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It's us versus them

By Mike Dillon :  02/09/2008 :  Comments (15) :

All I'm hearing on the forums is doom mongering that despite our shiny new signings, the clubs around us have improved. By that, I'm assuming they are Arsenal, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Villa and Spurs.

But who was all set to finish fourth until dropping away at the end last season? Us, or them?

Let's start with us.

I'm not excusing how this summer's been handled but on the pitch our squad's still good enough to compete. The reason I say this is simple; we were sat rather handsomely in fourth place last season for a large portion of the campaign, and that's despite losing our most influential players for long periods at a time.

This season's signings, whilst largely unspectacular, have added the two things we've sorely needed in recent seasons. The first is depth - I believe in Moyes enough to believe that the players like Jacobsen, Saha (assuming he is ever fit) and Castillo are capable of doing a job if put onto the park. Rodwell has looked decent at times this season and with these three additions, we have competition for places.

The second (and most important) thing I feel we have been missing is a tank to park in the centre of the park. A big, six foot-something grock to put himself about, let the opposition feel like they're in a physical game. I'm not knocking Carsley, but we've needed height, power and strength in the middle of the pitch. It's well documented that our midfield is a bunch of skilful, miniature technical players. Hopefully, The Big Fella(ini) will fit that role.

Now, onto the others.

Arsenal. I know it might seem ludicrous to suggest we can compete with Arsenal, but when you think about it, it's not all that bizarre. They rely heavily on Fabregas, have sold a large chunk of their midfield without really replacing it. Nasri is more of a creative player than an enforcer, and for me, they seem to have simply forgotten about several key areas of the pitch (the flanks, for example. Eboue? I think I prefer Pip..) and I'm not entirely convinced that their defence is watertight. For me, Arsenal have taken a couple of steps backwards.

Now, Liverpool. Yes, they signed Riera - but lest we forget he flopped horrendously at City for Pete's sake. Benitez, when he does sign wingers, signs duds. Pennant? Benayoun? Width is Liverpool's weakest point and the fat waiter completely missed that ? I heard he was trying to sign Barry, who had excelled in central midfield, to play him on the flank. That's generally how clueless our Iberian friend is.

Not only this, he spends £20M drafting in an Irish chancer and will therefore continue to play him. This, of course, ruins Liverpool's ONLY effective method of playing, with Stevie Me and Torres as the Cahill / Yakubu of their side. They're hardly to be feared as world beaters. Hell, take off those two FAGs (Fernando and Gerrard) and what are you left with?

Though, being Liverpool, they'll somehow no doubt be diabolical all season and still end up in fourth.

Everything is apparently going to be totally different at Spurs this year. As it was last year. I won't go into much detail, but it's always Spurs' year to crack the top four, isn't it? Let's have a look, shall we? Yes, Corluka will tighten their defence slightly, which looks reasonable with King and Woodgate fit. In midfield they have Bentley and Modric who are both good players. Whether Modric will adapt to English football as quick as will be expected remains to be seen. Same goes to Pavlyuchenko. As an aside, the thing that amuses me about him was that last season, despite doing fairly well for Spartak and having a reasonable Euro 2008, he was not the star of the Russian side. It wasn't Arshavin, either. It was Pavel Pogrebnyak, who remained almost completely forgotten due to injury. In another world, maybe, Arshavin would have sat out the Euros instead, wouldn't have had his stock rise so significantly and perhaps would be pulling on the Royal Blue shirt. But that's water under the bridge. In short, Spurs have a lot of fancy-sounding names, and a good squad on paper, but too many questions to answer. Will they blend? Will their defence complete two games on the trot? So far this season, and it IS early doors, they've hardly set the league alight, have they?

Portsmouth are, I'll admit, a bit of a conundrum. In theory, they've improved significantly. Diarra, for me, has been one of their better signings. Defoe and Crouch CAN form a partnership and have done at various England levels with respectable success. They're decent at the back, have a decent goalkeeper and in Kranjcar a player of true class. The formation 'Arry played against us was stumbled upon and worked reasonably successfully - though I maintain that if we would have cut out several individual errors (that includes taking s*ite penalties) the result would have looked a lot different, even with our depleted squad. If you look at it from a Football Manager perspective, i.e. looking at a screen with their squad and formation laid out in front of them, they look a good side. But are you ever convinced? Do you ever think to yourself, that even with that squad, Portsmouth are a team that will really challenge the top of the league? I don't think so, and I can back that up by the drubbings they've recieved by both United and Chelsea this season.

Now, to Villa. I'll admit that Villa look exciting. In Young and Barry they have players who can create goals. In Ablongahor they have a pacy stiker with an eye for goal. Milner won't do too badly at all for them, and their defence is solid without being spectacular. Surely, then, a nailed-on contender for our (yes, ours, until May 2009 possibly says otherwise) fifth spot. Not so. Villa have, frustratingly - for the fans, at least, I for one will be laughing - the ability to blow hot and cold. We've seen it already this season; demolishing Man City at their place then losing to Stoke, of all teams. Their game with the Shite was a write-off. This inconsistency will be their biggest problem, and in my eyes, likely to be their downfall as it arguably was last season.

Of course, the other threat COULD come from City's band of pseudo-mercenaries. But despite the furore over Robinho, one man does not make a team - and have you seen how utter crap they've been this season?

So, my dear Evertonians, my brothers and sisters, take heart. Yes, we have had a summer of total and utter misery, and yes, the cynics amongst us are likely to be thinking "Blue Bill" will be sweating heavily, mopping his brow with relief that he's bought himself another year at least with the Fellaini transfer and the backroom staff could barely manage to pick their own backsides let alone run a football club, but ultimately there's very little we can do about all of that.

What we can do is cut out all this negativity, leave the moaning to that lot over the park, plonk our arses into Goodison and beyond and get ourselves behind the team - where we'll be just fine, thank you very much.

Reader Comments

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Tommy Rice
1   Posted 02/09/2008 at 05:13:40

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I’ll go with that. You make a good argument. My point is that we aren’t quite the same "team" as last year. By that I mean the dressing room has lost a couple of well liked players. Over the summer a rot has set in and a kind of ill feeling has seeped through the club from the boardroom down to the pitch. We need some form of inspiration on or off the pitch to kick start the season. It could be this Fellaini bloke, or perhaps the return of Cahill. Maybe if Moyes puts pen to paper. We need something. On Saturday everyone was sulking. Moyes was sulking. The players were sulking. Large sections of the crowd were sulking. Which I haven’t seen in a fair few years now. I’m hoping we take the points at Stoke and then have Goodison packed to the rafters for that all important European night. Get the right result and kick on from there... with all kinds of football cliches being banded about in between.
Trevor Lynes
2   Posted 02/09/2008 at 05:21:41

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At the last minute we have signed Fellaini for lots. Don't know an awful lot about him but the press is good... that's a huge positive.

The one thing I cannot believe about your article is the comparisons of EFC and Arsenal. In Clichy and Sagna they have arguably the best full back pairing around. Clichy cost £150,000 and then there's Fabregas who cost nothing and Toure who cost £250,000... These 3 alone have been the absolute gems that any club would want..and would now command huge transfer fees.

We have unearthed nothing to compare with those 3 since Rooney who was not a find he was homegrown on the doorstep talent. Our scouting system is really non-existent. Wenger has produced a fantastic array of talent and lit up the Premier League with a great brand of attacking, fast football. To my mind they are the most entertaining team in the league even without winning trophy?s...I just wish EFC could aspire to the same ...our fans would be over the moon. Please don't compare Neville with any of Wenger's players... it's chess against draughts I'm afraid.

Michael Dawson
3   Posted 02/09/2008 at 08:34:56

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Trevor, everyone knows that Wenger is unparallelled when it comes to unearthing hidden gems, paying peanuts and then turning them into world beaters. However, I disagree that we have unearthed nothing.

Aside from Wenger, I would say Moyes probably has the best record in the League at bringing in relatively cheap players who go on to become top Premiership quality. Obviously he’s made a few mistakes, but you can’t argue with the prices we paid for Lescott, Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill and Yobo.

You’re dead right about the press coverage of the Felliani transfer being a huge positive though. Seeing the story that we’ve smashed our transfer record as one of the main articles on all the websites this morning has definitely given me a lift. Even though we have no idea at the moment whether he’s actually going to be any good, the positive press coverage is exactly what the club, the fans and the players needed this morning
Neil Scott
4   Posted 02/09/2008 at 08:56:15

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I’ll take solace in the fact that we have filled a vital and massive hole in our team and that’s it.

The guy may have monster potential but as of yet he has won nothing and without the ticking clock of the closing transfer window there is no way we would have paid that sum.

I for one take no pride in seeing us ’smash our transfer record’ as this is no reflection of new found wealth. It is a reflection of the deep shit we got into after missing dozens of other targets ’the everton way’.
Albert Dock
5   Posted 02/09/2008 at 08:59:27

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Hello sidiquis,

I am Al Beht Doqua and yesterday I tried to buy your club for a measly $900,000,000

It was Allah’s wish that this should not happen so he caused the website to keep crashing.

I will now turn my attention to Cit Eh and it is written that he of the hair that is ginger will be our next manager.

May the blessings of the Prohet be with you. You are going to need them.

Bob Parrington
6   Posted 02/09/2008 at 09:19:05

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G’day Mike - Well done! It’s great to see some positives on the site after the frustrations of summer.

Mind you, maybe we should all be on what Albert was on!!! Must have been celebrating the new strength in mid-field!
Neil Humphrey
7   Posted 02/09/2008 at 11:39:44

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Let’s not get too jealous of Citeh just yet ’Albert’. Hughes has apparently been told they have to break the top four this season. If they dont he will be for the chop and they will be looking for their fourth manager in as many years.

If they do break the top four it will most likely be at the expense of the RS, which is surely a good thing.
Al Beht Doqua
8   Posted 02/09/2008 at 11:54:23

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With a bottomless purse, come the next transfer bazzar in the month of January ,Cit Eh Cameltoes will buy their way into fourth or fifth position.

Everton will have to be content with sixth (if that).

I fear that Everton will implode and while they are enjoying their seventy two virgins the Cameltoes will be happy with seventy two points.
Mike Dillon
9   Posted 02/09/2008 at 11:50:28

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I’m with you on that one. By all accounts the likes of Carsley were characters who lifted the dressing room and will be missed. However, I think the main problem we’ve had in terms of morale isn’t necessarily the boardroom problems, it’s got to be - at least in part - to do with the team that’s on the pitch. Many players are out of their favoured position and our lack of a midfield so far can’t have helped their confidence (forward players frustrated with hoofball, defence buckling when we’re constantly under the cosh throughout games and so forth, makeshift midfielders themselves struggling with playing the position) I think with a few wins and a few performances, all of this doom and gloom will be forgotten.


I agree, Arsenal have some fantastic players and I’d love to have any one of those in our side. But the point wasn’t a like-for-like comparison in terms of cost and ability, it was whether we could compete with the teams as a whole. Arsenal seem to have forgotten to replace Flamini in the heart of midfield, and have that whole French arrogance stereotype about how good their center halves are (Do you really rate Gallas? Who plays with him in the middle?) when many Arsenal fans I speak to are baying for them to buy a world-class defender. I’m saying that as a team, Arsenal are not the Invincibles they once were, and are even largely touted to drop out of the top four this year. There’s no reason why we can’t be up there competing with them.
ian birchenough
10   Posted 02/09/2008 at 12:38:27

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yes city are utter crap -top scorers in the prem and on the up-you however have lost both your home games and have panic bought your club record player-i know where i would rather be at the moment
Trevor Lynes
11   Posted 02/09/2008 at 14:18:07

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This new guy does excite me and I hope he develops into a Viera for us..take the weight off the likes of Arteta and let him do a real creative job..I would like to play Baines in front of Lescott as the lad was by far our best player against Pompey..Just wish we could have afforded Moutinho as well as Fellaini but lets just hope he proves an excellent buy and really lifts both the fans and other players....My point about Arsenal is just to emphasis the lack of decent scouts at our club.
Rob Penlington
12   Posted 02/09/2008 at 15:56:27

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@Ian Birchenouch
Yes Ian City may have a lot going for them, but ask yourself this question:Is your new chairman a True Blue?
I’ll just get my coat.
John de Frece
13   Posted 02/09/2008 at 16:37:19

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Well like everybody else when I woke up this morning and saw the news my first reaction was a sigh of pure relief

Later on though I was gasping at the sheer effing incompetence of what passes for the board.

the whole world knew that we were desperate to sign a midfielder ( especially after the absolute bollocks we saw last saturday)
The result was obvious - prices escalated astronomically towards the end of the window and we have certainly paid well over the odds
Hope I’m wrong .

Denis Richardson
14   Posted 02/09/2008 at 17:53:43

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By all accounts we over paid for Felliani with reports last week linking him to villa and the bar codes for £10m. But who cares - the guy is massive (6ft4in), is a box to box midfielder, can pass and tackle. If he’s anything as good as the reviews he’s got (and plays regularly like he did against the sh*te) the cash will be worth it. He’s still Young.

But enough - we have brought in 5 players (I think) covering especially the key areas of DMC, RB and Striker. They’ve got a couple of weeks to bed in and then the season can really start with a win against Stoke and beating the belgians (having just nicked their best player).

Enough moaning - the squad is what it is now, lets get behind the team and take it from there.

COYB (no more transfer talk at least!)
David Thompson
15   Posted 02/09/2008 at 19:57:08

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What a load of bollocks.

We have a good team but no squad. We’re two injuries away from a crisis. The players brought in are replacements for those who have left, when the squad needed more players, not the same or less.

I think Fellaini will be a great signing, and hopefully Saha can be too. I have no great hopes for the others.

However, comparing us to Arsenal is unbelievable. Villa have bought well - everyone of their signings would walk into our team. Portsmouth showed on Saturday they will be no mugs.

The utter-crap that Man City have been this season has seen them win 3-0 twice already. If only we were that crap.

Spurs have started poorly, but they have a huge squad and the point they got at Chelsea will give them heart.

Right now, I would settle for any position higher than 12th. If the defence doesn’t go back to lEscott at left back with Jags and Yobo in the centre, we’re in for a very hard autumn.

Take a reality check.

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