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VIEW FROM THE BLUE

Still Backing the Boss

By Lyndon Lloyd :  21/02/2010 :  Comments (84) :

I think it's fair to say that I haven't felt this elated after a game since Phil Jagielka rammed home that decisive penalty at Wembley last April. The win over Chelsea 10 days ago came close but to see the scoreline of Everton 3-1 Manchester United splashed all over the media has this Blue heart welling up with pride.

Taken in isolation, an outsider might write this off as a freak result but Everton have been in this sort of mood for the best part of three months now, basically since that first-half debacle against Hull City at the end of November. With better luck, we'd have taken all three points from Arsenal, with more belief and guile, we might have beaten Liverpool in both derbies. Something clicked at the beginning of December and Everton are no longer the pushovers for the top four when they're up for it.

It's a shame, therefore, that in the glow of Everton's best Premier League result against Manchester United in 18 years, an ugly debate about the merits of the architect of it all, David Moyes, should be dominating the aftermath on this website and adding further ammunition to those who love to attack it for the negativity they perceive as pervasive on these pages.

Respect and Pride

I can understand a measure of criticism of Moyes. He can be frustratingly conservative at times, painfully slow to react to situations as they develop within matches, loyal to a fault towards some players at the expense of others, and has in the past dallied in the transfer market to the detriment of his team. His teams are often mystifyingly ineffective and have, until this year, been annoyingly meek in the face of top-four opposition.

However, I find the notion that he commands "zero respect" and engenders no pride for what he has achieved — and continues to do so— at Everton to be utterly baffling. Even if you set the fourth-place finish in 2005 as the benchmark for Moyes's tenure, only the most churlish would argue that any perceived failure to kick on from there erases the due respect and adulation for the manner in which he saved the club from relegation and then steered the Blues to seventh in his first 18 months in charge. [And as "vomit-inducing" some may find the "Magnificent Seventh" title to be, it was unquestionably a magnificent achievement.]

How can you not take pride from the fact that the Blues have been the most consistent team outside of the top four over the past three seasons? How can you not have respect for the manager who has overseen it all, qualified for Europe in four of the last five campaigns, overtaken Harry Catterick with the most wins in Europe in Everton's history, and been voted Manager of the Year by his peers three times?

Moyes has patiently assembled the best Everton squad in two decades with a fraction of the budget available to his rivals and his ability to not only pick a player but then get the best out of them is incredible. Where Barcelona and Rangers failed, Moyes turned Mikel Arteta into one of the Premier League's best midfielders. Steven Pienaar's career was going nowhere in Germany, now he is hot property and attracting supposed interest from Bayern Munich. Joleon Lescott was plucked from the Championship and enjoyed the form of his life at Goodison but now has many questioning how Manchester City could have paid so much for an average-looking defender. Tim Cahill, a fairly average midfield player in the grand scheme of things but a vital part of the Everton machine under Moyes's system... I could go on, but you get the idea. Moyes deserves enormous respect for not only selecting the right players but then being able to manage them to success.

Michael holds up the Joe Royle era as emblematic of dignity and pride because that team won the FA Cup and finished sixth but the game has changed enormously between the mid-1990s and now. Yes, Royle's 1995 heroes may have won a trophy by scoring a goal and then parking the bus for 60 minutes in what was a stirring triumph over the odds but that sixth-place finish was the height of their achievement on a more level playing field than is the case today.

Andrei Kanchelskis was a special player who would probably cost £15m today and be beyond Moyes's budget, but aside from him and Nick Barmby when he was at his peak, Royle's was a workmanlike side that only fleetingly lived up to blue-tinted memories of free-flowing football under his stewardship. With the greatest respect to Big Joe, who deserves his place in Goodison managerial folklore for the FA Cup win, he wasn't the most attack-minded of managers either and failed to live up to the promise he showed in his first two years as Everton manager while Moyes has gone from strength to strength in the toughest league in the world.

Consistency

Since his last poor season, the 11th place finish in 2005-06, Moyes has pushed Everton right up against the glass ceiling that has unquestionably existed between the Sky Four and finished 6th, 5th and 5th in the last three seasons. That, to these eyes, is the very model of consistency over the course of a season. Better endowed clubs like Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham have been in a better position to challenge the top four over the past few seasons and yet it's Everton who finished best of the rest the last two years and it's Everton who have been one the best teams in the Premier League since the beginning of December.

Yes, you could justifiably point at Moyes's approach towards the top four as being a contributory factor at the heart of Everton's agonising failure to make the step up into the Premier League's elite, but it's all too easy to dismiss this discrepancy in resources and point to the fact that it's 11 vs 11 on any given day to explain away our poor performances against those clubs.

Often, the superior side just has too much in reserve, a fact never more apparent than in the Carling Cup semi-final against Chelsea where the Blues simply couldn't compete with the Londoners, no matter how hard they tried to break them down and overturn a first-leg deficite.

Other times, it's crucial injuries. With Yakubu, Phil Jagielka, and Mikel Arteta — the spine of the outfield — all out injured, Chelsea proved too strong in last year's Final and overturned Louis Saha's first-minute goal to win the FA Cup. Even accounting for what was a sub-par display by the Blues, Guus Hiddink's side was superior in almost every department, both on paper and in reality on the day.

At very few times during his eight years in charge has Moyes been able to consistently call upon his strongest team. Indeed, how often over these last three seasons where we've challenged for a top four place but come up short have the best players been consistently fit? And yet, the team has churned out results in the face of adversity — playing for weeks last season without a recognised striker, for example — and finished best of the rest. The football may not have been the greatest, but few could sniff at back-to-back fifth-place finishes.

Farcical summers

Only those close to the situation will know the full story behind the transfer debacles of the last two years but blaming Moyes for "pathetic pre-season preparation" is well wide of the mark. The financial reality at Everton is such that the manager has had to sell before he could buy in the last two summer transfer windows and, usually, wait until August to do the bulk of his spending because of the Sky payment schedule for TV revenues.

Any remaining doubt that Moyes had money to spend but was just dithering over how to spend it was dispelled last month when he announced that he had no budget for player purchases and would be restricted to loans. Few could forget a ragged, twitching, exhausted-looking Moyes giving stone-faced interviews in the week before the transfer deadline a couple of years back as he faced down an awful start to the campaign and having to do all his shopping in the final week of the window. His anger and frustration at the situation were palpable and that's not likely to change any summer soon.

Instead, Moyes has had to pick his players carefully and we are finally seeing the fruits of his patient team-building with a side that looks fully capable of taking on the big boys. Moyes's boast that his team is top-four quality may have been horribly undermined by the subsequent display at Anfield in the derby a couple of weeks ago but the three results since have bolstered that claim in no uncertain terms.

Perhaps for the first time since he took over, Moyes has real depth in his squad to compensate for the loss of key players like Fellaini and Cahill and be able to put teams like Manchester United and Chelsea to the sword.

Confidence

It may be one of the most underestimated and precious commodities in football and Everton seem to have lived and died by it under David Moyes. For me, confidence — or the lack thereof — lies at the heart of the perceived failings of the Moyes era. Confidence permits you to be adventurous against the top sides, confidence dictates whether a player tries an audacious pass or attempts the spectacular from 30 yards, and confidence in your teammates allows for the kind of free-flowing football that we all strive to see at Goodison Park.

The reality, of course, is that unless you're a team like Arsenal, that kind of football is not always possible, particularly against a team that pulls men behind the ball and chases everything that moves. Everton should know — they made it an artform in the early days of Moyes's reign. So, no surprise then that in the more open games against Arsenal, Chelsea and United, the Blues have reveled in moving the ball around but struggled to make the breakthrough in the games against Birmingham and Liverpool.

True, some of that is down to Moyes's tactics — again, no one is saying that he is perfect, but the last few weeks have shown that with key players returning from injury, this Everton side that the he has built is genuinely a force to be reckoned with. These superb results of recent weeks will breed that confidence and the Blues should be stronger for it.

In Moyes We Trust?

There have been times when I've found the IMWT refrain a little myopic and sycophantic. Moyes is certainly not beyond reproach even if back-to-back top-five finishes and the impressive comeback we're witnessing from an injury-ravaged start to the current campaign provide ample proof of his managerial ability. And while I admit to seriously questioning my support of him after the defeat at Liverpool, I certainly don't think he warrants the vitriol that has accompanied some of the criticism of him on these pages recently, and particularly not in the wake of three superb results against top-class opposition.

He is, to my mind, well suited to our current situation and I can probably count on a couple of fingers the managers who would consider the Goodison hotseat that I would want managing Everton in his place and I've seen more than enough this season to suggest that he is continuing his slow development and evolution as a manager.

I'm under no illusions that we won't have the odd awful performance in the coming weeks — all teams do — and I'm fully aware of how important Thursday's game in Lisbon may prove to be for the confidence of the team, but I'm fully behind the manager as he plots the final weeks of the season. I'm certainly going to bask in the glory of results such as the last two Premier League wins and enjoy them while they last, while quietly hoping that the team really has turned a crucial corner in their own development under Moyes and that we will genuinely prove to be top-four quality in the next couple of years.

Reader Comments

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Art Jones
1   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:26:09

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You’ve restored my faith in these pages Lyndon, an excellent piece and a very good balanced view. Thank you.
Ron Marr
2   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:33:47

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Yes, a very balanced view. As somebody said in the other thread ’it’s not black or white, there are many shades of grey’.
Jay Wilson
3   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:48:27

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Great article and a great response to the ’ugly thread’ started by Michael.
Lars Eidissen
4   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:43:58

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Wrote a lengthy piece here before a misclick washed it all away, will try to readress a few quick points.

Re Big Joe’s tenure. First, Kanchelskis, top scorer at Man United the season prior to signing, £6m signing at a time when transfer rec was Andy Cole at about £7.5m...easily equates into £25m player today.

Just as Michael disregards Walter Smith’s even more recent spell for a favourable comparison for Moyes, that FA Cup one-off for what, based on league performances 1994-1997, was a fairly mediocre side to be honest, shouldn’t be held too strongly against Moyes.

Lack of silverware and a somewhat poor (prior to 2010, downright appalling) record against the big four has obviously been a negative aspect of Moyes’s eight years in charge, and those two are of course somewhat related.

Having said that, we’ve beaten Liverpool, Villa, Boro and Man United in the FA Cup the past four years (incidentally, all last year), easily good enough for an FA Cup win normally, we’ve let ourselves down at Goodison vs Oldham, Blackburn reserves and Birmingham the three other years.

Permitting no more injuries to key personell (and I’ll even allow for Fellaini to be out until Christmas, like early reports on Yak, Jags and Mikky all proved to be optimistic) and bigger clubs managing to unsettle top players, next season will be a testing moment for Moyes.

The top clubs don’t have the finances to buy players almost just to break down potential rivals any more (Barmby, Jeffers, Robbie Keane, Berbatov, Wright-Phillips brought as key players for second tier clubs to the bench and stands for the top sides), and who knows, even City’s spending might dry up (just as Roman’s did), and they don’t really spend too wisely anyway.

The great core players of Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool are getting on a bit.

Like I said, a few things permitted, next season we really ought to step up to it. If we don’t, I think the chances for "this" Everton side is gone. Rodwell and/or Fellaini will probably move onto CL footy and geniune trophy contenders whilst most of the rest won’t exactly be expected to reach any career peaks AFTER the 2010-11 season.

Moyes have been doing something of a reversed Martin O’Neill for a few years, doing enough after Christmas to sit very safely in the chair going into the next season, where we too often have started off pace. I’m not really prepared to accept the league season being over in November for yet another season.
Andy McNabb
5   Posted 21/02/2010 at 08:03:42

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Great piece, Lyndon. Spot on. At least let us enjoy moments like this, rather than turning on ourselves.

Waking up in Melbourne this morning and hearing my wife scream out as she put the sports news on has brought a warm glow to this particular heart today. Let’s keep it that way!

Terry Riley
6   Posted 21/02/2010 at 08:20:27

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Lets enjoy the moment. I’ve held the opinion for quite some time that without Moyes we’d probably be playing First Division football.

Let’s look at the games in the last 2 months against the Sky 5; Lucky Arsenal got a football lesson, Al Man City got a football lesson, Liverpool were just plain shit and lucky! Chelsea received a lesson in teamwork and United were shown up for what they are this season... a one-man team.

I live in The Netherlands and believe me, I along with many Dutch people thought we’d made a mistake in buying Heitinga but it’s remarkable how a genuine hard man in defence can scare some of our illustrious super attackers in the Prem.

Again, enjoy this moment... and kick on against the "Lesser" teams!!!

Dave Jeanrenaud
7   Posted 21/02/2010 at 09:22:49

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Excellent article Lyndon and a fantastic response to the nonsense spouted by Mr Kenrick (incredibly within an hour of our best win of the season).

I must admit to wondering what the agenda was for this website after the editor in chief confirmed he has ’zero respect’ for the ’ginger tosser’ working miracles at our great club.

Thank you for restoring a bit of balance and a bit of much needed perspective.
Gavin Fennessy
8   Posted 21/02/2010 at 09:34:31

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Thank you Lyndon. That ugly thread seriously tested my faith in TW and I think your considered piece has substantially restored my belief that this a forum for real fans.
Steve Hopkins
9   Posted 21/02/2010 at 09:31:57

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Thank goodness that sanity has been restored to this site after Michael’s bizarrely timed ranting yesterday.

Yes we all want the team to play like that every week but we have to be realistic, we just don’t have the strength in depth of some of the other teams in the league. We have perhaps 3 or 4 players in addition to who played yesterday who are genuinely good enough. Over the last few seasons we’ve played our best football when Moyes has been able to call on his best 8 or 9 players week-in, week-out and let's face it, that just hasn’t been possible this season!
Mark Scarratt
10   Posted 21/02/2010 at 09:51:00

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Lyndon, an excellent well balanced article

If Mr Kenrick had any decency whatsoever he would come on here, apologise and then resign.
Jon Beck
11   Posted 21/02/2010 at 09:32:21

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I was very disappointed with Michael’s article yesterday and too wound up to respond at the time. I came back this morning calmer and ready to respond but now, thanks to you Lyndon, I don’t need to. My problem with his post was not misunderstanding his point, nor disagreeing with some of what he had to say, but the fact that one of the Editors would openly support such a Black and White view of the world and, whilst complaining about abusive posts, a stance I strongly support, effectively abuse the "Moyes apologists" and Moyes himself in a tirade of unbalanced opinion. Thanks Lyndon for restoring some balance.
Terry Riley
12   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:02:53

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Is Micheal playing a dirty game ....
just to create traffic on the site????
Shaun Sparke
13   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:21:29

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Terry Riley. please don’t go there. I made a similar observation yesterday to Michael with the result that my post was removed as Michael deemed it to be an insult of the highest order. As the post was deleted you are no longer able to read the response from the editor who totally refuted this viewpoint.
Mike Green
14   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:37:02

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Lyndon - many thanks for helping restore some sanity to the site.

I’ve apologised for my language / behaviour on here last night - which was unacceptable - but when I woke up this morning I was in serious doubt as to whether I’d go near TW again.

OK - it lasted about an hour but I think its fair to say many members patience has been extremely tested over the past few days by the way Michael approached the "Respect" article and our subsequent victory over Man Utd.
Andy Morden
15   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:49:17

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Nice piece Lyndon. I think the difference, perhaps, is tone. I made the point in my reply to Michael’s original thread that perhaps some of the language used (the unfortunate term to which he referred to Mr Moyes which was subsequently removed) and the timing of the piece were not great. That bit got removed seemingly for constituting ’personal abuse’. Ho hum.

Still, the virtue of this site is the chance to express an opinion, just perhaps ALL contributors to the site need to consider how they come across.
John Sreet
16   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:37:08

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I find Michael Kenrick’s term ’Moyes apologists’ offensive. I have watched Everton under the following managers... Cliff Britten, Ian Buchan, Johnny Carey, Harry Catterick, Tom Eggleston, Billy Bingham, Steve Burtenshaw, Gordon Lee, Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey, Jimmy Gabriel, Howard Kendall, Mike Walker, Joe Royle, Dave Watson, Howard Kendall, Walter Smith, David Moyes... So I think I know a thing or two, have seen a thing or two...

Tthe game has changed imeasureably since those early days, Harry Catterick’s team came to be known as the School of Science when we were the millionaires, the game was slower and there was time to play the ball.

Those who think that money isn’t important today are just plain daft, it’s the difference between a good team like Everton, and a great team. On the budget that Moyes has had he has built a reputable team admired by those who are not supporters but football professionals or managers or journalists those who make balanced value judgements. Imagine if Everton did not have to sell Rooney, would Rooney in the current team be enough to bring success, I think it would.

So to all those who would use the term ’Moyes Apologist’ get real! Stop taking the dreamy pills and join the rest of us in the real world....In my opinion, Moyes sits well with those who we would see as great managers listed above.

James Crolla
17   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:38:13

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Excellent article thanks Lyndon.

Lets not be too hard on Michael for his article, the different views from the editors is what makes this site so good.

All Evertonian’s are entitled to their view and we should respect even if we disagree — that’s why we are GREAT supporters!

Brilliant win yesterday, well done to the players and the manager — well worth a 400-mile roundtrip. GET IN!
Kevin Hudson
18   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:25:18

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Measured, factual & effective rebuttal.

Oh what a day & night! Waking up with a hangover, and no voice left, and reading through yesterday’s op-ed piece, I’m baffled as to why, when most Evertonians were out celebrating last night, ToffeeWebbers were kicking lumps out of each other on this site. Why ?

Couple of points from yesterday: The hostility towards Rooney is dissipating. We didn’t wind or fire him up. Thought that was very mature. Mancunian songs that Ken alluded to — how great was our response?! Osman/Heitnga-imperious. And for all those who thought moving from Goodison was a good idea, yesterday’s decibel count would have served as a powerful reminder, of the insanity of that notion... I was within 4 feet of the boys when they charged towards us in the Lower Gwladys.The elation on their faces was an image that’ll remain for with me for an age...

Happy days!! Maybe it’s time to draw a line between what divides us, and recognise the uniquely gratifying soul belonging to Everton Football Club which unites us all.
Stuart Downey
19   Posted 21/02/2010 at 11:01:54

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Great article Lyndon, thanks for steadying this argument.
Danny Jones
20   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:44:10

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Well done Lyndon, a balanced a well written article.

As I have had posts removed from the venomous article written by the editor yesterday (I suggested that the editor remove his blue subtitle, which indicated his superior opinion, or post under a pseudonym), it really made me question the merit of this website. I believe that the other members of the admin team need to arrange a meeting to discuss what value the editor brings to this website, when he writes articles using phrases such as "ginger tosser" and "zero respect for the manager". Maybe a slight change in leadership would help take this website from being generally good, to very good.

Mark Reid
21   Posted 21/02/2010 at 11:28:48

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Couldn’t agree more Lyndon.

The envious eyes are being cast at Everton at the moment.

If anyone can keep the club developing and bringing through the talent and the obvious quality of the squad (I remember 2001 and there is no comparison in true "footballing sense"), and keeping our upcoming players.

When Moyes said "it was maybe one or two years too early" in reference to Rooney, I do not doubt that statement is meant as a message to people.

Much like the "Fellaini is the best in the league" or "Everton have top 4 quality".

People should listen more to what the manager is saying.

Everton compared to 2004 can keep hold of their players, helped even more by the change in the global economy.

THE most important thing Everton need to do is get cracking with the Stadium renovation/upgrade/building in the next 12 months.

It is literally the missing piece in the jigsaw.
Rob Paterson
22   Posted 21/02/2010 at 11:16:15

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Yes, well said Lyndon. To your excellent article I would only add these observations.

Kanchelskis was described as one of the best players ever to wear an Everton shirt. He was indeed the dog’s bollocks for half of the 1995-96 season and all of our high (and as it turned out false) hopes for 1996-97 rested on him. However, he spent Euro 1996 on the prowl for some foreign suitor and spent the Autumn and Winter indiffernetly popping in and out of games and incurring the obvious displeasure of his team mates until, in 1997 against Bradford in the cup, he signed his own exit permit. To use that experience as a stick to hit David Moyes with is irrational I’m afraid.

And we haven’t even started on JR’s other masterstrokes such as the signing of Claus Thomsen. But what I found sad and yet significant about yesterday’s thread was that while most of us were still in the pub savouring over and over again the moment Jack Rodwell opened his shoulders and headed for goal, an obviously passionate, knowledgeable and deeply committed Evertonian was hammering the keys of his computer to produce a highly provocative attack on a section of fans who do not happen to share his views.

There have been many days in the illustrious history of this Grand Old Team when differences of opinion should be put to one side and a moment or two taken to enjoy a Great Goodison occasion. Yesterday was undoubtedly one of them.

Graham Holliday
23   Posted 21/02/2010 at 11:34:51

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I haven’t read every word of every article or comment on here since yesterday’s game, but I would like to say this:

Michael’s point seemed to that he wants Everton to win every game (as we all do, surely), and that Moyes’s approach against good teams historically has not been conducive to winning football games (again, something which most of us also agree on).

However, we’ve recently really TAKEN GAMES to Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd — outplayed them all and should have won them all.

This is a change in approach for Moyes, and whatever the reason for the change, I think we all hope that it will continue.

There will always be blips (see the derby), but I really think that this squad, with the quality, strength in depth and desire can compete with the very best... and with one or two shrewd signings in the summer (let us hope lessons have been learned from the last couple of summer transfer windows), I think that we have a real chance of establishing ourselves as one of the very best.

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum
Paul Foster
24   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:15:41

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Thanks Lyndon, that was a much needed piece that has restored sanity to the site.

Just thought you all (including you, MK) might like to read this great piece in the Guardian about yesterday’s game and Everton’s progress more generally. It concludes as follows:

"There is a debate to be had now about which side of Stanley Park is the rosier. Liverpool have more assets but much greater debt. Everton have stability and evolutionary force. And they have Moyes."

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/feb/20/david-moyes-everton-manchester-united
David Hallwood
25   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:19:19

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I came home after the game yesterday, switched on the computer to share this great win and display with the Everton global village, only to read Michael wallowing negativity, and I thought FFS this is the last time I’m going anywhere near TW.

It’s like being really up for a night out only for a mate who makes Marvin the Paranoid Andriod look like a stand-up comedian, is already there and submerged in gloom, it really does piss you off, from a high to wanting to strangle someone. And then he decides to act like Stalin and anyone critical of his views will be taken out and shot.
Mike Allison
26   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:47:25

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No David, apparently Michael was being positive, don’t you see? How many times does he have to say it? Being negative is being positive, because it means if we change the bad things, we’ll get better. If only everyone else understood the concept of constructive criticism the way Michael Kenrick does, you’d all get it.

I heard recently that someone had invented a punctuation mark for sarcasm, unfortunately I don’t know what it looks like...
Robbie O'Neill
27   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:51:59

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Thanks, Lyndon; good posting in response to Michael's views. I wanted to post in response to his but it was closed. But felt that no matter what I said it would be a judged to be either a blinkered view or a personal attack.

I have watched Everton over the years and feel that we are and have been progressing. I too somewhat like Michael sometimes feel that tactics could be better and that IS down to the manager.

At the end of the day, it is 11 Players against 11 Players that play the game on the park that win or lose matches. Any given day, the result can go either way. It is up to the manager to get the best out of his players on that day.

It angers me that when we lose it seems that Moyes is Public Enemy No. 1 and when we win he is the Moyesiah. It cannot be that simple. If it were, I suppose that Michael would be Everton Manager instead of a contributor here.

I have always been a proud Everton fan and never moreso than now. In Moyes I not only do trust but am very happy to as long as he is in charge.

Mark Reid
28   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:52:58

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People may be interested in the followup to David Moyes interview on Radio Five Live this morning (Moyes couldn’t make it onto Goals on Sunday, due to snow at Manchester Airport).

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=744972&sec=england&cc=5739

There’s been quite a lot of attention towards Jack Rodwell for a while but, strangely enough, it was Wayne that worried me a lot more. It doesn’t worry me quite so much with Jack because we’ve been through it before.

"I don’t think we were quite ready for Wayne when Wayne came on the scene but we’re certainly ready for Jack Rodwell and our team is good enough to carry a Jack Rodwell and keep him and keep bigger suitors away.

"The boy is going to be a good player in time but at this present time it’s potential and we have to bring it along at the right pace."


Moyes, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, believes the current Everton set-up would have been able to keep Rooney.

"If Wayne was at Everton now I think it would be completely different," he said. "We’re competing within Europe, we’re trying to beat the top teams, we’re at that end of the league.

"At the time Wayne came on the scene, we were fifth or sixth off the bottom so it was a completely different Everton then to what it is now."


As I was saying. Moyes making a statement.

I said the day before yesterday, the fact Everton have attracted someone like Johnny Heitinga (Dutch player of the year 2008) is showing the evolution of Everton.

My favorite player is Mikel Arteta, and watching him just give the ball to Rodwell in the middle of the park to then run on and score just fills me with pride. We used to think Mikel was the star man... we were wrong. The pride I get is from the fact Arteta is now surrounded by quality players at Everton (not all on his shoulders) and even better younger ones coming through!

No wonder Arteta says he wants to finish his career at Everton over the next 7+ years..
John Keating
29   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:20:05

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Didn’t contribute to Michael's piece yesterday as I was most disappointed in it and more so in his attempts to justify himself and put down those who spoke against his piece. There are always two sides to every arguement and this article is a far more balanced and well thought out view.

If Moyes was to ever read some of the diatrabe written against him in these columns and do as they say and walk, who would come here in his place? No way would one of the top managers in the world contemplate Goodison, they want cash and lots of it. No we would have to go back into the lower reaches again and the chosen one would have the same amount of cash and have the same restrictions Moyes has.

To Michael and those others who are oh so quick to berate Moyes, be careful what you wish for.

Gerry Western
30   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:59:47

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Lyndon, Congratulations on an objective and considered appraisal. To be honest I’ve tried to avoid the controversy which surrounded the ’respect’ post as the whole discussion had degenerated into a slanging match in which the truth had sadly become the first casualty.

I’ve been critical of Moyes in the past and more recently following the derby fiasco. However, I did post some weeks back acknowledging that in the key areas of transfer dealings and man motivation Moyes had excelled. Indeed, I see him as second only to Wenger in these respects and that is a huge accolade in my opinion. When a club has financial limitations these are the most important skills required of a manager; in that sense, Moyes has been an outstanding success.

One has to balance this with what often is an overly defensive approach which often relies on a few tried and trusted lieutenants whose performances are often below par and yet seemingly untouchable and this has an undue influence on his tactics. This I think leads to a huge frustration with many fans.

I’m very much in the camp of those who are prepared to continue to support Moyes as there has been real improvements under his reign. As to whether he can get us to the next level — that remains to be seen. Like you, I do not subscribe to the dithering Dave portrayal of Moyes. I think delays and bungled transfers have been totally out of his hands and lay squarely at the feet of Kenwright.

I think the acid test of Moyes tenure will be decided when he has a reasonably sized squad of talented players at his disposal to choose from. He’s perhaps closer to that position now than he’s ever been. The recent loan signing of Donovan was a masterstroke in my opinion and I’ve no doubt Moyes would sign him up tomorrow if the decision was left to him.

To those who profess blinding loyalty, I would say "Think again"... and to those who advocate his sacking I’d say "Judge him on the merits of the situation he has had to deal with and the constraints he’s had to work under".
Howard Don
31   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:34:00

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Lyndon - Thank goodness for some sanity on the site. I like many others couldn’t believe what I saw posted by Michael Kenrick straight after the game. I doubt if there is a fan of another club in the entire country, who if he’s strayed onto TW, wouldn’t have been staggered by what he read, and this by the editor of a so-called Everton Fan Site.

Michael is quick to cut anything he finds offensive and yet his constant use of terms like 'apologist' and 'acolyte' to describe anyone who rates Moyes I, and I’m sure many others, find very offensive.

You have a priveledged position, Lyndon, in that you can get your defence of Moyes past Michael’s censorship. When I wrote in a similar vein a while back it was cut after the first sentence and replaced with "blah blah more repetitive Moyes propaganda" or some similar phrasing designed to humiliate.

I talk to many Evertonians, mates I go with, neighbours, guys in work etc etc. I know of no-one who shares Michael’s views, yet his position means his extreme, completely unrepresentative views get completely disproportionate coverage.

You should also be aware many Evertonians are beginning to regard this site with somethin approaching derision. Walking down the stairs from the Main Stand after the Chelsea game a guy said in a loud voice "Let’s see what the miserable bastards on Toffeeweb say about that". There was a fair amount of laughter.

That in itself is a shame as I still say this site is better put together than any other club’s fan site I have seen. However, to mean anything, it has to be balanced and under Michael’s control it is far from that. Yesterday’s post by him knocked me sick when I got back from the game and I ask myself what is this guy’s real motivation. Frankly, if Moyes was black I’d be wondering if it was racism, maybe Michael just has a problem with Scottish ginger people, there doesn’t seem to be any rational explanation for his hatred of the guy.

I believe properly resourced Moyes could still take us on to yet another level. The views of people like Michael, if allowed to go unchallenged, could spread and endanger that, so 10/10 for writing the reposte.
Martin Mason
32   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:58:30

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I see Moyes from both sides. His selection of value buys has been phenomenal, as has been Everton’s ability to bring on these players to do well under the Everton system. Sometimes though I feel that we do well despite Moyes selection and tactics. We did well yesterday in part due to the fact that Cahill wasn’t in the team, a scorer of occasional good goals but never a Premier League midfielder in a million years.

Occasionally the negative tactics that Moyes uses works in a totally positive manner and we win despite the selection and tactics. For me he isn’t a truly great manager yet because he has a disconnect between his selection of buys, which is truly visionary, to his match by match selection and tactics, which can be dreadful.

I’d be really churlish to criticise the man though after yesterday; in the end, we can only judge him by results and Everton were magnificent yesterday. For me it was because Cahill (who I believe shouldn’t be in the team) was unavailable. This made space for players who can play in midfield and who dominated yeasterday’s game. It may be that Gosling and Rodwell have to be in the team and that Osman is a key man despite the criticism.

Let's bask in the glory for a week at least, we were as good yesterday as I have seen Everton in 20-odd years and praise where it is due. England’s greatest manager ever (Ramsey) was brought down by continuing to pick players who weren’t up to the task, like Colin Bell, and it is a problem that Davy Moyes has to solve before he himself becomes a truly great manager.

Ajay Gopal
33   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:33:31

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Excellent piece, Lyndon, but do I detect a dig at Bill Kenwright, when you talk of the ’farcical summers’ ? In my opinion, it is time that BK’s contribution in the development of EFC’s on-field achievements are acknowledged, not the least being his unstinting support of Moyes, even when there was a chorus of "Moyes out" shouts after a run of poor results.

Yes, BK has not provided the funds that DM needs to build a really top PL team, but he has done the next best thing, and that is to support his manager 100%, through thick and thin.
Anthony Newell
34   Posted 21/02/2010 at 14:15:52

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Just in relation to what MK said on the other post that is now closed:

"Because I will be dogged by the knowledge that, but for Moyes fannying around again, we could and should have finished higher"

I couldn’t agree more and was saying the exact same thing to my old man yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I was bouncing after yesterday but also thinking the following:

a) Why didn’t we go for it in the derby when they went down to 10 men?
b) What the hell was going on earlier in the season when we couldn’t despatch Wolves and Stoke at home and were playing 1 up top?
c) If Moyes hadn’t of cocked up the pre-season and dragged out the Lescott affair unnecessarily, where would we be now? Ok, we got more money in the end, but it disrupted team preparations/morale/rebuidling no end.

For me, it’s a hunger for nothing but the best and as much of it as possible. Yesterday went our way in a big way but it looked on the basis of the highlights in the second half that it could easily have swung their way too. Everything came together perfectly though and Moyes has to be lauded for getting it right subs wise. If we can dispose of Spurs away then who knows where we could end up. More of the same please!
Mike Green
35   Posted 21/02/2010 at 14:28:55

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Anthony - in Moyes's defence, I think the Lescott affair was dragged out a) to get as much money for the club; but b) also to show clubs that if they want to come and cherry pick our best players, they’ll have a fight on their hands.

Out of personal reasons I also think Moyes was trying to show future suitors (Man Utd?) that he wouldn't be pushed around by other clubs — which probably harmed our club in the process. When clubs come sniffing for JR, they now know though that it won't be easy (unless it Man Utd of course...)

You’re right though about our disastrous start — I said a couple of months ago that we’d be saying "what if...." come the end of the season and that looks like it could well bear true.

Out of interest - I’ve just compared our run in to the other 4 teams fighting out for 4th and this is how I have the league ending up:

4th Man City - 68 points
5th LFC - 64 points
6th Villa - 64 points
7th Everton - 63 points
8th Spurs - 61 points

In this though I have got us losing at Villa Park and getting a point at WHL and Eastlands. I expect us to have an almighty hangover for next Sunday's game, though, so not holding my breath.

Should we get 9 out of 9 out of those fixtures, though, all things being equal, we finish 4th....!

All to play for then — COYB!
Alan Kirwin
36   Posted 21/02/2010 at 14:40:53

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Great piece Lyndon. Your colleague Mr Kenrick seemed to some of us to have lost it recently with his zero respect rubbish.

It is possible, and rather normal, to retain some reservations, as you reasonably articulate, but to be broadly onside or to at least respect the record of Moyes at EFC compared to what came before.

I confess, our shite start to this campaign is gnawing away at my gut. Fuck! of all the seasons to get stuck in the traps, we continue our almost comatose kick off in the season when almost anything seems possible.

We should have had 6 pts of Liverpool, but call it 4 for fairness. We deserved 2 more at Arsenal. Just those points alone would have us in or around 4th, or even 3rd. To have not only beaten, but to have easily beaten ManU, Chelsea and Man City. To have outplayed Arsenal at the Emirates. This was the last taboo, our meekness against the Sky 4. Not any more.

What I particularly enjoyed afterwards were Moyes's comments about instructing the team to "just go at them". THAT is what I’ve been waiting 8 years for! And now it seems to me, given our position, that we can just go at everyone until season end. We have to play Villa, Spurs & City. The unconscionably mediocre dark side are just 6 pts away (a travesty).

One other thing struck me. I was musing about which players from the Sky 4 I would take to replace what we have. It’s an enjoyably diminishing list and looks a little like this:

Chelsea - A Cole, Drogba, Essien
ManU - Rooney, Evra
Arsenal - Van Persie, Song, Arshavin
Dark Side - Torres

I believed that our dreadful injury crisis gave Moyes something to hide behind and he got too depressed about it, rather than concentrating on getting the players he had to just play the right way.

That aside, with a fully fit squad I think it’s becoming harder & harder to argue against Everton beating just about anyone. I instinctively give people the benefit of the doubt. I was minded to believe that Moyes has had enough. But if the noises he is making are genuine then let’s see where it takes us.

Arteta is still a passenger (so much more to come). Fellaini is becoming a god. Jags is almost due back. So we are missing some seriously important resources right now. I’ll say again what I said a few days ago. It is unarguably the case that we have the finest squad we have had since we won the league. We have just shown that we can beat the Sky 4 (deservedly) and they are amongst the favourites for the Champions League.

I haven’t given up all hope of 4th spot. We have to play 3 of them above us. We could win our last 12 games, who knows. But I decided it was worth a flutter, so have now got £100 on us grabbing 4th at odds of 16-1. But I’m also hoping for a European final to sign the season off in style. Time to dream again.
Tom Fearon
37   Posted 21/02/2010 at 15:17:19

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Good to read this well argued piece on David Moyes after the diatribe from your editorial colleague yesterday. On this topic Michael Kenrick makes even Sarah Palin seem composed, highly intelligent, perceptive and insightful by comparison. However, having presented the argument Lyndon has become, by definition, a Moyes apologist. Pity this seems to be used as a term of abuse...

I am grateful that we have Moyes as manager for all the reasons that have been advanced by other contributors. I would add that his loyalty to some players, which has been identified as a fault, might be a means of getting the small squad to give their utmost when the going gets tough. Injuries to key payers can have a depressing influence but Moyes has managed to get players to perform even when playing out of their prefered position. But none of us knows what might have happened if different tactics had been employed, or players selected. Might have been better but could have been worse.

Under Moyes our concern is can we break into the top 4: not so long ago it was could we avoid relegation.

Brendan O'Doherty
38   Posted 21/02/2010 at 15:10:15

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Ah, the voice of reason at last! Well done Lyndon for redressing the balance. Like some others, I was seriously considering saying goodbye to this website after that bizarre rant yesterday, when things had stooped to a new low. That very personalised attack on fellow Evertonians was totally uncalled for, and the nature of it was such that anyone who responded in a dissenting manner would be sent to the gulag. Unbelievably insensitive timing as well.

Can get back to enjoying the great win now. Thanks.
Kevin Gillen
39   Posted 21/02/2010 at 15:48:04

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Thank God for a bit of perspective! What a victory yesterday! Not only did we win but we should have had two penalties and we outpassed and outclassed them in the final 15 minutes. We did this without two of our totem players, Cahill and Fellaini and without a single contribution from Jagielka, Yobo or Yakubu.

I dearly hope that the recent performances at the club will convince our current stock of players that they are now ready for a major assault on all fronts. What we might do with a fully fit squad and a permanent contract for Donovan.

It seems obvious to me that our rivals will now come gunning for our top talent this Summer. We will do very well to hang on to Pienaar and Fellaini, Arteta and Rodwell. We can’t allow the Summer transfer market to upset our plans as it did this year. As for this year, one win against Spurs away and we will be gunning for a top four place given our fixture run-in.
COYB

Roger Trenwith
40   Posted 21/02/2010 at 16:05:14

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At least one of those in control of this site has shown some perspective on the Moyes era, unlike the bizarre negativity constantly spouted by the "Editor In Chief".

As for Michael’s comments being a deliberate ploy to create traffic, this can’t be the case as some of us are constantly censored and/or ignored if they are not a member of what seems to be an inner clique. It’s a pity, becuase in all other respects this is a great site, and despite for some reason being on the wrong end of Kafka-esque censorship, I will continue to visit for all things Blue.
COYB!

Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
41   Posted 21/02/2010 at 15:26:04

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Clearly my intent here was to redress the balance a little (though I doubt it’ll get the same attention as Michael’s views have but t'was ever thus). The Editor and myself usually share common ground on most issues but on this occasion — from the tone of his article to its timing — we obviously don’t.

I’ve always been a lot more sensitive to how ToffeeWeb is portrayed by fellow fans and I won’t deny that it saddens me that we are held in such low regard by a section of the fanbase. Part of that is undoubtedly down to our stance on Destination Kirkby (for which I make no apologies and feel wholly vindicated given how it unraveled under the weight of its own failings), part of it is down to criticism of Bill Kenwright, and part of it is, clearly, down to criticism of the manager and the team.

I have no problem with criticism and critical analysis if it’s supported by a reasoned argument. Michael’s bulleted list of arguments in his article yesterday was asking legitimate questions but the vitriol that accompanied it was mystifying — I had no idea Moyes made him that angry.

Now, I can categorically state that it was not an exercise in driving traffic to the website. That has never been our focus; it has always been about providing a news resource and online community for fellow fans. Obviously, it's pleasing to draw as many Blues as possible as that is the reward for all the effort, but it's not this big revenue driver that some assume it to be.

As for the contention that "other members of the admin team need to arrange a meeting to discuss what value the editor brings to this website," the admin "team" consists of just two people — Michael and myself. That’s it. The constant news updates, article management, improvements, additions and maintenance is all done by two people working full-time day jobs and has been for a couple of years now.

You may disagree with the way Michael has put across his points in the last few days but the amount of work put in to make this site what it is certainly gives him the right to put his viewpoint across as prominently as he likes. And it really is worth reiterating how much of our free time this site takes up for zero financial reward (our running costs wipe out any ad revenue).

I would hope that the responses above are left unedited and uncensored. Having built what I honestly believe is a superb forum for discussion about the club we all love, we should allow the community to air its grievances once in a while as long as it doesn’t resort to abuse.
Roger Trenwith
42   Posted 21/02/2010 at 16:24:35

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Thank you Lyndon and Michael for giving up your free time to run this great site, I know I wouldn’t have the dedication.

Michael has every right to air whatever views he wants, I simply object to being arbitarily censored for no good reason, when others get through using far more inflammatory language. Bring on the Spuds — we can beat anybody anywhere at the moment, I can’t wait!
COYB

[Ed Note: Roger, we've fixed that problem; you should be able to post freely now.]

Chris Jones
43   Posted 21/02/2010 at 16:36:15

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I have been involved in the running of an interactive website for many years and so I genuinely appreciate the effort the likes of Michael and Lyndon put into this site. I also appreciate the fact this ’resource’ is free to we visitors.

That said, however, I’m convinvced Michael Kenrick and Tony Marsh are one and the same person and I claim my £5 reward.

If this was a daily newspaper, rather than a free website, I’m convinced Michael would be obliged to resign his post, such is the embarrassment his behaviour engendered yesterday.

Michael’s attitude on what should have been a day of unbridled celebration was akin to someone marching-in to piss on a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary cake. I simply couldn’t believe what I was reading.

I’m glad to see so many people stress how offensive it is for him to label people with a different view of DM to his as ’apologists’. It is his insistence on using such terms that earns HIM zero respect.

Get a grip Michael and stop spoiling the great site you’ve done so much to create. You spoil yourself mate.

Lyndon, thanks for your voice of reason. And I note that it was YOUR site that I was a regular visitor to before the merger which created ToffeeWeb.
Brian Wilson
44   Posted 21/02/2010 at 17:41:22

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Good run of other results - still holding 8th and closer to the RS and another chance at Europe.
Moysie, Moysie, Moysie ... out out out.
Mark Reid
45   Posted 21/02/2010 at 17:42:07

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Lyndon,

As someone who on occasion writes the odd Everton article (in my own fashion), I’ve recently returned to Toffeeweb in the past couple of months. I was pleasantly surprised that Toffeeweb had moved to a more balanced perspective to previously, in my last visit.

Particuarly Ken Buckley’s match reports which about 90% of the time I agree with, but always enjoy reading.

Anyway on Friday I posted on here that Micheal needed to calm it down alittle. Yesterday he did the complete oppositive (inversely proportional to the magnitude of the result yesterday!).

He almost lost my readership of this site yesterday. There is only one other site I can think of that posts similar sorts of things to that. I posted that Micheal should reconsider the provocative statement and he withdrew it, so credit to him for realising this and doing so.

I think Michael needs to calm it down a little. His fanaticism against "Moyes apologists" (they even have been given a tag) is obscuring his rationalism.

We know the issues.
- He (Michael) thinks it's Moyes
- I think it's getting the stadium project agreed/underway ASAP (within the next 12 months)

As I said, last piece in the jigsaw which will allow us to bring in more money to make the on-field progress pay for itself and us to buy up more money making assests (not just playing staff).

Anyway keep writing. Your perspective Lyndon is not 100% the same as mine but pretty close.

The most heartening thing for me is that Moyes this morning made the quotes about our best and upcoming players:

"There’s been quite a lot of attention towards Jack Rodwell for a while but, strangely enough, it was Wayne that worried me a lot more. It doesn’t worry me quite so much with Jack because we’ve been through it before.

"I don’t think we were quite ready for Wayne when Wayne came on the scene but we’re certainly ready for Jack Rodwell and our team is good enough to carry a Jack Rodwell and keep him and keep bigger suitors away."

"If Wayne was at Everton now I think it would be completely different," he said. "We’re competing within Europe, we’re trying to beat the top teams, we’re at that end of the league.

"At the time Wayne came on the scene, we were fifth or sixth off the bottom so it was a completely different Everton then to what it is now."

What's key to me is Moyes is saying "Not Interested" to potential envious leeches, but also backing it up publically with evidence — the club ISN’T where it was in 2004.

Success breeds success. Modest success will breed greater success.

The fact is Everton have been all over major news channels, BBC, Sky, ESPN all of them the last 48 hours.

I hope you’re enjoying it as much as me.

Jay Harris
46   Posted 21/02/2010 at 17:47:37

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We said Lyndon.

You’ve echoed my views exactly but in a far more eloquent way.

I did not agree with Michael’s article nor the timing of it because as every Evertonian who was around knows it always takes an "Oxford" factor for the team to kick on to the higher level and I genuinely believe that we are close to that and can also see no gain in criticising a very dignified and honest manager.

Having said that I know many Evertonians including myself appreciate the time and considerable ability you both put in to making this site so good and therefore I would not wish to denigrate any Evertonians views especially the people that run this site.

The sooner we return to being a successful club the sooner we will have more harmonious relationships.

I hope it wont be too long.
Michael Evans
47   Posted 21/02/2010 at 19:15:02

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I respect Michael’s right to express his opinion but it’s unfortunate that it’s provoked such a vitriolic debate after such a great win.

In my opinion that will merely reinforce the feeling amongst some that contributors to TW are negative, moaning ...etc etc,

Thank you Lyndon for writing such a beautifully balanced piece.It is to TW’s credit that both you and Michael can hold differing views on Moyes and yet continue to work so well together.

Thank you for also reminding us that both you and Michael work so hard on this site for little or no financial reward. That demonstrates how much both of you LOVE the club. Whilst many (including myself) obviously disagreed with Michael’s "Zero respect" comments, they would do well to remember his commitment to making this site what it is.

Gavin Fennessy
48   Posted 21/02/2010 at 21:12:43

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Agree completely with Michael Evans. My gratitude to you both and admiration for the labour of love that is TW is undiminished. MK and LL are volunteers and I know I very much appreciate their collective efforts.

It is in this context I find the OTT editorial of the past few days disappointing and perplexing. I do hope that on reflection that we get balance from both MK and LL as it is now it looks a bit of a dysfunctional family! I think without LL’s efforts of late yesterday and today I feel a lot of "regulars" would have felt their relationship with TW soured to the point where they would no longer feel TW was required reading. I urge a conciliatory posting by MK as I feel this will put the whole issue to bed.


Jim Hourigan
49   Posted 21/02/2010 at 20:23:32

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No one can doubt the quality of the 2 results against Chelsea and Man U and all evertonians have rightly basked in the glow from the results, but without wishing to face pure vitriol I think a sense of perspective once again needs to be brought to the table.

I remember the 3-0 against the enemy and leaving the ground feeling ecstatic and believing we were moving forward. I also remember coming out of the DW stadium 3 weeks ago disgusted at an appalling game of football that for me meant we had still not learnt how to play football and have made so little progress. Equally the Birmingham game left me so disappointed and frustrated that I wondered ’where are we going?.

Yesterday was a fantastic result that once again raised the spectre of unbridled optimism. Lyndon sees it as a springboard to future success built on solid foundations laid by the manager, Michael sees it as indicative of our ability to compete with the sky 4 once released from the shackles of defensive play laid down by the manager. The results against Chelsea and Man U are counterbalanced by the results against Liverpool and Birmingham - so for me will the real David Moyes stand up - what will we see over the next 3/4 weeks? The style of play will be dictated by the team selection, and the selection will indicate what approach we have to the games. I personally thought the loss of Cahill was a blessing in disguise yesterday, and as Lyndon says DM has a tendency to be very loyal. Can we play the same passing game with Cahill in the side? None of us know the real answer and we will all find out in a couple of games time, but I for one see him as indicative of a combative, cautionary and defensive approach.

However great the last 2 results were they will only mean something if we progress and challenge for trophies. Finishing 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th has a hollow ring for me, perhaps because I’m old enough to have seen us win trophies. perhaps that also makes me a little pessimistic - after all one swallow does not make a summer.
John Keating
50   Posted 21/02/2010 at 21:51:58

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Our problem this season has been maintaining results.
We really need consistancy and a great result in both Lisbon and London against Spurs will cement our belief that the corner has been turned
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
51   Posted 21/02/2010 at 22:00:42

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Gavin, far from putting this issue to bed, I would maintain (as others have hinted) that the issue of our abilty to pay football against the so-called best in the Premier League is of massive importance going forward. That was the point of my piece.

Some will recognise that I wrote what I did yesterday out of primarly elation over a tremendous result, joy at seeing us play joined-up passing football, and winning in open play (no set-piece goals!!!) against our biggest nemesis. There was also the release of pent-up frustration in having to watch far too much abject shite played by Everton teams under David Moyes over the past four years. That has clearly left a deep scar and for me, it will take a lot more than a handful of better performances since Christmas to heal that festering wound.

The big issue here is as ever about stanards of achievemnt for Everton FC. Obviously I’m old school in holding up our maligned/ignored motto as a reflection of what I think this club stands for. But yesterday we played up to that standard.

I’ve read through all the responses to Lyndon’s post; of course you are all entitled to your views. Unfortunately, I have to single out one for further comment:



Howard Don: you (or anyone else) is free to challenge my views on here till the cows come home; that’s what the website is about, as these amply threads demonstrate. However, what I will not tolerate, is personal abuse — and that extends to people making statements about me or the website that are false. Unfortaunately, as we saw yesterday, some people are incapble of separtaing the two and the easier option for me is to delete the offending post rather than my prefernce, which is to edit out the abuse.

The term ’apologist’ was relevant to my piece because I was pointing out how our recent form has shown the lie to the myriad of excuses posted about why Everton under David Moyes could not be expected to do what they have actually done since Christmas. That point for me remains crystal clear, but unfortunately seems to have got lost in my delivery and the use of this emotive term, which some sensitive souls found unpalettable. My heartfelt apologies if you expected something different.

The term ’acolyte’ has some reasonace when paralleled with the ’Moyesiah’ concept and the semi-religious ralying cry "In Moyes We Trust". [I should listen to 606 more... I didn’t reaslise every other set of fans uses that as an expression of praise for their manager; so much for Everton somehow being ’different’...]

The thing about these terms is we allow equally offensive ones from the other side, such as "Moyes-Out Brigade" and "Moyes haters". They are all primarily shorthand to describe what are established and entrenched views, yet by my assessment of what is posted on here they are equally questionable.

So what are we to do? Ban all these terms? I’m afraid that would verge on censorship gone mad and make our work way too difficult.

And by the way, I have always maintained my issue with Moyes has been the dreadful football he has had Everton playing. For you to invoke some sort of bizarre racist/xenophobic parallel in your quest to dismiss my views... well, I find that both obnoxious and reprehensible.
Chris Leyland
52   Posted 21/02/2010 at 21:37:04

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I too have seriously considered avoiding TW over the past few months as I have become increasingly appaled by Michael’s anti-Moyes agenda. Indeed I have been banned on a number of occasions for being somewhat overly critical fo Michael as a result.

Lyndon’s article has restored my faith, as have the many comments which show that I’m not as alone in being a Moyes ’apologist’ as I have often felt reading this site lately.

It is plain to most rational Evertonians that we have made progress under Moyes and we continue to do so. Comparisons with Royle, Kendall or anyone else are meaningless as that was then this is now.

We have a squad that is capable of beating anyone now. We have options on the bench and we have a manager who is experienced and growing in confidence as he knows he now has a squad capable of mathcing the so-called big 4 on its day.

So I say that we should ban the phrase Moyes ’apologist’ as offensive, unneccesary, and above all untrue.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
53   Posted 21/02/2010 at 22:22:17

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Jim Hourigan: The results against Chelsea and Man U are counterbalanced by the results against Liverpool and Birmingham... what will we see over the next 3/4 weeks?... However great the last 2 results were they will only mean something if we progress and challenge for trophies

And therein lies the heart of the Moyes debate as it currently stands, Jim, and my support for him as the best man for the job (within the parameters I outline above in the original article) is in spite of the obvious inconsistencies during his tenure that underpin Michael’s argument.

My optimism following the United and Chelsea results is not unbridled — I await the second leg in Lisbon and the away games against Tottenham and Birmingham in the next few weeks in particular to gauge where this team really is before getting too excited.

However, I do have the sense that we now have the players and, another string of key injuries notwithstanding, the depth in most areas to carry this kind of form forward. I put the poor performances and the poor form earlier this seasons down to the lack of personnel and a shortage of confidence and believe that even without Fellaini, we could see the real Everton between now and the end of the season.

My one fear is that the loss of Landon Donovan and his pace and tenacity will be felt more keenly than we might ever have thought. Time for the enigmatic Mr Bilyaletdinov to step into the breach, methinks, unless we get luck and the MLS goes on strike!
Rob Paterson
54   Posted 21/02/2010 at 22:40:16

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Straightforward question, Mr Kenrick. When you watch Everton these days, is there any part of you that wants us to lose or at least play badly so that your ’zero respect’ (hatred) of David Moyes can be vindicated? If so, I believe I know how you feel. I felt just like that when Gordon Lee was the manager.

Perhaps the difference betwen us is that I wanted Lee sacked and I knew exactly who I wanted to replace him. And in 1981 both my wishes came true.

If you really want us to succeed under David Moyes, you will have to visualise yourself singing his name out loud if and when we win something. Can you do that? There is nothing in this post that is intended to be abusive, still less personal. I hope you don’t treat it as such.

Mark Reid
55   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:08:36

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"The term ’apologist’ was relevant to my piece because I was pointing out how our recent form has shown the lie to the myriad of excuses posted about why Everton under David Moyes could not be expected to do what they have actually done since Christmas. That point for me remains crystal clear, but unfortunately seems to have got lost in my delivery and the use of this emotive term, which some sensitive souls found unpalettable. My heartfelt apologies if you expected something different."

Michael. Far from let it lie you’ve just stirrered it up again with an innuendo filled post - basically a two fingered salute - to those who who weren’t impressed with what you wrote and commented what you did.

I was on here when you posted it yesterday and I saw all of the early responses plus my own (the first you removed) the second you cut in half removing my comment about not being impressed.

IN NOT ONE WAS THEIR ANY "PERSONAL ABUSE" far from it. It was mainly about around the term you used and the responses to paraphrase were "I cannot believe you just wrote that".

I think you should stop being so contankerous and leave the keyboard for a while.

As you’ve seen with the responses to your own article and this one people weren’t impressed.

Calm it down.

I for one don’t need to be lectured about Everton or David Moyes. But the way you’re writing its turning into lectures or preaching.
Howard Don
56   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:06:06

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Michael you dance around the truth as it suits you and have really hung yourself out to dry with the phrase:

"Howard Don: you (or anyone else) is free to challenge my views on here till the cows come home; that’s what the website is about, as these amply threads demonstrate. "

The reason I say this. because allowing us to be free to challenge your views is EXACTLY what you don’t allow us to do. My piece a few weeks ago when you, quite ridiculously, called Moyes an idiot (and whatever you think of his tactics, style whatever he is quite clearly not that) was censored quite ruthlessly by you. It contained no personal abuse aimed at you but was merely my riposte to your (in my opinion) ridiculous assertion. You completely censored the whole thing and poured ridicule and sarcasm on me.

You miss the entire point Michael we are quite emphatically NOT free to state our views here unless they chime with your own completely OTT view of things.
Mark Reid
57   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:31:50

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On a FAR MORE POSITIVE NOTE. I am off to bed, still smiling basking in the glory of Everton Football Club, its fans and its history.

Moyes got it spot on with his statement today on BBC 5 Live.

Everton are not where we were in 2004.

We’re in a much better position in relation to players.

And I’m now turning attention to thoughts of Moyes maybe resting players (?) against Sporting - bringing in Yakubu or Yobo or Coleman?

As Spurs next weekend is another huge challenge.

The gauntlet I hope to see EFC pick up and throw at Harry Redknapp.
Howard Don
58   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:31:07

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Oh And by the way Michael, as well know I was not trying to introduce some "bizarre racist/xenophobic parallel" intp your views, I was merely trying to illustrate how difficult it is to understand where you are coming from. There is no rationale to your views other than apparent blind hatred of Moyes, why that should be baffles me. In hinting that you might have a Scotist, gingerist agenda I was merely attemping some black humour to illustrate the irrationality of your standpoint.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
59   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:44:35

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Howard, nice of you to at least get back into this thread rather than one from over two months ago... But a good strategy to deflect from the issues at hand, nevertheless.

You’re a self-confessed Moyes lover (also from a previous thread), so I don’t think you are ever going to accept that I don’t feel the same way about him as you do. However, that difference is not sufficient excuse for posts that verge on personal abuse, as demonstrated by that racist jibe.

And as far as your fallacious point is concerned, there are currently over 100 comments from you in our database which are ample testament to the fact that the claim "we are quite emphatically NOT free to state our views here unless they chime with your own completely OTT view of things" is a bald faced lie as I rarely agree with anything you write.

Paul Foster
60   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:41:15

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Michael, using the term "apologist" is inherently disrespectful to your fellow fans - you must concede that. As you say, there are a myriad of views out there, so why do you think it’s acceptable to crudely class 90% of us as "apologists"?

To me, it seems you use the term "apologist" to describe anybody who disagrees with either the content or tone of your posts. And as many others have pointed out, most of these fans are not "apologising" for anything. They have brains of their own and, based on what they see week in week out, they happen to believe that David Moyes is doing a damn good job.

I suspect your anti-Moyes sentiment has, unfortunately, been exacerbated by your role as editor of Toffeeweb. In other words, I get the impression it all started with a simple bit of frustration at some of his tactics, which you vented in a couple of throwaway comments. When, over the months and years, people have leapt to Moyes’s defence after reading your posts, you’ve understandably felt the need to defend your own position - a situation which has, over time, led to your views becoming more and more entrenched. By passionately defending your posts, you’ve ended up exaggerating your position to the extent that it no longer makes sense to anybody but yourself.

But in the cold light of day, you must accept that there’s something a little irrational about the way your views are now being vented? As Lyndon points out, David Moyes now seems to make you genuinely angry - this despite the fact that he is widely regarded - by Evertonians and non-Evertonians alike - as one of the most talented and effective managers in the country.

You don’t win a record 3 LMA awards if you’re an "idiot" and deserving of "zero respect". Deep down, I think you know that.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
61   Posted 22/02/2010 at 00:03:44

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Bob Paterson, I’m sorry but you lost me in the first paragraph. How any part of any Evertonian could want the team lose or play badly is simply beyond my comprehension.

Why do I need to keep repeating that what I have wanted all along was to see Everton play well under David Moyes? Not play badly!! That was the dreadful stuff we had in the first half of the season.

And I repeat again, I’ve not called for him to go but to do a better job as manager. Thankfully he finally seems to be getting it. Why, he apparently even told the players to "get at them" yesterday — something some of us had been craving but again were informed by many that this would be suicide/impossible/foolhardy [delete as appropriate!].

Martin Mason
62   Posted 22/02/2010 at 00:39:12

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I have to put it off another year now because of the disruption due to injuries this year but I believe that we are on the verge of and capable of breaking into the top4 and that would be a achievement which would take Moyes to the highest possible level in his profession. I’m not sure where they can strengthen the team in the summer window. Securing Donovan would be a massive plus and keeping Pieenaar, Fellaini and Rodwell are far more important than new faces.
Brian Wilson
63   Posted 21/02/2010 at 23:51:58

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Mikey welcome back uncurl the lip and join the fun
* we just beat Manure
* we did likewise to Chelsea
* we outplayed Arsenal
* we are now 8th and with a much better position well within our reach
* we are getting back nearer to a fully fit squad
* this looking more like the Everton we all want.
Tony Williams
64   Posted 22/02/2010 at 10:14:08

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I read something on another site and it reiterated what I thought. The stance of some of the "Toffeeweb contributors is that if they take the same stance as Michael they will never consider themselves to be in a position to be wrong. If we play poorly, they uleash the diatribe, if we play well then that’s what they always wanted but then have a dig asking why can’t we do this all the time (never mind the fact that we are still just a slightly above average team performing well under a manager who seems to get the best out of limited players).

It’s an easy stance to take, a shithouse one if you like.

Message edited by Webmaster for veiled abuse

Howard Don
65   Posted 22/02/2010 at 10:30:41

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Well Michael I have to hand it to you, you have perseverence. The downside is you twist what people say and constantly defend your position with nasty sarcasm. I can’t be bothered trying to respond any more as your views are so entrenched it’s pointless. For the record Paul Foster (above) says it all perfectly. You’ve dug yourself a hole Michael and now can’t get out of it so you’re only option seems to be to keep digging it deeper.
Øystein Bjaanes Lemvik
66   Posted 22/02/2010 at 10:39:16

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I do not comment often on these pages, and it seems (sadly) that I only do so when I disagree with Michael Kenrick. So I won’t enter the discussion on that point (we do disagree, Michael)

The reason I felt like posting is simply that I haven’t read any responses yet highlighting the timing of your post - if your goal is serious discussion, that is. As Lyndon points out, your coloumn is angry. If you’ll forgive me for using a cliché; the anger jumps from the pages. Your intentions are good, I believe that, but your style totally defeats your intetions. When people are really upbeat about recent performances, the last thing they will do is react calmly and measuredly to an angry piece directed at the manager. Therefore, I suggest you keep your reasoning (as stated, we disagree, but the world would indeed be dull if everyone agreed), but please give a little thought to your timing. This time, it stunk!

End note: thanks to both Lyndon and Michael for a truly excellent website! Most of the time.. :)
Stephen Ryan
67   Posted 22/02/2010 at 12:02:33

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Some of the drama queens responding to Lyndon's piece need to get a life. They sound like a cliquey private members club akin to the House of Lords.

It’s a fucking football website, for god's sake... which allows people with similar and opposing views to express their opinions. So Michael Kenrick and Tony Marsh have taken an extremely negative view on Moyes’s tenure but at least they have been consistent and, as passionate, lifelong Evertonians, they are entitled to speak their minds. You would think they had committed treason for god's sake.

Me and my best mate have lived and breathed Everton for 40 odd years; I personally think much of the football served up by Moyes during the past 7 years has been atrocious and I also believe Kenwright is beyond contempt. My mate completely disagrees with me and so we will continue our debate on the subject without the amateur dramatics.

At the end of the day nobody was harmed, but both of us feel much better for the banter. If you are offended by the tone of this site then go elsewhere; nobody is forcing you to log on. Then again, you could campaign for Michael to be burnt at the stake.

For the record, I have often found the man in question to be condescending and a little pretentious at times but then life would be boring if we were all of the same ilk.

Colin Southern
68   Posted 22/02/2010 at 12:52:29

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Nice article, to re-dress the balance on this site. I posted on the Respect article that Michael should be giving a reasoned and impartial view. But I was shouted down and then he came out with the diatribe which I found to an absolute garbage. Anyone can do bullet points to demonstrate their view but it was completely off-keel.

However, I disagree with some of your comments about ’adding further ammunition to those who love to attack it for the negativity they perceive as pervasive on these pages.’ It really is perceived as a negative site and I’ve been ashamed by some off the comments on here in the last 18 months. As for you can count on one hand the number of managers who could replace Moyes. Who? I can’t think of a single one, unless they had substantial transfer funds and that's definitely not gonna happen.
Phil Bellis
69   Posted 22/02/2010 at 13:11:25

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Where the Blues are concerned, I still believe in the cyclic nature of football success — the trend bucked by Liverpool 70s-80s and the post-Sky noveau riche.

One thing you can guarantee following Everton — they will regularly let you down. Perhaps this time...?

Comment from my lad after the Utd game, "It’s performances like that that help you suffer all the crap". Very true — isn’t that part of the problem?

Peter McHugh
70   Posted 22/02/2010 at 13:30:57

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Lyndon, great article and agree in the main. However, I still don’t see Moyes (as yet) as some sort of miracles worker and am still undecided on whether he truly is a great manager. One point you make is that "unless you’re a team like Arsenal, that kind of football is not always possible" .

I think this backs up view of people who don’t love Moyes — i.e. why can’t we be more like Arsenal? I think it’s easier said than done, the capital is a huge draw for players, especially foreigners, but the point is there.

I think Moyes is getting better and better as a manager, reflective in our performances and I think we’ve been extremely unlucky with injuries. No surprise with Arteta and Piennar in same team that performances pick up.

Is Moyes the man to take us to next step, winning trophies and getting to top four — I hope so and certainly am now more optimistic than ever.
John Sreet
71   Posted 22/02/2010 at 13:51:44

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Interesting isn’t it Lyndon that the latter part of your thread has been hijacked by the assault on our hearts that Kenrick’s piece posed yesterday. It’s the word APOLOGIST that nearly everyone objects too as it’s really patronising and positions anyone who might be in that camp a fool.

The Goals on Sunday crew apart from Peter Reid think Moyes is simply brilliant, done an amazing job (without the resources of the big 4... Curbishley’s remark) I think that says it all.........and why don’t we play more football, well it’s clearly obvious as Kenrick knows... Moyes simply tells them to go out, play crap, hoof long balls into the box cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Which manager apart from those of Liverpool, Aresenal, Chelsea and United, have a better premiership record in terms of finishes and results than Moyes, and what do the above have.......gazillions of pounds to spend.

Sort of obvious don’t you think?

John Sreet
72   Posted 22/02/2010 at 14:03:52

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I meant to say the Goals on Sunday crew apart from Peter Reid are completely unbiased.
Steven Barton
73   Posted 22/02/2010 at 14:53:32

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Thank you Lyndon. I too have been amazed at some of Mr Kenrick's ramblings of late. This is by far and away the best Everton web site there is, but I must admit to being somewhat disheartened with the direction Michael has been taking the site recently. When I mentioned this last week on a thread I had my posting removed. It really is a shame that we had to be subjected to that "ugly debate", when we should have been enjoying the moment. Thanks Michael!
Ciarán McGlone
74   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:45:48

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Lyndon’s article is quite good — but the fact that he appears to have done it in order to placate a baying mob of people who are offended by opposing opinion — that is quite sad really...
Colin Southern
75   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:27:56

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John, well said. I’ve been saying this about finances for ages but apparently I’m wrong its got nothing to do with it? In my book anyone who says otherwise is completely blinkered or has been living in a cave the last 20 years.

The EPL now is all about finances, football is almost becoming secondary. The proof is always in the race for 4th place. Now forgive me if I’m wrong here but wasn’t the race always about winning the league or a cup.

Teams know if they hit the top four their finances are dramatically improved. They can attract better quality of players and can offer higher wages than those teams in the middle or bottom tiers. How much Is JT on - £120K per week more than double our highest paid player. So that gives you the real story about the EPL.

Formations mean jack-shit when the oppositions team cost £200 millions more than your own.
Colin Southern
76   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:47:29

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No he isn't Ciarán,

Michael was completely out of order. He is entrenched in his minority view and is using toffeeweb as a vehicle for this. Often he will resort to name calling to get his point across. I mean comparing Royle’s team to Moyes team really is the last straw. This team is streets ahead of them and we all know it.

Only the most bitter and blinkered fan is unable to see improvement each season and we all know we are skint and have to adhere to a meagre budget. Much to Moyes's and our dismay, we are unable to spend this until the last week of the transfer window. That's the reality and this will continue like this until the forseeable future.
Peter Anthony
77   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:56:27

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Moyes’ critics (myself included on many occassions) have cited an overly negative/defensive ethos to his management of the team too many times.

The performances against Chelsea and especially ManU seem a great switch in approach Vs the Sky4.

Now this quote on the Official Site:

“The Club is certainly getting closer, hopefully, to the great days we had in the 80s.

“We know that, strangely enough, it’s not just about having a good football team and good players these days. You probably need something else now, and unfortunately it’s called cash. But we are going to do it."

Such gushing positivity comes from not our luvvie Chairman, but one Davey Moyes!!!

Fan-fucking-tastic Davey Boy!!! Hats off to you and all blues...lets keep positive with an ’up and at em’ attitude, til the final whistle of the final game, and see where it takes us.

A Trophy in Hamburg and Champions League qualifications would be fan-fucking-tabulous!!!!

Aim for the stars and we may just hit the moon...COYB!
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
78   Posted 22/02/2010 at 14:33:41

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Øystein: Sorry but my post-match joy at he contrast between (a) how fantastically we had just played, and (b) how the Moyes lovers had said we could not play, was simply too strong to resist. I assure you, pointing out how the Moyes lovers are wrong by throwing their excuses back at them is a message that will be met with furore whatever time it is posted.

Colin Southern, I see the incredible lesson of the weekend remains totally lost on you... WE CAN PLAY FOOTBALL AGAINST THE BEST... AND WIN!!! It is not all about money... and you keep harping on with the same old excuses...
Brian Wilson
79   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:43:24

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Whereas virtually all the other blue websites are bouncing over recent results this one is as miserable as sin. You’d think we were in Pompey’s position given the dour intolerance and humourless bickering being encouraged. Far from being the best website its probably one of the worst right now having the feel of a dysfunctional family.
I blame the parents.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
80   Posted 22/02/2010 at 16:10:45

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Brian, there’s certainly plenty of cheer on here. It was a fantastic result that confirmed my long-held belief we could be far better than we were.

Perhaps it’s people like you who have the problem because they don’t like being proved wrong. No-one does... and I can accept that as an explanation for why so many reacted badly to the juxtaposition I presented.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
81   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:48:16

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Ciarán: The fact that he appears to have done it in order to placate a baying mob of people who are offended by opposing opinion - is quite sad really...

Was the timing of this article in response to the reaction to Michael’s recent posts? Absolutely. I’ve worked too long (14 years now) and too hard on this site to have its reputation undermined in this fashion.

This article was less about providing an alternative viewpoint to Michael’s on Moyes — though I definitely wanted to offer a reasoned counter because that’s what this site is about — and more about redressing the balance of tone.

To be completely frank, Tony Marsh has had less inflammatory articles withheld than the one Michael posted after Saturday’s game. No, the rant wasn’t aimed at any one person, but the suggestion that people who held a contrarian view on Moyes have been "spouting utter shite" and branding everyone pro-Moyes as "apologists" went against the spirit of the forum we have strived to create here.

There are always going to be the self-satisfied numpties who boast that they never visit ToffeeWeb because "they’re shithouses" and "they're always so negative over there," but when ordinary, right-thinking Evertonians, regular contributors and even columnists on this site start questioning why they use this site then things have gone too far, in my opinion. We’re supposed to be in this together as a wider community of Evertonians and it’s counter-productive to all the work we do to drive people away by abusing them for their views.

To draw a line under this (comments will be closed on this thread from here unless Michael wants the last word) so we can move on, Michael is as entitled as anyone to feel the way he does about the Club, the Chairman, the Manager, the players and even more entitled, because with me he owns and runs this site, to put them across as prominently and often as he likes. But when it harms the very integrity of what I am proud to consider the best unofficial Everton presence on the web, then, yes, I’m going to try and build some bridges, Ciaran.
Colin Southern
82   Posted 22/02/2010 at 16:29:58

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1 game proves jack shit other than we were better than Man U on the day. I’m made up we won. But Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have consistantly beaten us and the majority of teams in the league since its conception. Now that my friend proves the point, that money equal success.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
83   Posted 23/02/2010 at 06:18:57

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Surely the biggest irony, clearly lost on you, Colin Southern, is the astounding negativity of this blinkered viewpoint you espouse. Negativity that I had the audacity to confront — with the positive evidence that, yes, Everton can in fact beat the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City... should have beaten Arsenal, and might’ve beaten Liverpool if they hadn’t been kicked to kingdom come.

I believe that, with proper management and coaching, Everton can be at least the equal of these teams — without the massive injections of cash you seek. That is what these results and the very refreshing way we played in these games tell me.

There are signs, finally, that the manager with the responsibility for taking us forward is also starting to believe it, and not allowing his own brand of dour negativity to bring the team and the club down.

Are you going to go on believing we are inferior to those teams? — a continuation of the inferiority complex that I found so maddening from Moyes and the players, but which has hopefully now been banished.

Gareth Humphreys
84   Posted 22/02/2010 at 11:24:49

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Lyndon, there is a lot of dick sucking going on here in response to your article but I think deserved as it pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Michael, I fully agree with the timing of your article and I don’t think it could have been put out there at a better time to get a true response. I understand where you are coming from in that you feel that if they can play like that against Chelsea & United why they can’t do this every week. Therein lies the vagaries of sport because if they could, they would be favourites for the title.

They are not because sport does not work like that.

A game like darts where you are only playing the board produces different scores and results day after day. Why? Because that’s sport. Throw in a team game with different conditions against different opposition and there are bound to be vagaries from week to week.

That is not the fault of David Moyes. That is simply what happens.

David Moyes has, for the past 2 seasons, ensured Everton won the league outside of the Champions league cartel funded big 4. This has been done whilst competing against much better funded teams like City, Villa, Tottenham and, dare I say it, the comedy shows at Newcastle and Portsmouth.

For this I feel that David Moyes deserves the enormous respect he is afforded throughout the game by, amongst others, his fellow managers.

For you to differ from that so vehemently surely must encourage you to reconsider your opinion.

I’ll leave you with a comparison of the spine of the 3 teams:

Van Der Sar and Chech are definitely both better than Howard; Terry & Ferdinand are definitely both better than Jagielka. Fletcher (arguably) & Lampard (definitely) are better than Fellaini; Rooney & Drogba are definitely both better that Saha.

I understand that not all of the above played in the recent games, however it is just for illustration. How on earth did we win though?

It’s called sport, it happens and that is why people watch it.

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