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Everton show benefits of Barcelona system


Kevin Garside salutes Moyes renaissance

The change in Everton's playing style this year has drawn praise from Kevin Garside of The Independent, who now likens the new system to Barcelona! Back in June, Garside pondered why David Moyes had not been considered for any of the top management jobs then on offer. Most among the "Everton priesthood", as he calls them, were outraged at what they perceived to be a cheap shot at Moyes. "The players haven't necessarily improved. The system has," says Garside.
Credit where it is due. In high summer, with football in recess but a number of key managerial posts available, I questioned in my Independent column why David Moyes was not in the running for any of them. Andre Villas Boas appeared destined for Tottenham, Paul Lambert for Aston Villa and the Liverpool job came down to a toss-up between Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez.

The majority of the citizens of Goodison Park took offence at the idea that Moyes could ever have crossed Stanley Park and ridiculed the idea that Villa were a ‘bigger' club than Everton, and therefore he would not want to go. Who has the prettiest wife at home did not to me seem the point. What interested me was the lack of feet beating a path to Moyes' door.

I argued that the problem for Moyes was the lack of an identity associated with the way his team played. He was applauded for his brilliant husbandry on limited resources and his ability to spot a player, but not for an identifiable style of play. Predecessor Joe Royle left him with the ‘dogs of war' tag, which he seemed happy to embrace.

Moyes is an engaging character but not effusive. Some might describe his public persona as worthy at best, dour at worst. I referenced a couple of showpiece occasions that I covered, which I thought were instructive. The 2009 FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and final against Chelsea. Everton laboured against an unfamiliar United line-up, playing to a route one template that was negative. It was the same story against Chelsea even after scoring in the first minute through Louis Saha.

Most among the Everton priesthood were outraged at what they perceived to be a cheap shot at Moyes. They said I obviously hadn't been watching in the past 18 months. Well I am paying attention now. In my defence Moyes said himself that he wouldn't have paid to see many of his team's matches last season. He would now, though. He is enjoying the spectacle. And so am I.

Moyes has ditched the long-ball strategy absolutely. It was always a negative ploy borne of the idea that his players were not equipped to play productively in a more technical style. I always felt this a flawed argument. Any player who makes it into the Premier League has acquired all the technique he will ever need. The rest is about tactics, attitude, industry and belief.

I have yet to see Xavi dribble down the wing, cut inside and smash one in from 30 yards. Not all great players have to play like Leo Messi. Moyes has Everton organised in a completely different way that puts a premium on possession and invites the players to take responsibility for the ball and when not in possession to work like Trojans to retrieve it. This is essentially the Barcelona model in which Xavi et al thrive.

Marouane Fellaini looks a world beater in this system, when he is asked to play the ball on the deck not bring it out of the sky. At the back Phil Jagielka looks twice as good in blue as he does in an England shirt. Across the park Everton are playing intelligent expansive football and reaping the rewards. The players haven't necessarily improved. The system has. Next time a plum job becomes available, Moyes might have to lock himself in to keep the suitor at bay.

Quotes or other material sourced from

Reader Comments

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Paul David
500 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:05:24
Here here
Paul Kelly
501 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:11:48
The boys will be breaking their arms patting themselves on the back if they read this article.
Sam Hoare
502 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:15:50
Cue depressing home loss to Southampton and reversion to hoofball...
James Flynn
503 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:17:20
What an astute fellow this Garside. Shocked all the clubs aren't after him to manage. Just kick it on the ground instead of thru the air. Like Barcelona!

Who knew?

Viv Sharma
506 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:26:01
Sam, laughed out loud (and no, not LOLed).
Cheers :)
However, it makes me think, actually, for the first time I really am not looking at the game and thinking its one we CAN win, but same old same old, we probably won't.

It's a great feeling to genuinely feel positive about us!

Viv Sharma
507 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:28:49
just read that back and my last post couldn't have been more ambiguous!
I mean for the first time in a long time I genuinely am expecting great things
Rich Lyons
511 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:24:01
Very flattering no doubt, but somewhat premature. Our next four games are Southampton, Wigan, QPR and then RS at home. Barcelona would easily get 12 points from those games... Will we? I think we could, but then I was sure we'd beat WBA as well.
Danny Kewley
513 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:17:07
Fucking hell Sam lad I hope not ! As far as i'm concerned we will give Southampton no reason to be cheerful ;...... Part One!
Mike Powell
515 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:32:49
Dont let all the Moyes out brigade read this, they wont be able to sleep tonight. Everton playing like Barcelona? — heaven forbid, not a Dave Moyes side...

I've got to admit though our first-choice eleven is a match for anyone on the day; the back-up players are not that good though — just look at the Leeds game: it proves that Coleman, Junior, Gueye (just to name a few) are not good enough.
Barry Rathbone
518 Posted 27/09/2012 at 16:45:12
This Garside fella had better be right.

That arsing round with team selection against Leeds resulting in the usual lower league cup dismissal was straight out the "Moyes of old" playbook.

Nice game against the divisions whipping boys, Southampton, required to prove it was a temporary fall off the wagon.

The usual lethargy of the past in these circumstances can fuck right off.

Ryan Holroyd
521 Posted 27/09/2012 at 17:11:53
A shit article IMO

"Predecessor Joe Royle left him with the ‘dogs of war' tag, which he seemed happy to embrace."

Big Joe wasn't manager before Moyes came.

'The players haven't improved.'

Course they have. Instead of Saha, Cahill, Rodwell. We now have Jelavic, Mirallas and Gibson. Plus Pienaar is back'

Phil Bellis
525 Posted 27/09/2012 at 17:27:22
I think this journo chap is merely paraphrasing what many of us "whingers" on here have whinging about, summarised in "The players haven't necessarily improved. The system has"

Moysey appears to have let the players off the leash and there are partnerships developing all over the pitch

Now, Davey, a word on corners: about this sticking a forward on the half-way.....

Christopher Kelly
527 Posted 27/09/2012 at 17:43:55
Well Sam, I LOL'ed!

I was worried after WBA but was pleasantly surprised going forwards.Hopefully we'll all be relieved when we get back to business with our starters.

As a general rule however, I HATE being compared to Barcelona (even in the slightest)...It cannot help the team - especially one that hasn't won a damn thing in what feels like forever.

Keep it simple. Keep it on the deck! (A few years ago we tried this and it worked, why we changed to hoof I'll never know)

Peter Thistle
537 Posted 27/09/2012 at 18:30:15
Guess he didn't watch the game against Leeds, it was pure hoofball. Booting it long hitting n hoping. The classy football comes when Baines n Pienaar get involved, without them we revert to last season's rubbish.
Phil Sammon
538 Posted 27/09/2012 at 18:20:53
What an uninformed, unintelligent and all round unimaginative article.

This guy doesn't watch us play week in week out and doesn't know anything about our club.

Are we playing better football than this time last year? Yes, a blind man could see that. We pass it around nicely when we want and have played very nicely since January, give or take. However Fellaini is still pulling balls out of orbit. The only difference on that front is that he now uses his chest and holds it up, rather than nodding it on to nobody.

We're not a route one team, but to say Fellaini 'looks a world beater' now that we're not hitting balls to his head is nonsense. He's good on the deck, but if he ever looks a 'world beater' it's when the ball is airborne.

Also, 'the players haven't changed'??? Haven't they?! Gibson and Jelavić have changed us massively. Gibson in particular I feel.

So, yeah, keep your praise mate. We don't need it from the uneducated.

Ian Edwards
544 Posted 27/09/2012 at 18:56:28
When I finished reading this I had to check the date to make sure it wasn't 1st April. Let's see if as usual Moyes Barcelona poohs its pants when it faces its local rival Espanyol from across the park in october.
Matt Traynor
546 Posted 27/09/2012 at 19:02:59
Ryan #521, I noticed that too. I mean, I know some of us Blues try to erase the memory of Walter, and those "disappointing" 0-0 draws and 0-1 defeats, but that's taking the biscuit.

As others have pointed out, we've all been down this road of "has he finally got them playing the way we (some of us anyway) want?" before. The answer is always the next game or two away.


Kevin Tully
547 Posted 27/09/2012 at 19:02:30
Don't quite follow that Phil, Gibson ? A journeyman player if ever there was one.

Phil B nails it - he has been hurt by his critics, has not been offered anything better, and has decided to finally let the players express themselves.

We had Arteta in midfield FFS, twice the player Gibson is. Yak was as good as Jelavic and Saha just used to watch balls fired in at 80 M.P.H. six foot off the deck !

It may be Moyes's last season and he has got one eye on the Man U job if you ask me.

Andy Crooks
552 Posted 27/09/2012 at 19:15:21
Mike Powell, I think it is a bit too soon to write off our young players;certainly not after one game on an appalling night against a committed physical team. Coleman was poor but how many games has he played at right back for Everton? Duffy has looked good in the first team when he's had a chance.

To me it seems sensible to bring one young player in and let him find his feet beside experienced quality players. With hindsight too many changes were made against Leeds. We are out of the competition , and the confidence of some players will have been dented.

Whatever way the team is set out players will have bad games and sometimes just won't be up for it. Unfortunate but true.

Ian Bennett
560 Posted 27/09/2012 at 19:52:15
Shit article, talk about generalising crap When did we play bloody long ball? For all the time we had Arteta, we haven't played long ball. In fact I'd say we have been guilty of over playing it and lacking a cutting edge.

Further, we don't play the ball on the deck to Fellaini either. How the hell does he use his chest on the deck.

We have turned it around by getting rid of the deadwood and bringing in some new stock, end of.

Denis Richardson
564 Posted 27/09/2012 at 19:55:23
To think I agreed with this guy's earlier article, then he comes out with this bollocks!

As already mentioned, there is a massive difference in the 1st team today compared to 12 months ago. Swap Cahill, Saha, Rodwell for Jalavic, Mirralas and Gibson and we would be shit again, not to mention super sub Billy. About 1/3 of our first team has completely changed ffs!

We've also only played 5 league games and this guy obviously didn't watch the Leeds debacle. Truly lazy journalism - am made up with our start to the league but this guy should seriously consider a career change if he's going to compare us to Barcelona! Twat.

Colin Wainwright
579 Posted 27/09/2012 at 21:23:39
Typical uninformed, London-centric, journo shite. By his own admission, he's only watched two (showpiece) games.


Graeme Jenkinson
580 Posted 27/09/2012 at 20:02:32
The Leeds defeat was a blip; Moyes didn't pay Leeds enough respect with his team selection.

Having said that, Leeds definitly rode their luck with some blatant penalty decisions not given our way in the closing stages. Fair play to them though, they deserved to win I thought.

Still, Mickey Mouse competition and a distraction anyway... a solid performance at home on Saturday and I'll be more than happy. We're playing some good football at the moment so let's enjoy. Just please let's not mention Barcelona, they're a different level and we should all know that. We will stuff Saints though... and it's about time we beat the RS for a change.
Anthony Lamb
581 Posted 27/09/2012 at 20:59:28
What a perfect example of the current appalling level of journalism (with one or two notable exceptions). Comparing anything about the current situation at Everton with Barcelona is beyond laughable. So Everton have played five games this season and had a good finish to the latter half of last season and yes, this season there have been signs of a much more entertaining style of play but remember the opposition so far this season.

Sure, there was a totally focussed approach to the Utd game and a very fine team display with Fellaini particularly outstanding. But you could not ask for two teams who you would wish more to play against when you are trying to develop and play attractive football than Villa and Swansea who are having major problems adjusting to completely changed scenarios in terms of managers and playing personnel and who are by no means settled teams etc and if memory serves me correctly they each played for significant periods of the game with a man less?

A completely changed second string Liverpool team, able to introduce a 16-year-old, went and beat WBA this week; brilliantly though the Blues played in the first half against Newcastle, they were not able to put the game "to bed" during that scintillating first half — of course had decisions gone Everton's way they would have won the match but the first half display demanded/deserved a more significant, unassailable lead.

"Every player who makes it to the Premier League has acquired all the technique he will ever need" ???? Is this man for real??? e.g I admire Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert immensely for their "character" but these guys have been in the top division all their careers without mastering some of the basics together with many others we would be all night naming!

His "world-beater" Fellaini seems almost incapable of mastering the art of tackling effectively, cleanly, or consistently and, for all Pienaar's tight technical skills, he seems no nearer to mastering the art of consistently hitting "the barn door" than he ever has. Why on earth does this guy see Everton's harrying of opponents as taking them into the realms of Barcelona? Stoke do that!!!
No it is lazy, opportunistic journalism. Everton have done very well so far and like many others I am pleased with that but I am also pleased that we did not have the start, for instance, that Liverpool have had.

I think most people will keep their feet on the ground, enjoy the newly-found creative approach that we have seen so far and hope that debacles such as the Leeds fiasco does not derail the progress at this early stage. How journalists such as this get away with it is beyond me.
Brendan McLaughlin
582 Posted 27/09/2012 at 21:24:19
This guy was hailed as some sort of footballing oracle shining a light on the true nature of David Moyes tenure at Everton after his first article. Now he has the temerity to admit that perhaps Moyes really does have something about him....he's just a typical lazy hack after all!
Ciarán McGlone
584 Posted 27/09/2012 at 21:55:20
First Iniesta and Osman... And now this.


Peter Jones
587 Posted 27/09/2012 at 22:13:01
New rule: Stop comparing ANY team to Barcelona. Swansea? Now us? C'mon. It's disrespectful to the brilliance that they create with such remarkable consistency. I'm a believer in this team and it's ambition to finish top 4. It is an attainable goal given our form for the last 9 months and we are a great team in our own right. But I wholeheartedly agree with everyone else here that this is purely laziness.
Paul Andrews
588 Posted 27/09/2012 at 22:25:34
I have in the past been a critic of the managers negative,dour safety first football.
Credit where it is due,the manager has definitely got them playing more attacking progressive football.
Quick passing,plenty of movement off the ball to give the man in possession several options.We are also getting more men in the box in open play.
Jamie Sweet
594 Posted 27/09/2012 at 23:14:47
While the article in general is lazy and il-informed, the premise that Moyes has now got us playing a far more attractive brand of football is absolutely true.

Barcelona we are not, but bloody good to watch these days, we most certainly are, and long may it continue- starting this weekend. Let's put the Leeds debacle well and truly behind us. COYB!

Danny Broderick
598 Posted 27/09/2012 at 23:52:34
We are more like Real Madrid. We play nice stuff when we can,but I bet you when we play away from home against some decent opposition, we will park the bus aka Real Madrid against Barcelona.
Amit Vithlani
609 Posted 28/09/2012 at 08:05:24
This is muppetry of the very highest order. Aside from the idiotic Joe Royle remark (Kendall and Smith came after), the "prettiest wife" comment displays a degree of arrogance towards the blues. It does matter which club came calling. Moyes cross the divide to Liverpool? Are you serious? And the Lambert to Villa comparison, err, no.
Derek Thomas
610 Posted 28/09/2012 at 08:08:29
Patronising twat, we were playing like Barcelona before tiki taka, only it was called School of Science, just not recently. By-the-numbers column filler – tomorrow's fish & chip wrapping.
Chris Davies
612 Posted 28/09/2012 at 08:35:33
Anthony 581,
I'm amazed you managed to get Liverpool into your post twice, on two different points when the OP is nothing to do with them.
Do you want to have 2 points from 5 games and be in the League Cup?

Let the Leeds bullshit go, and let the RS go. We're better than them. Compare us to Arsenal, United, even Spurs or the Skunks.. But not the scum please.

Phil Bellis
618 Posted 28/09/2012 at 09:28:26
Perhaps Anthony (581) is angling for a transfer?
Dave White
629 Posted 28/09/2012 at 10:30:57
I think Leeds just underlined how paper thin our squad is. When we're full strength we're good enough to beat anyone in this league, we didn't just nick a win against Utd, we beat them comfortably.

Trouble is a few injuries and those are the players we'll be forced to use. Hopefully it was just a collective bad day at the office, but it was enough to plant my feet firmly back on the ground. Hopefully they'll be lifted off again by spanking the Saints tomorrow!

Mark Scarratt
634 Posted 28/09/2012 at 11:22:30
In the last 6-7 years
Barcelona have won the Champions League in 2006, 2009 and 2011, and been in the semi-finals every other year
They have won the Spanish League every year recently apart from last season
The Spain squad is virtually Barcelona without Messi
Spain won the Euros in 2008 and 2012 and The World Cup in 2010.

Would any of our side get in the Barcelona team, maybe Baines at a push instead of Jordi Alba at left back

Nice compliment to be compared to Barcelona, but think we have a long long way to go yet

Philip Quilliam
642 Posted 28/09/2012 at 11:51:25
We do compare very favourably to Barcelona financially. We are not in negative equity, our debt is not spiralling out of control, we aren't £100s millions in debt.
Anthony Lamb
650 Posted 28/09/2012 at 11:47:56
Chris, the reason I mentioned Liverpool was that when we are assessing progress etc, one of the elements that you do have to take into account is the quality of the opposition in trying to make a realistic judgement. I was simply trying to counter the article's ludicrous attempt to reference an aspect of Everton"s situation to that of Barcelona.

The reason I mention Liverpool is that just as we have to be realistic about Everton's progress (great though it is to see) we must take into account the quality of the opposition etc. Thus I mention Liverpool because it would be just as ludicrous to say that they are "relegation fodder" (wishful thinking!) simply on the evidence of their first group of matches because it has been a particularly challenging initial fixture list – much more so than our own, indeed perhaps more challenging than any of the teams you mention?

The Leeds "bullshit" to which you refer was simply a reference to the fact that in my opinion it was a disgracefully poor performance; however, you address it and the fact that for all our progress we are not in any position yet it seems to play "half a full team" and get a result.

I simply mentioned Liverpool in this instance because it seems they can, and did, much as it grieves me to say so! Phil (618), after supporting Everton for some 58 years (1st game v Oldham in the 1953 promotion clincher) I think I will abide by the terms of the original contract – I signed on for life!!

Anyway thanks for the responses boys.
Tony J Williams
652 Posted 28/09/2012 at 12:22:10
No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get Richard Dodd as an anagram of Kevin Garside.

However, it fun to see the MOB have their 'foam at the mouth' moment because of how over the top this article is, I would wager that if he was criticising Moyes, a fair few of them would have congratulated Kevin on a fair and reasonable article.

I like Danny's example. If we play the way Mureen sets his teams out, I would be a happy chappy.

Alan Clarke
773 Posted 29/09/2012 at 06:24:23
Moyes hasn't been taken by a 'bigger' club because he hasn't won anything and has bottled it in the big games when we had a chance of winning something. It's nothing to do with not having an identifiable brand of football.

I'll still be amazed if Moyes ever goes to Man U. Regardless of whether he now has his team playing it on the deck more, unlike us, their fans won't accept a manager who lacks a killer instinct especially in the big games.

Liam Reilly
784 Posted 29/09/2012 at 08:27:56
Dunno why there's negativity to this article. He's not saying the teams are on a par, he saying they are playing with similar styles. There's a big difference.

We need more journalists and pundits to agree with this guy, as that equals more TV time and more cash.

Eugene Ruane
848 Posted 29/09/2012 at 12:45:19
Agree Liam (784).

This paragraph (below) I couldn't agree with more.

"..It was always a negative ploy borne of the idea that his players were not equipped to play productively in a more technical style. I always felt this a flawed argument. Any player who makes it into the Premier League has acquired all the technique he will ever need. The rest is about tactics, attitude, industry and belief".

Martin Mason
849 Posted 29/09/2012 at 13:13:06
Eugene, I hope you're not trying to say that all players in the Premiership are equal in technical ability and all capable of playing at the same level of ability with the right directing?
Eugene Ruane
850 Posted 29/09/2012 at 13:17:18
Er..yes Martin, that is EXACTLY what I was saying.

You caught me out, nailed me to the wall, what can I say, I've been rumbled.

James Martin
851 Posted 29/09/2012 at 13:18:37
We have some good playmakers in our team who allow everyone else time and space on the ball: Pienaar, Baines Osman and perhaps Mirallas or Naismith in the future have the ability to take the ball under pressure and either dribble past players or play others into space. All the other players are simply ushered into space by these players and therefore made to look as though they are a part of flowing team performances.

If you take them all out the team (Leeds) then you end up back at hoofball because no-one can get any time on the ball. If you pack your team from 1-11 with them then you end up like Spain who can play pretty much however they want.

Since Arteta left, Moyes hasn't had any good midfield playmakers (with Osman cruelly sacrificed outwide), therefore the football was dour for 18 months. Now that he's borught them back into the team, suddenly Hibbert looks like an attacking rightback and even Neville is able to play in midfield. It wasn't just Moyes saying to Baines, 'Here our Leighton — just bash it down the line whenever you get it," to suddenly one day saying "Why don't you perform like the league's best left back and play one-twos with Stephen?"

If Baines looks up and sees Bily or Gueye motionless, standing behind their marker, not offering anything, then he's going to just go down the line or back to the centreback. If he sees Pienaar making runs inside and out, wanting the ball, then he's going to play it on the deck.

Similarly, Osman shows for the ball to both the centrebacks and the flanks, he always offers an option. Fellaini and Junior didn't show for anything the other night, that's why the ball kept going long. Better players equals better football, Moyes hasn't suddenly just flicked a switch in his brain to get us playing well, he just bought some good players in.
Ken Crowther
853 Posted 29/09/2012 at 14:07:15
Anthony Lamb #650.

What a coincidence!

Oldham Athletic v Everton was my first match too.

It was a Wednesday night (I think - certainly mid-week), we won 4 - 0; and if we'd won 6 - 0 I think we'd have been Champions.

Another coincidence...

My match was in 1954.

Are you sure that you were there, or do your reading glasses not match your Football Annual?

Aidan Wade
097 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:21:11
The team this year is a mile better than same last year. Getting Pienaar back, Gibson, Jelly and Mirallas in, that's 40% of the first team significantly upgraded (from Bily, Saha/Straq, Drenthe).

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