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Good Position, Short and Medium Term?

By Richard Parker :  08/02/2009 :  Comments (23) :
There's been a lot written, on the back of our current form, about breaking into the top 4 this season.

Sadly, I don't see 2 of the 5 teams above us falling away enough to give us a chance of a top-4 finish. We've got every chance of finishing above Arsenal, but Chelsea, IMHO, are too good to drop a 9-point advantage in 13 games and the way Villa are going at the moment, I don't see much hope of an 11-point swing in those 13 either.

Our early season form is coming back to haunt us now and I think we can be relatively certain that the Sky 4 won't be as poor next year. Whatever the reason for our summer's lack of dealings, it is a massive opportunity wasted and one that is unlikely to come back around in the near future. On top of that it appears to be an opportunity that Villa are going to take, instead of us. That's the most galling aspect...

I don't see the transfer situation changning in the summer. We may get one half-decent player in, for around £10M, but I would imagine we're in a sell-to-buy situation now.

In a couple of years, we'll no longer have Saha, Pip, Valente.... no great loss, some of you might say, but 3 players to replace nonetheless

Looking at 3 to 4 years from now, players like Yobo, Cahill, Ossie, even Hibbert, Pienaar, Arteta and Yakubu will be 31-32ish and past their prime.

So, from the 1st team we are looking at Fellaini, Baines, Jagielka, Lescott and probably Howard still being the right side of their best years. That leaves almost an entire midfield and strike-force to replace over the course of 4 years or so.

Now, I know that right now this seems overly negative, but if I'm reading the signs correctly, we don't have money to invest in the team to any great degree. OK, we have some decent young players coming along.... but how many will honestly make the grade and be good enough to replace the current 1st team?

All the hyperbole surrounding Gosling after his goal against Liverpool can't hide the fact that he's been largely average for the 1st team. I definitely rate Rodwell so far, he's looked assured and comfortable in the Premier League; while he's no match-winner, he looks like a good solid midfielder. I don't rate Anichebe, this season he has looked like a League 1 striker and he's had his chances. Vaughan is missing so much of his important formative years that he'll need massive character and effort to make it at the top level.

So if we take the players in 4 years that will still be in their prime and those youngsters who seem like they might realistically make it, we're left with this, as a 4-5-1 starting XI:-

Howard ??, Lescott, Jagielka, Baines Gosling, Rodwell, Fellaini, ??, ?? ??

Assuming a couple more youngsters come through and we hold on to a few of the older players as squad players, that still leaves us a long way short of a top-4 squad.

As I said, this is all assuming that I have read the signs correctly and that we have borrowed as much as we can, and now have to sell-to-buy. But worst-case scenario, we have no new or redeveloped stadium, we have no new investment and BK still unable to invest.... so we would no longer be able to bring in a transfer record signing each year.

I can only see us regressing as our players get older, unless one of the factors above changes. And this scenario also assumes our ability to hold on to our best players, despite the likelihood of not being able to improve the team.

While risking over-dramatics, I'd say enjoy each season where we're pushing for Europe, because they might not be around for long.

Reader Comments

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Michael Evans
1   Posted 08/02/2009 at 15:51:51

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Boy was that depressing! Since I don?t share my partner or her children?s interest in rugby, I decided to sneak away and satisfy my cravings for all things Everton with another fix of TW. I thought I would be reading another positive post that reflects the current euphoria/feel-good factor sweeping through the club and its followers.

But alas no! Lighten up Richard and "enjoy the moment". The beauty of football is its unpredictability. Seasons and careers can be altered in the blink of an eye. Maybe what you say is true maybe it isn?t. Who can predict ? Just buckle up and enjoy the ride !

Chris Jones
2   Posted 08/02/2009 at 16:15:04

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Your predictions are made on a whole host of assumptions that have no real evidence. Who says players aren?t at their peak at 31 or 32? United are playing West Ham with a 34- and 35-year-old in midfield. After 3 or 4 first team games you say that Gosling has ?largely been average?, yet he and Rodwell were two of the main differences between us and the league leaders just 4 days ago.

I share your feelings about the start we had. Ten points dropped at home against Newcastle, Blackburn, Portsmouth and ?Boro will probably see us miss the top 4 but I?m proud and optimistic of both the present and the future and so should you be.
Peter Roberts
3   Posted 08/02/2009 at 16:40:02

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I’m not so sure we can’t catch Chelsea. They looked very laboured in their 0-0 draw with Hull, and that was at home! Against Hull, a team whose last victory I can’t even remember! Particularly if we go to Stamford Bridge and get something (very possible, given our away record) I can see us having a shot at it.
Mike Gaynes
4   Posted 08/02/2009 at 17:59:14

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Richard, add a little perspective to your gloomy outlook. Looking four years ahead? Try looking four years behind, at the glories of 04-05. Remember? Our future was supposedly devastated when you-know-who took off for you-know-where, and then when Gravesen bailed at mid-season. Weir and Stubbs were our central defense and Beattie was going to be our salvation up front. We were being dazzled by the newcomers Cahill and Osman.

And where were the other players who now form our core? Arteta had just joined the program and had given us no reason to get excited. We?d never heard the names Lescott, Jagielka or Baines. And we couldn?t even dream having Tim Howard ? he was the future at Man U, where Phil Neville was going to teach him how to sort all that silverware.

My point is that, while the young guys you mentioned ? you forgot Pienaar and Vaughan ? may well be the mainstays of the side in 2013, they may also have moved on and replaced by superstars who are currently playing through their first professional contracts out in the Conference somewhere. Four years ago, we couldn?t have pronounced "Jagielka"... and we certainly wouldn?t have used his name in the same sentence as "England center back."

To quote Oddball in Kelly?s Heroes: Have a little faith, baby... have a little faith.

Ian Tod
5   Posted 08/02/2009 at 19:24:59

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What a negative article!! Moyes has just recently said that the plan is to turn us into a Sky 4 mainstay by breaking the transfer record once a year (Yakubu and Fellaini who are both key top 4 quality players) and bringing in promising young players from the academy (Gosling and the superb Rodwell who I think are both classy ALREADY and will get better). Plus the young hidden gems in the Championship that usually become top class and extremely important members of our first XI (Lescott, Jagielka the two best centre-halves in the country, and Cahill who is one of the best goalscoring midfielders in the world).

Then there are the players whose promising lights burnt out at the wrong clubs for them but were still young and just needed an arm around the shoulder from Moyesie to finally fulfill their potential and become world-beaters (Arteta, Pienaar and possibly Jo now). This is a sound plan and will keep us at the top end of the league where we belong.

There has been no signs this will all of a sudden change as we have never had money in January but we use revenue from gates and Sky and Setanta money to spend in the summer, which sees us with around a £25 million pounds spending money ? just about enough for Moyes to work his magic in the transfer window and break the transfer record.

We don?t need an arab with a big checkbook and no knowledge of football to rip the heart and soul out of this football club. As long as Kenwright and Moyes are in charge of our great club, you?ll see us back where we belong before to long. Our progress has been highlighted by performances against the sky 4 and the way we knockeed the reds out of the FA cup! Nil satis nisi optimum.

Alex Saturn
6   Posted 08/02/2009 at 20:02:04

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A team in four to five years?

That is looking very far in advance especially if you consider our team against LIverpool in December 2005

Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Nuno Valente, Arteta, Neville, Davies, Kilbane, Cahill, Beattie

Only 4 of these players started against Bolton. It is not a concern... it is just a fact of football is that it moves with the times.

Also, I don?t think you should pension off some of our players so early. Arteta, Pienaar & Yobo are three players who still have 4-5 years of quality football left in them. A very long time in Top Flight performance.
Karl Masters
7   Posted 08/02/2009 at 21:00:57

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Bloody Hell!

Nothing in life is guaranteed, especially football. Even all that money that has been spent by Chelsea sees them under performing to an unimaginable level only a few months ago.

Man City get Bellamy in and loan out Jo at a cost of £14m because they are too impatient and lazy to coach him.

And Newcastle have spent 15 years throwing large amounts of money around and won nothing.

People make the difference. Attitude, determination, careful planning, making the absolute most of what you have, staying humble. We have that in shedloads with Moyesie and he only gets players in that share his views. Kapo was dumped because we’d heard he had a suspect attitude, Anichebe is probably now regretting his foolishness. Make no mistake, we need money, but not too much and we have a Manager who is getting better all the time. The future’s bright!
Mark Doyle
8   Posted 08/02/2009 at 21:15:15

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Thanks for that, I feel like topping myself now. Get some pills off the doctor or something, negative is an understatement.
Ian Tunny
9   Posted 08/02/2009 at 22:48:35

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Howard, ??, Lescott, Jagielka, Baines, Gosling, Rodwell, Fellaini, ??, ?? ??

Well we've just signed a 20-year-old RB in this window from Ireland and Arteta will still be late 20s, then Baxter Vaughan and 1 or 2 other youth, and I'm sure we?ll sign at least a player a season over the next 4 years...
Keith Glazzard
10   Posted 08/02/2009 at 23:03:11

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Richard - just go back into the archive and look at, for example, the team that won the cup in 66, and the team that won the league in 70. Basic stability is essential, but change is constant. Would you like to name the starting line-up for the 2012-13 season? You?d get decent odds for your tenner.
Andrew David James
11   Posted 08/02/2009 at 23:11:29

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Flipping heck - what a negative post.

In four years things would have changed admittedly as the likes of Cahill might have retired but I’m sure Yakubu will still be going as he won’t be 31 by then even if he is still with us.

But you look at the average age of the squad and we are fine. When Jags and Baines were bought it put long term foundations in.

To keep things ticking over we need a young creative midfielder and a right back. But to say Gosling has been average is ridiculous. He’s scored twice in about four starts....
Jason Broome
12   Posted 08/02/2009 at 23:25:56

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When he was 19, Steven Gerard was a utility player capable of playing at RWB, CDM and CAM, had a great box-to-box engine and had the knack of scoring important goals in big games. Sound familiar?

Don?t underestimate Gosling?s potential in the hands of David Moyes!

Rodwell is an exact clone of a 17-year-old Rio Ferdinand. He is also gaining invaluable experience captaining the future stars of the Premier League on an International stage and attracting attention from a certain Mr Wenger.

We don?t have the money I hear you say but Sky do! If we achieve Champions League status in 3 years so will UEFA! If our success continues Chang will have to pay big yet again to ensure the rights to our brand.

Things looked more precarious 5 years ago when the average age of our players was 30. Moyes has reduced the age whilst replacing the old guard? For example Carsley has been replaced with a player with world-class aspirations (Fellaini: who is in the top 5 CDM of his age group in the world).

I now believe that we are a Moutinho, Jô (if he lives up to the hype) and a Young Rosicky type winger away from a serious top 4 challenge. Affordable? Within the next two seasons yes!

And with the calibre of our youngsters improving each year to break into a top six team I?d say the future looks fucking amazing!

You haven?t included loan signings, bargain basement revelations, youth team gems, late bloomers (hopefully like Kieran Agard), longer playing careers, Seamus Coleman???

Manchester United are in a worst situation right now as Neville, Giggs, Scholes and Sir Alex are all facing retirement within the next 1-2 seasons. Player value amounting to at least £60 million and they are in more debt than we are. Are they scared? no! Neither should you be?

My half full glass looks exactly like yours? Shame yours is half empty!
Russell Buckley
13   Posted 09/02/2009 at 03:20:29

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A hell of a lot can change in football in 4 years. Sure some of our mainstays will be over 30 by then but I?m pretty sure all football clubs, including our own face that issue.

Correct me if I?m wrong but apart from the Rooney money, we have been rather skint for some time. Yet we have managed to put together a good sqaud. I?m not a big fan of Blue Bill but since Moyes came in he has drastically reduced the average age of our squad. I?m sure he can manage to keep it at a decent level.

Plus you never know in 4 years we could have a our own sugar daddy.
Paul Davey
14   Posted 09/02/2009 at 06:47:36

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A little negative, don't you think. It's a bit pointless looking 5 years down the road, especially in something like sport. All you can do is lay the seeds for potential future success, I think Moysey is doing that quite well.
Tony Lockett
15   Posted 09/02/2009 at 06:38:42

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"Looking at 3 to 4 years from now, players like Yobo, Cahill, Ossie, even Hibbert, Pienaar, Arteta and Yakubu will be 31-32ish and past their prime".

How you can say those players will no longer be good enough because they are 31 or 32 defies belief. In the 70s or 80s, yes, over 30s were past their prime, but nowadays players are playing top level football until their mid 30s. Have a look at the squads of Man Utd or Chelsea and see how many over 30s are playing regularly for them.
Richard Parker
16   Posted 09/02/2009 at 09:02:38

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Ian Tod - it’s fair enough Moyes telling us that he’ll break the transfer record once a year, but if we have to sell a decent 1st teamer each time to do that, how are we going to improve?

Look at this season, already having cashed in on McFadden, we sell AJ in order to buy Fellaini, then get in 2 or 3 players for next to nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in Moyes, unlike a lot of people. I believe that he’s doing things properly for us and that we’ve got as good a chance of achieving something under him as anyone else. The problem that I see is that Moyes no longer has the possibility of bringing in 3 or 4 players who can go straight into the first 18... if that had been the case this year, we’d have most likely been up where Villa are now.

We all heard BK saying that he’s got nowhere else to go in terms of investing in the squad.

And the assertions of £25M to spend is interesting, I don’t think we’ve had that much to spend in a long time!

So if Moyes is to break the transfer record and/or spend £25M on players and the situation hasn’t changed from last summer, where will the money come from? Will Yobo be the man to go in order to finance a move for a younger, less experienced by potentially more talented player? Will Moyes cash in on another striker? Or will BK pull £15M out of his arse?

I don’t want you all to think that I’m a negative Evertonian. On the contrary, I know very well where we’ve come from and I’m grateful for the fact that I no longer look at the league below 12th place. I love the fact that we’re fighting for Europe each season and I do believe that we’re the best of the rest in the prem....

I think that Moyes has done a great job so far, but 5 years ago is 5 years ago. The future is much more important and with what we’ve seen at GP over the last 12-15 months, I’m concened over our future.
Shaun Sparke
17   Posted 09/02/2009 at 09:11:12

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In the words of Mark Knopler "Why Worry" For gods sake stop fretting over what may happen in 4 years time and just look forward to the next game.

Dec 83 - relagation favourites. May 85 we had won an FA cup, League championship and cup winners cup. By your logic you would have had us playing third division football.

Cheer up sunshine.
Matt Berry
18   Posted 09/02/2009 at 10:00:01

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If Arteta, Hibbert, Cahill, Yobo etc etc are still around in 4 years and playing well I don't care if they are in their 30s. Besides they will be replaced if they are crap. Don't think Moyes is fool.
Gary Creaney
19   Posted 09/02/2009 at 13:21:23

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Jason Broome, very well put indeed.

Why can?t all Evertonians have a half full glass perspective. What would be so wrong with everyone sharing a bit of optimism.

Sometimes I read this site and really feel good about all things Everton, feeling there?s nothing we can?t achieve. Other days I?m under the impression the club will fold or be playing Championship football soon.

Get a grip doom mongers, the mistakes made at the start of this season, I can guarantee, will not be made at the start of next. It may be too late for a CL spot this year, maybe not, but next year I reckon we?ll really upset the Sky 4 apple cart.

Moutinho wants to join us (interview with him on Setanta website), Yak will be returning. I?m certainly optimistic.

Peter Pridgeon
20   Posted 09/02/2009 at 23:12:57

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I would think that by 2012 Moyes would have cashed in on Yakubu, not letting his value slip while he can, he may have done the same with Arteta, Cahill and Yobo. Moyes despite not quite getting the full picture at times is as canny a transfer dealer as his mentor SAF.

Nothing is linear in football and the team that takes the season 2012-13 will hardly resemble the one that is playing today.

My concern really is; when SAF retires (and there is no logical succession at present) it may be Moyes who moves on, especially if we are a top four team with a trophy or two gleaned between now and then.
Richard Lum
21   Posted 10/02/2009 at 05:26:49

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I hum "Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future?s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be"
Alan Travis
22   Posted 10/02/2009 at 10:04:16

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Is it being so cheerful that makes you happy?
Richard Lum
23   Posted 10/02/2009 at 13:43:43

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Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future?s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

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