Following the full-time whistle, a tsunami of kvetches and grumbles came back from annoyed Everton fans, accusing Moyes of being too negative, of 4-5-1 being the wrong formation, of our performance being “poor”. People vented on blogs, on Twitter, even on 5-Live (prompting a Krakatoan defence of our manager from host Darren Fletcher). Did any of these people watch the game? Normally when a player hits the bar, or fluffs a one-on-one, the event is used in mitigation of a poor result:
“we were unlucky, we hit the post, and we battered them”
Now though, many fans aren’t even bothering to mention the mitigating circumstances, people are actually describing our performance as dire, spineless, even pitiful. This is because we are in a very weird situation. I’m not talking, “I’m sure I put a fiver on my side table and now it has disappeared” weird, I’m talking “I woke up in a buzzing whirring silver spacecraft with my gonads missing” weird. Normally performance and result stick together and are only occasionally separated. For us though, again and again, our performances and our results have been polar opposites.
A lazy look at the scoreline – Everton 0-0 Wigan – tells a thoroughly different story from our performance. We could – SHOULD – have won 5-1; and that’s in the second half alone. Those who say our performance was bad are wrong. Watch the match again, or more ridiculous still, watch the highlights – it is chance after chance after chance as our attackers bash their head against the wall, again and again and again.
People were correct in pointing out that our first half was a little flat against Chelsea, but surely our performance in the second half at Stamford Bridge proves what a motivator Moyes is. I thought that Baines’ ridiculous run through the Chelsea side (brilliantly described as “high wire” by the Followtonians Eric Howell) to set up our equalizer was fantastic, a one man “march to restore sanity” amongst the doom mongers; but even that didn’t shake them off. Luckily I still had the media, where most match reports record just how well we’ve been creating chances. Today though, even the press are beginning to become lazy, with the Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg claiming that “it would be a surprise to see Moyes still at Everton next season.”.
This is a lazy assumption. Our result was 0-0 so many think our performance was “stale”.
Another pillar of the anti-Moyes argument – our reliance on 4-5-1 – annoys me too. We play 4-5-1 because it is tailor made for Tim Cahill’s attributes. I love Cahill’s rugged determination. Part SAS sergeant – part leaping ‘roo; you drop Tim in the Brecon Beacons with nothing but a rain smudged ordinance survey map, and he’d still find a goal. We’ll lose Tim to the Asian Cup soon, and with his exit – as well as Steven Pienaar’s potential January transfer – we could see a major deck shuffling from Moyes.
Time is running out for Steven Jerome Pienaar, step forward Bily. As a player the Russian is all untied shoelaces – tie at half mast – bleary eyes – you picture him chewing gum at the back of class, the infuriating student and footballer who studies little, cares even less, but always passes with flying colours. They are two VERY different players admittedly. Whereas Pienaar’s job description is to hoodwink and gull, noone really knows what Bily does, apart from score. He seems to score amazing goals with little effort, and in our current couldnt finish our breakfast malaise, could be useful.
The problem is a simple one: we can’t finish. The answer though is bloody complicated. Why can’t we finish? We are clinical missers, the professionals of profligacy, and somewhere in the world their is a team profiting from our bad luck, scoring with a metronomic tempo, never failing to miss even from the most mind bending angles.
Again: our performance against Wigan was good, we should have eviscerated them, but Moyes isn’t without blame. Louis Saha, these days as much of a stranger to top class goalscoring as Lorraine Kelly, should be dropped. He clearly has some salacious pictures of Moyes, and is holding on to the negatives; Moyes needs to move Yak or Beckford (or both) into position in the coming weeks. My big fear is the longer our results continue to be bad, the bigger the chance that our performances start to turn sour too. There’s a good quote from the film Apocalypse Now:
“the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it…”
Here’s to flapping those wings…