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Hanging on the coat-tails of others...

By Owen Evans :  14/02/2008 :  Comments (1) :

Whether we like it or not, David Moyes is revolutionising the modern day Evertonian. The idea that a player will be accepted amongst the Gwladys St faithful so long as they ?put a shift in? is fast becoming obsolete. Yes, we love players with heart, but games against the top three ? particularly the Carling Cup semi-final?s ? have illustrated that committed but limited grafters always fall short.

Watching this week?s Uefa Cup tie against SK Brann, I began to wonder which players represent where we want to be, which are making necessary strides to reach that level, and which are close to falling by the wayside.

The overriding positive from the game was the ease of the victory without key players. I am confident that we have as good a chance as anyone to cement the fourth place to qualify for the Champions League. But if we do, which players have the necessary quality to make next year's potential Champions League campaign more memorable than the last?

Players that represent where we want to be:

Tim Howard - Solid if not spectacular. Has Champions League experience and the trust of our defence.

Joleon Lescott - Oozes quality, both as a left-back & centre-back. The fact that Champions League teams are monitoring his contract situation is a good indication of the company he should be playing against.

Joseph Yobo - Proven. Eradicated the lapses of concentration from his early days. Best years ahead of him. Future Captain.

Mikel Arteta - Still the fulcrum of our midfield & the player opposing teams will target first. Just 25 and shines in the continental style.

Tim Cahill - If we accept that 4-5-1 is Moyes?s plan A in Europe, there are few who can match Cahill in the attacking midfielder role. Unimpressive in a four man midfield last night, there?s no doubt he?s just the sort of weapon you need in the more tactical continental game. Our ?Big-Game? player based on scoring record against the top three, Merseyside derbies and the World Cup.

Steven Pienaar - Forcing us kicking and screaming back to the School of Science. One touch & move. Already proven with young Ajax side that impressed in the Champions League.

Yakubu - The goals we knew about. However, I?m not sure there are many Toffees supporters who realised how good his all-round play was. Comfortable in the lone striker role.

Players making necessary strides:

Leighton Baines - Based on early season form, the ex-Wigan midfielder could well have been in the group above, but injuries have restricted his opportunities. Has shown the necessary quality (Man Utd home) to suggest he can make the step up.

Leon Osman - Last season?s boo-boy. Thrives in our new ball-playing midfield. May not always be a starter in a fully fit squad, but a valuable option nonetheless.

Phil Jagielka - Man-of-the-moment. Deservedly drawing comparisons with Stubbs/Watson. Has been a revelation since moving to central defence. Performances against Manchester United suggest Champions League won?t be a step too far.

James Vaughan & Victor Anichebe - The quality is there to see, particularly Victor?s super-sub performances in Europe. Time on their side.

Lee Carsley - In his role there aren?t many better. Time is not on his side but he certainly deserves another 12 months based on this seasons showing.

Players likely to fall by the wayside:

Andy Johnson - A difficult one. Terrific work-rate. Performs well as the lone striker but criticism seems to affect him too much. How many Champions League sides would he start for? Probably the single biggest indication of how the bar is being raised at Goodison, and probably the biggest casualty.

Phil Neville - I like him. I like him because there aren?t many footballers left today that you wouldn?t expect to be a complete cretin. However, last night?s game showed the value in having quality full-backs. What would Juliano Beletti or Daniel Alves have done with the time and space Neville had last night? The priority purchase in the summer.

Tony Hibbert - Would trust him to defend against the best, but top right-backs can attack with just as much ease. Would expect him to stay around the squad.

The likes of Van der Meyde, Gardner, Gravesen & Wessels are likely to be moved in the summer and replaced with other ?sqaud fillers? from the loan market. Fernandes has the quality but needs to show a lot more in the remainder of the campaign for our notoriously thrifty Glaswegian to break the bank.

Neville and Johnson would be excellent professionals to have around the squad, but I doubt they feel that way. However, we already have a spine of players that would perform in the Champions League, and with the addition of a strong midfielder and attacking right-back, the 2008-09 season could well be one to remember.

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Derek Thomas
1   Posted 16/02/2008 at 03:01:32

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Spot on Owen.

No doubt Davie is having much the same thoughts, or damn well should be. The trick will be getting the cash, although it’s 2 yrs now since we borrowed in advance the Sky tv cash, time for another go me thinks.

Jagielka, who we were told by Sheff U. fans was a Centre back cum Right back, has indeed been a revelation, given a run in his real position, while Baines, a Left back(?) who you label a midfielder started off well enough but for various reasons has had limited chances to shine. I think his best position may turn out to be as a WING BACK, playing in of a back 3 of ..Jagielka Rt. sided CB...Yobo CB... Lescott Lt sided CB.

One reason is, if the playing staff have to improve and step up, so must the formation and tactical approach. 451 while OK as a one off for certain occasions is a bit one dimensional week after week in the CL, which after all, is where we want to be.

Keep the good bits the Team have going for it, team work, spirit etc...ditch the crap, the Hoofball. Improve the skill level and, as you say, move on those who can’t or won’t adapt.

What is the Latin for Shape up or Ship out ??...

While we a applying this to the players AND the formation and tactics, what about applying it to

The Board

The Ticket office

The food and drink outlets

On 2nd thoughts I already know the answer to my own question.

NIL SATIS NISI OPTIUM

Whats so hard about 4 little words

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