Moyes vs Martinez
We now know that David Moyes has been sacked by Manchester United which will delight some people and sadden others. No matter what camp you’re in what Sunday showed was that Roberto Martinez outsmarted his predecessor in every way. He tactically outthought him, and the players were well drilled in their roles and what they needed to do to exploit this poor shadow of a United team. It’s not only in the dress sense that Roberto is smarter.
Nothing, and no-one, more starkly illustrates the differences between Everton under Moyes and Everton now than the sight of the big haired Belgian adorning the substitute bench at Goodison Park. As Martinez suggested in his presser where would Fellaini fit in this new dynamics, quick transition team that we’ve evolved into? The truth is that he wouldn’t. You won’t find a better piece of deadline day business than the £14million we made on swapping the height of Fellaini for the midfield pace and work rate of James McCarthy.
So much has been made of the possession stats this season and how we’re all about keeping hold of the ball and working the opposition to death. The comprehensive wins over Arsenal and United have shown a willingness from the Blues boss to adapt his approach to certain situations, something that he hadn’t seemed able to do earlier in the season. The possession stats that Moyes was so vocal about were a complete distraction from what actually happened on the pitch, which was a quick passing, fast breaking display of perfect counter attacking football. How familiar is this scenario, United pass the ball around aimlessly for a bit, one of our outstanding defensive players snubs them out, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley, Steven Naismith, and Seamus Coleman stream forward overwhelming the United defence before creating a decent, sometimes excellent, goal scoring chance.
We’ve covered Stones before in this column, and the British media is starting to pick up on just how well he’s slotted in to the fifth (maybe fourth?) best team in the land, coping especially well with the disruption of Sylvain Distin being replaced at half time. After a shaky time against the Gunners with a couple of risky moments, Stones was solid in the extreme against a poor United team. There was one moment where he received the ball under pressure and was forced back towards his own goal line, in the past this may have produced something a bit riskier than his manager would like but here he hoofed the ball down the line into row Z. The lad is learning.
Much has been made of the youth of the team, but it’s the older players that are doing the little things like keeping shape, working the opposition hard, and holding things together in shakier moments. The obvious standouts this season are Tim Howard, whose solid performances have surpassed any of his previous seasons in the green goalkeepers jersey, Sylvain Distin who continues to defy age by keeping his pace and adding a new found passing range, and Gareth Barry whose positional sense, leadership, and care of the ball have given the Blues a strong core to build from. You could also add England internationals Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka to that with their well addressed abilities, and Leon Osman has had an excellent season in a variety of positions. The terrific blend of experience and youth holds great promise for next year.