The more negative observations can be listed something like: too small a squad, lack of creative players, we’ve progressed as far as we can without investment, negative tactics, defensively minded manager, tactically naive manager, too much hoofball, late and inadequate transfer activity, etc. The positives tend to be: punching above our weight, we’ll be great when the injured players return, battling mentality, we’re the “best of the rest” and have been for several seasons, value for money player buys, etc.
I don’t propose to go over all the well worn arguments from both sides of the looking glass but for a moment to consider something else. When reflecting on our current form and results, which no one can be truly happy with, I got to thinking that all of the above factors, to a greater or lesser degree, have been with us for a number of seasons.
I can’t think of a time under Moyes when we have consistently played attractive, creative, attacking football. We’ve always had a thin squad, bad luck with injuries, we’ve never had big money to spend and we’ve more often than not left transfer activity ‘til late in the day.
Our manager was always defensively minded and has mysteriously played people out of position whilst making strange substitutions on occasions. So what’s driving the current issues on the pitch?
I don’t have the answer but I do think that three things that have been consistent and reliable under Moyes, sometimes in spades, other times not quite as evident, but always there, have now deserted us:
1. We have a solid defence and are difficult to break down and score against.
A reflection on our manager, his playing career, natural orientation, where we have the most cover in the squad, our tactics and formation on the pitch have earned us this reputation and is something the fans have come to expect and rely on. But not any more in my view.
This season we seem to be uncertain, shaky and sometimes disinterested at the back. I can’t remember a time when our defence has looked so porous. Yes, the Jag is a big miss, but last night against Benfica we fielded Hibbert, Yobo, Distin and Baines — hardly an inexperienced back four? Why are we suddenly conceding goals through poor defending on a regular basis?
2. We have a great team spirit.
What we’ve lacked in ability on the pitch we’ve pretty consistently made up for in workrate, togetherness, battling spirit, etc. We chase every ball, everyone tracks back to defend, we’re solid, hold our shape and take up the right positions when the other team have the ball. But not at the moment? Where’s that fundamental gone to?
3. We are a huge threat from set pieces.
For a few years now and particularly last season (I’m thinking of the FA Cup derbies as a great example) we have built a reputation for being a real handful at corners and free kicks. Often a criticism from our own fans has been that this is the only way we can expect to score. Yes we’re missing Arteta’s deliveries, but that’s nothing new — we were still a threat without him last season. Even this “old faithful” seems to be evaporating.
In summary then, my immediate concern is not the long list of positives and negatives that have remained fairly constant for a while — depending on which view of the half empty/half full glass you take. No, what’s worrying me is the three things we could expect, rely on and almost take for granted from a Moyes team, regardless of the injury list, have gone into hiding.
Forget everything else, if Moyes and the players can’t rebuild the three things we used to rely on and some of us had even come to despise about the team (in the case of emphasis on defence and reliance on set pieces to score) then the current problems could well turn into a crisis.
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1 Posted 06/11/2009 at 17:23:25
Much as I like Leighton Baines you have to accept that many of his corners are woeful.
Why then can Bily not take all corners regardless of where he is playing? Beckham used to do it to great effect.
And while we are on the subject of corners, why do they all have to be taken in the same way? Couldn’t we start varying it a bit instead of the predictable hoof into the goal area?
2 Posted 06/11/2009 at 17:46:46
As far as I can tell we have never eally threatened from set pieces. Arteta and Bainesarely beat the first man.
But most worrying is our lack of fight - personally I think the players realise this club under Kenwright and Moyes have no real ambition. We play shite football - you only have to watch Yobo and Distin hoofing it at every opportunity last night. That must happen on the training ground - any sign of creativity must be knocked out of them pretty quick.
Several times we have had the opportunity to move on - champions league, UEFA cup, FA cup all gone by the wayside. Lets face it this club is going nowhere - the players know it and so do the fans. Moyes should go but who would have him. He has never won anything and never will.
3 Posted 06/11/2009 at 19:04:11
4 Posted 06/11/2009 at 19:38:12
You cannot be serious!
This has become one of the most over-used and stupid statements that is used on here alot, the myth of the ’premiership standard’.
This has been used to deride Hibbo and Osman for 2-3 years now, dismissing them as ’not premier league players’, now your including Distin? Who else is not premiership standard.
I’m not saying that Osman and Hibbert dont have their faults....weve had this debate before....but they are premiership quality, Distin most definately is. If those players went up for sale numerous premiership clubs would be interested.
We still need to improve, of course, this season has been crap so far.
The main problem with our defence is that it has lost the central defence of last season so a whole new one needs to be built, in this time it has been broken up and unable to play together regualry and thus develop. Distin is a very good defender, but unfortanately has been played alongside Heitinger, Yobo, Hibbert and Neville in his short time here, thats 4 different partners.
In terms of our strengh at set-pieces, alot of this is down to Tim Cahill being marked by the biggest player of every opposition team, We have also lost Lescott and Yobo has been in and out of the team. Lets face it, a year ago people were moaning about Arteta and his poor corners.
As for team spirit, confidence is low, spirit is low. This has been the most worrying factor, but its understandable, with so many players out injured we have been unable to develop rhythm and thus form and it effects players confidence. Hopefully this can be changes with one confidence inspiring victory.
With the return of Pienaar and Neville in the near future, plus hopefullt Jags ans Arteta after new year, plus hopefully a fully-fit Yakubu we can have a great end of season and 2010.
This sason has so far been drab, but hey, at least liverpool are shit too.
5 Posted 06/11/2009 at 16:39:10
Maybe thinking a little more rationally with your own wallet will snap a couple of you back into reality. Because anyone that would take that bet needs to reconsider their logic and their loyalty to Everton.
6 Posted 06/11/2009 at 22:13:12
7 Posted 06/11/2009 at 22:37:50
Fran, Would you care to say which of the numerous clubs would really be interested. In my opinion both Osman and Hibbert are not good enough to be wearing the Everton shirt. Please note that I said "In my opinion".
Osman is too easily dispossessed or brushed off the ball. Hibbert was an absolute joke when attempting to play centre back ! It was as plain as the nose on your face that Rodwell should have been playing there with Hibbert at right back.
8 Posted 07/11/2009 at 02:34:57
9 Posted 07/11/2009 at 03:10:58
moving to the hypothetical:
If we lose to West Ham and play awful, hoof it up no possession football then what?
I’m frankly scared to death to watch Sunday. I understand it’s a long season and injuries are just rampant. But if we go down to West Ham and lose - and as you point out they’ve got many of the same issues - it does not bode well.
Right now is a nightmare. Someone wake me when it’s over.
10 Posted 07/11/2009 at 06:17:51
11 Posted 07/11/2009 at 05:33:14
#1. we’re missing Jagz in defense ... he was (and will be) our rock, solid defender. Our best defender by far. We relied on him 100% ... maybe we didn’t realise it as such when he was playing but we certainly know it now. The sooner he’s back the better. His return will provide a more consistent defensive four, more competition, and I think the other defenders will pick up their game once he returns (this would probably be true too when Neville returns because his leadership role is also sorely missed).
#2. we are missing Arteta (and now Pienaar). There is nobody that can match Arteta/Pienaar for their creative input to the team (one might argue the lack of transfer activity in this area but that would be irrelevant if both were fully fit and 100% available.
#3 the injuries we’ve experienced are taking a much higher toll than merely missing a player or two here and there. It’s key players that are missing ... for months (not just days), it’s several key players that are missing, the leadership type players are missing, the inspiration and creativity has gone.
The younger players are no doubt learning fast and trying their hearts out but we just don’t have the talent on the bench to cope with the injuries we have. Yes, Rodwell is a phenomenal talent but we can’t possibly rely on his talent, or the lack thereof, week-in week-out, same with Gosling and others.
Clearly as much as we praise Hibbert and Osman ... I don’t think it’s unfair to say that we need better players. I can’t fault their effort and dedication but their presence is just another example that the squad we have -- along with the injuries we have -- is just not able to cope with the present circumstances.
If every player was fit and able to play we’d be fine (top four maybe ... seriously!) but the injuries we have have pushed the lads to the limit .... one can hardly blame them for letting it affect their morale etc. (Overpaid they might be but one still needs consistency and one’s "usual" mates around one self) .... the constant change in the line-up’s to cater for the lack of players is almost ludicrous.
Just look at Liverpool (if we must I know!) ... they miss just two players (Gerrard /Torres) and they almost have a meltdown and let’s be honest they suck right now!
Billy Boy looks the real deal but too much pressure has been put on him because of the circumstances, he needs time to settle into the team.
The one mystery I can’t comprehend is Fellaini .... this has nothing to do with injuries but where should Moyes play him, will he improve (he needs to).
Bottom line ... and I’m not trying to force myself to think the glass is half-full but the injuries are crippling. I think we’ll qualify in the group stages and once 2010 kicks in and our players return and we have more consistency etc., etc ... the 2nd-half of the season should be much better.
12 Posted 07/11/2009 at 10:08:32
13 Posted 14/12/2009 at 16:15:26
Having said all that we need less hoofball and much better passing to ensure we retain possession and threaten the opposition’s goal from open play which is still all too rare an occurrence. The return of Arteta should improve things and give us a shot at a top half finish but better tactics will be required to do any better than that.
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