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And the Most Improved Player Award goes to....

By Vinod Kumar :  14/02/2008 :  Comments (18) :
2004-05 Season
Player of the Season: Tim Cahill
Best new Signing: Marcus Bent
Mr. Reliable: Nigel Martyn
Most Improved Player: Alessandro Pistone

It was 04-05, the season in which Everton defied all odds to qualify for Champions League via a 4th place finish through league standings. It was one of the most horrible pre-season transfer activities we had to endure. With Unsworth, Linderoth and Radzinski leaving, all Moyes could muster was signing two players from the lower division. And the bad-mouthing Radzinski had to say something like ?Everton is a club that doesn?t have ambition!??

And what about the ravings Gravesen?s agent was doing, like as if the Great Dane was not particularly pleased playing for Everton? Oh, and the constant fear of whether Rooney, the only bright hope of our future, would pledge his alliance with the club? Sadly, everything came to a dismal conclusion, including the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal on the opening day fixture.

But then, Everton changed the form books and created history! The secret of their success is how the manager provides a system of play and how the players he has could be involved in such a system. Not only did the players he brought in help to play that system effectively, but the contribution of existing players was also vital.

Such a player was Pistone. He was one of the players who, I thought, didn?t deserve to wear the Royal Blues the previous season. And I was damn adamant that Moyes should sell him, but he had an exceptional season and proved doubters that he was still part of the team, limiting Naysmith to cameo roles. He didn?t have flair or speed that could penetrate defences but he combined well with Kilbane to rule the left flank and provide fruitful crosses to the attacking players.

If Cahill became the talisman of the club, Bent scoring valuable goals, Martyn keeping clean sheets, Carsley breaking down the opposition ? Pistone was actually helping Everton keep possession, make vital tackles and move the ball to the opposition?s half regularly. I felt he was crap before, but he became a much improved player that season. Thus, I?m awarding the Most Improved Player to? Allessandro Pistone!!!

2005-06 Season
Player of the Season: Mikel Arteta
Best new Signing: Alan Stubbs (2nd term)
Mr. Reliable: Tim Cahill
Most Improved Player: James Beattie

Nothing to rave about in a season which was topsy-turvy. Everton were eliminated from Europe and finished 11th in the league. Very inconsistent performances throughout the whole campaign. If there were few positives to be taken into account, it would be that a raw diamond called Arteta, who was on loan the previous season, showed his true quality and shined throughout those dark moments. Cahill as usual was there to pop the important goals to give Everton a decent finish in the bottom half. None of the new signings flourished except for Phil Neville who showed some experience and grit.

But the second half of the season was something of a revival. The signing of Stubbs was something which was vital. Suddenly there was someone to plug the gap that has been leaking goals for fun. And the form of Beattie provided another revival upfront.

Releasing himself from the pressure of being Everton?s record signing, he suddenly found his scoring touch and started to bang in goals in the second half of the campaign. From being a damp squib, he started to become the savior of Everton with his goals, and talks of Everton being in Europe again came as a breath of fresh air rather than the usual talks of ?relegation fodders? pessimism.

Alas, inconsistency cost Everton not only a place in Europe but also a place in the top half of the table, losing out to 10th place Wigan by a single point! Nevertheless, for the effort he put in for the second half of the season?I present the following award to the Most Improved Player? James Beattie!!!

2006-07 Season
Player of the Season: Mikel Arteta
Best new Signing: Joleon Lescott
Mr Reliable: Lee Carsley
Most Improved Player: Joseph Yobo

A new season; a new dawn. Moyes made three substantial purchases during the transfer window; Howard, Lescott and Johnson all played pivotal roles in stamping Everton back on to the European map. It was also a season in which Moyes got valuable feedback from fans on how to push Everton to the next level.

Arteta continued to glow, but in a different position; the flanks! Lescott who was brought in as a centre-back, made left-back position his own, transforming Valente and Naysmith as mere spectators! A loan signing called Fernandes mesmerized spectators with his dribbling skills in the later part of the season. Wins over Arsenal ,Tottenham and Liverpool were the highlights of a fairly successful campaign.

But someone who deserved a special mention for the success had to be an existing player; Joseph Yobo. From being labeled as Mr Inconsistent to Mr Consistent says it all. Yes, the unsung hero was Carsley, but every time the media portrays him as an unsung hero again and again and I used to wonder ?he is already in the limelight! That?s not called unsung!?

But Yobo formed a formidable partnership with Stubbs and Lescott in preserving 14 clean sheets for Howard and giving a positive goal difference of +16 for Everton for the first time under David Moyes. He started showing his composure at the back and developed good reading of the game. He finished the season with the record of playing every minute for Everton! <>P> With his transformation of being a confused defender to a convincing leader, I present the Most Improved Player Award to? Joseph Yobo!!!

2007-08 Season
Player of the Season: ???
Best new Signing: Too many at the moment
Mr Reliable: Unsure, but Carsley is definitely the front runner
Most Improved Player: Leon Osman

This fantastic season isn?t over yet, and I would not want it to end! I?m just enjoying every moment of it! But with two-thirds of the season gone, it?s time to analyze on the in-form players.

Surely there is going to be a tough fight for the Player of the Season this time and the new boys, Yakubu, Pienaar, Jagielka and Baines are proving to be top drawer and effective signings. But Leon Osman, who has taken many criticisms before, is a revelation in the middle of midfield. Yes, I understand when many people say that he?s lightweight, small,etc. But he is actually dictating the passage of play in midfield and with attractiveness and effectiveness as well!

He is more useful in the middle rather than playing as a winger, but even then with many absentees, he put in a decent effort to utilize his presence in the game against SK Brann. And not forgetting the handful of goals he has contributed ? especially those European sizzlers!

While the season is not over yet, and the main contenders are still fighting out for the glamorous awards, one player has already claimed The Most Improved Player Award? Leon Osman!!!

Reader Comments

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James Martin
1   Posted 16/02/2008 at 07:37:54

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Well thought ouy and nicely presented article Vinod. I actually thought it was about Jagielka when I saw the title. Assuming it was refering to improvepent over the course of this season, and also assuming he was the obvious candidate if that was the case.

Getting back to the crux of your article, have to agree with your comments in general especially with regards to this season and Osman.

As for the other awards:
Best new signing: The good news is that this category will probably produce more debate than any. The end of the season will probably make it more clear (hopefully not). who will maintain their standard or maybe even improve?

Yak?s goals are obviously vital as the finishing touch has so often been missing in Everton?s play. Despite his injuries, LB has shown enough class to suggest he could be a fixture for both club and country in the coming years. Add this fact to the afore-mentioned improvement of Jags, Yobo?s maturity and the legend in the making that is Lescott, and the words ?selection? and ?headache? spring to mind.

However, if we had to vote now, I?d go for Stevie P. His vision and passing are a joy to behold. The balance he gives us. The pressure he takes off Arteta, and as a consequence the team, with his ability to keep hold of the ball. All qualities any team need and desire. I d also add that imo, he actually brings out the best in Osman

Mr Reliable: Carsley's recent dip (due to tiredness, surely), might make this contest more open. Other contenders? Possibly Yobo, Jags could become this in the next few years. But I think it?s only fair to judge this award over a number of seasons. In which case Harry wins hands down.

Best player: Good news again. I certainly don?t think Arteta is a worse player than he was last season. He simply doesn?t stand out so much due to other players improving the general level. Because of this the choice again will be very hard for everyone. Except me (ha): Joleon Lescott is my new hero among heroes.
David Militwtich
2   Posted 16/02/2008 at 09:19:58

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2007-08 Season
Player of the Season: Joleon Lescott
best new Signing: Steven Pienaar
Mr Reliable: Joseph Yobo
Most Improved Player: Leon Osman

Josh Bernard
3   Posted 16/02/2008 at 10:43:34

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Great article. I like the way you explained for your reasons and the explanations were spot on.

04/05 season Hibbert could have got most improved player but still Pistone was boss that season.
Nick Russell
4   Posted 16/02/2008 at 13:10:05

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Its difficult to judge at such a strange time of the season. Come the end of the season we will have a much more reflective opinion and below is how I presume the awards will be handed out come May...

Player of the Season: Mikel Arteta
Best New Signing: Manny (think he will carry us over the Easter period!)
Mr Reliable: Joleon Lescott
Most Improved Player: Phil Jagielka.

Matt Geraghty
5   Posted 16/02/2008 at 16:34:00

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To date..
Player of the season: Joleon Lescott
Best new signing: Steven Pienaar
Mr Reliable: Lee Carsley
Most Improved player: Phil Jagielka

Nice work Vinod.

Dutch Schaffaer
6   Posted 16/02/2008 at 17:36:17

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Player of the Season: Joleon Lescott.
The guy has grown in staure with game.

Best new Signing: Steven Pienaar.
Little Peanut has been a great surprise. Forget Fernandes there’s only one loanee we simply have to sign permanently.

Mr Reliable: Lee Carsley
Simpley never lets us down and does his job every game.

Most Improved Player: Yakubu
Looked unfit, uninterested and a waste of money for his first few games. Moyes has clearly worked with him and now he’s far harder working and very dangerous in front of goal.
Keith Glazzard
7   Posted 16/02/2008 at 19:01:43

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Dutch - it seems nonsense to say that our record signing could be a most improved player, but I agree. So-called experts said that we’d bought a ready made who would score goals but do nothing else. But we would all have been surprised if Moyes had settled for that.

Jags, so far, has to look good for the value-added award, if that exists. He wasn’t cheap, but looks many millions more than we paid.
Jay Harris
8   Posted 16/02/2008 at 21:34:26

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Player of the Season: Joleon Lescott
Best New Signing: Steven Pienaar
Mr Reliable: Lee Carsley
Most Improved Player: Leon Osman
Daniel Miller
9   Posted 16/02/2008 at 22:58:33

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Most Improved Player: Leon Osman

100% - industrious (never fails to come off the pitch without a sweat-soaked shirt), links well with teammates, contributes goals. Has taken to the centre of midfield like a duck to water - and notice how frequently he is isolated in midfield as the play moves through him from touchline to touchline - this means his teammates trust his passing as does Moyesie, who rarely subs him. England?s loss is our gain (he was lacking in match-fitness when Capello came knocking).
Eric Holland
10   Posted 16/02/2008 at 23:40:53

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Player of the Season: Joleon Lescott

Best New Signing: Steven Pienaar

Mr Reliable:Joseph Yobo

Most Improved Player: Phil Jagielka
Luke Dooley
11   Posted 17/02/2008 at 12:08:01

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I would have put Duncan Ferguson in as the most improved player in the first season.
Mick Mac
12   Posted 17/02/2008 at 17:28:46

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I have to agree with Eric Holland.

Best player Joleon Lescott. He is proving to be world class. I cannot see him being ignored for a regular spot for too long in the England team.

Best new signing Steven Pienaar. I have to say this boy is fabulous. His vision and touches along with his passes are fantastic. Only for him being out he would be challenging Joleon for top spot.
Definitley Mr Reliable Joseph Yobo. What a signing he has turned out to be. Pace skill and his ability to read a game is brilliant

Most improved player has got to be Phil Jagielka. When he frst came, I expected good things from him and in his first couple of appearances he didn't sem too bad. But when he was put onto midfield he looked slow both pace wise and in his thinking. Since moving into defence Wow what a transformation. Except for not being able to head a ball forward (he always heads it straight up in the air) he is faultless.
Sean Condon
13   Posted 17/02/2008 at 18:57:47

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Yeah, Sandro was really first-class that season.
And Osman finally looks like the real deal now. He?s been miles better than he ever has been in the past. Sure glad it was the Rad who fucked off to Fulham, not him.
John Gilfoyle
14   Posted 17/02/2008 at 23:39:58

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Think things are looking really good for Everton and the players deserve credit!! I was reading an article about how Moyes buys his players considering a player's character and personality; I think the squad is a real tight ship and there are no egos and bigheads!! I believe these qualities are why we are doing so well and think if we keep Moyes at helm we are going places!!! I think that every member of the team deserves an award for their hard work and level of effort!!! Lescott defo player of the season tho!!
Fred Kwong
15   Posted 18/02/2008 at 03:37:20

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It seems that the meaning of "Most Improved Player" here is compared to the previous seasons in Everton shirt, so new signings Jags and Yak fall out of this category. In that case, my vote is on Ossie.
Amanda Huddleston
16   Posted 18/02/2008 at 17:13:10

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Can we add a ?waste of space? catagory:

1. Shandy Van der Maybe
2. Manny
3. Shandy again - he is such a waste deserves 2 mentions!
Steve Grimshaw
17   Posted 18/02/2008 at 18:20:21

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Shandy Andy has certainly been a waste of money for us. But I have not heard of any bad incidents or injury problems with him recently. Should he not now be given a chance to prove himself. If for no other reason so we can sell him for something at least above zero?
Amanda Huddleston
18   Posted 18/02/2008 at 20:34:27

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Shandy has so many last chances.
We should have got rid of him on a free in Jan window. His wages are a waste.

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