How can it be knee jerk when Moyes is consistently being questioned?
Spot on. I think the team's been underperforming for the last four or five years now (cup final aside) and he could've done better with the squad at his disposal. There's been so many poor results; the European maulings obviously (even going back to the Bucharest game) but also some of the lower league cup teams that have beaten us. If we take Shrewsbury and Oldham (at Goodison) out of it (unforgivable but quite some time ago) let's look at some recent ones.
Carling Cup (last five seasons): Leeds, Chelsea, Brentford, Tottenham, Blackburn.
FA Cup (last five seasons): Wigan, Sunderland, Reading, Birmingham, Chelsea (Final).
Bar Chelsea, none of those other teams are better than us (remember Tottenham were a different animal back then and, okay it was at White Hart Lane, but we had won there three consecutive times and it was winnable). Let's be hoenst, that record is poor and this cannot really be blamed on Kenwright. He had the squad to beat those teams and even Chelsea was winnable (when we were dumped out of the cup by Reading we had beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the previous round) so it's not a money issue. We're not getting beaten by oil-rich Chelsea or City every year. In 2010/11 we were beaten in both cups by TWO lower league teams!
Obviously, Kenwright and the board are a cancer but what's the point in even discussing that now? Everyone, bar the odd blinkered nut-job you see floating around on the internet, is wise to how inept the upper management at Everton is and, despite the protest groups best efforts, nothing seems to have changed so far.
Moyes capitalised in his earlier years at Everton by the league being a little bit weaker and he made some excellent signings. The likes of Cahill, Arteta, Howard, Lescott, Jagielka, Baines and Pienaar were all excellent signings and around 2007/08 that Everton team had the looks of a real team. I don't think any of the other Moyes detractors would ever criticise the signings he made early on, he was excellent.
The football we played wasn't great in terms of controlling games or ball retention back then but it definitely had it's moments with a fair few sublime goals (Osmania is obviously the one that stands out) and the consistency of that team was undoubted. Jagielka, Lescott and Howard provided a solid base which kept clean sheets the majority of the time and we picked our moments in front of goal with the likes of Yakubu and Cahill being clinical.
The problem I have is, I think the squad has now gone backwards and, under Moyes at least, found it's level (in terms of league position). Arteta, Yakubu and Jagielka all suffered long lay-offs and Lescott gutted the whole team when he left for pastures new. No-one can lay blame at Moyes' feet for that but his squad now looks weak. I can't actually believe there are people out there who argue this team is better than that team.
It's better at the finer points of the game (something we were crying out for years ago) but the very basics have gone. The defence CANNOT defend and, let's be honest, hasn't been right ever since Lescott's departure. A few weeks ago we were joint bottom in terms of clean sheets kept this season and I don't know if that's changed since but that's diabolical for a team with fans who actually want a European place. Our main striker has been completely abject for long periods of the season and we are relying on the likes of Fellaini to provide goals.
Another problem this season, maybe Moyes' fault, maybe not, is that the players have not been good enough. Pienaar, since cutting his hair, has not been the player we used to know and is getting on a bit now. Jelavic, as stated, has been piss-poor all season. Fellaini has gone off-the-boil. Heitinga has made many errors. So have Jagielka, Howard and Distin (not to the same extent, but they still have). The team he had a few years ago had many pillars of consistency, this doesn't.
Is this through to man-management or is this due to Moyes making the wrong signings? The Lescott money didn't go far. Bilyaletdinov is long-forgotten, Distin has been okay but never been consistent enough to warrant a starting place and has the odd "Yobo" mistake in him, Heitinga has looked good in parts but has been dogshit this season and has failed to hold down a place. Pienaar, was it wise resigning him for how much we did given his age? Why's he not performing? Jelavic was shit-hot last year but was he a one-season wonder or is he being mismanaged?
The defence has been awful for years now though and I just don't think the quality of player is there. Heitinga, with a run in the team, could be a good player but he has been atrocious this season. Distin just isn't Lescott. And Jagielka, despite improvements, is still not the pre-injury Jagielka. This has not been addressed but that's down to the board as well.
Some of his signings are puzzling as well. The likes of Stones and Oviedo. Is that a combined amount of £5m for players who are not going to get a game? Okay, they may be for the future but I don't think we can afford two players signed, on a potential basis, in the same season given our finances.
If you go through the team now, whether it be through injuries, mismanagement, lack of form or simply not being good enough, how many consistent players do we now have? Is Baines the only one?
Before I move on, I think his signing of Darron Gibson was astute and he's not a world-beater but for the price we can't complain. His three signings last Jan of Gibson, Jelavic and Pienaar transferred that season and give the squad a boost. But two of those players have been off-colour for large spells of this season.
Regardless of this, that and the other, this team should not be getting beat by Wigan 0-3 at home in, arguably, the most important game of Everton's season. For him to excuse this as "not Everton's day" has angered many Evertonians and, finally, some are starting to question him just as much as the board.
My opinion hasn't changed for the last few years (see last concluding comment of http://mysportsjournalism.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/time-to-immobilise.html
). This whole club has gone stagnant and it looks like Moyes' relationship with Everton may just peter out. We've had our differences but it'd be a shame to end like this. The first 6/7 years of his reign was excellent for the most part but the board's lack of support for 5 or so years and some of his decisions have started to take their toll. If he does not sign a new contract he'll leave with many Evertonians questioning him.
In conclusion, I think he's an okay manager but has made a lot of mistakes which have been swept under the rug. The team has played percentage football for the large part and we were crying out for a team that could retain the ball and dictate the game a few years ago. He got away with the percentage football when he had solid defenders and clinical forwards. But now, alas, the team can keep the ball but the defenders cannot defend and the forwards cannot score. Regardless of what else happens, you are always going to struggle.
Everyone knows how cancerous the board and Kenwright are to Everton's progression. Some of the players (Howard, Jelavic, Pienaar, Heitinga) need to be questioned for their performances this year (are they actually good enough of have they found their level). And Moyes needs to be questioned. Granted, no-one expects us to mount a top four challenge with the finances available but we shouldn't be getting beat consistently by average/lower league teams in the cup and, whatever way you look at it, this is his squad.
All those players are HIS players, he's signed them and he needs to manage them. Either he's not managing them or they're not good enough.