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Fans Comment
Ian Evans


The problem with Everton
17/09/05

There seems to be a lot of opinions on why we have started so poorly this season and a number of them have contributed to the unenviable record of played seven, lost six (we scraped the other after getting tanked for the majority of the game).

I am a die-hard fan but will admit to not being a season-ticket holder; the one match I have watched in person was the Villarreal home tie, I benefited from the Club's blunder to release tickets early.  After watching us clearly being outclassed in that match I have watched three matches live on TV to help me arrive at my conclusions, so here goes.

Starting from the back, Nigel Martyn is still doing an excellent job for the club, a bargain at 500k and surely another season extension will follow.  Defensively however we are found wanting on both flanks, it must be a joy for opposing teams to see messrs Hibbert and Pistone in possession, hmm what are they going to do?  A short pass that puts a team mate under pressure?  Back to the keeper, or a long punt up field?  10k a week and they can barely pass!  I cant believe Hibbo is being touted for English honours; defensively he is ok but that is not enough; overlapping runs and a good technical ability are required, if we have a holding midfielder then surely he will be covered.  Their plight is not helped by an over-rated midfield but I will return in due course.

The central defensive pairing is ok.  Weir obviously lacks pace but has a presence and I will always rate Joey Yobo even though he is prone to the occasional blunder.  Krldrup and Ferrari should be staking a claim in the coming months and I would like to see Yobo at right back (he does have the technique and is confident on the ball) with the highly rated Krldrup coming in at centre half (I will plead ignorance as to his actual ability).  Valente will no doubt hold down the left back spot as he acclimatises himself to the Premiership, although Neville could be best used at the back.

The best midfield in years are certainly struggling at the minute and not one player will escape some form of criticism, although it hopefully will be seen as constructive!  I must admit that when we signed Neville I had the feeling that he would be a positive acquisition but I am yet to be convinced that the holding midfielder in a five is for him.  I would give Carsley the edge on present viewing.  Neville certainly shone for Man Utd in centre-mid but that was as part of a four where he was in the hustle and bustle of the challenges, not sitting in front of the back four where he will occasionally play a high ball forward or slow down any possession we have by insisting on taking a long throw.  Leadership qualities were attributes handed his way for generally taking the ball off any other would-be thrower, therefore giving the opposition all the time in the world to regroup to defend a long throw on that evidence he should have signed for Bolton.

Indeed centre-midfield has not been adequately strengthened even with Neville and Arteta, who has great technique with a dead ball but will not command or take charge of a game.  He is a decent player but I could not understand the clamour for his signing in the summer, even if the fee was a bargain!  The third midfielder is Cahill and many are of the opinion that he is running on empty.  I thought he was a revelation last season and thoroughly deserved his new deal, but with second season syndrome we need a little more from him.  He has found himself in a number of goal-scoring positions and eventually the goals will come; however, we need him to contribute to the build-up play of the team (Moyes has stated this himself).  He cannot just make forward runs, he must look to get involved in triangles with the full backs, Arteta and the other wide men.  Remember the long ball from the back invariably comes as a result of no other option being available.

The wide men are not contributing at the moment.  Davies is finding his feet and shows glimpses of what he is capable of but doesnt seem overly confident whilst over on the left is a joke.  Kilbane has gone back a mile and a pass to him will regularly see him try to take on his marker only for possession to be lost, or is that what McFadden does?  Oh no its both of them!  There is a subtle difference though with McFadden regularly looking for the megs (or nuts if you prefer) and Kilbane kicking the ball past the marker but not getting past him to collect.  I hope Van der Meyde can provide a spark on that side when fit, but we will have to wait and see.

Finally it is left for the strikers.  Being a striker myself I am more sympathetic to their cause; yes, another striker would have been a bonus but they are not helped at the moment by being isolated from the rest of the team, regardless of formation (although 4-5-1 is the norm, we do not play 4-3-3!!).  What do you expect the likes of Beattie, Bent and Ferguson to do when the majority of their service is with their backs to goal and the ball up at their throats?  Or better still, get it to their feet and limit the support from midfield and let them battle against two defenders to keep possession.  Beattie has many doubters but if he actually manages ten consecutive matches we may see him come good, although only with quality service and support.  Many have made their minds up already, at the Villarreal game he was blamed by a punter for the second goal!  That was Beatties man he said after our lone striker had tracked back 50 yards to help the defence!  What about the time allowed for the cross to come in or a centre-mid dropping back?

A striker in the mould of Bellamy would have been the perfect foil for Beattie, but obviously he is high maintenance and certainly a risk.  I also believe a Teddy Sheringham type could prosper, providing we have pace from the midfield.

All in all it is a depressing time at the minute and if I was offered a top ten finish I would snatch it, just like I would have at this time last season.  Perhaps that is the Moyes masterplan, lower expectations amongst the Goodison faithful and watch us go!

Having had my rant I firmly believe Moyes is the man to lead us through this blip; the squad has been significantly strengthened from a year ago and I will be watching in hope as the blues run out at Highbury on Monday.

It can never be said that supporting Everton is ever dull!

For what it is worth, my ideal Everton line-up is written below; I know that if I asked 10 Evertonians there would probably be ten different suggestions! 4-1-4-1:

Martyn; Yobo, Krldrup, Weir, Neville; Carsley; Davies, Cahill, Arteta, Van der Meyde; Beattie

Ian  Evans


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