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Top 4 Challenge

By Brian Baker :  28/07/2009 :  Comments (44) :
I have sat back and listened to the various calls for Everton needing to spend big money to stand any chance of challenging for a top 4 place this season. But is this really the case?

We still have basically the same squad as last season who finished 5th (with an awful start), barring some fringe players who we have been released, but are not what you would deem as key players. So our own back yard seems to be in order in terms of last years squad and with some useful younger players added or coming through the ranks. As for preparing for a season with Europa League footy as well, I admit we do need some depth added to guard against injuries, suspensions and losing players to the bloody African Confederations Cup in January.

But what about our competitors and how they have improved their squads?

Man Utd: Their squad is actually weaker after losing Ronaldo and Tevez, with no real replacements of the same quality. Owen could be their wild card depending on his fitness.

Chelsea: Haven't really stengthened as yet, although they now have a new manager on board. But still remain favourites for the EPL title.

Arsenal: Losing Abedeyour has made them a bit light weight up front, and Nasri's broken leg will be a big blow.

Liverpool: Although they have bought Glen Johnson, they will still be relying heavily on Gerrard and Torres, and with the huge loans they have to service will mean they will have to sell to buy anyone of substance. They may yet lose playmaker Xabi Alonso to a Spanish club before the season starts.

Aston Villa: I think they will struggle to replace Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry, and with Heskey picking up an injury against Malaga, will have a tough start to the season. Their squad is looking dangerously thin, especially with having Europa League footy to play as well.

Man City: With last season's finish somewhat disappointing, they must do better this season, especially with the wealth of talent they have bought. On paper they have arguably the best forward line in the EPL and Hughes will be hard pressed to keep them all happy. Unless they can strengthen the defense, they will leak too many goals to challenge a top 4 spot.

Spurs: I am only mentioning Spurs, because all the media are bound to be tipping them to break into the top 4, but even with 'Arry at the helm I am yet to be convinced they can mount a challenge. They seem to be buying lots of defenders and not much else.

So, given that there are no drastic changes to any of the mentioned squads, I think we are well equipped to mount a top 4 challenge. We must however hang on to Lescott and Pienaar, keep Arteta, Jaglelka and Yakubu fit, and we will be okay.

Reader Comments

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Gareth Hughes
1   Posted 28/07/2009 at 14:49:45

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Does anyone have the email address for Robert Elstone please? I just want to ask him very calmly and politely whether Everton have a transfer budget this summer. If not, or if it is miniscule, can the fans be told this rather than being left in the dark. I believe Elstone himself said that plans were in place to strengthen the squad at the end of last season. We have moved 4 players off the wage bill and not replaced them, let alone signed any quality on top of that. Shocking
Suzy Whitehead
2   Posted 28/07/2009 at 14:54:14

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Your glass is way over half full on this one Brian.

As much as I would love to agree, I can't — sorry. Put simply, but realistically, we will not finish in the top four next season — end of.
Jamie Morgan
3   Posted 28/07/2009 at 14:57:55

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Every article on hear always seem to go back to same thing. We know we haven’t got any money until the Sky cheque clears, we probably have about £5 mil ticking over from things like FA Cup run but this hardly buys anyone in today’s inflated market.

So let's just calm down and wait, we haven’t really got a clue who we are really bidding for so wait and see, we won't sign anyone of any worth until mid-August at least. It's just the way we roll!

Dave Lynch
4   Posted 28/07/2009 at 14:58:59

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On the Above.
Man Utd. Could lose half their team and still be stronger than us.
Chelsea. See Man Utd.
Arsenal. Still stronger squad than us.
Liverpool. Hate them too much to even comment on them.
Villa, City and Spurs. As strong as us.
As of today. We are weaker in squad numbers.
My prediction sa we are playing FM.
We won’t get relegated.
Marcus Dawson
5   Posted 28/07/2009 at 15:05:15

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Gareth, not many sides have signed players so far this summer, save for the uber rich. Most will have to wait until the Sky cheque has dropped on the doormat and the season is underway before spending, we’re no different. Our present owners don’t have the resources, so we have to find other ways to compete.
Dave Wilson
6   Posted 28/07/2009 at 15:15:51

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Gareth, stop fretting, you must already know DM’s war chest is tiny... and he’s about to blow that on Joey Barton.

Still as Dave says, we wont be relegated
Syd Morton
7   Posted 28/07/2009 at 15:22:11

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Just two things. 1. Last season Jagielka was imperious and he will be missed. 2. The likes of Man Utd and Chelsea are waiting for the silly prices to drop. Real Madrid and Man City have inflated the prices and now selling clubs are asking silly money for average players. I expect a lot of transfer activity in the last few days when the agents drop their expectations. Unfortunately for EFC I suspect the cupboard is bare and the best we can hope for is that we don’t sell any players.
Jimmy Hacking
8   Posted 28/07/2009 at 15:43:12

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1)Man United



1)Man U


6)Man City

So lets all give up and start supporting Real Madrid
Jay Harris
9   Posted 28/07/2009 at 15:58:33

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I fear the players will be going all out for a trophy this year and being realists it wont be the league.

Look for 8th to 10th in the league and a couple of long cup runs with maybe the Europa cup (sound as bad as the old "milk cup") to show for it.

Dont write Fulham off either.Decent manager and aging squad but good togetherness like EFC and only a couple of players off a decent team.

I disagree with all those who think our dreadful start to last season will somehow be the catalyst for a major improvement this year.

We were very lucky in a few games and as always with this threadbare squad running on empty for the run in.

With the distraction of Desolation Kirkby and what that will do to supporters, AFCON and a long European run (we hope)this season will take it’s toll.
Keith Glazzard
10   Posted 28/07/2009 at 16:03:36

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Tut tut Jim - you obviously haven’t consulted the Manchester Evening News who ran a feature last week on "The Big Five". Guess who? The usual suspects plus - would you believe it - Manchester City. And I thought Colin Bell and Franny Lee had retired years ago.
Ciarán McGlone
11   Posted 28/07/2009 at 16:11:20

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We’ll be battling for the 6 - 11th places. That’s the short and curlies of life as a footballing pauper.
Dave Wilson
12   Posted 28/07/2009 at 16:37:01

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I hope he’s wrong, but I cant disagree with anything Jay says to be honest
Tony Marsh
13   Posted 28/07/2009 at 16:45:30

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There is more chance of this coming season turning in to one of those bad ones we often have as apathy amongst players and fans sets in due to lack of finacial support from the board. Add to this the injuries to Jags, Yakubu, Arteta and we will start this coming campaign in a much weaker position than we did last time.

How much longer our decent players will want to stick around a club with no ambition and paying Championship wages is anyone's guess? Once Lescott goes to City, the rot will set in. A top 4 finish is as realistic as for us as it is for Hull City to win the title this year. That's how far behind the big guns we really are.

Moyes can only do so much and so can the players. If the chairman can't/won't provide the funds required, then, sooner or later, the bubble at Goodison Park will burst and the exodus will begin.

There are those who still dream and think major signings will happen this month but they won't... and once again, us the fans will be ripped off and conned. Name as many names as you like as future players at this club; it won't matter as they won't come.

That's the truth of the matter...
Kevy Quinn
14   Posted 28/07/2009 at 17:23:17

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What is wrong with all the people on this web site? You’s are the most depressing Everton Fans I've ever came across. Ok so we don't have the money of Man City, but we have proved that we are better than the rest of the Sky 4 in the last two seasons. Cheer up lads roll on 15 Aug at 5:30pm, I'll be at the Old Lady cheering the boys on. This is when we should do what we do best and be the 12th man and help the team... not cry into our pints! Rant over.
Andy Crooks
15   Posted 28/07/2009 at 17:25:30

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Team spirit and battling qualities have taken us a long way, in fact, as far as we can go. Without major investment, last season is as good as it gets.

As Tony Marsh says, hanging on to good players is near impossible without ambition. We will be overtaken sooner or later by clubs with money to spend.

In terms of quality the squad is the best for some time but I believe a peak has been reached. It’s spend or sink.

John Martin
16   Posted 28/07/2009 at 17:45:54

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The top 3 sides are miles ahead of us in terms of finance and footballing abilities but I did believe we could close on Arsenal. They have lost 2 players and, although they would still probably be better than us footballing-wise, I thought with a couple of quality additions we could push them for 4th. Sadly it doesn't look we’ll sign anybody in before kick-off against the Arsenal, despite promises. Without any new players, we’ll battle for 5th with City and probably Spurs and Villa... although Villa have been greatly weakened.

A friend said to me today he can't get excited for next season as it almost certainly can't get any better. We won't finish higher than 5th and will be very hard to reach FA Cup Final again. Let's hope the club gets some money in, preferably not from the sale of Lescott, and we finally show ambition and we get the players in who can improve us.

Gavin Ramejkis
17   Posted 28/07/2009 at 18:20:27

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I fear the biggest threat we have is not the top four but other teams with investment hovering like vultures and smelling an easy kill.

As many above have said when apathy sets in it will spread and players with loyalty will decide for themselves that they can only push so far and go for an easy ride and fat pay cheque and I for one wouldn’t blame any one of them. Surely they too have heard the hollow promises about building and improving and challenging and vacuous comments like those of the CEO about getting new players in early. Maybe they have a better idea than you or I about how potless the club is and how unlikely they are to see new signings and as such will be making their own minds up about taking someone else’s higher wages elsewhere.

We have players who other teams would be very grateful of and I fear when the rot begins it will spread very quickly to several core players leaving.

Philip Bunting
18   Posted 28/07/2009 at 18:22:12

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Kevy Quinn... Totally agree, where’s the fightin spirit amongst our fans, our squad isnt the worse. What gets me is the negative crap on this site, put you off being a fan if it wasnt in your veins.

Has anyone ever ever read anything positive from Tony Marsh? Dear help his Wife!

Can I remind you all that this is the best squad of players we have had since the late 80s in my opinion; let's me positive and hopeful that Moyesie can get two right-sided players before the season starts.
Tony Marsh
19   Posted 28/07/2009 at 18:34:23

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Philip, you're right, it is the best squad we have had for years but how much longer will these top players be prepared to play at Everton for peanuts in PL terms?

You can bleat on all you want about fighting spirit but that doesn't put money in the bank of our stars or help the manager buy new players. We are reaching a point in football where players no longer feel the need for loyalty when the big money comes a calling. What happens to your best squad then???

Oh, by the way, I think Joe Royle's FA Cup-winning side with the addition of Kanchelskis would give this current crop a right go.
Alan Kirwin
20   Posted 28/07/2009 at 18:30:48

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An extraordinarily positive post Brian, but credit for trying to look dispassionately at a situation that many fans find unacceptable.

Some of the comments here are beyond pathetic. Here’s a classic from that master of optimism, Dave Wilson:

"Stop fretting, you must already know DM's war chest is tiny... and he's about to blow that on Joey Barton. Still as Dave says, we won't be relegated."

You can ignore such rot, Brian. It adds nothing to the debate. Fact is, every football fan looks for something or someone to happen in the summer. If it’s the right kind of player then it lifts everyone. It adds a healthy top up to the squad.

But Spurs buy lots of players every summer and every January. These are often proven players, internationals most of them, and yet season after season this incredible investment achieves two things; On the pitch, nothing. For the fans, bloated expectations that are never realised.

Sunderland have also spent plenty of money on the past few years. No comment necessary here. The Portsmouth owner somehow believed the shit that 'Appy 'Arry sold him and spent a fortune on players and wages. No comment necessary there either.

And now of course Man City are threatening to double the wages of every player in the EPL, thereby destabilising not just teams like Everton, but even Chelsea.

Fact is, whilst it may not spur the heart or imagination, consolidation of a good squad, the return from injury, suitably refreshed, of top players, and the continued astute coaching & motivation of good management can achieve a lot. If you doubt it, just think back to 1986-87.

So whilst inactivity will never quieten the true malcontents who stalk the corridors of ToffeeWeb, it most certainly does not bode the amusingly sad doom & gloom of a Dave Wilson either.

This is not a vote in favour of just carrying on as we are. And I agree that Elstone should, on this occasion, show a bit more of the empathy he claims to have, by publicly saying something to all of us fans. If it’s a case of no change & carry on chaps, then tell us FFS. At least then we can avoid wasting time and bandwidth out of confusion as well as frustration.
Andy Burke
21   Posted 28/07/2009 at 18:41:39

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You know what, I bet you there was a thread just like this one at about the start of the 2008-09 season. It probably contains most of the same people predicting a totally crap season.

Did anybody who is predicting a bit of a crappy season predict the same last season? Thought so.

That said though, I do accept that without at least 2 good signings and a lot of luck on the injury front, a 5th place finish in the League is the probably the best we can hope for. I think I might take up basket weaving instead.
Ciarán McGlone
22   Posted 28/07/2009 at 19:20:17

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I’ve seen it all now... a rasping deconstruction of the ’malcontents’.... followed by swearing at Elstone.

Welcome to the gang, Alan.
Dave Wilson
23   Posted 28/07/2009 at 19:16:19

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Alan Kirwin

Aren't you the clown who thought we played in Rotterdam in 84?

While you spend your time boring the arse off everyone talking about some poncy bottle of plonk you intend drinking when Hell freezes over or trying to impress us with words you can't even spell, the rest of us want to talk about our club.

This City is awash with rumours of Barton's imminent arrival. Get back to brainlessly hanging on to every word Kenwright says. While you spend all your time spreading abject misery dressed up as "realism", I remain upbeat, always. Lessons in positivity from someone who knows so little about our club, I can do without.

Kevy Quinn
24   Posted 28/07/2009 at 20:11:42

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Tony Marsh

It's not just Everton who have a problem with players wages. With the 50% tax situation, every team apart from City and Chelsea etc are going to have problems in the coming seasons. If players want to leave for more money, there is not a lot we as a club can do about it in our current situation. Unless you know of any billionaires prepared to throw all their money at our club?
Gareth Hughes
25   Posted 28/07/2009 at 20:32:19

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I’ll ask the question again; does anyone have Bobby Elstone’s contact details. He mentioned early signings and Sir Philip Carter talked about exciting times as players are brought in. I want some kind of response from the CEO which I will then pass on to all us saddoes trawling every website and newspaper looking for news of a signing.
Brian Waring
26   Posted 28/07/2009 at 20:36:37

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Gareth, it happens every season mate, promises of signings and then nothing.

Maybe what BK should do is let us know when the Sky cheque has gone in the bank, and then we can come on here and tallk about signings.
Keith Glazzard
27   Posted 28/07/2009 at 21:44:13

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Ciarán - according to my dictionary ’deconstruction’ means -

"a method of critical analysis applied to literary texts, questioning the ability of language to represent reality adequately, asserting that no text can have a fixed and stable meaning".

Now, I do believe we do this on TW quite frequently - but is that really what you had in mind?
Alan Kirwin
28   Posted 29/07/2009 at 00:39:37

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Thought my first post was rather fair all round. If the eternally optimistic and hugely attractive Ciaran read it as such then what’s the beef?

Aha! but when the clown Wilson slidetackles & fires words around like boring and miserable, you know he’s taken complete control of the asylum and it’s time to hide. Not blessed with the vocabulary of a Ciaran or the unquestionable commitment of a Tony M, this clown just slags off. Oy you slaaag! (spoken like Philip Glenister in Ashes to Ashes).

Looking forward to sharing a rose wine with Bill Kenwright tomorrow & bringing a rope so I can hang off his every word :)) Then getting the video out of Rotterdam ’84. Not sure what happened in Europe’s largest port in ’84, but I know someone who might...

Hang on, wasn’t Wilson the name Tom Hanks gave to the football he found in Castaway? A simple inanimate and empty object made out to be human. Jeez, that’s spooky...

My forecasts for the new season:

Everton - 4th with Lescott, 5th without
Rodwell - full England squad
Arteta & Pienaar - genius, poetry
Dave Wilson - misery & complaints

More wine!

Dan Brierley
29   Posted 29/07/2009 at 02:05:01

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There is one funny thing about all the characters on this site. If we were at the match and stood next to one of these ’miserable whinging twats’ or ’your holding us back’ type’s, and Yakubu buried one, we would be hugging like best mates. Such is the Everton family. This site would be completely shite without differing opinion.

As for a top 4 challenge, I honestly cannot call it. My heart is telling me we can challenge, as we have proved that we are realistic candidates. But my head is telling me that we cant punch above our weight forever, and something has got to give.

But when I look at it, we have lost absolutely fuck all, in VDM, Castillo, Valente & Jacobsen leaving. I think Coleman, Baxter, Agard Gosling & Rodwell will more than cover those players leaving, and for a fraction of the wages. I also think we will see a lot more from Vaughan, Saha, Jo and Fellaini this season. Not to mention Pienaar carrying on where he left off last season, playing some effective attacking football. The Yak seems also close to being ready, and we know he scores goals when given chances.

The right wing is really the only place that I see as somewhere we definitely need a better calibre player. If we can add something in that area, then we are not in bad shape at all. And as for injuries, we seem to be unaffected if a player goes out. Whoever comes in makes a decent job of it. If anything, injuries seem to galvanise us even more.
Dave Wilson
30   Posted 29/07/2009 at 04:12:29

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A few months ago I made my way home from Wigan feeling really dissapointed, Everton had performed really badly I was desperate to get home and crawl into bed, when I woke the next morning things didnt look nearly so bad, I began to tell myself things would be an awful lot better at Tottenham, I go to all the Everton games so looking forward optomisticly was something I’d long since taught myself to do
I got into work and as usual logged to TW to get a sneaky look at what everyone else had made of it.
One article stood out, it was from some fucken idiot screaming for Moysee’s head and whaling about how he felt shamed by Everton in front of his "neutral friends".
I was disgusted, Evertonians everywhere were hurting, we had been awful, but all this clown thought about was what his poncy wine drinking friends thought of Everton,

Dave Wilson
31   Posted 29/07/2009 at 06:45:08

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Reading that article was the first time I had the misfortune of reading A Kirwin's miserable, negative self-indulgent shite. I’ve read many bitter post from him since, usually attacking anybody who wants to mention the mismanagement of our club, or berating someone for daring to refer to the club's Motto.

He reacts hysterically to any suggestion that BK is not the man for the job. He talks down our club on a daily basis, claiming we are not a big club and despite having no clue of the figures, insist we are a bad investment. He is unquestionably the victor Meldew of TW, the enemy of ambition.

A Kirwin: You're a hypocrite, you don't know whether your Arthur or Martha, the irony of dubbing TW whist perpetually griping is lost on you.

Your arse-numbingly boring references to your favourite tipple has no place on a footie website, it's merely an attempt to cover your astounding ignorance of Everton — You have to be the only Evertonian who doesn't know our finest cup victory was in 85.

BTW, your attempt to ingratiate yourself into the friendship of yer mán was cringe-worthy, weren’t you screaming he was stalking you last week? Get some dignity, man...

Why not brush up on your knowledge of Everton, you can then actually come on here and talk about footie — instead of hero worshipping people like Philip Green

More Whine?

Steve Rowson
32   Posted 29/07/2009 at 07:40:24

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Quite a few comments equate lack of money with a lack of ambition. I think the club has plenty of ambition, if not much money. The current squad did great last year and there is no particular reason why the smae players can’t improve on that. The club is also signing up young new talent. Admittedly, that’s not necessarily going to bring its reward this year but has the potential do so down the track. It’s a good strategy, even if it it’s forced on us because of a lack of cash to buy big. City apart, the trend is definitely towards consolidation of existing squads and that affects us too. I think with a bit of luck injury wise this year, we can build once again on a great finish to the season. We seem to be attracting an increasing amount of goodwill for our approach and achievements in the national press, which may help raise our profile for potential investors. It’s not exactly all bad.
Alan Clarke
33   Posted 29/07/2009 at 09:03:37

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Dave Wilson, are we really going to sign that shitbag Barton? I will actually vomit if that happens. Moyes MUST have more sense than to sign him so Alan Kirwin has every right to dismiss it as "rot".
Dave Wilson
34   Posted 29/07/2009 at 09:15:54

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Alan, read my post, I made three points, one was fact - the size of DM’s war chest - the other two were things that I have very good reason to believe will happen.
Now if people want to call that rot then they are perfectly at liberty to do so.
Kirwin didnt do that. he was looking for an argument and chose to get personal.

As I say read the posts before you jump in.
Alan Clarke
35   Posted 29/07/2009 at 09:33:58

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Sorry Dave I was being tongue in cheek. I’m just so appauled at the thought of us signing that twat Barton. I will vomit if we sign him.
Sam Morrison
36   Posted 29/07/2009 at 11:08:47

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Alan K and Dave W, can we call it quits on the slagging now? It’s even more depressing than reading the BBC’s rumour mill.
Ciarán McGlone
37   Posted 29/07/2009 at 13:11:53

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That’s exactly what I meant... and it doesn’t just apply to the literary world. I guess the ultimate deconstruction was mine, given that Alan somewhat contradicted himself in his reductionist attempt.

It’s all getting very confusing...
Peter Hurley
38   Posted 29/07/2009 at 15:09:01

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Dan Brierley, agree completely with your comments and, just for the record, those that have left us post end of season (VDM, Castillo etc...) managed 13 starts and 11 subs apperances for a return of 1 goal, Rodwell contributed more than this on his own!

As for fourth though its a tough ask, even without the mass of injuries and managers contract negotiations that impacted our awful start last time we still have the African Nations and Europa to deal with. Definitely think we need more options than just the young guns bought in so far, especially on the right, but its good to see Moyes planning so far ahead for the future replacement of our ageing stars.

Can’t help but think though that Brian might be onto something here and that we could look back on this season as a real opportunity lost to break into the top 4 if we don’t do everything we can to make it happen. Especially with the expectation that City will improve dramatically this year and that next year they will have the worlds top talents at their feet with no World Cup places at risk to simply become a bench-warming squad member on stupid money there; who’d have thought that the Commonwealth Games could lead to this!
David Walton
39   Posted 29/07/2009 at 15:29:43

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I agree with Suzy, a 4th place finish is beyond our capabilities. I expect us to be in the group challenging for the Europa League spots, the Sky 4 have too much strength in depth for the likes of us to compete.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
40   Posted 29/07/2009 at 17:02:30

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Dave Wilson, I shouldn’t encourage you but I just wanted to say what a great put-down that was (06:45 posting) to your antithesis (that’s the wrong word, I think...), Mr A Kirwin. I wish I’d had more time to keep up with this entertaining thread but this week has been hell and that was indeed light relief.
Keith Glazzard
41   Posted 29/07/2009 at 21:53:47

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Thanks for clearing that up Ciarán - its good to know we’re all speaking the same language, or possibly metanarrative.

Off to deconstuct a San Miguel or two, so hasta la proxima.
Alan Kirwin
42   Posted 30/07/2009 at 00:05:15

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Mr Kenrick. That’s just SO funny. For a moment there I actuslly bought you really were young Wilson’s lone fan. You tease.

Mr Wilson. Such effeminite hysteria, insults and febrile fantasy is the stuff of 7 year old girls. Take a deep breath.

Let’s raise the quality of style & content Dave. Come on, you can do it. Let’s clean up Toffeeweb.

Dave Wilson
43   Posted 30/07/2009 at 05:59:02

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You remind me of a school yard bully who cant fight, do yourself a favour lad, stop the personal attacks.
If a guy posts a letter complaining about his experience with his little girls and Teddy bears in the club shop, it means he’s angry, let him let off steam, if your not interested move on , why round on him ?
Your superior attitude impress’s nobody, especially when you try to use words you cant even spell or come out with one of your glaring inaccuracies.

On the rare occasions when your not doing your level best to be Boris Johnson you’ve shown yourself to be intelligent and insightful.

Argue all you want about Everton, I believe thats one of the reasons the site exist. but if you want to clear TW up, stop knocking it - and its contributors - otherwise your arse will continue to resemble that of a baboons
Chad Schofield
44   Posted 30/07/2009 at 12:36:53

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Ha ha, nice one Dave.
Alan, I think you’ll find that there were more Dave Wilson "fans" during this squabble - but it never looked as if he needed anyone else to step in.

The only effeminate,effeminite hysteria seems to be emanating from your direction.

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