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Truth behind the 5-man midfield?

By Jason Lam :  07/03/2008 :  Comments (35) :
Well it's that time of the month where panic sets in so what better moment than post the following analysis. For the past few seasons we've seen Moyes play the 5-man midfield. Over the years he's fine-tuned this engine to a general success, we are beating the teams below us, which is the least we should expect. This is something that teams such as the RS and Spuds slip up on and therefore underachieving in their ambitions.

However, if you look at the players we have in midfield, you wonder whether Moyes is playing 4-5-1 to compensate for their lack of talent. Take Carsley. He's generally good at what he does (tackling) but this is only one attribute of the modern midfielder. Ossie has good link-up skills but again this is one attribute. Cahill scores the odd goal but comes with reckless tackles and lack of tempo-setting passes. Arteta and Peanut provides the sparks but when they don't pull them off they have nothing to fall back on. I won't get into Pip.

The point here is that we are using more than one player to perform the role designed for one player only. Carsley wins the ball or breaks down the play - and then needs to walk the ball to another midfielder to initiate the next pass. This is highly inefficient midfield play and we are losing out in fielding two strikers. It is no surprise that Ossie and Arteta cannot get in their respective national squads?

To break into the next level we need players that can duly perform their role but also above the call of duty. Frank Lampard is a midfielder but can score a plentiful supply of goals. Makelele combines Carsley and Ossie into one player, a role made for one player. The RS have a midfielder that does the job of Carsley, Ossie and Cahill. One player. Yet we don?t even have a midfielder that can do the job of a, well, modern midfielder.

The 5-man midfield is simply masking the weakness that we can't play 4 in midfield and we need to sacrifice a second striker. Not some ingenious tactic by Moyes. Moyes is looking for replacements. Manny is supposed to be the one replacing Cars and Ossie. The search continues....

My message to Moyes: alternatively, you can look for a future England prospect. His name is Bentley.

Reader Comments

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Josh Rumley
1   Posted 07/03/2008 at 05:53:46

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We definitely need more quality players in the midfield, that is obvious. Bentley would be great, also Joe Cole is another that would be good for us on the right wing. As for Carsley’s replacement, definitely think Lorik Cana would be great, he is a defensive midfielder who is good in the air and can crack a shot from long range much better than Carsley. Not afraid to tackle and is also good on the ball, would create a lot for us. So I think a Midfield of Cole/ Bentley, Cana, Arteta, and Pienaar would be great. And having Cahill/ Johnson and Yakubu up top would make us one of the best teams in the league.
Jim Hourigan
2   Posted 07/03/2008 at 07:11:39

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I applaud your honesty but I’m sure you will be slated for being ’negative’ at such an emotional time. The points you make are valid and have been true for the last 18 months. What last night did was bring them into a much sharper focus and highlight the reality of our lack of sufficient quality in midfield. The system is set up to cover 2 questionable aspects - Cahill’s inability to play in a 4 man midfield and Carsley’s inability to do anything other than break up play. Neither are good enough if we want to progress to the next level - or even make sure teams like Villa and Spurs don’t also go past us in the near future.
Mark Cassin
3   Posted 07/03/2008 at 07:19:45

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For me Cahill is not a midfielder...so although it looks like a 5 i’d put him in the deep lying forward category.

What we do lack is better centre midfielders. Carsley cant pass and osman as you say can only link the play. 4-5-1 is fine for me but we need 2 better centre midfielders...hopefully fernandes can pull his finger out.

As suggested, Bentley is a super player although he plays in the Arteta position. Could he play in the centre--could Beckham?
peter Bourke
4   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:09:11

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What a pathetic bunch of lilly livered comments. We have one bad game in our last 10 or so and suddenly our strongest midfielders can’t play.
"Cahill can’t play in a 4 man midfield". What a F#@$%&** load of shit comment is that.
"Carsleys inability to anything other than break up play" Please give me a break.
All of a sudden the last 3 months must have been a serious run of flukes. Lets try and find a team that is going to perform perfectly every week, we don’t have the right players.
FFS listen to yourselves....you are an embarresment.
James Power
5   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:17:21

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I think you are right Jason. Bad timing though as it looks like a reaction to last night, whereas in reality, with or without last night’s disappointment, you do have some valid points.

You are talking about breaking into the ’next level’ lets not forget, not the level we are at right now. So I am sorry Peter, I really do think he has a point, I don’t think our squad is complete.

The level we are at right now has been achieved with the players we have and they have done a very good job. The next level does really need the next level of player. Cars is getting on a little and I truly believe that Ossie is a very good squad player. I think a real quality, complete midfielder (Lampard, Gerrard or Ballack) would in reality displace the likes of Neville, Carsley and Osman, but by the same token, the key word is ’reality’ and with that in mind, I think we may have to continue winning fans and keeping Everton in the headlines with the team we currently have, either until DM unearths a gem or pays a fortune for the next big thing. Chins up lads, lets go for glory next week....
Dick Fearon
6   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:05:55

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Jason, the weaknesses you described are nothing new.You could have added the woeful first touch of AJ and his one dimensional style. Then there is the rubbish passing and shooting of Pip, Hibbo and Cars.
There is nothing to be done about the diminutive physique of certain players except to wonder how such little fellows were able to pass through the ranks.
My biggest concern is a coaching staff that seems incapable either of identifying said weaknesses or rectifying them.
For James Vaugnn to improve he must be removed or remove himself from their clutches.
Sad to say but a move would probably be in the best interest of both the game and James. If he hangs around here I fear his precocious talent may be coached out of him.
In world football the very top teams all have a tremendous team and work ethic yet in so many cases their wins are created by a brilliant individual doing something that is uncoachable.
Dave Culbert
7   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:40:21

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I completely agree with Jason, and have wondered for some time how we will step up to the next level. It has to be by bringing in players that can singularly do their job. I believed for the last 3 years we’ve needed to replace Cars, but he’s done exceptionally well. however he needs help in that position, and Moyes has used Neville as his cover. The ultimate problem is that we are then 1 short up front and we’re using 2 to cover a position that could be taken by a single player of high quality.

I think that this is all just part of our growth as a team and these players will slowly be bought. If you think when we were weak down the flanks and we had defensive minded midfielders playing in wide areas to cover - this is exactly the same issue. We now have excellent left backs in Baines and Lescott and Peanut is not required to tackle back on a regular basis. Whereas you look at the right back position and we fairly regularly have Neville around there to cover for Hibbert. Although when Neville plays in the positon we don’t generally cover him - hence why I think Neville is a better defender than Hibbert - both poor going forward tho.

I think Moyes sees the problem, and it’s only buying world class players that’s going to solve it. ultimately, I’d like to see a holding midfield player with 3 in midfield and 2 up front, however this will always lead to the question whether we can really ever afford to have a defensive midfielder, cahill, johnson and yak in the same side while maintaining width.

Nice thing is at least we have a manager who is prepared to play the right people in the right system and we have moved away from the days of playing left backs as right winders and midfielders as strikers!
Richard Parker
8   Posted 07/03/2008 at 09:07:07

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Peter, completely disagree with you. To be able to realistically analyse our weaknesses is not negativity. It is something that Moyes must be doing every day at work.

Jason is bang on the money with his comments, we are well organised, with players in midfield that complement each other well. The best teams aren’t about having a world beater in each position, as Chelsea prove this season. But we need a couple of midfielders who bring more to the side.

We desperately need a Carsley who can launch attacks by picking out a killer pass from deep. We could do with an Ossie who has more physical presence and can win more possession.

It’s not rocket science and it’s not negativity, it’s an honest appraisal of what we need to fix in order to step up a level.
David Edwards
9   Posted 07/03/2008 at 10:34:25

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A well-thought out piece, Jason. I’ve always been a fan of 4-4-2 and we have a good choice of striker partnerships at the club to call upon. However, when considering who to put in the 4 positions left in midfield, it’s a struggle. I personally would always pencil in Peanuts and Our ’Tater at present (despite last night’s shortcomings), so that’s only two places left. Carsley does a stopper role well, but offers little going forward. Cahill is our ’fox in the box’ but hasn’t quite got the creativity and touch in setting up the play. Ossie possibly has a more balanced skills-base of anyone, but I still think he is still ’work in progress’ - especially his physical ’presence’. Manny has attitude and fitness issues at present, but there is creativity and skill there if he steps up a notch. Tommy is sadly now past it, and Neville really brings little to the team compared to thise just mentioned (Right Back for me at most, if Moyes feels his presence as skipper helps the team).

I personally favour Peanuts, Our ’Tater, Ossie and Tiny at present if you want an attack orientated approach, but all 4 need to be aware of that multiple ’role’ thy need to play that Jason describes well with his examples of other premiership midfielders.

My own view is that if we are going to stay with 4-4-2 and ’cope’ with the 4 midfielders listed, the role of our full-backs needs more consideration. I don’t think Neville or Hibbert offer enough attacking options down the right flank, and I can’t help but think that Roger is not really the solution on the left (let’s face it, he’s only there because Moyes can’t really decide which of his 3 central defenders to leave out at present). I hope Baines is the eventual solution on that side of the pitch who can link up and overlap better with Peanuts. On the right side, though? Any ideas, folks, I thought a Micah Richards-type player would be the answer, but on his recent form obviously not!

This summer will see some hard choices for Moyes when he needs to bring in another few players with that extra quality and bid farewell to some trusty warhorses who have served the club superbly in the last few years, but who will never step up to that next level consistently. I think we are screaming out for a quality Riquelme-type player in midfield and I fear more bench time for which of the current midfielders is not on top of their game. Not easy - but that’s why you pay managers to make those decisions based on training ground and match observations.

Carl Wright
10   Posted 07/03/2008 at 10:59:53

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Peter, you’re missing the point am afraid mate. We have strung a good set of results togther against an average set of teams, and when faced with any decent opposition (Chelsea, Fiorentina) we look poor. And the biggest culpirts here are Neville and Carsley, great sevant and work horses, but lack the ability required to go up a gear.

Stop being so sensitive!! The last 3 months arent a fluke at all and no-ones pressing the panic buttons but something went wrong last night and everybody is well with in their rights to wonder why.
Carl Wright
11   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:06:28

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Oh an we dont need a "Riquelme" type player either!! Its a ball winner, who can go box to box and still play the ball to a feet or find a killer pass.

Before you all start its not Fernandes (overated) or Cahill, although the latter has improved his all round game over the last 6 months.
Chris James
12   Posted 07/03/2008 at 10:06:25

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Whilst I agree our midfield can be improved, I have to say I can see Peter’s viewpoint here. There’s been a typically negative doom and gloom over-reaction across the site today after our first bad result in 10 games.
Yes we probably are heading out of the UEFA and yes the performance was lacklustre but we were up against a technically very good side who just beat Juventus, would give any premiership side a challenge and who play a very different style of football to anything we’ve come up against AND several of our key players had a bad day at the office.

I’m not happy about the result or the performance, but I don’t suddenly think it makes our players worse or our tactics wrong.

The criticism of Carsley in particular is just ridiculous think. He’s a lion-hearted midfield stopper who protects our back four and makes simple passes out to creative players and also comes up to support when safe to do so. His pass completion ratio is actually very high and he’s played a part in the recent resurgence of our passing midfield.

Sure the likes of Makelele, Essien and Mascherano are also used to break up play and bring it forward and all three of them may have better passing vision than Carsley. But I would argue that:
1) Carsley is as good if not better a defensive stopper/tackler than all of the above.
2) Carsley has more heart, loyalty and team ethic than any of the above
3) These players are among the best in the world and can’t just be picked up easily (quite apart from the fact they do/would also cost well in excess of £15M in their prime, chances are they’ll want a CL team + massive wages)


Likewise, though Cahill has also been involved in the passing revolution of recent weeks and some genuinely beautiful moves, his main role is as a combative deep-lying attacker who can also get stuck in, not a midfield general.

The challenge of unlocking the opponents defence should lie with our genuine creative players: Arteta, Osman, Pienaar and Fernandes. The latter clearly isn’t up to speed this season (and there’s no way he should have been picked last night on recent performances), Arteta is recovering from niggling injury and Ossie and Peanuts didn’t really have a good game.

The only area where I do genuinely agree with the criticism is in the playing of Neville in a midfield role. Although I agree he should be in the side for his European experience and he’s not a bad right back by any means, he shouldn’t EVER be sitting in that midfield UNLESS Carsley is out and we have no other cover.

Whilst I do believe he can read the game well, sadly his brain and boots don’t seem to connect when it comes to delivering the pass. This ultimately means that against half-decent opponents (where retaining possession is crucial) he doesn’t really help the defensive cause in the way that Moyes intended.

The aim was clearly to play a tight game and get a 0-0 (or worst case a 1-0 deficit) to bring back to Goodison. To be honest there’s nothing wrong with that at all, bar Arsenal it’s the same tactics that most clubs English and European have employed for tricky away fixtures and up until the last quarter of the game it seemed to be working.

Maybe he could have gone for an Arteta, Carsley, Cahill, Osman and Pienaar 4-5-1 at some point, although Osman’s removal put paid to that. Maybe he should have reverted to a 4-4-2 with AJ coming on for Neville/Hibbert once we were under the cosh and after the first goal, but I can understand the reasons not to.


Overall I think it was definitely a disappointing night and sure we can always improve our team (same goes for every side in the world), but I think it’s a little early to be panicing and throwing out half our midfield in favour of a dream outsider.
Jay Harris
13   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:54:03

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Well put Chris James.
Some posts are saying we should have gone all out on attack some say we should have defended for a draw but I think the result would have bben different if we hadnt frozen. I think the occasion (just like Carling Cup semi) put too much pressure on the players and they froze. The conditions didn't help either. I think the next level up is a psychological one where we do not fear any team or occasion but I have to add Phil Neville should not play in midfield again. I would sonner play Baines in there if we?re desperate.
Mark Stone
14   Posted 07/03/2008 at 12:22:37

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I?m sure Mark Hughes would have something to say about that
Greg Doyle
15   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:58:21

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Jason, I could not disagree with you more.
You said it is no surprise that Arteta doesn’t get a game for Spain, are you on drugs?
You then go on to say that other teams have midfielders who can tackle like John Terry, pass like Beckham, beat a man like Christiano Ronaldo and finish like Van Nistelroy. That just is not true. Why do you think Lampard and Gerrard look so poor when they play together? Because they are not, as you suggest, complete midfielders.
Everyone is allowed a bad day, Lampard, Gerrard, Ballack and Makelele have them.
It’s true Everton were poor last night and I am as gutted as everyone else here. But what I hate to see is the "I told you so" crowd taking the first opportunity to slate the team and the players, hiding behind the excuse of "being realistic".


Paul OHanlon
16   Posted 07/03/2008 at 13:21:53

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Putting aside the fact we lost last night (for now), I think what Jasons saying is essentially true and has been for sometime. It’s not news to me that the reason we play better with 3 in middle is because we don’t have two who are good enough on their own. But until we have the funds to pay £10+ for a top centre mid (Manny still could be the answer) we’ll have to stick with it...we haven’t done too badly with 4-5-1 so far have we?

On last night’s game I think our problem is simply lack of depth. When we lose either Pienaar or Arteta we have to make 3 changes to accomodate, Osman out wide, Neville to centre mid and hibbert in at RB. Neville and Carsley in centre mid is never gonna be a combination that will retain possesion very well against the top teams.

Let’s hope Micky and Peanuts can stay fit enough for the rest of the season, we need them!
Steve Ashton
17   Posted 07/03/2008 at 13:05:34

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We all know where our problem areas are, but unlike the Sky 4 we do not have the resources to have 2 internationals in every position. At some point we will have to test Baines to find out if he is up to the mark and we still need a class right back.

We must accept that Pip and Cars will be no better than squad players next year and also that talk of us signing Cole or Bentley is pure fantasy.

If DM decides to sign Manny then we could well blow our summer transfer budget on two players we have on loan this season. If we don?t qualify for the CL we won?t attract quality young players anyway.

So if we have to use 2 players to fill one roll it?s because we don?t have the resources to buy the complete player and that being the case the fact we are 5th shows that we manage our resources better than all the teams below us.

The solution is to sell AJ. We have sufficient excellent attacking options to cover and as has already been said AJ is not the complete package by any stretch and if we can get £10-£12m for him that will certainly go someway to funding what we do need.
Jay Wilson
18   Posted 07/03/2008 at 13:29:27

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I find myself agreeing with the point made in the article. Players like Carsley and Osman are fantastic for us at the moment and have contributed to some of the best football I’ve seen an Everton side play in years. But what last night taught me I think is that although we are quite rightly considered to be the best of the rest there is still a huge stride to be taken to be competing with the teams who every year contest the big prizes. As Moyes put it after the Chelsea defeat, we miss star quality. Replacing Carsley and Osman with people who have that something extra will be the key to making that step and that won’t be easy as those players are few and far between and cost loads of money.

I also had to take issue with Dick Fearon’s comment re Vaughan. That has to be the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. I have lost count of the number of players who have improved greatly being coached by Moyes and his team. Urging Vaughan to leave to save his career is on a par with what the Media et al put into Rooney?s head. The lad is massively injury prone, he is being nursed slowly pack to full fitness. His time will come and I hope he proves you wrong about Moyes.
Robert Carney
19   Posted 07/03/2008 at 14:22:54

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There are only three teams who have outplayed us this season. Some others have had the right result against us but only Arsenal (one half) Chelsea in the semi and now Fiorentina. Give some credit to their coaches for so easily spotting our weakness?s. I think we all know we need the right midfielder or two to take us to the next level. I would not speculate who they are not being a coach or manager but I do hope they come in time for next season.

The plan, most people would agree is coming together. Let the progress continue.
Rich Cee
20   Posted 07/03/2008 at 14:26:53

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The midfield needs height, pace, power, vision and strength. All well and good saying Fernandes but who can honestly say that he?s impressed this season. We don?t know why he?s not done anything (lack of games and his criminal problems in Spain may be reasons) but he just hasn?t produced. Therefore, in our current position, can we really gamble £10m +?

I would like to see a proven player brought in. Xabi Alonso? Something to prove, class and clearly not first choice at Liverpool. Best friends with Arteta, lives locally and used to English football. Expensive but why not? We need to be bold with our signings and he could prove the catalyst.

People suggest Cana, Bradley et al but seeing games on tv once in a while do not provide enough information for fans to say "yes he?d do a great job for us" or "he?s much better than Carsley (or whoever)". I would like to think that they are and maybe it?s me who is being naive here but I think that people see a name and jump on the bandwagon. All I can say is what I have seen of Alonso (both live and on tv over the last couple of seasons) is that he is good enough in the league and would improve what we have.

Thoughts?
ian tunny
21   Posted 07/03/2008 at 14:52:37

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Couldnt agree more jason, i have been thinking the exact thing for some time but you have put it across very well. In a 5 man mid all the players suit the system and compiment each other very well effectivley against the majority of teams, covering each others inadiqusies. Carsley has been great this season and osmen was superb against pompy, but to my mind osmen should be a squad player he has no outstanding or exceptional attribute that can consistantly win or save games, cahil can hold down a place as his goals and particularly against the top teams are a must in the team. Carsley is missed when not in the team but doesnt have age on his side. Moyes will already know this and must now find a player that can fill the void by both osmen and carsley to make the transition to a 4 man midfield. But as you say to find a play like gerrard who can do the job of cahill, osmen and carsely it would probably cost somewhere in the region of 30 mill.
Martin Cutler
22   Posted 07/03/2008 at 14:52:50

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Jason, excellent post! I agree 100%.


To digress for a second.....we all love Arteta but there has to be a reason why he hasn’t been picked for Spain........oddly enough I just looked at the current squad for Spain on Wiki.....out of 39 players (current and recent call-ups) only six don’t play in Spain and four of the six play for the RS...Spain’s other team (chuckle)!
So, I would say, it’s nothing to do with his ability....simply that he doesn’t play in Spain. (Or Liverpool FC.)

Anyway, Arteta is ours, not their’s, and he’s great......

.....getting back to Jason....great post, agree wholeheartedly, it’s not negative.....basically we’re kicking ass with any team that isn’t top notch. (Yes, Oldham are top-notch....cough, cough!)
We are 1, possibly 2, players away from being top-notch........we must remind ourselves that Moyes has done a fantastic job on limited resources....ask yourselves where the RS would be this season if they didn’t have 26m to splash out on Torres....yes, he’s outstanding but he cost them a fucking fortune....Moyes couldn’t do that if he wanted to.
Yakubu cost a small fortune, yes, and I think Moyes has handled him fantastically....but Torres was another 15m on top of his cost.

The mind boggles at times it really does.....give Moyes credit (and, no, he’s not perfect) for what he’s done with what he has at his disposal.......and don’t say he hasn’t won anything...........no team outside of the top four (with the odd exception) has won fuck-all either!

I think I’ve lost my flow of thought here.......sounds like they played like crap last night..........okay, let’s get over it and move on......I think we can do it next Wednesday!!

By the way....Neville needs to go (we know Hibbert isn’t going but we don’t need both in the team) and I suspect unless Manny improves dramatically and quickly he needs to go too.
Michael Greaves
23   Posted 07/03/2008 at 16:56:55

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The above article captures the point exactly: the top four teams in the EPL have players that perform very comfortably in a four sometimes three man midfield, often against top class opposition. The remaining sixteen teams do not have an abundance of these players and that is why, as things stand currently, the top four have those league positions locked out, pretty much every season. I have faith that Moyes can find this type of player, probably on the continent, otherwise we’ll have to wait until one comes through the ranks and pray that the poor kid can survive on 30 grand a week and not be tempted by three times that amount and regular CL games.
Ian Tunny
24   Posted 07/03/2008 at 17:18:23

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We brought Rooney through and the RS brought Gerrard thru so I believe there is a pool of talent there its just geting there before the RS. I think we are in a far better possition and a much more attractive proposition for young talent than we were when Rooney left and who knows, come the end of the season we may well be able to offer Champions League football and the big wage with it. I just hope we get there ahead of the RS!
Sean McKenna
25   Posted 07/03/2008 at 17:23:32

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Firstly it was a shocking display, we couldn't string two passes together all night, not one shot on target and our set plays were pathetic. I've read the comments above and while I agree with most I think we need one player to really improve us, a midfielder who can take the ball off our back 4! I lost count of the amount of times our back 4 had the ball in space and had no OPTIONS!!! Nev and Cars weren't brave enough to take the ball, therefore we ended up playing hoofball again and, as we seen last night, it wont work in Europe.

In Europe all attacks start from the back ? it's a fact. One other point is that Fiorentina had done there homework the Yak always had two players on him as did Pienaar and they also pressed us high up the park making us kick it long. I fear the tie is over as I can see them nicking an away goal.

Neil Pearse
26   Posted 07/03/2008 at 19:49:28

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Spot on Jason. To be fair to Moyes, his repeated taking of Fernandes indicates that he knows where the problem is and is trying to fix it. In the summer we need two class centre midfielders (Manny might be one of them). Because at the moment we don’t have any. We are the team with the hole in the middle.
James Mullarkey
27   Posted 07/03/2008 at 20:59:20

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Jason,

I agree with Bentley he?s a cracking player. ..your comment on Carsley...well the RS have just spent £18m on the argie and he?s no better than Cars, despite what your?e trying to say ... Cahill is a very good player,popping up with the odd goal (10 this season already)...we beat pompy easily without Mikel....and isn?t consistency all about beating teams you should be beating week in week out. We know what we are Moyes makes mistakes they all do and we are not the best side in the country we all know that but how far have we come? If you are totally unbiased we have several players in our squad who could get into the majority of premier league teams..Howard, Lescott, Yobo, Cahill, Ossie, Piennar, Johnson, Yak, Mikel, ..Who wants to be perfect and buy success?... One sobering point to leave you with...REMEMBER WALTER SMITH!!
Wayne Smyth
28   Posted 07/03/2008 at 19:13:50

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In some ways I dont know what the fuss is about.

The Pompey game aside, every match where neville and carsley have played together in the centre of the park has resulted in a dire team performance.

Neither of them have good passing range or ability to hold on to the ball. They are both defensively minded players who sit deep and break stuff up.

We got lucky against pompey and sadly(or maybe out of necessity) Moyes decided to keep with the same lineup. The fact that it didnt work against a very good italian team shouldn’t come as a big shock.
Jason Lam
29   Posted 08/03/2008 at 09:18:13

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Firstly, in no way was this original post a knee-jerk reaction to the Florentina game. I could’ve just posted after the 7-1 drumming of Sunderland and then be accused of impossible to be pleased! And similarly I wouldn’t think we had world class midfielders that could win the European Cup. Secondly, I am all for Moyes and he has done an absolute brilliant job with the budget and players on disposal. I am confident to say that if we were to repeat this season over and over again we would be 4th or 5th, barring no changes to the other teams as well (but let’s not open that can of worms..). I do remember signing Stephen Hughes and giving him our #10 shirt (and our future hopes) so yes we have come a very long way. I am not a grumpy old fart and I’m enjoying the games and have a big smile on my face. We have reached a major milestone, yet the project must continue. As far as I remember correctly Moyes experimented with the 4-3-3 and soon changed to the 4-5-1. Up front we started with Marcus Bent, Beattie, AJ and now the Yak. Always 4-5-1. Different types of forwards but what was the same was that they all struggled against the top sides. Am I missing something here? The point here is progress. Let’s enjoy the season and footie, it’s long overdue. Call me a glory-seeker in saying I saw the light during the mid-80s (I was around 13 yrs). My pathetic suggestion is that maybe we are cemented to a strict 4-5-1 formation because our core spine of (midfield) players need to work in this configuration. Players (especially forwards) need to step into this formation. I can see where the James Vaughan comment is coming from even though it seems exaggerated. Sometimes we need to break down the old building before we can place a better improved one in its place. The old building was great yes, but we want to move forward. We are Evertonians. I had to check my original post to see if I missed something but no it’s still there. The suggestion of David Bentley. He’s young. He’s a midfielder that can play on the right, inside-right and in the hole. He has work ethic. His head’s screwed on properly in a funny way. He left Arse for first team football; he skipped the U21s to refresh himself for the new season and senior England squad. He has ambition. He plays for Blackburn - Everton are a bigger club that can provide European football. The top 4 won’t sign him, Manure’s midfield is stock full of players, and so is Chelski. Wenger won’t sign him back. The RS though, may want a proper right midfielder to swing in some crosses to their forwards, as Pennant is crap in crossing. Though that means rotation system. He’s English. He’s breaking in the England squad. Give him the Everton #7, Beck’s hairdresser, some Sugarbabe fuckwit WAG, and then up goes Everton’s global profile :-) 9million big ones for a midfielder from Blackburn. Why can’t it happen?
Kev Prytherch
30   Posted 08/03/2008 at 20:10:21

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Didn?t Fernandes make his name in Portugal as a deep-lying midfielder? If he?s fit for the second leg would it be too brave to put him in Carsley's role and have Arteta, Cahill, Osman and Pienaar in front of him. I know the general concensus would be for a 4-4-2 but one goal conceded and we?re out. 4 attacking midfielders playing in front of someone who?s not afraid to take the ball from defenders might just work.
Eric Holland
31   Posted 09/03/2008 at 01:02:50

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Why do you rant on about Carsley being able to do this and that, when its quite obvious that he is well past his best. He cant pass he cant shoot his tackles are becoming increasingly late, he would not get in to any of the top 12 premiership teams so why is he good enough for us?
Stuart Downey
32   Posted 09/03/2008 at 18:35:52

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Simple point from me here. I agree with most of the article. But realism has to come into play, Moyes has to do the best with what he has, and 4-5-1 allows him to use his players to the best of their ability against most opposition.

Obviously, Joe Cole, Ronaldinho, C. Ronaldo, Kaka would all be great. so would £200m and a lot of negotiation power. What we need is Champions League and the money it brings before we can talk about articles like this. Its very difficult to improve our midfield, we’re still a loan + buy club (effectively hire-purchase).

Time is money
Nick Toye
33   Posted 09/03/2008 at 20:44:31

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I have to agree with Carsley’s limitations. He was massively exposed against Fiorintina, I don’t mind him twatting the ball out of the ground when its in our own penalty area, but I expect a little more panache when he is attacking.

Add Neville’s inability to pass, and that’s one shite central midfield. Certainly needs to be addressed.
Callum Wilson
34   Posted 09/03/2008 at 22:39:51

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I think we know are short comings and although we can batter teams below us all day we do seem to hiccup against "bigger teams". In saying that though we have beaten the champions of norway and russia in the Uefa and been level pegging and then stolen in the death with the "top 4" god i hate using that phrase. I think we really should have went for diarra though carsley has done great for us over the years but he is getting on now. Also i think against La Viola the back four should have been
Valente experienced or Baines both left footed jags and lescott and Neville.
As other people have stated Neville should never play in midfield ever and hibbert just shouldn’t play
Gavin Goh
35   Posted 09/03/2008 at 23:18:53

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There are suggestions that Moyes is looking at Kim Kallstrom from Lyon?? Any weight behind this one??

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