Ponderings and permutations
What to do, what to do.
That question must surely be laying siege to David Moyes' grey matter at the very moment; it has been since day one of the 2008/09 EPL season, when Everton contrived to lose narrowly to Blackburn in Goodison. Everton's record thus far stands at played 7, won 2, drew 2, lost 3. We've scored 11 and conceded 15. And therein lies the problem. Last season Everton let in 33 goals in 38 league matches. It doesn't require a strong grasp of Form 5 Matematik Tambahan to see that the Toffees have conceded nearly half the amount of last season's goals within the first seven matches of the new season. An increasingly wobbly defence is fast proving to be Moyes' Achilles heel, and mortally damaging at that. Scoring isn't a problem, for once; the boys have hit the back of the net 11 times, and if we could take the risk of extrapolating the graph, that would amount approximately to the same number of goals scored last season.
Which begs the question plaguing Moyes: what to do? It's not as though the club is facing massive injuries; all the usual suspects are more or less up and about, bar Jacobsen and perhaps Yobo. That's what makes this current crisis even more worrying. Who does Moyes bring in to stop the rot in the back four? As yet, no one. He doesn't have anyone else whom he can depend on. The backline of Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott and Hibbert, which proved to steadfast last season, have passed their sell-by date. Lescott is a shadow of the player that earned a call to the national team, Yobo has been consistent but nowhere near outstanding, Jagielka is not, in my opinion, a refined centreback, while Hibbert has clearly lost his pace.
Options? There's Neville and Jacobsen, when he's fit again. But one can't help but shudder when the name Kroldrup is mentioned. Will Jacobsen suffer the same fate as his national team mate? Injured at the beginning of the season, and shipped out when fully recovered. And how much has the departure of Carsley affected the defence? Tremendously, and that's understating the fact. Fellaini has not the experience nor the muscle to fill the position, while we've seen little of Castillo, through no fault of his. I cannot fathom why the Ecuadorean World Cupper hasn't been used more regularly; he brings know-how and strength to a midfield that was overwhelmed and overrun by the hated Red neighbours.
Another spot of bother is the poor, poor home form. We've garnered 7 out of 9 points away, with the draw at home to Newcastle providing the measly solitary point from Goodison. There's a more dire statistic here: we've played all three promoted sides away. Great, as they would all have to come to Goodison for the return fixtures. But in stark contrast, we've fumbled against teams we need to beat in order to challenge for a European spot. It's more than obvious that the established teams were able to penetrate our defence with ease, while Stoke, Hull and WBA all scored against us. Startling stats, to say the least. Consider this, we're up against Arsenal and Man Utd once the league resumes after the internationals. On current sentiment, a point in either match would be akin to Malaysia beating Korea. Not one for the faint hearted, I assure you.
So how does Moyes earn his keep? I will not be surprised at all if he reverts to the 4-5-1, a system most effective in a team of technically superb players, not a hodge-podge of industrialists and versatilists. I think that's what's most disappointing about Everton, we haven't progressed in terms of footballing abilities. The insomnia-curing long ball tactic, continuously aimed at Yakubu for 90 minutes, displays a lack of tactical and technical progression in the club. Playing for a draw at home reeks of low self-esteem rather than pragmatism. And when what was previously the most secure aspect of the team, the defence, is barely a grade above shambolic, then the lack of confidence will spread like wildfire. It already has, as evident against the Tynesiders. At the very least, Man City fans will say their team went down fighting after blowing a two goal lead.
What can we say?