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Cup half-full

By Steve Guy :  22/12/2009 :  Comments (16) :

As Evertonians, our cup always tends toward the “half empty” rather than the “half full”.  In this regard, the reaction on this site to the last few games has been interesting, but seems to have generally followed the “half empty” perspective.

I wrote in after the Hull City debacle and suggested that this game would the nadir of our season and that the team would kick on from there. Looking at the football and the results since Hull, I think I was right.

The game against Liverpool showed yet again they clearly have some sort of pact with the Devil, as Everton dominated the game, ran them ragged at times, and should have got something from it; a point at least. The result in Athens cemented in the players' minds that they could dig in and get results.

In the Spurs game and then the one at Chelsea, we again played well at times and the levels of commitment and endeavour seemed to be getting back to the level of previous seasons.  We also got two points from six where the form book told you we shouldn't get anything.

At Chelsea, we put more past them than any other team this season and I agree that, whilst at least one of the goals was flukey, you have to be in there to create the sort of panic which we saw in their defence.

On the back of these unexpected performances, I personally expected another draw against Birmingham given their form of late.  However, it ended up where 1-1 felt like a defeat — the exact opposite of my feelings about the results with Spurs and Chelsea.  Why?  Because we are starting to play good footie again.

Yes, it waned in the second half, but I was encouraged by what I saw and am most certainly not with the doomsayers who forecast a relegation battle for the rest of the season.  If we had carried on playing like we did against Hull, I would currently be standing on Beachey Head waiting for the tide to go out before jumping; but we didn't... so I'm not.

There is still a lot to play for this season.  FA Cup and Europa League/Cup to one side, for the first time ever, the Premier League is quite open.  Six teams are realistically vying for the top four slots.  Four or five more are realistically looking at Europa spots — and I count us as one of them.  Why?

Yes, I am an optimist in most things, but I look at the points totals teams have at the moment and this brings me back to my glass half-empty/-full analogy. Understandably, Evertonians are drawn to our tally of 18 points and see it as two above the relegation zone.  Obviously true. 

However, we are also only 10 points off 7th and a probable Europa spot.  We have a game in hand too, so that might become 7 points.  None of the teams above us (up to 6th place) have the kind of consistency to pull away so we should consider ourselves to be in the mix if we keep improving.

So, cup half-full.  I am not being complacent when I say we should be looking up not down.  We are starting to play some good football and the results will come from this to take us into the top half of the table.  Key players will be arriving back to kick us on from here to the end of the season and will be complemented by some quality loan signings in January (Donovan being the first).

I'll await the comments as to what's in my cup that has me in this frame of mind... (brandy possibly!), but COYB !

Reader Comments

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Ciarán McGlone
1   Posted 22/12/2009 at 23:01:28

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I reckon we’ll be in exactly the same spot after all the christmas fixtures... And I certainly don’t think Landon Donovan is a ’quality signing’...
John Andrews
2   Posted 22/12/2009 at 23:34:07

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Neither do I Ciaran.
Rob Hollis
3   Posted 22/12/2009 at 23:34:31

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Agreed. First twenty minutes were as good as it gets.
James Stewart
4   Posted 23/12/2009 at 01:12:00

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I would not describe myself as a "half-full" kind of guy but I do agree with a lot of what Steve is saying as he is just talking sense. There has been some totally unjust criticism of late and I for one have been pleased with the football we have offered up in the last few games.

Also, I expected we would sign no one in the transfer window, so Donovan was a pleasant surprise. He is a very good player and anyone who doubts this I suggest watching the USA vs Brazil Confederations Cup match where he outplayed anyone else on the pitch. I don’t think Moyes could have done any better than that with a £0 kitty.
David Ellis
5   Posted 23/12/2009 at 05:01:21

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My cup is also half full. But its a smaller cup than this time last year!

At the beginning of the season I could not see us finishing lower than 8th. I think it is still possible that we could finish as high as 8th - but this will take a real turnaround in results and confidence. Although the team is playing better it does need to get 3 points against Birmingham to get into the top half of the table. A bit more improvement is necessary.

I believe this improvement will come - perhaps enough to get us into the top half of the table. Why?? Because the quality of our players is higher than average in this league. Experience tells me that over the course of the season there are big changes in form. This affects other clubs not just ours. Over the longer term things return to the mean (i.e. the long run average). In the second half of last season we out performed. At the beginning of this season we mostly under-performed. It is the way of things that we will most likely get closer to our normal level of peformance - and this will take us into the top half of the table.

On a more specific level we will have players coming back and our fitness issues should improve relative to others.

But a bigger factor is that the team should get more settled. Our defence is leaky without a settled central pairing or settled holding midfielder. Over the next few games the current combination of Neill, Heitinga and Fellaini will play consitently in those positions and this should help. We now have a strong squad with high quality replacements (what would have happened if all 3 centre backs were injured at the same time- we only had 3 in the first place). But the injuries have disrupted partnerships that take time to bed down. Hopefully in the second half of the season Neill, Heitinga and Bily will have settled better into the routine of the side and the current partnerships will start to click.
Steve Guy
6   Posted 23/12/2009 at 12:32:32

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It’s interesting. The TW editors decided to put my posting up at the same time as Tony Marsh’s. I haven’t read his missive as I vowed I would never again subject myself to that level of negativity and skewed view. However, I would still bet he continues in Moyes’s bashing mode with a good rattle at a few team players for good measure. What’s interesting is that our two posts have been up for about the same length of time but Mr Marsh has some 35 responses to the 5 for this post which is admittedly and deliberately upbeat. I can only assume ’misery loves company’.
Peter McHugh
7   Posted 23/12/2009 at 13:10:07

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Admire the optimism and believe we have makings of a good team. However, we are definitely in a relegation fight at present and the sooner players and fans realise that the better — I don’t think anybody really has yet.
Mike Gwyer
8   Posted 23/12/2009 at 14:55:51

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Thoughtful post, but unfortunately I’ve just read Tony Marsh’s recent view of everything EFC and as you can guess I’m lost.

The comments between the two posts are pretty much how EFC play, good one minute and utter shite the next. The Brum game was there for the taking and IMO we set out to do that, one-nil up and pressing for more goals. Good footie as well. However, lady luck stuck her nose in then everything went pear-shaped.

Now the pear-shaped event that happened on Sunday is where Mr Moyes should earn his money, and IMO his decisions during Sunday’s match were similar to what Moyes does week-in, week-out. His loyalty to Cahill is not funny any more; Cahill needs a break or the team needs a break from him. Osman on the right will not work, he has some ability in CM but on the right he lacks pace and muscle. When playing 4-5-1 we seem to play the ball on the deck, with 4-4-2 we just knock the ball long. Why? We might as well play 4-3-3 and have another body awaiting the long punt.

We can all see the problems on the pitch so my guess is Moyes must see them as well. This IMO proves how threadbare our playing squad is when Moyes has to stick with players who are obviously carrying injuries, out of form or basically just shite.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
9   Posted 23/12/2009 at 15:53:56

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Steve, I know you think I manipulate such things but I just log in and there are the posts, waiting for me. Last time Tony posted (I think it was some days after the derby), we decide not to bother with it, and this time it could easily have been the same, but there was your "deliberately upbeat" piece... and yes, I could do nothing else other than post Tony’s piece as well — if only in the interest of balance. (Perhaps I should have renamed his "Cup Half-Empty"!)

What I don’t understand is why his view is "skewed" and yours — in your own words, deliberately upbeat — is presumably not skewed... What’s wrong with just telling it how you see it? I think Tony does that; I’m not convinced you do... after all, you admit you were being "deliberately upbeat".

The disparity in responses is more to do with Tony’s style, which gets people’s backs up and that generates responses. A truer comparison might be the number of posts in agreement with each OP...
Steve Guy
10   Posted 23/12/2009 at 16:51:09

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Hi Michael. I actually appreciate it was a ’happy’ coincidence that my post and Tony Marsh’s arrived at the same time and although i haven’t read his piece I imagine there is a nice contrast between the two !

I take your point about using the word ’skewed’. What i meant by that was that, regardless of how well or otherwise the team play, TM’s articles always seem to be to the same drumbeat...Moyes is crap...it’s all Billy K’s fault, Osman (etc.) not fit to breathe.

When I use the words ’deliberately upbeat’ it was to emphasise that I’m a cup half full merchant and I do actually allude to the poor performance v Hull and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Brum game. The majority of what I post tries to be balanced and see the good as well as the bad. I emphasised the good in this one as, TM aside, there are lots of other posts focussing on the downside of our current state of affairs. But point taken.

James Stewart
11   Posted 23/12/2009 at 20:22:27

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Well I definitely would not include myself in the Pro-Moyes camp, and I thought this thread had a lot more intellect than Tony Marsh’s.
Phil Rodgers
12   Posted 23/12/2009 at 20:46:19

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Why do people keep hailing the derby as some great turning point in our season? We lost two-nil at home to the worst Liverpool team in years. They lost to the bottom of the league on Saturday. I think I am on the wrong thread but its difficult to stay positive.
Brian Waring
13   Posted 23/12/2009 at 21:40:34

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Steve, you say the Hull game was the turning point, but from that game up to the Brum game, we took 3 pts from a possible 15; whilst the performances have been slightly better, 3 pts from 15 is hardly anything to shout about. What about the shite results before Hull, do we just sweep them under the carpet?

Also, it may be probable that we have to finish 6th for Europe, well Man City are 6th, on the same games, 11pts clear, and a goal difference of +14 for us to make up.

The table doesn’t lie, we are closer to relegation than a Europa spot.

Derek Thomas
14   Posted 24/12/2009 at 04:19:24

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I’ve read both posts and can see fair points from both sides, but...

Played 17, pts 18, as near as dam it a point per game.

Inertia and momentum, 2 sides of the same coin, my GCE Physics still lingers (thank you Mary Hill) things at rest tend to stay at rest, inertia and things that are moving tend to keep moving, momentum.

We have no momentum, we think that a good performance and poor result versus the RS makes for momentum. Versus Spurs the difference was Coleman. Versus Chelsea, sorry we didn’t ’score’ 3 — they gave us 3, which were then credited to us.

A point per game is relegation form.

Playing nice football in patches only makes us this season's West Brom.

A couple of teams put a couple of wins together and we are neck and neck with an improving Portsmouth.

Squeaky bum time come May.
Stewart Littler
15   Posted 24/12/2009 at 06:57:43

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Steve and Michael - in MK’s defence, Steve’s post appeared a fair few hours before Tony’s did. In my defence Steve, I agree much more with your post than I do with Tony’s, but have to say that whilst performances have improved, results haven’t.

What makes me laugh is that when we were winning games (seems a long time ago), many of those I would consider negative moaned that the performance was shit and we were only beating shit teams. Now that performances have improved (anybody arguing they haven’t quite simply doesn’t go the game), the same people are moaning that the performance doesn’t matter, it’s all about the result - make your mind up!!!

Colin Potter
16   Posted 24/12/2009 at 08:41:04

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Steve,
I will always listen to someone like Tony Marsh, Who is passionate about the club, than someone who settles for mediocraty, and tries to cover for Moyes’s short comings. As Brian Waring states, 3 pts out of 15, 18 pts from 17 games... I admire your optimism, but it’s about time you faced the facts. Moyes IMO is not good enough for what we, the fans want to see at this club.

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