PETER REID knows all too well about the caprices of mood and energy levels in the dressing room which can significantly alter the course of a football club’s season.
The 56-year-old Everton hero has seen it all as a player and faced more than his fair share of twists and turns as a manager too.
So Reid is not getting too carried away about the current slump in momentum hampering the fortunes of his Goodison favourites. But the straight-talking Huyton-born former England international has his reservations about one notion in particular.
Ask him whether he fears the Blues’ small squad is currently dipping below the high levels of earlier this term because they are tired, and he admits he’s not totally convinced.
“I ask people the question – are the lads fitter now days? They say they are because of the advancements in sports science but on the same token the game is less physical.
“The pitches are infinitely better now too,” says the man who formed an integral part of Howard Kendall’s title-winning side in 1984/85.
That season Kendall – aside from six players who each featured just once – effectively used only 19 individuals to win the league (42 games), reach an FA Cup final, and lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Perhaps that’s why Reid isn’t overly convinced by suggestions of fatigue.
“I take the point when people say they are concerned the players might be tired. But at the same time if you tell players they are tired, there’s a risk you given them an excuse they can use,” he says.
“If you are playing week in, week out, and getting results you just want to keep on playing and keep the momentum going.
“I remember in the 1984/85 season. Most days after a game me and Andy Gray would be in the treatment room with ice packs all over us. We were both crocks! But we managed to get through it.
“Sometimes it’s about desire and heart to get out on that pitch and that still counts for a lot now. Look at Ryan Giggs. he keeps going and is still scoring goals now at 39.”
After collecting just six points from their last five games, Everton are now six points adrift of Tottenham in the battle for a Champions League slot, and two behind Arsenal, who have leapfrogged above them into fifth.
And in the context of the Blues’ rivals for fourth-spot Reid is far more sympathetic to the current Everton players.
“Having said all that,” he adds. “If the question is about getting fourth place this season then Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs and even Liverpool have got bigger squads.
“You can’t use that as an excuse all the time but it’s true.
“Overall there have been games they should have won. Newcastle at Goodison should have been three points, Reading away, Fulham away, Norwich at home. They are points that if they were in the bag we’d be much higher in the table.
“Unfortunately we lacked that cutting edge to get them in most of those games. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a good season until now. It has. The big task is to keep it going. Everton need to grind out results more
“Look at Manchester United. They will win the title because they’ve got results, even when they’re not playing well. You aren’t going to play well every week, it’s impossible. But they have the winning habit.”
Reid believes Moyes’ players should not be too harsh on themselves after last weekend’s defeat at old Trafford, and should instead focus on progress in the FA Cup tomorrow evening.
“Distin was a big, big miss and Manchester United’s goals were a bit cheap,” he says.
“Everton got caught high up the pitch. Everton played some decent football but it’s always undermined when you concede goals like that. You just can’t afford to do it. But still we did well in patches, nobody can deny that.
“As for Oldham – Matt Smith is a handful and certainly caused Liverpool problems.
“Nobody will underestimate Oldham after the way they played against Liverpool, but Everton will be ready to compete and I’m sure David Moyes will impress that on them.”
Moyes will hope to have Distin fit and back in his plans to face the Latics at Boundary Park, but if he should need to call on John Heitinga again, Reid believes the Holland international will benefit from going back to basics.
“He’s been caught out at key moments,” says Reid.
“At the moment he’s in a rut where his mistakes are being punished with goals against him and he is the only one who can lift himself out of it.
“I always feel when you are making mistakes you should focus on getting the basics right again.
“Don’t dwell on the ball if you have time and space. And don’t try and defend too high up the pitch. At the end of the day we’ve all been through it.”