The Safest Job In Football

Forum member RFUS has penned an article about his opinion on Everton´s season and the position of David Moyes. Agree? Disagree? Join in the conversation on the GrandOldTeam forums.


G´day fellow disgruntled lids and lidettes. And by “g´day”, I do not mean “good day”. No, I mean “groundhog day”.

I´d say I´m getting fed up of Moyes but well, no. I was fed up with Moyes a year ago. Now I´m furious. Perhaps I should be grateful on some level because is the first time I´ve felt anything about Everton this season other than a hopeless sense of apathy.

But no, I´m not having that any more. I´m not taking another swig of this concoction of low expectation Moyes and co. have been brewing for the last few months… or of anything chicoazul offers me in the Lisbon. Because now I´ve woken up and my head hurts, my arse is stinging but crucially, my eyes are wide open.

Yes, it´s true that our squad is paper thin. Not even decent paper either; more like rice paper. Yes we have no real assemblance of a strike force. Yes we have no money. And yes, we have no Mikel Arteta.

But hang on a minute, why does that mean we have to consign ourself to being a poor man´s Stoke? Even factoring in the tiny size of our squad and all the missing pieces, we have a considerably stronger set of players than numerous teams all playing far better football than ourselves. In more ways than one.

First of all, defensively. A lot of people bemoan our defence for numerous reasons but personally I believe the goals we concede to be the product of inevitability, rather than any underlying issue with the defensive personnel. But addressing personnel, Newcastle and Swansea have shown remarkable defensive resilience this season with back fours that pale in comparison to the experience and quality of ours. Swansea have kept a remarkable 7 clean sheets so far this season, and have climbed above us today knowing not only this, but knowing that crucially they play decent, cohesive football.

On that note, let´s address our ´attack´. This is obviously the key issue, and it has been since Yakubu got injured. Moyes seems to have rated Mikel Arteta so highly that his mere absence has resulted in a style-shift from decent, passing football to hoofapalooza 2011. The debate between style and substance has raged on for a while and it always will, and if you play like Stoke you´ll come under fire, but you can fan those fires with results. Except we´re not getting any of them. In fact, although I´m sure some will use the old chestnut “we always start slowly”, we´re looking even worse than we have in previous pre-Christmas runs of poor form. We´ve bagged a good few wins and so our points total is perhaps more flattering, but when you contextualise said wins you seem to always come away with the question “how did we win that one!?” and that to me is the real worry here. In fact, I believe we´ve only played well once this season, and that was in the 2-2 against Villa. Which paradoxically was our only draw of the season. Anyway, after 14 league games, one good performance is just not enough.

I´m sure people will dispute that as we do have 5 wins, but cast your minds back for a moment:

Win #1: 1-0 vs Blackburn — Blackburn miss TWO penalties and we nick it with a highly fortuitous one of our own. A true anomaly amidst an abysmal performance that deserved nothing.

Win #2: 3-1 vs Wigan — Very poor until after Wigan scored, we were utterly toothless until two late subs both scored to put gloss on a very tight game. 3-1 deceived the nature of the game. And you wouldn´t mind if it wasn´t against Wigan, a team who defend like school children.

Win #3: 3-1 vs Fulham — Again a flattering 3-1, as Bobby Zamora missed an absolute sitter to win it for them at 1-1. Two quick, late goals again created another misleading scoreline.

Win #4: 2-1 vs Wolves — A late (again) and fortuitous penalty (again) gave us the two extra points.

Win #5: 2-0 vs Bolton — The closest thing to a comfortable victory. Except it was against 10 men for all but 19 minutes, as Wheater got himself sent off.

Now, listen, I´m not trying to demean our good results. I celebrated them like you all did, and we showed good resilience in all (twice coming from behind to win). However when was the last time we had a genuinely comfortable victory? Or even one where you thought we played to more than half of our potential. In fact, when was the last time you came away from a game thinking “we played well there”…?

Maybe some of you believe that this is the best we can do. Seemingly Moyes believes that, and that is the problem. Good managers fill their players´ heads with ambition, belief and confidence. But by very definition, even an adequate manager has to manage. He does not, in any sense of the word. Not any more. He doesn´t man manage, instead he falls out with players and lets them go for buttons to the detriment of the squad. He doesn´t manage said squad, instead he sticks with a spine of players through poor form and results. He doesn´t manage to get results from the admittedly thin squad we have, that is however brimming with talent and exciting youth. “10 minutes at the end when we´re already losing” has become his youth policy now so much so I´d expect to see it on a plaque at Finch Farm.

Even ignoring the perpetual Moyes annoyances, like 4-5-1, defence before offence and late substitutions, there are still numerous, almost incredible, decisions he´s made of late that seem to come under no fire. For starters, what´s with this “get every man back for corners” thing? Who on earth does that!? You wouldn´t mind but when you set out to defend at least give yourself a chance to counter. And if you do get the ball and get a chance to break, tell your players to get up the flipping pitch. Today especially highlighted some grievances I have with Moyes, and so it seems a good time to mention them. Cahill and Neville were truly anonymous (the latter was actually worse than that, offering his defence no support and well, the less said about his offensive ´qualities´ the better) but they lasted the whole game. He puts so much faith in old heads and seems to view their games through rose-tinted glasses. At this point I have to pray Neville gets injured, which is something I absolutely hate doing — wishing an injury upon my own player feels wrong, but when Nev´s on the pitch we are a worse team in every way. And everyone can see that. But Moyes, seemingly.

I´m not tedious enough to start another Moyes out/If not Moyes then who else/Cheese on toast, lad debate. Rather I´d just like him to change. I realise that asking Moyes to change is tantamount to asking an iceberg to hurry up, but on that nautical note, Everton are starting to look like a sinking ship. And it is surely the manager´s job to do something about that? It would be unreasonable to think Moyes should turn us into a top 4 team. But it would be nice if he could get a bit more out of what we do have, because right now we are playing the worst football in the league. And getting some of the worst results too. At any other club the manager would be feeling the heat, but Moyes is under no pressure at all. And for a man on over £60K a week, managing one of the biggest clubs in the country, with some of the brightest and most coveted talents in the country… well that is not good enough.

And if he can´t/won´t change, then I´m sorry, he can f*ck off. All the good things he´s done for us are becoming a distant memory under the crushing weight of this new-found ineptitude. I´m embarrassed to say I support Everton at the moment, but at the end of the day I do. Support Everton. And that is not spelt D-A-V-I-D M-O-Y-E-S as so many seem to sadly believe.

What do you think? Get in on the discussion at GrandOldTeam Forums.

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