This week – 12 years ago

An ugly home defeat to Newcastle killed any momentum gained from a hard-won point against Manchester United the week before and marked the first time for this author where it felt like David Moyes had taken Everton as far as he could

David Hardman 16/09/2022 17comments  |  Jump to last

Apologies in advance, this will be more of a personal recollection than an objective match report. And also apologies for the downbeat nature of this after last week's derby win recollection.

But 4 years and one week after that derby win, was the day I felt Moyes had taken us as far as he could. The date was Saturday 18th September 2010.

Background

The previous 2 seasons, Everton had started slowly. In both cases, though, you could site mitigating circumstances. In 2008, the team’s form had actually nosedived during the last couple of months of the previous season, basically since the Fiorentina defeat, and they still seemed to be feeling the hangover of this. Plus with Carsley gone there was no-one protecting the back 4 like he did. Plus the new signings, notably Saha and Feliani, only arrived on transfer deadline day and it took a while for things to settle. Actually, the away form was OK – 7 points from the first 3 road games – it was just the home form that was a mess early on. A hard fought draw against Manchester United at the end of October seemed to be the turning point – Everton finally won their first home game next time out (getting very lucky against Fulham, it has to be said), and they pushed on from there, finishing 5th again and reaching the FA Cup final, despite picking up some crushing injuries along the way.

In 2009, these long term injuries – Jagielka, Arteta, the Yak and Vic, the first 3 arguably being the spine of the team – their best centre half, most creative midfielder and star striker – contributed to the poor start, along with all the uncertainty surrounding Joleon Lescott, and once again the new signings were only drafted in at the end of the window and only after the sale of Lescott had gone through. The Thursday-Sunday routine of the Europa with an injury hit squad may have also taken its toll in the opening months. But once these new signings bedded in, and as the injured players came back, the team’s league form got better and better and they only lost 2 matches after November.

This season – 2009/10 – was supposed to be different. There were no excuses now. No injuries. The new players (Beckford, Mucha, Gueye) arrived early. The only departure was squad player Dan Gosling, who was able to leave on a free after some confusion over the terms of his contract – sadly this would be an early indicator of the financial mess at the club that would become apparent the following year. But for now things looked rosy – after some protracted negotiations, Arteta signed a new contract. With hindsight it was on wages that a club without CL football or a rich benefactor could ill-afford – Everton didn’t have a rich benefactor so you can conclude that they were banking on CL Football. While Arteta agreed a new contract, Piennar didn’t, but the club kept him anyway, even though it meant allowing his contract to run down for that last year – again, you have to wonder if the reasoning was that if his performances made the difference between qualifying for the CL or not, then it would be worth it. Or maybe there was no reasoning.

Anyway, the squad were in place for the pre-season games and results were positive, and with no European football for the first time since 2006, hopes were high that Everton would emulate Tottenham the year before, when they capitalised on not having the distraction of Thursday nights to have their best season in nearly 20 years and dine at Europe’s top table.

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Everton responded with their now customary opening day defeat, and picked up just 1 point from their first 3 matches. But fear not, in the next match, they scored 2 goals in stoppage time at home to Manchester United to steal a point from nothing. If that’s not going to be a turning point, what is?! Especially since it was a result against United that kick-started Everton’s season 2 years earlier.

Yes sir, the bad start was over by mid-September, and Everton would be up and running. Newly promoted Newcastle were the next visitors to Goodison.

The Game

I was actually on holiday and so missed the previous week’s comeback against Manchester United. I arrived home after daybreak on the morning of the Newcastle game, but still attended. Boy did I wish I’d stayed in bed.

My only memories are that it was an awful game, awful performance, Newcastle won 1-0 and their goalkeeper Steve Harper had to go off injured, replaced by Tim Krul. And, pardon the terrible pun, but I remember thinking it was cruel on Harper, having played understudy to Shay Given for so many years, to finally get his chance in the big time only to be injured a few games in and lose his place again.

For Everton, I don’t even remember the goal against. Felliani apparently missed a great chance to equalise right at the death, but we were already halfway up Priory Road by then.

So the bad start was going to continue. You knew there was too much quality in the squad for Everton to stay down there, and that they’d eventually find the winning formula, but I just had this feeling that if they couldn’t start the season right this time, when everything in the summer had gone their way, they were never going to get it right.

Epilogue

To be fair, after this defeat, Everton did go on a good unbeaten run, but then it became a season, rather like 1992/3 that I mentioned recently, of maddening inconsistency. From the end of October until mid-February, they only won 2 matches – these wins were away to the table topping Man City and at home to the aforementioned Tottenham. They won an epic FA Cup encounter against Chelsea only to lose at home to Reading in the next round.

Then, as in the previous 2 years, they went on a decent run in early spring to pull away from the wrong end of the table. 7th place was sealed by Jermaine Beckford’s ridiculous goal against Chelsea.

This time though I was under no illusions that they’d take this form into the new season. In addition to resigning myself to the blues’ ways by now, there were also murmurs of discontent surrounding the financial state of the club. January had seen several first team players loaned out or sold, including Piennar, the club getting what they could for him with only months of his contract remaining. The 7 subs rule really exposed the thin squad - at times Everton’s bench resembled the cast of The Inbetweeners. And by late summer, these murmurs turned to screams and protest marches as the transfer deadline culminated in the infamous sale of Mikel Arteta. Against this backdrop, the autumn of 2011 saw another depressingly inevitable slow start.

A far cry from the optimism that even I felt in the summer of 2010 when Arteta signed that new contract.

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Reader Comments (17)

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Bill Watson
1 Posted 17/09/2022 at 14:26:18
It's the hope that kills you. Without looking it up, I remember Moyes's early seasons as one good followed by one bad.
Jim Bennings
2 Posted 18/09/2022 at 08:33:30
The Moyes era was a a strange one.

As Bill points out, it was almost one really solid season followed by a compete disorganized mess.

But I think around 2006-07 we started to see a stability of top 6 finishes due mostly to building a backbone.

The likes of Tim Cahill, Arteta, Osman already at the club, we then had Leighton Baines, Pienaar, Jagielka, Lescott, Fellaini, Yakubu all came in during that period and all added something to the side which made us competitive.

It started going downhill a bit in summer 2010 when little money was made available again.

I always look back and think that group of players we had between 2007 and 2009 should have won a trophy.

Paul Hewitt
3 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:13:05
Give me the Moyes era over the last terrible 6 seasons.
Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:15:09
Hindsight is a great thing, but in similar ways but also different ways, I guess the Moyes era was similar to the 70s teams. The nearly men.

I agree Jim, it was around 2007 to 2009 where I thought we might have done something, but we just didn't have it in us. I've still not forgiven Lescott for allowing Drogba that 10 yard run on him as he stood and jumped from a standing position in the box.

When I look back, I stood up for Moyes initially. He walked into a mess and for several seasons I could tolerate him doing what was necessary. It showed the stark reality of where we had descended to throughout the 90s. But when the time came to change the style and push on, at the time he wouldn't or couldn't and I got frustrated with him.

And, again with the benefit of hindsight, he and Bill were a tag team in playing down expectation and creating a culture that didn't expect anything.

But, I won't contradict myself too much and as I keep saying, within reason, the problems at Everton hasn't always been the manager. They are just the fall guys for the mend in grey suits holding the keys in the corridors of power.

You know who I mean.

And in reference to the Newcastle defeat 12 years ago, roughly this week 38 years ago, we beat Newcastle as we marched towards our 8th League Title amassing what was then a record points haul.

Brian Murray
5 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:24:49
Paul. Therein lies the problem with blues saying or even craving the Moyes era instead of the the last six years. Moyes brainwashed fans ( even older ones who should know better and have higher standards) to reinvent a plucky little Everton. That problem is still there every week but hopefully franks winning mentality is forcing a change in attitude.If he’s still managing us at the opening to bmd it means he’s doing a lot right.
Jim Bennings
6 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:29:37
Danny,

I remember that Drogba header, yep.

I've watched that FA Cup Final back a few times over the years, just to make a more level-headed analysis of it rather than at the heat of the moment.

I also think Tim Howard should have done so much better for our manager's (Frank's) winner.

It was not Frank's most powerful shot and Howard got a good hand to it, but I'll always say to this day, Howard was never the best on long-distance shots for whatever the reason.

I would have loved to have seen us in that Final with Jagielka, Yakubu and Arteta though.

Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:37:11
My brother always picks up Howard on that Lampard shot, Jim.

Those players might have made a difference, although that was a powerful Chelsea team. I don't know if had prior knowledge or it was just good guesswork, but they targeted our right side quite a lot. Poor Hibbert and Osman had a hard shift.

Paul Hewitt
8 Posted 18/09/2022 at 09:43:03
Brian @5.

I certainly don't think Moyes brainwashed fans, but, being an older supporter, the seasons after Kendall left the first time have mostly been no more than average.

The Walter Smith years were terrible, boring football with little to look forward to. At least Moyes had us fighting in the Top 7 most of his time here.

I would have loved to see what Moyes could have done with the Moshiri millions? I'd confidently say we would have won a few trophies by now. And played in the Champions League.

Christine Foster
9 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:06:14
Moyes brought a stability we lacked, a base to advance on, but the truth is we never did, instead he bought time, he had reached the zenith of his ability with Everton, we see the same with West Ham Utd.

His failure at Man Utd was predicted, his failure in Spain was dreadful even for him. He complemented Kenwright's expectations perfectly and as time wore on we grew to despise the 'plucky' tag, the 'knife to a gunfight', the failure to show up at any big match.

His welcome was outstayed, personified only by the man who appointed him. He had no qualms in taking a salary before he left, no qualms in trying to take players and put us down. His loyalty gone with the silver he accepted.

He had his time, he will be found out at West Ham... he lost the respect with fans here and in my eyes is just another mercenary. He will be found out today.

Mike Connolly
10 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:07:27
The problem with Moyes over the years, Kenwright dragged him into a comfort zone which let Moyes have no pressure what's so ever. That's why he failed at Man Utd. Pressure was on from day one.

You hear all the so-called pundits say Lampard won't last. What these no-marks forget is it was us fans that picked Frank (because Moshiri was going to pick another dud). Also, we go every week and see signs of improvement.

Anyway, taking my 11-year-old niece to her first match today (she is very excited). Most of her classmates are Reds – that means they'll never get to see a game. UTFT.

Danny O’Neill
11 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:12:41
Oh that interview where he displayed his Spanish language skills, Christine.

Up there with the Tony Adams taking a training session as the players looked on bewildered.

Not to mention Steve McClaren's embarrassing attempt at a Dutch accent!

Will Mabon
12 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:26:25
Danny,

McClaren's effort only equalled by Joey Barton's "French" equivalent.

What on earth goes on in someone's mind to make them do that? Blood-curdling level of cringe.

Jim Lloyd
13 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:33:52
I think Moyes did a good job in keeping Everton from sliding into relegation. He also picked up a fair number of quality players for not very much, sorted out the mess we were in after we sold half of the players Walter Smith brought in.

I remember (I think!) our first home match when that Scandinavian player was pulled off and Moysie told him what's what when the player started whinging about being pulled off. And Unsie's thunderbolt bursting the net.

For a lot of the time he was here, he managed to get some decent players in, then had top sell them. Bringing a couple of American players in who did a great job for us, and he got us in the Top 7 or Top 8 a fair few times.

That FA Cup Final against Chelsea, was for me, the nadir of Moyes's reign. Sitting behind the goal and watching us more or less capitulate, just deflated me, and all the other Blues in the ground.

Danny, it looked to me that Chelsea attacked, coming down our right, after getting no change from us when they tried down our left. Hibbert and Osman (especially Osman) were well and truly overwhelmed; and we might as well have had a big sign pointing down our right, with an arrow on it saying "Goals this way lads!")

We could have had a lot worse managers than Moyes. I don't blame him for staying in a well-paid job with little expectations on him but staying up.

However, after all those years with Moyes, who do I point to for the malaise in our club? It's one man, plus the cronies who kept him in power.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Brian Murray
14 Posted 18/09/2022 at 10:48:04
Paul @8.

Moyes is a steady manager, nothing more, nothing less. To say he would've won us trophies and Champions League qualifying with money is just speculation. Ask any Man Utd fan etc.

Admittedly a fearsome Chelsea side in that FA Cup Final may have had a real game against Arteta, Jagielka and Yakuba.

Jim Bennings
15 Posted 18/09/2022 at 11:09:07
Paul ^@8,

Do you think the entire of Walter Smith reign was boring?

I agree the early months were some of the most boring I've ever seen and the latter stages a disaster but the whole calendar year of 1999 saw us score absolute bags of goals and play some excellent football.

I think we hit 4 against Leeds, Wimbledon, Southampton, 6-0 over West Ham and 5-0 wins over Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

The combo we had of Hutchison, Barmby and Collins feeding Campbell and Jeffers was quite entertaining to watch.

Again we lost the spine of the team, all three midfielders left in Summer 2000 and Campbell and Jeffers suffered persistent injuries.

Steve Mandaluff
16 Posted 20/09/2022 at 12:53:25
I remember going to the Middlesbrough game in the February and before that game we had played 12 home games and scored 3 goals, we didn't score our first goal at Goodison until 31 October 1998 that season!

Then somehow we managed to beat Middlesbrough 5-0. I'll always remember going back to Lime Street to get the train back to Sheffield and a guy saw us in our Everton shirts and asked us how we'd got on, saying it was the first home game he'd missed all season. He was a mixture of crestfallen and delighted when we told we'd won 5-0! Don't think he could quite believe it.

Then a couple of months later we lost to Sheffield Wednesday at Goodison, a result that put us in the bottom three with just over a month of the season left. Coming back from that game I was sure we were going down.

Thankfully 9 goals in the next six games from Kevin Campbell changed all that.

Before that Middlesbrough game we had scored 14 goals in 24 games. Then we scored 28 in our last 14 games, it was a dramatic turnaround!

Ray Roche
17 Posted 20/09/2022 at 13:05:23
Danny, Jim,

You mention Chelsea attacking down our right; don't forget, Hibbert was booked after about 7 minutes for a ‘nothing' tackle and was terrified of making another tackle after that. He was substituted at half-time. It would have been a different game with Hibbert able to tackle and the spine of our team fit.


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