MILLSY'S MERSEY, #13
  
  
 

Ian Mills looks back on the season

 Royal Blue Mersey

  

Well another one bites the dust, season that is.

And I don't think a lot of blues worldwide will look back on this past one with a ton of happy memories either.  A humiliating derby defeat on our own soil, being dumped out of the FA Cup in a shameful manner, and another Worthington cup loss to a lower-league side to name a few.  

While the season may have had us drowning our sorrows in our pint glasses, there have, as always, been some positives to take from this season.  David Moyes being appointed to replace Walter Smith being one, as well as the end of season form of Duncan Ferguson, David Unsworth and Alessandro Pistone... not to mention the birth of another youth player in Nick Chadwick who has quickly become a fan favourite, plus wonderkid Rooney set to make his first-team bow when we resume to the world of The Premiership.

I think Moyes has the right idea in that we need to bring in a new goalkeeper.  Paul Gerrard (in my opinion) is not good enough to play for Everton, full stop and while Simo has his good games, he has been caught out a few times this season especially against the bigger clubs. Ian Walker sounds like a good buy to me, he has always been a good keeper and was unfortunate at Tottenham, he has had a decent season at Leicester and for 1.5m, I think we could do good business their.

Lee Carsley and Tobias Linderoth looked to have had their best games in blue shirts on Saturday at Arsenal.  I hope Toby stays; I like the way he sits in front of the defence, something we have lacked since Dacourt.

We could do a lot worse than sell Kevin Campbell.  I think he's past his best and around 2.5M plus saving 35 grand a week would be a worthy deal with the kids Rooney and Chadwick itching for starting places next season.

Has Ginola been eating some baguettes or what? :) Good luck to him, I think he could have lit Goodison up had he been signed in different circumstances; he was simply the wrong man at the wrong time.

The Season

Player of the season - David Weir - Never seems to have a bad game; admitted to being "not the greatest talker on the pitch" when he was handed the armband last year but, in his spell as captain this year, I think he did us proud.  Add to the fact that not only did he join us ahead of the kopites, but he says he's not interested in leaving Everton, not even for Manchester United.  A dedicated player who wears his heart on his sleeve

Young Player of the season - Nick Chadwick - Chaddy has taken his chance well this season.  A boyhood Evertonian who works his socks off on the park.  Has always been a natural goal scorer in the reserves and youth team and looks to be carrying that into the first team.  Tony Hibbert comes close behind him after some fine performances at right back.

Goal of the season - Alessandro Pistone v Bolton - Beats Gravesen's against West Ham and Stubbs' v Bolton in my opinion.  A powerful right foot drive from 30 yards straight into the back of the net. A crucial goal also.

Game of the season - The Fulham game at home - From the moment Z Cars hit and the lads ran out to a packed Goodison that never stopped signing, to the final whistle filled with joy and relief.  That is the best atmosphere I have ever witnessed; we (the fans) made a difference that day in what was a crucial win in Moyes's first game in charge.

Worst game of the season - I was tempted to put the Derby at home were we outclasses by the red shite, but Boro away in the FA cup was ridiculous.  From the tactics (Clarke left back, Pistone right back and Linderoth right wing) to the moment that gobshite Ince cart wheeled infront of us.  No player seemed to care that day, and 8,000 Evertonians spent the 4-hour journey home wondering why they forked out so much money yet again.

Moment of the season - David Moyes being introduced - A Thunderous roar from a packed Goodison welcoming one of the brightest young managers in the English game to our club.  You could see he was touched and he has had nothing but praise for the fans since he came.

Flop of the season - Walter Smith - After saving the club from relegation 3 years running, this season was being hyped as a sound all-round season with the second most successful British manager in charge.  His tactics were awful at times and didn't show any emotion during games not to mention his usual "well we're disappointed with that, but injuries have cost us today" line after every game, as well as taking too many gambles: Duncan, Gazza and Ginola.

The Players

GOALKEEPERS

Paul Gerrard - Mistake after mistake saw him finally dropped in November.  Cost us too many points last season as well as this.  Once he returned to the team in April, another howler against Leicester straight away did him no favours before a nightmare game against Blackburn hopefully sealed his status as "Transfer Listed". - 4/10

Steve Simonsen - Came into the picture like a breath of fresh air, keeping a number of clean sheets before his "nightmare" game at Boro away in the cup.  A few more mistakes have had some people asking questions about the ex-England U-21 keeper.  Commands his area and a good shot stopper.  Should continue to improve and become a great keeper. - 7/10

DEFENDERS

Steve Watson - More of an attacking player than out-and-out right back, was solid at the start of the season and only seemed to have one bad game (Liverpool at home) before being injured in January.  Returned in April looking a little unfit; often leaves "his" right back spot unguarded allowing the opposition to take advantage, but an honest professional who'll give you 100% every game. - 7/10

Tony Hibbert - Having played central midfield as a youngster, he has found himself occupying the right back spot this season in Steve Watson's absence.  An Evertonian who plays for the crest every game.  Sometimes looks to get rid of the ball too early which is probably down to nerves.  A good prospect for the future who has had some great games this season. - 7/10

Alec Cleland - Featured just three times this season as a substitute; once again he had a ridiculous amount of injuries, and has just been released.  Brought nothing new to the team when he did feature.  He joins the Stephen Hughes's and the Danny Williamson's of this world as another talented player who's career took a dive at our club. - Not played enough to be judged

Alan Stubbs - A boyhood blue who was an instant favourite with the fans from the moment he held up the "Once an Evertonian Always An Evertonian" shirt, the day he signed.  A strong player who has been a valuable asset to us this year.  There were shouts for an England call around Easter time which never came.  Has formed a good partnership with Weir but his form dropped towards the end of the season with poor performances against Leicester, Blackburn and Arsenal. - 7/10

David Weir - Player of the season.  Leads by example - Read player of the season section above. -9/10

Peter Clarke - Never played in his natural position which is in a back 4.  Played as a right back under Smith and worked hard every game.  Made some mistakes and his confidence seemed to drop.  Is captain of England U-20's and our reserve team.  Iif played at center back, then we might see the best of Clarkey. -6/10

David Unsworth - Started well enough but a couple of bad performances against Man Utd, Palace and Liverpool resulted in him being dropped.  In and out of the team until Moyes's arrival in which he ended the season as our best player.  In that kind of form he is one of the best players to have around.  Hard working, strong tackler, supports the midfield and likes to attack down the left.  Plays well on the left or the center but as we all know, can have his fair share of bad games. - 7/10

Alessandro Pistone - A calm player who never seems to worry.  Had his worst games when played as a right back under Smith, looked comfortable in a back three or four.  Tackles and passes well and works hard.  An all round good player who we would miss if the rumors about him wanting to return to Italy are true. - 7/10

Gary Naysmith - Plays like an Evertonian in that he will play for the badge for 90 minutes.  Runs up and down tirelessly and works very hard.  Likes to attack and is a good tackler; still only 21.  One wonders where he will fit into the team when he returns from injury after good seasons from Rhino and Pistone, but a player we must keep. - 8/10

MIDFIELDERS

Niclas Alexandersson - After three good performances against Charlton, Spurs and Boro, Nic's form dropped and he found himself left out of the squad completely at times.  First touch isn't the best and often runs towards the corner flag too much instead of to the touchline, has improved under Moyes and is still our only option on the right side. A good world cup should help him produce his international form at Goodison. - 6/10

Lee Carsley - Hasn't put a foot wrong since joining. Makes life un-comfortable for the opposition and likes a crunching tackle, much like the Parkinson and Horne days. Also likes to support the forwards. Looking like a good buy at 1.6M. - 7/10

Scot Gemmill - Works hard and makes up for lack of skill with some neat passing and control.  Hasn't been at his best this season but still a hard worker who is always busy. - 6/10

Tobias Linderoth - Protected the back four in the Ipswich, Liverpool, Crewe, Arsenal and Leeds games before being moved to the right wing (!) by Walter where he failed to impress.  Didn't feature under Moyes until the final league game at Arsenal where he once again looked good in the holding midfield role.  Still only 23 and capped numerous times by Sweden for whom he will play the holding midfield role in this summer's World Cup. - 7/10

Mark Pembridge - Season blighted by injuries, played as a left winger by Smith earlier in the season, he always worked hard and made life difficult for the opposition.  Some say he will win you the ball and then give it away again.  If injury free next season, could be a valuable asset to the squad. - 6/10

Thomas Gravesen - Started the season in fine form after recovering from an ankle injury.  Scored a wonder goal against West Ham followed by a fine free kick against Villa which brought out the confidence in "Mad Dog".  Works hard, loves a crunching tackle and passes well.  Currently our best midfielder who was nearly forced out the club after a bust up with Smith. - 8/10

Idan Tal - Only started one game, against Sunderland away, where he was ineffective.  Likes to take people on.  If given a run in the side, could prove to be a great player. - Not played enough to be judged

Jesper Blomqvist - Brought something new to the team in that he liked to run at players and take people on.  Not consistent enough this season but showed flashes of being a top-class player.  Hopefully he will be offered a new contract and, with a pre-season under his belt, we could have one of the coups of the decade. 7/10

David Ginola - Wrong man, wrong place, wrong time.  Could have lit Goodison up if he had arrived in different circumstances.  Played as a striker by Smith where he impressed against Crewe and Arsenal.  Dropped by Smith after a bust up and then injured until the final game of the season where he returned out of shape.  Released in May. - 6/10

Kevin McLeod - Only figured once in the Worthington Cup against Palace. A boyhood Blue who can play anywhere on the left; next season will be make or break. - Not played enough to be judged.

STRIKERS

Duncan Ferguson - Started well before picking up a series of injuries which saw him sit on the sidelines until January before getting injured again.  After a visit to a specialist, a blood disorder was found to be the key to his injury problems.  Now under control, he has produced some wonderful form and resumed the roll of captain.  An injury free Duncan next season would be a handful for any team. - 7/10

Kevin Campbell - Last league goal for the blues came against West Ham in September and he only scored 3 when he returned against Orient and Crewe.  Looks to be past his best and rumors are flying around that he will be sold in the summer.  Works hard for the team and is willing to take bumps for the likes of Radz and Chadwick.  Next season will be make or break for Kev as far as his Goodison future goes. - 6/10

Tomasz Radzinski - Offers something to the team that no other striker did apart from Danny Cadamarteri in that he will run into space and drag defenders across the park.  Very fast but has missed some golden chances this season.  There are rumors he may leave in the summer but in my opinion we should keep him, next season should see Tomasz improve into a 15-goal-a-season man if injury free. - 7/10

Joe-Max Moore - Never really got a fair chance this season, when he did he didn't look much better than what we had.  Scored 2 goals in December and we never heard much since.  Works hard and will play for the badge in that he will run tirelessly all game.  Doesn't score enough to be a striker and doesn't look comfortable in midfield.- 5/10

Nick Chadwick - Natural finisher in the youth team and reserves, got his chance around Easter and never looked back.  3 goals in 2 starts and 4 sub apps is a good record for a 18-year-old kid.  Looks like a fine striker who works hard and knows where the goal is.  Should see more of him next season. - 7/10

The players who have left

Abel Xavier - Showed his true colours when he crossed Stanley Park and then branded the club stupid for sacking Walter Smith.  Famously refused to play against Sunderland at home after complaining of a boil on his bottom.  Played better in a back 4 that in midfield or a back 5; played well during December when he was playing for a move.  My red shite mates are already complaining that he's not good enough, but he's their problem, no longer ours. - 6/10

Paul Gascoigne - One of the finest players ever was given the chance to possibly end his career at Everton by Walter Smith and he re-payed him by putting in some fine displays in key games such as Stoke, Sunderland and Bolton.  Small cries for an England re-call were dashed when he was dropped by Walter Smith in March and then asked for a transfer just before Smith was sacked.  Opened defences up, worked tirelessly and passed well. - 7/10

Danny Cadamarteri - What proved to be his final performance against Villa away resulted in sarcastic cheers from the Everton faithful when he was brought off in the 2nd half.  Suffered from a lack of confidence and his shooting was never anything special. - Didn't play enough to be judged

Well, there you have it, the final column of the season.  Final thoughts?  Some of the names we are being linked with aren't great but if its what we have to do, then we must stick by the board and management.  Robbie Savage and Division 1 players aren't the ideal solution to the problems of our once-great club, but that's what it is, our club, the People's Club.  With Moyes in charge, and some great youngsters coming through, the future doesn't have to be grey, it will always be, blue.

Take Care

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

Ian Mills


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