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Transition or Tragedy?

By Sam Hoare :  28/02/2010 :  Comments (16) :

Disappointing does not quite do it. After some quite superb performances against the top teams in England over the last month or so this week saw two losses that essentially confined our hopes to this season as an outside shot at 6th or 7th in the premiership.

An unspeakably negative and dire performance in Lisbon followed by a match of two halves at White Hart Lane that was indicative of our general inconsistency this season.

The question as ever is can we look at this season with a optimisms or pessimism?

At worst this season has seen us blow our best chance of silver ware and progression in the last decade. After a strong showing last season the platform was there to build a team really capable of challenging right at the top. Sadly the Lescott saga and the lack of fresh funds and back up for injured players saw a tepid start to the league that all but eradicated any chance of mixing with the big boys.

Even so the elimination of top teams in the FA cup seemed to open up a glimpse of glory untill a lacklustre performance at Goodison against Birmingham that was overshadowed only by that unspeakable display in Lisbon that saw us crash out of the equally winnable Europa. As the likes of the SKY 4 plus City, Tottenham and Villa continue to flex their wallets will we ever have such a good chance to make up ground and brush the dust out of the trophy cabinet?

A tragic waste of a season that at the beginning of the summer many felt should be our best in a long time.

On the other hand....

This season has seen us have to deal with the continued absence at any given time of 4 or 5 of our best players. We lost in Jags and Lescott the foundations of a defense that had formed the basis of our good work last season. We had 4 players (inc Donovan) coming in to bed into a disrupted team. I'd be surprised if any other team has been forced to play as many youngsters or players out of position as us this season. It is fair to say that at no point have we seen our strongest team.

However we have at times this season played the best football seen at Goodison for many years. In the emergence of Fella and Heitinga we look to have maybe secured two top class young players to compliment the returning Jags, arteta and even the Yak looked feisty at White Hart Lane today. Billy and Rodwell have undoubted talent and obvioulsy Baines, Pienaar and Cahill have all shone at times.
At times this season i have felt surer of our future than ever before.

I personally feel both sides have their points. It cannot be denied that we have wasted opportunities this season. However i also feel this year may have seen us slowly and turning into the makings of a team that can deliver what we are thirsting for: A team that plays good football that also brings results and trophies.

If we can keep our players, possibly add one or two, continue to develop the youngsters who are performing so well currently in the academy and fade out the negative defensive approach we are often guilty of then i remain confident that we can look back at this season as the transition into the glorious Everton of the 2010's (tens?). Lets hope so anyway.

Reader Comments

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Chris Jones (Liverpool)
1   Posted 28/02/2010 at 13:41:26

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What's happened to high-tempo pressure football that has served us so well in recent weeks? Tired legs or do the old, old habits die too hard when we're up against it?

We're desperately missing Saha and despite who we pick in the back four, they spend most of the game on the edge of our own box.

Jay Harris
2   Posted 28/02/2010 at 16:16:46

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A balanced view Sam and one that I think most Evertonians would agree with(although you never know).

I think the manager and players were badly affected by what was going on off the pitch,especially in the boardroom and therefore as you rightly say we lost a potential starting impetus due to our inability to get cover for the long term injured players early enough pre season.

Also Im assuming that some players played carrying injuries due to our circumstances.

I also believe some of those exertions have taken their toll and as usual at this stage of the season its catching up which is why players like Cahill are going down with injuries.

IMO a club of our size with the league placings we have had over the last few years should not find ourselves in this position ans for me the sooner the boardroom is sorted out the better.
Dick Fearon
3   Posted 28/02/2010 at 17:24:37

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The only important matters to directly affect players and the team are a healthy, bank balance, a healthy relationship with team mates, coaches and manager. Other things to impact them are their fitness and form, their on field opponents, the position and tactics they are asked to play.
Like the rest of us their wives and girl friends, maybe both will play a part. Then there are holidays in Dubaii and other mega rich hot spots. Night clubs form a large part of their social life and other diversions are what to buy with their huge wages. Stock market shares, a mansion, the latest Range Rover or maybe a Lambo.
To cap off their jam packed routine are weekly trips to expensive hairdressers and or Tattoo parlours. Just listing those things makes me tired.
It is drawing a very long bow to claim that
boardroom matters play any part in the players preparation or on field results..
Brian Wilson
4   Posted 28/02/2010 at 18:55:04

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Well that’s that - out of Europe and now no chance of 4th.
Its proved to be the frustrating season it always promised to be but we have learned things.
When all are fit we do have a pretty impressive squad and with some promising youngsters coming through. We have plugged some key gaps but we still need to plug some others, though not as many, with whatever meagre kitty is available this summer, and hopefully not using the proceeds from Pienaar or Rodwell. Only hope BK and DM between them make a better stab at things this summer than they did last.
Dennis Stevens
5   Posted 28/02/2010 at 20:57:58

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A reasonable post & I do think we are moving closer, but to achieve any kind of success we need greater consistency & ambitious leadership both on & off the field. Our approach on Thursday seemed decidedly unambitious & we got exactly what we deserved - nothing!
Matt Traynor
6   Posted 28/02/2010 at 22:17:25

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A balanced post. I think the paucity of our squad, coupled with unavailability of players for injuries / non-eligibility have ultimately done for us - none more so than in the first few games of the season.

I don’t think we need a massive injection of cash (if we put stadium issues to one side), rather a steady, consistent net spend each season. As things stand, we will have to sell to buy if the last 2 seasons are anything to go by, and sadly if you stand still whilst others go past you, you drop down the field.

And Dick - that is where the boardroom is relevant. Players wealth etc. is a scourge of all of football - not just EFC.
Richard Dodd
7   Posted 01/03/2010 at 04:51:46

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Two defeats in a week.Time for the return of Tony Marsh,methinks!
Mark Scarratt
8   Posted 01/03/2010 at 04:47:16

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A good post
I would prefer to be optimistic
I don’t think we are that far away from being a really good side.
I would only make a few changes

I don’t think Howard dominates as much as he should. He is a fine shot stopper but lacks communication and doesn’t dominate aerially. He hasn’t been helped by a constantly changing back 4, but if we are to progress I suggest us signing a really top class keeper.
Easier said than done though.
Any ideas ?????

I would also like to see Coleman given more playing time at right back. He looks a real good prospect and offers more going forward than either Neville or Hibbert.

Baines, Jags and Heitinga would make up the rest of the back 4

Midfield is fine. We are spoilt for choice with Arteta, Pienaar, Fellaini, Billy, Rodwell, Osman, Cahill, Donovan (again on loan I hope), Gosling.

I would also like to see a top class striker bought in.
On his day Saha is awesome but for me is too inconsistent. He was non existent in Lisbon and at Anfield but superb vs Chelsea at home.
His age and injury record is against him. For me he is either awful or man of the match, but if we are to develop we need a younger striker who could guarantee 20 goals a season.
Again not easy.

Yakubu has been injured I know but seems to have lost interest.

So basically buy a better keeper and striker, and blood Coleman and I think next season with more luck with injuries and a bit more belief we could have a much better season
Tommy Coleman
9   Posted 01/03/2010 at 05:39:30

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For me it’s been a rubbish season of missed opportunities. Poor early season preparation has cost us again.
Eugene Ruane
10   Posted 01/03/2010 at 05:29:32

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Dick Fearon - Your line "Just listing those things makes me tired" made me laugh.

Not AT you I should add, but in a (adopts American accent) "I hear you buddy!" type way.

After a week like we’ve just had (ie: absolute high to absolute low) you can find yourself asking questions on why you put yourself through it.

Questions like what are you/me ACTUALLY getting out of it?

Happiness?

Contentment?

Hmm...possibly, though if asked to describe Evertonians in two words, I doubt many would answer ’happy and content’.

It’s a question that interests me - If you spend the time and money most blues do following Everton, what do you expect by way of a return on your investment?

I certainly don’t have the answer, but MANY times have asked myself that question.

The nearest I can get to an answer is ’eggs’.

I’ll explain.

At the very end of the Movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen says..

"After that, it got pretty late and we both had to go, but it was great seeing Annie again and I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her...and I thought of that old joke, you know, the, this, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ’Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken,’ and uh, the doctor says, ’Well why don’t you turn him in?’ And the guy says, ’I would, but I need the eggs.’ Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd and - but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs.~

Now I don’t know what ’eggs’ are for Evertonians but we obviously REALLY need them.
Chad Earle
11   Posted 01/03/2010 at 07:15:20

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We obviously have the players able to do the job, it’s the attitude that concerns me more than anything. How can you have two so very different halves of football, and this seems to be happening a lot this season?

Why can’t we play a full 90 mins good attacking football? Is it for lack of fitness, misguided direction from the manager or just bloody laziness? It’s frustrating and downright annoying becasue we have a team that should be much higher up the league than where we are now.
Andy Fletcher
12   Posted 01/03/2010 at 07:39:38

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For me we have a decent squad, I therefore think its down to the management team now to try a few things to the end of the season.

I would like to see us give 4-4-2 a try again as an option, Yak and Saha up front or Saha and Vaughan with donovan right and billy left with pienaar and rodwell central.

I think David needs to experiment a bit as I dont think I can stand the 1 up from role anymore. Especially at Goodison.
Anthony Hawkins
13   Posted 01/03/2010 at 08:06:44

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It’s all in the preperation. If the team was up to a reasonable speed for the start of the seas more games could have been won. Forget the type of squad.

There have been rediculous amount of injuries however the players on the pitch should have been at a good level of fitness, both physically and mentally, for the start of the season. They were not.

This is why the team have struggled over the last two seasons, particularly.

Forget who could/should be signed. Forget who we’d prefer to be playing and where. ALL players should be up to speed and raring to go.

Moyes has done well and this is the only department I can fault him on point which does not seem to change.

The only other point I would raise is the performance inconsistency of the squad. Again, this can not be specifically attributed to the team on the playing on pitch. Either they can play or they can’t. May be the players considered the Chelsea and Man Utd games the same as Cup games and put in the extra effort? Who knows?

The amount of effort the individual players are willing to put in is only down to themselves. However the responsibility to ensure the players are putting that effort in for the majority of the games is either Moyes or Round.
Tony Rice
14   Posted 01/03/2010 at 10:17:42

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7th ?
Villa , Spurs,City , shite ?
Who will fall out of the top 7 to allow us in ?....Can’t see it !

Too far back I’m afraid....
Dave McCarten
15   Posted 01/03/2010 at 13:53:49

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Forget even getting into europe,
what we need to do is drop a few players and get some of the kids playing. They need the experience and they might even show some hunger which is lacking in some places.
In the summer get some more signings, get the squad ready and just go for the forth spot with no distractions of the european games to piss us about.
Thank you,rant over.
Trevor Lynes
16   Posted 01/03/2010 at 16:37:38

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Our squad is too small to sustain a challenge in so many competitions..eg: Spurs have FOUR strikers to choose from and all of them are tried and trusted..we have one top class striker (Saha), Yak is still not fully fit and goes to the African cup each year...Anichebe is still learning his trade and has suffered a bad injury, Vaughn has not figured in DM’s plans so perhaps he has not cut it ????....Now that Felli is out we lack strength in the midfield to compete with the physical sides and we have sorely missed Arteta and Jags....we dont have the back up quality to compensate.

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