It is funny how each season begins to blur together as an Everton. For most of the past decade, Everton begins the season very slowly. Occasionally they get points of a top club, but far too often points are dropped to teams that will end up in a relegation fight rather than a title fight. Soon the New Year comes around, and the squad finally comes together for a fantastic run of form that leaves fans asking what if. The one season the club started strongly and continued for the entire season we qualified for the Champions League.
Sometimes injuries have played a part in our poor form during the fall, and other times new players have been brought in during the January transfer window to help bolster the squad. But this does not happen every year, and sometimes those players brought in do not perform well. The problem is already at the club, but it seems like most people aren’t willing to recognize it.
This is often the point when many fans would point to the manager as the problem. His tactics or transfer policy would be brought into question, and an undercurrent of resentment would begin. Does Moyes have problems with his tactics, sure. Occasionally he can be too conservative, which is frustrating when he has shown a willingness to go on the attack. The problem is that the players need to be more consistent.
If you look at the difference in tactics between matches in the fall and matches in the spring, there is not a lot of differences. Things will change based on the opponents and players available, but Moyes does not make radical changes once he has seen the ball drop in Times Square. Rather it is the players who need to pick up their play in the fall.
Manager’s cannot force their teams to put in effort, and even the greatest managers have players who do not put in the effort needed, or they have players who just aren’t playing well. The less talent a squad has the more often this happens. Yes, Everton does have talent, but not at the level of Manchester United or Manchester City. If we did then we would be competing for EPL titles year in and year out.
If Everton is going to compete for a Champions League berth, or even have a consistent shot at winning a cup, the entire squad is going to have to become more consistent. Obviously Moyes will need to bring in some more depth, as well as looking for a creative presence in the midfield, but the biggest changes need to occur inside each player. Until then we can keep looking forward to 7th place finishes, and a sense of what could have been.