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Must be Manny's Midfield

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Firstly I would like to establish the type of Blue I am. I am not an individual basher, I am of the opinion that the manager we have is doing a mighty fine job and like most, I hope, I want us to be the best. However, I do believe that, in order for our ultimate goal to be achieved, there are number of changes that need to happen, especially this summer, and most definately the most important being our midfield.

However tactically astute David Moyes is it, has to be noted that a majority of our success this season has developed from the defence or Yakubu. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Mikel Arteta, I also feel that Pienaar would be a bargain signing and an on-form Leon Osman is a definite asset to the squad. But anyone who watches us play must realise that flowing football from midfield is sometimes non-existent from us, not just from periods IN matches, but for periods OF matches. Granted, Cahill's a huge loss but even with him in the team we are left wanting in this essential department.

My suggested solution will probably anger some and others will undoubtedly agree, but first let me explain the practicalities of it. Manuel Fernandes (yes he is only on loan but surely he is ours if we want him?!), is a player of a different calibre compared to what we have at the minute. He is tailor-made to be as instruenmental to us a Mikel without having to change formation, style, system or mass personnel. Yes, Carsley and Neville win a lot of ball and do a decent job in front of our back four, but the sideways and backwards passing needs to go in order for the team to gain the extra impotus and really go at the opposition.

Personally I prefer us in 4-4-2, although I understand why Davey opts for 4-5-1 on occasions. nonetheless, Manny is the man for any shape. He is a ball playing, tackle winning, dribbling, creative team playing, goal scoring and versatile midfielder. As I said, I am sure others will have a different and in there opinion a better idea, but I struggle to see the weaknesses in mine.

Nick Russell, Burton     Posted 14/04/2008 at 20:08:39

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Jason Lam
1   Posted 15/04/2008 at 05:56:59

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Agreed. As good as the current crop of players are, they won’t help us break into the promised land IMHO. At the moment we are cemented with 5 across the middle I’m afraid. Manny is but only a quarter of the solution. I’m sure other will tell to it’s because of Moyes, the Everton board, the Dark Side whatever. But I agree with wanting us playing 4-4-2 long term, but with midfielders that display more than 1-dimension to a proper mid. My 2 pence worth.
Zac Snelling
2   Posted 15/04/2008 at 07:40:48

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FFS,we have broken into the ’promised land’! All we could ever hope for with this shite Board is a regular top half position and Moyes has delivered that in spades.What gives Everton a divine right to be Champions-we’ve only been that four times since the bloody war and the FA Cup has only been won three times in that timespan.Get fucking real-we’re doing great!
Anthony Horabin
3   Posted 15/04/2008 at 07:44:10

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Unfortunatley Fernandes has just not done it for me this season. He hasn’t taken the bull by the horns and showed us how good he can be. We are all hoping he will pull off some great moves during a game that will split open a defence and give our strikers the chases they need. Upto now he has done it once against Derby. I want him to do it more often. Also we need more players of that ability in the team to give us more options and chances. At the moment I don’t see any player in the team that is pushing that 110% to inspire the rest to give their 110%. Lately there has been no attacking on the break kind of football from our midfield. It is all long balls to passed our strikers, which is not working at all. In the closed season we need to get our midfield sorted out.
Connor Rohrer
4   Posted 15/04/2008 at 07:35:02

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Personally I don’t think we’ll see the best of Manuel Fernandes this season. If we buy him and get him fit then next season he’ll be one of our better players in my opinion by his lack of match fitness and general condition goes against him this season. Hopefully I’m wrong and he puts in some good performances but I think it could take him a little time to readjust and get up to the level he wants to be at.

His performance against Brum was promising. He was our best midfielder without a doubt and alongside Jagielka and Howard was one of our better players. His passing was forward thinking and intelligent and he generally looked like he had a clue whereas other didn’t.

What impressed me most in the game was his physical progression. He looked like he was using the natural strength he possesses. Holding off challenges and picking passes and keeping the ball under control when under pressure.

He’s looked weak this season but he without doubt possesses good upper body strength and good physical attributes in general for a small man. Moyes commented that he has a "strength about him" when we resigned him and I completely agree.

The only formation we are able to play in at the moment is 4-4-2. Its my favored formation but we have a few weak links in our side which make it hard to adapt.

Lee Carsley for example. I like him in a five man midfield because he doesn’t have to get on the ball and he doesn’t have to cover much ground. In a four that won’t happen and Lee has to do things he is completely incapable of doing.

I’m yet to see this season also how the Fernandes/Carsley partnership works. I see Fernandes as a deep lying play maker whereas Carsley is an out and out defensive midfielder. It seems when they have played together this season Fernandes has played deeper whereas Cars has tried to play the box to box role. Switch them round as they showed last season and there a decent partnership.

Against Arsenal last season which was there best performance together both played as centre midfielders. Neither concentrated on defensive midfield or attacking midfield they just played right up alongside each other and both where excellent. They gave Diaby and Fabregas one hell of a battle and in the end came out on top. Thats what I’d like to see against Chelsea.
Richard Parker
5   Posted 15/04/2008 at 08:28:28

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Think Manny’s shown enough in the last couple of games to know that he’ll strengthen the first XI, which is what we need. We don’t need to sign squad players, but players who will displace current first choices.

I’m not an enourmous fan of Fernandes, I’m glad we didn’t pay the 12M for him in the summer. But I think that if we can either get him on loan for next season or buy him for 6-7M, then I think he’d be a good signing.

Not sure about this ’tackle winning’ attribute that he supposedly has. Not seen him winning too much.... but he’s definitely good on the ball and can pick passes from deep or go past opposing players. Plus he’s got a decent shot and can hit a dead ball.

I’d like to see Manny signed plus another midfielder with real physical presence and who can drive the team on from in front of the defence. I think that’ll be the difficult one to find.
Mike Whittaker
6   Posted 15/04/2008 at 08:48:53

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For me, Manny is a must buy in the summer, along with two wide players with an abundance of pace. We are crying out for somebody with out and out pace that can gas the fullbacks on the outside.
Anthony Osullivan
7   Posted 15/04/2008 at 09:25:36

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On paper it looks like the midfield should pick itself Pienaar and Artetta on the wings with Manny in the middle for the distribution and flair and Carsley breaking things up. Then either Cahill with fit breaking from midfield or with 2 upfront.

But Manny still looks like a risk we know he can do it but is he bothered ? you would think a player looking to prove himself would be putting everything he has into each game but still he is nt up to speed and he is running out of time.
Tony part
8   Posted 15/04/2008 at 09:24:24

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I think the most frustrating thing over the last few months has been not having Fernandes on good form.. When I watch him play I think if he could add that little bit more hunger and consistency then he can be as good as any of them..My only hope is that if he does sign for Everton that we dont train the ability to shoot from distance out of his game..For me he is the only midfielder who is ever willing to have a pop from distance and thats dissapointing..Our long range shooting has been dissapointing for me this season.. I watched MOTD on Saturday night and the amount of free-kicks that were perfectly executed left me wondering why can we not do that at Everton... I mean even Jimmy Bullard seems something of a free-kick specialist this year.. Manny does have the ability from midfield and I am looking at our squad left for the remainder of the season and if we are to win another match this season then I think the two players who should arguably be fresher than others are Manuel Fernandes and Andy Johnson.. AJ has spent a few weeks out on the sidelines and with his pace we really need to start making more of him and Manny hasnt played the games that everyone else has this season and for me they are the only two who can do it for us now..We need really big displays from both of them..I have watched the others players and not one look in the least bit of form.. Yak looks jaded, Pienaar injured and playing half fit, same goes for Arteta and Osman and of course Cahill is desperatley missed.. We have four really really tough games against two of the top four in the table and two other games against in-form teams Villa and Newcastle.. None are going to be easy the way we are playing..
Anthony Horabin
9   Posted 15/04/2008 at 09:46:45

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So how long does it take a player to get fit these days?

Fernandes came in back in January, it is now mid April. Taking into account he has had an injury, but he should be fit by now.

I don’t think he has the "I want to play for Everton" attitude. Just doing enough at the moment to get in the side.
Nick Entwistle
10   Posted 15/04/2008 at 10:04:00

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Sign the man!
Connor Rohrer
11   Posted 15/04/2008 at 10:45:04

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Anthony Horabin, it depends really.Fernandes isn’t fit because he hardly played for the first 6 months of the season. According to himslef he also had injuries in that period. If you don’t play you can’t build any momentuem in your play or build up match fitness. I think he made like 12 appearneces for Valencia and alot where from the bench coming on as sub.

He also came to Everton with an injury. He missed the Man city game, didn’t come on against Wigan and then was a doubt for the semi final against Chelsea in the semi final. He made the semi final and played in 3/4 other games before picking an injury up at Man city. It took him a few weeks to recover before coming on as sub against West ham.

People forget to mention that he’s only started 8 games all together and those games where interupted by injury. He’s also had an injury similar to Arteta which have dogged his form this season.

Personally I think Manny’s got alot of reasons why he hasn’t hit the form of last season or the form a fully fit Manuel Fernandes is capable of reaching.
Mark Watterson
12   Posted 15/04/2008 at 10:55:19

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You were going great guns there until ’tackle winning’ was mentioned. Still a good viewpoint all the same. I concur with ’most’ of it. For me, Fernandes on loan for one more year, with the addition of a quality RB, a box to box midfielder, a pacy winger and another striker will see us there or thereabouts. To clarify, that means closing the gap on Arsenal & the Shite. For me, the one player who flatters to deceive yet always works himself into the ground is Andrew Johnson. The kid is a workhorse but his goal return based on the positions he gets himself into is not up to scratch. Great squad player tho’ ...

In Moyes I trust ...
David McKenna
13   Posted 15/04/2008 at 11:15:07

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I?d deffinately sign Manny Fernandes.

Yes, he?s been garbage so far this season but remember he had a big move to Valencia in the summer and has done nothing but sit on the bench for them. This has obviously had an effect on his confidence and then he comes to us and he has huge expectation on his shoulders becasue of the brilliant performances he put in last year.

I'd forget how he has played this year and I'd sign him on last year's performances alone. He is going through a bad spell of form that's all and I'm sure every player on the planet has gone through the same thing.

form is temproary - class is permanent. I'd hate for someone else to sign him and for him to recapture his from and prove to everyone what a fantastic all round midfielder he is, and for us to be left feeling like we let him slip away.

The lad has got preseason to sort his act out and I'm sure he?ll come back refreshed and looking more like the Manny from last season.

Steve Jones
14   Posted 15/04/2008 at 11:58:50

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On the Manny front I think we need to sign him however and another holding midfielder. However, I can?t agree with the following in relation to Neville in the original post;

"Carsley & Neville win a lot of ball and do a decent job in front of our back four,"

Carsley yes but Neville looks appalling every time he plays in midfield. Just about everyone apart from Moyes can see that. He never finds a team mate with a pass and tends to make late rash challenges. Whenever Neville is in midfield teams come straight through us and it's like being a man down.

How many games have we won with Carsley & Neville together in the middle?
Peter Bourke
15   Posted 15/04/2008 at 12:29:56

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I think we should sign him. I don't know if it was an optical illusion but Manny looked huge in stature against Brum. He looked 6ft-6 and seemed to dwarf some players. I would really like to see Manny and a fit Tim Cahill in the same team. I liked the way Manny got back each time we were comng out of defence to set up our attack, he is a good link between the defence and the midfield.

I would like to see 2 up front with a mid of Arteta,Osman,Cahill and Fernandes. Some people think Timmy Cahill can only play in a 4-5-1 formation but i think he has proven he can adapt to 4-4-2.

James Jenkins
16   Posted 15/04/2008 at 12:40:41

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Sadly, Manny’s style of play doesn’t fit with the longball tactics used at Everton. The reason he sometimes looks uninterested is because the ball the constantly being hoofed over his head, consequently leaving him out of the play. He needs the ball played to his feet where he can do some damage to the opposing side. I want Manny to stay, but he’ll never be effective on this team the way it is right now, and I kinda doubt the wants to stay here simply because of the style of play that’s currently being played.
Anthony Horabin
17   Posted 15/04/2008 at 12:58:05

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So if Fernandes was unfit before he arrived back at Everton why didn’t we find someone who was fit instead? In January the club brought no fresh blood in to shake it up a bit in the squad. If we do buy him it’s a gamble.
Connor Rohrer
18   Posted 15/04/2008 at 12:49:00

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Peter Bourke, I think your spot on with Cahill. If Fernandes can get the aggression back that he had last season and get fitter then Cahill would be able to play alongside him and in a four man midfield.

I’ve never agreed with people who’ve said Cahill cannot play in a four. In my opinion, he just needs the right partner. Fernandes isn’t his perfect partner but he’s the player I’d pick out of our current centre midfielders to play alongside Tim.

Whenever Cahill plays in a four man midfield he plays alongside Carsley and it doesn’t work. Neither are great on the ball and its usually Cahill who has to concentrate more on the technical side of the midfield. Thats not his strength. If he was alongside Fernandes who drops deep and makes himself available to the back four then Cahill would be able to push further forward and get into the box.

Cahill has some superb attributes and he uses them well in a four. His passion, determination and powerful running from midfield are a joy to watch when he’s on his game. I remember him dropping back into midfield against Portsmouth this season when Johnson came on and he was class. He was driving us forward, he was having an excellent battle with Diarra and his long range pass picked out Yakubu for the goal.

Ideally he’d have someone more defensive minded than Manny but at the moment we don’t have that player. At home with everyone fit my midfield would be this:


Maybe not against the top four but against teams beneath us or around our level it’d be a good way to go.

We definatly need a defensive midfielder in the summer aswell as Manny the deep lying play maker, Cahill the box to box midfielder and Osman the attacking creative midfielder. The more options we have the better.

I wouldn’t mind seeing someone like Lorik Cana coming in the summer. I didn’t know much about him until we where linked recently but I’ve watched a few of his games on Setanta aswell as the Champions League games and he looks a good player and exactly what we should be looking for.

Not too keen on Kallstrom. Good player but not what where looking for. His best position is behind the front two and he’s not the quickest nor does he cover alot of ground.

Midfield is definatly a key area in the summer.
Jason Broome
19   Posted 15/04/2008 at 12:41:05

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Fernandes is not a CDM enforcer and therefore will never command the midfield.

He is a Scholes/ Anderson defence splitting, shot scoring midfield orchestrator who has the natural ability to be better than both.

However whether he is lazy, off the pace, disinterested or whatever it is hurting his progress and ours.

We are looking at the most gifted player at our club since Rooney and he is without doubt as technically gifted as Zidane was at his age.

He will, without doubt find his feet and when he does we will be the ones wishing he played for us.

Minus the pace and the dribbling Fernandes is technically as sound as C. Ronaldo, or Giovanni Dos Santos. I would sign him, give him a free role in midfield, keep faith in him, make him feel as special as he is (without being overtly grateful), and watch the investment unfold.
Mike Allison
20   Posted 15/04/2008 at 13:28:10

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I agree that Fernandes has all the attributes required to improve our midfield massively. I think he is the defensive midfielder we need, we can concentrate on signing three other midfielders who have different attributes. They needn’t break the bank either. With Moyes reluctant to use Arteta in the middle to dominate possession, we need a strong central midfielder (Bullard springs to mind if Fulham go down) and we need a left footed wide man, simply as an option we don’t possess in the entire club at the moment. (Adam Johnson at Middlesbrough shows promise, although he would be another ’lightweight’ player). I disagree about the 4-4-2 though, and see a 4-5-1 with Cahill effectively playing as the second striker to be our best formation, and no less attacking than a nominal 4-4-2. With that formation established, Arshavin should be a target to share the supporting role behind Yakubu. I think its about having different players who offer different options, and the only area we’re lacking that right now is the midfield.
Colin Malone
21   Posted 15/04/2008 at 13:25:12

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Correct me if I'm wrong but what successful team plays 4-4-2? We tried it against Derby, Birmingham etc, and the 4 in midfield got over run, while big Vic and the Yak had no input. Look what happened over the park, they have changed to one up front with Gerrard doing the Timmy role. Can anyone tell me which teams play with two strikers the way Everton play them?
Nelly Blythe
22   Posted 15/04/2008 at 14:10:45

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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop making excuses for Carsley !!!
He is every bit as bad as Neville in midfield. Agreed he can win a tackle but more often than not he gives the ball straight back to the opposition with either his lack of passing ability or by just hoofing it up field to no none from the edge of our box. On the very few times he finds a blue shirt it?s because he?s gone side ways or backwards. He also gives away far too many needless freekicks on the edge of his own box for my liking (Saturday?s costly one was by no means the first this season). Both he and Neville should never and I mean NEVER play together in our midfield EVER again under any circumstances. Maybe some consider him a great servant who does a great job, IMO he?s no more than a journeyman with limited ability - always has been , always will be.
This summer?s the time to release him with a pat on the back, say thanks for all you?ve done and let him get a nice two year little earner from somebody like Derby/Wolves/Coventry etc. asc a reward.
John Charles
23   Posted 15/04/2008 at 14:33:19

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He’s struggles 2nd time, so if we are honest 12m is a hige hige risk - yes it might come off, but its at least 50% it wouldn’t. Can we afford the risk at 12m?

I think the guy is class though.. if it were me I’d have a punt at maybe 7-8m. Maybe we can loan him all next season with an option of 10m. Maybe that would be best for all parties. I think we’d happy pay 10m if he was playing upto that level - if he was playing like 12 months ago who wouldnt have him for 10m?
Darren Frendo
24   Posted 15/04/2008 at 14:43:42

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I was a huge fan of Manny last year, like most of you; this year I have my doubts. The problems he had in Spain have clearly affected the boy and let's not forget he still is a kid and these things do affect him.

I believe that we need to change our tactics; we were pathethic against Derby and Brum, playing long balls; when we were in our peak form we passed the ball ever so well ? just look at the Fiorentina game! We were outstanding to say the least. I believe we are missing a good assistant manager first and foremost; we need a foreigner definately. 1) because he will have inside info on upcoming young foreign talent; and 2) because we can't compete with the top 4 using our style of play.

Second of all, we need to spend some money; Kenwright just doesn't have the financial muscle to be able to splash out £22M on a player like Torres. Remove Torres from the Liverpool squad and were would they be at this stage of the campaign? We need quality and quality requires MONEY.

Hugh Tube
25   Posted 15/04/2008 at 14:55:47

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Get on to youTube and type in "Manuel Fernandes". Then come back and tell me you don't want this man at Everton
Connor Rohrer
26   Posted 15/04/2008 at 15:43:26

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Colin Malone, thats the only system we can play. Unless we try Osman in the "Cahill role" but that didn’t exactly go to plan at Anfield did it. If Cahill was fit then it would be 4-4-1-1 but at the moment the players we have are suited to playing 4-4-2.

On successful teams playing 4-4-2. There aren’t many around at the moment. Man utd played 4-4-2 alot last season with Rooney and Saha leading the line and won the League and the old Utd team with Cole and Yorke leading the line played 4-4-2. Only ones I can really think of really. Alot of teams play different varies of 4-5-1. 4-3-3, 4-2-31 etc. Thats seems to be the popular choice in England and abroad.

Nelly Blythe, I agree with you Carsley is vastly overrated but he is all we have sadly in the defensive midfield department. I think people make excuses for him because he’s a nice guy. He’s slightly better than Neville and that is all. The thing that pisses me off most about Carsley is he never makes himself available and hides from the ball. Once we get a defensive midfielder in who can run, pass etc then everyone will see the major difference it has on our team.
Mike Coates
27   Posted 15/04/2008 at 16:37:26

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Way I see it. Sign him. End of story.

Pienaar - Fernandes - Cahill

And if Arteta gets his form back.

All will be a top quality midfield for us!
Colin Malone
28   Posted 15/04/2008 at 19:08:44

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Connor Rohrer. How can it be the only system we can play? This 4-4-1-1, 4-3-2-1-1. means nothing to me. It's either a 4-man or a 5-man midfield; where they play in that area, that's up to the coaching staff. If you're playing two up front and you cannot get the ball to them, just like the Birmingham, Derby and many more games we have played with 2 up front, we are going to lose more than we win. Has anyone got any stats to how many games we have won and lost with these two systems of play? I'll bet we have won more with a five-man midfield.
Connor Rohrer
29   Posted 15/04/2008 at 20:53:56

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Colin Malone, what the hell are you going on about? You asked me what teams where successful playing 4-4-2 and I answered your question.

Everyone knows we are at our strongest in a five man midfield but Cahill makes that formation work and he isn’t around. People like Osman and possibly Pienaar could fill the gap but as we seen against Liverpool with Osman behind Yakubu it didn’t work.

Unless you’ve got different ideas. Who would you have as the 5th midfielder supporting Yakubu?

I personally think 4-4-2 is the only way we can go at the moment. We don’t have Cahill in there to support so the Yakubu and Johnson partnership will have to do and I bet Moyes uses it till the end of the season.
Colin Malone
30   Posted 15/04/2008 at 22:48:17

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Connor Rohrer, What the hell am Igoing on about? In my opinion 4-4-2 should be the last resort. You keep going on about Fernandes as our saviour and as I've said before, he aint got the engine for what you want him to do. You keep slagging Lee Carsley, but without him we would be left wide open, which has been proven when he was injured or dropped. I know his distribution and movement off the ball is not up to what we want but I'd rather have Carsley for what he does for the team than Fernandes for what he does for the team. You call Carsley my love child. Are you Manny's agent?
Connor Rohrer
31   Posted 16/04/2008 at 15:21:08

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Spouting shite again Colin Malone? I called Carsley your love child as a joke about a month ago around the West Ham game. Why bring it up now? Its got nothing to do with this post.

I haven’t said anything about Fernandes being our Saviour. I rate him very highly YES but if the likes of Pienaar, Osman and Arteta where back I’d want them in the team ahead of him.

At the moment its looking likely Arteta or Osman will be out so being a creative midfield Fernandes should be the man to fill the void.

I haven’t once said I wanted Carsley out the team. I don’t rate him very highly because he’s an average player but at this moment in time he’s the only decent defensive midfielder on our books. My midfield for the Chelsea game would be this:


Both Fernandes and Carsley would be included in it. Osman and Fernandes interchanging would be the best way to go to give us more options. If Arteta’s fit then him in for either Osman or Fernandes obviously.

How can we play 4-5-1 without Cahill? Please tell me. We attempted it against Liverpool in the Derby and it didn’t work so I doubt it will against Chelsea. What would your team and formation be then? I’d really like to know.

The 4-4-2 isn’t our best formation and everyone knows that but we don’t have the players fit to be playing 4-5-1 so it is the best way to go.

You’ve tried to turn this into a Carsley v Fernandes thread without actually reading what I wrote. All I was trying to figure out is what the best way to go in terms of tactics and personnel in the last four games.
Mike Allison
32   Posted 16/04/2008 at 17:22:10

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Colin Malone you’ve got to be having a laugh. As players Fernandes and Carsley can’t even be compared. Fernandes can do everything defensively that Carsley can do, but better and quicker, and he can also play football as well, something Carsley may once have done, but not recently. Fernandes plays out of position to accommodate the fact that Carsley is so limited and we have no other options, he should be the holding midfield player.
Colin Malone
33   Posted 16/04/2008 at 21:18:29

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Connor Rohrer, I'll refrain from personel name calling, everyone has their point of view. Anyway, how can we play 4-5-1 without Cahill, we tried it against Liverpool. So if it doesn't work once, never try it again? I think Osman would be suited to that role.

Mike Allison. I know Manny is miles better footballer than Carsley, but the job Carsley does as a ball winner, Manny cannot do.

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