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Doomsday Scenario... un-Doomsday'd !!

By Steve Stobie :  08/07/2009 :  Comments (20) :
Having just read Alan's article, I thought I'd post a response, and I have to say, it's actually going to be a very positive one, even if a little too Football Manager for everybody's liking!!!

I've posted before on my thoughts of the transfer window and I do pray that we sign at least a couple of players worthy of pulling on the famous blue jersey, not particularly because I feel that we need them but more for the sanity of everybody that sits through the transfer window, like myself, with the hope that we do!!!

It's a little early in the transfer window, I believe, to start saying that Everton are dithering and nobody is going to be signed, but what if, other than the young lads Peterlin and Mustafi (and we complete the season long loan deal for Jo — I can't see any other reason that he'd be on a training camp with us in Scotland; it's not like once it's finished he's gonna say "well thanks for the training lads" and then head off back down the motorway to City is it!?!), we don't sign anybody else?? Is it really the end of the world and will we really not be able to compete with everybody else in the league ?? My thoughts are No, definitely not, and I'll tell you what, I'll tell you why!!

Firstly, and I think most importantly, we have to hang on to everybody we've got. When clubs such as Man City come along and wave wads of cash in players faces (probably not directly of course, but certainly indirectly through the press — those "£80,000 a week wage offer for Lescott" rumours had to come from somehwere!!!), then it does become very hard for those players to turn down. But I'm hoping that Lescott, even in the doomsday scenario of no additional players coming in, can see what I can see and decides that Goodison Park is the place to be.

But anyway, I digress, slightly, talking about Lescott leads me nicely into the case for our defence. Last season, only four other teams conceded less goals than we did, and one of those was not Arsenal (admittedly they conceded the same amount of goals as us, but it all counts). And, we have to take into account the horrible start to the season we had where for some strange reason, Yobo and Lescott could not communicate with one another and indeed, Baines did not even start the season as our first-choice left-back.

Once the defence was settled: Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines... we looked a whole lot more sturdy and indeed I believe in the second half of the season, there weren't many more frugal defences than ours (can't be bothered to look up the actual stats, it takes too long, and again I'm supposed to be working, not posting articles to ToffeeWeb!!!). Now I know the whole point is to improve and make it so that no other team concedes less than we do, but I strongly believe that, with the training that Moyes and Round apply during pre-season, and with the same settled defence, we will seriously be contenders for the meanest defence in the league.

I know that Jagielka is out injured until at least November, but I find it very difficult to say that Yobo is not a worthy replacement and, with the possibility of Rodwell, Neville and even Mustafi (yes I know he's only 17 but his comments do seem very positive as to what he wants to do whilst at Everton) also being able to cover these positions, I think we are well and truly covered in the area of defence.

To the matter of midfield. Now I now that there have been people crying out for a new defensive midfielder, and indeed there have even been calls for a new creative midfielder as well, but again, if nobody comes in I think we are still well and truly covered in this area as well. Let's assume first of all that Moyes still favours the old 4-5-1 formation that has served us so well over the past 5 seasons or so. My first-choice midfield would be: Pienaar, Arteta, Rodwell, Fellaini, Cahill.

Given that we also have Osman (yes, people do tend to give him a lot of stick but I fall on the side that he is a quality player, played out of position, and at minimum partially injured for most of last season, and although he can go totally anonymous in games, he is still good enough to take apart teams below us in the league: Fulham, Wigan anybody!!!), Neville (who, beyond anybody's belief played superbly in central midfield alongside Arteta last season — although, the season before, he played amazingly at right back and again turned in some of his best performances for the club in that position, and this season coming, I think that is where he'll be playing), Gosling and Baxter as further youngsters chomping at the bit to get into the first team. I think that midfield is well and truly covered.

Which moves me nicely onto the strikers. We did have a bit of a problem here last season with injuries, but nobody can deny that Cahill and Fellaini did a good job covering whilst we were striker-less, shall we say. I think the best bit of news in this department is the return of Yakubu. Over 20 goals in his first season for us, and 13 up until November 2008 before he ruptured his Achillies, he is an undoubted talent at finding the back of the net; hopefully he will regain that form post injury!!!

Add to that the return of Jo on loan (people's opinions do appear to differ somewhat on Jo, but at Goodison Park he looked a class player, needed a bit of work away from home, mainly in terms of confidence I think, and I'm sure that's nothing that a good pre-season with the team won't sort out) and we could potentially have a lethal partnership up front.

And that's if we look to play them as a partnership up front!! If we do, we'll have to drop one of the midfielders previously mentioned — not an easy choice, I'm sure you'll all agree, but something that David Moyes is paid handsomely for and I'm sure he'll make the right decision. If not, then Jo I believe is a cracking backup for Yakubu, and still we have Saha, Vaughan, Anichebe (I can see him leaving if I'm honest) and now Agard all also chomping at the bit to get into the first team.

Finally, just the goalkeeper, but I don't really have to justify Tim Howard do I? The most clean sheets ever kept by an Everton keeper in the Premier League... says it all really. Yes, there were a couple of mistakes he made last year, but I can't begrudge a goalkeeper a couple of mistakes. Backup in this position isn't so good, some might argue, but surely Turner and/or Ruddy will have to come good at some point !!!

So, all-in-all, I guess I'm trying to say that, even without any signings, it doesn't look all bad!!! These players — and remeber some of them were out injured for over half the season — were able to secure 5th place in the league last season. With the return of the injured, a full pre-season with the team for Fellaini, Rodwell, Jo, Vaughan, Baxter, Gosling and Agard, and I believe that the team is good enough to at least go one higher.

Get behind the team — which you know you will anyway — with or without signings, and believe that it can be done!!! Tell you what though, wouldn't mind a couple of signings: Fernandes, Downing, Tuncay, and that Dalmat from Standard Liege (caused us a lot of problems in the Uefa Cup last year)...

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 08/07/2009 at 17:48:28

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Phew... that was exausting to edit! Those parenthetic diversions are something else, Stevie. And could you lay off the triple !!! exclamation marks at the end of almost every sentence!!! Very uninspiring!!!

Oh, and here’s your spelling assignment: F e l l a i n i — only two ’i’s — not three!!!

Other than these minor editorial gripes, a nice post. I am mentally preparing myself for little or nothing by the way of incoming. Moyes himself has set the bar high with his established record for so-called "over-achieving" (I hate that phrase) and so Same Again should be well within the collective capability of manager and squad.

Indeed, as befits that there motto, I will be looking for something more...

Philip Bunting
2   Posted 08/07/2009 at 18:45:13

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Steve... I too think we have a pretty versatile squad which on paper and playing at the top of their games could beat anybody on their day. Injury-free, we are a match for anyone and I for one won't cry all summer long if we don't sign anybody.

Anyway, I think our transfer policy will have to change now that £15mill won't buy a players left leg! Need to start scouting for young talent between 16-20 age and swamp our academy with them. SOME WILL fall by the wayside... but we only need one or two to come through each year.

Use the money, whatever we have, on revamping Goodison, stand by stand, over a 10-year period. Stuff this madness on transfers!

Dennis Stevens
3   Posted 08/07/2009 at 18:40:10

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As you admit Osman was played out of position last season & doesn’t make your preferred midfield line-up - who would you play on the right of midfield if we don’t sign anybody? (The one critical signing we must make, imho.) Fellaini in the Kilbane-type role?
James Stewart
4   Posted 08/07/2009 at 18:57:16

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I’m afraid I don’t share this blind optimism. We were at times painful to watch last season and desperately need improvement. Just cast your mind back to the cup final and tell me you're happy to play like that!? Embarrassing.
Andy Burke
5   Posted 08/07/2009 at 19:02:42

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Nice post Steve.

I hope you have taken all of Michael’s comments on board for next time.

I mainly agree with what you are saying but I am with Dennis in thinking that the critical signing is a right sided midfielder.

The next most important position I believe to be right back. I thought Hibbert played some of his best football for us last season but I still think he can be torn apart by certain players, which means that he struggles to give anything at all going forward.

Michael Evans
6   Posted 08/07/2009 at 19:40:52

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Good post Steve.

The thing that I really hate about this time of year is that it really scews with your "logic compass".

Call me naive here, but wouldn’t it be a kind of relief if Moyes/BK just said "we haven’t got a pot to piss in" and consequently you could just accept that there may be the occasional lone deal or 14 year old signed from someone else’s Academy.

Instead of which you dream of the "Big One" in true lottery ticket style.

When it comes to Everton and transfers, I feel that we’re all like kids without any money with our faces pressed up against the "sweetie" shop window watching all the kids from Manchester and London get all the best chocolate.

Oh well, back to the bag of mis-shapes.
James Newcombe
7   Posted 08/07/2009 at 20:18:59

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Good article, and I think that we can put an eleven out to give anyone a good game on our day. Trouble is, once the injuries stack up, we really do get into difficulties! I’d rather Moyes bring in a few players relatively cheaply (such as Ledley, Tuncay) and bolster our numbers and options, rather than an expensive Moutinho, Riquelme (sorry) type.
Gavin Ramejkis
8   Posted 08/07/2009 at 22:26:49

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Forgive me for not sharing the ultra optimism, but if last season taught us one thing it was that injuries to key players in a squad so tiny as ours can seriously impact on our ability to perform as we truly can. The optimists will say we reached the FA Cup Final but equally you can say we got spanked when we got there without Jagielka, Yakubu and Arteta.

Squad players (unless you are Chelski) will never be on a par with your first teamers but should give you reasonable facsimiles providing similar abilities and strengths. Everton can’t possibly hope that some untried kids will instantly click and become first teamers, it just doesn’t happen that often and would be unfair on those kids as they get slaughtered the first poor game they have.

Everton need depth, they need to know that, should their key players get injured, they can replace with relative confidence and not constantly grin and bear it with 'make do and mend' line-ups. We need a right winger, we need a right back, we need a creative midfielder (although Pienaar has some of those qualities), we need a midfield enforcer for those games where our lightwieghts are bullied out of the game, we need a goal scoring striker that could play at least half a season not just as and when they are fit enough...

Some of the names more recently I think should be easily achievable such as Tuncay who shone in a piss-poor Boro side, or cheeky loan requests from money bags Real Madrid who must have at east a few players who will never get a look-in now.

Ismael Bondarenko
9   Posted 08/07/2009 at 22:52:34

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Seeing as our current transfer exploits amount to courting young whipper-snappers, have a look / read about this youngster named Lewis Holtby: only 18 years old, a German U19 international who has had Manchester Utd and Arsenal scouts hounding him, but has just signed for Schalke 04 for £2M (must be decent).

And guess what — prior to the move he was publicly stating that he would love to sign for Everton as they are his favourite club and his English born father supports them!

Whilst watching S Mustafi, why didn't you snap this kid up Moysie (Probably couldn’t afford too... again!). When he does an Owen Hargreaves and leaves for £20 million in a few years time... remember where you heard it first.

Jamie Crowley
10   Posted 09/07/2009 at 02:25:43

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I think you crawled inside my brain and perfectly stated what I don’t have the where-with-all / intelligence to pen / type.

Exactly on the mark, I couldn’t agree more.

Great post. Chin’s up!!! (Three exclamation points for effect).

Imagine if we add a right sided midfielder and / or a creative mid to the mix.

The future is bright in my opinion. I concur.

Cheers mate! Thank you for the post. perfectly stated.
Gavin — Tuncay on the right side for £4 million? That’s the one I’m praying for. Improves the team, move him out wide, goet him "relatively" cheap.

We’re gonna knick 4th and shock a lot of people.
Dan Brierley
11   Posted 09/07/2009 at 02:38:56

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Very positive post, and hard to disagree with when worded like that. I do agree that the strike force of Yak, Saha, Jo, Vaughan, Anichebe and now Agard coming closer, with Cahill & Fellaini as further cover, means we have to happy with our front line.

Our back line, of Hibbo, Jags, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, requires one more versatile player as cover in the CB/RB mould. Rodwell & Neville can also provide cover. However, if I am honest, I think Gosling should this season be more shaped around RB than RM. I don't think he has enough pace or skill to be effective as a RM, and he certainly is not a CM. Yes, he is young. But pace is the critical part of this position, and something that unfortunately cannot be learnt.

Midfield wise, Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill, Fellaini, Osman, Rodwell, & Neville with Baxter on the fringe seems solid, with the right side still looking weak. This has to be top priority for me. A pacy winger with ability to pass and shoot would bring a new dimension to our side. It's really mouth watering for me to imagine having decent service from both left and right.

However, reality tells us that this kind of ’ready made’ player is going to cost you £15-20 million. So for me, the whole pot should go on a top banana right midfield, with some loan signings to put some experience on the bench to give a rest to players when we are comfortably ahead, and close up shop.

But whatever the manager does, I still feel positive about next season. It's just too fucking far away for my liking!!
Ciarán McGlone
12   Posted 09/07/2009 at 09:21:41

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The problem with not improving the obvious holes in the first XI — and optimism about the new season — is that we are relying on other teams not improving in order to maintain the status quo.

That effectively takes the competition for 5th place (or better) out of our hands... as it is reliant upon the actions of other teams. Now it’s quite possible we could finish next season in 5th with the same team as last — but it’s less likely if the teams around us improve.

As for your team selection, I completely agree on the back line. However, I don’t think Fellaini and Cahill can or should play in the same team.
Kevin Gillen
13   Posted 09/07/2009 at 09:30:36

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Good post, Steve. Being an Evertonian means you have to be realistic. Those fans expecting a rush of transfer activity have obviously never before sat through a Moyes/Kenwright summer. I said at the end of last season that we would do well to hang on to our best players. Hats off to Moyes and Blue Bill, they’ve made sure that they are all on long contracts.

I like the look of the transfers so far. Peterlin is a long shot but every so often one of these comes off. The young German Mustafi and the Leeds graduate Garbutt demonstrate a commitment to youth and to excellence as they are both highly thought of by their original clubs.

Castillo would have cost the club £4m, this was a tough one as he played superbly at Chelsea late in the season and has talent. Overall, I would have preferred to keep him but then how would you get the games into Rodwell? It’s a lot of money to pay for a bloke to warm the bench or stifle the development of the most promising young player in the country. I can see why Moyes let him go, he goes with my best wishes.

As for Jacobsen, I believe Moyes thinks overall Hibbert is a better bet or Neville if the midfielders are fit. He couldn’t promise him an extended run in the team so the decent thing to do was to allow him to leave. Jacobsen is in his prime, he wants to play. He goes with my best wishes too, he didn’t have a lot of luck with us and the jury was still out on his defending.

As for Valente, it’s no good being available less often than Pistone, good luck to you as you did well when you came in.

Van der Meyde no doubt will have benefitted from his time at Goodison but he is a bloody liability when the opposition have the ball. I believe he will do well for a short while elsewhere but I do not mourn his passing and I’m sure there is now a sizeable space on the wage bill.

I feel sorry for Kissock and Irving in particular. Irving has found a club I think. More often than not, Everton are right when they release them at 17 or 18. It can be expensive to get it wrong though...

I will be really happy to get Jo on loan, he’s a talented footballer who needs to build his confidence and he ’s already settled in.

I pray for Steven Defour but I’m not holding my breath for him, M’Bia or Lorik Cana. What I do pray for is a fit Arteta, a fit Jagielka and a fit Yakubu, then bring the season on.

Martin Hughes
14   Posted 09/07/2009 at 12:04:23

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I think signing Jo on loan will represent Evertons ambition of trying to break into the top 4. What I like more about this season than last is the youngsters David Moyes is signing (I beleive this is him showing his intent of building another team for the future and also he wants to stay at Goodison Park for a bit longer.

I do believe we need a decent right back who like Baines is a bit adventurous, also another winger to back up Pienaar. Upfront should be OK, a goalkeeper to push Howard on... Nash I don't think is up to the job.

We should have a settled pre-season as we have no Moyes contract saga etc. If Lescott wants to go, then he should leave (no point having players in the ranks not happy — but he should remember that it was EFC who took gamble on him along with Cahill and the likes.

I am a happier blue this year compared to last year — and as ever, lads, don't be surprised if Moyes pulls off a couple of master strokes before the end of August.

In Moyes We Trust — top 4 easy! COYB
Steve Stobie
15   Posted 09/07/2009 at 12:09:13

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I have to say I agree with a lot of the comments on here, that there is no doubt that we could do with strengthening the right hand side of our midfield, although I don’t necessarily agree that we should be looking to strengthen the right back position. As I mentioned earlier, once we had a settled defence, with Hibbert at right back, we were certainly one of the best defences in the league, although, and I did elude to it earlier, my preference is for Phil Neville to play there and I think that he has shown that he certainly has the quality to play as a Premier League right back and a pretty dam good one at that!

I therefore feel that, if there is any transfer budget to speak of, then it should be spent wholeheartedly on a right-sided midfielder who has pace, a bit of trickery, with a willingness to take on the fullback, and with a decent cross. The only problem is, these kind of players are few and far between. In fact if you can find a ready made player that fits that description, I’m sure someone mentioned earlier, you have to pay through the nose for them. To be acutely honest, who could even name me a right winger that would be available for maybe £15 million, if we even have that kind of money to spend, and who would be willing to come to Everton?

Moyes is therefore left trying to scour the lower leagues for potential or indeed looking for a loan of a player, hopefully with a view to signing them at the end of the loan period if it has been successful. The sort of names that spring to my mind therefore are the likes of Fabian Delph at Leeds (but even they want at least £8 million for him, did I see in the papers, and that’s just for potential), or that Obinna bloke that Moyes was looking at last season — not that I actually know how he did last year in the slightest, I only know he looks good from Football Manager.

I like the idea of Tuncay from Middlesbrough playing as a right-sided midfielder/attacker and, as mentioned in my original post, I also liked the look of that Dalmat from Standard Liege, but again I don’t know how he fared for the rest of the season after those great games against us.

I guess what we have to do is just wait and see... Moyes, as I said earlier, is paid very well to do his job and, do his job I’m sure he will; I’m sure we’ll see at least a couple of new additions to the squad, I mean as I write this the rumours surrounding Fabian Delph appear to be gaining pace, so as far as I’m concerned that can only be a good thing!!

All I know is that, whether we sign two more or no more, I’ll still be shouting for the blues in the first game against Arsenal, albeit likely from a pub in Reading as opposed to at Goodison Park, and if it’s not on the box then through one of those magical feeds, always provided here on ToffeeWeb. And I’ll be confident we can get a win on the first day of the season!!!

Anthony Millington
16   Posted 09/07/2009 at 16:13:54

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Richards has definetly been seen outside Goodison, looks like Lescott is on his way guys.
Matthew Mackey
17   Posted 09/07/2009 at 16:57:40

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Steve, it's nice to see someone writing an article that implies the glass is half-full and not half-empty! It’s not all doom and gloom at EFC, as some might like us to think. We do have good players that other clubs would love to have, so as long as we keep them then I think we’ll be fine.

The only slight disagreement I would have with your comments about the defence is that we DO need a quality right back brought in this summer, more so than any other position in the team. (Hibbert is a nice lad, got a heart of gold, but he has limitations and he was well and truly spanked in the Cup Final.)

As you pointed out, had it not been for the poor start to last season then 4th could have been there for the taking. We finished nine points behind the Gunners in 4th, so….

Had we not lost in the last minute to Blackburn (1 extra pt);
Had we not thrown away a two-goal lead against the barcodes (2 extra points);
Should have beaten Boro (2 extra points);
Had we not conceded in the 94th minute to Villa (1 extra pt),
Had we got something out of the home game against Man City (1 extra pt),
Had we not let Villa back into it at Villa park (2 extra pts) then we would have been right up there and that’s not taking into consideration that we should have taken all three pts against Man U at home.

I know some of you will tell me it’s all “ifs” and “buts” but the point is, we’re not that far behind the top four. We’re not that bad a team! A bit of fine tuning here and there, a bit of luck avoiding injuries and who knows where we could end in the coming season.

Be positive, think positive, support the team, support the club (the suits are not always against us!) and for fuck's sake everyone, sing up. There’s a lot of PL teams out there who would love to have what we’ve got.

Alan Kirwin
18   Posted 09/07/2009 at 20:08:02

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Good article, Steve.

In 1986-87, we lost our leading scorer (Lineker, 41) and bought nobody. Inchy came back from injury and we won the league.

In 2004-05, we managed to only buy 2 players, both from the Championship. The season before was shite & most of us anticipated a relegation fight. We finished 4th.

Whatever the reasons might be for not bringing in significant new blood (money, probably), settled sides have a history of doing rather well.

I’m hoping the rumours about Richards/Lescott are false (I don’t rate Richards at this point in time), and I’d love us to pick up a Defour or Moutinho, as well as an excellent right back.

But there’s a fair chance it won’t happen because most clubs, even in Div 2 and Div 3, are asking silly money for their players. There’s also this nagging idea that Manuel Fernandes has unfinished business at Goodison. I’ve seen enough to know that, when fit and in the zone, he’s brilliant. His return would not be a surprise and would be welcome.
Martin Hughes
19   Posted 09/07/2009 at 21:42:43

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Manuel Fernandes would get my vote, I too think he has unfinished business at GP and also the fans love him. How abut Jermain Pennant from across the park as seasoned Premier League player available on a free. I think Micah Richards would re-invent himself to the player we saw at Man City 2/3 seasons ago. Hibbert would be a good back-up player for him. Also, Joe Ledley should be signed up ASAP.
Dennis Stevens
20   Posted 09/07/2009 at 23:50:46

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Matthew Mackey: "we DO need a quality right back brought in this summer, more so than any other position in the team".

Why would you spend your transfer budget on a right-back, in preference to a right-sided midfielder, when we have 2 experienced players in that position plus 1 or 2 youngsters & at least one central defender who can cover the position, whereas we have nobody for the other position other than playing people out of position? Square pegs in round holes may do as a contingency plan but surely the priority should be to get hold of at least one player whose preferred position is wide right in midfield.

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