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The Importance of Pienaar

By Tom Owen :  04/05/2009 :  Comments (22) :

I was thrilled when Everton had secured the loan deal for Steven Pienaar. He had failed to live up to expectations at Ajax and had joined Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer. It didn?t work out at Dortmund. He played 25 games for Borussia scoring no goals. After one season, he was off to Everton for a season-long loan deal.

He made his Premier League debut coming on from the subs bench against Wigan. He looked a very lightweight and small player. On first impression, you doubted if he had the physical stature to handle the Premiership but he settled down and started to improve. He made himself a regular first-teamer after some encouraging performances, notably away to Bolton. He then scored his first goal for the club against Middlesbrough where he exchanged clever play with Mikel Arteta and slotted home. He then scored his second goal for the club in a 7-1 triumph against Sunderland where he was a part of some great build-up play with Nuno Valente.

He slowly became a fans? favourite at Goodison. His clever play and hard-working attitude went down well with the Goodison faithful. He was the first man down on the team sheet in some people?s eyes. After a good season, he earned himself a permanent deal at Everton and signed a 3-year deal for a fee of around £2million.

But then Pienaar broke his toe against PSV in a pre-season game, ruling him out of the first few games of the season. Everton started poorly. You could see the side was missing Pienaar. He recovered from his injury and got back to his best in no time by supplying a wonderful ball into Fellaini which he headed home to secure 3 points away at Bolton in the last minute. Pienaar went on and scored a vital winner against Tottenham at White Hart Lane which was later classed as an own goal. It showed that he was an important member of the squad.

As the season went on, Everton climbed the table and found themselves in 6th spot. Everton were also on an impressive run in the FA Cup. Pienaar was instrumental in this good form. His craft, willingness and energy were what Everton needed. He gave his all in every match. When the going got tough, he was always fighting for the ball and looking forward. There have been times when he has been criticised for throwing away possession, for instance, against Arsenal when Robin van Pierse scored a last-minute equaliser. He can also be at fault with his final ball as sometimes he can over-hit crosses but there have been many times when he has produced thrilling crosses that have resulted in goals.

One unimpressive statistic is the number of goals he scores. For a left winger, I would like to see him score more. He showed he is capable of this against Villa in the 3-3 draw where he scored a right footer curler from outside the box which gave Friedel no chance. That was his first of the season as the Spurs goal was given as an own goal. I wrote all that before Sunday?s Sunderland game and his well-taken goal, believe me!

For £2million, this was some purchase from Moyes. To get this quality of player for such a sum is brilliant. Pienaar has been an instrumental player for Everton in his time here. When he is off the pitch, his energy, drive and ambition his missed on the left. The way Baines and Pienaar overlap and interchange is something special. Playing three games in seven days and still performing to good standards is something next to brilliant. His passion, energy and drive are what make him such as a good player. He is much loved by all Evertonians and hopefully he will keep up his good work and help drive Everton to success. COYB!

Reader Comments

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Siri Jason
1   Posted 05/05/2009 at 07:52:03

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Think his play improved thanks to the vision and creativity of Atreta and Baines.
John Meredith
2   Posted 05/05/2009 at 07:57:12

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Simply a fantastic natural football player, Pienaar. He?s getting better constantly as well. It would be wonderful if he could spend the next 8 years down that left flank with Baines.

Even if he ever had an ?off-day? you always know he is going to give you everything in effort and energy. A £15m player for £2.5m ? great work by The Moyesiah!
Alex Taylor
3   Posted 05/05/2009 at 08:59:07

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He’s up there as my best player this season, bar Jags. He makes us play the way the game should be played and puts lesser players to shame, who simply can’t keep up with his vision.

Pienaar is a joy to watch down the left and if we can find a winger of equal calibre on the other side, we will be a force to reckon with next season.

I’d say he’s possibly the most gifted winger we’ve had in the past 15 years, as good as Kanchelskis was.

Wrap him in cotton wool until the final. We simply can’t afford for him to be injured now as our last creative outlet.
Gordon Blair
4   Posted 05/05/2009 at 09:30:29

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Tom Owen is Stevie’s mum - FACT.

No, Tom, you’re quite right, the left side of our team is now looking good enough to make the step up. Stevie P and Bainsey are a quality combination and you don’t expect to find that level of work ethic with that level of skill and artistry - except in a Davey Moyes team.

Am confident for the 30th COYB
Graham Holliday
5   Posted 05/05/2009 at 09:57:49

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One thing our side is missing is a wealth of players truly comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Obviously Mikel Arteta is one, Leighton Baines and Leon Osman two more. But Steven Pienaar is possibly the most gifted of the entire squad when he’s at the races.

Plus he doesn’t half put a shift in, in front of Baines.

A huge player for us. If Moyes can find another one or two like him to fill the midfield with this season I would be absolutely delighted.

A massive player for us, like the article claims.
Pete Blanshard
6   Posted 05/05/2009 at 10:08:53

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Agree totally with this. Also ask most football fans who our key player was last season and they would say Arteta. But he was actually quite poor, due mainly to a reoccuring stomach injury, and Peanuts was the main man.

This season with Arteta fit and in the centre and Peanuts on the left for a few games we played great football before Mikel?s injury. But next season if they are both fit and we spend any money we have a on a quick right winger then we will be sorted.

The only thing that worries me about the Cup Final is that Huddink is a genius and has surely already worked out that we only attack down the left flank these days... which, knowing this, you would think would be easier for Chelsea to defend against.

Tim Wardrop
7   Posted 05/05/2009 at 10:55:17

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Apart from his lack of goals the only other bad point to make about Peanuts is his pace. He’s nippy over the first few yards, but doesn’t have that electric pace that means he can roast defenders for fun. If he had that in his locker (plus more of an eye for goal) he would arguably be one of the top wingers in the Prem.

But yeah, fantastic footballer.
Ciaran MacGiollaEoin
8   Posted 05/05/2009 at 12:06:26

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Absolutely superb performance from the wee man at the weekend... he?s a hell of a lot better when he doesn?t try to be superman and does the easy stuff when he has that option.

Hasn?t been the most consistent performer this season... And can?t even remotely agree with the ?player of the season stuff?... Could be great though.
Gary Creaney
9   Posted 05/05/2009 at 13:09:24

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Pete Blanshard, there’s no doubting that our left flank outclasses the right flank and Guus Hiddink will know this but both our goals against Sunderland came from the right so there’s still positives to be taken from it.
James Boden
10   Posted 05/05/2009 at 13:44:54

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Good article. Only recently have I really understood Pienaar's importance. His hard work and skill have helped a great deal to our cause. Obviously coming through the Ajax system has helped him.

However, I don?t think I would put him on the same level as Kanchelskis who scored 16 goals in one season and at that time was perhaps the world?s top winger. Add to the fact that he was one of United's top players at the start of their dominance ? I don?t think Pienaar is quite worthy of this comparison.

However he certainly is a good footballer and one who I believe would not look out of place in a side chasing the top 4. He could make a difference in the final. COYB

Matt Barry
11   Posted 05/05/2009 at 14:02:35

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James Boden - we are a side chasing the top 4 and he does not look out of place (indeed just before Pienaar joined we were a top four side).

SP is one of my favourites too. If we are being overly picky I’d like him not to go down quite so easily, but his flicks and tricks are worth (probably more than) his weight in gold!
Alan Kirwin
12   Posted 05/05/2009 at 15:14:10

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Ciaran says it all really (and I don?t often say that). I?ve liked him since he arrived. Bit inconsistent for much of the season, but become rather fabulous last few weeks & Sunday he was sublime. For £2m he was an absolute steal. Great work by Moyes to get him at such a silly price (& Arteta & Lescott & Neville & Jags).
James Boden
13   Posted 05/05/2009 at 22:28:37

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Matt Barry, just to clear up in regards to the comment I made about Pienaar not looking out place with a team chasing the top 4, I was referring to next season. Apologies for it being unclear.
Bob Parrington
14   Posted 06/05/2009 at 00:39:45

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Well done Tom. Peanuts has taken a bit of criticism along the way for being lightweight. But he makes up for this with some good balance. I have always thought that he has some great intuitive skill and, as such, he adds a dimension to the team that nobody else does. Add to this his usual hard work ethic and he is becoming an extremely valuable asset.
Another sign of the magic of Moyes.
Dave WIlson
15   Posted 06/05/2009 at 06:59:59

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Dont forget, Pienaar missed the early stages of the season. Although a lot of people will point to Arteta moving to center Midfield as the turning point, it should be acknowledged that Pienaar?s return to action facilitated this, nor should it go unnoticed that Mikky isn't playing and we?re still winning.

When looking for a player of the season, we should look at the whole season and unlike the popular choices, Pienaar wasn't costing us valuable points in the first quarter. I?ve been delighted with him since the day he arrived. My Player of the Season, by some distance.

Ciarán MacGiollaEoin
16   Posted 06/05/2009 at 10:35:44

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Baines for me.
Anthony Millington
17   Posted 06/05/2009 at 13:28:16

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Great signing by Moyes, £2 million pounds! Just like Arteta and Cahill! He was a class abover Sunderland the other day. He’s one of few Everton players that can actually beat a man with skill and pace and the only way opponents can stop him is by bringing him down. He’s had to try and up his game since the loss of Arteta, but we’ve coped well and have basically cemented sixth spot.

Hopefully Moyes can bring in someone with similar pace and ability on the other flank and slot Arteta back in the middle when he is fit.
James Boden
18   Posted 06/05/2009 at 13:38:07

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Player of the season- Jagielka or Neville.
John Doe
19   Posted 06/05/2009 at 20:16:00

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We’ve got a few candidates for Player of the Season... but it’s just a shame that most of them have missed a decent portion of the games through injury.

Onto Pienaar, when Arteta got injured I said on these boards that I thought that the one positive was that Pienaar was about to return from injury (the 2nd time) and reunite with Baines. SInce then they really have been great for us. Teams know how one sided we are but what can you do when these two are bombing forward and backwards together? Really pleased for Baines as well - and of course Moyes who stuck his neck out with Baines a bit.

I’m not sure I buy the inconsistency argument some are making about SP. He was out of touch after both of his injuries this year but besides comebacks he’s been excellent. He’s got a few tricks but his real benefit is just that he’s so accountable on the pitch; always wants the ball, always wants to do the right thing and even when things don’t go well he just goes back and tries to do all the right things again. That’s what top players do. They don’t hide.

Of course his defensive work and ’gut running’ is practically the stuff of legend amongst Evertonians so no need to go into that.

Re: the Sunderland match; If a Big 4 player put in that shift (and I can’t think of a winger that’s capable of such a complete performance) then we would hear about it forever. It was incredible and it’s not often you see one player produce the goods for every minute he’s on the pitch. If anyone tuned in and watched any 5 minute period of that game they would have picked SP as their man of the match.

And ever since that ball hit the net against Villa he’s looked like he believes he can score... here’s to a couple more before then end of the season and maybe a big goal in the final.

Jimmy Rimmer
20   Posted 07/05/2009 at 01:12:52

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I’m a big fan of Peanuts and he deserves all the credit he’s been given here. My one gripe was his lack of goals. To be a truely great winger, you have to contribute goals as well as assists.

That strike against Villa was exactly what I’ve been crying out for him to do, it was pure class. Let’s hope he can start sticking a few more in the onion bag on a consistent basis. If he became a 5 - 10 goal a season man then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be on our wing for many years to come. Him and Baines down the left have been a revelation this year!
Matthew Fearnhead
21   Posted 07/05/2009 at 08:54:42

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As a South African Blue I was very pleased when Steven came through on loan, even more pleased when Moyes signed him permanently.

By far and away the English Premier League is the most popular international league in South Africa and he would have watched many a game while he was growing up. Big names on a big stage.

He didn?t perform in Germany and I think he has something to prove, to himself and everyone at home.

There is a great player in there, and now, after almost 2 seasons I think he is starting to get the bit between his teeth.

I hope so, it makes me proud to see him in Blue, working hard, never giving up.
Dave Hadwin
22   Posted 08/05/2009 at 12:43:50

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Pienaar and Baines are this team’s Steven & Stevens.

I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

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