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Cover for Defense, Not Attack!

By Tim Luke :  27/01/2009 :  Comments (12) :
The January transfer window is almost over, and like the rest of you, I?m hoping to see a few choice players coming in on loan till the end of the season. However, where I differ from most of you, is regarding the type of players I?d like to see coming into the club in January. I know most, if not all of you, are calling for the obvious ? more strikers!

This is not surprising. 2 of our 4 strikers ? Yakubu and Vaughn, are out for the rest of the season. The other, Saha, is due back soon but is so injury-prone that he may be sidelined again as soon as he returns. And the 4th striker, Anichebe, has been having niggling injuries, and to my mind, is not really the finished product yet. So trying to get a couple of strikers in on loan would appear to be the most sensible thing to do. No rocket-science needed here!

But wait, before committing our limited funds to securing some new strikers on loan, let?s think through this matter again more carefully. Which area does Everton need some urgent cover? Is it really in attack? If you analyze our situation more closely, I think you?ll find that we really need cover in defense rather than attack. Let me explain why.

As we all know, we?ve been without our main strikers since early December 2008. Yet, we?ve been scoring goals and winning matches. Why is this so? We?ve been scoring goals because we have midfielders with an eye for goal ? Cahill, Fellaini, Arteta, Osman, Pienaar, and dare I say, Gosling. We also have defenders like Lescott and Yobo who can weigh in with a goal of two at set-pieces and corners. So scoring is not a major problem for Everton without strikers. But we?re not just scoring goals, we?re also winning games. Why? Simple. We?ve got a strong, disciplined defence. We can shut out teams effectively and defend ugly if necessary, as the last game with Liverpool has shown. This means we only need to score once to win games. And this, we have been doing with some aplomb since December.

So keeping it tight and pinching a goal to win matches has been our strength of late. With this in mind, let me paint you a worrying scenario that could happen over the next couple of months. Today, we have a strong defensive backbone with Howard in goal, and 3 good central defenders fighting for 2 central defensive positions ? Lescott, Jaglieka and Yobo. This is the heart of the Everton defense. It?s been the bedrock of our success over the past few weeks, despite the injuries to our strikers. On the surface, it looks like there is sufficient cover and competition for defensive places.

But what if, on the off-chance, that injury decimates our entire defense in February 09, as it did with our attack in December 08. After all, I too thought at the beginning of the season that with 4 strikers competing for 1 or 2 places in our attack, we should be well-covered for the whole season. Who would have dreamt that come December, we would have all 4 out injured. So what if we suddenly have Lescott, Jaglieka, Yobo and Howard all injured at the same time. Could Everton continue to cope as well as we have without the strikers? I doubt so.

Unlike our attack, were we have midfielders who can move into attacking positions, we don?t have midfielders or fullbacks who can cover in central defense. Perhaps Neville or Rodwell could be considered, but I doubt that they?ll be able to do a good job there. And worst still, if we got an injury to Howard at the same time, we?ll have one serious hole in our defense as neither Carlo Nash nor Ian Turner fills me with any confidence.

So rather than looking for strikers to come in on loan, I?d feel much better if Moyes focuses on bringing in at least one holding midfielder (who can play in central defense if necessary), one central defender (who can cover at left back as well ? since if Lescott gets injured, there?ll be no cover for Baines as Valente doesn?t look like he?ll be fit for the rest of the season), and one proper goalkeeper as cover for Howard (it?s a shame we couldn?t get Cudicini as he would have been great competition for Howard). Getting these 3 players in on loan till the end of the season would give us the necessary defensive cover needed.

Having a strong defense will see us through our games, because as I said, we have sufficient goal-scoring strength throughout the team to cover for any lack of strikers we may have. I just hope that David Moyes is seeing the same problem as I am, and is indeed trying to find some cover for our defense. It?ll be wonderful if we can get a compliment of strikers, midfielders and defenders in during this window. But given our resources, this seems like a pipe-dream. So as I said, if we only have enough funds for about 2 or 3 loan transfers, I?d rather use these funds to bring in defenders to give sufficient cover for our central defenders. Let?s never forget that it is our defense that has given us this good run of results of late.

Anyway let?s wait and see... January is nearing its end.

Reader Comments

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Nick Bird
1   Posted 28/01/2009 at 15:15:06

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Strikers please and perhaps a midfielder.
Anthony Fitzpatrick
2   Posted 28/01/2009 at 15:29:10

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if we do bring in new faces it will be on the last day so we can save on wages.
that is how tight the finances are at the blues.
Kevin Hudson
3   Posted 28/01/2009 at 15:25:04

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Ifs and buts, Luke ? you?re worrying too much. Should we buy 2 more midfielders, in case injury decimates them too? Also, why bring in new defenders to unsettle the iron-clad routine they have worked so painstakingly to achieve? What message would that send to them? Keep them on their toes? The paucity of the squad has unified them into a family-like atmosphere, that generates understanding, loyalty and reliability, and I think the players themselves know what positions need augmenting. Defence isn?t one of them (in my opinion).

Nice outside-of-the-box thinking though...

Nick Dommett
4   Posted 28/01/2009 at 15:38:43

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It's got to be midfielders especially a winger. We need to have some pace down at least one wing to have something different in the locker.

We must be one of the slowest teams going forward...
Trevor Lynes
5   Posted 28/01/2009 at 17:02:15

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To bring in Yobo would enable Lescott to switch to left back and Baines play wide left midfield. He is much quicker than Lescott who is purely a defender and good up front for set-pieces. Baines would be the answer to our wide left player and he can cross well and take good free kicks as he has proved elsewhere... that would maintain the balance and keep the strength in the air.

I agree that we need more good squad members and I'm afraid that Valente (who I like) will have to go. Also we must get rid of VDM who has contributed nothing and has been a complete waste of his wages ? the man has ability but his head is not right. No other team would touch him with a barge pole.

In conclusion, I would love the ?Blues? to have snapped up Cudicini as he was the best goalkeeper in the league until Czech was signed. I really wish we had got Palacious and Arshaven before he became too famous. After the first leg against Zenit we would have got him for under £10 mil....!!

Steve Edwards
6   Posted 28/01/2009 at 19:07:16

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Tim - Don’t be worrying, we’ll be bring in nobody.
Brett Bradshaw
7   Posted 28/01/2009 at 19:47:42

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Yeah I agree we could have 4 first team defensive players out too, but we don’t. We DO have 4 strikers out.

Just as there is chance of those defensive players going, we only need one injury to Cahill and we are well and truly up shit creak! This to me is far more likely and far more important to have back-up. Though in time we will have a few more options.

Therefore, I feel we’ll sign no one
Dennis Stevens
8   Posted 28/01/2009 at 23:03:57

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The word is "defence" ? it?s not American Football, ffs!

As per a previous response, I don't expect any signings at all, so the point is somewhat moot.
Paul Connell
9   Posted 28/01/2009 at 23:50:11

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Please don't put this lad charge! A good effort but ridiculous theory. It's all well an good thinking were scoring goals now so leave it as it is. At the moment were asking 6 midfielders to play every minute of every game because of the lack in numbers up front. Realistically this cannot work until the end if the season, if further injuries don't cut us down fatigue will.

Now I agree I don't see us getting anyone but if we did bring in a defender alone it would be a terrible decision. I am big fan of Moyes but I think he?s gonna have to lower his sights and bring in a honest striker or 2 who can give Cahill and Fellaini a rest towards the end of games.

For me this would be a no risk strategy. Not too many teams were after Kevin Campbell when we brought him, imagine that sort of impact now. It's all well and good saying the club has moved on but kids coming off the bench won't get the job done, we need experience.
Tim Luke
10   Posted 29/01/2009 at 06:59:52

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My point is that in a pinch, say if Cahill is out injured, besides Anichebe, we still have the possibility of throwing Fellaini forward. Osman and Pienaar can still play support striker roles. At the very worst, AvDM could be thrown into a forward position (if only Moyes can overcome his mental bloke about playing him). However, if we have injuries to Jaglieka, Lescott and/or Yobo, who comes in at centre back? Think about it.
Matt Berry
11   Posted 29/01/2009 at 09:19:27

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I see the point, but what if Arteta, Fellaini and Pienaar got injured? What if Howard and Nash got injured? We could go on all day.

The thing is Lescott and Jags don't really pick up injuries (touch wood) so hopefully won't be a issue. We have a small squad ? fact. Positions should be filled where they are currently weak ? ie, Strikers.
Noel Early
12   Posted 29/01/2009 at 14:00:51

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When I heard Moyes come out and say their won't be anything happening in the transfer market I almost got sick. Going forward we are a joke to say the least. Ever notice that Tony Hibbert is always allowed the ball by opposing teams? It's because they know he is only capable of finding the corner flag.

Can we not even spare £5 million to sign a proven Russian international who was first choice Russian striker going into Euro Championship until he got injured? Pavyluchenku comes into the side and is one of the best players in the tournament; Spurs buy him and he is beginning to show what a good player he is.

Where does all our money go? How can we continually be outbidded by teams like Bolton and Blackburn? Moyes is doing a great job but I can't see how its possible to progress and get by all the time with a great work rate and team spirit.

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