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Calm down, calm down!

By Andrew James :  10/08/2008 :  Comments (19) :
The gloom and doom has been pretty impressive this Summer. Many fans appear to have lost their perspective and short term memories. The truth is that the whole DK issue has clouded everything and the KW resignation won?t change matters a great deal in terms of transfers this summer (although it might be a battle won for those in the KEIOC war). I am not going to talk about the ground debate as I am definitely part of the ?travelling? support but my late Grandad would not have liked it I guess as he was a season ticket holder for fifty years. The poor old sod went into a stroke just before the Coventry match in 1998. My brother and I had a few heart attacks during the game but that?s other matter?

The sale of AJ is a strange one but he was increasingly out of touch with the new style of Everton?s play with Pienaar and Yakubu being missing pieces of the jigsaw to play in an attack with Cahill, Osman and Arteta. AJ was perfect for when we were a defensive team but now the nature of our game (especially at home) is to get forward in numbers with short range and long range passing in the final third at a high tempo. Johnson didn?t fit into that aesthetic, wasn?t a reliable regular and became a nice alternative to bring on when you were defending a one goal lead. The guy was a journeyman striker before he came to the Blues so another move doesn?t amaze me. I liked his work rate but if he has chosen to go from the brink of Champions League Football to a team who nearly got relegated last term then I think that tells you he might?ve given up all hope of ever being in the England set up and wants regular first team football and a settled family life. You cannot criticize him for that and it gives Everton a few more quid to use.

So to this season. Well some of the fans appear to have forgotten how we went into previous campaigns. In 2002/03 we had a squad of inter changeable players lacking top class ability and DM could only top up the ageing squad with Yobo. They finished seventh and were higher than that for most of the season. It wasn?t just Rooney who made the difference (and some people have the mis-perception he scored a lot more than he actually did). It was DM?s ability to get the most from a mostly mediocre set of players who probably had their best ever season that year (Steve Watson, the Rad and Pembridge). The following year proved to be the only real back up to current trend of gloom when last minute dealing (which was hardly inspiring nor expensive) meant we had a squad which finished 17th. Then came the most disheartening summer I can recall for many years: 2004 where we sold Rooney at the eleventh hour in the transfer window and bolstered the squad with Marcus Bent and Tim Cahill. We were relegation favourites and finished fourth having sold another top player on the way in Tommy Gravesen. Nobody could have predicted that! The following summer was a simple case of Moyes not being supported by BK so that he went out mostly looking for bargains so our European dream became a nightmare and we finished a very limp eleventh.

For the last two seasons there has been panic (especially in the lead up to last season) but we nearly always seem to confound the critics and beat the rest. I?m sick of being told by Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle fans each Summer that we?ll not finish in the top 8. They seem to become very quiet by the Winter. I am sure they will again this Winter. Everyone keeps piping on about our rivals strengthening. I?m not sure they?ve strengthened, many have just bought whoever the flavour of the month is. Spurs have bought well but they have changed the team so much that I do not accept them being wildly superior to us. Keane has left as has Defoe (both of whom were regular contributors in the goal stakes in a side that struggles for a decent goal spread across the whole squad unlike us). Pompey look strong but their centre backs are creaking. Even the esteemed Villa?s signings are nothing to be scared of. City look well set but their lack of structural stability makes me dubious.

So that would, in my mind, leave me thinking if we strengthen by five players then we can end up in fifth or fourth and win the UEFA perhaps. I?ll get laughed at for this but let?s remember a few things. Cahill was missing for a lot of last season. He bagged ten when he was playing. If he?s fit for most of the season we?re looking at maybe fifteen goals and he tends to score key goals as well so maybe we?ll be able to nick some points off the bigger sides. Arteta was muted all season but still ran the show at points. I full expect him to be pulling the strings so we can turn Goodison into a fortress. Pienaar will have a full run without the ANC and I expect more goals from him. I would also expect Jagielka to really develop this time out. I think we?ll see less hoofball and some heroics in the defensive and final third. The nature of the game means one or two players will be hampered by injury throughout but surely Messrs Baines and Vaughan won?t be so unlucky and we might see the best from the pair (which might result in that long awaited glut of goals from the latter).

The signings I am about to mention I feel are likely to come in the next few days as the sources are reliable in the press and not just from ?NOW? or ?SSN?. If Mountinho joined them it would be great but I think that one is unlikely. So add to the squad M?Bia who hopefully will be a dynamic Carsley and mean all our midfield are mobile from box to box. Then there?s Wagner Love who seems a strange one as he?s an all round goalscorer who might find himself second fiddle to Yakubu. But what a second fiddle he might be. And this leads me to Alan Smith.

Smith fits DM?s profile as he?s a hard working player who is technically sound and can play in a variety of roles. Everyone bemoans DM?s penchant for utility players but why have three players all specialising in one position, one of whom never gets a game over a season? Surely it?s more frugal and better for a tight squad to have this flexibility. It will worry me if Smith gets played up front regularly when Cahill and Yakubu are fit but I expect him to be in the centre. He?s had experience at both ends of the Premiership and at the top in Europe. It worries me a little that he?s coming to Everton after turning us down twice. The first time was acceptable but last time was plain stupid. But at this knock down price I am intrigued and hopeful.

So maybe with a youth player making the senior team regularly (I suspect it might be Gosling) and Manny Fernandes coming on board for a third flight, we should simply accept that we will not start the season on fire but our defence should ensure we?re in a decent enough position come October to go on a run when the attackers get going. Maybe in November we?ll all be wondering what all the fuss was about. Just like in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007.


Reader Comments

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Martin Cutler
1   Posted 11/08/2008 at 01:50:05

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Fantastic post Andrew! Full of optimism and factual information and a positive outlook on things.
If the signings that you refer to come to fruition (especially with the addition of Johnson or Moutinho) I?ll be one happy camper .... a Brazilian like Wagner working with The Yak, oh my........too much excitement.....I can?t wait for the first game!
As to other what I think:
Villa....about the same, weaker if they sell Barry.
Man City....stronger but stuff going on behind the scenes may hinder them, plus the new manager needs time. real change.
Portsmouth...stronger (still suspect in defense aside from the goalie).
West Ham...stronger than last season due to the massive injuries they had.
Spurs....potentially our rivals for the top 4 (or the 5th spot). I think losing Keane actually hurts them even with all their signings but if they gel quickly as a team (their pre-season games are ominous) we could be in trouble there.

I still don?t understand why it?s taken so long to get anybody (and as we speak we still don?t have one!) but it looks like there?ll be signings, good ones, soon and I really do trust Moyes to get the best out of them.

As to Cahill, Arteta and "could" almost see these three as new signings.........I?m not being flippant when I say Andrew said...all three were injured for most of last season...I actually thought Arteta was rubbish on the occasions I saw him....Baines is still really an unknown and we really do rely so much on if they can stay fit and healthy that bodes well for the entire team.

Three points next Saturday!! COYB!!!
Santosh Benjamin
2   Posted 11/08/2008 at 02:45:15

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It's been a long and sometimes painful summer for us as Evertonians. The long list of names that we were linked with all summer gradually dwindled as time went on. Destination Kirby and the loss of Keith Wyness added to the storyline that defined our summer.

The names that I was most excited about were M?Bia and Moutinho...seems like we may well get the former after the Olympics.Alan Smith seems to be on his way to Goodison too and although im not a big fan of his attitude, I think that Moyes can make him a worthwhile buy. If reports are true,Vagner Love is coming on loan now this year with view for a permanent deal next year.

I agree that if we can have Tim Cahill fit for a large part of the season, a renewed Arteta pulling the strings in midfield with a few of the youngsters like Gosling, Rodwell, Baxter making first team appearances then we should do ok this year. After seeing the returns from the UEFA cup last year its not as exciting to me and the league must take first preference..although id love to win either the FA/Carling Cup this year.

Either way, the season is nearly upon us and I hope and pray that we can get these necessary buys in time and get Moyes roped in for a long-term deal so we can continue to progress steadily upwards like we have been doing in the past few years..COYB

Santosh Benjamin
3   Posted 11/08/2008 at 03:08:00

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Wonderful article by the way, Andrew... positive and uplifting.. exactly what we need to get us through this.
Jason Lam
4   Posted 11/08/2008 at 03:37:49

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Very positive article. Summer’s over and the new season begins! This is where we give our all for the boys in blue! COYB!!!!
Peter Bradshaw
5   Posted 11/08/2008 at 03:36:44

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I think the reason why Alan Smith went to Newcastle and not us was the extra 20k per week in his wage packet, same as Joey Barton. I cannot see Wagner Love coming or Moutinho now but M"Bia is a possibility. These are worrying times and to be honest if no additions we will do well to sit in 10th position. This will scare you against Blackburn, Neville or Jagielka in the Carsley role. We should get a point.
Danny O'Neill
6   Posted 11/08/2008 at 04:51:47

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Sense at last! A lot of panicing going on - it seems some just crave painting a picture of doom and gloom! I am by no means suggesting all is well on the good ship Goodison - it is obvious something is not right behind the scenes. If we however concentrate on the football for one minute I would suggest that we could have done a Tottenham and ran out to buy any big name / big price just to appease fans and the national press. I am supporting the fact (possibly naively!!) that maybe Moyes knows who he wants and if he can?t get them then he would rather make do with what he?s got. Another thing to consider - if we are going to raise the bar in terms of quality, it becomes more difficult to attract the type of Champions League standard player we need. After all if we are going to improve on last season, that?s what we need and those players firstly are more difficult to come by and secondly take more convincing to come to somewhere like Everton rather than one of the "Big 3" - sorry guys but until we are established up there, thats fact. Have faith - but please DM, sign your contract & end the uncertainty.
Trevor Lynes
7   Posted 11/08/2008 at 05:09:30

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Lots of positives but what about the cons..We have lost a lot of players and have replaced none..who is to say that Cahill makes a full recovery from his injury...what about Hibbert have certainly painted a hopeful picture and I really hope indeed that your prophesy comes true..but when balancing things you have to see the down side too otherwise its Alice in Wonderland stuff. You talk about other teams negatively and they all have bigger squads than we do...we have let our squad diminish and unless rabbits are pulled out of hats pretty quickly and we produce another Rooney then the bookies odds against our finishing 5th are a realist and face facts, not just through blue tinted glasses.
Choe Lee
8   Posted 11/08/2008 at 05:08:26

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Good writing! I remember not so long ago that we had more than enough squad players like Naysmith, McFadden, Pistone, Anderson Da Silva, Kelvin Kilbane, Li Tie, Eddy Bosnar...etc These players were either wriiten off as "not good enough" or they were making so few appearences we wonder if they were any good.

Fast forward today, almost every of our "senior" squad will easily make it into the first team of 80% of the Premier League teams and it would fair to say some (i.e. Cahill, Arteta, Lescott) can make it to the first team of the so called "Big Four" as well.

So we have a wonderful situation, a "core group" that is of high quality and we supplement them with young players who have very good potential. I hope we do not take a step back and get "squad players" to beef up the team simply for the sake of feeling "secure that we have the numbers".

Will Rodwell be any worse than Bosnar? Or perhaps Gosling be any worse than Anderson? Moyes is correct, every player we sign must be someone who can add to the squad and improve it.

Can you imagine(and I think it possible if he wants to do it) that Moyes decides to bring back Kilbane, McFadden, Bosnar, Li Tie, Anderson, Pistone and Naysmith? Maybe Marcus Bent even. We will have a well stocked up squad but will the fans be any more happy?

Life has to go on as an Evertonian, let’s choose a happier existence.

Jay Campbell
9   Posted 11/08/2008 at 07:45:54

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Another post that indicates weare happy to settle for second best and mediocrity.

Marc Williams
10   Posted 11/08/2008 at 10:28:02

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Andrew James :

Are you Doddy ? Are You Doddy ?
Are you Doddy in Disguise ?

Are You Doddy in Dis - guise ?

( Sorry Andy, just finding my singing voice for the new new season but you do sound like one very familiar ’Calm downer’ )

Don’t want to spill any of your ’half full’ glasses but I think its hilarious you acuse those moaning about our current parlous state as having ’ short term memory’ loss.
Surely its you lot that have quickly forgotten :
1/ How are paper thin suad tailed off badly at the end of last season as we ran out of steam & options in midfield ( before we lost 7 more players including our linchpin !!! )
2/ Lescott having to play up front after we were left short by selling ’jimmymac’.
Perhaps this season we’ll play Baines up front doing a
’ Midget gem’ TC impression.
We’ll certainly need to do something now we’ve sold AJ as well.

Kevin Gillen
11   Posted 11/08/2008 at 10:49:17

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Jay Campbell you really are a miserable so and so but I have to agree with you, this Summer has been a shambles. I thought I felt bad when Rooney went but I really have had enough this Summer.
Steve Pugh
12   Posted 11/08/2008 at 12:29:18

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Jay Campbell, the point is that DM has refused to settle for second best and is holding out for his first choice signings.

Would you be happier if he had given up on Moutinho and bought Darren Fletcher instead?

Give the man until the end of the transfer window before you criticise. He has set his stall out and is sticking to it. If he can pull in 2 out of M’Bia, Love and Moutinho then this will have been a successful summer as they were amongst his earliest, supposed, targets wich suggests that he has been working on them all summer. Don’t forget they are all at clubs who don’t want to sell.

Jay Harris
13   Posted 11/08/2008 at 13:02:00

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We are expecting to play at least 60 games this season.

We have lost Johnson, McFadden, Ferrnandes, Gravesen, Stubbs, Wessels and most of all Carsley from a squad that limped into 5th last season.

We need 4 or 5 signings not just 2 or 3.

I dread to think what will happen if Howard gets injured.

I also worry that throwing the young lads into a weakened team will destroy their confidence.

Money or no money questions have to be asked why it has taken us months to get to this situation when it was known about before the end of last season.

Spurs have signed Modric,Bentley,Dos Santos and 5 other players with the minimum of fuss.Happy Harry has gone out and bought new players and we end up reducing our squad by 7 players.

Jip Foster
14   Posted 11/08/2008 at 13:38:10

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" if we strengthen by five players " says it all really (but needs more emphasis on the if part). Trouble we appear no nearer to signing 1 player, never-mind 5!
I might just go into hiding until 1st September as I can’t take much mroe of all this worrying.
Kevin Tully
15   Posted 11/08/2008 at 13:58:03

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Andrew, great pos , for me you have hit the nail squarely on the head when discussing our potential. There are three reasons why we will not struggle this season. Lescott, Baines and Jagielka. In the past we have had some very poor defenders who were well past their sell by date (Stubbs, Weir, Pistone). All stop-gap players who used to get skinned by anyone with a bit of pace. Of course we are short in midfield and up top but we can hold our own at the back, for the first time since Ratcliffe & Mountfield.
Karl Masters
16   Posted 11/08/2008 at 13:52:40

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I like this article because it deals in facts.

Now, it is true that Everton are a shambles off the pitch. An utter fucking disgrace actually, but Kirkby, merchandising and PR are not really going to matter when the team steps onto the pitch.

If you look at who has left and who the replacements are or are likely to be you can say that we have a squad stronger in QUALITY if not quantity than 12 months ago:

Carsley ( 34 and a very influential player, but had to go sometime sue to his age ) replaced by M’Bia who is 22 and can replace Super Lee and add a bit too.

McFadden ( the most infuriating Everton player since Beagrie who didn’t play that often and did better fr Scotland than Everton ) replaced by Alan Smith. Smith may have a point to prove and with 19 caps and lots of big match experience can be more use than Jimmy Mac.

Wessels ( hardly needed, but let in a howler against Oldham and will not be missed ) replaced by ??. We’ll probably get a Kasey Kellar / Anti Niemi type in on loan.

Stubbs ( a great leader, but too slow and had run out of time ) replaced by Gosling and Rodwell who both show plenty of promise and a decent turn of pace. You could also argue that Jagielka is his replacement.

Johnson ( a player I liked, but not a goalscorer and did not seem to partner anybody well apart from James Vaughan ) replaced by Vagner Love who has 20 Brazil caps and a good scoring record as well as being 3 years younger.

Gravesen ( a complete disappointment and hardly played at all ) or Fernandes ( never actually our player and another one who did little to impress last time ) replaced by Moutinho or similar ( Cana perhaps ). Should this happen we have clearly gained a lot!

Additionally Arteta was affected by an injury from November onwards last season, Cahill missed two big chunks, Vaughan will hopefully be fitter whilst Baines must surely figure more.

You can also add in that, compared to 12 months ago when we had just signed Yak, Jags and Pienaar and did not know if they would succeed, it’s now shown that they did.

No ACN this season either.

Only downsides are Hibbo being injured ( although virtually everybody on here slagged him last season) and Big Vic missing 1 or 2 games through being at The Olympics ( although again he is now an International player which he wasn’t 12 months ago ) and Neville signing a 4 year deal (!! :) ).

Of course, the timing has been crap, but again it’s the off the pitch influence at work there. At least Fatboy has gone there though and DK has
been called in.

David Moyes signing his contract, no new injuries, 9 points and the signings we need by Aug 31. It’s not so unlikely and if it all happens we’ll be in good shape come Sept 1 on the pitch anyway.

Brian Waring
17   Posted 11/08/2008 at 16:10:26

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Andrew, you made my day! You say AJ didn’t suit the nature of our game because we "get forward in numbers with short range passing and long range passing in the final third at high tempo" Boy, I haven’t laughed that hard for a while mate, thanks for that. Who do you think we are? Arsenal. I agree with your comment on our long range passing, most of the time from defence, cutting out our midfield.
As I said, best laugh I’ve had for a while.
Adam Cunliffe
18   Posted 11/08/2008 at 16:12:02

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Fantastic piece Andrew. We do need, 4 players at least before the start of the season, but if Baines, Vaughn, Arteta and especialy Cahill can stay fit then even if we only get 2 we should still do well.

Carsley should never have gone but that is history now.

A fit Cahill is like a new signing IMO.

Trevor Lynes
19   Posted 12/08/2008 at 00:38:16

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Face facts gentlemen and stop living in a blue dreamland. Our total squad is 24, 3 of which are goalkeepers.

Hibbo, VDM and now Pienaar are long term injuries, Cahill will not be match fit until September (official EFC quote). At present we have 4 Africans who will miss games during September. That leaves... wait for it ? Howard, Neville, Baines, Valente, Arteta, Jags, Lescott, Osman, Vaughan if he is not suspended. The rest of the squad is made up of our youngsters. Untried at the top level...

Out of this group above, Baines and Arteta are lately back from long-term injuries so it's not certain that they will last full games in the Premier League week after week. I am an EFC fan for over 50 years and this is the most parlous state I have seen us in at the beginning of a long and hard season.

These are the absolute facts and not the empty bravado I've read above. We need not one or two players we need replacements of all those we have lost... now the other small squad teams like Villa have already bought 4 new players and still held on to Barry so far... this season is supposed to see 7 subs allowed...???

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