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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Moyes exciting 'five-five' balance holds excellent promise

If I was an Everton fan right now I'd be immensely happy with the development of my club and the excellent balance that David Moyes is affecting within his team.

He took over a team known for hard-working and battling qualities and by slow evolution it is now clear that the end-game for Moyes is the beautiful game at Goodison without losing defensive solidity.

The focus of this article is on the magnificent 'five-five' balance that Moyes has formulated. His back four are all good footballers and professionals: Phil Neville, Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka featured at the weekend and the promising Leighton Baines and ageless Alan Stubbs are also available. Ahead of the defence is their midfield minder, Lee Carsley, whose anchor-man play is so important for allowing the front five players to play and express themselves as an attacking unit.

But it is the front-five players that Moyes has assembled that have really caught my eye. Each of them are high-level technical footballers who have the intelligence, desire, ability and unity to create effective pleasing-to-the-eye passing and attacking football.

In my view Mikel Arteta is the closest player to Cesc Fabregas in the Premier League - he is a superb midfield player that I really enjoy watching.

Leon Osman is a really underrated English midfielder - a rare breed in that he is composed and comfortable on the ball and can supply a good finish and incisive pass (and it is a blow that he is now out for six weeks due to a broken toe).

Stephen Pienaar was schooled at Ajax so it is no surprise that he has excellent technical ability and has the in-built mentality to play good attacking and passing football.

And to complete the exciting attacking quad of midfielders that play in front of Carsley is the superb Australian attacking midfielder Tim Cahill - a guy I have written about before on EFT - who combines massive determination, attacking awareness and a striker's ability to score goals. What a buy he was from the then Champsionship division club, Millwall.

Then to top it off in the lone-strikers role is the ice-cool natural finisher Aiyegbeni Yakubu who Moyes bought back in August from Middlesbrough. A stat that cannot be overlooked is that after Thierry Henry the most prolific striker in the Premier League over the last four seasons is Yakubu - and the nature of the majority of those goals were that of simple finishes having anticipated correctly what movement he should make in and around the box to place himself in the right position to profit from the build-up play of his teammates.

Yakubu is the perfect complement to the four creative midfielders attacking right behind him and his signing shows yet again that Moyes knows not just a good player but one who that will fit into vision of football and improve his club. Yakubu is currently joint top-scorer in the Premier League and he will simply score many more for Everton in the system that Moyes has created.

David Moyes has been doing a great job for Everton for the five years. But for him he is just starting as I realised when hearing him say something significant on TV a few weeks ago. He said that Everton were moving up a level in line with a vision for how he wanted his side to play football. It appears clear to me that his vision for Everton is to play a more technical attacking style of football in the mould of a Ferguson and Wenger - without losing the defensive stability that his early seasons work was focused on.

I think the signs are clearly there that he is achieving this with Everton currently in sixth place and second top scorers in the league. For me as a fan of good football it is promising and refreshing to see what Moyes is developing at Everton - and it is something that I will keep an eye on in the months to come.

Do Everton followers agree they are moving up to another level of football?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice piece mate. Very refreshing to read such a postive artical from an independant source.

12/19/2007 11:30 am

Anonymous The Boy Azul said...

A good, astute article. Evertonians have been watching the silent evolution and enjoying a long awaited turn of results.

Its nice to see someone else appreciate it and not let the media induced stereotype of the 'Dogs of War' get in the way.

We will get a good benchmark with games v United & Arsenal coming up.

12/19/2007 11:36 am

Anonymous Blue Blood said...

What a great article. A rare gem in amongst the rubbish that appears on most of these websites. Interesting comment on Yakubu's positioning, never thought of it that way, very true. I'm a very happy Evertonian at the moment, quality players in a settled formation playing great stuff and winning games. The key now is patience and not to let expectations run away from us. It's taken 5 years to get this far and could take another 5 to be regular Champions League contenders.

12/19/2007 11:39 am

Anonymous yak said...

That was superb journalism, very thought provoking and I think it's spot-on. Moyes is doing what he said he'd do when he joined from Preston, which was to first make Everton a regular top half team and then look to get back challenging for honours. The man's planning and forward thinking are second to none, he knows what he wants and makes it manifest. But the board have been great with him too by backing him through thick and thin. From when Moyes took over we've leveled up from the likes of Bent to Yakubu, Linderoth to Arteta, Kilbane to Pienaar etc. We've come a long way but we're by no means finished yet.

12/19/2007 11:58 am

Anonymous duncan disorderly said...

OH YES! top 4 is a possibilty, man u, chelsea and arsenal are way out infront but that fourth spot is up for grabs!!

12/19/2007 12:39 pm

Anonymous Lower Gwladys said...

It is generally symptomatic within the mentality of football fans that home grown players never quite reach the same star status as their expensively-signed counterparts. It is much to Leon Osman's credit that he has continued his development to regular starting eleven first choice. Historically he has been substituted more than most which gives substance to the "less valuable" tag but I cannot ever recall him complaining. It will give him immense pleasure to know that his silky skills are appreciated beyond the boundaries of the rejuvenated School of Science.

12/19/2007 1:18 pm

Anonymous Stuey said...

Shhhhhhhh, keep it quiet mate. No-one knows about us and we like it that way.

12/19/2007 2:08 pm

Anonymous bluemonty said...

Don't tell Benitez, he thinks we are ten points behind

12/19/2007 2:34 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I was impressed with the article from T and the comments until bluemonty had to spoil it that far. Typical.

Arteta has been a regular in my fantasy team, and at one point so was Cahill. But I want to endorse T's article in that those two midfielders alone spearhead Everton's charge. Add to that the stern defending of Yobo and Stubbs, the attacking flair of Lescott for a previously Championship defender, Howard a good pick up from Man Utd, Osman mainly adding well to the attack, but al;so the formation of 4-1-4-1 with Yakubu now the main lone striker.

Andy Johnson came off the bench to score, another asset, though quiet of late.

Everton, Portsmouth, Man City have held some consistency over the past many weeks, West Ham and Blackburn went on good runs but have lapsed slightly.


12/19/2007 3:52 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks everyone for your comments so far - it's great to know the Evertonian viewpoint.

12/19/2007 9:13 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets not forget the contribution of Tim Howard either. He gives the back 4 more confidence.

12/19/2007 10:38 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

Well thought out, well researched article on the way Everton have developed in the last few seasons.

My only concern is that they don’t have a strong enough squad to break into the top 4 at this stage. If they invested in their squad, then I could see them potentially threatening the top 4.

12/20/2007 9:41 am


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