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Thinking ahead

By Alan Kirwin :  02/05/2009 :  Comments (20) :
This season promised much. Until pre-season, that is ? when gradually our hopes turned to near despair and outright irritation with Moyes's contract, defensive nightmares against mediocre teams like Blackburn & Pompey... the lack of new arrivals even led to some Toffees throwing the R-word about.

It was never that bad of course. That's not to say we didn't have bad days because we did, and quite a few of them. Our play was tedious & unappealing, but we got by.

Then, slowly but surely, we started to get into our stride. With such a poor start, it was unlikely that we'd get anywhere near top 6, nevermind top 4. But football is a funny old game and, despite unbelievably bad luck with injuries (and decisions sometimes) we are top 6, possibly 5th and even flirted with 4th for a while.

Moyes and Round have increasingly shown that they have the capacity to send out a team that will compete on almost every level. This, even when the team sports a teenager or three and the loss of our best players.

And so to my point. Which is, basically, How good is our squad? How good is our leadership? And what or who do we think we need to raise our game to get into the Champions League and ultimately have a pop at the title?

In answering this, we of course have to be realistic. We are not going to be competing with the Sky 4, or Man City, for the ready-made superstars. No worries, I can live with that. It also looks like Moyes has adopted a definitive policy of picking up good strong young players who show promise and who we can turn into top players (and increase their value). Gosling, Rodwell, Agard, Fellaini and the young German & American players picked up in the last few days support this strategy. Very much an Arsenal approach. I like it.

If we get all our players back fit then where are we exposed? The general view is midfield and perhaps right-back. Sporting Lisbon have now put golden handcuffs on Moutinho which seems to indicate he's off limits, despite his own favourable mutterings regarding EFC. So who?

Well it looks like DM actually does like Lars Jacobsen enough to extend his contract. Likewise with Segundo Castillo. Young Rodwell will be right in the mix next season, as IMHO will Fellaini, who I always wanted to see after a full pre-season with us. So I'm less concerned about right back and even midfield, but it all happens in midfield so we need to be better. It's clear that we could do with one, possibly even two, creative & combative midfielders.

In truth, I expect Moyes to pull a rabbit out of the hat that none of us had thought of. So almost pointless speculating. The two players I'd love to have seen are Moutinho and M'Bia. The latter might still be a possibility, but probably not the former.

Given our financial position we need to be realistic. I prefer our club not to take risks with its future just to satisfy who shouts loudest. The Arsenal model wins every time for me over the surreal Chelsea model of £750M from nowhere, or the Man City version for that matter. I want to deserve what we get, not just accumulate star players and EXPECT to win everything.

Personally I like the strategy of building from youth, with perhaps one, two at most, established players to supplement what we have. So I'll be happy with one damn good midfielder to share the load with Mikel, and delirious if we get two.

This season, that promised so much, then so little, has ultimately proved that things are possible through good coaching & man-management. To have achieved what we have without so much of the cream of our squad for so long speaks very loudly about which direction we're headed.

For next season, I wish for a fully fit squad, a really good pre-season, and one headline purchase for midfield (in an ideal world, two). I also want to see our brand of football continue to develop as it undoubtedly has this season. I never make predictions, I just take what comes. But here's to a trophy in 4 weeks, a good summer all round and a good start to next season.

Reader Comments

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Nick Dommett
1   Posted 02/05/2009 at 20:07:29

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Top priority must be one, maybe two wingers. In central midfield it would be great to be able to pick up an extra playmaker but as they are hard to come by and I really feel we are weak down the flanks (especially the right) that must be top priority.

TBH though moyes did identify this weakness last season and tried to apply the ’kids’ approach to it: remember the bid for Ramsey? Now I don’t know if he is available on loan but maybe a cheeky ask to Wenger...
Anthony Dyer
2   Posted 02/05/2009 at 20:05:38

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Considering the injuries and the dreadful start, we have done well this season. Add to that a very good run in the FA Cup which is still up for grabs, you would think that it has been an excellent season.

But, there is always a nagging doubt that we can?t seem to manage to win the games that we should, City last week I can forgive, but games at Newcastle, Pompey, Blackburn and Villa for that matter were all games we could have and should have won. The main reason for this IMHO is a complete lack of pace in the side.

We are a well organised and disciplined side but so too are most of our rivals. We need a ?magic? player ? someone who can turn a game in our favour and get the crowd on the edge of their seats. Whether we have that player in our squad already is debatable... maybe Mo will improve next season but I won?t hold my breath. Also, our more experienced players Cahill and Neville have had exceptional seasons and it is difficult to see them performing as well next season.

Also, we have to admit that our 3 main players Arteta, Yak and Jags won?t be ready for the start of the campaign and that will have a detremental effect on our performances. And Jo will probably be back at Man City, so there are problems aplenty before we even kick a ball in earnest.

Tony I'Anson
3   Posted 02/05/2009 at 21:12:16

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Can anyone recall when Sir Alex got rid of all his star players in one fell swoop and replaced them with a bunch of unknown kids -

OUT (forgive the inaccuracies - Kanchelskis, Hughes, McClaire, Ince, and more etc). Madness everyone said. Too much whisky. Mad Scotsman.

IN - Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Neville Brothers, a fella with big fangs now a Reality TV wannabe and a couple of other kids.

Let?s hope history repeats itself. A Scottish manager with vison and a bunch of kids nobody knows about yet.
James Boden
4   Posted 02/05/2009 at 23:41:53

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Good read I must admit. The priority must be a winger or 2. I wouldn’t mind Matty Taylor. As for this season I believe the striker crisis actually benefited us funnily enough. I do believe we should see more of Gosling, Vaughan, Rodwell and Baxter as all have bright futures. If we have good youngsters then why leave them to waste? But I beieve May 30th will define everything for us.
John Meredith
5   Posted 03/05/2009 at 05:22:04

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Chinese whispers from Goodison Road ?

We will take Michael Owen on a free, £50k a week pay cut. Not sure what we?d do with a small player with no pace, skill, strength, and that only plays 6 games a season. He?s good for a tip alright on the gee gees though...

Moyes will let Lescott join Man City for £20m + Jo. Reason being, he has the best left sided centre half in world football up his sleeves for the next 15 years ? Jack Rodwell.
Ged Simpson
6   Posted 03/05/2009 at 07:12:23

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I doubt we will be getting so-called super stars. And I can live with that very easily.

I imagine the mailbag would be a nightmare to read if we did. Moyes would get savaged because people got to believe the hype and ended up frustrated.

I don?t for one minute want us to be buying rubbish but I would be disappointed if Moyes?s judgement was replaced by us buying players because some poxy agent or journalist says they are good.

I would look at teams who have done this. Their fans seems to be generally miserable and disappointed. There is little genuine pride and, like addicts, at the end of each frustrating season they demand more to be spent.

This season has been one of the most enjoyable I have had as a fan for years. It will remain that even if we lose to Chelsea. Why? I am proud of our players, our manager and club and have always loved achievement in the face of adversity.

Some may say this lacks ambition. No. I hope we win everything in sight. But with an Everton team... a team that has players who are actually proud to play for Everton. This team has such players and there lies our progress and success.
Alan Ry
7   Posted 03/05/2009 at 07:11:12

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Dear John, Nonsense son, I don?t think he?ll let Lessie go, you always need two players for each position anyway and the Rod won?t be ready for a while.

I think we should ship out the Yak if anyone will buy and bring in Jo too. With the extra millions from the new deal purportedly gone through, we could bring in one or two other class acts too to bolster an already strong squad ? strong in spirit and some skill but not in depth, I am afraid.

We've got Pienaar and Baines and Vaughan for considerable pace between them. Jo even can be quite quick on his feet. Pienaar makes some amazing runs soemtimes and is a real nipper. I think Jo would prefer us to City.

I don't think it?s easy getting class Walcott-type players ? they cost the earth and can be a bit hit and miss with lots of injuries etc. Messi anyone?

Pray we beat the Sunderland ones. Best to all.

Dave Wilson
8   Posted 03/05/2009 at 08:09:47

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A proper article

First things first. I think there are one or two players who some people would love to see the back of, but this season has to be about building a squad, I think every player should stay - with the possible exception of AVDM.

I?m expecting big things from Fellaini. He will have had a season to acclimatise.

I hope some good comes from that "tackle" by Nolan and Big Vic now realises how lucky he is - I?m convinced there is a player in there somewhere.

Osman has been one of the few long-term servants in an ever improving squad, he has consistently qualified for Europe and even if we can attract a good wide player, he would still be a valuable squad member.

If Lars stays fit and proves to be top class, T Hibbert would make a first class understudy.

As pointed out in the article, we won't be able to compete with the Sky Four for the signature of the KNOWN top-draw players, but I too like the way Moyes is going about his business, looking at younger players, and I hope we can unearth a gem or two. This is a very good group of players we have here and the emphasis must be on finding even better players to add to the numbers rather than look to replace the ones we?ve got.

Kevin Quinn
9   Posted 03/05/2009 at 11:22:54

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Can't see Moyes letting Lescott leave like he did with AJ last year as he and Jags have been immense this season. I'd like us to sign a winger with pace. Glenn Johnson has looked a great player playing right midfield for Pompey recently and is great at right back. If we could get him, we would be a quality side attacking-wise with him and Baines bombing down the flanks.
Robert Davis
10   Posted 03/05/2009 at 14:49:43

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I know taking from teams that are struggling can be tricky,but every time I see Tuncay play for Boro he plays well.Plays in a few positions,either wing,midfield or striker.His nickname is "braveheart".He an international regular for Turkey. Also heard A.Grey praise him again yesterday. Boro may need to sell.Anyone agree?
Jay Harris
11   Posted 03/05/2009 at 18:41:34

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A good post Alan.

We do have some other considerations for next season too:

The Afcon affecting Yobo, Pienaar, Yak and Anichebe.

Also the injuries to Jags, Arteta and the Yak who all remain doubtful for the beginning of the season.

Moyes has already stated he won't let any of our current squad go but I think he said the same about AJ last season so all that is certain is nothing is certain.

If we?re on a BK budget I would like one quality addition for MF be it a M?Bia type or Mouthino type releasing PN for RB cover and if Jo goes another striker who can play in a 4-5-1 although I hope the rumours about Owen are totally untrue as I think he would destroy team spirit and the budget.

Overall I believe that now we must all get behing Moyes and his decisions no matter what we think of them.
Gerry Quinn (GQ!)
12   Posted 03/05/2009 at 20:09:39

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If you reckon the BK budget will add to MF in CM, then moving PN to RB will be OK with me 2! However with TH in goal, PN and LB as RB and LB respectively, then JY, JL and PJ will have to sort their initials out too! With AY, TC and LO/SP playing up front.... for heavens sake JH give up on the freakin? abbreviations, will you - my head is MASH.
Carl Waldron
13   Posted 03/05/2009 at 20:59:01

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Thought provoking article. For me the two realistic, affordable targets that would definitley improve the squad are Glen Johnson and Chris Eagles. Aside from that I would trust DM to find a couple of gems from somewhere. Would be gutted to see anyone other the AVDM leave - everyone has played their part this year.
Kase Chow
14   Posted 03/05/2009 at 23:21:05

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Adam Johnson from Boro is very quick and could be worth a punt if cheap when they go down. No-one from the bar codes apart from maybe Carroll. Moyes will probably pull out a few good surprises hopefully.

Alan Kerwin, I like reading your stuff ? it?s always accurate &/or interesting

Nigel Gregson
15   Posted 04/05/2009 at 03:18:44

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Historically, we?ve bought talent from the relegated teams (e.g. Jags). If Boro, Barcodes and Baggies go down then there should be plenty of talent available. Unlike others, I believe that our biggest weakness at the moment is backup in goalkeeping. It doesn?t take much for a player to go out for a season (e.g. Jags injury). If something like that happened to Howard, we?d be in a whole heap of trouble.

Maybe Scott Carson?
Kase Chow
16   Posted 04/05/2009 at 09:59:29

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Carson is rubbish-makes way too many mistakes. Harper from the barcodes would be a reasonable back up.

The problem is that we?re now at the stage where we need players that can make a difference to a game and also could potentially be a match winner against the sky 4. That?s because to break into their gang we need to convert draws against them into wins.

And the big problem is that there is that many of those type of player about that we can afford.

And let me tell you: Owen is NOT the answer!

David Ellis
17   Posted 04/05/2009 at 10:10:36

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I think we are well covered in central midfield. Arteta and Osman started the last season as wide men, but both are more effective in the centre.

We only have one natural wide midfielder who is premiership quality and that is Pienaar. We desperately need another. I would be happy with that this summer.

Glen Johnson would be an expensive option at right back and is not really a right midfield palyer. We?ll have to hope that Moyes finds the right player from somewhere ? but don?t expect a household name.

I have a grand theory that the bottom is going to fall out of the transfer market in the next 12 months as a lot of clubs will struggle to get their loans rolled over and overdrafts approved. The business is only sustainable by ever increasing TV contracts and gate prices and the upward spiral has come to an end. This is going to lead to a big crash. In these circumstances the less we spend in the summer the better.
David Nicholls
18   Posted 04/05/2009 at 11:03:52

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I don?t think a pacy winger is that essential, although it is imperative that we get a talented midfielder that can operate in the wide area?s. Bentley or Krancjar would fit the bill, I think I?d prefer the Croatian purely based on the fact Bentley comes across as a bit of a tit.

Either a holding midfielder or a right back should also be brought in depending on where Neville should play, personally, I prefer Pip at rightback.

Some cover at centreback wouldn?t go amiss either, I reckon we could take a chance on Preston's Sean St Leger, perhaps we could offer Big Vic in part exchange to help finance the deal?

Let's hope any business is completed as soon as possible in order for the players to settle in. COYB
Sean Lyons
19   Posted 04/05/2009 at 15:39:54

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In relation to players we need, I think it?s extremely difficult to identify priority areas for change. With a fully fit squad (never, I hear you say), our first eleven is undoubtedly the strongest in the Premier League outside the top four, far stronger than Liverpool?s best eleven short of Gerrard or Torres.

Baines, Jagielka (by mid-October hopefully), Yobo, Lescott,
Arteta, Fellaini, Neville, Pieenar, Cahiil, Yakubu.
First three subs: Hibbert, Osman, Saha.

This is a strong, well balanced team. When have these players all been fit together though?

Identifying areas of weakness is a difficult task considering how well balanced the team is. Moyes, as he doubtless will, should focus on bringing in one out and out winger, in the mould of Arjen Robben or Ryan Giggs. Someone who can take on players and provide ammunition for our prolific men in the air, Yakubu, Cahill, Fellaini, Saha etc.

One player out wide and perhaps a quality full-back. Hibbert is game and difficult to beat but he is found wanting against the top four?s wingers. Despite Moyes's obvious liking of the defender, he should be replaced.

Tom Owen
20   Posted 04/05/2009 at 21:28:40

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First priority is a right winger and maybe a left winger as well. We would also need a creative minded player similar to Mikel in midfield and a defensive minded.

I would like to see a RB similar to the style of Glen Johnson. Weve been linked with Rod Fanni which looks like that type of player from watching a youtube video of him.

If Jo was avaiable on a season loan deal I would happily take him.

If anyone was going to be sold, I think Anichebe may go to a Championship club but I think we should keep him as he is pretty useful.

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