VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Stoke City 2-0 Everton
With just four wins all season, Everton came into the New Year clinging to the optimism provided by a surprise win at Manchester City 12 days earlier and their best run away from home in 25 years, but they trudged off the Britannia Stadium pitch with that record in shreds following a demoralising 2-0 defeat to start 2011.
It was a result and a performance that left the observer with little but an impression that the Blues are on the road to nowhere right now ? although "nowhere" would be preferable to another brush with relegation, a possibility that remains unlikely but possible if confidence continues to ebb away or if Tim Cahill's absence this month proves to be the crucial leg to be pulled from the stool.
Despite largely controlling this game against a workmanlike and unspectacular Stoke City side, Everton failed to force Asmir Begovic in the home goal into a single meaningful save in 90-plus minutes of frustration. That the final stats would show 10 shots for David Moyes's side owes much to the fact that, yet again, the Blues came up against a well-drilled defence willing to throw everything in front of the ball to protect their goalkeeper. A couple of great chances in the first half and a blantant first-minute penalty not awarded by the atrocious Andre Marriner aside, the visitors could find few ways through.
This has been a season dominated by debate amongst Evertonians about the team's striking problems, one that was ratcheted to new heights by Moyes's decision to play Tim Cahill up front on his own against West Ham on Tuesday, and though the manager reverted to using a natural striker in the form of Louis Saha ? and actually ended this game with three of them on the field ? none of them really had a chance to speak of.
And that is nub of Everton's problem right now; though chances have been missed by all three of Saha, Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford they have been starved of service all season and today was no exception. The Frenchman was robbed of a very early chance when the referee refused to award a penalty, mis-kicked a half-chance from a ball over the top of the Stoke defence, and saw two headers blocked by defenders from set-pieces but that was the extent of opportunites provided for Saha before he was substituted in favour of Beckford with 11 minutes to go.
Victor Anichebe also played 24 minutes but apart from a Leighton Baines cross that he half-heartedly tried to flick home, neither he nor Beckford got a sniff of goal and the limp manner in which Everton approached the closing stages betrayed a deeply troubling air of resignation at the team's collective inability to create scoring chances. By then, Mikel Arteta, who'd put in another indifferent performance, had been replaced by the equally ineffective Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini had been pushed further forward, but he is more stopper than creator. That left a static line of blue shirts strung out at times across the Stoke 18-yard line bunched with the home side's own defensive line and no spark of creativity to break it down.
The over-reliance on crosses from wide left by Baines was again evident but he rarely got to the byline and Stoke mostly dealt well with his service from near the left touchline. Seamus Coleman caused plenty of problems with his running and direct approach on the opposite wing when his teammates deigned to give him the ball, but his final pass didn't usually find a target... probably because Everton never seem to have enough players in the opposition area until they're desperately chasing the game in the final minutes.
Perhaps because they were resigned to their fate and collective ineffectivenss, there was no desperate effort from the players here today and supporters were left with the feeling that Moyes has exhausted the system and personnel with whom he is currently persisting. With little left to lose, he surely must now try something radically different now that he will be without Cahill for up to six weeks... but his track record of conservatism would suggest otherwise.
As ever, the Blues started well enough, passed the ball well enough ? though the recent propensity of the central midfielders to give the ball away continued ? and had a couple of early forays, one that should have yielded that penalty for a foul on Saha and another where Steven Pienaar's tame curler was easily caught by Begovic.
It was the Potters, though, who carved out the first real chance of the game when Kenwyne Jones flicked on Begovic's long punt and Ricardo Fuller found himself with just Tim Howard to beat but he screwed his effort wide from a central position.
Jones himself, though, opened the scoring six minutes later when Matthew Etherington made a monkey of Phil Neville by the touchline and crossed for the striker who rose unchallenged to power a header beyond Howard's despairing reach. 1-0 Stoke but plenty of time for Everton to recover.
They were almost level within three minutes and Cahill will wonder how he didn't notch his tenth goal of the campaign when Baines' deep ball found him free at the back post but he steered his header back across goal and past the post.
Begovic then poleaxed Saha as the pair contested a 50-50 ball on the edge of the Stoke box and was booked for his trouble, but, predictably, Arteta blasted the resulting free kick into the wall. A free kick from the opposite flank by Baines a few minutes later drfited behind before a terrific driving run by the same player ended with Coleman's low cross evading everyone in the box.
Pienaar must have thought he'd put Everton back on level terms in first-half injury time when he finished perhaps the visitors' best move of the match. The South African played a one-two with Saha in the midst of a fast break but Danny Higginbotham got enough on his shot to deflect it agonisingly onto the roof of the net.
Everton's general control of the game continued after half time but they never really got close to scoring, though Coleman was prevented from sprinting away on goal by a cynical foul by Rory Delap and Baines missed by a foot with a trademark free kick with 20 minutes to go.
But the Blues were already 2-0 down by that point, Jones having out-jumped the otherwise excellent Sylvain Distin and Fuller jumping into Phil Jagielka, forcing the defender into shinning the ball off the underside of the bar and into his own net. With the way Everton were playing in the final third, effectively game over.
The result leaves Everton sitting three points above 17th and five above the drop zone but with more questions than answers as to how they're going to recreate the form that made them so impressive in the first half of 2010. With individuals like Fellaini, Arteta and Saha performing so poorly and no money to bring in fresh faces, it's going to take all of Moyes's managerial nous to turn the ship around. It just remains to be seen whether he has the imagination or courage to make big and bold changes.
Howard 6, Neville 5 (Osman 6), Jagielka 6, Distin 8, Baines 7, Fellaini 6, Arteta 6 (Anichebe 6), Coleman 7, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7, Saha 7 (Beckford 5)
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1 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:12:34
In short, there seems to be not a pragmatic word coming out of the manager's mouth as to how he is going to transform this disaster.
In previous seasons when they have not been performing, he has come out and said that it is not good enough, but apparently the performances are there, but no end product. For me, that equates to one and the same: poor performances.
Worrying times ahead.
2 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:08:22
At around 2:15pm, I heard Saha was starting up front and got that bad feeling I've had so often the past 3 months.
I was a Moyes supporter until the start of last season, have been wavering since, and now definitely think he's past his sell-by date. An unlikely stunning second half of the season won't make up for another false dawn and missed opportunity for me.
The tactics, the selections, the substitutions are complete and utter bollocks. Except that's something else we seem to lack ? bollocks.
3 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:22:16
Moyes: "No, just keep doing what you are doing and if you are doing the right things you will get your results."
4 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:24:33
I completely agree. I feel like that if Cahill weren't leaving for a month he'd just keep on hammering away with the same formation and players between now and May hoping it would revert to the team it was around this time last year... with the glaring exception of Landon Donovan whose pace and energy did more for us than any player in the last 12 months, in my opinion.
This insistence on publicly blaming the strikers when they're getting almost nothing to feed on is a total abrogation of his own responsibility to get the rest of the attacking unit functioning.
Mike H. if we're now relying on "Moyes's managerial nous" then God help us.
What choice do we have, Mike? I don't think he's going anywhere soon so it's going to have to come from him... unless the form between December and April last season was all down the players making it work for themselves...?
5 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:28:16
That just typifies the man. He's just not dynamic enough. He plays the percentages, and nothing else.
We may as well have Big Sam in charge and get that Zigic up front, just hoof it and we'll get a goal.
6 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:28:07
7 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:29:30
Absolutely. But it's other stuff like Bily. A £9M benchwarmer.
Gueye? Baxter? Vaughan?
Also, why is Arteta getting a game with such woeful form, whilst Rodwell who is raring to go, is kept on the bench?
It's almost like he's afraid to succeed.
8 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:18:25
He is not a Paul Scholes and does not make long passes, he does not have the work rate of Modric or the ball control of Nasri, he is strictly journeyman standard presently.
Fellaini looks clumsy and Cahill is a trier. Once Cahill goes, God knows where our goals will ever come from (maybe set pieces).
Fans and DM have moaned about our strikers missing lots of chances... well, I tend to disagree: the service to our strikers is abysmal and has been for years eg, Johnson, Beattie, Saha, Yak and Beckford.
Our creativity is non-existent and no-one seems capable or willing to take a man on except Coleman and Baines.
Pienaar does have a go too but he is the only midfielder who will. Since his injury, Arteta has stopped trying to beat his man so his ability is stifled.
The way we are playing is bad enough to get us into real trouble unless we start scoring goals.
9 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:32:17
10 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:37:59
Martin Jol (tactitian) and Martin O'Neill have 1000 times the heart and passion Moyes is showing lately. The hierarchy at the club should be ashamed: for a club the size of us to be totally skint is a disgrace.
11 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:43:30
12 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:45:26
Coleman Duffy Distin Baines
Bily Rodwell Fellaini Pienaar
As mentioned before this is an attack-minded team, we don't have anything to lose. Relegation is on the cards if not for dramatic change, this team is a start. Where in the hell is Gueye? I agree with your report and comments Lyndon except we are only 3 points from the drop zone not 5.
13 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:44:04
And O'Neill isn't that great, and he a short-term thinking manager where we need someone young and dynamic who'll build Everton from the bottom upwards.
Gus Poyet for me.
14 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:45:12
Thank you for helping us all reflect on a difficult afternoon.
I enjoy the debate about the views we all have on here and again thank you. Best wishes for the New Year.
The "other" Ian @10 (if that is not disrespectfull), just wondered about the general demeanour to the Players and Manager at the game which I could not go to today. Can you give us an insight?? Cheers and respect to those that were there.
15 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:42:42
The general consensus I feel is that fans now want a change of manager but are scared of what would happen if this occurred; unfortunately both Moyes and BK have us by the balls and, as Lyndon states, the situation will continue for the forseeable future.
I have posted on another thread that, if Moyes had any respect for himself or the club, he would resign... but I think we all know this is not going to happen and the status quo will continue.
16 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:56:05
I don't get to many away games, (only my third this season, thanks to nephews). As for Gus Poyet, hmmm... not sure... Spurs fans disliked Jol because he smiled his way through the bad times.
17 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:01:58
18 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:08:06
Not sure I agree with your comments re Yak and Bily, often I look at a team and decide on the strength of the team by looking at their bench.
Anyway, I digress; Ian and others who went, I wonder what the feeling is toward the Players and Manager? ? as I think the future will be shaped by the fans and, as I see it, the easiest barometer is the views of the away support.
Sort of "if you lose the dressing room"... but in my case "if you lose the away support... "
19 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:17:36
20 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:21:32
21 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:24:30
Poyet is untried, granted... but he's got Brighton top of Division One, playing some great stuff also. Plus he's a biggish name so I imagine he has good contacts in the game.
22 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:20:35
23 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:27:25
24 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:25:13
25 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:32:52
Thing is though, he only shows his mug when things are going well.
26 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:25:05
A number of the fans would like to see different formations/tactics employed in games but, after 9 years, I have learnt not to wish for such things as disappointment is all it will achieve for me. I am one apathetic Evertonian at the moment.
27 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:52:45
I guess our coaching staff have spent the last six months working overtime on Beckford's first touch. On yesterday's evidence, it is quite clear that they have failed abysmally or he is incapable of improvement.
It was ludicrous that, before coming on as a sub, Victor underwent a full five-minute lecture with much finger pointing from two pages of notes. Contrast that with Tony Pulis's approach of a simple slap on the arse and a 'Get out there, son!'
28 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:38:17
29 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:45:41
What was the groundswell of opinion of those there? ? because they, for sure, are the fanatics; lose them and the rest of the pack of cards will follow. In my opinion.
30 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:50:06
31 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:52:37
I do feel we are in a Catch-22 with Moyes; he has been here 9 years, it's not gonna happen I am afraid... he feels he can't walk, and Kenwright hasn't the money to sack him and pay for a new manager... so it seems we are stuck with it, ladies and gentlemen, and forgive me. Happy New Year to one and all.
32 Posted 01/01/2011 at 22:56:39
I am sure you have played, and at no matter what level, every team needs a talker and we only have one.
Dick. Today, the Saha/Goalie free kick. MA, not to my knowledge got past the first man at either a corner or free kick, wanders up and hits the defender. If Ii can see it...
Best will in the world, JB has not got it, great workrate, but so have I.
Marcus #30, great point. If there are language barriers ? OK... But Victor?
33 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:09:58
I do fear he is too stubborn to change his current approach, to play more open expansive football which you never know may result in us scoring some goals or putting teams under real pressure. Combine this with a lack of bravery to drop certain players who aren?t performing (Arteta, Neville) and play others who might give us a new dimension (Gueye, Bily, Rodwell). Most worryingly, the striker situation sums up how indecisive he is. If he?s playing one up front, decide who that is and give him a run of games. The West Ham debacle sums all three of these points up for me.
Also, I?m sick of him saying how well we are playing. He seems to quantify this by the amount of possession we have. We are very good at keeping the ball; the trouble is we don?t do anything with it.
34 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:08:39
We have conceded far more goals down our left-hand side this season than our right! Is that due to Baines's lack of pace (Not) or the fact that the cover in front of him is poor?
Our form this season has picked up twice.... once when Neville came back after injury, and the other.... well, every time Pienaar is injured! ? or can't play! (We win.)
35 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:11:49
Jagielka Distin Wheater Baines
Arteta Rodwell Fellaini Gueye
Sorry, guys, Wheater is up for grabs for a whopping £1.5 mil, loads of strikers at clubs not being used just now, some would jump at a 4-month loan for the shop-window effect.
36 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:20:12
37 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:22:02
Coleman Heitinga Distin Baines
Neville (holding midfield)
38 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:14:15
39 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:23:28
He relies on a certain person in front of him to give cover and not give silly passes away... Pienaar's form since the Arsenal game last season has been poor, essentially since Arteta came back in the team. I do feel they struggle to play together and Arteta has to drop too deep to accommodate Pienaar cutting inside and slowing play down.
Is it co-incidence that all 3 games he has missed we have won?... Our play is far quicker in the opposition half when he doesn't play.
40 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:30:54
41 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:29:09
Guys, I have also learned something tonight. I do not agree with you Colin, but that maybe because I have not seen what you have observed. SP is great but at least when I go on Wednesday I will have an alternative view to respect, all without the abuse and stuff that goes on, elsewhere.
Thanks Lyndon and I hope that none of the posts are deleted/edited just because they don't agree with you or me or any other constructive contributor.
42 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:40:34
I agree with you and concede your point that there is a lack of "talkers" on the pitch, Cahill aside. I guess we will never know who can step up as nobody else is ever given the chance. I find it discouraging enough to see Moyes stand pitchside for the entire 90 minutes shouting instructions about every pass/tackle/forward run anyway.
43 Posted 01/01/2011 at 21:52:56
44 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:56:58
Coleman Heitinga Distin Baines
Gueye (or Bilyaletdinov) Fellaini Arteta Pienaar
Beckford (or Saha) and Cahill.
45 Posted 01/01/2011 at 23:54:08
I think at times Pienaar is fantastic to watch, but there is no end product with him. I am probably in the minority when I would replace him in the team tomorrow with Bily who I feel gives us far more going forward and can win a game for us despite not looking as 'busy'!
I feel it is Baines who makes Pienaar look good not vise versa!
46 Posted 02/01/2011 at 00:08:22
47 Posted 02/01/2011 at 00:27:51
48 Posted 02/01/2011 at 01:04:32
Otherwise, great artcle, not quite calling for Moyes's head, but planting the seed that something needs to give.
49 Posted 02/01/2011 at 01:08:44
50 Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:12:31
51 Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:42:12
I listened to Moyes's post-match comments and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. For me, Moyes has totally lost it. He picks Saha for almost every game for weeks and yet the one game I would expect Saha to start,West Ham, he doesn't. We play Stoke a big physical team he leaves Rodwell on the bench. We are two down and he brings on Beckford but takes off Saha. I just don't understand what he is thinking or doing.
I have watched Everton since 1959, I go to every match and have a long history of being an Evertonian. I say this because, whenever I question Moyes ? and I have been for about 3 or 4 years now ? I am asked if I am a "real" Evertonian".
I believe in fighting for things you believe in or care about... but what can the fans do? I do not boo at the match, I don't want to stop going, even though I am bored senseless most weeks watching the drivel that Moyes calls football. There is a sense of apathy among myself and the many Blues that I meet with. We go to every game and then sit before and after each game discussing Everton. The feeling of uselessness is overwhelming, the sense that we are just drifting to nothing is not only apparent but it is overpowering.
I remember being in the pub after a Coventry game on New Years Eve, score 0-0, we felt that things had to change. For extreme illnesses, you have to take extreme medicines. Time for a massive shake up at Goodison. Moyes just cannot carry on the way he has been for the last few years. Its not new...
The players must be shaken up. Their apathy seems obvious and contagious. I remember when Moores sacked "good old" Johnny Carey for Catterick, when Carter sacked Lee and brought in Kendall. Big gambles. But we trusted the Management of Everton then.
Those who say In Moyes We Trust have surely had their time, their say; now it's time for those to shout that we have no trust in Moyes or the Management. Its time for change at Everton.
Frustration is the worst feeling, a sense of there being nothing I can do. I am an Evertonian, through and through. I am bored watching this team, and overwhelmingly fed up with Moyes's brand of football and management.
52 Posted 02/01/2011 at 09:32:42
Phill Neville ? when was the last time he got a good cross in? He is relying on Coleman to do everything now. Neville should be dropped, Coleman to fullback. Team:
Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Fellaini, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov, Rodwell, Beckford, Saha.
Rodwell should be used as a more attacking midfielder. Arteta has to stay on the bench for the time being.
53 Posted 02/01/2011 at 12:54:15
If Moyes is not capable of changing his tactics then he should go. He is losing the confidence of both fans and players.
Ask yourself this question: The Blackpool fans and players have full confidence in Holloway and they know that he is loyal to the team ? when does he slag them off in the media? can we say the same about our Tartan Ditherer? Change your tactics or go, Mr Moyes ? it's as simple as that.
54 Posted 02/01/2011 at 13:01:39
55 Posted 02/01/2011 at 13:08:39
56 Posted 02/01/2011 at 22:28:20
Difference between Lee and Moyes ? Lee got the boot after 4 years in which time he had got to the League Cup Final, FA Cup Semi and finished 3rd and 4th and did bring Ratcliffe and Sharp to Goodison as well as some hooky RS called "Just 1 more minute" Steve McMahon.
(For those too young or think Sky invented football, Doddy, look up the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jiBIdtUKhs around the 1'-11" mark.)
57 Posted 03/01/2011 at 09:29:43
Just one small detail: Assuming Moyes walks or is sacked, WHO can we get to replace him?? All the obvious "candidates" would be a massive gamble or an obvious step in the wrong direction. Let's not forget, although we love Everton, our ageing "Stadium/Ground" and lack of financial future/security would not exactly be tempting to a potential manager with a -let's say- five year plan!
I fear we'll just have to write this league campaign off and hope for the FA Cup to bring us some solace from a desperate season (and beating the shite twice of course:-). But in the present situation, I can't see us bringing in a better manager than DM.
FINANCE: Oh where to begin!? Yanks with Investment Funds?..no ta! Citeh's Arab Billions? Yeah, ok but I would still be wary..not what we really want is it? Blackburn? yeah right!:-))
So what should we be after? GP will not get a H&S certification in a few years, so something has to happen.. but what?
Sorry if I don't really answer the questions raised..must admit to being a little pessimistic at the moment.
58 Posted 03/01/2011 at 10:08:41
59 Posted 03/01/2011 at 11:17:52
You make some interesting comparisons between Gordon Lee and David Moyes. Personally I find them to be possibly the 2 most frustrating managers in my time as an Evertonian !!! Gordon Lee in his first full season in charge 1977-78 had us playing some very entertaining and attacking football. We finished 3rd after giving Nottingham Forest a good run for their money and the future looked to be very bright. However he got rid of McKenzie, changed to playing more negative tactics and the whole thing just started to go downhill.
In the same way Moyes has firstly steadied the ship and then we have moved forwarded finishing in the top 6 and getting to the FA Cup Final. The future looked bright - but now we seem to be looking at yet another wasted opportunity.
As an exiled Evertonian I often hear the usual "Moyes has done a great job with very little money" type of comment from workmates and friends. However I think that we are seeing a change in Evertonians, there seems to be an increasing number of fans who are becoming fed up with Moyes.You mentioned Gavin that you don't think BK has the backbone to get rid of Moyes. However do you think that might change if Moyes' popularity continues to go down with the fans ?
Personally I hope that Moyes can change, but being realistic and given recent past experience I am thinking that is very much a forlorn hope. If Moyes can't change his predictable, boring, negative tactics then the writing is on the wall for him and I think the likes of Hughton and Alardyce would have more of a case at feeling aggrieved.
60 Posted 03/01/2011 at 12:04:28
I usually hate talk of a manager has x number of games to save his job, but it's getting to the point where DM has x number of games to realistically keep Everton in the EPL.
61 Posted 03/01/2011 at 14:09:38
Like to you I am not one who likes to see a manager sacked, but given the current situation I think Moyes is on thin ice and really when it comes down to it I think that he only has himself to blame.
I totally agree with you about Duncan McKenzie - I was at Goodison when he returned with Chelsea a few weeks after he had been sold - in my 46 years as an Evertonian I have never seen or heard an opposition goal cheered as loudly by Everton fans as Duncan McKenzie's goal that day - I hope Lee was squirming in the dugout that day - he certainly deserved to be!!!
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