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Tony Hibbert: Saint or Sinner?

By Dave Wilson :  19/09/2009 :  Comments (73) :
I'd like to talk about our much maligned right back. Like eight or nine of his team mates, Tony Hibbert had a bit of a Weston in last season's FA Cup Final, but maybe given the circumstances, his performance should have been deemed more excusable; he had been out injured for weeks, he hadn't trained, but Moyes took a gamble.

In hindsight, it was a poor decision by Moyes, it backfired; Tony wasn't up to it. Yet, despite painfully inadequate performances from most of his teammates and despite the score still being level when Moyes withdrew him, he was singled out by many as the culprit, the scapegoat.

Tony's always been a target for the finger pointers, in our only Premier League victory to date he was a candidate to be MOTM, he had set up three gilt edged chances — all squandered, but rather than give him the credit, his detractors completely ignored his good work; worse still, they unfairly blamed him for the visitors' goal. One guy was so determined to lay the blame at his door, he claimed he had seen the goal 5 times and insisted Tony hadn't marked anyone — a quick look at the replay proves that to be total nonsense, but it didn't stop there.

Thursday's performance against AEK Athens came as a welcome relief; we had played well, but that wasn't enough for some people, overlooking the inclusion of the excellent Bily and the performances by Rodwell and Fellaini, one fella wanted to point to Hibbert's suspension as one of the reasons we played so well.

Hibbert is reliable and solid, nobody will ever confuse him with Danny McGrain and it's perhaps his lack of flair that makes him an easy target. He was out-jumped by one of the best headers of the ball in the country against Newcastle last season and despite glaring errors from three Everton players leading up to the cross, his "Achilles Heel had been exposed"; "he's cost us too many goals with crosses from the left" people suddenly started to say. But when? Against who?

I recently asked this on TW, but the silence was deafening, he's played here for nearly a decade, I said, if this is true, this list must be as long as your arm? Still silence. Eventually somebody offered up the goal we conceded in Liege, Sorry these days YouTube will prove anything and when the Everton defence was disarray, Tony Hibbert went to the center of an unguarded goal, a position any coach in the world would have demanded he take up, he was probably the only one who was blameless.

Quality right backs are as rare as rocking horse shit — how else can Garry Neville being England's for a decade be explained? Why else would Liverpool pay £19 million for one that cant even defend?

Hibbert cost nothing, he has played for Everton for nearly a decade and has consistently qualified for Europe. though even that is sneered at, "we get into Europe in spite of him" they claim... Oh really?

Did he really qualify for the Champions League by riding on the backs of superstars like, Bent, Kilbane, Radzinsky, Pistone, Gravesen? And why does he keep qualifying for Europe no matter who his team mates are? Since Moyes came to the club he has built his teams on solid back-fours; personnel change but Hibbert is still there, he is the common denominator.

Tony Hibbert has his limitations, that can't and won't be contested, not by me anyway, but what a servant he has been for Everton, he is an absolute terrier in defence. Have Everton ever had a defender who has contributed to so many 1-0 backs-to-the-wall victories? I cant think of one, nor can I think of an Everton player who has qualified for Europe more times than him.

Dan Gosling got a chance the other night; it's too early to pass any judgment on him... who knows, he may be an improvement on Hibbert, but if Tony's time to be edged out is drawing closer, I would love to think the club, in the not too distant future, will start planning some sort of recognition for his services.

It's time ALL Evertonians gave credit where it's due, maybe show some appreciation for a truly great Evertonian who has never given anything less than 100%.

Reader Comments

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Steve Pugh
1   Posted 19/09/2009 at 18:49:29

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I totally agree, Tony is a solid right back, always has been. He isn’t great at going forward but he isn’t that bad and sometimes he puts in a good cross. He is widely recognised by the experts as on of the best the full backs in the premier league when it comes to shutting wingers down, which is probably why a whole stream of left backs have not been found wanting in the heading department.

He struggles when he is isolated with no support from midfield and gets in 2v1 situations and he isn’t the best header of the ball. But that is quite common amongst fullbacks.

Maybe there is a better fullback at the club now, but Hibbert has done well, it is only a couple of seasons ago he was being touted for England.

Right Dave, now prepare for the backlash
Mike Gaynes
2   Posted 19/09/2009 at 18:45:04

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Heartily agreed and well said, Dave. Hibbert’s been a fierce and uncomplaining warrior for eight years and over 200 appearances, and not for one minute in all those games has anyone ever had reason to question his attitude, his work rate, his courage or his True Blue commitment. He’s a quality footballer -- you don’t play this many games at the top level if you’re not -- and a quality human being. And if he’s about to be bypassed by a more talented player (Heitinga or Neill or Gosling or whoever), I’m with you in hoping he is suitably honored and appreciated by the club and the fans before he moves on.

What I’d really love is to see Hibbert score. Just once. Nobody should play this long without having a goal to remember. He deserves it. Besides, he shares a birthday with my wife.
James Stewart
3   Posted 19/09/2009 at 19:10:09

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I’m sorry but have you been to any Everton matches in the last decade?!

I can’t believe what I am reading! Hibbert is the worst FB in the EPL!!! So much so he is targeted as the weak link by practically all decent opposition managers! He is a liability and personally I never want to see him anywhere near the squad again let alone the starting XL.

You go even one step further by calling for recognition for his services! What Bloody service!? He is paid very very well and has never performed well enough to earn it. He would not get into any other Premier League team, and anyone who suggests he would please just compare him to the other right-backs in the league! He doesnt come out very well!

Another thing that annoys me is this MYTH he can tackle!!! He makes Reckless challenges like a total idiot whether he is in the box or outside it matters not!
I have personally seen a LOT of Penalties/free kicks Against us simply because of him.

Total Rubbish and it's no surprise the one time we actually play decent football for once it was without who? — Hibbert, Neville and Osman — The Three Idiots!

Jason Broome
4   Posted 19/09/2009 at 19:44:43

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Hibbert is a tough tackling defender with great stamina, however the 4-5-1 system is a comfort zone for his limitations. Naysmith was a better all-rounder than Hibbert and he was sold 3 years ago, so why is Hibbert still a first team regular?

In 10 years this boy hasn’t learnt a thing. Passing the ball with the right weight, speed and direction, composure under pressure, bringing it forward and holding up play.

Maybe he should join the NFL because minus tackling Hibbert has nothing to offer as a footballer. As soon as he crosses the half-way line his game is over. He has no confidence in his passing, speed, creativity, crossing, etc, and the Premier League is simply not forgiving.

Further, in the NFL ‘punting’ is what you do when you have no ideas, options or confidence in your play. That was and still is Hibbert’s only attacking option!

Hibbert looked good behind a 5 man midfield because he was required to do nothing else but defend (his comfort zone). Coming forward requires him to play football and I have yet to see him do that adequately.

4-5-1 will always be (rigidly) 4-5-1. Overloading the midfield through fear allows Hibbert to work his patch. Therefore he dislocates his game from the attacking options and looks ‘fierce’ working his thing.

The FA Cup Final was the last straw. Our biggest game in 14 years and he was embarrassingly out of his depth. Hibbert was a ‘picture’ to Cole’s ‘Dorian Gray.’ I would call it a ‘David and Goliath’ encounter but as I recall… David won that day!

Chelsea can get away with a 4-3-3 formation because their wing backs provide extra positional options. 4-3-3 becomes 3-4-3 whenever needed. They have mastered the total football system providing a fluid shift through defence to attack. This evolution allows them the option to counter attack and revolutionise the game whilst under pressure.

Hibbert works in a system that barely works for Everton. Evolution requires letting go and I fear Hibbert’s time is up!
Jay Harris
5   Posted 19/09/2009 at 19:49:45

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I posted an article some time ago "In support of Hibbo and Ossie". They are both whole-hearted Evertonians and if the manager chooses to play them they both never give less than 100%. In fact a lot of supporters were claiming we had "England's best back 4" when we were keeping clean sheets last season.< But then Hibbo got injured and came back never quite the same player IMO.

I do think he is weak in the air though. But I detest the amount of vitriolic attacks these lads have had to suffer. Anyone would think they’d just committed a murder. The unfortunate thing is some people always have to have a whipping boy and it now seems to have become Tim Cahill.

I don't think anyone is beyond criticism but we have to remember it's the manager who chooses the team and if the lads gave 100% that used to be good enough but obviously not now for some supporters.
Mike Gaynes
6   Posted 19/09/2009 at 19:37:34

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What the heck is your problem, James? Did you see anybody here proclaiming Hibbert a great player or a great tackler? No. But his solidity, commitment and consistency deserve recognition.

And if you really think he’s the worst defender in the EPL, the guy who hasn’t been watching any matches is you. Maybe the names Belhadj, Bramble, Collins, Knight and Samuel aren’t familiar to you, but they sure are to the people who would love to trade them for Hibbert. Nobody EVER saw Hibbert get undressed the way Belhadj was by Petrov today. Hibbert wouldn’t get into any other team? Tell that to the fans who are tortured by watching JLloyd, Kaboul or Chimbonda. Maybe you’d rather have Carlisle, Mears or Crazy Bikey?

Gee, you probably think it’s too bad the transfer window closed before we could swap Hopeless Hibbo for a real legend... get Anton Ferdinand, move Yobo to RB and then we’d have been set, right? Yeah, right.

As to your last comment, I bow to your obvious expertise on the subject of idiots. You would certainly know.
James Stewart
7   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:13:34

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Mike - if you read my post I said the worst in his position. You then go on to name numerous players none of which are right backs so I’m not exactly sure what you are trying to prove? Bramble is shocking i agree but he’s a centre-back!

In fact Hibbert did "get undressed" in the FA Cup final no less. And consistency does not deserve recognition. Unless you play well.

Brendan O'Doherty
8   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:28:31

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Dave, the words "cat" and "pigeons" spring to mind....
Steve Pugh
9   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:39:08

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As James brought up Ossie, another much maligned player, I thought you might be interested in some facts about this lightweight player. It has often been said that he gets tackled to easily, so it might be a surprise to discover that Leon Osman won 75% of the tackles he was involved in last season, he won more tackles than any other Everton player and entered into more tackles than any other Everton player.

He provided as many assists as Alonso, Ballack, Joe Cole and SWP, amongst others.

Finally according to the Actim Index, he was the 38th best player in the Premier League last season and Everton’s 6th best player behind Lescott, Howard, Tiger Tim, Screech and, oh yes, Phil Neville. Not bad for a lightweight.

Oh, whilst I was researching this I found out who Everton's most successful passer of the ball was last season. No it wasn’t Tony Hibbert, that would have been poetic, it was Phil Neville.

How strangely we percieve what we see.
Mike Gaynes
10   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:23:30

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James... really? Didn’t you first say "worst FB in the EPL" before you got specific about right backs?

Anyway, Chimbonda and Mears are right backs, and Belhadj has played there. Samuel and Bikey are also FBs, albeit on the left side. And if you would trade Hibbert for any of these guys, I want to play draw poker with you sometime, because you’d toss away a flush to go for a straight.
Mike Gaynes
11   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:41:53

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Great post, Steve, and great research. Actual cold hard facts are usually hard to find in these debates. Be prepared for the possibility that your facts might not be welcomed by some of the folks here... as Charlie Brown once said to Linus, "Tell your statistics to shut up."
Steve Pugh
12   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:45:58

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I forgot, James, Hibbert being a lousy tackler and giving away lots of free kicks and penalties. I can’t actually give an accurate figure because the Telegraph only listed the 50 biggest offenders and Tony didn’t fit into this list. What I do know is it was less than 42. Thank God Tim Cahill isn’t a defender with his 79 fouls, 4th worst in the Premier League, I won’t even mention Screech with 111, second only to Kevin Davies.

Oh... I just did, didn’t I.
David Nicholls
13   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:48:43

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Hibbert, Neville and Osman — The Three Idiots!

What a joker you are James, Nobody as ever said these guys are world beaters but they are all good Premier League players. All three have been regulars in a side that have qualified for Europe 3 years on the bounce.

Leon Osman IMHO has great feet and has been doing a job out on the right because we are not exactly blessed with an abundance of wide players. During the 07-08 campaign he played centre mid and put in some displays of genuine quality.

I’m not even saying any of these three would be in my first choice starting XI but all three would walk into half of the teams in the Premier League.

John Burgess
14   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:56:06

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Top quality post, Dave. Hibbert has been an integral part of the improvement Everton have made in the past 5 years and I am sure if he didn't have the obvious weakness of his delivery when in the final third, he would not've been far off the England squad but his priority is to be part of a back four that keeps clean sheets and he has most definitely played his part on that score!
Brendan O'Doherty
15   Posted 19/09/2009 at 20:56:33

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Steve, if Neville was our most successful passer of the ball last season it was because his passes were 3 or 4 yards to his right or left where Arteta was waiting to receive it. I agree with your general sentiments and appreciate what Phil Neville brings to the side but accurate passing is not his greatest strength to put it mildly, and in fact his name is usually followed by the commentator’s words "gives the ball away".
Mario Norbury
16   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:03:28

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Being 100% committed, while commendable, is not a reason to keep Hibbert in the team.

Would you employ an incompetent builder or plumber on the grounds that he gives 100%?

Compare the composure on the ball shown by Dan Gosling on Thursday with the abject panic that afflicts Tony when the ball goes anywhere near him. The guy is completely out of his depth - and he knows it.

If our first half performance against AEK doesn’t show Moyes how much better we can be without Hibbert and Osman then he’ll never get it.

Hibbert has a poor first touch, he always let the ball cross his body before controlling it, can’t locate a blue shirt with a pass and can’t head the ball to save himself.

He does give 100% though. As would I if someone gave me several grand a week to play footy.

I’m rubbish too.
Dave Moore
17   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:08:28

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In my opinion, the problem with Hibbert is he hasn’t improved since he came into the first team. His strengths were his clean tackling, being quick to recover his position and get in a tackle and he also had pace to burn.

I think most people (Evertonians anyway) thought we had a future England right back on our books but unfortunately for us, and Tony himself, that didn’t happen for whatever reason(s). You can’t knock his commitment but commitment alone isn’t enough.

I think it’s obvious to see Tony’s game has not developed as much as people would have hoped. He seems to have lost a bit of his ability to take the ball cleanly and often gives away clumsy, unnecessary free kicks in dangerous positions, but then so does a seasoned pro like Phil Neville.

Tony also lets himself down when getting into good crossing positions and usually ends up putting the ball into the crowd behind the goal instead of on an attackers head; this I believe upsets Evertonians most. I would have thought that the coaching staff could see this and get him working hard in training on his delivery.

The biggest worry I have about him is his positional sense; whenever the opposing team are in possession on the opposite flank, Tony always seems to get sucked across to the centre-back area, leaving big holes behind him. Maybe this is a problem in the defence as a whole and he’s being sucked across to cover someone else, or there is no help from the player in front of him; however, in my eyes, it happens more to Tony than anyone else.

This leads me to ask a more searching question: Are we developing our youngsters as well as we should be? Look at how many of our youngsters over the years have shown so much promise but didn’t go on to be the players everyone was hoping for. We have a policy now which appears to favour youth (apart from the last couple of transfers) but just how far can we take these young players before their development stalls and they go from outstanding talent to average professional — just like Tony Hibbert?

It makes me ask the question, if we hadn’t released Jagielka and Baines would they be the same players they are for us today. We paid near on £10 million to get them back a few years after releasing them both as youngsters in the same week.

In my opinion, some of the young talent that has stayed over the last couple of decades, seemed to level off before they even reached their peak or have been shown the door when they should be banging on it. Let’s hope the future is kinder to the likes of Rodwell, Gosling, Baxter, Wallace etc... Or, more to the point, let’s hope we can develop them to their full potential whilst still Everton players.

Ray Kelly
18   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:04:52

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Considering Hibbert is condemed on here as a shite footballer it seems to me that throughout our games he is constantly given the ball by his teamates deep in our own half, he's then left with no option but to bang it long as the shithouses in midfield hide and give him no option but to hoof and the crowd then get on his back. The same thing happened to Unsworth, he was always willing to show for the ball but then was left with no options but to bang it long.

As for when Hibbert gets over the half-way line in possession, again that waste of space Osman doesn’t make himself available, Tony gets closed down and either hoofs or gives the ball away. Admittedly his crossing has been awful but this season he has definitely improved his attacking game. If he had the quality of Pienaar in front of him week-in, week-out, with his dynamism and constant chasing back, his confidence would grow, so get off the lads back and give him a chance to play down the right with Pienaar.

Mike Gaynes
19   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:22:04

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I readily grant all your points, Dave Moore. I wasn’t saying that Hibbert belongs in the side anymore, and that wasn’t the point of Dave Wilson’s original post. Clearly we now have at least two better alternatives at RB, maybe three. Dave’s point, which I enthusiastically support, was that if a player who has given so much heart and soul to the club and has contributed to so much of our success is about to be pushed out, which seems likely, he deserves a heartfelt salute from all of us -- not a middle finger and an f-off.
As for your question about young player development, I would point out that Hibbert’s education, like the decisions on Jags and Baines, came under a previous regime. I like what I’ve seen of the young players developed under Moyes -- of course Rodwell, but also Gos and Baxter (haven’t seen much of Wallace) and definitely including John Ruddy, who has two straight spectacular shutouts against Rangers and Dundee. (One of the guys he robbed today was our old friend Danny Cadamarteri.) If these kids are an example of player development under the Moyes regime, I think there’s good reason for optimism.
Jim Hourigan
20   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:03:10

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I’m sorry if this sounds awful but Hibbert is a very poor footballer and if people understood what a genuine full back should do they could not see him as anything other than rubbish.

Gosling showed in one match what Hibbert fails to do every week - ie if there is no one on in front pass the ball square or back to maintain possession rather than hump it forward and hope and lose possession. Gosling is not a great player but 90mins of a footballer compared to years of tripe was evident the other night. For example when he threw the ball in, it went to one of our players, not just in hope but so that they could control it and do something. Last week at Fulham, Hibbert took 2 throw ins that I can remember that went to absolutely no one - when he is asked to think you can see the wheels turning, the bloke is thick (in football terms), he has no sense of what is going on around him. How often do we see opponents hit diagonal balls behind him - he has no peripheral vision and is not aware of what goes on around him. Put him in a straight line and get him to tackle and he is fine but anything else and he is garbage

Providing facts in terms of statistics is nigh on impossible for a defender (because of the way in which football operates). However I doubt if he has a good percentage of assists compared to any other regular Premiership defender. Nor do I think he would sit favourably in terms of completed passes. but don’t let that mask his inadequacies. He has only one asset - his pace to get back and tackle. But before people hold that up as some great attribute why is he having to redeem himself with last ditch tackles so often? Because he is out of position too often and is always playing catch up !

However here’s one statistic: Hibbert has played the greatest number of games for EFC and never scored a goal. Even some of our poorest players scored by fluke or luck. Hibbert never ever looks like scoring. He never gets near enough to the box to shoot and his crosses are generally so poor that even they can’t hit the net by a fluke. Think of some of the tripe we have seen and most have scored, but not our Hibbert crap in possession, crap in vision and crap overall.

As a defender he can tackle and he has pace. But as a premiership player he is decidedly Championship level. To play in the premiership requires a degree of ability on the ball and the ability to pass - 2 attributes that he is sadly lacking. He is wholehearted but so is my dog, he is enthusiastic but so too is my dog, in fact I think my dog could do a better job.
Alasdair Mackay
21   Posted 19/09/2009 at 21:39:48

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I felt a bit sorry for Hibbo after the Cup Final. Not only had he just come back from injury, but he got booked early on in the game. Hibbo is probably the best defensive full back at the club, but to be asked to defend cautiously against Malouda in that heat is asking a lot of anyone.

I like Hibbo. He is limited going forward, but he is hard-working, a true blue and a very solid defender. I feel that he deserves a testimonial. It is his tenth season in the Everton first team this season. I think he has earned a tribute match at the end of this season.

Peter Hall
22   Posted 19/09/2009 at 22:20:11

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He’s given his all in every game I’ve seen him play, so no point having a go at him personally.

Sure he’s limited and we want better players, but we won’t get better attitude.

Only problem for him now is that he can only play one position, full stop, so he’s awkward to have on the bench. You’d rather have Gosling who can play in two or three places.
Dave Moore
23   Posted 19/09/2009 at 22:58:58

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Mike Gaynes, the points I made were not deliberately opposing any of your opinions so apologies if you thought that, the point I was trying to make or rather a question I was asking was, are we doing enough as a club to develop our youth to reach the highest levels?

OK, we have been buying players at youth level and we’ve also been developing them from school, but just how far can we take them? I think Tony Hibbert is a prime example of a player who, at a young age, looked as though he would develop into one of the best full backs we have had or seen for a long time, but then he seemed to stop improving. I’m not blaming the player for this, more so I’m asking the question why he hasn’t carried on improving? I would like nothing better than to see Tony Hibbert fulfill the potential he had when he first came into the team.

I agree that Jagielka and Baines were released under a previous regime (Walter Smith if I remember rightly) and the policies of that regime had cost us £10 million to buy back the players a few years later (£6m Baines & £4m Jagielka).

But we have seen many young players come up through the ranks or bought at a young age, who we all believed or were told were going to become excellent players, a handful of whom left us and went on to be decent players at other clubs but most who just disappeared into the lower leagues; this has been seen even with our current regime.

I think it's fair to say that the percentage of youth players who actually make it through the ranks to the first team at any club is very low and anyone who does must be quite an exceptional player at that stage of their career, but once the door is opened for them they need honing and developing to become the players we all think we see in them.

It worries me that the two players who are receiving the most stick from the supporters at the moment (Hibbert & Osman) have come right through the ranks at the club and are also local lads, but now they seem to have stopped improving as players when they should be growing each season until they reach their peak.

Michael Tracey
24   Posted 20/09/2009 at 01:06:25

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Now that we signed Neill and Heitinga, and after Gosling’s performance the other night, Hibbert should not be anywhere near the first team again.
He is out of his depth in the Premier League and although you can’t question his commitment, his ability to stink the ground out every week and get paid shitloads in the process should see him transfer listed in the next window.
Simon Kirwan
25   Posted 20/09/2009 at 01:18:32

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Im not sure what Tony Hibbert you have been watching but i firmly beleive Tony Hibbert to be the worst footballer i have ever seen. Its tragic. The guy is a total liability, slow, cant pass forward, cant pass to a player in blue, poor footballing mind, timid and nervous on ball consequemtly hoofin it bringing pressure back on us....umm... cant cross a football for his life when he finally gets the chance, ermm always the guy who has been skinned and then hauls them down giving them a penalty and a red card. The day Tony Hibbert is no longer an everton player will be a joyous one indeed
David Edwards
26   Posted 20/09/2009 at 01:31:54

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Sinner...FFS Next Question, Please?
Alan Kirwin
27   Posted 20/09/2009 at 01:30:09

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Well said and broadly fair accurate. But facts often get in the way of a good story, as Messrs Marsh and McGlone will presumably testify.
Simon Kirwan
28   Posted 20/09/2009 at 01:26:09

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Steve pugh - Your stats ermm.. where shall i start?

Ok, im telling you that i could top the list of lets say "highest pass completion rate" in the prem, i would simply pass the ball 3,5,10 yards backwards. However my passes would never do anything other than maintain possession instead of instigating an attack. I could also top 75% tackle completion rate, i would only go in for challenges i know i could win or better still, make 1 or two challenges a game ensuring i win 1. I should add i like ossie in a 5 man CM but think out current system on the wing does him no favours.Your stats really do lie buddy. Really silly imo
Rob Heib
29   Posted 20/09/2009 at 02:40:16

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Jason Broome: [[Maybe he should join the NFL because minus tackling Hibbert has nothing to offer as a footballer.

Further, in the NFL ‘punting’ is what you do when you have no ideas, options or confidence in your play. ]]

No it isn’t.

Dave Wilson wrote ...[[ "he’s cost us too many goals with crosses from the left" people suddenly started to say. But when? Against who?

I recently asked this on TW, but the silence was deafening, he’s played here for nearly a decade, I said, if this is true, this list must be as long as your arm? Still silence. ]]

... hope you enjoy silence Dave because, as far as specific answers to your questions go, this thread is church-mouse-ish.
John Pulman
30   Posted 20/09/2009 at 07:16:25

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2008/9 Actim Stats (alongside OPTA as the best stat compilers about and used by the EPL themselves) have Tony Hibbert 251st on list of worst foulers with 14 - thats 16 less than players like Arteta. So much for Hibbert ’constantly giving away free kicks and penalties’. Jagielka aside, all of our other first team defenders last season committed more fouls than Hibbert. Ok so he is only credited for one assist for that same period but the top ’assister’ in the EPL in Robin van Persie was only credited with 11 assists. Also with only 4 yellow cards all season he is in a select group of defenders, a group that can seemingly do their defensive duties without crossing the line and causing problems for the team through FK’s and pens.
Sure this guy aint great going forward but then thats not his job. Having played in a 451 formation for so long he has gotten used to defense being his main priority. Is it his fault that for the past many seasons he’s played in a system like this? Is it hell!
I for one am not a part of this group that seems to worship attacking fullbacks. Very few seem to get both attacking and defending right. Take Johnson for example - seen by most pundits to be the best English RB in the country and how many times has his lack of ability to defend let his team down?
Hibbert has been a great servant to this club but I’m sure even the guy himself will admit to his own limitations. This season will see Hibbert phased out of the team and no matter what your opinion of him I would hope that every blue-blooded Everton fan would give him a rousing send-off should he leave the club. As a fanbase we worship players like Unsworth, Weir, Stubbs, etc, all of whom were average at best. Why should Hibbo be treated any different?
Aiden Doyle
31   Posted 20/09/2009 at 08:14:35

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I was always taught that a good footballer will treat the ball as his friend. Hibbert usually looks like he’d rather be passed a venomous snake.
John Pulman
32   Posted 20/09/2009 at 08:53:05

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Haha. My mate stu likes to say that Rathbone is permenantly on the halfway line on the right hand side of the pitch as every time Hibbo gets that far he gets a nose bleed. All good natured stuff. We’re scousers, nothing wrong with poking gentle fun at the guy, as long as wel treat him with respect when its his time to move on.
Steve Pugh
33   Posted 20/09/2009 at 08:53:40

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I’m sure you could Simon.

Phil Nevilles job in the midfield is to break up the oppositions play so that the more creative players can get forward with the ball. So if he passes 3 yards sideways to a more talented attacking player, then that is good. Better than trying an over ambitious 40 yd cross field ball that would probably end up back with the opposition.

Now you are trying to hint that Ossie only goes into tackles he knows he will win. But aren’t you one of those people who has, in the past, claimed that Ossie can’t see a pass and just runs with the ball until he is tackled, although you normally say that he is knocked of the ball. Well all his figures for tackles include all the times other people try and tackle him.

Your arguements, just silly really.

Stephen Kenny
34   Posted 20/09/2009 at 08:55:57

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I think Hibbert has got everthing you need to be a top footballer, except ability. I think I like him all the more for it, but i also accept we will not become a free flowing footballing side until players like Tony are replaced with players of his ilk but with a bit more quality.

In his defense my group have got a shout just for Tony, the winger will be running up the line with the ball, Tony will draw up alongside and the shout goes up "here’s the Hibbert special". ’SMASH’ said winger is bouncing off the advertising hoardings and the ball is out for a throw. His crossing has improved a hell of a lot lately but it’s too little too late.

Finally Dave I think a lot of Evertonians share at least some of your opinion of Tony, just watch the reaction if he ever scores!
James Stewart
35   Posted 20/09/2009 at 09:56:35

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Mike - Your still making no sense what so ever. Your just
being pedantic.

Why Would i want to trade Hibbert for another shit player? We have enough quality at RB now to never plat Hibbert again. This should have been done sooner but better late than never.

Steve Pugh your comments are equally odd. Giving Out
Stats like Neville is our best passer does not prove a damn thing! He pass backwards usually about 5 yards!
Often still manages to fuck up a good few of those!
He is useful as a Rb don’t get me wrong but is no
As for Osman -
Just look at how much worse our play was in the last game when he came on for Cahill. That is Evidence enough. Couldn’t beat the first man once with corners and free kicks!
Steve Sweeney
36   Posted 20/09/2009 at 10:10:31

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Hibbert had some of his best games when Arteta was playing on the right in front of him.
Osman gives him no protection and if you look at the Drogba Goal in the Cup final it is Osman who does not get lose to Malouda and allows the cross.
When he came on the other night Imediately Gosling was under pressure and AEK had a few openings down our right flank.
Watch the match again he keeps drifting inside and leaves the full back exposed.
Add the fact that he never performs againdst the top teams and why he is in the team beggers belief.
Who of our Premiership rivals would take him??
Simon Dixon
37   Posted 20/09/2009 at 10:27:39

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Lets not go overboard with Goslings display against AEK.
He was never put under pressure all through the game.
Just wait and see what he does today against a PL team before we give an opinion on Gosling at RB.
Andy Callen
38   Posted 20/09/2009 at 11:10:45

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Simon Kirwan, if you only go in for two tackles a game and only win one, you will have a 50-50 success rate - worse then the 75% success rate Osman had last season!!

Moyes see’s the players train every day, he obviously see’s enough in both Hibbert and Osman each day to feel justified in picking them for his team/ squad. Yes neither are the most gifted of players, and if I’m honest neither would get into the sides of those teams challenging us for those European places, but while they still pull on the blue shirt and give their all for the club I love then they will continue to get my full support.

I fully expect Hibbert to play RB today against Blackburn, and will continue there until Neill is match fit, and then once Neville is back fit we will see Heitinga moved to RB (I expect to see him play as a defensive midfielder in the absence of Neville) NSNO
Ray Robinson
39   Posted 20/09/2009 at 11:01:18

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Tony Hibbert isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the worst RB that I’ve seen at Everton in my 48 years of supporting the Blues but today’s game demands much more than just being a tough tackling defender.

I’m afraid that the saddest indictment of Hibbert is that he hasn’t improved one iota in Moyes’s 7 years tenure. He still lacks ball control, passing ability, positional sense - attributes that we need have throughout the team if we are play free flowing, controlled football to challenge the top teams.I’d even question his tackling which quite often is reckless and last ditch and often brought about because he’s been caught out of position or because he has lost the ball in the first place.

We’re not a relegation threatened side any more (at least, I hope not). Hibbert is best in a backs to the wall match when we’re desperately defending but we aspire to more than that now surely?

I’ll never barrack the lad as he is 100% committed but surely sentiment is not a reason to keep on picking him? I firmly believe that if Jacobsen had not dislocated his shoulder early on last season, he’d have been the regular full back. I’m convinced that Moyes knows that this is a weak spot that needs addressing and I expect Hibbert to become a squad player only this season.

This is not an opinion based purely on the Cup Final but one based on several seasons of watching the Blues home and away. I don’t store up facts to "prove" the point either.
Mike Green
40   Posted 20/09/2009 at 11:15:05

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Nice one Dave.

Bottom line is he’s limited but always gives his all week in week out. He might not be the best right back in the world but he’s OUR right back I’m going to support him for as long as he is.

Besides not being able to back him at 100-1 to score the first goal each match day would put a severe dent in my pre-match routine.
Dave Wilson
41   Posted 20/09/2009 at 10:39:41

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I think your right, down at the cottage this week a young lad was getting plenty of smiles, the front of his Tee shirt read "If Hibbert scores we riot" Lol

Opinions are often based on perception rather than something that can be backed with examples. The point behind the article was to try to expose a couple of "myths".

If I were to say that Howard is often beaten by long range efforts and then listed a dozen instances, it is opinion being backed by examples.
Likewise if I was to say 6-7 goals we conceded early last season were directly attributable to errors from the Jag, and then I named the goals, again it would be opinion backed by examples

But when people like Simon and James claim to have seen Hibbert give away "Lots" of penalties and is always getting red cards after being skinned, is that merely perception ? They cant give examples, so did this happen ?
I can only think of the time he challenged Steve Gerrard at the park end and he was hardly skinned, he was the only player we had who could stay with him.

We as fans, are always looking for reasons/excuses for defeats. To have ready made culprit often suits us, if we blame different people every week, we risk sounding fickle, or worse still, we risk the wrath of fellow supporters for critizising "Heros" or "crowd favourites". A common whipping boy comes in quite handy really.

If it was Billy instead of Hibbert that had put in the three crosses against Wigan we would still be talking about it, but for some, it actually goes against the grain to even acknowledge it happened ? I dont get it

I say Chelsea actually got behind the Everton right side of defence only 4 times in the cup final and two of those were the result of jammy ricochets that caught our entire team going forward . . . .Fact or perception ?

You’ve probable all got a recording, you decide

David Marsden
42   Posted 20/09/2009 at 11:44:14

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FFS, you lot slagging Hibbert are a disgrace. Hibbert plays for Everton. Our team. He is lucky enough to and do so with pride. If you lot don’t think he is good enough talk to Moyes not slag the player off.

What do you want Hibbert to decide that "o’shite I will give up my job playing for my team because some ignornant fans who cannot play deceided they don’t like me". No, bollocks would he.

Have a bit of respect for him and yourselves.
Simon Kirwan
43   Posted 20/09/2009 at 11:54:12

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Steve Pugh - "So if he passes 3 yards sideways to a more talented attacking player, then that is good"

So you are basically giving Tony a pardon from attacking duties?

"Better than trying an over ambitious 40 yd cross field ball that would probably end up back with the opposition."

I agree a three yard pass sideways is better than the above quote, However neither are acceptable. Quite funny you should mention this as this is what Tony is the master of ( 92nd minute v fulham he did it 3 times in 90 seconds each time coming straight back. Utterly tragic stuff ) Yes Im aware Yobo and Jags both do this and yes i agree the midfield has a large responsibility in showing for the ball which IMO is why we miss Arteta in CM so much.

"But aren’t you one of those people who has, in the past, claimed that Ossie can’t see a pass and just runs with the ball until he is tackled, "

No sir, no i am not. Im not sure who your are thinking about but i have a lot of time for ossie, his character is 2nd to none the way he is still willing to show for the ball, and run at players even with the crowd on his back. I also think he is effective behind the striker in a 5 man midfield.
Dave Wilson
44   Posted 20/09/2009 at 13:22:36

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And all those examples of Hibbert giving away penalties and being red carded after being skinned Simon ?
Neil Pearse
45   Posted 20/09/2009 at 13:37:50

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Good one Dave. Hibbert is a limited player, we all agree, but has real strengths defensively (how many other full backs have kept Ronaldo quiet for a game?), and has improved in attacking terms (he’s put in more good crosses than Baines this season so far). I can’t recall all the penalties and fouls either - one of his strengths is that he is generally a very ’clean’ tackler.

Yes, he is not the ’modern’ footballing fullback in the Cole / Bosingwa mode. But he deserves some praise for a lot more than his effort and commitment.
Steve Pugh
46   Posted 20/09/2009 at 14:48:34

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Simon I do think you are getting confused, did I mention Tony when I was talking about passing?

No, I didn’t, anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have worked out I was talking about Nev. Still, why let the facts get in the way of a good argument, that just wouldn’t be fun would it.
Brian Waring
47   Posted 20/09/2009 at 15:41:30

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Hibbert might not have all the attributes that is expected from a modern day full - back, but when it comes down to old fashioned defending, there is not many better.

Njål Vigleik Johnsen
48   Posted 20/09/2009 at 17:34:06

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Without having stats to back me up, I would say that Hibbo seems much more of an offensive threat no, than earlier in his career.

His defending is almost always adequate, and in the last two seasons I havent put my head in my hands everytime he goes on the overlap down the right. He crosses the ball better than most, and imo we will be better able to give his quality crosses the recognision they deserve when the Yak is back.

Hibbo is a hero. To say that because he earns a lot of money he should always give it all..well ofcourse, but there are plenty of examples in the EPL on the opposite.

Everton are blessed with players who put their team before their name. Hibbo, Jagielka, Cahill...and since the mid 90s this has been the most prominent feature of our most central players.

To say that Hibbert is a liability and should not be near the first XI is a debatable point. But to begrudge him some form of recognicion for his services is not only stupid, it is a blatant break with what I as an evertonian sees as the most commendable and distinctive features of our proud team in the last decade and a half.

Hard work, commitment and the ability to see through the idea that a game is lost before it starts.
Martin Mason
49   Posted 20/09/2009 at 18:25:36

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Hibbert was once justifiably on the verge of an England place and put in great performances week after week. He was rushed back from injury and had a terrible Cup final and ever since he’s become everybody’s focus of criticism and we seem to be really polarised over it.

It isn’t Hibbert’s fault if he plays badly, it is the manager’s and if we now have better RBs then he should be replaced. Give him a break though, he mey be on the up now and will still be a good squad player?

Ray Robinson
50   Posted 20/09/2009 at 18:42:51

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Dave - if you want evidence:

Penalty against Stoke (home), penalty against WBA away when we lost 4-0, free kick against Sigma away which led to them hitting the bar, sending off against Liverpool (ok, harsh), should have been penalty gainst Villa away last season, pasting in the Cup Final, roasting from Petrov in the second half at City when we won 2-0 (we all forget that one).

These are examples that I can think of without even trying. Come to think of it, he’s the only fullback that I can remember has been substituted twice at half time.
Dave Wilson
51   Posted 20/09/2009 at 19:16:29

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Not being funny Ray, but you prove my point far better than I could.
If memory serves me right, TH didn’t even play in the stoke game, talk about wrongly apportioning blame The Sigma sending off was a direct result of a shite pass from the left back , to a center back who was in a coma, How did that get to be Hibbos fault ? surely he was the victim here ? As for the WBA game, I remember dont remember the situation although I do remember the game and the embarrassment, the hole of the Everton team were a shambles, talk about clutching at straws, it was 5 years ago Mate
Brian Waring
52   Posted 20/09/2009 at 19:49:34

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Ray, you could probalby look back at the stats for Lescott and Jags, and find that they both made plenty of mistakes that lead to goals, but for some reason they are forgiven.

Tim Lloyd
53   Posted 20/09/2009 at 19:41:20

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I don’t think there is one contributor to this forum who could say that Hibbert does not give 100% of his ability. Yes, from time to time this is insufficient but the lad has been handicapped by having no right midfielder. On the team sheet this has usually been shown as Osman.

As we all know, Ossie is quite unhappy in this position and drifts inside, leaving Hibbert in a ’No win’ situation if he tries to go forward. Bearing in mind, attacking is not his strong suit but being aware of how much the lad is criticised for not going forward, he has tried!

The result, if he gets robbed and of course he does from time to time, the whole left flank is left exposed. Ossie is doing his thing in the middle. The position looks desperate and Hibbo takes the blame.

This problem is made worse by the fact that Hibbo is not a natural attacking player. You guys who criticise him so much must shoulder some of the blame for trying to convert the lad into an attacking full back, He is not. Let him play the game he is good at.

I feel now that he will play only occasionally if our new boys, Heitinga and Neill both prove their fitness. Let us , however, thank Hibbo for giving of his best whenever he has been chosen.
john jennings
54   Posted 20/09/2009 at 19:44:35

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Dave - the answer is 100% sinner.

Whenever I see the line .. but he always gives 100% and works his socks off etc.... my mind goes back to Terry Darracott, Mike Lyons, Geoff Nulty, Gareth Farrelly - the list is seemingly endless - players who always tried hard, gave it their best, but simply did not have the ability to succeed at the highest level. Their best was not good enough.

Steven Pienaar gives 100%, but he can play football.

It is harsh to point the finger at Hibbert after the Cup Final, but that 45 minutes completely summed him up. Against quality on the big stage, he simply doesn’t have it. He was not alone that day, but his positional sense was non-existent and he was like a rabbit in the Chelsea headlights.

Watch his performance against the top sides. He treats the ball like an unpinned grenade and is usually booked early on. I recall a defining moment for Tony Hibbert, in the 94th minute v Arsenal at home last season. A hopefull log ball is punted towards the box with the Blues a goal up and having been in complete control - Hibbert watches the ball, and not Robin Van Persie behind him. Tim didnt make a great fist of it either but everyone just stared at Tony - your man. We lose 2 points against a big 4 team. One of the big differences between us and the Sky 4 is we have players who are not quite good enough and they dont.

He is a squad player, no more, no less. If he, along with Neville, Osman, and Jo, are on the team sheet, it is because no-one better is available.

In the current set-up, when the Jag is back, I would play Joey at right back. Not ideal, but better than the sinner.
Suzy Whitehead
55   Posted 20/09/2009 at 20:02:43

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Good player in a bad team and we are far better than we used to be. Simple as that.
Ray Robinson
56   Posted 20/09/2009 at 20:02:46

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Dave, you’re right Hibbert didn’t give the penalty away against Stoke but I definitely remember a rash challenge down at the Gwladys St end. Was it the one that led to Obefemi Martins blazing over, not sure - the old grey matter is a bit fuzzy. The point is that I think it’s rather silly trying to prove a point statistically because how many mistakes in open play (free kicks conceded, misplaced passes, poor positional play, outjumped at the far post) have led to goals? Hibbert in my opinion makes more of those mistakes than his co-defenders - but I can’t prove it - it’s just opinion.

And yes, the Sigma doal wasn’t mainly his fault but it was typical of the rash challenge that he is liable to make at times.
James Stewart
57   Posted 20/09/2009 at 20:15:52

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Dave Wilson -
People are entitled to opinions and especially if they are paying upwards of £30 to watch a game! It is not my perception Dave. I have seen his woeful skills countless times with my own eyes!!!

To be honest the support for hibbert stuns me.
Have all you Hibbert Lovers no ambition to see decent football being played?! Or is giving 100% enough in your eyes? Personally i could not care a less if 100% is given if the player is playing well! Look at Yakubu for example!
A quality player but does not give 100%.

I know who i would rather watch.
The Committed he gives 100% argument is wearing thin. I’m sure he is a decent lad but the bottom line is he is NOT good enough for EFC.
Aiden Doyle
58   Posted 20/09/2009 at 20:58:57

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Tim, it’s no secret that Osman isn’t at his best when deployed as a wide midfielder but there is no way that his tendency to drift inside should be used as an excuse for Hibbert’s poor performances.

Like it or not, that’s the way that modern wide midfielders operate (as opposed to the very few top class old-fashioned wingers). Pienaar regularly moves infield – it’s what allows Baines to make so many overlaps. Bilyaletdinov says that he likes to play the same way. It’s Hibbert’s inability to capitalise on the opportunities like this that makes Osman look crap, not vice versa.
Tony Williams
59   Posted 20/09/2009 at 21:41:23

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So James, as long as you pay your money at the match, it is ok to slate Hibbert then?

You say you have seen his woeful skills countless times, it that the woeful skill that consistently denies a cross from the right side or the woeful skill of the perfectly timed challenge that takes the ball and the man?

To say that all people that actually appreciate a good defender have no ambition shows your inability to actually look at the game as a whole. Hibbert IS shite going forward, he may have improved slightly this season, but as a defender he is one of the better ones in the division. Heitenger did nothing different to what Hibbert would have done today but the fickle bastards in the Gwladys Street were singing his name.
Dick Anderson
60   Posted 20/09/2009 at 22:23:52

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The problem with Tony Hibbert is that he’s inconsistent.

OK we all know that he struggles to deliver a decent cross or get forward to cause the opposition problems but he’s a solid defender (most of the time) which is his main job.

I’ve watched Hibbert have games where he’s completely stopped some of the best players in the world. You don’t like to admit it but even the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney have been stopped in their tracks by a Hibbert challenge.

Of course I’ve also watched games where Hibbert has been exposed as a liability (the FA Cup Final for example).

My opinion is that normally he’s a very capable solid defender. Never gonna score a goal but definitely useful in defence.

When things are going well he’s great and on his day almost England Class.

When he’s struggling with confidence he’s pretty awful and can be a weak spot in the defence.

I think he has a place in the squad. He’s a local lad who can be very useful to the team. Play him when he’s on form and drop him when he’s struggling.
John Andrews
61   Posted 21/09/2009 at 00:33:22

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Without a doubt a sinner!!!!!!!
Michael Tracey
62   Posted 21/09/2009 at 02:14:34

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Who gives a shit if he is a local player, he is not good enough. It can’t be coincidental that 2 games in a row Everton have won very comfortably with no hoofball in site and in both those games Hibbert has not started the match. England material — my ass! He would struggle to make the Laos national team.
Dave Wilson
63   Posted 21/09/2009 at 06:40:12

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HeItinga didn't look like a right back to me either today, I’d like to see how he copes with people like Milner and Giggs running at him, or how Gosling cops when people like Carew and Crouch pull onto his shoulder. I think it's a little premature to dismiss Hibbert just yet.

James Stewart, Nobody is saying giving 100% is enough to get him a place, but it should be enough to stop the abuse he gets, it should also be enough to stop people making claims about incidents that never happened in order to strengthen their arguments against him, if he’s that bad why feel the need?

I agree, when you have paid your 30 quid you are entitled to watch any match you want and to have any opinion you want. If you want to see Hibbert give away "lots" of penalties that don't happen in the matches the rest of us go to, then go for it, knock yourself out.
Ciarán McGlone
64   Posted 21/09/2009 at 10:27:17

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You’re wasting your time with this one. Hibbert's been consistently good last season and this season (apart from the Cup Final where he was clearly not fit).

We’ve played crap football all over the pitch up until last Thursday — but apparently that’s the fault of or right back... who hasn’t been too bad.

Hibbert's a far better defender than Heitinga.
Jason Broome
65   Posted 21/09/2009 at 12:49:40

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I like this post but now it’s just becoming silly. Dismissing Heitinga after 1 and a half games? Allow the guy time to adjust to the pace and style of the Premier League.

Jagielka failed as a Defensive Midfielder and struggled at Right Back in his first season as well. Now he is one of the best Centre-Backs we’ve had in years (if not decades) and is a welcomed addition at RB.

The vastly experienced European Champions League defender, 2008 Dutch footballer of the year and captain of the 2008 Dutch European Championship team is a winner and should not be dismissed so easily. Give the lad time!

Hibbert is a good lad who deserves a testimonial for his services. However the modern day RB requires that bit extra. He doesn’t have it. Therefore the arrival of Neill should soon put the issue to bed for at least a season.
Tony Williams
66   Posted 21/09/2009 at 13:41:16

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Jason, I think the majority of people on here are mostly commenting on the fact that Heitinga did not offer any more than Hibbert would have yesterday.

I thought his passing was crips and accurate but what put me off more than anything is that he reminds me of Bellamy the way he runs.

Yesterday, probably due to it being his first game and making sure he didn’t conceed he very rarely passed the half way line and terrifyingly enough we could say that he offered less going forward yesterday than Hibbert would have offered.

Once he gets settled in he will no doubt forray forward but the fickle bastards with me in the Gwladys were singing his name after he blocked a cross, the exact sort of ball Hibbert blocks in his sleep.

He will no doubt probably prove to be a better player than Hibbert but I fear that many will see a hero too quickly because of "their" need to see the back of Hibbert.
Dave Wilson
67   Posted 21/09/2009 at 14:31:12

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Not sure anyone is dissmising Heitinga, he didn't get all those caps representing one of the world's great footballing nations without being top drawer.
But the marauding right back everyone wants?... I’m afraid he isn't your man.
Kevin Mitchell
68   Posted 21/09/2009 at 22:55:51

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I blame Moyes for playing TH week-in, week-out when most of us know he is totally out of his depth in the Prem. There are loads of full backs in the lower leagues who give 100% just like Tony.

IMO Osman would be a better player if he had a decent RB behind him or for that matter going past him down the line. We can’t carry players who don’t want the ball because they know they will balls it up.

I think the deeper problem is why DM has failed to address the situation after seven years.
John Lloyd
69   Posted 22/09/2009 at 04:43:58

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What the fuck are some of you on? Do you just argue for the sake of it or do you honestly believe that Hibbert or Osman for that matter would get in any other Premier League side that isn't newly promoted or perennnial strugglers??

They have both had good games and top moments in an Everton shirt but they are both on borrrowed time now as they are not good enough & we have to keep improving!! It's that simple... I think even Moyes has realised that this year, especiialy in Hibbo’s case as he tried to bring in Naughton, did get Heitinga & Coleman was looking good in pre-season, which could mean nothing! :-)

Tony Williams
70   Posted 22/09/2009 at 11:44:31

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So John, Shall I mark you down as a undecided then?
Brian Lawlor
71   Posted 22/09/2009 at 12:29:21

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It’s simple. Tony Hibbert may have been good enough for us 5 years + ago but we have progressed and he alongside Leon Osman are the weak links in the team.

If we are to improve and progress further neither of them will be in the starting 11. If our transfer budgets allowed us to, they would have been replaced a long time ago... but Moyes had other priorities.
Dominic Duerden
72   Posted 22/09/2009 at 14:43:36

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Hibbert is absolutely hopeless, and always has been. He offers nothing when we have possession of the ball.

Defensively, he cant head the ball and teams target him as a weakness. Can’t understand why he was on the bench against Blackburn , as well as Gosling. If you spend £6 million on a right back you are acknowledging your current rightback is not good enough. Gosling has come in and done a great job, so why have BOTH on the bench. Hibbert should not be in the squad, let alone the team.
Darren Langford
73   Posted 24/09/2009 at 17:55:05

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I remember being delighted when Rooney and Hibbert both signed their first major contracts for Everton. At that point, I had an inkling that we weren’t in a position to hang on to Rooney and also feel that there were people sniffing around Hibbert at the same time.

When Hibbert gained his regular starting postition in the team, he was in the England reckoning. His reliability gave us something that we hadn’t had at fullback for years. I remember some Man U fans talking about him as a possible replacement for their Mr reliable in their re-building period.

All this interest has cooled as he has suffered illness and injury and missed out on almost whole seasons in some years, only to return to an Everton team that has moved on and is looking to play a better standard of football than the backs-to-the-wall style of years previous.

His limitations have been more apparent in the last two seasons as the team has progressed and is confident in taking its place among the European contenders on footballing merit, rather than continually punching above its weight. Hibbert should be recognised and rewarded for being one of those players who has given his all in fighting to get us to this position, alongside Neville and Osman to name two.

I think with addition of quality players over years and some of the better football (not always) it has been noticeable how often good play breaks down when the ball is offered to Hibbert and Neville. Osman I think has just been forced to play in the wrong position, as we have been short of quality wingers since Kanchelskis. This is also a point to be made for Hibbert’s defence. He has never played with a quality right winger, so his options have been limited and with his own limitations have put him in this position we are all talking about.

I think so much also that a player's performance is down to confidence and since his time out, Hibbert has suffered. I would like nothing more than Hibbert to take his chances this season, wherever they might be, enjoy his football and develop and learn from the players around him and the challengers for his position. I don't think it's over for him yet.

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