COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Match Report - Can we just throw this season in the bin?

By Paul Traill :  23/01/2011 :  Comments (30) :
There?s nothing worse than going to the game full of optimism and leaving dejected. Leaving dejected after a last minute equalizer for your team?that?s how bad things are at the moment. West Ham United at home?you?ve just got to take three points there off the league?s basement team.

The day started well enough I suppose, picking Gary and (after some confusion) Ste up, parking up and getting the pub. It?s then when things slowly started to get a bit worse when upon entering the pub Liverpool scored a goal on the TV, before adding a second, and then a third to give Liverpool their first win under King Kenny. Quite big news in football terms I suppose. Quite how it constituted full billing on ITN national news and the incredibly lengthy montage of clips from Liverpool fans on Radio City later on I just don?t know. The world can rest easy?LIVERPOOL ARE BACK?apparently.

Anyways, we got into the ground slightly after Z-Cars boomed out. The team was unchanged from last Sundays derby with Jagielka and Saha both fit enough for the bench, though Vaughan intriguingly left out despite featuring in the derby last week. West Ham arrived with captain Scott Parker returned to the team after injury, and Piquionne starting up front following apparent toothache. We won the toss and so attacked the Park End in the first half, Peter Walton refereed, I believe this is his last season as an official. I hope that?s his last visit to Goodison as every time he?s come he?s been pretty poor in my opinion..well, not ONLY my opinion by the sound of things!

We started sluggish and it was Mark Noble for West Ham who had the first real opportunity of the game, lofting over when he had more time than he probably realized following an acute pass from Parker. Still, we battled back into the game, not through quality, more so through grit and it was Beckford who had our best chance of the half, though Green was out quick to smother just as Jermaine got his shot away. I thought we were just beginning to get a bit of ascendancy in the game when West Ham took the lead. Passes were getting smarter, challenges were getting more committed and the crowd were just getting into it I felt, when Goodison crowd favorite Luis Boa Morte got free into the box and squared the ball back for Spector to smash home into the empty net with Howard already committed. It was generally poor defending by Everton, the ease at which Boa Morte was able to get into the box and the lack of cover provided for Spector was also poor. What ever happened to staying with runners?

Anyhow, that?s how we found ourselves, again, and things could have been much, much worse before the break. West Ham twice came close to making our task twice as difficult. First Boa Morte just strayed offside before slotting home, but the real let off came when Piquionne headed goalwards but only onto the inside of the post, with the ball trickling agonizingly across the goal line and out for a goal kick. ?Wake up Everton? was the general cry from the Gwladys Street?in more industrial language than that by the way.

Speaking to Ste at half time and we wondered what Moyes would change as something had to be done. I wondered if Rodwell or Bilyaletdinov would be plunged straight into action though it was in fact Saha who got given the nod to replace Beckford as Everton started the second half with a lot more purpose, and a lot more belief?where was that performance in the first half? Despite our general better play we were still unable to garnish any breakthrough and it was actually West Ham who had the better opportunities in the early stages of the half as Everton toiled.

Another change was required and Bilyaletdinov was introduced at the expense of Anichebe with Moyes opting to move Fellaini into a more advanced role. The change proved fruitful with Fellaini supplying chaos into West Ham?s back line. The goal came from substitute Bilyaletdinov after Fellaini nodded down for the Russian to rifle a drive right-footed past Robert Green. Game on.

You hoped this would trigger Everton to take the game to West Ham a bit more but this didn?t happen. Coleman did come close twice. Once when he should have headed goalwards rather than volley from the rebound of a Green save following a Saha drive, and the other time when he hit a peach of a shot left footed past Green but unfortunately just past the post also. Though not playing great, we seemed the only team that could win it, until?

Parker?s drive into the box earned West Ham a corner which was played in though cleared only as far as Parker who got the ball out wide again. My mind flashed back to the Vidic goal against us back in September when we failed to pick up men after clearing the first corner. This happened again with Piquionne rising unmarked to impressively plant his header into the net past Howard. Unfortunately for the Frenchman he was a touch to giddy with his celebration, jumping into the West Ham support to earn himself a second yellow card and therefore a red one. A harsh rule, but players know the rules, so why do it?

Everton made their final change with Neville being dragged off for Rodwell. I?d like to say the red card spurred Everton on a bit though I?m not so sure it did as there didn?t appear to be any great purpose of urgency about the lads. In the end it was Fellaini who took matters into his own hands, taking the ball down on his chest with great determination and taking his shot on the bounce to drill it past Green. We?d saved a point but I couldn?t really celebrate. You can take the odd dip against the poorer teams at home but I?ve just had enough of these ridiculous performances at Goodison this season. We may have had a chance to win it at the end when we attacked with numbers. Arteta had a great chance to play in Saha but instead opted to shoot from outside the box but blazed horribly over the bar. That was pretty much it.

Just too many poor performances at home this season has cost us dear. Newcastle United, West Brom, Wolves, Wigan, Bolton and now West Ham. You?d really expect 18 points form that, maybe the odd howler and draw so lets say 13 points. Had we done this we?d be sitting ahead of Spurs in fifth place! Clearly it?s the home form which has undone us this term as away from home we?ve been just fine.

Listening to Graeme Sharp on Radio City on the way home and he raised some good points. Firstly, the strikers just aren?t doing enough, so why the blazes let Yakubu go out on loan? Secondly, clearly, we need new faces to freshen things up, and as quickly as possible. Thirdly, clearly, we need someone up front, now if you need to get a striker in on loan in January it?s a pretty tough job as any striker available on loan in January is most likely not any good.

I?ve said it before and I?ll say it again, I just can?t understand how everybody else can spend and we can?t. When I see Sunderland, Wolves, Stoke and even West Brom outspending us in the summer and we stand still it makes you wonder just what is going on. Even now, I?m seeing Santa Cruz go to Blackburn on loan, Carew to Stoke on loan and even Danny Wellbeck and Mame Biram Diouf out on loan in the summer?and we?ve stood still?moreover, we?ve let Yakubu go out on loan and now it looks like Vaughan is on the move also. This needs sorting out and quickly. Maybe I?ve got it all wrong and in a few years we?ll see these clubs with cash collapse with heavy debt, though I just can?t see it somehow. We need investment fast. I don?t think Moyes can take us any further without it.

Thankfully it?s the FA Cup next and a welcome relief from the league. Chelsea surely can?t win the cup three years in a row?let?s make sure that?s the case next weekend.

Player Ratings:

Howard: Not a great deal to do really. 6
Baines: Not one of his better games. 6
Distin: Pretty solid at the back. 6
Heitinga: Started the game like his old self but seemed to lose concentration as the game went on. I?ll be pleased to see him replaced by Jagielka next Saturday. 6
Neville: Has looked out of sorts for me since all this Spurs talk came out. Interestingly for me, there?s been no comment from Neville regarding all this and he?s never short of a word or two. Not leading like we know he can. 5
Fellaini: Easily my man of the match. Patrolled the midfield in the first half and did his job well when pushed further upfield scoring one and making one. 8
Arteta: Did well. Kept on trying and always looked for the ball. Could have done with more from those around him I thought. 7
Osman: Kept the ball well. Improved when moved into the centre to accommodated Bilyaletdinov and Fellaini in a more advanced role. 6
Coleman: Not his most effective game but his willingness and determination is a popular trait with the supporters. Probably should have scored. 6
Beckford: Worked, though showed some wild touches before being subbed at the break. Was probably harsh subbing him but Moyes had to change something. 5
Anichebe: Didn?t contribute as expected following his new contract. Fair to say he hasn?t won the supporters back yet. 5
Saha (for Beckford): Took him a little while to get going but was full of life when he did do and made a decent contribution. I imagine he?ll be back in the team next week. 7
Bilyaletdinov (for Anichebe): Like Louis, I think he?s played his way into the team for next week with that goal. Did well. 7
Rodwell (for Neville): Not on for long, difficult to judge.

Reader Comments

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Ken Buckley
1   Posted 23/01/2011 at 15:15:24

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Paul your first paragraph about leaving the game dejected sums up a lot of fans feelings. I walked up Goodison Road and then down Spellow lane and the worrying thing for the club,manager and players was there was no real anger, no calls for heads just a difident resignation to the fact that we seem nowhere bound without the ability to freshen up the team. This attitude usually leads to diminishing attendences and all that that leads to.
It was sad not to hear any voices talking up who we should sign and in what positions but instead a glum acceptance that we are percieved to be potless with no chance of adding to the squad at all.
Are only chance seems to be at this moment is we stay a prem.team and some money will be available in the summer window.
I continue to live in hope.
Leon Perrin
2   Posted 23/01/2011 at 15:45:16

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I think 3 reasons for the apathy.
Firstly, the club has been in decline without genuine hope for over 2 decades - it's now accepted we are a huge floating turd of a football club
Secondly the "replace the manager" call is more in desperation than hope, the dearth of innovative managers has given us a hobson's choice of Moyes look a likes.
(The return of Dalglish, inconceivable a few years ago, the greatest indictment of the state of football management.)
Thirdly, a generation of fans have grown up not playing football and don't know shit football when they see it.
James Stewart
3   Posted 23/01/2011 at 17:47:12

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Bar Fellaini, Bily & Saha, the whole lot were complete shit & looked every inch a team in a relegation battle.
Trevor Lynes
4   Posted 23/01/2011 at 18:19:32

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Fully agreed with your article and I am also thoroughly dejected at the way our once great club is being allowed to decline. I cannot believe that we are so short of money that we cannot compete with any other Premier League team in the transfer market... embezzlement springs to mind.

I do not blame any player of any real worth wanting to go... we totally lack ambition and we are in desperate straits. I never for one moment contributed to DM's claim of our squad strength being high... we have no cover for Baines at all and have lacked it all season.

We are becoming a feeder club and our better players are fair game to any of the top clubs; despite DM's message that Pienaar was not going... he went!! Again our manager is talking of loan deals so no real money being spent...we have become Primark buyers just hoping to find a new Rooney. I'm sick of the whole situation!

John Daley
5   Posted 23/01/2011 at 18:27:51

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Our performances at home this season have been an absolute disgrace bar the RS and Spurs games. No entertainment, no passion, no drive, no goal threat, no creativity combined with schoolboy errors and a lack of leadership on the pitch. It's looking increasingly likely that we're in for a struggle for the remainder of the season as we currently seem incapable of getting results against teams around/below us in the table. Of the upcoming fixtures, the Arsenal game is the one i'm least worried about. Wouldn't surprise me if we sneaked a battling win there but then get turned over by Blackpool and Bolton.
Steve Bryant
6   Posted 23/01/2011 at 20:23:52

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Agree its our home form that has badly let us down this season. In years gone by we would have beaten the likes of Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom (for goodness sake!!). Have to say that Beckford should have stayed on yesterday. He needs time on the pitch, time to fit into the side, adapt to the pace of the premier league and find his touch. He's not being given a proper run in the team - 90 mins each game. Just cos a striker doesnt score in the first half - thats no reason to remove him. I agree we needed changes at half time and Louis looked hungry which is good but why not give him a go with Beckford. Anyone remember the Spurs game????!!!! I thought we gave West Ham far too much space on the ball. We didnt harrass them like we have done to some teams at Goodison in the past. We just didnt get at 'em!! As for letting in 2 goals against the leagues bottom team, well that just shouldnt happen and our defending is becoming steadily worse. However , I would like to take this opportunity to defend David Moyes' position. He seems to go from hero to villain to hero etc from game to game, depending on the result. This is ludicrous. We have a good manager who works hard and is desperate to get it right otherwise he wouldnt have stayed with us for 9 yrs. He has not been able to do anything in the transfer window for 4 transfer windows now - how can he be expected to progress the team if his hands are tied like this??? - Come on guys, give Moyes a break. We should be pointing the finger at them upstairs in our beloved Goodison. How many years has Kenright been saying "We're searching 24/7 for investment...blah blah blah". It is this inability to generate any interest in our club that has led to Moyes and the boys being left in this position. I am not putting the whole blame on Kenright as the board/owners also need to take a huge measure of responsibility. the harsh reality is that we slipping backwards - but not due to Moyes. We are slipping backwards because he is not getting any more financial support. I can see him leaving at the end of season if he's got no money to spend. I for one wouldnt blame him for leaving due to lack of funds. Imagine what he thinks looking at the likes of Villa - spending 18m+ on Bent!!! He must think "What am I doing here?" - But regardless of all his faults I would certainly be disappointed to see him go. Let's face it folks, whatever anyone thinks of his tactics etc, he's in an impossible position. I think we are all just gonna have to accept that we have no money to spend, we're not gonna have any money to spend in the forseeable future and, for now at least, we're stuck watching Soccer Saturday, waiting till the 1st page of the league table ticks over to positions 11-20 before we can see the name of the only team that really matters - Everton.
Andy Peers
7   Posted 23/01/2011 at 20:59:14

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I blame the manager because he doesn,t pick our strongest team. Beckford and Saha up front when both fit, Osman should be on the bench and lets try Gueye or Bily on a regular basis. I would like to see Coleman back at Right Back and put Bily right-mid,lets show some balls! I know everybody is skeptical about Colemans defensive skills but have you watched Neville lately...Shocking. Also lets try Mucha for a while, I am losing confidence in Howard lately just like I am with our Manager,Chairman and now that includes the players.
BJ Farrimond
8   Posted 23/01/2011 at 21:30:07

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Spot on Andy Peers
Mark Browne
9   Posted 23/01/2011 at 22:01:28

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I agree about Howard this season. For the 2nd goal yesterday, nowhere near the ball, and looks increasingly low on confidence. Only 5 clean sheets this season is relegation form. Howard is not the only one to blame, but he clearly needs a rest. Neville also needs to be relieved, and maybe it is time to play either Jagieklak/Heitinga at RB as Coleman is nowhere near good enough to play RB at this level yet. We have got to learn to be miserly and not concede goals, especially silly goals, then maybe we can learn to win games once again. However before we throw this season in the bin let us hope that our record against the top sides continue and we get a result against Chelsea.
Dick Fearon
10   Posted 23/01/2011 at 21:42:33

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Going by the team he picked for the W Ham game the moyestro believes that Osman is better than Bily or Gueye and even in his current abysmal form Arteta is better than Rodwell, By the same token he thinks that Anichebe is better than either of Saha and Beckford and the right side duo of Coleman and Neville is the best we have.
All I can say is lord help us.
David Israel
11   Posted 23/01/2011 at 23:09:51

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All I can say, lads, is this: another couple of games and results such as this one and we'll be right in the middle of a relegation battle. In fact, the mind boggles as to how, with so few wins in the past three months, we're not there yet.

And the transfer window will close in a week's time and still no sign of that elusive on loan striker.

I am so dejected I cannot even find the proper words to say about BK and DM.

To finish on a positive note: well done, Marouane!
Chad Schofield
12   Posted 24/01/2011 at 01:57:28

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I too agree Andy Peers' mainly because of what Steve Bryant started on. Why was Anichebe left on?

For fuck's sake, Saha and Beckford fed off eachother's movement, and things had looked better... Saha gets injured and we stick with fucking Anichebe, who for me is a Championship player. He's not recorved any form since returning from injury. Is this going to be another Yakubu move... He does well one game then gets dropped because pressumably he didn't track back in the exact manner he was told?

This whole getting someone in on loan thing when we have untried people in the squad just stinks of desperation. Why are we not trying people we already have? At least give Baxter and Gueye a chance!

Martin Mason
13   Posted 24/01/2011 at 02:25:52

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Earlier in the season, I thought that negativity was unwarranted and that we were just having a normal bad start which would turn around soon as we undoubtedly had a far too good squad to be so poor. Now, I have the awful realisation that the dream is over.

The great side that Moyes almost built is finished... and was always doomed to do so with shallowness and lack of money to replenish. Now, we are maxed out on salaries with no chance of new blood.

I also believe that, after the loss of Lescott (a great partner for Jagielka), the loss of form of Jagielka himself, and now the loss of Pienaar, our great defensive and left side strength now balances with our dire RHS strength. Distin looks good in static situations but he is easily turned and left and can't cope with fast dynamic situations.

We could be seeing now the start of the the end game for Everton FC. Knowing our history and spouting Nil Satis won't help us neither because we're talking about reality here and in reality there is no limit to the downside. So near... but, in the end, it was an illusion.

Martin Mason
14   Posted 24/01/2011 at 02:39:25

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Sorry, one exception to the gloom is the form of Fellaini, a beacon in a dark storm. It isn't possible to see him not leaving and if so I'd wish him well. He'll fit into any side in the premiership or Europe
Paul Ward
15   Posted 24/01/2011 at 02:48:29

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Some of Andy Peers comments are valid. Moyes does not pick his best team and repeatedly shocks you the game after some players seem to have at last found their form (eg : Yakubu and Saha) by dropping them.
Why is Howard named every game irrespective of how many mistakes he makes, Billy and Gueye languish on the bench every week but a place is found for Osman and now the fat unfit
Anichebbe who's only asset is knocking opponent's over. It is sad to see what we are reduced to now. Moyes one plan irrespective of the opposition and Billy Liar pleading poverty.
Andy McNabb
16   Posted 24/01/2011 at 06:17:15

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Interesting player ratings. after your opening statement. No one had a stinker - all a bit average. Really sums up our season. Not bad but just not good enough.
Derek Thomas
17   Posted 24/01/2011 at 08:19:34

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Maybe there was more to the Neville arry thing than we first though and maybe he actually fancied it, hence the disappointment reflecting in his play.

The season was in the bin from game one.
James Lauwervine
18   Posted 24/01/2011 at 09:03:37

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I'm generally more pro-Moyes than not but that game was awful. We were so one-dimensional and predictable. I took my three boys and a West Ham fan (a mate who had never been to Goodison) to the top balcony where we had great seats and the amazing top balcony view. Unfortunately it was a complete embarassment, though he was very good about it and said he thought it was a fair result.

What made it even more painful though was the 'appy 'ammers fans singing their way through the entire game (in an idiotic and mind-numbingly repetitive way admittedly), whilst the Everton fans showed no vocal support whatsoever,just incessant moaning. Talk about the crowd being the twelfth man? We made us 10 men! I know this will be defended by many as the right of the fan to vocalise discontent and a result of our ongoing dire form at home. But I felt the reaction to us coming onto the pitch was muted and then the slightest error or misplaced pass was greeted with howls and moans that grew as the game went on.

Anyway, to try to lighten the mood a little I had to laugh when we headed for the exits at the end, me holding the hand of my 8-year-old, who had sat quietly through the whole game. He's not really a fan of football by the way but wanted to come because his older brothers were. I asked him as we left whether he had enjoyed the game and he looked up and me and said "Yes, it was really good - who won?"
Chris Fisher
19   Posted 24/01/2011 at 09:29:55

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i will happily take finishing where we are in the table now if we win the FA Cup so i will only want to throw this season in the bin if we lose to Chelsea next week or if we get nocked out in any of the rounds after because apart from the FA Cup this season is pretty much done, we were poor against West Ham but even when we play well we just dont seem to have the end product and at the moment i cant see it changing, we do seem to play alot beeter when its against a good team but even then we have only beaten Spurs so we arent even picking up alot of points from the big teams either, its difficult to know who to complain about and its difficult to want to complain any more, it takes to much effort!
Chris Fisher
20   Posted 24/01/2011 at 09:37:16

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Also i agree with giving Gueye a chance but i have watched Baxter quite alot for the reserves and he wont cut it in the Premiership for us im affraid, he is like a poor mans Steven Hunt.
Steve O'Malley
21   Posted 24/01/2011 at 09:58:18

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Andy Peers #7. You win todays prize for the right answer.Couldnt agree more.
Anichebe would struggle to score in the Premiership he is an average player at best. He will you would hope get the odd goal but he will never be a real goal threat. I cringe when I see his name on the team sheet. At least Beckford gets in goal scoring positions
Howard. Sick of saying it but for every good save there is a complete cock up that generally costs us a goal.When you think he is going to come out and collect the ball he stands rooted on his line. He is a complete nervous wreck at corners. Given his size he should be totally commanding that box but it is quite the opposite. If Mucha is not worth giving a game sell him on and use his wages to fund someone new.
I
Dennis Stevens
22   Posted 24/01/2011 at 10:35:15

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In the long term we need radical change at Board level, but a change of manager can't come soon enough.
Tony Hughes
23   Posted 24/01/2011 at 11:17:24

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Dick ,you said everything the sane ones amongst us think!
Michael Stevenson
24   Posted 24/01/2011 at 12:50:17

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Good article as usual Paul and sums up what a lot of people are thinking - disappointment and resignation rather than anger. If the board had half a brain they'd realise that that's a lot worse actually long term.

Going back to your title you're right this season is pretty much over now. European football is out of the question and let's not kid ourselves - our current league position and form means that we are in a relegation battle. I think we'll end up in lower half / mid-table safety given that there are probably (just about) enough teams worse than us. (Almost unbelievable to be talking like this now remembering that people were betting on us to win the league only 5 months ago!).

However, as another post alludes to, the next two or three seasons after this are really worrying. If we think we're bad this year how bad are we going to be when our best players slowly trickle out of the club. How long will the likes of Fellaini, Coleman, Rodwell, et al put up with this crap?

This summer is going to be one of the most challenging, and most important, in years I reckon. And all for the wrong reasons sadly.
Christopher McCullough
25   Posted 24/01/2011 at 14:12:00

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I always enjoy your reports, Paul. Thanks.

On this occassion I think you've been a bit hasty. If we win the FA cup and take four points from Liverpool I will be happy with the season. Now's not the time for giving up. We can beat anyone at anytime remember.

I'm hoping he picks this team, next time around:

Howard
Neville Hietinga Distin Baines
Arteta Rodwell Fellaini Bily
Saha
Beckford

I've left Coleman out based on his performance against West Ham. But I would equally like to see him at right back.

I think this team could win the FA cup.
James Hollister
26   Posted 24/01/2011 at 15:06:11

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Win the FA Cup, Chris Fisher? We can't even beat weaker and poorer teams around us. This season is not getting better but worse..now 4 points off the bottom with Arsenal up next in the league... no doubt by then we'll be well in the bottom 3.

You can scream all you want, it's clearly something Moyes didn't do last summer... which is criminal negligence of the highest order in my book. How he was allowed to let things continue to get this bad defies logic. He simply has to go, or it will be us going down ? make no mistake.
James Hollister
27   Posted 24/01/2011 at 15:09:33

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The problem isn't beating the top teams (they have been very poor over the past 2 or 3 seasons). It's the beating of teams in and around us. We have to face facts, with this current team mid-table is about right..

I fully expect us to finish around 10th at the end of this season, as long as we change the way we are playing, the players get a giant kick up their proverbial arses.

Relegation is a very real threat, and something I don't want to dwell on, but if we take what we've seen thus far this season, it's really not looking good at all for us.

Do we fire Moyes and hope to get a new manager that can get us out of this shit, or continue to rely on Moyes and hope to fuck we don't go down on his watch?

Personally I'd give him3 more matches... if it's the same old, then we simply have no choice but to sack him. Our Premier League safety is far more important than 1 man who has clearly demonstrated time and again how inept he is.
David Edwards
28   Posted 24/01/2011 at 17:34:32

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James #27
"I fully expect us to finish around 10th at the end of this season..."
"Relegation is a very real threat, and something I don't want to dwell on..."
I know Moyes and Bill are making us all a bit loopy at present...but I'd book yourself in for that schizophrenia, mate!
Karl Masters
29   Posted 24/01/2011 at 19:44:14

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Thin line between sucess and failure.

6 more goals turning six of those draws ( Wolves, Wigan, West Ham twice, Blackpool and Fulham ? ) into wins and we would have another 12 points and be fourth.

You'd all be cheering then.
Jason Lam
30   Posted 25/01/2011 at 09:28:39

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I think this was repeated before here and hits the nail on the head: we peaked at the FA Cup Final and have been going downhill since. We had to win that one and change our destiny but it wasn't to be. Our best players either gone or crocked. Goodbye Moyes era.

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