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The Current Crop: February 2009

By Graham Holliday :  17/02/2009 :  Comments (17) :

With the January transfer window having now closed, it comes time for me to once again run the rule over Everton Football Club?s ?current crop? of players. I have done this twice before, trying to assess the current strengths and weaknesses of the squad, and to some extent what the future may hold.

Previous articles:

May 2008 | September 2008

Current Squad:

I have taken this list of players from the Official Site and to really get a feel for both the present and the future of the club, I have listed a) the player?s age, b) how long the player is contracted to the club (as listed on Toffeeweb, as the OS does not list these details) and c) if they are on loan to/from Everton Football Club.

Goalkeepers:

Howard (age 29 ? June 2012)
Nash (age 35 ? June 2010)
Turner (age 25 ? June 2011)
Ruddy (age 22 ? June 2009 ? on loan at Crewe)

I think most club will look towards having at least 3 senior goalkeepers on their books. 1 as the first-choice, 1 experienced replacement, and 1 promising youngster. Everton seem to have those covered in Howard, Nash and Ruddy. I don?t really see where Turner fits in; I?m surprised he is now 25 and he must surely be looking for regular 1st team football soon. Wouldn?t be surprised if he leaves at the end of the season, and maybe another promising youngster is signed as competition for Ruddy.

Defenders:

Hibbert (age 27 ? June 2012)
Baines (age 24 ? June 2012)
Yobo (age 28 ? June 2010)
Lescott (age 26 ? June 2010)
Jagielka (age 26 ? June 2012)
Jacobsen (age 29 ? June 2009)
Valente (age 34 ? June 2009)
Irving (age 19 ? June 2009)
Coleman (age 20 ? contract unknown)

The list of names may look sparse, especially when you consider Valente, Jacobsen and Irving are all potential departures in the summer, but bear in mind that Neville, Rodwell and Gosling?s names appear in the ?Midfielders? section here. Unless an additional defensive midfielder is acquired though, Neville now seems to be considered first-choice in midfield, leaving us with a current 1st choice back for of: Hibbert ? Jagielka ? Lescott ? Baines. Obviously, though this is dependent on form with Yobo being more than able to step in to the centre of defence, and Lescott providing additional cover at left back.

Gosling has played at right-back in his days at Plymouth and it is common knowledge that Rodwell has grown up a centre-half. Coleman is a virtual unknown, but there certainly seems to be reasonable strength in depth in defence. If Jacobsen, Valente and Irving all leave, then don?t be surprised if a couple of free transfers are brought in to provide additional cover, but the club seems to have ample quality, young defenders.

Midfielders:

Van der Meyde (age 29 ? June 2009)
Castillo (age 26 ? June 2009 ? on loan from Red Star)
Arteta (age 26 ? June 2012)
Cahill (age 29 ? June 2012)
Neville (age 32 ? June 2012)
Pienaar (age 26 ? June 2011)
Osman (age 27 ? June 2012)
Fellaini (age 21 ? June 2013)
Rodwell (age 17 ? new 5 year contract pending!)
Gosling (age 19 ? June 2009)
Kissock (age 19 ? June 2009 ? on loan at Accrington)
Wallace (age 17 ? June 2009)

With Kissock and Wallace remaining young players that may or may not make the grade, and van der Meyde and Castillo in all likelihood set to leave the club at the end of the season, midfield is clearly the area in which Everton most lack depth. Cahill is being touted as a full-time option up front, leaving just Arteta, Neville, Pienaar, Osman, Fellaini and youngsters Rodwell and Gosling competing for 4/5 starting berths. The prospects look good in central areas with Rodwell and Fellaini, aged 17 and 21 respectively, looking promising in there alongside the transformed Mikel Arteta, with Neville an increasingly important ?wise, old head? in the middle. But it is in wide areas that Everton lack options. Gosling is young, and despite a dream start to his Everton career, still lacks experience. Osman and Pienaar blow hot and cold, and van der Meyde will surely have to go some to warrant a contract extension at the end of the season. As such, you can surely expect David Moyes to search high and low for genuine wide players this summer.

Strikers: Saha (age 30 ? June 2010)
Jo (age 21 ? June 2009 ? on loan from Man City)
Vaughan (age 20 ? June 2011)
Yakubu (age 26 ? June 2011)
Anichebe (age 20 ? June 2011)
Jutkiewicz (age 19 ? June 2011 ? on loan at Huddersfield)
Baxter (age 17 ? June 2009)

The acquisition of Jo in the January transfer window has been heralded as yet another shrewd loan signing by the canny David Moyes. With Saha, Vaughan and Anichebe also competing for what is more often than not only one place up front, Moyes would have thought this ample cover for first choice Yakubu during the 2008-09 season. But true to form, Saha and Vaughan have played but a handful of games between them, and Anichebe has yet to develop into the player he seemed he might be destined to become during last season?s Uefa Cup run. Indeed, the physical Nigerian has been used increasingly in a wide right position, with midfielder Tim Cahill looking an ever-more accomplished centre forward having been deployed there during the winter glut of games.

With Jutkiewicz and Baxter not yet ready for the Everton first-team, and Anichebe apparently being far from teacher?s pet, Moyes will surely not be keen to continue relying on Vaughan and Saha to cover the Yak. Cahill is of course an option, but if Jo does not complete a permanent transfer at the end of the season, expect Moyes to be looking to do business in this area of the team, possibly with Anichebe moving on as a way of coming up with the funds for him to do so.

Summary:

With a young and dynamic squad, Everton?s prospects look bright. With Arsenal and Chelsea in apparent meltdown, the time seems right for the nearest challengers to make a real run at the top 4, and alongside Aston Villa, Everton are surely best placed to do so. As the likes of Rodwell, Gosling and Fellaini get used to the game at the top level in English football, David Moyes? shrewd signings from the past few seasons ? Lescott, Arteta, Jagielka, Baines et al ? will continue to grow (if, of course, they can be kept a hold of).

If additional funds can be found this summer to improve the squad in the wide areas and to add one more striker to the squad, I see no reason why Everton cannot be in and amongst the very top sides in the country come the next couple of seasons.

Reader Comments

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Damian Kelly
1   Posted 17/02/2009 at 16:50:26

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Bit worrying if Gosling?s contract is up at the end of the season ? would hope we?d have him tied down for longer than that.
Ian Tunny
2   Posted 17/02/2009 at 18:33:55

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From what I have read, I thought young Irving was just as much a star in the making as Rodwell and Baxter. I thought he has also been player of the season for the reserves in the last 2 consecutive seasons so would be surprised if we let him go. Although he is 19 and we have just signed Colemen who is a right back and Gosling can play there too... Would still be dissapointing though.
Gary Tudor
3   Posted 17/02/2009 at 21:57:47

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Great article, although it worries me that we have 9 players out of contract in 2009.
I think we should expect further announcements of long term contracts for younger players soon, or a serious recruitment drive.
John Maxwell
4   Posted 18/02/2009 at 02:49:48

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You're right there Jay, Yakubu has a dogdy Nigerian birth certificate, that's for sure... I reckon 29-ish...

Check out your spam folder for more Amazing Nigerian Tales...
Craig Wilson
5   Posted 18/02/2009 at 09:46:50

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Don?t be surprised to see " Old man Yak" leave in the summer, rumour has it Moyes and the staff are not impressed with his attitude since becoming injured with regard to his commitment to rehabilitation.

Compared to the likes of Vaughan and when Cahill was injured, he is not doing his bit...

Tony Williams
6   Posted 18/02/2009 at 13:21:05

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Craig, where have you heard these rumours from? I have yet to have any indication of this from any of my mates, t?internet, the papers and anyone at the match.
Ray Burn
7   Posted 18/02/2009 at 13:47:47

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Funny, I heard a rumour that Yakubu has been a model patient, and that because of his dedication he should be ready for pre-season.

Did I say heard? Sorry. I meant ?made up on the spot like Craig did?.
Graham Holliday
8   Posted 18/02/2009 at 14:00:17

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I have no reason (or desire) to speculate on players’ attitude whilst injured, but I do think we look a much more dynamic set-up with a more mobile striker up top, like Jo or Cahill, even if they are possibly able to convert chances in and around the box.

I’d still imagine Moyes is hesistant to flog a striker that has proven himself capable of getting 20+ goals a season, though.

However, he does seem like the only player in the squad that would fetch a sizeable sum of money that isn’t necessarily indispensible...
Neil Humphrey
9   Posted 18/02/2009 at 15:33:04

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Had to comment on this thread as my ’troll’ alert went off whilst reading it. Source(s) of your rumour, Craig? Let me guess, you sister’s dog knows Moyes’ cocker spaniel and he leaked the gossip. Cock.
Pete Jones
10   Posted 19/02/2009 at 05:59:58

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Re Seamus Coleman, I watched him in the min-derby, and the lad certainly has some ability. He was always looking to get forward, and very solid in the tackle (he crunched one red so hard that he got carded even though he clearly won the ball too, a la Barry Horne ;-)

Another lad that impressed was Luke Young ? tenacious, with technique to match ? though it may be a couple of years before he gets near the 1st team, due to his age.

Clyde McPhat
11   Posted 19/02/2009 at 14:27:01

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I think the Yak will be hard pressed to come back as strong from that injury and I think we are stuck with him. Why would anyone take a flyer on him coming off so serious an injury?

Again, it truly isn?t about money. It?s about geting the right players. Look at Chelsea. Money. High wages. Sinking. City. Money. Fantasy team. RS...FSW in charge, ?nuff said. I trust Moyes to do the right thing when it comes down to getting players who provide value.

If Jo is truly the real deal, how much will he cost in the close season?
Howard Don
12   Posted 20/02/2009 at 18:57:01

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Like Damian Kelly I was shocked to see Gosling out of contract this summer. Are you sure that’s right Graham? If so his contract situation needs attention pdq.
Brett Bradshaw
13   Posted 20/02/2009 at 19:51:09

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The age of the squad looks great, a mix of players at their ’peak’ and young players coming through.

Exception to the rule are Neville and possibly Cahill who are not likely to be of any use in 5 years time.

We do not have a ’proper’ right winger though. This has to be priority for our next ’big’ signing surely?
James Wilheim
14   Posted 21/02/2009 at 02:08:49

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I hear the BNP have placed Nick Griffin on the transfer list so that might cover the ?right wing? base.
I?m here all weekend.

-

Nice post Graham. A proper team there and with the addition of a few more players one capable of challenging the top four on a regular basis. Cracking midfield.
Tim Wardrop
15   Posted 23/02/2009 at 11:20:35

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Yakubu - surely he is the only striker we have who is a proven goalscorer in the Premiership over several seasons and isn’t injury prone (yes, I know he’s injured now, but that was a freak injury - he’s not injury prone like Saha, i.e. hamstring strain every few weeks). To sell him would be madness.

Right wing and left wing are the two most important positions in the summer, as well as a bit more cover at the back - possibly another loan signing
Graham Holliday
16   Posted 23/02/2009 at 15:44:09

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Apologies - it seems Gosling’s contract runs until 2011.

Although, by that time his career will probably be devestated by injury - he is an Everton midfielder after all...
James Watson
17   Posted 23/02/2009 at 16:22:46

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The only reason this season we have been playing one up-front is because we have had injuries to all our forwards, and the 4-5-1 has worked with Cahill on his own, so we kept it. At the start of the season we were actually playing 4-4-2, but due to all the injuries we reverted back to the old system. The main focus should be on a RB who can attack (Hibbert is clearl not that), and wingers to give us some more width.


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