Moyes gets same old blues after Toffees' latest failure
Dave bassett once held Sheffield United's Christmas party in August in an attempt to trick the players into believing they were heading into the second half of the season, in which they had consistently performed better.
Maybe David Moyes will try something similar next August. This year, he made sensible changes in pre-season, adapted routines, arranged different fixtures, all to shake off Everton's habitual bad start.
As they approached their opening-day fixture at Ewood Park, it seemed to be working. Pre-season, which included a tour of Australia, produced six wins out of seven.
Everyone was fit, a real rarity at Goodison Park in recent seasons. Key player Mikael Arteta had snubbed interest from Arsenal and Manchester City to sign a new deal. The 'Liverpool Echo' had headlines like 'Arteta: I want to help establish Everton in top four', and 'Nobody's spot is safe in the team now, says Neville'.
Six weeks on and Moyes will, indeed, be agonising over his team selection for the visit to Craven Cottage on Saturday, but only because hardly anyone seems to warrant a place in the starting line-up. Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat at Brentford followed an abysmal start to the Premier League season, which has yielded two points from a possible 15.
It is the fifth time in nine seasons under Moyes that Everton have failed to manage more than a point-a-game from their opening quintet of matches, but none have been as bad as this.
No one is suggesting Moyes will be fired: his achievements over the last eight seasons protect him from suffering the consequences of a bad start and chairman Bill Kenwright is an unabashed fan of the Scot.
Evertonians, already unnerved by his being linked with Aston Villa, are more concerned that he will quit with bookies offering 11/4 that he will have left by the start of next season.
Moyes said he was happy with the team's performance on Tuesday, but that was for public consumption.
Some of the Brentford players thought Everton were complacent and it did seem their superiority in the opening 20 minutes, when the visitors could have scored a hatful, lulled some players into thinking the night was going to be as easy as the 5-1 dispatch of another League One club, Huddersfield, in the previous round.
The big problem, however, was not so much attitude, but the quality of the finishing. That has been the story of Everton's season so far, with the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, when Everton forced 18 corners, the prime example.
It is too early to panic, said Neville yesterday, but time for some hard realism.
"There are no excuses. No hiding places. We don't deserve to win these football matches at the moment," Neville said. (© Independent News Service)