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Not For the Faint-Hearted

By Michael Evans :  23/10/2008 :  Comments (0) :

I have found myself reflecting on two recent comments from E J Ruane (a very skilled writer) and Michael Kenrick

Firstly, E J, quite rightly IMO, pointed out that there may be a dichotomy in the perception of David Moyes and the team between younger fans and a 40-something. In many ways there is some middle ground between us. As a 40-something, I agree to an extent with the view put forward by many that Moyes has brought some stability back to the club after the rollercoaster years of the perpetual threat of the relegation abyss. It is also easy to agree with the concensus view that players such as Arteta, Yakubu etc are of a greater quality than the Brett Angels of previous years

When DM arrived at the club after limited managerial success and experience at Preston, I felt he was a breath of fresh air and exactly what we needed at that time. He was hungry for the challenge that being a Premiership manager presented and refused to accept excuses for the mediocrity of the fayre that was being offered to the long-suffering faithful.

In the best traditions of "Oliver" we demanded more and DM delivered. With his wild eyes and gritty Scottish demeanour the Moyes legend was born: the Moysiah had arrived and IMWT threatened to replace NSNO in the hearts and minds of the fans

However, those of us whose birth certificates dictated that we had seen a far better team, players and quality of football were slightly more cautious and reserved our judgement. We realised that merely steading the Everton ship was not enough. The real test for Moyes would be, if he was given the time, could he build a team that could play expansive, entertaining football in the best NSNO tradition.

That leads me to Michael Kenrick's recent reply to a post about what would happen, Heaven forbid, if David Moyes left. In essence, Michael said he felt that Moyes was a "confidence trickster" and that after 6½ years at the club he should have built an ethos of passing football and not hoofball. He also alluded to DM having become on a national level a media darling whilst Evertonians have to cope with the negative, percentage, mind-numbing football. As with E J Ruane's views, I also found myself agreeing with Michael Kenrick.

So, at what point exactly did my view on Moyes change? Chelsea 2nd leg Carling Cup.

Let me briefly turn the the clock back to the mid 80s and the title winning team of Reid, Southall, Gray et al. We Evertonians are often accused of living in the past on former glories but I believe that history has much to teach us. What made that team so great ? Well, of course hyperbolic superlatives could be applied: internationals, skilful/great players etc etc etc. And their manager? Well he had already proved himself as as a successful player (unlike Moyes).

Kendall had shown the mental strength needed to win. His players knew that and they respected his judgement. I had the privilege of being at the Bayern game at Goodison. The players followed Kendal's lead on mental strength and were able to overcome setbacks and prevail. That's what a winner's mentality does.

The Chelsea game you may recall was shown live and as the game was about to kick off the cameras panned the Everton bench. At that moment I saw the apprehension on David Moyes's face. This was a defining moment for DM and the club, an opportunity for the Manager to lead by example and show that winning mentality, In my view, he failed. Coincidence or not, the players have frequently shown a lack of mental strength, capitulating far too easily on too many occasions and have been in freefall since Fiorentina. Is Moyes negativity commuting through the team? I think so. The players seem paralysed by fear. Would Moyes have had the courage that Wenger showed by allowing his young players to so fearlessly express themselves in the hostile environment of Fenerbache away ? I think not. Would Reid, Southall or Gray have accepted a manager who so readily holds up the white flag with his negative 4-5-1 tactics. No, because they wanted to win and had the courage to do so.

There is an inconvenient truth here: football is not for the faint hearted.

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