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Keep It Together

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  10/07/2012

If you know your history, no one famliar with Everton Football Club would deign to regard finishing seventh as "success". In the context of the team's abysmal start to the 2011-12 campaign, the demoralising sale of Mikel Arteta, and the escalating disaffection with the Board that accompanied both, however, the fact that the Blues finished where they did — four points above Liverpool and just outside of European qualification — meant that the season finished on the kind of optimistic note that was almost unthinkable at the nadir back in October.

It was a strange season in that respect; one that by turns crystallised the David Moyes question for each side of the debate without really satisfying either. That his team finished the season on a nine-game unbeaten run — extrapolated out to 38 games, it would have had them qualifying for the Champions League in third place — was a measure of how their fortunes were transformed in the second half of the season, particularly after the end of January.

That kind of run, with the glut of goals and slick, flowing football that underpinned it, seemed a very distant prospect back in the autumn when, after 10 games, just three wins and a paltry eleven goals, the Blues lay 17th and, for the first time in years, Moyes was forced to confront the possibility of a potential battle against relegation. And yet by the campaign's end, thanks in no small part to three impressive moves made by Moyes in January, Everton were being admired as much for their powers of recovery as for their football.

Not for the first time, Moyes had turned around an abysmal start to a season and led Evertonians into the close season with the feeling that, if the Club could just keep the core squad together and add a couple of strategic signings, a crack at the top six again was on the cards for next season.

Of course, though a couple of the Blues' most coveted assets would become grist for the tabloid rumour mill, it was the potential departure of Moyes himself that would most threaten the status quo in the early part of the summer. Having seemingly seen the possibility of the manager moving to Tottenham all but disappear after Harry Redknapp was overlooked by the Football Association for the England manager's job in April, the applecart was upset all over again in June when Spurs parted company with Redknapp and Moyes was installed by the media as Daniel Levy's first-choice target to replace him.

That sparked plenty of debate, both among Everton fans and the wider football fraternity, about where Moyes now stands on the road of his evolution as a manager, with some arguing that his appointment to the hotseat of one of the top four clubs in England was purely a small matter of time, while others posited that he had yet to convince that he has what it takes to manage at, say, either of the Manchester clubs, Arsenal or Chelsea.

Kevin Garside in The Independent elicited a somewhat angry response from some Blue quarters with his assertion that Moyes has been overlooked for the biggest jobs in football over the last decade because he lacks the "fantasy factor" that the so-called glamour clubs are after.

Though his claim that Moyes's teams "don't make the heart sing" drew particular Evertonian ire and he essentially painted the Scot's Premier League record as a failing rather than a triumph over the odds, taking a wholly dispassionate, neutral view of the issue for a moment, it's hard to argue with the basic tenets of his argument.

For much of his ten-year tenure, Moyes's teams have been a reflection of the manager himself: steely, prickly, industrious, resourceful, conservative. Though he has introduced a number of truly gifted players to the Club, the word 'flair' is not one you would readily associate with a David Moyes team.

For whatever reason, his teams have fallen short when it really mattered in cup competition against the big teams — not only in the Carling Cup semi-final in 2008 and against the likes of Benfica and Fiorentina in the Europa League, but, most notably, in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea in 2009 and this year's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool — where Garside describes Moyes as revealing "a defensive reflex that ultimately proved Everton's undoing."

And it's clear that when it comes to the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, all of whom have been in the market for new managers in the past few years, the top clubs are openly pursuing either a foreign manager steeped in more expansive, flair-based football than their British counterparts... or at least one trying to emulate the Continental style. Hence the interest in Roberto Martinez and eventual appointment of Brendan Rogers by that lot across the Park and Tottenham making Andre Villas-Boas their only real target. It's doubtful whether Moyes even entered the equation in either case and it's unlikely, no matter how many times he is put forward as the natural candidate, that he would be selected to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford as things currently stand.

Of course, as much as Evertonians would concur on many, most, or all of those points, we at least are aware of the mitigating circumstances behind the record Mr Garside uses as a stick with which to beat Moyes: the shoestring budget, the requirement to sell his best players to stave off financial armageddon, the frequent need to work within the confines of a wafer-thin squad... all well-documented and well-versed.

That Moyes's crowning achievement thus far has been to engineer an average placing of 7th in the Premier League in spite of a net spend that is close enough to zero as to be regarded as such is down to the severe limitations placed upon him. If he has wings to spread that will allow him to become a more expansive and dynamic manager, he has barely been afforded the freedom to do so in what has so often been an exercise in treading water at Goodison Park.

Of course, Moyes can be infuriatingly restrained, maddeningly conservative, and bewilderingly unable to get his teams out of a rut at times. Though the 2011-12 Premier League campaign had begun in the worst possible fashion, with a home defeat to newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers, a subsequent run of five games without defeat in League and Cup, combined with goals by new loan acquisition Royston Drenthe and young Greek striker, Apostolos Vellios, offered hope that Moyes would be able to keep the Blues punching above their weight in an increasingly competitive top half of the table.

Such hopes were more or less shredded, though, in the thorniest part of the fixture calendar, a run of games starting in late September that brought weak defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea (in both the Premier League and Carling Cup), Manchester United and Newcastle had left Everton mired in 17th place by the beginning of November. A particular bone of contention was the parked-bus approach at the Etihad Stadium that ended in a 2-0 defeat with the Blues barely managing a shot on goal in 90 minutes.

Bereft of creativity, guile or goalscoring threat, Moyes appeared powerless to reverse his side's fortunes and as he doggedly stuck by his tried and tested 4-5-1 formation — even employing Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini as lone strikers at times; there was mounting frustration from a good many supporters at the manager's rigidity, inflexibility and refusal to try anything different in an effort to arrest the slide.

With no apparent hope that he'd be able to spend to reinforce his squad in January — the proceeds from the sale of Arteta had indeed gone straight to the bank — for the first time in a long while, stark realism — read as defeatism, at the very least, by Moyes's rhetoric and demeanour — seemed to creep in and the manager was forced to entertain the word "relegation". At the time, he admitted that the deck was now stacked against him and his players to such a degree that another top-half finish might be optimistic; that the now-ritual slow start to the season could be the pattern for the entire campaign.

Even after those key January acquisitions of Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar, Moyes's Everton were struggling for consistency and another trough in their fortunes was reached at Anfield where the manager's decision to make six changes to his starting XI for the Merseyside derby culminated in a crushing 3-0 defeat — a result for which he may never completely be forgiven by some supporters.

That debacle proved to be a watershed of sorts, however. Though the Blues would cede home field advantage to Sunderland in the FA Cup sixth round with a 1-1 draw at Goodison and then narrowly lose at home to Arsenal thanks to an awful linesman's decision, they would go on to lose just once more in 11 games between then and the end of the season.

More importantly, the painful cup semi-final aside, they would do so playing some of the finest football yet witnessed at Goodison under Moyes... Thanks to the rebirth of Pienaar, the solid, good-luck charm of Gibson and the profilic goalscoring of Jelavic, Everton finished the campaign finally looking again like a team that could beat anybody on their day.

Therein, of course, lies the great paradox of David Moyes. His teams are capable of the sublime and the soporific; of self-destruction and salvation; of stirring highs against the established elite and the most abject of defeats against the also-rans. Running through it all, though, against a backdrop of austerity and uncertainty at Goodison Park and an increasingly uneven Premier League playing field, has been the precious commodity of stability. That is why, to these eyes, Moyes is tailor-made for Everton in the situation in which we currently find ourselves.

While the situation off the field remains gridlocked, interest payments weigh the Club down like a millstone, and the banks continue to lurk — ready to confiscate the merest profit from player sales — we need a manager who can work under such unforgiving fiscal conditions and still maintain such a consistent record. An eye for a bargain, a diamond in the rough or a player whose career can be rescued doesn't hurt either...

Given that a number of first-team regulars — Cahill, Neville, Hibbert, Distin and Osman to name the majority — are nearing the end of their careers and it's not entirely clear how we're going to afford to replace them, it's tempting to get bogged down worrying about a foreboding-looking future. But if we're somehow able to keep the current squad together and make some key additions — Steven Naismith is already sewn up; the return of Pienaar appears close — intermediate salvation could yet come through success on the field if Moyes can get the players playing how they finished last season.

Naturally, much will rest on the team finally getting off to a decent start, but with Jelavic providing long-awaited prolificacy in front of goal and an outlet for a team that struggled desperately for goals last season, the ammunition could finally be there to make the dream a reality, to allow the manager to spread those wings a little and take his next evolutionary step. There would be nothing more satisfying than cracking the top four having done it the hard way, too... but avoiding the self-sabotage of selling our best players right as the window closes must be paramount this time around.

Talk in the media about Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini will no doubt continue unabated until 1st September but, with neither player agitating for a move, the squad can only be compromised by the Board. There is a very real feeling among many Evertonians that, if they (and the banks?) can hold out for another year, what we all believed was possible two years ago — namely a geniune assault on the top four places in the Premier League — could be within reach in what is likely to be a defining season for the manager.

Reader Comments

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Dave Wilson
992 Posted 10/07/2012 at 08:30:26
You`ve gone and made me late for an appointment with my boss.

Terrific article

Kase Chow
994 Posted 10/07/2012 at 08:40:28
Brilliant article and brilliant assessment of last season.

Two thoughts:

1) Ironically Moyes tenure has been marked with the inconsistency of being able to beat the top teams (at home) yet drawing or losing to the lower placed teams. Is there an argument that it is indeed finance that achieves this consistency (and hence our lack of finance that shows through in our lack of squad depth undermines our attempts at higher placed finishes)?

2) As importantly, and I appreciate I bang on about this a lot, we just don't have the mind set to win the 'must win' games. Whenever a game matters, we shit the bed. We lose. We capitulate. How can we possibly hope to finish 4th if we keep losing the games that matter? I appreciate that we've finished 4th before but that's looking ever more like a fluke

We almost need Moyes to be more arrogant. Arrogant with Bill and demand that he fund some money. And arrogant in his attitude to the opposition in demanding that we beat them and do not accept losses or draws.

Bob Willis
001 Posted 10/07/2012 at 09:16:35
Congratulations Lyndon on such a technical achievement.

It was a pleasure to read such a well composed assessment of the Moyes 'predicament'.

Don't know whether we'll attain fourth spot but your article is worthy of a Pulitzer.

Da iawn was!

Rob Keys
002 Posted 10/07/2012 at 09:08:29
Thanks Lyndon, for as always a fair-minded and intelligently articulated piece. It certainly seems the case that all things considered, Moyes and the Everton of today can be arguably be "made for each other".

That is of course if we are taking the view that slow and steady gets us somewhere. I too respect Moyes for what he's done, and yet am infuriated with how often we "bottled" it.

A part of me wants to see this man succeed, as opposed to a Redknapp whose integrity is suspect. With a board that is either incompetent, disinterested, or both, I am for one thankful that there is some integrity in the manager.

Yet another part of me feels that we are unlikely to get to the next level with Moyes. Our teams under Moyes don't have that confidence / belief / arrogance to get across the finishing line, or to pull ourselves from the brink to overhaul another team.

I can't help but wonder if the club is sufficiently utilizing sports psychologists to work with our players. This might be uncommon, or distrusted, but it has worked in many sports. In English football, we seem to place the expectation on the "gaffer" to be the charismatic figure, to inspire etc; maybe it's time to look elsewhere, and not expect managers to be able to "do it all". I mean, how many Mourinhos or Fergusons are out there really?

Without being able to change all the circumstances surrounding our club, the most immediate we can is to maximize the most from our players. We got them worked hard (some say too hard) during pre-season to get fit; we agonize over tactics (some say to our detriment) to get the most of our supposedly technical qualities.

Perhaps it's time to focus on getting our players to strengthen their resolve to fight back from a goal or two down, and then proceed to finish off the other team – Man Utd does this better than most, recall what they did to Spurs on more than one occasion.

Ian Pilkington
005 Posted 10/07/2012 at 09:15:30
Excellent article as usual Lyndon.

However If we do hold on for another year without selling our best players, Blue Bill will be encouraged to continue to hold on as well.

Perhaps Moyes's ability to miraculously keep us on the fringe of European qualification will at last attract a buyer that even Kenwright can't refuse. We can only live in hope.
Danny Broderick
006 Posted 10/07/2012 at 10:13:53
I'm sorry, but I just don't see how we are currently in a position to 'lauch a genuine assault on the top 4'.

Last season was a real mixed bag, we had a bad start, and a good finish. We are currently worse off from the end of last season though, as we have lost McFadden, Strac, Drenthe and Pienaar from what was an already small squad - and let's not forget the cameo from Donovan.

OK, we have gained Naismith and Yobo has also come back, but as things stand currently, I just cannot see us having the squad to perform consistently throughout the season. Even clubs with big squads have a blip in the season - I'm thinking mainly about Spurs running out of steam last time round, Arsenal and Chelsea had a bad start, United didn't finish too strongly. We will be relying on a hardcore of about 16 players to get us through.

In addition to this, all of the teams above us last year, and Liverpool as well, will probably invest heavily in their playing squads.

Let's hope we do finish 4th, but being honest, I can't say I am confident we will even finish in a European place. Let's just see if we have still got our full playing squad come the end of August.
Mark Wilson
008 Posted 10/07/2012 at 09:56:16
Really enjoyed that Lyndon, a good read and it's less about arguing with the balanced themes and more about adding to them that I comment.

I have never been as depressed in a replica shirt as watching the series of games that can be summed up as the "parked bus" period last year. I got it that the squad at that time did suggest a backs to the wall approach but Moyes took this to levels hardly ever seen before. He even owned up himself that he wouldn't want to watch us play and his demeanour was aweful and uninspiring to say the least. Worse, his tactics didn't work. We were dire, results were dire, the future looked dire. I have never seen this 'parked bus' tactic work for anything other than a very one-off game and then hardly ever as it collapses with one goal conceded. The defeat at City was nonsense given our superb record against them, and the defeats at Anfield and Wembley were an utter disgrace, not just because of who we lost to, but simply because, as later results suggested, they were utterly needless and shameful.

Yet as you say, that January transfer window turned things round and the club deserves a small amount of praise for getting that right. Indeed, it could be that we have found a genuinely special forward at a knock-down price. Overall, the 7th place finish felt like a miracle given the situation pre-January and that reduced the impact of those LFC defeats and truly awful football. At the same time, the constant and increasingly vicious Blue Union debate was adjourned, rightly, and that removed the focus on the still-awful financial situation at the club.

I am still mystified by Barclays' role in as much as I don't understand why, with a clear medium term loan plan in place, we still end up being, apparently, "forced" to repay large chunks of capital off the loan when, as a borrower, we seem to be meeting EVERY requirement of the loan contract? We repay the share of the capital debt as agreed yearly and we pay the agreed interest. The loan should run its course; it will look obscene as they all do when you see how much it cost, but.... What is the reason why Barclays can legally insist on repayment of big capital amounts from transfer fees when the borrower is meeting all obligations? It's a bit like us mere mortals suddenly being told "changed our mind on your mortgage; you now need to pay an additional 20% of the capital or else".

I understand why the BU are so angry when they look at the Barclays and wider financial situation at the club. I don't "support" them in that sense as I think the approach won't work but I respect that it feels impossible to argue with the financial assessment. We could go on like this now for some time given the incredible TV deal, but it's only by being able to slowly build the squad that Moyes will ever get us to overcome the nightmare that descends on us most transfer windows. Yet if, as now seems horribly likely, Baines is about to leave, it's yet again one step forward and two, some might say three, steps backwards. Losing Baines will in my view be as close to losing Rooney as it gets. He is an absolutely pivotal player who will not be replaced with anything like the influence he exerts on our team. It will be a dark day for the club, much darker than many realise.

So where does all this take us Lyndon? I think your assessment is spot-on, ie, that it truly is THIS season that will tip the balance. I'm not losing sleep about whether Moyes stays or goes. I respect his achievements here under absurd pressure and thank him for keeping us in the Premier League when others have crashed and burned. But his wheeling and dealing simply has to generate a degree of progression this year. If he sells Baines and gets to keep £8m of the fee he must spend it wisely because he will get nothing else... the possible few million from sales of Victor etc will only fund the signing-on fees for our good looking "free" transfers and maybe SP. Perhaps Donovan could be persuaded to stop wasting his talent in the States and spend two full years with us, and spending £6m on that project would slightly ease the loss of Bainsey. The wheeling and dealing does really look quite useful and if the names mentioned again today prove accurate then by the end of the week we will have what is still a small, but improved squad... the key thing will as ever be, is the loss of one, and please say it's just one, top top player, be balanced by some clever signings and the sight, at last, of Ross Barkley and the mercurial Rodders coming through and justifying the hype?

As for the "Club" – Blue Union thing and the longer term future I really haven't a clue; whilst saying that I don't see the BU approach working, mainly because they won't bully BK out or shift the other Board members unless they see it as right for them, I, like thousands of others, drive the BU crazy because I criticise their approach yet have no clever answers of my own! All I hope for is that the Club somehow bobbles along without going bust and ever so slowly the team continues to punch above its weight until finally actually knocking someone out. Not a very impressive analysis or particularly positive, but it's all I've got; without the even "just-reasonable" level of investment we crave, I don't see what the alternative is?

Oliver Molloy
009 Posted 10/07/2012 at 10:37:11
And he would never have signed Jelavic had it not been for the persistence of Weir...
Chris Davies
013 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:04:29
Before I read the above comments, I must say this is the best article I've read on TW and probably the best I've read anywhere else too.

Congratulations
COYB!

Shaun Sparke
016 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:26:12
Logical. coherent and erudite as usual Lyndon.
Roberto Birquet
017 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:26:02
The Fiorentina point is unfair; we battered them in the home game, and it was a great goalkeeping performance that kept us from the quarterfinal in a competition in which we had won eight and lost one of ten, including beating the eventual winners.

That was the middle of our purple period under Moyes; a superb spine of a team: Howard, Jagielka, Lescott, Yakubu, Cahill, with flair included (Arteta, and Pienaar for less than £5M between them). It seemed the club was hopeful of a Cup, of a 4th place, it was round the corner... but it didn't quite happen.

We have disappointed since 2009, while producing bursts of 10-15 games like from February this year. And you just hope that the banks will lay off, that debts have been lowered; that we no longer must wave bye bye to a Pienaar and Arteta.

I was getting strangley buoyant for a couple of days: literally, two days... from the Naismith signing Moyes interview (we're after Pienaar and hope for it shortly and more to come). What was happening?

Were players looking at us, and thinking... screw the money, that's where I wanna be and I am out of contract "come and get me!"

It lasted two days: Bluekipper Sunday night: We have it on good authority Baines is on his way.,...

That great left hand side. How could we look to bring it back (Pienaar) only to rip it away again?

Ciaran Duff
018 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:37:41
Great article, Lyndon. Personally, I think that Moyes is the glue that is holding the club together. If he had gone this summer, we would have been in real trouble.

Not only has he the fierce loyalty of players but seems to have of all the staff. He has also been influential in getting top notch training facilities and building a better youth academy. We are starting to see some of the fruits of that coming through (fingers crossed).

Moyes may not have the "wow factor" but he is methodical, a long-term thinker and will do everything to maximise what he has got. That may include playing some boring football at times but I think he would see that only as a means to an end.

What we need is someone on the business side of things with a similar mentality.
Kev Prytherch
020 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:00:04
I've said it before on here about Moyes.

When he's good, he's very very good, but when he's bad he's awful.

Just about sums up 90 per cent of his seasons in charge I think, never average, either brilliant or shite!

Tony J Williams
021 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:12:09
I have to disagree with you Kev, we have had one "good" season when we finished 4th and one "shite" season when we ended up 17th, the rest have been average 5-11 placed finishes
Ben Jones
022 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:57:07
I gotta admit Lyndon, I read Garside's article first and then yours, and yours is 100 times better.

Garside's article made my blood boil, some of his points were ridiculous and to call him a journalist in an established newspaper when I have seen lots of good articles here is so insulting!

The only thing I would disagree with, and as Roberto said with one of them, is the Fiorentina and Benfica games. We were unbelievably good in the second game and not for Frey (who was amazing!) we would have gone through.

Also, I watched the Benfica game at home, we would never have beaten them. I do not think I have seen many games in recent memory where we were more outclassed. I remember Di Maria made Hibbert look like an amateur footballer. They were just far too superior and I don't think we could have anything to deny that defeat.

Great, well written article though.

Roberto Birquet
024 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:15:35
Tony J

The double 5th places were better football with cup runs added to them than that fourth. We got more points with those 5th places, too.

Our best was under Moyes 2006-09, since when we have blown very hot and chilly cold. We perhaps lacked a bit of luck on innjuries from 2009-11, before the wheels looked to be falling completely off 10 or 12 months ago.

I also see this as a make-or-break year... but, less optimistically, I consider a return to 2006-09 to be make – not break. I don't know where else Moyes would go. I always thought that when the Spurs job comes up, he'll be gone; well, that came and went. Perhaps, Newcastle? I do not see Man Utd at all... Don't know what people are whitering on about there.

Denis Richardson
026 Posted 10/07/2012 at 11:43:46
Nice article Lyndon but it's going to take one hell of a turnaround for me to become a fan of the manager again.

As a purist who wants to see good football played the 'right way' and I'm not being greedy and asking for Barca style, simply have a go and not park the bus, even against lesser teams at home, I cannot forgive the guy for that semi-final last year, playing countless games with no recognised strikers at all (even when we had them fit and sitting on the bench), making numerous appaling substitutions, being tacticly inflexible, seemingly failing to learn from his mistakes, and generally having such a defensive mindset against the 'better' sides away from home.

For all the talk of lack of finances, his 'style' of football is at times so maddeningly conservative and defensive that at some points it's almost made me feel like giving up on the sport all together! I have actually been embarrassed (many times) when watching live Everton games with mates who support other clubs, and we've served up a perfect example of why people should take up watching paint dry instead. The great finish to last season has to be placed next to the awful/abysmal first 5 months. (Even he doesn't know why we've started off badly every season for around 5 years now.)

It also does not matter how little money a club has, to go a couple of games in a row, against not great opposition, and not even manage a single shot on target... what is that about? Playing Saha and Cahill up front for about 16 games in a row, when both were woefully off form and it was clear to everyone in the country... what is that about?

Yes our squad was thin but if something is blatantly not working you have to try something else — Vellios, Drenthe, Barkely, McAleny, Baxter etc — any of them would have been better than the Saha/Cahill partnership in the first 5 months... why did he do nothing?

Finance is always trotted out in defence of Moyes but we're not THAT skint and do have a lot of good players (on relatively high wages). IF we were completely skint, we would not be able to pay Fellaini £75k/week, Cahill £50k, Yobo £50k, Moyes £65k, (fucking Anichebe £30k/week!) etc.

Yes, we currently make a loss, mainly down to poor management; we could/should be trying to manage the wagebill a lot better, but that's another topic. Also, there are loads of players on frees (yes there is generally a small signing on fee) but we have hardly signed any in the past. We could/should be bolstering up the squad so as to not always have one of the thinnest in the league. wE Should have cashed on on Jag for £12-14m last summer etc.

Why the fuck have we stiil not solved the issue on the right wing? Ever since Shandy Andy didn't work out about 6-7 years ago, we've always had this problem. Does the manager not realise we have/had a hole there? I just hope Naismith can plug this although he looks like another 'utility' player.

I could go on but to sum up: Moyes has generally been a safe pair of hands but I still believe that most decent managers would have us finishing in the top half without too much trouble with the squad we have. With our squad, there is no excuse for playing god awful football at times. Granted, teams have a bad day now and then, but we have consistently played shite football for long stretches over the years.

The end of last season gives us hope (deja vu...) but I will wait and see what the manger does this time round, having managed to get some fresh blood before kick-off. If we start the season poorly again, what are peoples' excuses for him going to be this time round?

For me, he has this last year of his contract to prove he can finally 'go for it' instead of defending 0-0 most games. If he still has little support from the board but takes another bumper payday contract, then he'll show he has no real ambition and is cosy where he is.

Phil McKeown
027 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:50:28
I'm not blowing smoke up your bum like some on here Lyndon but I can only say one thing about that write-up.

What I have tried to say to fellow blues and sometimes struggled to find the words has been summed up superbly. Congratulations.
Paul Johnson
028 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:50:47
Excellent, well-written article Lyndon.

I predict yet another terrible start to the season under DM. He places far too much emphasis on hard work, and more hard work. The pre-season photos the club posts on Facebook say a lot. Maybe parking the bus and supreme fitness go hand in hand? I'd trade picking out a forward pass for uber-fitness any day.

The big issue for me is the poisoned chalice of a successful assault on a top 4 finish. Look what happened last time. Not pretty at all and killed our league campaign as well. Even the Europa league has the same effect unless you have the squad to cope, which we don't.

Clubs that scrape into the CL get their arses kicked and end up potentially injured, tired and dejected. All before the season has really got started. Be careful what you wish for...

Kev Prytherch
029 Posted 10/07/2012 at 13:01:26
Tony. I didn't mean in terms of a full season. In the seasons we finished 5th we were shite to begin with then went on a brilliant run. In pretty much every season there's been a period of time where we've been scratching our heads and wondering what the hell moyes is doing. Also here's been periods where "if we'd have done this all season we'd have finished 3rd".

The obvious exceptions are the 4th and 17th seasons.

Jay Harris
031 Posted 10/07/2012 at 12:44:56
Great post Lyndon and as always very articulate.

On the subject of David Moyes, I am fairly ambivalent. I think he is a very honourable, dignified and honest man with an incredible work rate which is reflected in his team. He has produced honest pros but cannot manage personalities with egos.

However, the thing that makes a winning side is quality players and unity across management and supporters which I believe is difficult to achieve while Kenwright is still around.

We talk about inconsistencty but there is no greater inconsistency than the supporters themselves. Goodison can be rocking on occasions but like a mausoleum in other games.

We cannot decide whether Blue Union are good or bad for us. Some supporters even feel Bill is doing a good job. We all need to feel optimistic but it is so difficult in these circumstances.

What we really need is hope and faith; if we can keep the squad together and add one or two quality signings, I do believe that could be the turning point as long as the supporters buy into to it too. As we know, they can be the twelfth man. We can do it despite the board.

COYB.

Peter Warren
034 Posted 10/07/2012 at 13:08:29
I don't see us challenging for Top 4. Not big enough squad and we do not have the mindset of winners.
Jimmy Kelly
039 Posted 10/07/2012 at 13:02:19
I think you sum up last season's ups and downs brilliantly there Lyndon.

I have to agree with a couple of others about the Fiorentina and Benfica games though, and I've mentioned on another thread that this idea of 'choking' seems a bit OTT for me. I would class choking as getting to a semi/final and losing to a clearly inferior side (Arsenal v Birmingham 2011) or losing very heavily in a seemingly closely matched game (Spurs V Chelsea 2012, Bolton v Stoke 2011). Neither of those apply to our games against Chelsea or Liverpool where we were underdogs and lost in reasonably close games.

I also don't understand this fixation with the pre-season schedule being at fault for poor starts. If it's too tiring – as a lot of people claim – then shouldn't we get worse as the season progresses, not better? Also, although we have had some poor starts they haven't all followed the same pattern. In 2010-11 I thought we looked fit, played good football and were better than most of the opposition but couldn't put the ball in the net, whereas in 2011-12 I thought we looked devoid of ideas, second best to most teams and completely lacking in confidence.

Martin Mason
041 Posted 10/07/2012 at 13:57:04
I've watched Everton since 1958 and watched their decline since the late 60s with sadness, so I know a bit of our history. Taking everything into context, I see Everton finishing 7th as a success because success isn't absolute and is completely based on spending ability.

We finished last season magnificently, as though Moyes had finally found the missing pieces of the jigsaw, and once again I'm positive for the season – especially if we can get Peanuts back full time and Donovan for an extended loan. I also believe that Rodwell and Barkley will realise their potential at Everton and that we can improve continuously from here. I've always said that recovery has to be organic as we are not going to get a buyer/benefactor and it could be driven by increasingly good performances on the field

I don't think I'll ever forgive and forget the Anfield debacle but the semi-final defeat I can stand. Overall I think that the only downside for the club is that Moyes could leave.

I don't agree that realism is defeatism, realism is recognising what we can achieve as a club not what we'd like to see them achieve. Everton, club or fans, has no right to expect success just because we periodically achieved it in our past. History is meaningless.

Tony J Williams
048 Posted 10/07/2012 at 14:30:30
"I have actually been embarrassed (many times) when watching live Everton games with mates who support other clubs" — What clubs do they support?
Michael Evans
049 Posted 10/07/2012 at 14:46:15
Everton fans have historically liked "snap, crackle and pop" when it comes to what they're watching on the pitch.

There lies the dilemma with Moyes and why he so divides opinion.

He's more of a "porridge made with cold water and no sugar" man. Probably better for you... Dour and depressing to watch at times.

Steve Cotton
051 Posted 10/07/2012 at 14:29:24
I personally feel that our bad starts to the season are not related to the pre-season fitness regime but the mindset of David Moyes and his team to set out a team that should not be beaten.

DM is also very loyal to his big-name players and, as shown last season, will stick with them through thick and thin (the emphasis is on the thin). It cant be a coincidence that in each of the last 5 seasons we have been relegation material to start with but top 4 material by the end of the season.

The Emphasis should be on playing to your strengths and at no stage last season were Cahill and Saha our strengths. A stubborn man will stick with this for so long but a bloody-minded one will stick with it for 3/4 months.

All I feel we need is a settled squad (not carrying anyone) and someone with a bit of creative thinking in the coaching front (not Round).

Kevin Tully
053 Posted 10/07/2012 at 14:53:49
I cannot describe how poor Saha was at the beginning of last season. We did not create much, but every shot he had was scuffed or hit into the stands.

Now we have a prolific striker, and a hopefully fit Naismith, we surely cannot give every team a ten point start again.

If Moyes can only get the team motivated when they are up shit creek in the league - then he alone must shoulder that responsibility.

After thouroughly enjoying the Euro's this year, there were lots of different formations on show, and some exciting football to compliment the way teams were set up.

If we revert to the old 4-5-1 for every game when it is clearly not working, or the personnel don't suit, Moyes really will cement his career as a one-trick pony in my eyes.

If we can watch some exciting stuff and see belief and passion at Goodison this season, that will do for me.

And a cup.

Dave Wilson
057 Posted 10/07/2012 at 15:06:17
Exactly Tony #048
I love the way people think everything is rosey in the garden and football fit for the gods is played every week everywhere else.

Imagine standing next to an Arsenal supporter when they conceded eight (going on 28) at Old Trafford.
Or next to a United fan watching the team he thought were top dogs having six worked up their arses by their biggest rivals on their own midden. then watching a shell shocked Fergie ditch his strikers and adopt a KITAP1 attitude for the next three months afterwards. Or Sitting with the Spurs fans when they conceded 11 in their two biggest games of the season. Or with the Geordies at WHL. Did you see the way they supported their team even as we wiped the Goodison floor with them?

Evertonians (the older ones ) have a very skewed view of the past, they seem to be able to forget that for all but one of the past 25 years we have been garbage, the decade before Moyes got here we were worse than garbage.

When City played with two defensive midfielders for most of last season and much of this, their fans had every reason to be embarrassed. When Chelsea played their 1-10-0 formations in Europe their fans should have been embarrassed too. These clubs have spent billions and were playing anti-football.

Fans of other teams get behind their sides when it's not going well, they support their team even when they play defensively – recognising that defending is an art and also a crucial part of the game. They know that even with their multi-million pound squads they will not play well every week.

If a poll was conducted amongst all Premier League football fans as to which club was most admired, we would piss it, absolutely piss it.

I`m far more embarressed by prideless Evertonians who want to pay homage to other clubs than I could ever be by my team.

Michael Kenrick
060 Posted 10/07/2012 at 16:06:18


Watching Everton at times (far too many times) last season was seriously embarrassing. The football was embarrassing, and the manager moreso. Whether you were with other fans or sat in front of the telly made no difference.

Stephen Kenny
061 Posted 10/07/2012 at 16:19:27
Dave 057

Once again your weak attempt to categorise everyone with a different view as blind to reality will fall flat on it's/your face.

Most recognize that other clubs try to win and win playing well. Nobody on TW has ever said we should play brilliant, incisive football all the time, only that we should try. We didn't and haven't for the first half of probably the last 5 seasons.

Chelsea, City and plenty of the other sides you see fit to slate always, always carried a threat even when they were struggling. Chelsea put a few past Barca and scored against Bayern in the final. We never even had shot's on target at HOME to fodder like Stoke last year.

Stop making a fool of yourself and stick to the football instead of sly point scoring.

Tony J Williams
069 Posted 10/07/2012 at 17:13:00
Why were you embarrassed? Teams lose, go through bad patches. The only game I thought we were worryingly awful was the City game, set up not to concede. All was going well until we fell asleep and then Drenthe puts out a suicide pass.

I feel a pang of pity for people who feel actual embarrassment around their mates, simply because said mates chose to support a different football club.

As I asked before, what teams did his mates support?

James Flynn
072 Posted 10/07/2012 at 17:28:23
We're not starting with the same club as last season. We're starting with a better one. I'll wait and see if we begin as poorly instead of declaring it 6-7 weeks before a real game is played. I fully expect and anticipate a good first half of the season.
Brian Harrison
074 Posted 10/07/2012 at 17:32:51
Michael 060

I wonder if you were a Chelsea fan would you have been embarrassed to have got through to the Champions league Final having been played off the park by Barcelona. Not only were they totally outclassed, they adopted the most negative tactics I have ever seen from an English club, both home and away.

Then to compound it they were also outplayed in the final,another game they should have been well beaten, and they were outplayed when it was 11 against 11.

Or is the real truth like most football fans is it dont care how we played as long as we win, and I bet the Chelsea fans didn't feel one ounce of embarrassment.

Andy Meighan
075 Posted 10/07/2012 at 17:26:28
Tony 057 — I don't want to imagine standing next to an Arsenal supporter at Old Trafford or a Spurs supporter, or be a dickhead Geordie etc, still singing when my team are being walloped, because I personally couldn't give a flying fuck about any of them. I, like everyone one on here, support Everton.

And yes, while the second half of the season saw us play some lovely stuff and rack up a fair few wins, the first half saw us play some of the worst football I've had the misfortune to witness in 40-odd years of going to Goodison Park.

As someone rightly pointed out, we went 15 or 16 games playing Cahill and Saha when it was patently clear neither of them would score in a barrel full of fannies! That was painful enough... but the manager's reluctance to change anything was ultimatatly soul-destroying.

A lot of fans are still under the impression Moyes is off the hook because of the season's end. I for one think the hard work starts here; another bad start to the season and the vultures will be gathering, mark my word...

Oh, and I still haven't forgotten 13 March or the ill-fated Wembley semi-final against one of the worst RedShite sides of recent times.
Barry Rathbone
080 Posted 10/07/2012 at 16:29:02
Lyndon, there's a sort of inbuilt acknowledgement in the first para that we're all the same sort of Evertonian knowing our history and in varing degrees miffed about 7th.

IMO there is a generation who either don't know or choose to ignore the history of this illustrious club, for them "7th" really IS success, the "7th place trophy" it's ironically referred to.

In addition it matters not a jot how we get there – KITAP1 BY DEFAULT or downright surrender if it suits, a justification is a mere keyboard rant away.

No, it wasn't a strange season, it was archetypal Moyes: the curate's egg of good in part absolutely dreadful mostly... very likely it will be the same this season.

The reasons/excuses?

Not interested anymore, they've been done to death, but I do know high earning short contract work means you produce or your gone (see every other EPL club and their managerial hstory).

I don't class 7th at any price and clubs such as Portsmouth and Cardiff reaching more cup finals than us as producing.

How he's taking £3.5 million, and rising, out of this institution whilst it's on the bones of its arse is so ludicrous it's become hilarious.

Paul David
081 Posted 10/07/2012 at 18:15:09
Brian

Chelsea winning the CL using those tactics is a little bit different to us playing weaker sides at home and failing to register a single shot on goal.

Lyndon Lloyd
083 Posted 10/07/2012 at 18:00:59
Roberto: The Fiorentina point is unfair

You're right. We were desperately unlucky not to win that game.

I was hesitant to include it but did so to round out the point of view of a neutral totting up the various episodes, as Garside was, where we have failed to win on the big occasion under Moyes to create their picture of his tenure.

On another note, I can see this thread about to go off the rails as people weigh in in response to Denis R and Dave W. Can I ask that this be nipped in the bud immediately because the level of most of the responses prior to that is a credit to this website.

Michael Kenrick
087 Posted 10/07/2012 at 18:25:19
Brian,

I just don't get the Chelsea references. Moyes's football has never won anything and it never has looked like winning anything. But that's to put all the emphasis on results. I'm a fan who first and foremost wants to watch the games... wants to watch Everton play football. The result comes after that; always has and for me, always will.

And ironically, when Everton do play football, they usually get better results than when they play embarrassing crap. Tony (#069), for me it was embarrassment at watching what we would try to do with the ball; at times it was just excruciating to watch. That's what I believe to be more pertinent for Evertonians who care about such things. Remember, as stated by Moyes himself, it was so awful at times last season, even he wouldn't have paid to watch it! Why therefore does repeating the fact trigger attempted denials?

A central point of the article was Garside's critique, which many fumed over at the time, but Lyndon now says "it's hard to argue with the basic tenets of his argument." Hmmm...

Joe McMahon
095 Posted 10/07/2012 at 18:55:04
This article is about as bang on as it gets, brilliant Lyndon.


For me the final straw was away at West Ham a couple of seasons ago. They were bottom of the table and we started with no strikers, and brought them on way too late. Argue want you want about 4 - 6 - 0 but we certainly are not Spain. I was embarrsed to be an Evertonian that day, and such awful negative tactics were shown to a live Sky audience.
Despite Moyes finishes whilst on a tiny budget, this is why Spurs et al have never made a move for the services of David Moyes and never will.

Dave Wilson
104 Posted 10/07/2012 at 19:03:30
Lyndon

I find it really bizzarre that people who regularly compare our team unfavourably to others when wanting to score a point, suddenly get irate when the shortcomings of other teams are listed and favourable comparisons are drawn.
I find it equally bizzarre that people are embarressed in front of the fans of other clubs - perhaps because, to me they are inconsequential.
I do however take your point about the thread going off the rails

Anyway, back to the article.

Nobody can say with any degree of certainty that we will be challenging for a CL place, but I fully agree with your belief that we should at least be counting ourselves in the hunt
Of course we need the stars to be correctly aligned, we do need the wind to be blowing in the right direction and we will need others to falter, but we do have a chance and no matter how slim others say it is, I expect everyone at Everton to fight all season to take it

Andy Crooks
106 Posted 10/07/2012 at 19:43:39
I agree with Lyndon that this will be a defining season for David Moyes. We finished like a good side but I accept that our squad isn't big enough to sustain it for a season. We absolutely must start well; create a feeling of optimism and confidence and open possibilities.

If, by November, there is any thought of relegation the the season will have been defined as business as usual. The problem to me is that even with huge improvement we are highly unlikely to make up the ground to achieve Champions League. Therefore we simply cannot take any sort of last chance financial gamble.

If we can get Pienaar and get in one unexpected loan, say someone like Adam Johnson who might just jump at the chance of first team football and a real challenge, then who knows what could happen. We might achieve the "intermediate salvation" that Lyndon refers to..

Declan Brown
108 Posted 10/07/2012 at 19:56:19
Great article Lyndon, loved it. Fair play to you once more.

But guys, Moyes and Kenwright are going nowhere. If Moyes keeps us up this year then the riches of the new telly deal kicks in next summer, what was some of the figures quoted, worth on average an extra £30m a year than the current deal to each club?

They're going nowhere lads, it's groundhog day for the next 3-4 years at least. What odds on the operational expenses of £27m increasing upwards without explanation? It's a pity this extra income can't be used to pay off some of the debts first.

This new deal is great for the riches offered, sadly the price we will pay will be Billy staying and not letting go of the trainset, he'll never sell up now. Which means Moyes will get another bumper contract and we'll be told 7th is like winning the champions league for a club of our means.

It's going to be more of the same lads, see you all in February 2013, can't be bothered with our extended pre-season (July to January) this year lol, only joking...about the pre-season...

Gareth Hughes
109 Posted 10/07/2012 at 20:03:30
What sort of insight does this bore-fest of an article actually provide? It just regurgitates ad nauseum the events of last season.

What I want to know is: Will Baines be sacrificed at the altar of Kenwright's ego? ... and How much will of the money will go towards much-needed new signings?

It seems like groundhog day to me: two steps forward, two steps back... the same tired, clueless faces running the club... and Moyes signing a juicy new contract to confirm his status as the chairman's bagman. The shame continues...
Joe McMahon
110 Posted 10/07/2012 at 20:08:25
It looks like Nottingham Forrest have just found a buyer (Al-Hasawi family). I wonder, just wonder if Moyes may ask Bill about this? - prob not though.
Denis Richardson
118 Posted 10/07/2012 at 20:35:57
Tony - 69, the names of the actual clubs that some of my mates support are not really relevant to be honest, (if you must know they are mostly Spurs, Chelsea, Villa and RS fans). The reason it was embarrasing is simple enough.

I like watching football in general and if Everton are not playing I will happily watch another prem game, or spanish or german game etc (I live in Germany and have a season ticket at Eintracht Frankfurt). I make exceptions though for some teams where I know that the playing style is going to be awful to watch, e.g. stoke or any team managed by Sam Alladyce. Sometimes when Everton matches are being shown live, I will persuade a few mates to come to the pub to watch the blues. When I do this and we serve up a dose of utter steaming turd for no apparently sane reason, its a little embarassing as you can imagine.

Yes all clubs have bad days in the office but we have had long periods in the past where have been utter garbage for no apparent reason. That includes playing crap against the lesser teams and even playing against them with no recognised striker, not managing a shot on target etc etc. If you can only think of one game last season where we were crap to watch, I suggest you get the DVD of virtually every one of the first 15-20 league games and review the 'highlights'.

Mark Riding
120 Posted 10/07/2012 at 21:28:50
All I want for Christmas is a Eintracht Frankfurt away kit !
Ian Bennett
125 Posted 10/07/2012 at 21:36:19
It's a good article which shames most of the crap you read in the press or bleated on the radio. Joe 95 makes a good point that at times he has made cowardly choices. Benfica was upsetting – but have another look at the side we had out against their side (clue: we had 11 injuries that night), whereas Fiorentina were absolutely battered winning on penalties following a wonderful goalkeeping performance from their number one.

Moyes's team has always lacked genuine width and pace. Part his fault in buying the players he has, and part the nature of the cloth (the quick good ones are usually in big demand). His sides have had a solid defensive shape and have at times played with a certain flair. His side up until the FA Cup Final was a good outfit but with not much depth. Shore away Arteta, Jags and Yakubu and this was cruelly exposed. Take away a defensive rock and goal-getter in Lescott and it's unsurprising that the team is suddenly going backwards, particularly when you gamble on players like Saha, or loan signings that either worked (Fernandes, Donovan) or failed (Jo, Drenthe, Straq, Gravesen).

Yes, Everton have players coming to their end, but he always has the ability to bring in cheap/free alternatives that usually work out – Naismith, Gibson etc. Some young players would do far better playing and making it with him, than sitting on the bench elsewhere.

Mark Riding
130 Posted 10/07/2012 at 22:48:00
Super stuff Lyndon.. Your last paragraph " There is a very real feeling among many Evertonians that, if they (and the banks?) can hold out for another year, what we all believed was possible two years ago — namely a geniune assault on the top four places in the Premier League — could be within reach in what is likely to be a defining season for the manager."

I think it's the most important one. I hate to say it, but if Kenwright doesn't sell more than one 'top name' and add who we all want, then this is by far the best looking squad we have had for a long time.

I therefore agree with you that it then becomes Moyes's 'defining' season. If he can't get this team performing, then he never will at the club. I know what Moyes has done, I see the stability etc. I do give him credit for this. But it's now time to see what we can do positively, none of the "get to 40 points and see what happens" / "knife to a gunfight" shite. This squad won't get relagated, and finishing 7th or 14th? — doesn't really bother me; I would rather have a go from the off and see where it takes us.

Mike Hughes
135 Posted 10/07/2012 at 23:06:22
Lyndon - what I like about your articles is the objective stance which I feel reflects the "average / median" Evertonian. No pro / anti Moyes / BK rant but a well thought out appraisal of what many of us feel.

The key word in the article for me is the word "paradox" which I think truly sums up how so many of us feel.

Yes, under the circumstances DM has done a sterling job but that conservatism really does rankle when you think of the big occasions when balls of steel were required. The Carling Cup semi against Chelsea; the FA Cup final against Chelsea; nearly all of the derby matches (bar the 3-0 thrashing at Goodison).

"Keep it together" as a title also kind of sums things up. We all wish for "Onwards and upwards" but Everton FC and "reality check" kind of go hand-in-hand.

Si Cooper
153 Posted 11/07/2012 at 00:12:17
Articulate and comprehensive article but with both sides of 'the divide' claiming it for themselves it doesn't deliver a resolution (not that anyone could in the circumstances - we will only know once DM or BK (or both) have moved on and we get better or worse!).

I am surprised that people are claiming the club (by which I think they mean team) is better than last year. Even if they mean things look better than they did in July 2011, there are a lot of things that need to go our way before the season starts for me to even think of counting my chickens in that regard. I admire the optimism but I am currently on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster given our recent history in the transfer market.

Have to side with the people who think you can be embarassed by your own team's performance. You have to be incredibly thick-skinned not to be when your team flukes a win over a team that played better on the day or when they are totally out-played / out-classed and get exactly what they deserve. Doesn't mean you aren't still grateful for our luck or that you are any less loyal, just means you want your team to show they are as good as you would wish them to be on every available occasion.

Don't people feel embarassed when they have to cobble together a sub-standard piece of work because there isn't the necessary resource (time / materials) to do it properly? There is a reasonable justification but people still won't be proud of that piece of work. To me it is the people who don't feel embarassed who are the ones who are lacking.

If it is a case of admitting that your team have flaws, then surely it is when you are with your mates that it is most acceptable to do so. You won't have mates for long if you can't show rationality or humility when the occasion demands it. We often slag off other sets of fans for their deluded attitudes in the face of evidence that contradicts what they would like to believe.
Jason Lam
157 Posted 11/07/2012 at 02:30:53
Thanks again, Lyndon, for taking the time to write another brilliant read. I'm one of those 'supporters' who will never forgive the 3-0 surrender at Anfield and I notice you conveniently sidestepped the semi-final.. probably for the best; it should never be mentioned ever again.

I read another article recently which ironically sums up all fans' mentality everywhere: if we can just hold on to our best players, we are but a few new signings here and there from cracking the league.

I'm afraid it just doesn't work that way. The Mancs, Chelsea and Arsenal will be playing Champions League football come 2013-14. Unless we overhaul the entire infrastructure and investment with an Arab.

Which is way, sad in all ways, the battles against the RS are so important to Evertonians.

Eric Myles
161 Posted 11/07/2012 at 03:12:11
Si "You have to be incredibly thick-skinned not to be when your team flukes a win over a team that played better on the day or when they are totally out-played / out-classed and get exactly what they deserve." or just bloody arrogant like the RS supporters who will claim they are being vistimised.
Kase Chow
176 Posted 11/07/2012 at 08:58:56
I genuinely can't understand the optimism that we can challenge for 4th spot?????

What am I missing?

Are ppl expecting Jelavic to stay fit ALL season and to maintain his ridiculous scoring record?

Are ppl expecting us to find the money to sign Pienaar and for him to maintain his form throughout?

That we WON'T sell either Fellaini and/or Bains? Even IF we keep them both, what happens if Bains misses 8 games through injury? Yes Distin did a job there but he wasn't Bains.

Players WILL get injured. Players WILL lose form. FACT.

We won't be 'unlucky', we'll be a normal team with normal luck.

We don't have the squad size to finish 4th, we don't have the mentality to finish 4th, we don't have the luck required to finish 4th..........WE WON'T FINISH 4TH!!!!!!

Sorry to shatter dreams on here - I feel like I'm telling my kid that Santa doesn't exist but let's get real chaps. A good cup run and finishing 6th-8th is about all we can hope for

Stephen Kenny
194 Posted 11/07/2012 at 10:33:59
Lyndon,

I didn't really agree with a fair amount of the article as I felt it was an attempt to placate both sides of the Moyes debate while skirting over some major issues that have held the club back.

It's not only the performance of the team certain fans have issue with in regard to Moyes.

His unwavering support for a fraud chairman to the point he attacked some of his own clubs fans, his belittling comments about how we shouldn't ever expect to beat them at their ground, or indeed any side that may spend more and his baffling stance toward the media are all relevant issues that will have as big an effect this season as last.

I chose not to comment as it seemed to be going along the lines of a back slapping thread of little substance until Dave again tried his revisionist nonsense that seems to appear anytime anybody suggests Moyes may not be all he's cracked up to be.

The real credit to this site is that a real debate isn't missed in the interests of politeness, not that we all spend our time agreeing with each other.

Kevin Gillen
196 Posted 11/07/2012 at 10:43:17
Great article with a real honest appraisal. I am again hopeful for the new season. I think we have a good chance of finishing anywhere between 3rd and 8th and will be surprised if we finish out of those positions. We have a settled playing staff and we have a far better playing style than nearly all the teams below us. I watched the football team of last year Swansea get played off the park by us at their ground and some of our football at the end of the year was fabulous, especially the Pienaar/Baines combination with Fellaini up front.

We need to get a good start, put away some of the promoted teams home and away and continue our solidity and improvement. Spurs, Villa, Liverpool are all under new management and they have enormous problems with their playing staff, Spurs excepted perhaps.The Terry affair at Chelsea, the Van Persie affair at Arsenal will weaken them. United are not going to enjoy being challenged by City on and off the pitch. City also have Tevez and Mancini to contend with. The board need a viable plan for a new or improved stadium, the new TV deal will take care of the debt.
Tony J Williams
200 Posted 11/07/2012 at 11:15:16
I just don't get how someone can be embarrassed for something that they have absolutely no control over.

All friends rip each other about their respective teams, but embarrassment? Never (Even the 7-0 drubbing was wiped aside with the fact we had just got into the Champion's League qualifiers and the pints didn't taste any less good that night)

Why would I feel embarrassment because my mate chose to support the Devil's Spawn than the Royal Blue?

Back to the thread, 4th? Not a chance!

Sam Hoare
208 Posted 11/07/2012 at 12:09:53
Personally I think 4th is beyond us when you look at the strengthening at the likes of arsenal and tottenham. I also struggle to understand how exactly Rathbone et al expect us to continue to compete with or without moyes against clubs who can continually buy better players than us....
David Chait
212 Posted 11/07/2012 at 11:35:48
Reading it again, one thing that does not worry me in the slightest is the replacing of the old guard. Oddly Hibbert might be the most challenging to replace, as I don't think anyone is 100% sure Coleman can step up. But Cahill,Neville, Distin... No problem.

Jags and Johnny is my number 1 partnership anyway and Duffy proved he can substitute if necessary. Neville gives more off the field than on it and isn't a regular anyway. Cahill.. We've already replaced with Naismith and have thr unproven Barkley in the wings. There comes a time when the old guys can become a bottleneck to growth, which is the case for us now!

Chad Schofield
228 Posted 11/07/2012 at 12:33:07
Well laid out artice Lyndon.

I think that this will be a pivotal season (although it feels likethat more often than not), because if Moyes doesn't acheive something special (silverwear or CL) I think he'll go.

This doesn't sadden me, but the points about his ability must jibe as he is undoubtedly a highly ambitious individual. Kase, you suggest that he should be "more arrogant"... while I hope that last season has taught him that he shouldn't be. Football's not rocket science, but it follows basic laws - e.g. if you have no supply to you striker(s) they can't score, especially if they're expected to be defending their own D or if they're not even strkers.

Dumping players (that outside of your favourites) the second they make a mistake is not condusive to adventurous football. Likewise shouting "move forward" from the sidelines when you've drilled in dour, play-it-safe football (and demonstrated that should one try anything else and it not work out that they'll spend the forseeable future on the bench) incredibly doesn't work.

I hope that his seasons we get off to a good start. I hope that when we are hit with injuries Moyes provides balance rather than attempts to accommodate certain players. I hope that he offers younger players a chance, for longer the 5-10 minutes before consigning them to the reseves for the remainder of the season. I hope that he makes appropriate substitutions without waiting an additional 5-15 minutes just to see that it's tactically clearly still not working or that an individual is struggling. I hope that he has beleif in the players when we enter games that we really should be winning, rather than lining us up as though we're facing Barcelona at The Nou Camp rather than Southampton at home. Finally I hope he'snot forced to sell and if we do sell he is giving enough time and money to fill and hopefully improve gaps.

Yeah, I know... I'm a dreamer.

Derek Thomas
229 Posted 11/07/2012 at 12:49:27
Pretty fair comment, Lyndon; we could, on balance, get 4th, but I won't hold my breath... roll on the season (not this silly season, I'm totally over it) start.
Denis Richardson
232 Posted 11/07/2012 at 13:03:34
Tony - am not sure if/how I can say it more clearly but I'll try.

If I ask some mates to make their way to join me to watch some football on the box and this 'entertainment' ends up being anything but, with people scratching their heads with a 'why the hell did I bother for that?' look on their face, then its a bit embarrassing when you support the team that caused this.

I'm proud to be a blue but but get embarrased when when we offer up shite for no good reason. E.g. manu fans would undoubtadly have been embarrased when they got thrashed by Man City. (For them though that at least was only one game, for Everton we had almost half a season!)

If the above does not make sense, well I tried and we'll simply agree to disagree.

Tony J Williams
241 Posted 11/07/2012 at 13:32:46
Denis, look at this way. You have asked your mates to join you for a pint and watch footy in the process. Your team loses and it's a crap game, so what. Why feel embarrassed? You are in a pub having a bevy with your mates who will rip you about the score......you will then rip them back with an equally crap game you watched their team play.

I know you have explained it, but embarrassment is not a feeling I wound have if we had to sit through a crap game. I am in the pub with my mates enjoying the company and the ale, not felling embarrassed because we got beet and they happen to support teams who have been camped in the top 4 for decades.

ps, Villa? and YOU feel embarrassed? Strewth!

Richard Tarleton
245 Posted 11/07/2012 at 14:05:05
Top Four? You're 'aving a larf! If we're lucky we'll get seventh or eighth, a semi-final in a cup competition, but there are so many older players, I think we'll be mid-table and mediocre.
Incidentally while Bill is still working 24/7 to find a buyer, Notts Forest and Watford each have managed to find one. Poor Bill, all that hard work and unlucky again.
Jimmy Kelly
252 Posted 11/07/2012 at 14:27:21
I'm with Tony here, I just don't see how you can be embarrassed watching a game on the TV.

I can see how you might get the mickey taken a bit after a bad performance, but if that really causes you feelings of genuine embarrassment it's a bit worrying - you only support the club not play for them. As Tony said, it's especially unnecessary if they support a side like Villa!

My experience of watching Everton with others is pretty much the polar opposite, with most people saying how well we're doing and how we can be proud of the club - to the point of being patronising.

Paul David
258 Posted 11/07/2012 at 15:53:11
I don't understand how you can't feel embarrassment because "you only support the club not play for them"? If that's the case then you can't feel pride or enjoyment when we win either.

I've been embarressed or angered by plent of Everton performances — and occasionally disgusted.

James Flynn
276 Posted 11/07/2012 at 16:54:11
Kase (176) - "Sorry to shatter dreams on here". No need to apologize Nostro. Nothing you posted shattered anything for this dreamer. We finished great, 3-6 are up for grabs this season, and EFC is in the hunt. Oh, and "I feel like I'm telling my kid that Santa doesn't exist"? You can fold that bit of condescension up real small and tuck it.
Mike Green
284 Posted 11/07/2012 at 18:39:40
Fantastic bit of writing that Lyndon, a proper feet up and enjoy read - brilliant.

I think we can definitely get somewhere between 4th and 6th, just need to get our shit together, keep it together and go for it.

COYB!

Mike Powell
298 Posted 11/07/2012 at 19:24:37
We are not worse off with players; we had a lot of injuries last season.

With likes of Rodwell fit and raring to go and Barkley in the wings, Naismith signed and Jelavic in from the start, we are in a much better position. I think fourth place is a realistic target. Watch this space.
Edward Boyd
301 Posted 11/07/2012 at 20:00:48
You certainly can be embarrassed watching Everton in a pub... First home game of the season, out on a stag night, I was in Flannegans:

Everton 0 Arsenal 6.

I did not enjoy a drink all night. But I still love the Blues.
James Flynn
349 Posted 12/07/2012 at 01:01:04
Tony J - "Back to the thread, 4th? Not a chance! "

3rd it is then. I like the way you think.

Amit Vithlani
413 Posted 12/07/2012 at 11:37:39
Great read, balanced article.

On the subject of us finishing 4th:

- No decent wingers / wide players as yet
- No decent right back
- No decent cover at left back
- One excellent central midfielder (Felli), two good ones (Gibson, Ossie). Is that enough?
- One quality striker (Jela), one unknown (Naismith).

If we sign Pienaar and keep Baines and Felli, we have largely the same squad as last year + Naismith, so 6th is a good target. To finish 4th, we need someone wide right like Donovan for a full season, a better right back and a more established striker than either Vic or Vellios to come into the side in case Jela is not fit or off form.

Noel Early
427 Posted 17/07/2012 at 14:55:59
We would need a massive amount of luck to finish fourth, no injuries for starters and a few more signings, A right winger is a must; we can't get away with playing Ossie and Hibbert out on the right flank, every team at this stage knows that, if they stop the Baines and Pienaar combo, then they have won half the battle.

One of the main talking points for me this off season is Tim Cahill: what do we do with him? In my opinion, his legs have totally gone and his refusal to retire from the Aussie national team means that he doesn't get the required rest needed when we have international breaks. I think the days of him playing behind the main striker should be over and he isn't mobile enough to play central midfield. Even though it's hard to say it because he has been such a legend, I hope he buggers off to China and Moyes can use these funds to get two young players in, like Matty Philips or Luc Castaignos.

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