Tag Archives: Everton

Football League Too Busy Investigating Leeds to Look Into Millwall Knife Crime – by Rob Atkinson

A number of incidents thrown up by yesterday’s Millwall v Everton FA Cup tie would seem worthy of investigation by the relevant football authorities, but it would seem likely that the Football League are preoccupied with other matters. Notable among these is the question of whether a man in a tracksuit on public land failing to avert his eyes from the sight of footballers training in plain view should constitute an offence worthy of a points deduction for their biggest member club.

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Will Everton Make a Title Gift to Liverpool? – by Rob Atkinson

Chelsea’s immaculate win at Anfield sees them hang on in the Premier League title race but, in truth, it’s of more real use to Manchester City than it is to themselves – despite another touchline scamper of triumph from The Poorly One, Jose Mourinho.

Though City won at Palace today, they will still need to get a result at Everton, who are themselves clinging on to receding hopes of Champions League qualification. This is assuming, of course, that Liverpool can now win their last two matches of the season.

It may very well be that, if Everton can deny City at Goodison, they will have gift-wrapped a 19th top division title for their deadly local rivals. How that would go down in the Blue half of Merseyside is anyone’s guess.

I’d still back Liverpool – and I’m sure that if they do need a massive favour from the Blues – then the Reds will be suitably grateful.

Moyes Fluffing His Fergie-Lite Lines as the Mask Drops – by Rob Atkinson

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It sounded odd at the time. Leading up to the start of his first season at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, David Moyes chose to abandon his previous upright, downright, straightforward no-nonsense Evertonian demeanour and go for a good old-fashioned Fergie whinge with the requisite helpings of paranoia and self-righteousness. “They’re conspiring against us,” he grizzled, bitterly. “Three tough games against title contenders in the first five league outings.  It’s no’ fair.”  It was straight out of the Taggart Manual, from Chapter One: “Build a Siege Mentality”.  The thing is, however tried and trusted the lines are, you need the right kind of actor to convey them. Now that the Old Ham had gone off, could the relatively green Moyes carry on with the same old act?  Was it even such a good idea to try?

Whatever the whys and wherefores, the gambit appears to have blown up in the fledgling Man U manager’s face.  Yesterday’s humbling against Mancunian giants City was not only a salutary lesson on the field.  It also raised serious questions about the new man’s deportment off it.  On the face of it, the Moyes Whinge, as it has come to be called, looks in retrospect like a timely warning.  Of the three fixtures he was complaining about, the Pride of Devon have lost both away matches, at Liverpool and City, and gained a somewhat lucky point in a dour home struggle against Chelsea.  But the fact is that the fixtures are simply that: fixtures.  There’s a clue in the name, and while Sky may tamper slightly for TV requirements, the basic framework for the season is carved in stone.  To complain about them at the time Moyes chose to complain, and in the terms, moreover, he chose to employ in making that complaint, showed more weakness than foresight, more lack of confidence in himself and his team than lack of faith in the authorities. What message was sent out by the manager to his troops as they prepared for combat? Would they have been inspired by their leader’s belief in them?  Or would they, instead, have had a subliminal fear implanted of facing three formidable teams early in the season?  Were they, in short, afraid?

A hindsight version of the Moyes Whinge emerged this morning on the radio.  He referred again to the perceived unfairness of the fixtures arrangement.  As an exponent of psyching his team up and psyching opponents out, Fergie was tiresome, he was tedious, he was annoying and detestable in the eyes of his enemies.  But it clearly worked more often than not in the bunker that was Man U’s dressing room.  Moyes, by contrast, seemed to have waved a white flag and called for stretcher-bearers before a shot had been fired. Certain of his players, van Persie for one, are already emitting rumbles of discontent. You can imagine them asking themselves: who would we rather have as our leader as we enter the trenches?  The margins between victory and defeat are incredibly fine, one iota of backsliding by the historically dominant force, one iota of improvement in the fortunes of his enemies (the football term for “iota”, interestingly, is “Özil”) – and the tables can be well and truly turned.

It may also be that Moyes’ emergence from the comfort zone of Goodison into the fishbowl glare of the Theatre of Hollow Myths has been particularly ill-timed.  The gene-pool at the top of the Premier League appears to have expanded dramatically over the summer.  Arsenal have improved by probably more than just one Özil.  Tottenham seem to have contrived to have lost a golden nugget and replaced it with the equivalent weight in gold-dust, and to have improved in the process.  Chelsea have wound the clock back to the reign of the Special One, and you just know he will weave his magic again whilst laughing sardonically at his carping critics in the media, embittered journalists all of whose significant others are unanimous in fancying Jose.  Liverpool have looked “at it” again, despite a dip in the last two games.  Everton are unbeaten, with a new style and belief under Martinez.  The whole landscape at the top of the game has a new and, from the Man U point of view, dangerously unfamiliar look about it.

Maybe one craggy and purple-faced individual in particular foresaw this sea-change, and perhaps this explains the abruptness of his departure from the hot-seat in Salford.  There must, after all, be a significant danger that the still debt-ridden Evil Empire will finish outside of the top six this season, favourable ref decisions notwithstanding; and on that subject – what on earth happened to Howard Webb in the Derby?  He failed utterly to live up to his Man U Player of the Season form, and must now be worried about his place in the team.  Moyes has a lot on his plate, and – sallow-faced and bug-eyed compared to the smug, well-fed, puce sleekness of his tyrannical predecessor – he frankly does not look as though he has the appetite for it.

The noisy neighbours across the border in Manchester will be well aware, as they leap and cavort in celebration in the sullen faces of Manchester’s Red minority, of the problems that are stacking up for the hapless current incumbent of Salford Towers. But those happy fans will care not one jot, as is the case with thousands of other equally happy fans the country over, outside of Devon and Cornwall.  They can see golden horizons ahead, and a game reinvigorated by true competition across a well-matched group of clubs vying for the ultimate prize.  If Man U do end up outside in the cold, there will be millions who feel it’s a reckoning that’s arrived not a minute too soon.

Fat Sam Has No Answer To Baines Brilliance – by Rob Atkinson

West Ham 2, Everton 3

This was a game that the Hapless Hammers will have been counting on for a maximum return to bolster their survival bid – but what can you do when the opposition hit you with two “worldy” set-pieces?

The ‘Ammers had done well, considering their season-long impotence in front of goal, to lead twice – albeit from a fortuitous deflection and a penalty. But the two answering salvoes from the Toffeemen were in a different class altogether, expert strikes from lethal Leighton Baines to emphasise Everton’s steadily increasing superiority.

Following Mark Noble’s conversion of a penalty to give the home side a 2-1 lead, he went from hero to zero, copping for a red card in the lead-up to Baines’ second quality free-kick equaliser. Earlier, West Ham’s Morrison had been rather fortunate to see his weakly-struck shot trickle into Everton’s net via a massive deflection off the unlucky Jagielka to send the ‘Ammers in at the break with the narrowest of leads. Baines’ found Jaaskelainen’s top corner from outside the area with his first virtuoso free-kick of the afternoon, his second later on clipping the inside of a post on its way in.

At 2-2 but with a man advantage, Everton were always too much for the home side, their bolt well and truly shot, to handle. Chelsea loanee Lukaku started and finished the decisive thrust, heading home powerfully from a cross by fellow Belgian Mirallas to finish the contest. In truth, the score line flattered West Ham somewhat, as the tide late on in particular was very much against them.

Allardyce will be only too well aware that he needs to pick up points in these games, especially at Upton Park, as the bulk of the Premier League simply have too much for his shot-shy plodders. The style of football he preaches does not appeal to the Boleyn congregation and a strong possibility of a fruitless relegation struggle is not calculated to gladden their hearts. Worrying times ahead for Fat Sam, but Everton under Martinez are showing that they may well be a force to reckon with in the top flight this season.

Moyes to Continue his Impersonation of “Sir” Fergie – But is he REALLY Nasty Enough? – by Rob Atkinson

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

It still looks as though rookie Man U manager David Moyes is determined to continue with his attempts to appear as a “Fergie Lite”, a watered-down version of his tyrannical predecessor.  There may well be those who will speculate that Moyes is receiving the benefit of some tips in “How To Lose Friends And Intimidate People” from past master “Sir” Alex Ferguson.  Lesson One was evidently “How to whinge”, and resulted in an ill-advised bleat about facing Liverpool, City and Chelsea in the first five Man U league games.  This was swiftly followed by “Arrogance for Beginners”, manifesting itself in a nasty little dig at former club Everton for “holding back the careers” of their players Leighton Baines and  Maroune Fellaini.  In this context, “holding back careers” evidently meant refusing to let Man U buy them at a cut price.  Moyes claimed that, if he were still the boss at Everton, he would of course not stand in the players’ way, letting them follow their hearts’ desire which is naturally to play for Man U.  Everton fans are, understandably, less than impressed by this bold assertion and have been busily engaged in slaughtering Moyes in the Twittersphere.  Fellaini eventually made the move to The Dark Side for a less than bargain £27 million or so.

The suggestion that Moyes as Everton manager had a less than robust attitude to protecting his own club’s interests in the transfer market was hinted at previously when Moyes was telling of how he was approached to take over at the Evil Empire.  It would seem that he received a call from The Great Man himself, the one and only Alex Taggart, large as life and twice as purple.  Moyes confesses that he had no idea it was about the Man U job, and assumed that Fergie was calling him to “let me know he was taking one of my players”.  Again, this is a soundbite calculated to enrage any proud Toffeeman, and it doesn’t go down too well with fans of other clubs outside the Theatre of Hollow Myths either, the clear inference being that all Man U have to do to sign the player of their choice is to casually let that player’s current club know that a deal will be done.  If that really was the extent of the Trafford-based club’s influence over the game as a whole, then frankly they have grossly under-achieved in not winning every cup, every year, ever since Uncle Rupert bought the game for them.

Whatever the case, Moyes now finds himself on the business end of this power gradient, and he clearly seems determined to make hay while the sun shines.  If this means re-inventing himself as a sort of less puce Alex, then – seemingly – so be it.  Those of us who have spent a productive lifetime hating Man U and everything connected to them, may just have had some worries about a “nice guy” like Moyes making our task of despising them that bit harder.  It would seem that, after all, we had nothing to be concerned about, and that Man U under Moyes appear likely to continue to be as intrinsically despicable, arrogant and annoying to proper football fans as they have ever been.

This will naturally please those lost souls in Devon, Milton Keynes and Singapore who still count themselves as hardcore Man U fans (since 1993), but for the rest of us who had hoped that football would be a nicer and more wholesome place without Sir Taggart, the sad truth is that it’s probably going to be business as usual – though hopefully without all that ill-gained silverware.  Because Moyes may talk the talk, but he’s done nothing as yet to suggest that he’ll be able to walk the walk.

Moyes? A Strangely Unambitious Choice

"Eh - by the waaaaay, Ah'll no' be leavin' ma whisky, wee Moyesy"

“Eh – by the waaaaay, Ah’ll no’ be leavin’ ma whisky, wee Moyesy”

David Moyes swiftly emerged yesterday as a heavily odds-on favourite to replace Alex Ferguson as boss at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  On the face of it, there’s an obviousness about this solution; Moyes has performed solidly for over a decade in the top flight at Goodison Park on a budget that, if not exactly shoestring, certainly lacked the munificence of the chests of bullion in other parts of the North West.  He has failed to win a trophy in that time but that is not in itself a criticism of any coach in an era when the silverware tends to go to the highest bidder.  The best coach around, M. Wenger, has been potless since 2007, after all.  Moyes has the appearance of a “safe pair of hands” option – someone who will come in and instigate evolution rather than revolution, a guy who can be relied upon not to depart too suddenly or drastically from the blueprint laid down by the man whose brooding presence upstairs will be a palpable influence on any new boy, whoever he might be.

This acceptance by Man U that Fergie will still be kicking about the place is tinged with danger; the lesson of history taught by the hanging-on post retirement of Matt Busby seems not to have been heeded.  The legacy of Fergie is more akin to a poisoned chalice than an inspirational example; the new coach on the block will have to set off on his hoped-for marathon at 400 metre pace.  There will be little chance or latitude afforded for any cosy bedding-in period at a club with a constitutional, almost Freudian need to be the biggest and the best.  A large proportion of their support has been conceived, weaned and nurtured on this propaganda and the last thing that any of them will want to feel is the chill blast of reality as the likes of City, Chelsea and Arsenal walk off with next season’s honours.  So Moyes (most likely) or whoever else it might be will simply have to hit the ground running, compete effectively at the highest level, placate a squad of big egos who are used to a very particular type of regime and solve the immediate Rooney wantaway (or wantanewcontract) problem.  All of this under the basilisk glare of elder statesman Fergie, glowering from a handy balcony over his former empire, hairdryer silenced but still handy.

The immediately noticeable thing about Moyes is his relative lack of European experience, and Man U is a club that sees itself as a European force despite the threadbare achievements on the continent under Fergie.  The other burning question that has to be asked then is: what would other European “giants” have done after losing a quarter-century institution as Man U have just done? Would they have plumped for Joe Bloggs from down the road, or would they instead have scoured the continent and beyond for a stellar personage of massive achievement elsewhere, someone whose CV is festooned with honours and who would breeze in expecting to maintain the winning habit?

It’s irresistible to feel that the latter would be the preferred option for your Barcas and your Real Madrids, your Bayern Munichs and – yes – your Chelseas, too.  In the immediate aftermath of the announcement that Fergie would be chewing his gum in the directors’ box next term, hopeful noises were emanating from the Man U-friendly press that The Purple-Nosed One might possibly be succeeded by The Special One, maybe even with one C. Ronaldo in tow.  It may yet be that Christiano brings his balletic skills with double-pike and twist back to Man U, but any prospect of Jose heading to Salford appears remote in the extreme – he is far more likely to be strolling down the Kings Road this summer.  Other ideally-qualified coaches have scrambled over each other in their haste not to queue up for the Man U job.  The poisoned chalice image appears to have lodged within the minds of Europe’s coaching elite.

So it is likely to be Moyes – not for his own sweet self, but more for the lack of any realistic alternatives.  It is this paucity of choice for a club like Man U – who were supposedly aware of Fergie’s retirement decision as far back as February – that is rather baffling.  Perhaps they expected Fergie would soldier on for a few years yet.  Perhaps also they weren’t expecting the grumpy Govanite to give up so easily on his ambition to overhaul Liverpool’s European Cup record.  But the emergence of crack teams from Germany as well as the still-formidable forces from Spain and elsewhere in England appear to have been a reality check for “S’ralex”, who must in his more coherent moments have realised that climbing the European summit again in the foreseeable future is a dimly remote prospect. It may well be that a “safe” appointment such as Moyes will serve to dilute expectations just enough to cure these fanciful notions that Man U could possibly break into the Continental elite.  Perhaps an FA Cup run and top four in the Premier League will suffice next season, and save Moyes from the fate of Wilf McGuinness back in the day.  But I frankly doubt it.

The King is dead.  Long live the King – but who, and for just how long?

Mini-rant #1- An Act of Faithlessness.

This is the first in a series of mini-rants, being bite-sized portions of my large supply of bile and spleen concerning matters that piss me off.  These handy snacks of vitriol shall be served occasionally by way of appetisers for the more verbose offerings I share as main courses.  The dessert menu is a work in progress, but you’re welcome to ask for the Whine List.

Apparently an Everton fan of 36 years support left today’s FA Cup tie against Wigan before half time with his team 0-3 down. He’d already booked a hotel room for what he’d obviously assumed was a nailed-on semi-final appearance at Wembley for the Toffees.

Well now – where to begin?  Honestly, doesn’t that make this outraged supporter, on two counts, the kind of “fan” you need like you need a sharp attack of dysentery. First the arrogance, assuming quarter-final success like that. Any football fan, deluded scummers* apart, will tell you that’s just begging for fate to kick you in the teeth. Idiot.

And walking out before 45 minutes is up. What a spineless, spoiled, selfish thing to do, showing a lack of faith, courage and moral fibre. Look at Arsenal, 0-4 down at Reading this season, and won 7-5. They had fans desert them too, and boy did those of little faith look stupid.

So well done that soft, limp Toffee.  Double idiot, and a wimp to boot.  He should take his support elsewhere if you ask me – and I think I know just the place.  He sounds absolutely ideal for the plastic, whinging, glory-hunting congregation at Old Toilet, home of the “Greatest Football Club In The World™” – he’d fit right in there, though he’d probably need to adopt a home counties accent.

What is the game, and the support, coming to these days??  Yours, Disgusted of Leeds.

*Scummers: a term of endearment employed by Leeds United fans to denote followers of The Mighty Manchester United.