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View from the Blue
Columnist: Lyndon Lloyd

Wanted: Goalscorer
28 August, 2005

Drogba, Duff, Gudjohnsen.  Henry, Reyes, Bergkamp.  Rooney, Saha, van Nistlerooy.  Beattie, Bent, Ferguson.

Ridiculous, isn't it?  And yet David Moyes's stated ambition is to improve on Everton's 4th place finish last season with that strike-force.  To do so, his side will have to finish above one of those other three teams and his embarrassingly limited attack will probably have to out-score at least one of those striking combinations.  And I'm being generous including James Beattie — he is unavailable so often that he's barely worth considering as a regular first-choice option.

Of course, Moyes no doubt enunciated that goal of 3rd place or better on the assumption that he would have drafted in at least one striker of sufficient pedigree before the transfer window slams shut on Wednesday.  And yet, here we are... three days away from another deadline... and there doesn't appear to be a top-class forward anywhere on the horizon.  We could speculate that the manager is playing his cards close to his chest but, seeing as no transfer happens these days without some media outlet getting whiff of the story days before it happens, let's just say I'm not brimming with optimism and a lot of fans share the fear that the boss has left it too late... again!

The fact that Moyes came out and admitted that the club had approached Michael Owen but been rebuffed, and had bid £2M less than Feyenoord are prepared to accept for Dirk Kuyt, irks me.  Why say if it weren't to prime the fans for massive disappointment on Wednesday night and reassure them that the club did all it could but no-one wanted to come?  According to an alleged conversation between manager and fans at Craven Cottage yesterday, Moyes said almost exactly that; that the club has made plenty of enquiries but no one (Robbie Keane and Kuyt were named specifically) wants to join Everton.

Now I'm obviously not going to lend too much credence to a conversation that may or not have taken place and where Moyes is hardly likely to have revealed his transfer policy but, again, this close to the transfer deadline with no inkling of our most desperate need being addressed, it just feeds one's paranoia.  It also makes it all the more frustrating given the abject lesson served up at Fulham where the Blues' clear superiority translated into precious few scoring chances and ended up being shattered by a classic interchange between two strikers in the form of Radzinski and McBride.

If the first five games of the season have proved nothing else it's that Everton desperately need a player who can provide pace, movement and a decisive touch in front of goal.  All the Ferraris, van der Meydes and Valentes in the world can't make up for the fact that all good sides need a consistent goalscorer.

Cast your minds back to the times in the last 10 seasons when Everton have shown signs that everything was coming together and the think of the players who were at the core of that:

  • 1995-96 Andrei Kanchelskis scores 16 goals driving the Blues into 6th place and within 10 minutes of Uefa Cup qualilfication;
  • 1999-2000 Jeffers and Campbell form a deadly partnership and Nick Barmby scores a hat-trick at West Ham in a 4-0 win;
  • 2002-03 Radzinski and Campbell both reach double figures as Everton finish 7th.

What do all of those sides have in common?  Pace, movement, the ability to pull defenders out of position to create space, and at least one clinical finisher.  Everton in 2005-06 have some of those qualities in one player — Bent — but it counts for nothing when he is playing up front all on his own and without sufficient support in numbers from midfield.  On the evidence of the games against Villarreal, United and Fulham, a prolific striker, coupled with the other new signings, could transform the Blues into serious contenders this season.  Fail to address the glaring lack of a cutting edge up-front and this is going to be a long, hard season.

Since the turn of the year, those three afore-mentioned Everton strikers have scored the grand total of six Premiership goals.  Six, or two each!!!  Since beating Newcastle to secure 4th place, Moyes's team have lost six of their last seven games in all competitions, scoring just five times.  If that doesn't spell out in giant letters how urgently Everton need a decent striker, I don't know what does.  It has now got to the point where money is no longer the object.  If it means paying over the odds, Moyes simply has to find a striker who can find the net with some sort of regularity who wants to join an upwardly-mobile team offering Uefa Cup football and a realistic chance at qualifying for Europe again this season.  Having spent money on the rest of the team, he risks wasting these investments otherwise.

If there is one optimistic side of Moyes's curious announcement, it's that by naming Owen and Kuyt, he at least demonstrated that he is now looking beyond the British Isles in his search for striking reinforcements.  And the transfer value of those two players moves the discussion of potential targets into entirely new territory.  No longer is it a case of trying to unearth a good goalscorer for £3M or less; if these two bids were serious, then a whole host of top names come into consideration

  • Marek Mintal, top scorer in the Bundesliga last season and currently playing for middling Nurnberg; estimated value 5m
  • Roy Makaay, who, on the basis of a hat-trick he scored for Bayern Munich last weekendm looks to be the consummate striker great pace, good in the air and a clinical finisher; estimated value 10M
  • Benni McCarthy, remember him?  Whatever happened to our interest in the South African?  Estimated value £4M?
  • Fabrizio Miccoli, for whom Juventus are apparently asking around 4M

That's just four names off the top of my head and I'm sure Moyes has a whole lot more on his shopping list.  Realistically, he needs to add two names to his attacking complement — someone like David Nugent would be ideal as a back-up/one for the future.  Let's just hope the manager has a couple of names up his sleeve before Wednesday and that he realises the magnitude of the need for more firepower in his otherwise great-looking team.  If you want to play with the big boys, you need a strike-force worthy of the ambition.

It's going to be another nail-biting deadline day!

Lyndon Lloyd

©2005 ToffeeWeb


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