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Monday Moan: Moyes is way too negative

Monday 25th February 2013 12:24

David Moyes: Should show more ambition

David Moyes: Should show more ambition

Mark Holmes blasts Jonathan de Guzman for taking Swansea's penalty on Sunday and is critical of Everton's David Moyes and Stoke's Tony Pulis.

Dyer denied chance of a lifetime

Somewhat bizarrely, much of the talk since Swansea's stunning 5-0 win over Bradford in the Capital One Cup final has been about the spat between Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman over the taking of a penalty.

That's a shame - Michael Laudrup deserves an enormous amount of praise for the improvements he has made to the team this season, as does chairman Huw Jenkins for the work he has done in leading the club to the Premier League and now the first major trophy in their history.

However, Dyer and De Guzman's argument has split football fans. Some say Dyer was petulant to insist he should take the penalty just because he had the chance to score a hat-trick, while others believe De Guzman was selfish in wanting to step up after winning the spot-kick.

I fall into the latter camp. Dyer has been accused of not being team player but, to me, denying a team-mate the chance to score a hat-trick in a Wembley cup final shows a far greater lack of team ethic.

There isn't a player in the world that wouldn't have wanted to take the penalty in Dyer's situation - and there can't be many that would have denied him the chance as De Guzman did.

Of course, De Guzman's desperation to take the spot-kick was just as understandable as Dyer's after he was denied a certain Wembley goal by Matt Duke's trip.

However, Laudrup confirmed after the game that he had not designated a penalty taker so, with Dyer and De Guzman fighting over the penalty, Swansea captain Ashley Williams should have made the call.

One of the players was going to end up feeling hard done by regardless, but Williams could have prevented Dyer's hissy-fit, which was way over the top, by making a decision and conciliating the unfortunate party.

For me, that unfortunate party should have been De Guzman rather than Dyer.

Moyes' negativity costs Everton

To the media, the vast majority of neutrals and all of his contemporaries, David Moyes is one of the best managers in the Premier League.

He consistently has Everton touching their glass ceiling, and he does it having consistently being forced to sell off his best players.

Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini will be the next stars to be sold off sooner or later but, if Moyes stays put, the odds are on Everton continuing to challenge for a place in the top six.

Yet there is a section of the Everton support, larger than you may think, that has for a long time questioned whether Moyes is the best man for the job at Goodison Park.

They are not necessarily unhappy with where the team has been finishing and is likely to finish this season in the Premier League, but they are not particularly pleased by how such finishes are achieved.

Moyes is simply too negative, they claim. Following the Toffees' 2-1 defeat at Norwich on Saturday, in which they led 1-0 until the 84th minute, the claims have become that little bit louder.

And not without basis. Although Everton were not at their best at Carrow Road, they were in charge of the game following Leon Osman's goal six minutes before half-time.

With a near full-strength team out the visitors should have been good enough to see out the game, but they sat back, handed the initiative to Norwich, and eventually lost.

Had Moyes had more confidence in his players to kill off the game or taken off the ineffective Nikica Jelavic earlier than the 77th minute, perhaps Everton would have won the game 2-0.

You cannot lambast a manager because of one game, of course, but 12 draws in the Premier League this season hints at a team that prefers to hold on to one point than risk going for three.

To give further credence to the argument, it recently came to light that Everton have not won in 48 attempts at Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea in the league under Moyes.

The club are also yet to win a trophy under the Scot. Last season they had a great chance of at least reaching the FA Cup final but an overly defensive performance in the semi-final saw them beaten by an inferior Liverpool team.

There is nothing wrong with pragmatism, but there is a feeling on the Blue half of Merseyside that it may just be holding the team back.

Great expectations

Many people will accuse Everton fans critical of Moyes of being ungrateful and having unrealistic expectations.

However, a club as established in the top division as Everton should not need to adopt a results-at-any-cost attitude.

Moyes may have had many of his best players poached over the years, but the reason the Toffees continue to finish in the upper echelons of the Premier League is that Moyes has been allowed to reinvest much of the transfer money on top-quality replacements.

It has become an accepted myth that he has had no money to spend, but Everton are one of the few English clubs that could afford to pay £15million on a player as they did to land Fellaini back in 2008, and a wage bill of £63.4million in 2011/12, the seventh highest in the country, further disproves the theory that the Toffees are paupers.

With that in mind, are Everton fans really unrealistic in believing the team should not have to resort to sitting back to defend a lead at Norwich, or that their home defeat to Chelsea or draw against Swansea were not indicative of a team that is too defensive minded?

Moyes has done a fantastic job at Everton, but a little more ambition would go a long way.

Stick or twist?

Stoke City are in a very similar situation to Everton. They are performing close to their glass ceiling, but many fans are becoming increasingly unhappy about the way the team goes about achieving results.

Tony Pulis is an even bigger pragmatist than Moyes and views every point as a step towards the 40-point target he obsessively talks about until it is achieved.

At home Stoke are strong and play some good, attacking football, but on the road their lack of ambition is as fruitless as it is boring.

Pulis goes into every away game with the aim of nullifying the opposition, but the Potters have now won just one of their last 23 league games away from the Britannia Stadium. Pulis' approach clearly is not working, yet he continues to suggest their record is down to bad luck more than anything else.

Stoke fans, like Everton's, just want to see a little more ambition from the team.

It is difficult to win away games in the Premier League, but Stoke should not have to resort to playing so defensively against the likes of Fulham, who are certainly no better than Pulis' side.

There is no guarantee that Stoke's results would improve with a more attacking approach away from home, but they couldn't get much worse, and the worst case scenario is that they continue to struggle on the road but at least entertain their fans a bit more.

Pulis regularly warns about the dangers of expecting too much, too soon, but Stoke fans are well within their rights to believe a team that Pulis has spent nearly £90million trying to improve should be good enough to play with a tad of attacking intent away from home.

The problem at Stoke is not that the fans expect too much, but that the manager expects too little.



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