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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Where has the final ball gone?

 29 Comments: First  |  Last

Can someone explain to me why we are not putting first-time balls into the box!!

For anyone that's ever played football, you will know that the 'early ball', 'first-time cross' is the hardest to defend. When we were at our best under Moyes we would be a solid unit at the back and would build attacks which would end with a decent cross / well-worked shot. Now I know full well Pienaar and Arteta were at the centre of creating the attacks but Baines or HIbbo were more often than not the ones supplying the first-time balls/crosses/pullbacks into the box, so why has we stopped playing it early?

I'm really lost as to what Moyes's tactics are to score goals... as far as I can see, we've lost our best attacking footballers in Pienaar and Arteta so there goes the nice triangles we used to use to make a crossing opportunity or for a shot. In my opinion, our best way to get at teams is to get the ball out wide early and get a first-time delivery into the opposition's danger zone, give them some quality crosses to deal with and I guarantee the likes of Saha, Cahill, Vellios will score goals.

So often lately Baines, Hibbert, Neville, Coleman, Drenthe are checking back inside instead of lashing the ball in the danger zone; we've all seen what happened when Drenthe finally did it at Chelsea.

I'd love to know what attacking drills are we practise in training because, from what I can see, it's "make it up as you go along"... there doesn't seem to be any understanding, belief or fluidity to our attacks it's side to side, let's not give the ball away ? even when we're on the edge of their box!!!

Moyes needs to be more direct from the off to start getting results. I'm not arsed if it's not pretty as long as we're scoring ? otherwise we are in a relegation battle!

John J Malone, Kirkby     Posted 01/11/2011 at 18:32:11

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Jamie Sweet
1   Posted 02/11/2011 at 00:28:04

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I don't believe we practice scoring goals John, we practice not conceding them. That is why we are so lame to watch these days.

We are getting worse at not conceding goals, so I assume Moyes will get us practising this some more.
Jason Lam
2   Posted 02/11/2011 at 01:34:14

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Our lone striker is played as a holding man at the start of any attack. When the ball gets to Baines, he has to wait for the striker and Cahill to reach the box before crossing. Bily tried first-time crosses and got bollocked by Cahill. It's that simple.
Eric Myles
3   Posted 02/11/2011 at 02:55:26

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Whenever Jags tries those first time balls into the box everyone labels it as hooball ;-)
Eric Myles
4   Posted 02/11/2011 at 02:58:17

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^oops should be hoofball
Robbie Shields
5   Posted 02/11/2011 at 03:06:54

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I may be able to answer a few of these questions. When the Mighty Blues came over to Australia a couple of years ago, me and my son went to see 2 of the games and 2 of the training sessions before each match. Each training session was about 2 hours long, my observations of the 4 hours training are as follows:

1) Contrary to what many believe, our strikers did actually practice for around 20 minutes on turning and shooting, top of the pile was Saha, almost never missed. Bottom of the pile was Vaughan, practically never scored.

2) Contrary to what many believe, our right backs (Hibbert and Coleman) did practice running and crossing the ball for around 10 minutes, Hibbert did 1 good cross out of about 10 and Coleman did about 8 good crosses out of about 10.

3) In the 4 hours I was there across the 2 sessions I didn't see any formation or tactical training given at all and no clues whatsoever as to what the line up would be in the upcomming match.

4) Most of the time was spent on a very complex big field drill where there were about 6 little goals around the pitch and your team had to keep hold of the ball and out score the opposition. This was actually very good, the movement was superb and always someone to pass to, usually 2 or 3 to pass to. It was very impressive and I actually thought we would anhialate the Brisbane Roar and Sydney in the matches to come based on that.

5) I Didn't see anything that resembled attacking or defending drills or coaching in those finer arts.

Come the games and and no one had a clue. We were shite, static, lost, no chiefs, no one with a clue how the hell to build an attack, drag players out of position, play one two's, make triangles et al.

Make of that what you will.
Derek Thomas
6   Posted 02/11/2011 at 04:49:38

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This has been going on for a couple of years now, at least 18mths before Pienaar left, when some neutrals were calling us Arsenal lite.

The above info about the training drills; which are for public consumption only. You can't let he punters see you just passing the ball about for ever and ever, which is what not giving the ball away means in real terms.

The real reason we don't pass the ball into the box ( or shoot ) is that this is the ball of potential High reward, e.g. A GOAL, but with high reward comes high risk...YOU GIVE THE BALL AWAY while you are left high and dry in their box.

You also can't practice in public other aspects of our tactic ( sing. )...which include but are not limited to...

Keep it tight and pinch one;

NOT passing and moving;


Playing people out of position;

Having the strikers all sit on the bench.

Giving promising guys 10 mins at the end

Selling our decent players.

Signing Shite aka Bily.

Resigning Shite aka McFadden

Aiming for 40 pts per season.

Writing furiously on the pad while wearing your headset.

Mortgaging, sometime twice anything and everything you can.

Coaching Badges; I ain't got no stinkin coaching badges
Jimmy Sorheim
7   Posted 02/11/2011 at 07:45:35

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Seems like you are really on to something big here. Think about how long Moyes has been here. He must have grown tired of training and it seems like the attacking part of training are the one hurting this team the most.

Even bigger part of us not creating chances is that there never are enough strikers or people inside the box, so Hibbert and Baines has to wait for them to get in the right places, and by then the defnders will have found their place as well.

We are lacking flair,creativity and quality passing, only persons who seem able to back up Baines in this area are Drenthe and on a good day Coleman and Bily. Barkley have not played enough for us to know if he could be part of the ansewr.

I stand by what I have said this season, Moyes has to go and the fans will need to start protesting against him or else change will never happen.
Nick Entwistle
8   Posted 02/11/2011 at 08:21:30

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Relegation battle. A stupid way to round off the article.
Kevin Sparke
9   Posted 02/11/2011 at 08:51:09

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It's those twats Messi, Iniesta & David Silva's fault - they just won't sign for us... bastards

Chris Matheson
10   Posted 02/11/2011 at 09:09:12

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Too slow to get forward in numbers.

Short passing to feet (not space) that never actually beats the man. Too much sidways passsing out to the wings.

Over reliance on one, simplistic, form of attack (out to the wings then a high ball lumped in). No guile. Little forward passing, and little movement to make it happen.

And finally - not sure if anyone has ever noticed this - never leaving anyone up when we defend a corner.

Oh, and selling our creative players to pay for the vanity of a deluded and incompetent Chairman out of his depth.
Trevor Mackie
11   Posted 02/11/2011 at 09:49:18

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I mentioned this a few days ago, we DO pass the ball but it's in the area the opposition are happy with.

Incisive football, passing through the centre splitting the opponents midfield has never been part of the Moyes gameplan.

Hence the outball to the wing 6 yds past the half way line then a diagonal hail mary "knock" into the mixer.

If we can see it I'm damn sure every opposing coach can.
John Ford
12   Posted 02/11/2011 at 10:31:18

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Kevin Sparke@6

I notice you dont mention Xavi. Can I assume from this that there is some mileage in the rumour that he will be here in the January sales!.....fess boy, fess!

John Ford
13   Posted 02/11/2011 at 10:35:56

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The OP answers his own question...we lost all our best creative players.

...and good teams rarely 'lash the ball' across. The Piennar Arteta Baines combo actually did what we dont do any more....they played through the opposition.
Denis Richardson
14   Posted 02/11/2011 at 12:10:13

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John, first time crosses are great if you actually have people in the box. However, regulalry playing with no recognised strikers tends to cause a problem with this tactic, along with the fact that players like Osman are 3 foot tall.

Granted if Velly and perhaps Saha were played more often/longer, this would make sense.
Tony J Williams
15   Posted 02/11/2011 at 12:24:11

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"regulalry playing with no recognised strikers"

How's that then? How many games in Moyes's 10 years here has he played without a striker? I am guessing you can use your fingers to count them, so that will be one per year. If you want to count that as regular then fair play.
Joe McMahon
16   Posted 02/11/2011 at 12:24:41

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"I'd love to know what attacking drills are we practise in training....from what I can see, it's "make it up as you go along "

Goodness I've never known such Heresy, how dare you question Moyes and his tactics.
Steve Guy
17   Posted 02/11/2011 at 12:58:48

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Watched Arteta having a great game last night for the Gooners; incisive, athletic, passing and receiving the ball well. He even took corners which threatened.

Why wasn't he doing that for us last season ? Maybe because he was played deep or wide ?
keith Gleave
18   Posted 02/11/2011 at 13:28:29

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I alawys go to the match with me lad. Against united i was explaining to him how we set up. In playing 4-5-1 you need a striker who can control and hold the ball, who has speed and can turn defences. Our way of acheiving this is by Jags hoofing the ball to a small player, if this is our form of play, at least put a big man upfront.
When we do try to play the ball along the floor there is no movement in midfield or upfront. There is no finding space, no triangles and no attempt to get round the back by using the wings.
In defence we now stand off an let the opposition play the ball, instead of pressing, as we used to do and breaking the attack up. The goal on Saturday came out of a static defence.
This seems to have happened since Irvine left and Round arrived. He is supposed to be a top coach, but were are static going forward and at the back. Kenwright and Moyes get a lot of stick, rightly at times but i think its Round's coaching where the problems lies. We teach schoolboys to find space, pass the ball and use their pace. We dont have the wealth of city or chelski, but we should be able to get the basics right.
Tony J Williams
19   Posted 02/11/2011 at 15:40:14

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"Why wasn't he doing that for us last season ?"

because we do not have Walcott, Ramsey, Rosicky, Song or Van Persie playing for us in the midfield
Michael Mcloughlin
20   Posted 02/11/2011 at 16:50:40

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I know this is nothing to do with this thread but read
Steve Guy
21   Posted 02/11/2011 at 17:02:02

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Tony #19. He was doing it for us when he was played in his best position, but due to our manager's predilection for square pegs and round holes, Mikel is only now getting back to his best.
Brian Waring
22   Posted 02/11/2011 at 17:01:19

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Tony, of the 3 midfielders you mention (Walcott and Van Persie are strikers), which of them would get into our midfield?
Jeremy Benson
23   Posted 02/11/2011 at 17:31:43

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Now, you may all laugh, but one of the reasons is because Neville hasn't started as many games as normal, and is being used more centrally.

When he is used at right back, his crossing is excellent and he really pushes forward and puts early balls in.

For years now I feel Neville has been undervalued in his final ball/crossing delivery.
Tony J Williams
24   Posted 02/11/2011 at 19:59:18

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Brian, all of them.
Brian Waring
25   Posted 02/11/2011 at 20:27:06

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So your saying then Tony, that Ramsey and Song who both play central midfield, Song being a defensive midfielder, are getting in ahead of Fellaini and Rodwell?

To tell you the truth though, I would go with Ramsey ahead of Rodwell all day long.

Chris Williamson
26   Posted 03/11/2011 at 16:09:42

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I have coached loads of footie teams at school level. As a centre back meself, in the old days I organise teams well and they're hard to break down, and we get success. I have no idea what strikers or creatives do to score goals! I hate that weakness in myself ? but if I knew, I'd have been a forward, I guess.

What I DO do though, is give those players in my team free reign to be creative. Two regional cup finals in the last two years ? can't be bad. Wasn't Davey a centre back too?
Derek Thomas
27   Posted 04/11/2011 at 12:13:02

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Don't worry about it Chris # 26 you can't ' coach ' Instinct, flair and creativity which is what some forwards and midfielders have and use. Most times they don't know how they do it, infact the true instinctive players can't understand why others CAN'T.

It's all about standards and degree. example: I think that something is perfectly clean. Herself does not and when it actually is clean to her standards, even I can see the difference.

When I used to play I always knew where to be, I could see where the ball and therefore me had to be. The trick was having a provider who could also see it and feed me.

Sometimes I needed to shout and point, there! now!

Against good teams if I shouted they were good enough sometimes to hear the shout and get there before me, the point being there that if the provider was better and had the vision I wouldn't need to shout.

Against very good teams I didn't even bother to shout, because they knew like I did just where it should go...Q. well if you were so good???...A. I didn't have the pace ( I was deceptive..I was slower than I looked ) and close control to back the speed of thought up with....I coulda been a contender lol.

I could always and still can see the 'ball' but fucked if I know why or how I just did and trying to explain why ( and forget teaching it ) is like explaining different colours to a blind man.
James Newcombe
28   Posted 04/11/2011 at 14:01:44

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Our final balls went to Arsenal and Tottenham
Andrew Ellams
29   Posted 04/11/2011 at 14:12:26

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We could put together a midfield of Coleman, Fellaini, Rodwell and Drenthe. If coached properly this should be one of the best midfields in the league. Well balance, good in posession and pace out wide. And all under 25.

I posted to a thread a few days ago and stated that if Everton had an attack minded coach in charge then the team could be transformed immediately.

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