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Season 2011-12

What Happens Next...

By Luke O'Farrell   ::  22/03/2012
 32 Comments (»Last)
Everton?s recent matches are following a familiar script as if they were part of a theatre production. An appalling start leads to shoots of recovery, David Moyes gives his team the hair dryer treatment then Everton control the second half. However, the level of control makes no difference; Everton just cannot create clear-cut chances.

David Moyes signalled his intentions with a starting eleven free of safety-first selections. Whilst the team selection pleased fans, his use of the players left many scratching their heads. The recent use of Marouane Fellaini as an attacking midfielder is baffling. The Belgian excels in, four midfield fundamentals; covering ground, tackling, ball retention and aerial ability.

Fellaini?s central midfield duties fell to Tim Cahill and Leon Osman, two players more suited to advanced roles. Both are valuable assets, on their day, but they are not at their best in central midfield; it showed. Arsenal began at a high tempo with Everton?s midfield outplayed, out thought and outran. Leighton Baines and John Heitinga made good early clearances as Arsenal began at a rapid tempo.

The visitor?s first opening, after five minutes, should have seen them take the lead. Robin van Persie guided a cross into the path of Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder contrived to slice the ball wide from six yards. Another blocked Ramsey effort saw Distin come to Everton?s rescue. From the resulting corner, Thomas Vermaelen rose above Fellaini to nod Arsenal ahead. Tim Howard made a smart stop from van Persie as Arsenal threatened an onslaught.

Osman headed wide as Everton enjoyed brief respite. However, the home side should have found themselves on level terms after half an hour. Seizing on a wayward pass, Cahill, Fellaini and Jelavic produced a slick passing move and Drenthe levelled the scores. Unfortunately, the linesman had other ideas and wrongly flagged for offside. As the half wore on, Everton showed signs of improvement but the half ended with Rosicky effort forcing a save from Howard.

Fellaini headed a free kick at Szczesny at the start of the second half. Set pieces and crosses remained Everton?s best hope with one Baines cross narrowly missing Fellaini in the six-yard box. At the other end, van Persie fired an effort against the post as Arsenal threatened on the break. Everton remained on top, despite Ramsey forcing a save from Howard. With 15 minutes to go, Drenthe blazed over and Everton?s chances of a comeback were gone. Arsenal saw the game out with ease as Everton?s substitutes had no impact.

Steven Pienaar played in all three midfield positions at some point. The South African was Everton?s one constant threat; looking for the ball and always on the move. The contrast in movement and composure between the two sides is monumental. Arsenal?s midfield interchanged positions to gain possession; Everton?s midfield is far more rigid with a chronic lack of movement.

Once more, Heitinga and Distin excelled in defence and Baines remains his dependable self, on the left, often doing the job of two. Tony Hibbert, making his first start since the derby, looked out of sorts and his distribution was lacking. Tim Howard made some crucial saves to keep Everton in the game. Drenthe, wrongly denied his goal, flitted in and out of the game.

Everton?s problem is the lack of creativity and it becomes more apparent with each passing game. David Moyes is likely to shuffle his pack for Swansea at the weekend as the focus switches to the Tuesday?s FA Cup replay. Unfortunately, for David Moyes, the pack is tiring and some of the deck simply is not good enough.

The big question is what happens next. Can David Moyes continue to get the best from his wafer thin squad? How long before Moyes tires of a club with no long-term prospects? Does another top player need to leave in the summer?

They are three serious questions that all need answering in some way, shape and form. However, it is abundantly clear that this is the furthest Everton have been from the upper echelons for some time. David Moyes can only polish so much of the sinking ship?s brass.

Everton?s need for investment is more pressing than ever.

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
758   Posted 22/03/2012 at 09:48:09

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Luke another good report yet I query your description of our mid field set up.
The first 15 minutes saw Fellaini deep in defence and though he covered a huge amount of ground holes were appearing everywhere. In that period the game could easily have gone out of reach and only good fortune saved us from a hiding.
Arsenal had 10 players the equal of Osmans dainty ball skills yet unlike Leon all of the Gunners were far more effective.
We should not carry a midfielder who has a good game once in a Blue moon.
As I said in Pauls report the situation vastly improved when Cahill and Fellaini switched roles.
Timmy out muscled Arsenals tenacious midfield forcing them to try long bombs that Distin and Heitinga easily coped with.
Dan McKie
761   Posted 22/03/2012 at 10:30:38

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Thats the biggest worry for me too, Luke. What next? Its all very well and good Robert Elstone explaining where the money has gone in the last 5 years, but what about the next 5? Or even the next end of season? Are we going to be sell-to-buy? Are we going to have to sell to give another chunk of cash to creditors? None of these questions are ever answered. When all that was going on with Moyes' contract, and was all to do with ambition and future spends to be made available, surely he didnt agree to this? It makes me think that alot of that 65k a week is just hush money.
Derek Thomas
763   Posted 22/03/2012 at 09:50:06

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Next?? 2 options.

1) Things stay as they are, which, given the Inertia factor on the field and off seems likely.The rich will, as always, get richer. The poor (us) get poorer or at best stay the same.

Just where that leads us is a slow decline, a Leeds in slow motion. One season, instead of big over acheivers we will be big under acheivers and one or more of the relegation certs / yo-yo clubs will on the up cycle of the yo-yo string.

2) Moyes leaves; for what ever reason. All of the above may still happen... or not.

We may still finish somewhere between 5th and 17th in any given season, but the joined-up football quotient increases. That maybe as good as it gets, or as bad, depending on your own glass half-full or -empty quotient.

More than likely is that some of our younger fans, having seen only ONE decent team, or in some cases NONE, will see nothing but mid table mediocrity... Accrington Stanley spelt NSNO.

Meanwhile; fans of my age+ coming in at the Carey / Catterick era will go to our graves (in my case, roundly cursing the slings and arrows of life; football, social, moral and economic, with the caveat of "I wouldn't have missed a second of it") having seen all that was good and bad of post-war Everton football, will think that "this is as good as it gets" is actually pretty shit given what we have seen.

As the saying goes... It's being so cheerful as keeps me going.

How do you see it??
Luke O'Farrell
768   Posted 22/03/2012 at 11:28:30

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Dick,

I have to disagree, I'm afraid. I thought a large part of our early problems came as a result of Osman failing to push up alongside Jelavic. This allowed Song / Arteta to build attacks with bags of times. A big part of the struggle was Cahill's genuine inability to play CM. He doesn't mark up, he does what Neville does and marks space.

We then seemed to move to a flat 3 in midfield, for a while, but that failed for the same reasons. Yes, when Fellaini moved forward, we were better but that was only because he began to pressure their defensive players.

We've served up some hideous CM pairings in Moyes' stint as boss but last night's was up there with the worst. I've checked the stats - Osman attempted one tackle, all night. One tackle as a CM. Cahill lost 7 of his 10 50/50s. Both are two slow and as those stats suggest, they aren't involved enough or they are easily dispossessed.

Just 19% of Cahill's pass went forward last night, considering he spent most of the game in front of the back four that's awful. Hibbert and Heitinga both spent more time in possession than Cahill. Neither, Cahill or Osman, looked for the ball at any point; the match just passed them by on the whole.

Cahill and Osman have never been CMs and they never will be. We need Gibson back and fast. He does a lot of the unsung work in the midfield third and he brings the best out of Fellaini.

As I said after Sunderland though, we are painfully short in midfield. It only takes a couple of injuries before the whole balance of the side is off. Yes, we were better when Fellaini pushed up but that was due to him not the other two. We can ill afford to have Fellaini anywhere other than CM. The alternatives just aren't good enough.
Jimmy Sørheim
769   Posted 22/03/2012 at 11:46:51

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Moyes out now!!!!!!!!!!!
Tony J Williams
771   Posted 22/03/2012 at 12:07:12

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Jimmy, he sold yak, you know?
Roman Sidey
774   Posted 22/03/2012 at 11:27:09

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I agree with what you're saying, except I have no idea where people get this idea that Fellaini excels in the air? More often than not he gets beat to headers by much smaller opponents.
Tom Owen
775   Posted 22/03/2012 at 12:23:23

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I think we all know what happens next. A player or two is sold late on in August. We bring in a couple of loans. Poor start to the season - pick it up around January and have a late surge up the table.
Roman Sidey
781   Posted 22/03/2012 at 12:31:41

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Only thing is Tom, this season's "second half surge" doesn't appear to be as steep as in previous seasons, and it's not going to get any better next year.
Stephen Kenny
807   Posted 22/03/2012 at 14:56:31

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Jimmy,

As life president of the Norwegian MOB, I'm expecting some footage of you marching down a non-descript Oslo high street with a couple of roped-in nephews holding homemade placards any day soon.

I get the impression your Moyes Fume-ometer is about to go Nuclear!

I agree though.

BTW, I thought before the match Cahill's industry and combative side would be needed in CM and it proved to be the case. It was his disruptive work that turned the tide in our favour.

Fellaini shouldn't ever play that high up the pitch IMO but because Osman had a nightmare and Jelavic needed support it had to happen. Cahill or Pienaar were my MotM.
James Stewart
811   Posted 22/03/2012 at 15:24:44

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Sorry I'm afraid that last line is bollocks. Moyes doesn't polish anything. He has had a decade in charge these are all his players and his tactics. He is part of the problem as much as the players are.
Jim Hourigan
836   Posted 22/03/2012 at 18:25:24

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Luke, as usual when you use evidence to support criticism of 2 of our 'sacred cows' everyone ignores you. Your views and comments are spot on, neither Osman or Cahill have the ability to challenge the midfield of all but the poorest Premiership sides. Cahill has been a good servant, but all I see now is someone way past his best who is being accommodated by a manager who is reluctant to accept he's finished because he has no succession plan. Osman has, to the best of my knowledge, never produced a good game against any side in the top 10. Little cameos and tight little moves but overall little impact beyond an odd goal. Watch him next game as players leave him for dead when he is required to track back.
Joe McMahon
847   Posted 22/03/2012 at 19:30:59

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I've just read this on a Spurs forum, I just can't see him going there- sadly.
" I think Moyes' brand of football is painful to the eye.Ok,maybe painful is too harsh a word- but I don't think his style of football is what Spurs should be looking at. Yes he has done an immense job at Everton under the circumstances, but I just cannot envisage him taking Spurs to the next level. Would Spurs take a chance on an exciting, attractive-football minded, up and coming manager such as Brendan Rogers? I see that he has signed an extension to his contract(mind you, that means nothing in football these days). I think Ancelloti would be a hit"

I would love to see Rogers here.
Andy Peers
862   Posted 22/03/2012 at 20:42:49

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I am sure we will have no investment by next season so we may as well talk about what next playing the cards we have.

Firstly we should accept the fact that we are probably looking at a mid-table finish and maybe a good run in a cup ( just like this season ). Rodwell and Jags should be sold to the highest bidder, as I believe we don't need them. Not sure what we could get for them, but 20 million for both might be ballpark. We are also going to have to accept that Neville, Hibbert, Cahill, Osman and Anichebe are going to retire with Everton as long as Moyes is here.
What would we do with the 20 million and the saved wages? probably just look for more players on loan to fill squad numbers and pay down debt. This is not right in my opinion but is very likely to happen.

What you or I want Everton to do is never going to happen, as they just are not the good organized structure that we thrive for. It is all so depressing and next year, like this one, I will probably watch every game and be just as frustrated as this year and write to Toffeweb as a form of therapy.
Eugene Ruane
865   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:13:12

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Andy (862) - Your last paragraph pretty much sums up how I think next year will pan out (for Everton and me).

By the way, if we got the offer of 8 mill for Rodwell and Jags, right now, I'd take it.
Peter Laing
867   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:16:06

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Since the Cup Final in 2009 we have effectively gone backwards or in the words of Blue Union stagnated. Moyes tried his best to keep the class of 2009 together and attempt to keep Everton challenging around the top six. During that summer we witnessed an impasse on the transfer front and the disharmony and rot set in with the Lescott saga. Arteta was signed up on a bumper contract that in hindsight proved hard to justify. Jagielka and Yakubu struggled to overcome their respective injuries and the team / squad became stale due to a lack of investment and Moyes reluctance and inability to shuffle his pack.

The bottom line remains the same, we will continue to tread water in the coming years reliant upon the youth set up to either compliment the playing squad with a new addition each year, and the sale of a player as he reaches a peak in his value / potential.

Without new financial muscle the present scenario is likely to be played out ad infinitum.
Clayton Harding
868   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:32:35

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Biggest week for Everton for 2 or 3 years. Complete failure to live up to it, once again, with poor tactics and even worse team selections.

DM out; Brendon Rodgers in, please.
Steve O'Malley
869   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:29:26

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Andy, Eugene that makes 3 of us then.
The trick would be not to play Rodwell or Jags that much because the more you see of them the more you think that neither are international class which is what we need to base the transfer fees on.Potential suitors need to be able to remember them in England jerseys
I would also try and do a deal with big Vic to get out of that ridiculous 4 year deal that some clown offered him
Dick Fearon
871   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:12:03

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Put yourself in Fellaini's or Cahill's shoes. Arsenal are coming at you with all guns firing and your fellow midfielders are all at sea. Drenthe is hovering on the right flank waiting for to pounce if only Felli or Tim can stem the tide long enough to deliver the only kind of ball he can use. That one placed in front with a clear run of at least 10 yards.

Out on the left we have Pienaar with arms legs and head flapping like flopsie mopsie hoping that Baines can hold the fort long enough to set both of them on a cavalry charge. It's easy to see why Pienaar couldn't get a look in at Spurs. Supposed to be sharing the load in centre-mid we have the invisible man. At least he is invisible to everyone bar Moyes who thinks the sun shines from his er 'ahem'.

There are so many gaping holes if your only proper midfielders were man marking it would be suicide. Gibson could be part of the answer but he is not in the Scholes league. The main problem is that Moyes sets his team out to be conservative, "hold what you have" kind of thing. The trouble is as I explained above he does not have the personel for that kind of game.

His current team would be more successful by throwing the kitchen sink. "All or nothing at all" should be the motto.
John Ford
872   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:43:48

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Peter@867 unfortunately you are spot on.

The position is such that the debate regarding Moyes weaknesses/strengths etc is pretty much redundant because there is very little to be achieved without decent investment. We just dont have the players. There isnt a manager alive who could get us into a top six spot with our squad.

The decline since 2009 can be put down directly to lack of investment. Whilst Moyes may have a style which some find baffling, over a season in terms of league results he probably does as well as anyone could, and in fact his record is very good in this regard.

There isnt an example anywhere where a manager has done as well as moyes with so little money. Another manager may or may not do better, but the evidence is that they just wouldnt. I can understand the frustrations around and the gravitation towards Rodgers who has been a breath of fresh air, but he is likely to be just another name in a long list of managers who have shone briefly and then dissapear. I hope not cos Swansea play good football.

Moyes has the consistency which so many other managers lack. He just not easy on the eye in achieving it.

Simon Harris
874   Posted 22/03/2012 at 21:56:10

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"By the way, if we got the offer of 8 mill for Rodwell and Jags, right now, I'd take it. "

The question is, how much of that would the manager have to reinvest?

There have been lots of posts on TW detailing the proceeds of player/training ground sales over the last few years, and Moyes has had only a fraction to wheel and deal with.

Sad state of affairs, with no sign of it changing anytime soon.

For all Moyes's faults and brand of football, I'm still grateful we have a proven manager to retain our premiership presence year on year (with the odd cup run) while the inmates manage the asylum.

Do I want and expect better, of course, but while we have the net spend of a championship side, I'll have to temper my expectations.

Still think we'll beat Swansea - COYB
Colin Grierson
879   Posted 22/03/2012 at 23:04:44

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The way Moyes sets the team up to play does not change. It bores the tits off me and fans of other teams tell me that they make a cup of tea when we come on MotD. The Moyes media love-in will never end unfortunately. If he does what he's always done, we'll get what we've always got. Boring, shite hoofball!

Swansea are the model we ought to be following. They play expansive football with simple passing, patience in possession, and the will to win the game. If they lose the ball, they press as a team and then build patiently again. It's simple FFS and that's why they are being lauded. You don't put the kettle on when Swansea are on MotD so we might get a few viewers this week.
Derek Thomas
886   Posted 23/03/2012 at 01:33:11

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Colin 879; [sarcastic font activated*] Be careful what you wish for, these 'attack'-minded flavours of various seasons come and go while Moyes has 10 years experience of keeping us in the Prem. Do you want to go back to the bad old Walter days, coz if that's what you want... We so-called Apologistas KNOW with a certainty that ANY change from Moyes will lead to relegation or worse. [*font off]
Martin Mason
891   Posted 23/03/2012 at 02:22:25

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Just a point. Both Rodwell and Jagielka are international class as both are selected for England and play in International matches. Both tend to play particularly well.
Anto Byrne
892   Posted 23/03/2012 at 00:43:39

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It's time for Moyes to fuck off somewhere else, he's done a great job building a team capable of mid-table security, too good to go down not good enough to compete with the top eight sides on a consistent basis.

Hanging on for 1-0 wins seems to be the game plan or gambling on a FA Cup tie when we all want a team to go to Anfield and put them to the sword. Moyes lost it for me with that capitulation and more important to every Blue is the requirement for flowing attacking football where everyone is responsible for scoring goals not just the isolated lone striker.

We have some very good players, internationals... yet we play like a team of carthorses: slow and ponderous and afraid of their shadows.
John Turner
893   Posted 23/03/2012 at 02:34:55

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Eugene,

Was it $8mill each for Jags & Rodwell or as a job lot?
James Stewart
894   Posted 23/03/2012 at 02:49:53

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Is that supposed to be ironic Martin? Either way it did make me chuckle!
Andy Peers
902   Posted 23/03/2012 at 04:38:48

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Martin Mason #891 I hope you become their agent so maybe you could sell them for a few more million than they are actually worth. Jags is not England worthy but was available when all the first choices were not. Rodwell in the under 21's has the odd good game but not often. On the other hand the England International that gets a lot of games and praise is Ross Barkley and he doesn't even make our bench!
Billy Bradshaw
929   Posted 23/03/2012 at 09:49:57

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38% possesion at home says it all really.
Steve O'Malley
947   Posted 23/03/2012 at 11:06:07

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Martin(891). therein lies the problem with the England side mate and the reason that we have not won anything since 66. Rodwell is only a young man and may in time prove to be an International but not at the moment On the evidence of what I have seen to date, he has long way to go.I will give him the benefit of being played out of position like half the Everton team Jagielka is not and never was an International class player. Even in his better days I could never understand how he ever kept Heitinga out of the side. For me Heitinga should be the natural choice as captain,the man has passion and is a winner, or at least he was till he joined us.
Denis Rodgers
006   Posted 23/03/2012 at 16:46:08

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28 goals in 29 league goals is a relegation return.

The last few games in particular see balls being booted up in the air into the box for Fellaini to get a touch. It's shocking to watch and an embarrassment for a great club.
Luke O'Farrell
011   Posted 23/03/2012 at 17:03:07

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This was asked for on another thread but I can't find the post.

David Moyes's overall Everton record: Played 462 | Won 192, Drawn 119, Lost 151 | For 624 Against 553.

I was asked how many of those were by a single goal margin; 103. 54% of David Moyes's wins as Everton boss have been by a single goal margin (providing I've made no errors).

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