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Fans Comment
Simon Birdsey


The trouble with Everton
2 August 2005

Last season, we did exceptionally well with a very small squad of limited players.  From about February I had to stop watching the games though, because against the likes of Southampton and West Brom we were dire depressing even. Amazingly, when I stopped watching them we put a bit of a run together and even beat United!

I was sure that Liverpool were going to catch us and probably even Bolton too.  But somehow they both managed to throw away points whenever we failed to win.  Was it 18 points we finished behind third-placed United?  You've got to admit that it was a below par year for the chasing pack.

Personally I would have let Weir go this summer and kept Stubbs.  Admittedly, neither would trouble Linford Christie, but Weir just seems so error-prone; like that long-ball against the Thai team which he met with a sheriffs badge of a header, which, fortunately, the keeper managed to gather up . Krldrup does look quality though and hopefully, if Yobo can rediscover his 'loan period' form, then they'll make a brilliant partnership.

Against Arsenal at the tail-end of last season, where we were battered 7-0, and again in Istanbul, we had Wright in nets and Weir in front of him.  Both should go in my opinion.  And don't forget Pistone while you're at it he was shocking last season, his distribution was appalling . I was ecstatic when he was released!  Why didn't we go for Harding from Brighton (now at Leeds and whom we were rumoured to be interested in) or Konchesky- a snip at 2M?  Maybe if we'd made a move for Wayne Bridge (who could also cover on the left of midfield), Chelsea would have signed Kaladze as well as Del Horno. And what are we going to do about cover for right back?  Pistone?  Don't make me laugh!

In midfield, if it's true that Owen Hargreaves is available for a couple of million, I would be in there like a shot.  Carsley already seems to be troubled with injuries this season and the only cover we have is Li Tie.  Hargreaves can play all across the middle and even drop to right back and if we need to put a wall up in front of the defence, I think Carsley and Hargreaves would do a pretty good job.

Otherwise I'm fairly happy with the midfield, although we are quite short in stature with Davies, Cahill, Arteta and Osman. What surprises me though is that we're supposed to be interested in Davids (4M per year? 77 k per week) and van der Meyde and yet we've risked losing half the team, not getting Arteta and unsettling Cahill by cutting back wages to the bone!?!

I was quite impressed by what I saw of McFadden on the left against the Thai's.  He was getting the ball in and running at their defence, although my only criticism is that he was too predictable, always going on the outside to the bye line, never cutting in and using his right.

Upfront we really need a cutting edge someone who can stick the ball in the back of the net.  I would love to have Robbie Keane and I was praying that Spurs would sign Baptista and let him go.  But they've made him captain for the Peace Cup, so it would seem unlikely.  My second choice would be Benni McCarthey, who we nearly signed not so long ago. He's desperate to come to England, he's scored goals consistently in Europe (even winning the Champions league), he's the right sort of age, he's available and I don't think he would be too expensive certainly less than the rumoured 8M we are ready to shell out on Andy Johnson, a player who's only done it for one season in the top flight and who scored a lot of his goals through penalties.

I sincerely believe that Tottenham are going to become a major force in the English game before long, maybe in the same sort of mould as Ajax.  From nowhere they've started buying the best young talent in this country: Keane, Defoe, Carrick, Robinson, Reid, Dawson, Davenport, Davis, Brown, Routledge.  They battered a few teams (including us) 5-0 last season.  I think that they should be our template.  We could have had Bent from Ipswich for next to nothing, ditto Routledge, and Taylor from Tranmere.

Hopefully Vaughan will make the step up this season, but otherwise we've only really brought through Hibbert and Osman. I'd love to see us have a really successful academy, even bringing in players from the continent at 16 or expanding our feeder club system is it still just Home Farm?  And who have we had from there?  I admit that Wenger is much more knowledgeable about the French leagues and Benitez about the Spanish than our own gaffer, but we don't have the money to compete at the top end of the market, so we should be investing more in our youth system.

I think the Thai deal is an excellent bit of business and it's encouraging that we're actively looking to recruit the cream of the regions young players.  I'm fully supportive of Keith Wyness, I think he's really stream-lining the club and actively looking to tap into as many markets as possible.  And I do believe that David Moyes is looking long-term with a view to building the club up.

My biggest concern though is that we might be a bit of a yo-yo team . In Moyes's first season, we narrowly missed out on Europe; in his second season we narrowly avoided relegation.  This coming season, I just can't see where the goals are going to come from.  Other teams sussed out our system from about the midway mark last time and even began beating us at our own game Charlton, Blackburn, WBA.  The added demands of European football on an already very small squad could be our undoing.  If we take our current form into the new league season and get battered by the pacy, slick Villarreal (Weir must be having nightmares already!) and United at home then all our hopes for the coming year will be dashed in one fell swoop.

Simon  Birdsey


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