kick-offs as well. I remember, as a kid, being taught to get an early touch of the ball. Teams at lower levels retain possession from kick-offs but we just surrender it as if the ball is a hot potato.

Dick Fearon,

Yes, I'd go along with that, Osman was anonymous. He often struggles in CM as he seems afraid to look for the ball. He only ever shows for a pass when within 20 yards of the other team's goal.

For all his supposed limitations, Gibson works best with Fellaini. Fellaini showed his best form of the season when alongside Gibson. Darron did a lot of the donkey work and it allowed Fellaini to be involved much higher up the pitch.
Nick Entwistle
047   Posted 18/03/2012 at 14:27:11

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Didn't say you did, Luke. But the Fellaini swap has been used as reason to call Moyes everything under the sun since the match on these pages and I don't think that it's warranted. It was the right call... or at least in terms of players on the pitch it was.
Oliver Molloy
049   Posted 18/03/2012 at 14:30:53

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Arteta wanted to leave and the money the club got for him was good so we can have no complaints. I personally always thought he was way over-rated and still believe this. He has not won a MotM since moving and that tells its own story.

What happened to the Bolton lad last night for me puts everything in perspective. I hope he pulls through. I believe we will beat Sunderland in the replay.
Dean Adams
150   Posted 18/03/2012 at 19:35:56

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So should Gibson be back by the replay? If so then we must be a dead cert for the cup as he just never plays on the losing side.

We are still in it and if Moyes can find his nuts (not Pienaar) then we should be favourites for the final! At least he knows which team not to pick for the rest of the season.
Dick Fearon
207   Posted 18/03/2012 at 21:39:22

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What I am having a go at is Moyes whose expertise costs the club an absolute fortune plus his much-lauded panel of ex-coaches that also take home a fair whack.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it our coaches' well paid duty to educate and improve the players? I challenge anyone to name just one of our current first team who has improved his individual technique or at least eradicated any of their faults.

Howard still flaps, Hibbo is unchanged, Osman still can't tackle sprint or shoot, Drenthe hits the deck too easily, Jags and Pip still hoof and Coleman seeks out brick walls to run into. I could talk about others and more subtle faults that Moyes and Co have miserably failed to cure.

Further to that is the teams lack of inventiveness or creativity. Unlike other sides we never see one of our players coast unmarked into clear cut goal scoring chances. The closer we get to the opponents goal everything gets predictable and congested.

Moyes ideas on tactics, team selection and his timing and choice of subs has already been been exposed for the garbage they are so I don't need to go into them. I reiterate my original critique wherein I liken his style to a throwback to an earlier and out-of-date era.
John McLoughlin
210   Posted 18/03/2012 at 22:19:41

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How good is Ross Barkley? I certainly don't know as we never see him. From the little bits I've seen and from all reports he's a very creative, the type of of player to unlock a defence and be able to do something different... the type of player needed when the opposition is sitting back holding on to a draw. He can't get on our bench but McFadden can.

Then we bring on our lumbering centre forward to try and get a late goal when we had Vic who, for all his faults, has come on a couple of times late on and won or saved games for us.
Dick Fearon
223   Posted 18/03/2012 at 23:25:12

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John M #210, What I have seen of Barkley in his few cameos is encouraging. He is fearless in the tackle, exceptionally quick on the break, and has a feasome shot he is not slow to use. He made a few poor long range passes that were intercepted putting our defence under pressure. His first team experience was curtailed when he picked up a few injuries.

I expect to see him feature soon and in my opinion the sooner the better and definately before Moyes eats away at his individualism. Sadly, from Everton's perspective, the sooner the lad does a Rooney and gets away from negative miserable Moyes, the better for him and England.

An example of an excellent prospect hitting the wall is Jack Rodwell who seems to have regressed. By committing to Everton, he misses out on the experience and development he would have got under a more clued-up manager.
Luke O'Farrell
225   Posted 19/03/2012 at 00:01:42

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From watching Barkley against Liverpool reserves, the other week, it is clear that he's much more suited to an advanced role. He appear wary of entering full blooded tackles; that may be down to his leg break.

Him and Osman were the only ones with any footballing ability, aside from Francisco Jr; who looked better than Rodwell and Barkley btw. However, Barkley does need to work on his understanding of the game and positioning. Although, I believe he would learn more by being blooded in the first team rather than playing at reserve level.

Spot on with Rodwell, he seems to have gone backwards as a player.
Steve Barr
229   Posted 19/03/2012 at 00:23:21

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Dick #207.

Agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments.

I posted earlier on another thread about how much time the coaching staff have available to them to work on the players individual skills, particularly their weaknesses, and also the team tactics/strategies for each game.

All of which seem completely lacking from my layman observations this season, and to be frank, most of the previous ten or so seasons of Moyes tenure.

I'll say it again, the need to change is not a knee jerk reaction to a couple of bad results/performances, rather the realisation that Moyes, a decent bloke, has taken us as far as he can.

Time to move on.
Roberto Birquet
231   Posted 19/03/2012 at 00:33:32

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The upturn in our season again coincided with the arrival of Donovan. But it was no coincidence.

Donovan provided width on the right to give opposition defences uncertainty as to whether we'd use the left and Baines. Especially with Pienaar as well, we'd be a far better team. But in the Cup, we can use neither.

I pray we bring back Barkley. He has to be an option, surely. We can just throw long balls. That second half seemed to show little else.

Summer means we must sell one of Fellaini or Rodwell plus at last Yobo. Use the money to buy another striker, and some creativity. We're alright at the back Davey!
Bobby Thomas
428   Posted 20/03/2012 at 10:14:24

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Lack of invention and looking wide to create?

Well, we are always going to struggle as in the apparent 4-4-1 we play, we dont have the kind of player in the club who can link the mid and attack in that fashion. Cahill basically plays 2/3 touch if its in to feet, gets give and lays it off, were gonna get it wide for the crosses.

Noticed theres never any combination play with the main striker with Cahill?

Him and Saha looked like they'd never been introduced!! Different kind of player needed for different football. But to be that kind of "number 10" ball player you have got to be very good. Cahill was one of the best attacking mid goal threats in the division, it was justifiable. How much longer is debateable. For now moyes remains loyal, very loyal.

The other aspect is that, since Donovan departed, we badly lack the kind of player who can provide the cutting edge these wide tactics require. Donovan is not just a speed merchant, he is a very good all round footballer, full stop. Keeps possession, great crosser, knows when to hold and when to give(yes you Royston!!) and a goal threat. Cracking player.

We dont have anything like that. Hes also too old to sign permanently. If we have anything dollar to play with in the summer i like Jarvis from Wolves. Pacey dangerous and a great croser with both feet, can go either side. Would provide the kind of variation we need. But this wide situation has needed addressing for years even when Piennar was here originally.

Currently we are back to the same problems as the last couple of years, a serious lack of penetration. Piennar brings increased ball retention and intelligence, but it actually doesnt solve the overall problem. Which is why we currently place all our chips on Drenthe for creativity.

Coleman is getting seriously found out this season and may benefit from a change to full back permanently, he just doesnt have the touch, control, vision or awareness for the position, and is very one dimensional. Can never knock his attitiude though.

He was just back from injury which is always tricky, but overall i dont think its harsh.

Ossie looked blatantly off the pace, clearly needs more games.

The more things change the more they stay the same!!

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