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All Hope is Not Lost

By Richie McAuliffe :  23/07/2009 :  Comments (20) :

So here we are again. Another summer of disappointment. And for some reason we all thought it was going to be so different. Come on, this is Everton; you should all know the script by now. Don't get me wrong, I accept your grievance but also want to outline that we should not forgot the positives from last season. But firstly, let’s have a look at the negatives of Summer 2009:

• Lack of signings.
• The Club spouting the usual shit.
• Kyle Naughon (in my opinion, fool on him; Spurs are shite and a graveyard for young talent).
• The realism we might well lose Lescott.

Out of all the above, I am genuinely concerned about us losing Lescott. Some of you have voiced the opinion that we should cash in on Lescott and use the money to re-build. I understand your logic but completely and utterly disagree. We need to do all we possibly can to keep the lad. He has been tremendous for us since we signed him and is a huge part of our future.

To allow Lescott to leave sends out an awful message to the rest of the team. I would genuinely rather keep big Joleon and sign no one if that was the choice. I realise the players head may well be turned, but his team-mates, the manager, coaching staff and everyone surrounding our club need to pull together to show him where he belongs.

Looking back, last season was a great triumph, it ended in defeat at Wembly but considering our appalling start and the dreadful injuries to key players you cannot argue with the fact that the manager and the players really did us proud. The squad showed true character with many players really stepping up to the mark when needed.

That brings me to summer signings. Personally, I wasn’t expecting much this summer, I just thought we would strengthen in some key areas — mainly down the right. Firstly, Tony Hibbert is a great lad but we all know his weaknesses, and if we do, so do the opposition, therefore if we are to step up to the next level we cannot afford such a weakness that teams are able to exploit. Therefore, Moyes made a new right-back our priority. As we all know, we went for Naughton but we were outfoxed by Spurs. Moyes will continue to look at alternatives; surely Alan Hutton wouldn’t be a bad buy if we could get him for around £6 million.

The next priority should be a right winger. Last season we played Osman out on the right, and in my opinion he is completely wasted there. Young Dan Gosling came in and looked promising, but we should not burden any of our young players with unrealistic expectations so this is another area where we need to strengthen.

Rumours are this ugly Swedish bloke Rasmus Elm is meant to be pretty handy. I can’t say I’ve seen him play, but I am all for bringing in young talented players with a point to approve. Alternatively, we have also been linked with Joe Ledly, where we would switch Piennar to the right and play him down the left. Again, young and talented, so no argument from me. Some of you might say, these guys are also inexperienced, but be realistic — with our transfer budget these are the calculated risks we need to take.

Other than these two areas, any other signings will be squad players. The one exception being if Moyes finds a talented holding midfield at the right price and then drops Pip back to right-back. Lorik Cana has been strongly linked, I have seen him play a couple of times and he looks a real hungry player and would be a good addition to the team. Overall I would say don’t expect too much this summer. Just remember, had you heard of Cahill, Arteta, Lescott or Piennar when we signed them?

Lastly, I would like to end on a positive note. I truly believe we have a great team of players who showed great character and togetherness last season and at full strength will be a match for any team to beat. If we can start the season well and go on one of those runs that we are capable of doing then wait for reinforcements of Arteta and Jagielka then it will be an interesting season.

So here you are, disagree all you like, it’s what we do best, but here are some reasons to be positive:

• The squad is more settled than this time last year. There is no longer any uncertainty surrounding Moyes and in Steve Round we seem to have a decent assistant.
• Tim Cahill is getting a full pre-season this year which will be undoubtedly benefit both him and the team.
• Fellaini is getting a full pre-season. I know this guy splits opinions but there is no doubt the big Dog has talent. Last season he had some really poor games but on other occasions he looked classy and there is no doubt he has an eye for goal. Personally, considering he was 20 years old, couldn’t speak a word of English, and it was his first year in the Premier League, he did pretty well. I think if Moyes can learn to play him to his and the team’s strengths, Fellaini will be massive for us this season.

• Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar were tremendous in the second half the last season. If both can continue such excellent form this season, bring it on.
• Jack Rodwell. As I said earlier, it is unfair to put too higher expectations on any young player but this guy looks the real deal, he has it all and will play a bigger part this season
• Mikel Artea was a revelation in the centre midfield role last season. There is no date set for his return yet, but indications are mid- to late-September. We all know how exciting it is watching Mikel on his day and hope that he can flourish again on his return.
• Our strike force of Yakubu, Saha, Jo and Vaughan are more than capable of providing goals. Yakubu is another that divides opinion but you just cannot argue with his goal record.

• Saha proved last season that when he plays he still has the class. If we use him wisely, he is a great resource.

• For me, Jo looked promising last year, and scored some important goals for us. At times he looked lost, again, a young lad playing his first year of Premier League football. This guy can only improve and will prove to be an absolute steal on another one year loan.

•James Vaughan has had some dreadful luck with injuries, this guy looked so promising when he first broke through; let’s just hope he can stay fit.

So there you go, a positive spin on the 2009-10 Season. Many will argue I’m being overly positive, maybe so, but why not? Look at last season, I believe in this team and I believe in David Moyes. If we keep our strong defence, keep goals from all around the team and get one of our strikers delivering a 15-20 goal tally, there is no doubt in my mind we will be up there chasing. We don’t need any massive signings, just wise ones. So hold tight and keep faith. COYB!!!!

Reader Comments

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Tony Williams
1   Posted 24/07/2009 at 13:46:17

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The Lescott saga will be a massive issue this close season. I hope he gives at least one more season.
Brian Waring
2   Posted 24/07/2009 at 14:04:52

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Thing is, Tony, he could give it another season, and he could have a stinker (I know that is highly unlikely) and his value could drop dramatically, and we all know we need the cash big time. So, if it's a great offer we get for him, we should bite their hand off.
Jamie Morgan
3   Posted 24/07/2009 at 14:31:54

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Nice to read something positive, I have to admit that all the doom and gloom lately has had an effect on me and getting me down so this was a pleasant read.

I think selling Lescott is the wrong move too, but only because it will set an example and may de-motivate others such as Arteta etc to move on.

The need to improve needs to happen quickly, I am concerned when Moyes uses term like "when the right players become available" — What does that mean? You don't get offered players, you have to go and get them and we don't seem good at doing that.

We need to concentrate on anchoring the midfield, move Pip to right back and look at bringing in right-sided winger. I will get slated for this but I would have had Pennant on a free transfer, Moyes would have sorted him out.

Andrew Fair
4   Posted 24/07/2009 at 14:33:50

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At last some positivity on this site! Good article that shows not all members of this site are negative moaning old farts!
Dennis Stevens
5   Posted 24/07/2009 at 15:39:21

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I don’t fully agree that selling Lescott necessarily gives a negative signal to the rest of the squad. If he is sold for a good price, say middling twenty-something millions or so, & the funds used to wisely improve the squad (1st replacement centre back, 2nd right sided midfielder, 3rd defensive midfielder, 4th right back), then there is no reason for that to be seen as a lack of ambition - just making the most of our resources. Bear in mind that the players we currently have on our books are professional footballers, not Evertonians. Whilst they may want to win with Everton & believe the club, especially Moyes, are ambitious - they may be reassured that if an opportunity arises whereby another club wants to make a substantial bid for them & offer them a contract well out of our range it won’t necessarily be blocked. They may want Lescott to stay as much as we do, but if the offer was for them they might be hoping to be given the chance to explore the opportunity.
Ciarán McGlone
6   Posted 24/07/2009 at 16:18:57

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Things can always be worse..things can always be better. Spin is a wonderful tool.

If debating the emerging issues makes me a ’negative moaning old fart’ - then so be it.

What would the ’positives’ moan about otherwise!
Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 24/07/2009 at 16:26:33

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Oh by the way... decent article — balanced and spot on.

Although I think most of those ’moaning’ about Everton actually realise the positives in the team at the moment. They’re not the things that need to be addressed though!
John Martin
8   Posted 24/07/2009 at 18:30:14

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I too would rather sign nobody this summer if it meant we keep Lescott. However, i think he’ll still go and we wont sign anybody of any consequence. This is the summer we officially give up hope of getting a top 4 place for as long as BK is in charge.
Tim O'Connell
9   Posted 24/07/2009 at 20:40:53

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Good article which I entirely agree with. Full backs are my greatest concern. With Jags injured there is no cover for Bainsey as Joleon assuming he stays will have to play central. I think most agree that to improve then Right Back can be, without having a go at Hibbo, this is a weakness against top teams as is right midfield. Having expressed the concern I do trust Moysey and agree with Richie’s positives.
Keith Glazzard
10   Posted 24/07/2009 at 21:08:39

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I think its interesting that Moyes has gone public on the OS talking about the need for a defender or two. There’s no doubt in his mind that he already has a serious enough situation on his hands without losing Lescott too.

Now this doesn’t mean that he knows he will have Lescott at the start of the season - the Aladdin’s cave at Eastlands will attract many to their professional doom - but its not what he’s thinking about just now.
Paul O'Hanlon
11   Posted 24/07/2009 at 22:03:37

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Keith I was surprised Moyes thinks defensive cover is one of his priorities.

He says we have no cover for centre half, but we have Rodwell who is a capable center half. So after saying recently that Rodwell will play a bigger part this season he obviously means only at center midfield and along with Neville, Fellaini, Cahill, Arteta and the new Yank, it looks to me like we won’t be bringing in a CM this summer.
Keith Glazzard
12   Posted 24/07/2009 at 22:43:48

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Yes Paul, I know that many people will think this too. Why at least another defender? My first thought was that he knew he was losing Lescott, but this isn’t what he was saying. His own logic is absolutely sound - no Jag, so with Joleon in the middle, no cover for Baines. And without Lescott this house of cards tumbles anyway.

In my own mind, Rodwell doesn’t come into it. He’s being groomed for midfield, where he will stay. And we have some very good midfielders to keep him company, especially when Mikel is fit. If I had to bet on any strengthening there, I would say another American, Michael Bradley perhaps.

And if Moyes is talking about defence - he is a 451 man at heart - then what about his attack? He has Yak, Jo, Louis, James and Victor to pick from, plus Baxter and Agard. He will feel no need to strengthen there.

So, in the end, I’m not surprised that he is saying that he needs more defenders. He will make sure the foundations are firm before he thinks of anything else.
Graeme Bradman
13   Posted 24/07/2009 at 23:05:57

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Everton spend 7 years building a team to the level they are at now. The key to that is a solid defence. We have one left footed, left sided centre back who is an England international. None of us no of a player that is better than him, who is affordable and available. How can anybody suggest that we should let Lescott leave? It would be a massive step backwards and our other big stars no it better than us. sheer madness!!!

Jason Newton
14   Posted 25/07/2009 at 00:39:41

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Woke up this morning to hear that Sunderland have signed Lorick Cana. Don't know what anyone else thinks but I believe that this guy would have been a great success at Everton.

No player linked with the club this summer has made me excited than this guy. A real shame that he hasn't come to us. On the other hand, I believe that letting Lescott leave would be worse ..

Will Green
15   Posted 25/07/2009 at 11:48:12

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I don’t think we will sign anyone until after the Europa league playoff, we will need a big squad if we progress, and Kenwright will not sanction this unless we get through. If we qualify after the second leg we will have about a week to buy to purchase players, sounds par for the course with Everton, stay tuned for another 11.55 pm deadline day debacle.
Gavin Ramejkis
16   Posted 25/07/2009 at 12:03:18

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I hope not Will as the domestic cups are worth more in terms of how many games you have to win to win them over the new Europa format.
Kevy Quinn
17   Posted 25/07/2009 at 12:18:27

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Got to agree the swedish lad we are linked with is ugly On a serious note I agree Jo could be a great signing as its world cup time at the end of the season and he will be determined to force his way into the squad. I know we appear to be skint and squad players seem like they are going to be the main signings, but i will keep scouring the internet 24/7 in the hope that we sign moutinho etc.

One other point who ever negotiated the Eto + 40 million and hleb on a years loan for Ibrahimavic we should make as our main tranfer target. Just think what he could sell some of our rubbish for.
Kevin Gillen
18   Posted 25/07/2009 at 13:34:42

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Excellent balanced appraisal! No moaning! Is this Toffeeweb? Evertonians not scoring points off each other, slagging off the manager or the chairman. I’m going to tune in more often. seriously though, we have made tremendous progress. Relegation seems a far away possibility. If the top four implode we are right up there with a chance. The teams from 11th downwards in last years premiership are light years behind us. I think we should hold on to Lescott and reassess his position next season, he is a top class defender with added goals. The key to a good season will be to keep players fit and make a good start, perfectly possible when you look at the fixture list. An opening win against Arsenal would be a massive boost. I’m pleased with the transfer activity so far, Jo is a massive coup for us. I’d like to see a versatile central defender/fullback and one class midfielder but I’m not holding my breath. One might argue that Rodwell is both of those. COYB and keep bringing through the talent, Wallace, Akpan and Mustafi next with goalscoring under 19 England midfield general Dan Gosling to flourish too.
Jay Harris
19   Posted 25/07/2009 at 15:48:53

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Good positive post Richie we often forget how well this squad have done for us particularly in the light of some of the injuries and how long we have lost key players for.

I do think however that the boardroom problems will have an effect and I’m seriously concerned about the psychological distraction of the Desolation Kirkby decision due in November.

I also think it is imperative to Keep Lescott not only for team spirit but also not allowing one of our competitors to grow stronger while we grow weaker.
Marco Buonfiglio
20   Posted 26/07/2009 at 17:25:49

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Central defence is - once Jagielka gets back - our strong suit, when Moyes can perm any two from Jagielka, Lescott and Yobo and know that they have a strong partnership. Spanner One in the works is Jagielka’s injury; Spanner Two would be Lescott either gone, or unsettled by MCFC’s sniffing.

I suspect that over the next five or so weeks, Joleon Lescott is going to go through an acid test that the likes of Barmby and Rooney failed, and Arteta and Cahill have (thus far) passed.

It’s all down to Lescott: if ... IF he thinks that City can benefit his career (especially approaching a World Cup year) then he’ll agitate for the move, and in that case Moyes will ship him out quicker than can dispatch a DVD. He’s learned a few lessons in the past seven years, and the main one seems to be that if you don’t want to be in that dressing-room, there’s no shirt on your peg.

It will come down to whether Lescott realises that he’s currently a valued member of a close-knit squad, with all the attendant benefits; whereas he could take a high-profile, high-wage place in a collection of high-profile, high-priced individuals.

For all the euphoria at Eastlands, there’s no record of a winning team being slammed together in short order: everyone forgets the groundwork laid by the hapless Ranieri before Mourinho moved in.

Manchester City COULD be dark horses in the Prem next season, because they won’t be playing in Europe, but it all depends on whether they can come up with a team, as opposed to a shedload of Globetrotters. What Lescott needs to bear in mind — as Terry apparently has — is that Capello will want England players playing against foreign teams during the course of this season.

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