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Strikers... or Lack Thereof

By John Cottee :  22/03/2008 :  Comments (12) :
In January when David Moyes finally decided to give up on James McFadden I backed his decision. Nearly £5 million was a good price for a player who was not quite good enough for a Top 5 side like Everton. Of course the last couple of games have made me rethink and now I have to admit I wish we still had McFadden in the squad. It's not his goals for Birmingham (particulary the two against Arsenal) that has changed my mind rather its the striking crises at Everton.

When McFadden left we looked pretty secure up front, Yakubu, Johnson, Anichebe and Vaughan. A formidable group of strikers and when you formulate in Cahill (who could at times can be classed as a striker) then things looked pretty rosy. Of course we should have known Vaughan was going to pick up a long-term injury. It's what he does best. The guy has more long-term injuries then he does goals.

Then there's always the nigly injuries that both Johnson and Cahill seem to pick up. Not many months go by without one of them missing the odd game or two. And just as we get to the business end of the season, wouldn't you know it, long-term injury for Vaughan, nigly injuries for Cahill and Johnson, all at the same time... I think its called Sod's Law.

Against Fulham ,Yakubu was the only fit striker for most of the game and Moyes was forced into the frankly embarrassing situation of playing Lescott up front. That was pretty awful to watch. Against West Ham we had Anichebe back but as the game wore on and the players tired Moyes had no attacking options on the bench to try and win the game. Towards the end, Anichebe was a spent force. He was crying out to be taken off for fresh attacking legs but there simply wasn't an option from a bench, whcih consisted of Gravesen, Hibbert and Valente.

And here's what I dont get: why the fuck hasn't Moyes promoted one of the young strikers to the bench? There's a young striker called Kieran Agard who we picked up from Arsenal. He seems pretty useful and scores in the reserves. Then there's Lukas Jutkiewicz, that striker we paid Swindon a million for. He's actually a squad member. Last I heard he was at Plymouth on loan. And let's not forget others like Scott Spencer, Aidan Downes and Karl Sheppard.

Now if we asked him, Moyes would undoubtedly claim that all of these players were too young and not yet ready for the Premier League. That may well be true but would it really hurt the development of them to sit on the bench and then in a game like the West Ham draw to possibly get a ten minute run out for a tiring Anichebe?

West Ham has a youngster Freddie Sears play for most of the second half and in fairness to the lad he caused us problems and was unlucky not to score a winner. Surely having Agard or Jutkiewicz on the bench isn't going to hurt either the players or Everton's chances of getting a late winner? I understand that they are not ready for the Premier League but we need options on the bench and they are all we have.

The race for 4th is turning in Liverpool's favour no doubt but I can handle losing that. What will really destroy this season is if Everton finish 6th and don't get any European football next season. We are in the drivers seat for at least 5th. Let's not let the lack of striking options throw that away.

If Johnson isn't back by next weekend it's time to promote Agard or recall Jutkiewicz from loan. They have to be a better option then emergency striker Lescott. If they are not good enough to sit on the bench and maybe get a 10-minute runout then its time to ask why we are even bothering to have them on the books?

Reader Comments

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Geraint Williams
1   Posted 22/03/2008 at 23:02:26

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I always thought that we might come to regret losing McFadden at the time that we sold him, bearing in mind we were still in the Carling and Uefa cup at the time with so many fixtures to play. They eventually took their toll, especially extra time against Fiorentina, and then we end up playing Lescott up front against Fulham.
Other than that though, I really think we desperately need a replacement for Carsley. I don’t necessarily think that our back 4 given the quality should need any extra protection and I think it’s the lack of mobility and speed in the centre that leads us to play hoofball.
Ray Robinson
2   Posted 22/03/2008 at 23:09:14

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I think the current situation proves how over-optimistic we all were regarding the striker situation earlier in the season. I really only see Yakubu as an out and out striker. Vaughan looked promising but has succumbed to yet another injury. Johnson is a useful player but not clinical enough and nobody can really argue with selling McFadden for £5m. So that leaves Anichebe who looks substandard in so many departments. I don’t think Agard or Jutkiewicz would have turned the game tonight - afte all they’re less experienced than Vaughan and Anichebe - but yes, it would do no harm to have them on the bench - and yes, it was Sunday League-esque last week at Fulham when Lescott played up front. Embarrassing for at eam challenging for the Champions League.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
3   Posted 23/03/2008 at 02:12:02

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I?ve only seen Agard in a couple of Reserve games and to be honest, he looked a long way from being ready to step up. Too early to tell if it?s just youth and inexperience but he didn?t look capable of making the kind of impact that Anichebe and Vaughan have had.

I too was happy to lose McFadden for £5m, but that was in the expectation that he would be replaced in the January window. Of course, it was heresy to suggest that the club ? I say "the club" and not Moyes as it?s possible he didn?t have the money to spend ? made a mistake by not re-investing in a class attacking midfielder to replace him.

Derek Thomas
4   Posted 23/03/2008 at 04:20:21

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A simplistic chant I know, ’ but feed the Yak’ etc etc

Yakubu’s goal tally can be given by the formula...

G = MD + C

Where G = goals, MD = midfield domination and C = confidence.

The game is won and lost in the midfield, always has been, always will be.

The goal he did get was a confidence goal via route 1 iaded and abetted by an inexperienced defender, though to give Tomkins his due the yak will turn older heads than him inside out.

So on the bench we had can’t run, Gravesen and won’t run Fernandes.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure the end result.
Jason Chau
5   Posted 23/03/2008 at 07:51:10

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I think it’s pretty harsh too say a lack of strikers. Generally 4 strikers is enough for any team. Could we have predicted that we’d have 3 strikers knocked out at the some time? Not at all.

If we had 5 strikers and 4 got injured at the same time, would we still be saying the same thing?
I think it was the right decision to let McFadden go. We’ve got a good balance of strikers, with the bigger guys like Yak and Anichebe balanced by the smaller pacier Vaughan and Johnson. Good age difference two, so the younger two can learn from the more experienced pair.
McFadden wasn’t even getting a look in, so it was the right time to sell, especially considering the money we got for him.
Mike Coates
6   Posted 23/03/2008 at 11:32:19

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Loan Nugent.. at least as cover (if we’re allowed to, I can’t remember mid season rules on loans.. lol)

He wants to play for us, and perhaps then he will shine?!?

I dunno.
Gavin Ramejkis
7   Posted 23/03/2008 at 14:53:44

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Mike C I think the only players the transfer windows don’t classify are those who are free agents, tie that with Nugent looking way out of his depth at Premiership level and both say a firm NO. Without service from the midfield a lot of strikers would starve at Everton never mind championship quality ones.
Damian Wilde
8   Posted 23/03/2008 at 16:47:20

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That Sears is a CHEAT. Did you see the way he held his face even though Jags was about 4 yards away from him. Little scumbag, I hope his career fucks up, we could do withour cheats. It was so blatant is was unbelievable.

And Yak’s goal was onside, robbed again by a dickhead referee. I know we were shite and hey could have had more, but it was a goal. Has that counted we’d probably have won.
Michael Kenrick
9   Posted 23/03/2008 at 16:53:26

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Damian, he got smacked in the face by a trailing arm. Yes, he went down easily but there was contact. We?ve all seen penalties awarded for less.
Glen Strachan
10   Posted 23/03/2008 at 17:54:34

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Did James McFadden not have surgery yesterday? No idea how long the problem has been bothering him!

Freaky but we would not have had him fit for yesterday anyway. Did anybody think Victor or Tiny Tim were even close to fit at the start yesterday?
Ray Williams
11   Posted 23/03/2008 at 18:15:12

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No Michael, you?ve got it wrong! Pip?s hand made contact with Sears? hand, and it was no where near his face. He cheated by going over, not only trying to get a penalty but also trying to get Neville sent off.
He also made a meal of Carsley?s challenge, on the edge of the box, but I?ll give him the benefit of the doubt over that one as contact probably was made.. Nevertheless, it was nothing other than blatant cheating, something you come to expect from certain London based teams but not West Ham!.
I also feel that had had the second "goal" been allowed to stand, then we?d have been well & truly on our way to 3 points.
Let?s face it, Mark Halsey & his assistants had a terrible game, as evidenced not only by the disallowed goal but also by the persistent fouling by Ashton that went unpunished (Big Dunc would have been sent off within 10 minutes for what Ashton was getting away with), not to mention the 2 free kicks on the edge of the box he denied us, because we had "advantage". There was then the back pass that Green picked up, but I don?t want to go on!
OK, West Ham played well in the second half but the game should have been over by then. Once again we?ve been denied 3 points by poor refereeing.
If everything evens itself out over a season, then I?m looking forward to all the dodgy decisions that will go our way over the next 8 games, starting with 2 penalties at Anfield. However, I won?t hold my breath!
Steve Roberts
12   Posted 27/03/2008 at 13:02:26

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I think he is scared to promote Agard because all the attention its gonna cause. He is a really good striker, I watched him in the academy and the big London clubs wanted him to sign before he signed for us. He won't even send him out on loan. We may get Jutkiewicz back, he's half-decent ? not as exciting as Agard though. We won't be seeing agard for some time as he is not an option right now. That's why he didnt feature in the AZ Alkmaar game. He came on for the pre-season and scored against Northern Ireland. I think he's got really good stats for pre season and i think he is the highest scorer at youth level.

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