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Mr Motivator

By Peter Laing :  30/10/2007 :  Comments (11) :
At the start of the 06-07 campaign, I wrote into ToffeeWeb about the virtues of Lee Carsley and was fortunate enough to have my piece published.

For the record, I'm not super Lee's biggest fan and I am certainly one of those fans that agitate when he is coupled with Phil Neville in what would best be described as a pedestrian midfield ? at worst damn right wasteful, cheap in giving away posession and counter-productive in any given attacking prowess. Yet given the task of doing what he does best, which is sitting in front of the back four, destroying the opposition's threat around the D and generally holding thing's together, is there really anyone better currently on Everton's book's ?

My original post focused on Carsley's contribution to the 4-5-1 system so often effectively employed by David Moyes, with reference to Carsley in some quarter's of the media as the poor man's Makelele. It has been ironic to see the urban myth that was spawned from the Thomas Gravesen transfer to Real Madrid with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that they actually acquired the wrong foliclly challenged player. It would however be a disservice to Carsley to compare him to the pumped-up Gravesen who, although he posesses an abundance of flair, provides little in the way of an offensive foil. It is almost Everton-esque that the two baldies have once again been reunited in the form of Carsley's extended contract and Gravesen's last-ditch acquistion as a loan deal following the collapse of the Manny Fernandes transfer.

It has been well recorded that Lee Carsley was a man going knowhere under the Walter Smith regime, another £1.9 million seemingly wasted on the dross that permeated the squad at the time with the crab-like Tobias Linderoth viewed as the better prospect from the last two of Smith's desperate transfer's. In a general midfield role Carsley was widely derided by the vast majority of the Goodison faithful, symptomatic of a fatefully defensive and negative formation on a narrow and prohibitive Goodison pitch that finally culminated in the long overdue downfall of Smith and his sidekick the ultra cautious Archie Knox.

The appointment of David Moyes seemingly galvanised team spirit and over the past 5 years of Moyes's tenure it would appear that the affable Carsley has played a large part in boosting morale, eeking out results and offering both stability and the bedrock to a sustainable up-turn in fortunes. Carsley's own position would probably reflect that of Moyes, a season missed though injury which coincided with a disasterous European adventure and dissapointing league form on the back of the miraculous 4th place finish.

This season has seen Carsley used more sparringly as Moyes has continued to persist with playing Neville in Midfield, the arrival of Jagielka however plain it may be that the guy is primarily a defender, and the fact that Carsley is becoming a veteran as old father time continues to clock up the miles. Injuries to key player's such as Cahill and Vaughan, the return of Gravesen who was subsequently injured, and the stuttering form of Yakubu have all contributed to a less than spectacular start to the current campaign. However, as I write this appraisal of Carsley we remain competing on the Cup fronts, have hopefully ridden our poor league form and suddenly once again have competition for places and player's available.

Lee Carsley has around 6 months left on his current deal; word has it that a play-maker is imperative and required come January or next summer at the latest. The next 6 months will undoubtedly unfold as Everton's fortunes are judged, Carsley's role in those fortunes will largely dictate whether he is to muster a further contract extension or a change of tack is required. My personal sentiment is that we certainly appear a more robust outfit with Carsley in the holding role as an anchor.

Tactics and team selection will dictate whether he is required for every game and we can be more fluid with formations as the opposition dictates. However, I feel it is safe to draw the conclusion that Lee Carsley is much better in the 'Carsley' role than Phil Neville and or Phil Jagielka, and until a suitable holding midfield player is purchased to replace him then Carsley must assume the Makelele role for Everton in any given 4-5-1 formation.

Reader Comments

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Dave wilson
1   Posted 31/10/2007 at 07:05:53

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In total agreement Peter,
Carsley is head and shoulders above the Jag and Nev in that posiition, his bravery and no nonsense approach sometimes masks his skill, but he has on more than one occasion shown he can score a special goal, the more creative players look, well more creative when Cars lays

Sometimes injuries and suspensions help a manager find his best formation, The Jag is a right back
Azlan Deniel
2   Posted 31/10/2007 at 09:06:54

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Couldnt agree more Peter. Carsley is miles ahead of Neville and Jags. I also couldnt believe that this season so far, Cars have been able to pass the ball more accurately rather than pass the ball to "where he’s facing". He has definitely improved on that area as well.

Having said that, I think if we couldnt find any suitable replacement for him, it would be great if we can turn either Jags or Neville to become the next "Carsley" as our anchorman in the future.

But, to make that happen, we would need him to be here for another year or two, possibly? I dont mind if he still show that he can do the job even he is already 38!
Craig Kersey
3   Posted 31/10/2007 at 10:27:52

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So what attributes do we need in this role? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Read the game well and use this abiity to cut off passes to the opposition forwards.

2. Good passing ability, preferably off both feet if pushed to do so.

3. Reasonable pace, and the ability to use it in defence and attack.

4. Physical presence, again in both defence and attack.

5. Not afraid to use the above to turn defence into attack, either by passing or by carrying the ball deep into the opposition half.

Lescott, anyone?

David Briscoe
4   Posted 31/10/2007 at 10:50:30

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I agree about Super Lee and his efforts but just thought I’d reply to Azlan’s comment about Lee being 38. He’s actually only 33 (check out :
David Barks
5   Posted 31/10/2007 at 16:50:27

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I have not thought about that before, but Lescott just might be able to do very well in that role. But it’s not an easy transition. Yobo was tried there and was very lacking, but Lescott might just be able to do it. Good comment.
Arthur jones
6   Posted 31/10/2007 at 18:05:45

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I’ve no doubt that Joe Lescott could do a reasonable job in a midfield position but surely this would only be an emergency position for him . I really don’t like the practice of playing good players out of position just because they might do a good job there , It’s the type of thing that beneathus does with gerrard and mclaren also . If we need a player in that position then the answer is to search the transfer market in january to buy someone , I think this was the intention with Manny fernandes , or lucha , Taking a world class centre half out of position just because he might be able to do the job is not the answer .
Azlan Deniel
7   Posted 01/11/2007 at 03:17:11

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Thanks David Briscoe for the correction. My bad ;)
Derek Thomas
8   Posted 01/11/2007 at 07:03:35

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Totally agree Re. Carsley, but must add, even tho’ the Lescott ploy ’could’ work, it is a bit ’football managerish’.

If you take out any repeative incursions into the opposition half that require ’younger’ legs, he,Carsley would only be doing the same job that Roy Keane did in his twilight years at Old Trafford....and, with my F.M .’s’ hat on, playing infront of a wing back assisted back 3 of maybe Jag, Yobo and Lescott, baring serious injury there is no reason he couldn’t do 3 or 4 yrs using his brain to save his legs.
Vincent Siow
9   Posted 01/11/2007 at 09:16:42

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Peter, I totally agree with you.

Carsley was certainly one of the main reasons we got into Europe, and it was indeed a shock to see him more often on the bench than on the field this season. Perhaps it is no coincidence why his presence in the last 3 games has seen us win 3 straight.

Against Derby, he was everywhere, and was mentioned by the commentator that "There’s Carsley again!" several times.

What he does better than Neville and Jags is that he keeps it simple. I hardly see him play a long ball, and he tries to keep in short as far as possible. He uses the ball well, knows how to break up play, and perhaps the only area where Jags is superior is in terms of aerial ability.

Absolutely delighted to see him back on form again, and I reckon the upcoming weeks will be exciting with our core back. Hope Moyesie realises that Cars is the man rather than Phil or
Mike Allison
10   Posted 01/11/2007 at 12:36:29

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Carsley does a good job in the five man midfield, but desperately needs ’footballers’ around him, not out of position defenders. As for the Lescott in midfield idea, sorry to go against the flow, but its one of the worst ideas since pairing Jagielka and Neville in central midfield. Lescott is a very good centre back, and capable of playing left back if need be, it should be left at that. At the top level, players need to be able to play to their strengths in positions they’re comfortable with, for Lescott this should mean forming a partnership with Yobo in the centre of a four man defence.

I was actually just looking up Anderson Da Silva, this now perennial mystery man. Somebody yesterday edited Wikipedia to say he was ’expected’ to make his first start for us against Luton. In the event he wasn’t in the squad. I then looked up Barnsley’s results in the Championship: with Anderson Da Silva they lost only one game in nine (away at West Brom), they haven’t won in the three since he came back to us. His rating on the sky website is much higher than his teammates’ (with one exception) so all in all his loan spell appears to have been a complete success.

If, and it may be a big if, there was ever any point getting involved with this guy in the first place then he should be getting worked into the centre of our midfield sooner rather than later. Last night looked like the perfect opportunity, so his not being used doesn’t bode well for hopes that we already have a player in our midst.
Richard Flaherty
11   Posted 01/11/2007 at 14:39:17

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Was just wondering how many times the use of the word "carsley" was used in the first paragraph.,Mr Laings article. Perhaps he should be included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Hes a useful player when needed but the sight of him, Gravesen and Johnson together from a distance can be awkward. Hes not afraid to put himself about and is no shrinking violet. Reminds me of an Andy Hinchcliffe without hair. The time will come inevitably when he has to call it a day, but even the likes of true professionals such as Stubbs and Weir are still going (strong).

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