The Sweet Smell of Simplicity - for starters

Paul Tran 08/12/2019 16comments  |  Jump to last

Sometimes being far away from Liverpool is a blessing. You're not surrounded by 'them' for a start and you're a bit detatched from the hysteria. So last week I didn't think we were getting relegated, didn't think we were getting Moyes or Hughes. This morning, I don't think Ferguson will be our managerial saviour.

There was one valuable lesson from yesterday's victory over Chelsea: the importance of simplicity.

Football, like life itself, is essentially quite simple. You do the basics consistently well, you get along fine. Add to that your skills and strengths, you do better. Put some fine-tuned detail on top of that, better still. It has to be in that order, so what you do has foundations to build on.


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The past 18 months has seen lots of small details that may have worked had the players done the basics of working their socks off, passing and moving, etc. Too often, things were done far too slowly, players were left isolated, opponents were given time to re-group and space to play. As a result of a lack of basics, we didn't get the benefits of the previous managers' hard work and attention to detail.

I expected a reaction yesterday's v. I mentioned on the Live Forum that my initial reaction to the team was disappointment, then the thought that he may have said to the underachieving senior players, "You got us in this mess, you get us out of it."

I like energy and purpose in a football team. It stops the opponent gaining momentum, it provides space for the skillful players to shine, and it causes the opponent to make mistakes. The coaches of the current champions and league leaders are rightly lauded for their attention to detail, but look at the energy and purpose coursing through the veins of their teams. That gives them the platform to do the intricate work. It should be a pre-requisite for any incoming Everton coach.

It wasn't always pretty yesterday. In fact, it was often an incoherent mess. But it was the best way to play against a team whose weakness was in defence. It made them make mistakes. It made them over-think and over-elaborate when they had chances (sound familiar?). Once you have that energy and purpose, you can refine it. Now that we have it, let's keep it, let's put some craft on the graft. Again, it has to be in that order.

Yesterday did plenty. It put a smile on our faces. It put us in the media for positive reasons. It showed that these players can play with passion and energy. It showed that, when you work with purpose, you often make your own luck. Best of all, I think it proved that we don't need Moyes as a caretaker. We've got one, until we find the right man.

It would be easy to say, after one match, give it to Dunc, we don't need a 'Fancy Dan Foreigner'. Let's see them go a goal down first. Whoever we get has to keep that purpose and energy that the crowd and players enjoyed yesterday. They must also add the thought and flexibility that we need to get where we want to be. It has to be in that order.

No doubt Silva looked on ruefully yesterday. Watching his team play incoherent, harem scarem football, getting all the luck he didn't get, playing with energy and purpose that came from nowhere.

A car might have excellent emission, fuel consumption, road holding and acceleration stats, but it always goes better when the handbrake is off and you just drive it. We saw that yesterday. I hope the next manager gets it.

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Reader Comments (16)

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Paul Tran
1 Posted 08/12/2019 at 16:04:43
One thing I'll add is that, after 18 months of largely moribund stuff, Moshiri will have seen how the crowd responds to fast, purposeful football. Hopefully he'll bear that in mind regarding the next man.
Derek Knox
2 Posted 08/12/2019 at 16:09:59
Good synopsis there Paul T, and one that echoed my feelings pretty accurately too. I, like many others judging from the immediate pre-match team announcement was somewhat underwhelmed. Many on the Live Forum were in agreement.

Hey ho, cometh the kick-off we witnessed some sort of miraculous transformation, not that they were suddenly playing like Brazil or Barca, but with a determination heretofore had rarely been seen and maintained.

We will have to wait till next week which will be an equally daunting task, as United who had struggled earlier on, seem to be hitting a decent run. It is up to Dunc to get the right mentality again, going into this game, and also proving yesterday's result wasn't just a one-off.

Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 08/12/2019 at 16:32:50
Yesterday left us all with a good feeling and as has been said it was good to see the effort put into a simplified system. However, I think Chelsea came expecting to play against Silva's system and while they didn't adjust quickly possibly due to their own fairly inexperienced new manager, it could quite easily been a 5-all draw.

From here we must see if Duncan Ferguson has something more in the tool kit, to take the best parts and add to them for when the examiner asks for a three point turn or parallel parking and not to come to an emergency stop as the opposition now prepare for a different style.

Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 08/12/2019 at 16:34:45
Paul, great article. I'm even more removed from the Merseyside intensity than you are -- there probably isn't a Red within 100 miles of me (or another Blue either for that matter) -- so I always have to remember to read the articles and posts on TW from the perspective of those who must live with the rivalry on a daily basis.

You are absolutely right about energy and purpose on the pitch, and it's important to note that energy and purpose are quickly transmitted to -- and reflected back from -- the supporters in the stands. What we saw yesterday was team and fans together producing a passion that filled Goodison and proved more important than the lineup or the game plan or the alignment. Dunc got that part spot on.

It wasn't so much about taking off the handbrake... it was more about injecting some emotional jet fuel into the tank.

Paul Tran
5 Posted 08/12/2019 at 16:46:14
The thing is, Mike, many on here agonize over line-ups, formations and tactics. None of that matters unless the players are desperate to chase every ball, win every tackle and get results.

It easy for me to sit in my seat and say they 'should', but it's down to management and players to find and keep that mindset.

And it's down to the board to find a manager whose teams actually play that way, rather than just talk about it.

Conor McCourt
6 Posted 08/12/2019 at 17:21:18
Great summary Paul as I feel it's a very fair analysis of a superb day for all Evertonians.

I must admit to being a little more critical than most however as clearly we were more energetic, everyone knew their jobs, fighting for every ball and won a brilliant three points.

But for a lot of that first half we were as poor as any time under Silva and felt we got that little bit of luck that has evaded us all season.

While Ferguson got these players, the majority of whom haven't lifted a leg under a few managers, running through brick walls, I doubt we will be able to perform this way away from Goodison and fear this may have as much to do with the bounce effect as of being the new status quo.

John Keating
7 Posted 08/12/2019 at 18:01:23
Great to see us put in 100% all over the pitch - the least we should expect and the least the players should give.

Great to see us finally play 4-4-2. The system we were led to believe is outdated in the modern game and easy to play against. Obviously we can't play this every week but surely at times, against certain opposition, it can be an option.

Great to see us not playing this tippy-tappy across the penalty box from goal-kicks. A dozen square passes finally back to Pickford who hoofs it upfield. We achieve nothing except give ourselves heart attacks.

The result gives the board a bit of breathing space to look for a successor to Silva and it would be unfair to expect Ferguson to produce these results every game. The fact that he so quickly got total pride and commitment into that lot is in itself fantastic.

Whoever we get please not another of these insipid possession- and stat-orientated managers. They are NOT what this Club is about.

John Pierce
8 Posted 08/12/2019 at 18:20:11
PT. A thought provoking and clear argument for yesterday’s performance. One I agree with wholeheartedly.

I think your own comment at No.1 is actually the crux of it. I think the importance is of next appointment lies in getting a ‘manager’ not a ‘coach’.

The reaction of the crowd and the symbiosis with the team is what we as a fanbase really thrive on. The football was messy and often rank in terms of technical skill. But we will all remember it for some time.

I draw the distinction because it’s hard to find a guy that is both. The current football world is replete with coaches and not managers. For me the manager lets the coaches do the work, with input but distills that work into small digestible pieces to allow the players a clear head in the game. They also are clearly in charge, and get the need for changes based on the player not their skills.

Coaches often look for idealism and perfection which is often easily transferred to apparent success on the training pitch, they nudge and cajole and are your equal. Too much this does not translate to real game scenarios.

I’d love to know if posters feel there is a difference and indeed if Everton suit one over the other.

A quick reflection on our past makes me feel managers; Catterick, Kendall & Royals and Moyes are what suits us best?

Paul Tran
9 Posted 08/12/2019 at 18:23:57
John, there's a huge difference. We need someone good at both. That's what the successful clubs have. No matter what people may say, the manager creates and maintains the culture. Our culture has been weak.
Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 08/12/2019 at 18:47:18
Spot on, Paul at #5 and #9 and John at #8.

The problem is, there's no way to know in advance whether a new manager is going to inculcate the culture you speak of. The ability to establish something like that is about more than just the manager's talents -- it's about how he fits with the club, the players and the supporters, and it's not predictable.

Look at Roberto. He failed with us, but he's got Belgium playing joyous, unstoppable football. Same guy, different circumstances, different result. Emery was a juggernaut in Spain, a flop at Arsenal. And sometimes the effect is transitory -- evidence Ranieri, who was magic at Leicester in 2016 but hadn't produced similar phenomena before or since.

A lot of this will be sheer luck.

Tony Hill
11 Posted 08/12/2019 at 19:26:47
Where does Brands stand in all of this? He's another one who is an outsider and whose profile has been that of the cool-headed one, the smart don. Not an obvious one for the Duncan Parade. What influence will he now exert, if any, either over Ferguson/his successor?
David Cooper
12 Posted 08/12/2019 at 19:54:46
I was thinking of writing an article but everything has been said. I would have called it “Night and Day” or “what a difference 2 days make”. What Dunc did and what Silva refused to do was to look at the strengths of his own players and then play to them.

For example, how Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison played together. How Pickford for all his faults does hit a very good ball. And most surprisingly how did he know that Sigurdsson and Schneiderlin so recently criticized by everyone could produce such a tigerish midfield. Long may it continue!

I think we all have suffered because Silva and maybe Brands wanted to play a type of football that they had seen in practice at coaching conferences or watching copious amounts of European football. But it did not suit us. Dunc used the same players as have disappointed all season but let them play within a simple structure that they understood and wanted to play. In doing that he exposed Silva as a very controlling coach who thought he had all the answers and rarely consulted his players who are almost all internationals!

Football does not need to be complicated but you do have to use the abilities of the players you have and not impose some theoretical model that they are not suited to using!

Looking at all the names that are being bounced around, how many share a football philosophy that is centred on the players that we have and not what we like to have. Surely Mr.Moshiri will not have his head turned by resumes etc. Just an old fashioned interview where a combination of understanding EFC and a passion for all things Blue is the main criteria for getting the job!

John P McFarlane
13 Posted 08/12/2019 at 19:57:55
This weekend has been a far better weekend than most of us could have hoped for, A positive result for Everton, played out in front of a boisterous Goodison and depending upon how you view our position in the table, positive results from other matches in the league. That feel good factor has us all in a great mood, with a spring in our step.

This is all fantastic, however, we are not even half-way through the campaign and there are still many difficult fixtures to be played. I understand the calls for Duncan to be installed as interim Manager of Everton Football Club until the end of this season and indeed I wouldn't be averse to that call being made, but I think it might be more prudent to ask the Big Man to take charge for the remainder of this year, by which time those in power should have decided upon who should take the club forward for the next few seasons or more.

Unless the Owner and the Board do indeed feel that Duncan Ferguson is the man they want to carry the club forward beyond this campaign, I can't see the sense in delaying the appointment of a new permanent manager beyond the end of the holiday period or sooner if their choice is available.

Whether Duncan manages another Everton fixture or not, his passion has to be utilised and his knowledge of the club interrogated and integrated by whomever steps into the breach, because if any person can represent the fans at managerial level it is the Big Man and he should be given a voice by whomever it is that becomes full time boss.

Alun Jones
14 Posted 09/12/2019 at 07:49:39
Spot on Paul I used to be able to go and put the kettle on watching Everton sometimes and when I came back the same guy had the ball in the same place. Over the Martinez years and lately under Silva we seemed to be only able to play with intensity now and again and that was the most frustrating part of it. Sometimes possession for possession sake. Let’s see if he can keep that intensity high when we are not at home to one of the big 6. That will be the measure
Stan Schofield
15 Posted 09/12/2019 at 22:27:31
David@12: You assert that Ferguson exposed Silva as a very controlling coach who thought he had all the answers and rarely consulted the players.

This is quite an assertion, unless you have authoritative knowledge that it is true. It certainly appears to be inconsistent with what the players have said about Silva.

The West Ham game under Silva had Goodison rocking and ToffeeWeb replete with positive comments about the team's energy, desire and working together as a unit. The Chelsea game under Ferguson had the same attributes of energy, desire and unity. To make the kind of assertion that you've made after just one game is remarkable. Perhaps you should see how things pan out with Ferguson before reaching any such sweeping conclusions.

The trouble with sweeping conclusions based on limited information, is that the reverse sweeping conclusions tend to be made when similarly limited information of a contrary nature arises subsequently. This seems to be a tendency on ToffeeWeb.

Although Saturday was a great day, very exciting and emotional, and a great relief after recent results, I think a bit of calm reflection is needed. Otherwise it can end in the usual tears of unmet raised expectations with which we Evertonians are all too familiar.

Paul Tran
16 Posted 14/12/2019 at 13:05:30
Spot-on, Stan. We need more than one good day to make a judgement. I'd like to see how they respond to going behind under Ferguson.

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