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Thank You and Goodnight

By Alan Kirwin :  24/11/2008 :  Comments (0) :
I've now managed to collect my thoughts about tonight's game and I will apologise in advance, for I am pissed off in excelsis. Ken Buckley will do a far more objective and eloquent treatment of this game. Mine simply represents a gathering denouement in my willingness to hurt my eyes any more.

For the umpteenth time this season I started watching us wondering if ths would be the game when we play like a side with European ambitions (or pretentions). You know, passing, movement, skill, commitment, concentration, that sort of thing. And for the umpteenth time this season I observed yet another display of such turgid proportions that I just don;t know where to go now. I feel that I would rather eat my own pancreas than watch an Everton game.

There's just nothing there. I mused on a different thread recently about the uncertainty governing a run of results (such as ours recently) when the team is evidently playing badly and really only succeeding through good fortune. It could break one of two ways, either it builds up our confidence and we start playing well and maintaining the run, or quite simply our luck runs out and we're back down to earth again.

Tonight we got precisely what we deserved, sod all. It was so painful to watch that I truly felt embarassed amongst the neutrals and those with just a passing interest in the exhibition of precision passing and olympic movement that this was not. It seems that with almost every passing game we set new depths of aesthetic destruction. We are simply shit to watch. So much of our football tonight (and frankly all season) would not look out of place in Sefton Park on Sunday morning after 12 pints and a full English.

Let's get the players out the way first. Howard 9 (superb), Neville 4 (unusually nervous, a pity as I think he's been playing & leading well of late), Lescott 3 (very poor, but his problem is very much down to Moyes), Yobo 5 (barely adequate), Jagielka 6 (fairly solid, poor distribution as usual), Arteta 3 (awful, with exception of 2 great defensive runs late on), Osman 4 (invisible in the main), Cahill 4 (ineffective), Fellaini 4 (looked lost in such a tawdry game), Saha 5 (couple of flashes of pace & power), Yakubu 5 (looks fed up).

Marking the players individually tells only part of this story. And we're not just talking about Wigan tonight. I think we've all seen the same thing since pre-season. Firstly I don't see any point in playing a midfield because we never bother to use it. I've marked the whole midfield as crap tonight, which they were, but what must they do in training? What on earth is Moyes and Round doing to render these talented multi millionaires utterly useless? Ruud Gullit once said that if your team-mates move around and give you options then football is easy (assuming of course you know a pass when you see one). Cnversely he also said that if your team mates stand still then they re very easy to mark and you look crap as your passes never reach them.

Right now I regard Moyes as the luckiest manager in the premier league. Up to May he was OK, working hard, living and feeling the club and driving forward. That stopped in May. It hasn't returned, even with his enormous new pay packet and eventual realisation that his own ditherings on his contract were affecting the team. I believe Moyes REALLY has taken this team as far as he can. We are 7th in the league despite what he has done, not because of it. We have ridden our luck and it ran out tonight. The reality check was overdue.

For sure, I prefer to be winning whilst playing badly rather than losing like Brazil. But there are limits and after one third o the league season we are yet to put in a single good performance over 90 mins and we're out of two cups. The players look disjointed, incoherent, indecisive, slow, immobile and more. These are basically good players. I can't believe that Arteta, Felaini, Saha, Yakubu, Lescott, Osman and pienaar don't want to enjoy their football. Arteta in particular just looks out of it and something is very wrong.

We are possibly the worse visual experience the premier league has to offer, and there are some crap teams in it. It's all down to Moyes and Round and I have lost count of the number of times his post-match press conference has included the words "poor performance". i think it equals the number of games we've played minus 2. For someone now earning over £3m a year it is no longer acceptable. I would personally have let him go before pre-season as he had clearly gone off message, off radar and off the boil by then. I think this again shows up Bill Kenwright getting too close to the engine room. He should maintain a healthy, positive and friendly relationship with his manager, but that's not his nature and it's a shame. To reward Moyes with that contract after he not only managed, but was highly culpable in, our crap pre-season & start to the season was the wrong call.

It will now take a transformation way beyond the Redknapp/Spurs model to sway me back onside towards Moyes. As far as I am concerned he has hit the wall both tactically and emotionally, and has nothing more to give. It really is self-evident. I would love to be proved wrong and to savour beautiful performances with a hint of steel as we cut a swathe through all comers and clinch 4th (or even 3rd place). But come on, it's not going to happen is it? We've been waiting since the first re-season game for a good performance and were still waiting. Losing to Wigan for the first time in Wigan was a wake-up call and, though it galls me to say it, probably helpful in the long run.

There's been a lot of discussion elsewhere on TW about change at our club, boardroom, stadium etc etc. Right now I think we're at the stage when we need a new manager. It was once argued about a certain political leader that he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Well, we're doing a good job of our own in that department and it is now my firmly held belief that if we don't replace Moyes soon another opportunity will be missed.

Then again, I know it won't happen.

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