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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

What's Happened to My Everton?

By Paul Traill :  19/04/2008 :  Comments (20) :
My last trip to an Everton game was at Eastlands on Monday 25th February. I've since moved to new Zealand for a while to work and travel. From this side of the world I've been keeping a very close eye on things (well as close as I can anyway, the football viewing times and the general lack of interest in all things "soccer" over here make things pretty darn difficult but I've watched what I can!).

I came back from that trip to Eastlands full of pride and fully convinced that Everton could take that 4th place. Fully convinced we could continue to make great strides in Europe in my absense. I was actually pretty gutted about missing out on the rest of the season given how well we'd been performing and the results we had been achieving, but from what I've seen now, it all seems to have fallen apart and I just don't know where our next result (or goal for that matter) is going to come from. Sure, we've lost Cahill, we've lost Arteta and we've lost Osman (the best of the three this season if you ask me). Sure that makes it difficult for us but I don't see why it should result in such nervousness from other players in the team. SO many players just look completely shot to pieces:

Yakubu: just what's gone wrong? I saw that miss against Derby County but hey I also so that dive against Liverpool (pathetic by the way). Players, particularly strikers, go through what they call "baron spells" but his attitude seems to have slipped and he doesn't look like the same player at the moment. For 12 million pounds...I expect more! Neville: Now I've never been his biggest fan but at the same time I don't think I'm as critical as some of the others! However he just looks completely clueless at the moment for me. Watching the Chelsea game, yeah great, a few bitting tackles and the odd accurate pass but some of his ideas are just darn right dangerous and whilst he never hides, quite frankly, from our captain...I expect more!

Pienaar: I haven't seen all the games so I may have missed something here but he hasn't looked the same player lately from what I can see. As one of our more creative players he has a lot more responsibilty than most in the absense of Osman, Cahill and of course Arteta, but for me he seems to be giving away a lot of silly free kicks and not finding passes the way he can do. I know there's a bit of debate regarding his contract and agent fees but for a player fighting for a contract (or hell, even in the shop window if that's what he wants)...I expect more!

David Moyes: Just to clarify: I'M NOT A MOYES HATER! For me he's the best thing that's happened to Everton for years. BUT...I have been a bit bemused by some of his decisions lately. Neville in midfield just doesn't work. End of! I can see that from here! With the injuries we have however I'd still rather see Baines in left midfield with Carsley and Fernandes in the middle at the moment. Accomadating Neville in midfield therefore pulling Fernandes out of position on the flanks just doesn't do it for me.

Otherwise, I'm dissapointed to see that he hasn't given Valente more of a go at left back even with Baines on left midfield. Gotta be worth a try hasn't it? Even if just in training! And Gravesen. OK, he was shite in his 20 odd minutes against Chelsea but there's been games (i.e. West Ham Utd at home, Liverpool away) when we've needed something, anything to unlock the door as the game trails off. Sometimes I just want to see him gamble a bit..I expect more!

I don't know why but the heads seem to have dropped. I didn't have the chance to see the Fiorentina game at Goodison (though I did catch the highlights online). It seems we battered them and from what I heard form the lads back home it was a very proud day to be a blue. SO where's that pride gone now? Since then (and I've seen all the games bar the Birmingham City one) we just seem clueless. I just hope we can eek out two more wins at home to Aston Villa and Newcastle United 'cos this season's been a bloody good one and we all want another crack at Europe.

The players should follow Manuel Fernandes example in these last few games. No, everything he tries doesn't work, but the key is he does try. He tries to make things happen. He tries hard to win the ball back if he does lose it. He tries to have a shot (could you really see anyone else scoring against Chelsea?). A bit more input from some of the others and we should be fine. More of this clueless, nervous tension, and we might not just surrender 5th. We'll probably surrender 6th too.

Thank God we applied for the Intertoto! COYB!

Reader Comments

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Alan Foster
1   Posted 19/04/2008 at 08:56:57

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My dad calls it ?Curbishley Syndrome?. Good for two thirds of the season and the the big switch-off. Moyes has made a good impression of the Cockney lad whose teams at Charlton and West Ham always fail to stand the pace. I think it?s down to one dimensional management-a backs to the wall approach until the run-in but when the hard works done and the pressure?s off just fail to claim the prize. On the field it?s no better. Who the hell would look to Neville-consistently our worst player, for an example? The attitude looks like "fuck it ,I?ve run my bollocks off all winter, here comes summer!"
Adam Cunliffe
2   Posted 19/04/2008 at 11:21:40

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Fernands is good. That?s all ? just good. I certainly wouldn?t pay over £10 mil for him. I agree with you about Moyes tho. His tactics can be bemusing at the best of times, ie. taking off AJ when we're trying to win a game. That?s why we shouldn?t be worried about him being Ferguson's understudy or going to any other top 4 club ? simply because he?s not good enough for them. Utd demand the best not just good and that?s all Moyes is; good.
Neil Alecock
3   Posted 19/04/2008 at 10:07:08

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I think all teams have a blip in the season. Villa suffered a couple of months back and slipped as did Portsmouth. Everton have fought on 3 fronts; the Prem, the Carling cup and the Uefa Cup. These games have taken it out of the players. I think from some of the noises Moyes has made, he knows we are a few players short of going the distance. If he had serious money he could have got these in. He doesn?t however want to just get make-weights to boost the squad, as these are worse than some of the players criticised by the fans recently.

Against Chelsea my overriding sense was that we are a bit pussy. Not very big and unable to bully top class players. This was true in the early part of the season ? such as against Metalist away in the first half. When Chelsea were passing the ball around and boring the nation, we couldn?t get to them quick enough and when we did we were out muscled. We need players that are quicker and physically stronger.

To disagree with Paul, I think Pienaar gave free kicks away because he was trying to come on physical and tried to close down. I thought he was our best player and misses Arteta and Osman to bounce the ball off. I think he has been struggling with an ankle problem for a few weeks, yet playing through. We need to tie up his deal.

Phil Neville was brought into the midfield to beef it up a bit. I don?t like him there; he is a much better right back but we need to be able to close down, tackle and win headers. Trouble is neither Carsley nor Neville are able to use the ball creatively.

My one thing this season has been how to replace Carsley. The solution is the key to Everton?s success next year and to a certain extent our success and fall this year. We simply don?t have a natural holding player on the books at the moment to touch him. However he is limited when he gets the ball, he isn?t quick and the last 2 months or so he has gotten slower and his technique is suspect too. Now there is nothing new in what I am saying, but to challenge the top clubs we need a holding player that can tackle, head, pass, control the ball and create. This player is gold in football and we need to pay a lot of money for him. Everton away at Fiorentina, the ball came to Carsley in front of our defence, it bounced a little awkward, he floundered, it bounced off his knee to a Fiorentina player and we were under pressure again. That was the moment I realised we can?t accommodate players like Carsley if we are truly serious about moving forward. He has been a great asset and servant, and any club below us would be happy to have him; we have to move on.

With a fast, tough tackling, technically gifted holding player, Cahill, or Osman could partner him in a midfield four. This should be a priority.

As the season has progressed Carsley has been asked to play every game. He must be tiring and I think this has been one of the biggest factors to our recent loss of form. We aren?t getting to other teams high enough up the pitch to put pressure on. Carsley and the rest have been dropping off and letting teams play. This is a sign of tiredness and loss of confidence. The manager knows this and I think he has already made this known at board level, that to compete all season long and be Euro regulars we need a better and larger squad to build on the fine group of lads we already have.

To boost the squad we need some big signings. We need that holding player, an additional centre midfielder (perhaps Ferndandes who is young and has the technique), a fast winger, a top right back and a top class striker that can hold the ball up as well as bag 20 goals. A conservative estimate would be around £70 million for the lot. If we are serious in challenging on all fronts then this is what we must pay.

Do I think it will happen? Not even close!

Neil Pearse
4   Posted 19/04/2008 at 12:03:37

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Agree with you Neil (and others have said this): they key is replacing Carsley. Remember that, as well as having Cahill, Arteta and Osman fit, our best football of the season came when Carsley was fit and not having to do anything else than play defensively in front of the back four. Now our best attacking players have gone, and Carsley is utterly knackered.

If we replace Carsley with a class experienced £10M+ holding midfielder, get Fernandes to play alongside him, and also somehow afford a genuine wide attacker, I actually do think we have a really good potential squad.

If Vaughan (IMHO head and shoulders in raw ability above our other attackers) is not going to be properly fit, we will need another attacker. Otherwise we can play him with AJ as his less talented deputy. Neville / Hibbert may have to do at RB for now until Gosling comes through. Keep Carsley as cover for our new holding guy.

Oh and please make Lescott or Cahill captain (Cahill with Lescott as deputy for when Timmy is injured / suspended would be perfect for me).

So that makes:

Defence: Hibbert, Neville, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Rodwell, Gosling.

Midfield: Arteta, Pienaar, Osman, Fernandes, Cahill, new holding mid, new wide mid, Carsley.

Attack: Vaughan, Yakubu, Johnson, Anichebe.

£30-35M may just be enough, and may be doable.
Paul Niklas
5   Posted 19/04/2008 at 13:15:30

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Not going to comment on defence or midfield Niel, think your about right there.

Albeit, I think Hibbert is not up to it.

And at last it seems as if a few people have statrted to agree with what i have been saying all season Fernandes is not a holding midfielder. Attack? That's a different issue.

Anichebe - Never in a million years is he going to be good enough.

Vaughan - love him but unless they can change his game a bit or his mind to stop trying to win everything (he injures himself more than someone injuring him,)we will have him always on the injury list.

Johnson - needs a major confidence boost but he has lost a yard of pace; on two occasions against Chelsea Terry and Carvagligho beat him to balls he would have left them for dead a year ago.

Yakubu - yes will always score but needs someone to hold the ball and bring him into the game more.


We can't rely fully on the 4 strikers we have as we have seen of late for various reasons.

I would get rid of at least one of them, and buy a class striker, who I don't know, but others can do it, Blackburn with Santa Cruz , we have to look abroad I suggest.
Paul Mousley
6   Posted 19/04/2008 at 13:30:40

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Dont forget about the replacement for the "Scottish Rooney"! We cant rely on the youngsters just yet and we need some one that can commpete for position with our senior strikers
Neil Pearse
7   Posted 19/04/2008 at 14:21:41

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Paul Niklas - I wish you weren’t right about the attack but fear that you are! If so, I do worry. I can see us buying three quality players in the summer, but not four (unless perhaps Moyes pulls off another Pienaar wheeze)

You are probably right that we really need: a holding mid, a box to box mid (Fernandes), an attacking wingman, a striker. Would selling Neville help? I can certainly live with that. Gosling better then be good enough!
Darren Gough
8   Posted 19/04/2008 at 15:40:12

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Any Evertonian who watches the blues week after week can see what's wrong with our midfield, so surely Moyes must see this as well and where changes need to be made to rectify this. For starters, we need a bit more height and muscle in there, someone who is strong in the tackle and can play a defence-splitting pass for our forwards to run onto. It's the ball-to-feet free-flowing football that served us well earlier on in the season that suited our style and got us the results and scored us plenty of goals and it pains us all to see the hoofball yard-dog football (partly through our technically gifted players being injured) that we are resorting to now.

I would imagine that Moyes watches videos of our games with the players after matches have been played and points out where they are going wrong by doing this and just inviting pressure on the defence, but this obviously does not seem to be the case cos it has happened for the past 5 or so games now and nothing seems to have changed.

I also hate to say this but another striker looks needed to me to help out the Yak as we have changed AJ from a 15-20 goal-a-season poacher to someone who now has to go chasing balls that have been hoofed over his head down the channels and it just does not suit the lad. We should play to his strengths and give him balls to run onto in and around the box to utilise his pace and I would bet his goal return would vastly improve.

As for Victor, well, the lad is young and has a lot to learn yet but I just don't think he is going to cut it at Everton unless attempts are made to improve his first touch and control of the ball and the instinct to shoot when needed instead of taking too many touches of the ball. I hope the kid proves me wrong but I can't see him turning out to be what we all hope for.

Young Vaughn gives me hope as he has pace and hunger and is like Andy Gray in the fact that he will go for anything with no fear of the outcome and is prepared to put himself amongst defenders to get the ball. He also reminds me of Rooney in the sense that he plays with no fear; one or two so-called senior players could learn from this and try applying it to their game...

Chris Halliday
9   Posted 19/04/2008 at 19:27:48

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Neil, spot on post, I agree with every point, have you picked my brain? I can?t believe some of the lesser players have surrended like they have. But they have. So where does that leave us?

Well, if I have to watch a derby match where their best player is 26 years old (Gerrard) and is, running the show and we send out a 34 year old to mark him (Carsley), and he cannot get within 10 yards of him then we aint never going to break into the top four. We need money to build on Moyes's work. Then we can judge if he can take us on, but I understand the fans being unhappy, we are desperate for success.

Neil Scott
10   Posted 19/04/2008 at 23:17:06

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Never fear. Anthony Gardner?s here.. ;)
Paul Daly
11   Posted 20/04/2008 at 05:34:46

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.......going out to Fiorentina.....I think it knocked the stuffing out of a lot of them.....we haven’t been the same since.....and no inspirational talisman Cahill doesn’t help either......
Mark Pendleton
12   Posted 20/04/2008 at 09:44:16

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I can’t get over these knee jerk reactions and ridiculous digs at Moyes. Put aside the fact that we didn’t bring in more players in January. Injuries at present have forced Moyes’ hand. Carsley doesn’t look knackered, he’s just playing out of position in the centre of a 4-4-2. It’s not where he’s excelled. Add Neville to that too, he’s best at right back. Pienaar was our most dangerous player until i think essentially he was replaced having succumbed to the recent injury. Same goes for AJ, he’s been rushed back. The Yak has been starved of service of late due to 3 of our most creative midfield support acts being sidelined. Fernandes in the latter half of the Chelsea game finally seemed to seize the initiative and was showing much more of the player we hoped and expected. 2 or 3 quality signings this summer, keep hold of Pienaar and possibly Fernandes, get everyone fit and ready to go in the summer and we’ll be fine.
Gavin Ramejkis
13   Posted 20/04/2008 at 09:53:34

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Mark P forgive me if you were trying to say something else but "ridiculous digs at Moyes" and Carsley and Neville played out of position. Just who do you think tells these players where to play? Who pu Neville as a left winger when we had Baines on the bench? Who decided to go 4-4-2 and stayed with it despite it glaringly going nowhere? DM deserves the stick Mark, his squad, his players, his tactics. Fair play for the two clowns upstairs not releasing the McFadden money but the need for a midfield general has been there since Graveson left and hasn’t been addressed since.
Gavin Ramejkis
14   Posted 20/04/2008 at 09:53:34

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Mark P forgive me if you were trying to say something else but "ridiculous digs at Moyes" and Carsley and Neville played out of position. Just who do you think tells these players where to play? Who put Neville as a left winger when we had Baines on the bench? Who decided to go 4-4-2 and stayed with it despite it glaringly going nowhere? Who plays Carsley and Neville together in midfield despite the fact it has never worked? DM deserves the stick Mark, his squad, his players, his tactics. Fair play for the two clowns upstairs not releasing the McFadden money but the need for a midfield general has been there since Graveson left and hasn’t been addressed since.
Mark Pendleton
15   Posted 20/04/2008 at 14:20:28

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Gavin, as i said INJURIES FORCED HIS HAND. Moyes doesn’t want to play Neville in midfield and Carsley in midfield right now but he has no choice.
Adam Niklas
16   Posted 20/04/2008 at 16:41:08

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First of all, I'm glad we sold James McFadden because he did nothing for us. He ran with the ball and lost it straight away. At £6 million, we got a good deal,

Secondly, about the lack of players we have: I can recall Moyes saying that we had enough players and he is wrong ? although I think he is realising it now. We all know Gravesen will be leaving at the end of the season because his legs have just gone, that means he will have to invest.

Jimmy bullard, Louis Saha, Stewart Downing and also Mario Melichiot ? the first three would be great signings for us. I know it would cost us greatly but these three can provide us with strengh, speed, creativity, width and an eye for a goal. I think Saha would be great with Yakubu.

Jimmy Bullard has been great for Fulham and he doesn't deserve to play in the Championship ? he won't cost much. I think he would be great for us. As for Downing, we need a left-sided midielder which we don't have. Baines could focus on the left back position rather than playing left midfield,

You may not think I am right here but Maro Melchiot for Wigan has be brilliant for them this seaon and he would add to our strong backline. He wouldn't cost much and I sure he would relish the chance of bieng near to the op of the table and also in Europe.

I think Everton should sign Manny Fernandes I believe he is a quality player and with the likes Bullard in the middle with him they both can create he also will ahve players like Arteta Pienaar and Downing to play and Saha and Yakubu ....

This would resolve Neville and Carsley playing in the midfield that should never be played again and we gain width and someone that can play upfront that has all the key aspects of a great striker.

Paul Hardcastle
17   Posted 20/04/2008 at 18:20:49

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Uh-uh... call the Editors! Press the Report Abuse botton! Another FM/ProEvo/Fifa 2008 genius has found his way through the ToffeeWeb filter and put up his wishlist. Dream on, fella! What gives you the idea that you and David Moyes are on the smae wavelwngth? Did you also like the likes of Gardner, Krøldrup, AvdM, etc before they were signed by the Ginger Genius?!?

FFS, Please... TW ? Just Say NO!!!

Nick Broadhurst
18   Posted 20/04/2008 at 20:43:55

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Say what you want, but the cold hard fact is this:

Unless we get some decent investment in, the kind that is enough to bring in world-class quality players into the squad regularly, then we will forever be looking up to the top 4 with an envious glare.
Steven Mills
19   Posted 22/04/2008 at 00:36:13

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"the need for a midfield general has been there since Gravesen left and hasn?t been addressed since."

Gravesen has come back and made Neville look like a quality midfielder! He was never a midfield general anyway!
Pietro de Seta
20   Posted 22/04/2008 at 10:45:19

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totally agree with Adam, Bullard would be great but we should have signed him last summer!!! He is great even with just one leg available...and he would be the perfect replacement for Carsley (34 years old...he is not highlander...) and he is also a scorer, very good shot from distance (why do we NEVER shoot from outside the box???)
Saha and Downing could be great addictions and it?s time for us not thinking about moving to kirby but seriously buy players. I think you agree with me that reaching uefa spot is essential otherwise we have failed all season and we won?t be attractive at all...

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