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COLUMNIST JIM HOURIGAN

Mindset

By Jim Hourigan :  15/04/2010 :  Comments (31) :
Having sat (stood at City), through the last 4 matches I am even more convinced that DM is locked into a mindset that he cannot / will not see beyond.

Against Man City, I thought we played some decent football and, when we passed the ball, looked dangerous and threatening. We got a goal and then as the game went on we became more defensive minded, resulting in the last 15 mins or so with no forward and the ball coming back at us constantly. Many of us were screaming at the apparent foolishness of the approach. Fortunately on one of our breakaways we scored a second and secured the points. Moyes vindicated perhaps!

At Wolves, we outplayed them for almost all the game. During the last 30 mins when we needed a goal — no change to the formation. No gambles, for instance, taking a full back off and putting on another attacking player. We never went wide (apart from Baines) and rarely looked to change our attacking approach. We stuck with a way of playing that wasn't working; Moyes apparently had little to offer.

Against West Ham, a generally poor performance, going into the last 15 mins but we were still leading!. Then we remove an attacking player and replace him with a more defensive player and look to hold what we have. The tactics were a 'step back' to hold what we have, not a 'step forward' to ensure we secured the win. Tactics of the reserved, perhaps!

Last night at Villa, we again played some good football going forward and, after the first half, rarely looked threatened at the back. They were clearly tired from the semi and the last 15 mins was the opportunity to go for the jugular. When we broke, we began to swamp them a bit and with better choices in the final passes could / should have created some easy chances.

Then the mindset kicks in and we again take an attacking player off and put a centre-half on. What better way of inviting a team to 'lump the ball' into the box than remove a wide player who can stop the space for crosses and replace him with a third centre half??? The inevitable happens and, even though it was an own goal, the tactics invited the outcome.

Later on, I watch a re-run of the Spurs - Arsenal match. Spurs under all sorts of pressure and Rednapp takes off an attacking and replaces him with... another attacking player — options? mindset?

So where does it leave us? A fantastic 3 points at City squandered by 3 consecutive draws. The maths of the points are simple: wins are far more important than draws — 2 wins and a defeat would have been better!!

However, for me, the issue is with the mindset of David Moyes. I'm not talking about what he has done for the club or any other linked issues, merely the tactics that he employs. When faced with options that he controls, i.e. not when he is chasing a game, he always seems to revert to a defensive mindset and shows little creativity and imagination.

I cannot recall a single instance in 8 years when he has made a substitution that could be described as either bold or imaginative. Most can predict who he will replace and when. Most of us know what his reaction will be in a game situation, as do his counterparts, hence the stalemates we are often faced with.

The squad of players is arguably better than it has been for many years, but will they be frustrated by a mindset that looks to defence rather than attack?

Winning is built on a sound defence but, I would argue, winning trophies requires the ability to react and change tactics when something isn't working. Does DM have the correct mindset for that?

Reader Comments

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Kenny Lloyd
1   Posted 15/04/2010 at 14:12:40

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Jim...you must have missed Blackburn away a few years ago then.

We were under cosh in the 2nd half and rather than put on another defender, he put on a certain Wayne Rooney which took pressure off our defence and gave them more to worry about. Bold and imaginative I would suggest.

I suppose it was a fluke?? There's probably been other occasions but I can't be arsed trying to think of them.

We were a minute or whatever away from winning last night which would have rendered this even more pointless. Give the guy a break.
Tony Cheek
2   Posted 15/04/2010 at 14:17:14

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Good article, Jim, and for the most part I am in full agreement with what's being said here:

"Most can predict who he will replace and when. Most of us know what his reaction will be in a game situation, as do his counterparts"... being what DM is unfortunately all about!! He is so predictable, so negative, that it is becoming a joke. If Davey dared, I am quite sure we would be up where we belong, which is not 8th in the league.

From choosing Yak instead of Saha, Osman instead of Rodwell... and yes, Pip instead of out-on-loan Coleman, it's all so predictable. When someone warms up, then we all know who he is taking off. He just NEVER does anything surprising, daring or downright outrageous for Christ's sake!!

But, and here comes the crunch, as you put it: "and with better choices in the final passes could / should have created some easy chances."... and that is where we are falling down big time . You cannot blame him for that. Our choice/ execution of last pass yesterday was absolutely dreadful.

God, we really miss Mikel... get well soon!!!

Michael Lynch
3   Posted 15/04/2010 at 14:52:15

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The thing that annoys me most about Moyes is the predictability in his tactics and substitutions. Also he is a reactive manager rather than a pro-active manager. Theres no doubt he is a good manager, im not sure he will ever be a top manager though.
Martin Mason
4   Posted 15/04/2010 at 14:50:36

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absolutely spot on and probably what will stop him ever becoming the top manager that his eye for value players and general tactics deserve. Everything that he does is negative from the inevitable 4-5-1 and his substitutions and including in a way not giving Sean Coleman his chance when he looked as though he really deserved it. I have seen bringing on a 3rd centre back to defend a lead fail so often.

Kenny, having a player like Wayne Rooney to throw on is a dream, we don't have him now and once in 200 games doesn't make it right. I'm not anti Moyes but he has done as much as he can as a manager by survival and 4-5-1, perhaps he needs to set his and the club's sights a little higher?
Thomas Christensen
5   Posted 15/04/2010 at 15:58:25

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Tony you are right.

Without Arteta and / or Fellaini we are not the same team at keeping the ball. Ossie and Cahill were as good as they get last night and we still needed a bit more... Actually Timmy should have done better!!

I have noticed over the past couple of months, since the confidence has come back we play soooo much better than we have before - partly because King HOOF Yobo has been out.

Did anyone notice Yobo using his blistering pace in the RB position last night....shit me DM has wasted that man's talent!!! he should never have been CB with that pace...and we all know he can hit the ball hard
Shaun Brennan
6   Posted 15/04/2010 at 16:50:00

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Keith, two words. Wayne Rooney...

I'm afraid I have to agree with Jim. Moyes bottles it & he is predictable with his substitutions. If we as fans can see, don't you think opposing managers know it.
Mike Allison
7   Posted 15/04/2010 at 17:48:01

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Got to agree with the general gist. Attack is the best form of defence etc.

Moyes seems to worry that he'll look silly or naive if he attacks and we concede, but the evidence suggests we're equally likely to concede through being defensive.

If you're 3-0 instead of 1-0 then conceding a goal doesn't matter so much, too often Moyes willingly concedes the initiative or momentum in a game by making defensive changes. Changing your defensive set-up is a risk in itself, bringing a third CB on where previously there were two can lead to confusion about who's going to deal with the ball.

Maybe he feels we don't have the options to bring on another attacker off the bench, Redknapp brought on a fully established England international from the bench, something we've not done for a long, long time, if ever. If this is the case my solution's simple, stop stocking up on 5 centre backs at a time and sign some attackers. Why did we sign Senderos? Or Gardner last year?
Dave Smith
8   Posted 15/04/2010 at 20:41:30

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Yes, yes yes. Where all better managers than Moyes.

I personally believe it is the curse of the 13th win.
Brendan McLaughlin
9   Posted 15/04/2010 at 20:53:19

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Well your theory Dave makes as much sense as any of the other cliched rubbish trotted out so far.
David Hallwood
10   Posted 15/04/2010 at 22:16:12

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Personally I thought we kept the ball and passed it really well, of course we're a better team with Fellani and Arteta, but you can say the same about the RS without Ladyboy, Man U without Rooney etc etc. Pig sick about the last minute og but stuff happens
Jay Harris
11   Posted 15/04/2010 at 23:03:18

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I think you're damned if you do or damned if you dont.

Villa were always going to step it up insearch of an equaliser and we looked to be hitting them well on the break.

FFS even with Yobo on we had a couple of great chances and PN should have slotted that chance or at least passed to somebody that could and then we would all have been going on about how great Moyesy is.

He is the professional with all the coaching badges and well respected by his peers and while nobody should be immune from criticism give the guy a break.
Dick Fearon
12   Posted 15/04/2010 at 23:05:13

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Jim, if we need go back to the Blackburn/Rooney substitution your case is proved.
Thomas C, Jags is as much a hoofer as Yobo and always has been.
Your criticism of Cahill has left me totally flabberghasted, what in hells name does Tim have to do to please you.

Against Villa he covered every blade os grass, never shirked a tackle, made a number of goal mouth clearances at one end tand scored two goals that others could only dream about at the other.
Sorry Chris but you are relegated to my bench and there you will stay until your learn something about the game.

Peter Bourke
13   Posted 15/04/2010 at 23:41:33

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Are you for real Jim.
He put Yobo on in the 89th minute when we were a goal up.
I for one was happy to see a solid defender come on in the last couple of minutes for a tired forward. 9 out of 10 managers would have done the same, it was text book managing. Its not his fault we scored an own goal.
Peter Bourke
14   Posted 15/04/2010 at 23:46:44

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Dick,
I think Thomas meant Tim Howard......if he meant Tim Cahill then you might as well ignore everything he says in the future.
Martin Mason
15   Posted 16/04/2010 at 00:26:17

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Brendan

"Well your theory Dave makes as much sense as any of the other cliched rubbish trotted out so far."

He is entitled to raise his opinion and it is as valid as yours. Why do you come on discussion boards when you have zero ability to discuss issues?
Dave Wilson
16   Posted 16/04/2010 at 06:01:48

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Good article Jim and if I`d read it a few months ago, I`d have bought it.

A couple of times recently relatives have come over in force, which has meant a reshuffling of seats, I`ve been down in the family enclosure and actually heard some of the instructions Moyes is giving to his team, its been a bit of an eye opener.

Substitutions are very often dictated by who you have available on the bench, In his recent Telly interview Moyse admitted Bily had been a "bit of a pasenger" Now you may or may not accept Moysie`s reasons, but you cant deny that`s exactly what Bily was at Villa park, the only surprise was he stayed on for as long as he did.

Some of the teams we are playing have top top players within their ranks and they will have their periods during any match, However, since Chrimbo, with the possible exception of West Ham we have attacked every one of them more than they have attacked us.

I`m definitely warming to Moyse, I know in the past he has earned a reputation for being dour and careful, but I think he`s learning and is developing into a half decent coach.

Dour and careful is not what I`ve been watching this year
Phil Rodgers
17   Posted 16/04/2010 at 09:46:34

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I believe its more to with the players themselves. Maybe they remembered last season at home and shat themselves.
Mike Gwyer
18   Posted 16/04/2010 at 09:38:56

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Jim.

We were all pissed when Villa equalised but to stick the blame on Moyes is harsh.

The cross, from Young I think, was lumped into the box. Jag's was being mauled by Carew which basically allowed the ball to hit Jag's head and then it could of gone anywhere, unfortunately the ball went into our net.

Against West Ham their second equaliser was from a cross that would have beaten any team in the EPL. That cross was IMO the best pass I have seen for some time.



Moyes works at breaking up the opposition this then allows our ball players to create or score - and for me that is working. Most EPL teams know they have been in a game and post match comments from the opposition managers give Moyes and EFC full praise.

Obviously you want us higher up the table, but really, the problem is not what is happening now it's all the shite that happened at the beginning of the season. That's what fucked us up.



Sam Hoare
19   Posted 16/04/2010 at 09:58:38

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I take your point, Moyes generally prefers to try and shut up shop rather than administer the killer blow. However how much more grief would he get if 1-0 up he took off a defender for an attacker and then we conceeded?! You'd all be having a heart failure is suspect.

Oh and don't go saying ridiculous sweeping comments like 'I cannot recall a single instance in 8 years when he has made a substitution that could be described as either bold or imaginative'.

It just undermines your argument.
Stephen Kenny
20   Posted 16/04/2010 at 10:27:06

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All fair points Jim,

One thing i've noticed more so this season is that when we go ahead we are happy to sit back and invite pressure and let teams come on to us. This in my opinion is the main reason for the stupid amount of draws we have had this season. Even Moyes' most ardent supporter would agree that he is naive tactically.
Larry Boner
21   Posted 16/04/2010 at 12:14:28

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This season I have seen Everton comprehensively outplay all of the , shall we say top 7.
Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City, Spurs (for the whole of one half at WHL), Liverpool, Aston Villa.
Now we have done this not with our traditional harrying and closing down, but also with fast and imaginative football.
I still dont know if we play this way because of Mr Moyes or in spite of Mr Moyes.
I feel that when Arteta, Pienaar and Osman, allied with Heitinga are together on the pitch then they set the style of play, still trying to score even when ahead (witness Arsenal away, Man U and Chelsea at home).
We have for a long time not had a full side available on the pitch, or anywhere near it, play Arteta, Pienaar, Osman,Fellaini and Heitinga in the same team then I dont think we would back off against any side.
I think what we do lack is an outball when under pressure, the type Inchy, Kanchelskis, Rooney would chase to the corner flag and start a move from there. Donovan gave us something like that because of his speed, but we need an injection of pace to really consistently challenge next season.
Hoofballs look like great passes when you have someone chasing and catching them.
Tony Cheek
22   Posted 16/04/2010 at 17:47:41

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Mike Gwyer..... some good points but how can you say say DMs tactics are working , when obviously they are not .... the eight plus points we have squandered in the last few games are proof of that....of course its been a bit of bad luck here and there , but mainly our failing to kill off when we have a chance ......at the moment we are a good team that cant win games...
Tony Cheek
23   Posted 16/04/2010 at 18:04:01

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......which I suppose is better than a bad team that cant win games , as we were before DM came in.....shit , back on the fence !!!
Tony Cheek
24   Posted 16/04/2010 at 18:04:01

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......which I suppose is better than a bad team that cant win games , as we were before DM came in.....shit , back on the fence !!!
Mike Gwyer
25   Posted 16/04/2010 at 21:27:35

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Tony.

City, United, Chelsea plus umpteen other games prove that we are a good team that can win games.

Why we have dropped points over the past few games is annoying but having watched the games, they were fucking unfortunate. Then again and being honest I have seen EFC out played at Bolton, Wigan & Hammers but come away with points.

Now the Moyes issue is ongoing but we can all rest assured that Moyes will be in charge at GP for as long as the guy wants, and hey, I am not totally happy with his game plans or substitutions but it's hat's off to the guy for bringing EFC to the level that we are now playing.
Dennis Stevens
26   Posted 16/04/2010 at 21:55:28

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I recall that when Moyes first took charge he seemed to be bold & adventurous & would bring on an attacking player rather than a defensive one when holding a lead, presumably he then believed that "attack is the best form of defence" — I can only assume he's more cautious nowadays.
Colin Grierson
27   Posted 18/04/2010 at 13:07:59

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I don't get on here much these days but I do watch every game. I can't really believe that Moyes is getting any stick at all at the moment. In my opinion, we are playing the best football that we have played for years at the moment. It is great to watch.

I would like to see Coleman playing instead of Pip, Rodwell instead of Osman but still, Pip and Osman have both played a part in our current resurgence so maybe DM is a better manager than we give him credit for. I for one am MADE UP that we have a manager who brings on talented youngsters like Rodwell and Coleman.

Let's hope that they become first team regulars next season and get us up where we belong.

Tom Fearon
28   Posted 18/04/2010 at 19:26:28

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Why do contributors assume that a different use of substitutions will always lead to a better result. Which top managers are are both successful and unpredictable in their use of substitutes? Perhaps DM's knowledge of the players that he has on the bench leads to a rational rather than a conservative use of them.
Brian Garside
29   Posted 18/04/2010 at 19:41:15

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Colin. DM does not bring on young talent.
He prefares to play half-fit/injured senior pros out if position instead. It is only when his hand is forced that he "bloods a youngun".
Mike Elbey
30   Posted 19/04/2010 at 00:36:26

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Jim, I think you make some good general points regarding DM's tactics but I don't believe he was at fault for the villa equaliser.

He put Yobo on in the last minute to defend the balls into the box and the fact that they scored from a cross into the box surely vindicates the substitution in a sense.

We should also consider the fact that their equaliser was offside. And regarding the criticism that we don't try and score a third — didn't we have a 2 against 1 break just before their goal that Rodders basically fucked up ? We were unlucky to lose against Villa, the luckiest team in the league...

Oh and one other thing — I hate that horible diving, dirty twat Young!!!!!!

Lee Hind
31   Posted 20/04/2010 at 09:56:18

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"Having sat (stood at City), through the last 4 matches I am even more convinced that DM is locked into a mindset that he cannot / will not see beyond."

Does this still apply now we have seen the Blackburn game/substitutions?

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