That Osman Book ! – by David Downie

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Having had some time to mull over the recent extracts of Leon Osman’s new and breathtakingly titled book, Leon Osman: My Autobiography, I feel better placed to provide a short, yet balanced take on the issues that have come to light.

Let’s take a step back and point out the obvious, what we’ve been privy to so far are only small glimpses of his story, so each of our best judgements should be reserved until we read the book in its entirety. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t hate Tim Cahill, regardless of the rumours, I don’t think his life doesn’t get more exciting than watching Per Kroldrup play head tennis and I’d also bet that he isn’t behind the Boring James Milner account on Twitter, as great as that would be. That being said, there are some points in which Osman has done little to quieten those who’ve been so discontented with him for what seems like an eternity.

For me, Leon Osman has been a fantastic servant to Everton and will never quite get the accolades from our fan base that he warrants. People can argue his abilities or lack of them until they’re blue in the face, but Osman has been there at the best and worst of times for longer than a decade. Scapegoats, and in particular, local scapegoats are very easy to come by. For some reason people believe a player is that little bit worse if they play poorly, only for the reason they grew up around the corner – Tony Hibbert is the other obvious example.

By all means people have their reasons for disliking Osman, now more so than ever given his seemingly close unity with Moyes. I don’t really buy into that. The lad has given his all in an Everton shirt, the same as what we’d all do and for that he deserves much better than what he gets. But the thing that irks me with his words and indeed those that still echo from David Moyes, is the apparent limitations these people seem to forever place on the football club. During a meeting in a hotel near Haydock where Moyes revealed he was off down the M62, Osman speaks of his and his other selected teammates’ reaction upon hearing the news: “We all congratulated him and told him he had earned a move like that for all his effort and what he’d done for the club.” I feel I have to draw the line with this.

Six of Everton’s senior players were in attendance here and Osman claims each of them echoed this sentiment. That’s a big problem for me, but it also explains a lot and confirms suspicions I’ve long had about mentality during Moyes’ tenure. “Earned a move like that.” Is that what we’re all about? Doing the best we can just to align ourselves with “bigger” and “better” clubs, all because we don’t believe we have enough to make that step ourselves? That’s exactly how it feels. And there’s proof to back it up.

I wrote something earlier this year (see below) after we’d been beaten by Crystal Palace 3-2 (the one last season). I spoke about how there still seemed to be a lingering stench of the Moyes mentality that we ultimately remained in his way of thinking: “we hope to reach fourth place, but we don’t really expect it.” Didn’t Phil Neville once say 7th is a fantastic result for a club like Everton? Moyes said similar several times – and perhaps they were right. That is not the point. If your mentality is anything like this, you’ve already lost.

I felt incredibly sorry for Roberto Martinez that night. We were in the ascendency in that tussle with Arsenal and capitulated with a silly result. Martinez spoke of player mentality that wasn’t quite akin to what you’d see from top four contenders. His quotes that evening: “The way we defended carried somehow a bit of fear and that left us a bit exposed. It is not normal for us to play with that feeling.”

This is exactly what I sense from Osman’s anecdote and the sentiment he claims was felt by six of our senior players. I can understand feeling that way having had that mentality injected into you over 11 years, I really can. But surely you would never admit to it. It shows weakness in abundance in my opinion and any opponent with half a brain would seize on that when the big moments come along each season.

For many, this will resonate with a popular opinion that Everton became far too soft in the aftermath of Moyes’ departure. It was further hammered home just days after he’d left with his pursuit of his former players – again something Ossie can fully understand. Having stated how harsh he felt our fans’ treatment of Moyes was whilst he attempted to lure Baines and Fellaini, it was a perfect opportunity for Osman to say how anger from many Blues was because of how derogatory Moyes spoke of a club he apparently will always love.

A sinister backlash to Osman’s revelations wouldn’t be fair, but at the same time, he’d be naive to think many people wouldn’t take issue with what he’s said. Stones, glass houses and all that. Here’s that piece: http://footyscene.com/smell-football-david-downie/

David Downie


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