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AJ or McFadden for Euro Game?

By Dutch Schaffaer :  16/09/2007 :  Comments (42) :
Let's try and put the weekend's deeply disappointing performance behind us and focus on the upcoming European game against Metalist Kharkiv.

Not much is really known about our Ukrainian opponents (although hopefully Moyes has done his homework) but we can assume that this will be a tricky fixture and playing in the same limp fashion as they did this weekend will surely end in Metalist earning a draw and Everton facing the scary prospect of having to win away.

Everton really need to beat Metalist by a couple of goals to take the sting out of the return leg. To do that, Everton need to return to their Spurs/Bolton beating best and actually score some goals. Which brings me to the point of this post, should Moyes continue with Andy Johnson or maybe bring in James McFadden?

I believe Moyes has to start with Yakubu, hopefully our record buy will be interested in this fixture and his Euro experience with Boro and International experience with Nigeria will be useful. So that leaves a simple choice: AJ or McFadden?

McFadden has played over 30 games for Scotland and has an excellent scoring record with 10 goals. You can argue that he plays for Scotland and wouldn't get in a top International side but his goals have come against the likes of Sweden, Holland, Romania and France.

AJ on the other hand has seven caps for England. A couple he was played out of position but his big chance came last season when he started the games against Israel and Andorra. This was his big chance but unfortunately he pretty much blew it. Maybe not totally his fault (England were going through a tough time) but he didn't do himself any favours when he failed to score. This season, AJ has slipped in the England pecking order as Crouch and Heskey show how to make the most of a chance when it comes your way.

McFadden is probably in the best form of his career. He salvaged a point against Blackburn with a great finish, came off the bench to score Scotland's third against Lithuania and then hit that wonder strike against France. McFadden has always been a form player and at the moment he's on fire.

AJ hasn't scored a goal at any level for over seven months. Sure he's had an injury in that time but that's a long time for a striker to go without a goal ? just ask James Beattie! To his credit AJ continues to run his hardest and work for the team, he gifted Yakubu a debut goal but he looks like he's lost half a step and his lack of confidence in front of goal is becoming more worrying by the match.

ABILITY On his day, McFadden is a great player, good pace, ability to go past players, underrated finisher and a shot that makes him a threat from distance. Unfortunately all too often McFadden has struggled to find that form. Far too often in the past McFadden has let himself down by making really poor decisions. Too many times he's lost the ball attempting to take a whole team. McFadden's form is sporadic but as we have already established he's currently on top of his game.

AJ on the other hand is Mr consistent. Even with his confidence low AJ continues to work hard for the team. He never gives up lost causes and is always a threat with the endless running. Unfortunately at the moment you wouldn't back to hit a barn door in front of goal.

McFadden has more experience of Euro football, a proven record of scoring against International sides and on his day is the sort of player who wins games with a stroke of brilliance but he's always a risk with his up-and-down form.

AJ is the safer bet, he'll no doubt turn in a good performance, his work ethic will hopefully cause Metalist problems which could create chances for Yakubu to finish. There's even a chance that AJ could score a goal himself, mind you so could Tony Hibbert.

It's a tough decision for Moyes who I feel may stick with the safer option AJ but personally I may roll the dice and use McFadden. Metalist is a must-win game. Let's hope Moyes gets the team playing on top of their game. If they are it should be a fairly easy task to move on to the next stage of the competition.

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
1   Posted 17/09/2007 at 00:28:12

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I am concerned that in our 5 games to date, opposing centre backs have not only had AJ in their pocket they also have been a greater danger to our goal than he has been to theirs. It is becoming pathetic to watch the gutsy little fellow chase aimless balls into dead ends and trying to outjump 6?0+ defenders.

AJ is lacking in so many attributes, physical and skill, that make up a good central striker our expectations of him are too high. His role needs be re-defined but to what I am not sure. His particular strengths are in a very narrow range. Possibly he is best suited in a decoy role for a real centre forward or feeding on the hard work of others a la Michael Owen. Alternatively, we could give him a break and give Jimmy Mac an extended run.

John Andrews
2   Posted 17/09/2007 at 06:59:16

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Are you serious ?
Dick Fearon
3   Posted 17/09/2007 at 07:30:53

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John, even though it pains me, I most definately am serious and Moyes should also be.
Bearing in mind that AJ has failed to score in our last 5 games and rarely looked likely. We cannot wait much longer for AJ to produce the goods.
I wonder John, how many more scoreless games would you give him? one, two, three, more than that?
Is there any limit on the number before you would consider dropping him?
Loyalty toward players is good but it should not cloud our judgement.
Paul Atress
4   Posted 17/09/2007 at 09:15:38

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To make matters worse James Beattie already has four goals this season.

I know its only Championship level but AJ scored 17 for Palace in his last season.

I wonder if Beattie can beat that?
Dave Lynch
5   Posted 17/09/2007 at 09:32:14

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Believe me lads this will be no pushover.
The one thing that eastern block countries do is knock the ball around well.
If we don’t get it dead right and have to go their with a one goal lead, or worse, a drawn game then we will struggle.
Have done some digging on t’internet and by all accounts they try to play the passing game and flood the mid quickly on the break.
They have 2 quick wide men who by all accounts can cause us problems.
Got this info off a european footy chat room, the lad was ukrainian and although he doesn’t live their anymore still has contacts their.
Hold on to youre hats, it could be a dodgy one.
John Holmes
6   Posted 17/09/2007 at 11:06:10

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Sorry Dutch but you’re measuring the players on slightly one-sided qualities. McFadden may come out on top on Form and Technique and dubiously on experience but on the basics like teamplay, consistency, hold-up play, vision and maturity, AJ comes out way, way ahead. McFadden may play and may look a class act but it’s far more likely he’ll drive us all spare and prompt calls for him to be subbed at half-time which is my usual response whenever he spends 45 minutes sabotaging our attacks by persistently losing them ball down blind-alleys and pointless dribbles.
Ciaran Duff
7   Posted 17/09/2007 at 09:00:34

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I think I missed the earlier McFadden discussion, so this one is a bit late!
I am a big fan of Moyes. I can understand why he didn’t start McF against Utd. However, I cannot understand how he waited til the 85th minute for him to have a run. Well, I can actually but it disappoints me to admit it.
Obviously he didn’t intend to play him at all if the game stayed at 0-0. So, we were happy to "settle for" a draw. I would have thought that in his current form that McF should have got at least 20-30 mins. Apart from giving us that bit of unpredictability and the chance to score a goal, he needs to get some time on the park if he is to build up his fitness and "consistency". The lad must be wondering what the McF he needs to do, to get a fair go.
Mark Stone
8   Posted 17/09/2007 at 11:25:15

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Even when not scoring Johnson is massively important to Everton. There’s more to his game that just goals, althouth one would be nice. Anyway I’d have Yak and AJ both playing up front and McFadden behind them - with Osman playing left back (in the changees).
paul okell
9   Posted 17/09/2007 at 12:42:58

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I would start Faddy.
Liam Young
10   Posted 17/09/2007 at 12:47:06

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It’s a difficult one, mcfadden certainly has confidence, especially only getting 5 minutes against united and nearly scoring, i feel we should have given him 15-20 minutes, AJ is a confidence player, he needs a goal for his confidence, but no-one can question the work he does for the team, against Metallist, this could be a vital area, having his pace and yakubu’s strength, i think AJ and yakubu are the better option, but if things need to change Mcfadden deserves more of a chance than against united.
This game will not be easy, they will be up for this just as much as we will. But what we need to avoid is giving away possession easily like we did in parts against united. Im predicting everton will show strength and courage, and we will come out 3-1 winners. But i do hope deep down we have a clean sheet.
Tony Hawkins
11   Posted 17/09/2007 at 13:14:36

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AJ’s lack of goals is a big worry and I’m sure Moyes is watching this, too.

However AJ’s lack of goals isn’t the biggest concern to me. The biggest concern I have is how we can buy two strikers (beattie and AJ) who were scoring well for their previous teams lower down the table and all of a sudden the goals dry up after a few months with us?

Is this a reflection on training techniques? Or does it highlight the lack of supply to our strikers meaning they have to go looking for the ball before getting anywhere near the goal?

Whatever the answer, it’s a worry.

As for the AJ/McFadden debate, it would be very interesting to see how Yakubu and McFadden get on as a pairing.
joe mcparland
12   Posted 17/09/2007 at 13:50:10

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If, as on saturday nobody in midfield can put a foot on the ball and create, then you could play ronaldinho up front and it wouldnt make a difference.
Albert Tatlock
13   Posted 17/09/2007 at 15:44:13

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I think you?re right Joe. It?s about making space and chances in midfield. Do we know if Grav is fit? We need some decent guts in midfield, a bit of flair from Mikky/Pienaar and some good overlap down the wing from the likes of Baines and Fad. Get enough quality balls behind their defenders and Yak/AJ or whoever will get on the end and score. Long balls from the back won?t work. We shouldn?t have to rely on a late corner and the likes of Lescott/Yobo to steal a goal. We?re at home, let?s boss them around. It shouldn?t be any other way.
Richard Murray
14   Posted 17/09/2007 at 16:51:22

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Aj will seriously benefit from Grav being in CM.

I agree with Mark Stone, Aj brings more to the team than just goals: he’s an outlet of pace.

Although, obviously, the fact he’s missed a few chances so far this season is a bit of a worry.. He has also has put two goals on a plate (Wigan and Bolton) through really good work and imo had a very good game against Spurs (like the rest of the side, really).

IMO, The problem is not Aj, but the suply; the link between defence and attack.

Okay, Faddy has done fantastic for Scotland and scored a few beauts for us (seems like a nice guy too) but some of us seem to be getting carried away a bit.
Mark Perry
15   Posted 17/09/2007 at 17:02:02

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We seem to forget that AJ was our top finisher last season, despite being out for a couple of months. AJ will score and is best played with YAK so they can form a good partnership. Faddy has been great of late and I would play him on the left so he can cut in and run at defenders, similar to jo cole. I think his skill and ability will be better used on the left where we have problems.

Or play a 433 with faddy running behined Yak and AJ with Grav, Jags and Oss in midfield.
Andy Shaw
16   Posted 17/09/2007 at 17:12:56

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Mcfadden has twelve goals for his country.
Tony Gee
17   Posted 17/09/2007 at 17:07:31

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AJ , yack and faddy to start...

hope Moyes goes out to try and nail em 4 or 5 nil...

if he goes with the keep it tight and try and sneak one goal mentality, then it will be curtains for us over there..

matalist will camp in their own half, so no need to use defensive midfielders...

Philip McAvoy
18   Posted 17/09/2007 at 17:11:52

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Why just have one great partnership in yakubu and johnson? Mcfadden will benefit from the extra space that yakubu creates the same way i?m sure AJ will once he breaks his duck. Aj?s professional enough to know that mcfadden deserves a start.
Jamie Salisbury
19   Posted 17/09/2007 at 17:46:46

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Rubbish, Andy Johnson to start everytime - hasn’t scored yet but what about those assists and constant chasing and harrasing of defenders that wins us possesion out of nothing? McFadden should however get at least 20-30 mins to do his supersub thing, rather than a paltry 5 mins at the end.
John Andrews
20   Posted 17/09/2007 at 18:35:29

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Dick Fearon, I would give AJ as many games as it takes. He is in a different league to McFadden as a striker.
I may be wrong, probably am, but I suspect that AJ has scored more goals in one season than McFadden in the time he has been at Goodison. Premiership goals that is and not friendlies against Port Vale and the like.
I also suspect that trying to retrieve long, and more often than not high, balls is not doing his confidence the world of good. He is also, normally, up against big centre backs who love our hoofball approach. Were we to play the ball on the ground a bit more I think we would see a better Andy Johnson.
Andy Shaw, But how many for his club ?
Connor Rohrer
21   Posted 17/09/2007 at 19:03:01

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Dutch, I dont know what your getting at with Yakubu. From what I seen in the Man utd game he looked interested and made a nuisense of himself. His workrate isnt brilliant and probably never will be but judging by saturdays game it wasnt terrible.

On the subject or Mcfadden and Johnson its Johnson every time. People dont seem to realise how much he offers the team and would notice a difference when he is not there. The one game that comes to mind last season was West ham away. We started brightly and when AJ was taken off we where never the same.

I would only feel comfortable if Johnson was replaced by Vaughan. They are the only two players that offer us that pace and workrate to unsettle defenders.

Mcfadden has talent but that is all talent. How is he in the best form of his life? He has hardly played. In his only game against Blackburn he was poor. Yes he scored but that tells you how unpredictable he is.

International experience means nothing. Mcfadden has competition from the likes of Boyd and Miller at Scotland whereas Johnson has to compete with Rooney and Owen. I think Faddy would have alot less caps if he was english.

So for me it is Johnson hands down. He is never going to be a natural goalscorer but his performances are consistent and he is a brilliant team player. If he scores against Mettalist I have no doubt that he will go on a scoring melee.
Nick Thomas
22   Posted 17/09/2007 at 19:40:28

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sorry, to change the debate slightly, i would put drop the consistently poor (ok so is he still our top scorer!) osman, who lets face it on saturday, and usually looks like a little boy lost. what is his position, he has none of the craft or strength of a midfielder, or a striker, i always assume he is a winger ). i was gobsmacked that mcfadden didnt start in place of an innefective and positionless osman. i think mcfadden shud start but in the role that osman has been occupying.-argument solved AJ and MCFADDEN both get a game. Osman dropped. jobs a good un
Jay Harris
23   Posted 17/09/2007 at 19:39:35

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WHY are we looking to replace AJ with faddy.
Pienaar has done next to FA.Ossie is looking lightweight recently and Tater is now being marked out of the game. Faddy's on fire at the moment and had the only decent effort on goal all day on Sat.
I say play Tater deeper and play faddy on the right wing and drop Pienaar.
Dave Marshall
24   Posted 17/09/2007 at 20:29:08

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Once again we seem to return to the disapointments of strikers at Everton. We bought AJ a player similar to the once great yet short-lived Everton striker, both preditors in the box. So, due to the fact that he is so good in the box, we decide to pump 60 yard balls all day long and watch him get humiliated all day long losing out to lanky defenders out jumping him ??? It begs the question, since we clearly seem to favour this style of play, why did we buy two strikers clearly not talented in the air department, and sell the only one that is... Beattie. Oh, I know probably cos we have no game plan, I watched the Balckburn game and I was ashamed to say I was totally embarrased, we were totally outplayed by a team that passed and moved with confidence, we on the other hand pumped the ball all day long. We were more than fortunate to get a point, even though Blackburn looked totally toothless in attack. I would rather see our team play passing football and show what our players are really capable of than to watch English 70’s style punting, otherwise I may as well watch rugby union !!!!
Dave Marshall
25   Posted 17/09/2007 at 20:42:47

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Oh... by the way that great Everton striker was Gary Linekar. I think he played for England once or twice too.

Oh, and since we on the subject I would play the YAK upfront with big VIC Anichebe.
Mark Murphy
26   Posted 17/09/2007 at 21:37:12

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Dave - are you trying to suggest that they?re different people?
Roy Haygarth
27   Posted 17/09/2007 at 22:25:18

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Did anyone else notice that Yak and AJ did not complete a single pass between each other for the whole game on Saturday?

Not a single one. Slightly worrying. Let’s hope it was just because Vidic was so good.
Dawson Boyle
28   Posted 18/09/2007 at 04:20:52

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Try them both, with Yak up top, like Chelsea used to or Aston Villa still do.
Not on Thursday perhaps, but it?s worth a go against some of the weaker teams in the league.
Dick Fearon
29   Posted 18/09/2007 at 01:30:54

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I know this will put my head on the block but here goes.
Why does everyone complain about long balls to AJ when that type of ball is his forte?. Have any of you any idea how difficult it is to hit a target that dissapears into the distance at a rate of knots and rarely comes to meet your pass.
Is everyone blind to the fact that he has minimal dribbling skill a poor first touch, is noticeably one footed and less than useless if the ball is head height.
I agree with the oft used statement that he provides an attacking option. Unfortunately depending entirely as it does on pace and guts it is one dimensional and predictable.
I cannot help but admire his selfless input but for all round skill and goal scoring ability he would not come above mid way in my table of central strikers. For 8 million quid and 30/40 thou per week I expect better.
Ben Jones
30   Posted 18/09/2007 at 09:38:37

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Just play both of them.. AJ up front, Faddy left wing.... simple!!!
Si Ord
31   Posted 18/09/2007 at 10:52:50

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Why do we always favour endeavour over undoubted skill? No doubting AJ?s teamwork and willingness for the cause, but Mcfadden is a special talent,can make things happen,is actually very good in the air and is a player in form. He deserves to start wherever he plays or whoever partners him. Lets go at this lot, and lets get behind the team whoever plays. The atmosphere in recent weeks has sometimes been lacking!
Ciaran Duff
32   Posted 18/09/2007 at 11:48:29

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I’m not trying to flog the McFadden horse (honestly) but have a squiz at this grainy video of the goal. The best bit though is the commentary - is this guy excited or what. A tad more excited than Davey Moyes obviously!!
Dave Trudgeon
33   Posted 18/09/2007 at 13:01:11

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i think for the away leg we should have anichebe and yak up front because they hold the ball up brilliantly
aj will score 2 goals on thursday, i am putting £5 on it
Michael Phillips
34   Posted 18/09/2007 at 13:25:59

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What?s international experience got to do with it?

Surely when you are kicking the ball at the goal it is the same size area you trying to hit with some bloke trying to stop you? Does it matter if he is Ukrainian, Welsh, Scottish, English, Dutch or from Mars? He still has two arms and two legs.
dave lynch
35   Posted 18/09/2007 at 15:24:19

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michael. iv’e never met a martian.
are you sure they only have 2 of each.(soz caps lock bust).
glen strachan
36   Posted 18/09/2007 at 15:19:42

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Does the McFadden debate always have to end up with somebody suggesting that we play him on the wing ?

Maybe we should try him in goal.

Attacking options ?

We seem to be missing Stubbs and his toe ended free kicks........remember - goal against Man U last season , goal against Spurs , brought a great save from Friedel and set up a rebound that should have been scored.

Sadly Stubbs has looked a more potent goal threat than AJ all season.

Yakubu will score goals if we use him in the box but going back to Saturday’s match , has anybody seen Yakubu at either of his other English clubs spend so much time in wide positions ?

Was the idea that AJ and the Yak should stay out wide and block any runs from United’s full-backs ?

We went for 0-0 and nearly got it but what a dire game in terms of entertainment.........just awful !

Mr Moyes does not really do tactics but it would be good to see a fraction more attacking than we managed against Blackburn or United but I do admit that is a harder task to achieve so there will always be the temptation to put two ’blockers’ in centre mid and stage a game where very little happens.

There has been quite a lot of talk on this site about the difference in Arteta these days. Is it just me or has he been turned into a little terrier who scraps and covers back in defence while he seems to be doing less and less in forward positions to accomodate his new ’ more defensive role’ ?

Please assure me that I am wrong and would it not be great if Moyes could make Carsley a bit more like the old Arteta rather than turning the little Spaniard into Lee Carsley , with a pass ?

Remarkably our season could depend on Graveson more than just about any other player.
Mark Stone
37   Posted 19/09/2007 at 08:19:09

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We all want to go and attack attack attack - i bet if we do that we’ll score 5 but concede 6. Then we’ll all be rubbishing Moyes for being too erratic. Football managers can’t win fans over - there’s not a club in the country where all fans are entirely happy with the gaffer. Nature of the beast.
Mike Blackburn
38   Posted 19/09/2007 at 09:56:13

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For this game I would continue with AJ/Yakubu, especially calling on Yakubu and his ability to unsettle defenders and throw his weight about, he’s more suited to have AJ alongside him to hopefully mop up and steal a goal (I don’t care if its off his boot,head or backside, anything to break his duck and for his ever depleting confidence in front of goal).

McFadden is the flair player, and he has all the tricks n flicks to woo the punters, but I do question his link up play at times, his tendency to pick up needless bookings also concerns me . At the moment he lacks minutes on the everton pitch, by all means give him the last 30 mins to prove me wrong, I’d be quite happy if he does.

Putting the strikers aside a clean sheet is a must, then you know the team have had a good game...I’m hoping for a 2-0 win, come on the BLUES!
scott sinclair
39   Posted 19/09/2007 at 18:08:19

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why not play all three they cant be that good and were normally good at home so play all three and get this tie over with i think he should drop hibbert he is are week link in fact i hate him he is not even sunday league class
george brooks
40   Posted 20/09/2007 at 01:09:37

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I agree with andrei,put amokachi in goal.Are you THE Andrei kanchelskis?
Edwin Cole
41   Posted 20/09/2007 at 12:46:38

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Why hasnt Moyes considered a 5-3-2 formation? With the 2 wingbacks being neville and baines marauding up n down the flanks, jagielka, yobo n lescott being the final 3 in front of howard, carsley to fill the ?makelele?role, arteta to occupy the central mid berth linking up with the player-in-the-hole: gravesen. And the 2 upfront being johnson and yakubu. Does it sound feasible?
Phil Gordon
42   Posted 20/09/2007 at 13:25:03

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I cannot believe there is a serious debate surrounding the merits of Faddy versus AJ.

People have short memories ? does everyone not remember the last time Faddy started at Blackburn. He was absolutely shocking and the only reason some felt he done ok is because he managed to salvage his performance with a goal.

His hold up play was non-existent and too often in dangerous positions he goes for an elaborate flick instead of giving it simple ? truly infuriating. I?d say he?s best as an impact player off the bench like against Man U.

I?d also like to point out everyone is saying Faddy is on fire and AJ is mis-firing but if it was AJ who tested Van De Sar the way Faddy did then everyone would be saying how he should be putting them away blah blah. Vice versa if it was faddy who had one cleared off the line as AJ did then everyone would be saying Faddy is on fire blah blah. Faddy is doing well at the mo but how many times in the past have we said this after he?s scored for Scotland only for him to put in another sub-standard display for Everton.

On the other hand, while AJ is presently going through a drought in front of goal, you only have to look back at some of his finishes from last year i.e. Blackburn, Liverpool, Arsenal to name but a few, to see he knows where the net is. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

AJ will find his goal scoring boots and when he does all you doubters will be singing his praises!!

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