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Nearly there...

By Stewart Littler :  04/11/2009 :  Comments (37) :
Let's face it, the last fortnight has been horrific. Simple as. Dumped out of the Carling Cup, humiliated in Europe and slipping down the League with a menacing fixture list ahead. A far cry from that beautiful day at Wembley in May (weather-wise... the result was shit).

There are many causes to the terrible start we have had, and the whole club has to take collective responsibility for that. Everyone, from chairman, to CEO, to manager, to players has failed to learn from their mistakes, and it has cost us.

However, I think we are nearly there. Many people have dismissed the injury situation as a mere inconvenience, a fact of life that we should be able to contend with. Perhaps those with that view should take a look at the amount of coverage our lovable red friends' injury crisis is receiving.

For the Villa game, we started without SIX of last season's regular first team, and another two first-team squad players, all due to illness and injury. Four of the team are new this season. One is working his way back from serious injury. They had pretty much a full strength side, and have beaten Chelsea and Liverpool already this season. And yet we competed. We weren't great, but we were a damn sight better than the horror show in Lisbon.

So why do I think we are nearly there? Well I witnessed the difference four players made to the side, so it gives me a great deal of confidence to think we have another eight to come. Before anybody starts, I don't think we're gonna suddenly go on a long winning run.

I don't expect us to beat Benfica tomorrow, and I certainly don't fancy us at Old Trafford. But Hull away is 3 weeks today, and I would expect 4 or 5 of those 8 to be available to us by then. With us facing a challenging fixture list thereafter, it will give us an opportunity to get closer to where we want to be.

Despite such a poor start, we are only 7 points from 4th, with a game in hand on several teams above us. That's not to disguise the fact that we are 14th in the league, because being 14th in the league is a disgrace. It simply highlights that there is still hope in a season where many seem to have given up.

Goodison was a bit special on Saturday. We didn't see great football, nor great goals. But most of us in the crowd saw a marked difference, and we responded. Like I said, I think we're nearly there.

Reader Comments

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Steve Guy
1   Posted 04/11/2009 at 09:59:30

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I've noticed in the run up to January the usual rumour mill is gathering momentum. Hilariously we are being linked with various players. I say hilarious, on the basis that Moyes's unwillingness to part with cash in this window is almost the stuff of legend; I reckon if Messi was available on a free he'd still want to think about it.

More disturbingly I see that Man City have been linked with Jack Rodwell and 'may bid in January' but 'might wait until Summer instead' (various organs). The similarity here to the long courtship of Lescott is spooky, as it started about this time last year with similarly worded comments filtering through the media.

Obviously with Rodwell's undoubted talent (albeit still to mature) we have to expect other clubs to be interested, but if I'm right (but hopefully paranoid!) City seem to be developing a method by which they unsettle players to the point where a transfer becomes inevitable. It wasn't only Lescott who agitated for a move to City after a similarly prolonged and very public saga (Barry for one).

They still seem to be unique with this strategy and I hope it remains that way; it's clever but also devious, as, of course it's only press speculation isn't it?

Ciarán McGlone
2   Posted 04/11/2009 at 16:24:20

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There is still hope for what exactly?
Dennis Stevens
3   Posted 04/11/2009 at 16:17:13

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"Many people have dismissed the injury situation as a mere inconvenience, a fact of life that we should be able to contend with."

I think the point here is that we may well have coped much better if all our transfer activity had been conducted earlier in the transfer window, which would have been a wise move knowing we had key players out with long-term injuries. This would have enabled the new players to get up to speed with the rest of the squad in terms of fitness, tactics & familiarity with the rest of the squad & each other — oh, yes & eligibility for Europa League! In theory we are still putting out a decent first XI for most matches, but in reality half of the players are still getting up to speed.

So you may well be proved right, but it may well have as much to all the changes being assimilated into the squad as it has to do with players returning from injury.

Ciarán McGlone
4   Posted 04/11/2009 at 16:33:31

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Or even bought the playmaker we’ve been needing since the dawn of time...
Tony Marsh
5   Posted 04/11/2009 at 17:05:01

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Nearly There.... Nearly Where???

I don't get all the fuss that is being made over a 1-1 draw at home to Villa. I thought both sides where terrible on the day but, as you all keep rightly pointing out, we finished above Villa for the past two seasons and now a draw at home is being hailed as success?

I know we won't be relegated and I also know a top 6 finish is already dead and buried... so I ask you again: Nearly Where?
Ian Tunstead
6   Posted 04/11/2009 at 17:59:47

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Ciaran we have play makers in the squad, what are you talking about? One playmaker was injured over the summer so Moyes tried to get Benega as replacement, but he decided he wanted to stay with Valencia, that's football.

There is still hope of winning a trophy and finishing high up the table. We have a similar total of points to last season when we finished 5th and reached a cup final and we are not that far behind 4th place.
Ste Traverse
7   Posted 04/11/2009 at 18:32:30

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Think back to the summer of 2006 and we acquired AJ, Tim Howard and Jol£on L£scott well before pre-season training and we started off really well and went 11 matches unbeaten. The last 2 summers we’ve only brought players in right at the last minute and we’ve had 2 bad starts. Co-incidence? This Kenwright policy of wanting to get signings in late to save on the wages is killing us.
Chris Halliday
8   Posted 04/11/2009 at 19:00:14

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I'm not sure we’re going to get much out of this season; even with a few players back, the squad looks inbalanced to me. I guess we will get stronger at the back but when it comes to the crunch we will lack quality to win a trophy. I can’t believe we didn’t sign more creative players.

To be honest, I am more worried about Kirkby at the minute; I won’t be happy until that nightmare goes away.
James Boden
9   Posted 04/11/2009 at 20:41:55

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I have to agree with Tony Marsh here. I fail to see what there is to get excited about? Could someone please tell me? Because I don’t see anything that tells me we are turning the corner.
Alan Williams
10   Posted 05/11/2009 at 07:55:39

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Stewart, glad to see you’re confident but don’t forget we are 4 points from the drop too. My major concern is we have no balance to the team; just watch tonight’s game and see the lack of width that causes major congestion in the middle.

We don’t have the ability in the middle to pass out of the problem so we hit balls in to areas and play the percentage game. Jo is Bret Angell's love child — I’m convinced of it, unless we can covert early chances we run out of stream and become very predictable.

Just getting Phil Neville back will help us a lot add peanuts to that then we have a chance of scoring goals. COYB... fingers crossed for tonight and Sunday, if we don’t get all three points on Sunday we will be sucked down and that worries me a lot.

Ciarán McGlone
11   Posted 05/11/2009 at 09:33:32

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Who are these playmakers?

And why are you mentioning players we apparently nearly got... not only does it defeat your implied point that we are adequate in that department... it’s also absolutely irrelevant!
Gareth Humphreys
12   Posted 05/11/2009 at 09:45:23

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How about Arteta and Pienaar?
Ciarán McGlone
13   Posted 05/11/2009 at 10:24:35

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Pienaar is not a playmaker...if anything he’s an attacking midfielder... But for us he’s been exclusively employed on the wing...

Yes, Arteta is a playmaker... and he’s our only one... that’s being the point being made.
Neal Sutherland
14   Posted 05/11/2009 at 12:18:38

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Actually Ciaran, what you said was "Or even bought the playmaker we’ve been needing since the dawn of time... " but now you’re admitting we have one? He might be injured, but we do have one. Hmmmmmm....back to your doom & gloom son
Tony Williams
15   Posted 05/11/2009 at 13:19:56

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That’s a shock, James agreeing with Tony Marsh!!!

"I know we won’t be relegated and I also know a top 6 finish is already dead and buried... " A few weeks ago we were deffinitely heading for a relegation fight according to Marshy. Please also explain why a top 6 place is dead in the water? Are we playing for less points than other other teams around us???

It is not "dead" until we cannot mathmatically reach 6th, the same as last year when the papers were saying it was a shoo-in that Villa would finiah in the top 4, then they would definitely finish 5th... you know what happens with over the top confidence with predictions?

I do agree though that there is nothing to be excited about lately.

Peter McHugh
16   Posted 05/11/2009 at 13:40:36

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We have needed a playmaker for years, Arteta is not enough. The reason we don’t have one is lack of finances.

I am optimistic and thought, contrary to most, we played very well against Villa but Yak hasn’t quite got his eye in for goal and we keep making basic errors at the back. These will be eradicated with a more settled and experienced team.
We have more quality players than last season and I agree with the post that there is cause for optimism and I think come Feb/March if we are still in the Europa and FA Cups, then we’ll do well.
Ian Tunstead
17   Posted 05/11/2009 at 13:50:41

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What is your deffenition of a playmaker?

The players who I would consider to be playmakers are; Arteta, Fellaini, Bily, Rodwell potentially and Osmen, although a very poor playmaker.
Daniel Marfany
18   Posted 05/11/2009 at 14:54:16

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There’s no hope for you Ciaran.
Ciarán McGlone
19   Posted 05/11/2009 at 15:10:05

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Actually Ciaran, what you said was "Or even bought the playmaker we’ve been needing since the dawn of time... " but now you’re admitting we have one? He might be injured, but we do have one. Hmmmmmm....back to your doom & gloom son

Yes, please join the dots...

The implication being that a team clearly needs more than one playmaker...


My definition of a playmaker is a creative central midfielder who is competent at both breaking up play and dictating, controlling and facilitating the passage of play to the more attacking players...

In my opinion there is something of an overlap with both the defensive midfielder and a attacking midfielder...and the overlap with a box to box is also evident

In a 451 there may not be as much need to have the defensive competency - but it never does any harm at all..
Ian Tunstead
20   Posted 05/11/2009 at 15:29:26

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Well by your definition it seems a good play maker would be hard to find. Perhaps Moyes is hoping he can save some money by developing Rodwell in the role. I also think Fellaini can do an adaquete job untill Arteta returns and perhaps develop further still in time.
elaine s
21   Posted 05/11/2009 at 15:47:31

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Ciaran, if you want to imply we need more than one playmaker then you need to say that, not say that we’ve needed one since the dawn of time, concede after being rightfully challenged that we actually do have one and then when someone rightly points that you’ve conceded that , you back-track and patronisingly tell them to join the dots... I agree with Daniel, there’s no hope for you.
Ciarán McGlone
22   Posted 05/11/2009 at 16:35:35

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How does that criteria mean they are hard to find?

How much did Krancjar go for again...after waiting around all summer on a transfer?


I don’t remember saying we didn’t have one, do you?

What I said was that we needed one. Join the dots.
elaine s
23   Posted 05/11/2009 at 16:40:44

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Oh ... so what you should have said was ... Or even bought ANOTHER playmaker we’ve been needing since the dawn of time... instead of what you did say... i’m glad you’ve cleared that up now. As for joining the dots, it’s better for you to be clear about what you mean instead of expecting people to know what you’re implying without you actually implying it. No hope indeed.
Ciarán McGlone
24   Posted 05/11/2009 at 16:50:25

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NO, I meant what I said. It was clear and explicit.

Maybe you should stop being presumptious...and making an unreasonable inference beyond what’s put in front of you..
Ian Tunstead
25   Posted 05/11/2009 at 16:57:15

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What i meant was by your criteria i havnt seen many of these playmakers about, yes Krancjar, but depending on who you believe we went in for him but he came out and said he prefered to go to Spurs, so what is Moyes to do if he goes for the likes of Benega and Krancjar an they dont want to come?
Ciarán McGlone
26   Posted 05/11/2009 at 17:08:22

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Fernandes was a playmaker - of some quality by my reckoning....we pissed about with that one till the cows came home, and the inevitable happened...and we pissed about with the moutinho fee as well...and what happened there...

I don’t accept your assertion that there are few of these players about at all....and I don’t accept your presumption that players don’t want to come’s simply supposition.

If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. We pay peanuts...

oh, and I in no way blame Moyes for that situation...well, I do in a way - his obsession with utility players seems to get in the way of the specialised players we need..

But the majority of teh fault belongs with those that back him...and the miserable way they fail in that aspect.
Ian Tunstead
27   Posted 05/11/2009 at 18:17:29

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I think Moyes was undecided on Fernandes and rightly so as his 2nd loan spell was dreadfull, he was a liability. I know it was only rumours but apparently his attitude wasnt great.

The truth is we dont know all the details but perhaps Moyes was right to be cautious. I personaly did not rate him very highly and felt he would have been a waste, yes there were glimses of real quality but too few to pay the amount they wanted, i think he would have been as frustraiting as Babbel for Liverpool.

Again with Moutinho we dont know all the details of the saga but it seems we just didnt have the amount of money they were asking for.

It is not a presumption that those players i mentioned didnt want to come to Everton, they actually said it. As for ’’if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’’ Are Arteta, piennar and Cahill monkeys?
Timmy Mongiat
28   Posted 06/11/2009 at 00:30:26

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Pienaar can be a playmaker, if anyone has seen him play for south africa in recent times, then that would be very clear. He began to show his qualities in that role for us after Arteta’s injury last season and is quite capable of dictating the play, even from a wide position (playmakers dont have to be confined to the middle of the pitch, although it helps).
I would also have liked to seen Fernandes join, I cant speculate on whether it was a case of Moyes messing around or not having the money(Again), but he showed his class in spain before his injury last season and would have been great for us in the more withdraw defensive playmaking role.
Moutinho I think was clearly a player Moyes wanted (as well as many of us) but I think money again played a part, esp as Lisbon were asking for an insane amount. However I would have prefered we would have spent an extra couple of million and got him over fellaini (although physically there could have been an issue given the nature of the premiership).

With respect to hope for this season, I cant see anything higher than seventh position being tangible given the points we’ve dropped, our injury situation and our form. Hopefully we can go on a cup run, I’d still expect us to qualify for the next round of the UEFA cup and in january, when messrs arteta/jags as well as pienaar and neville are back(hopefully back anyway) I’d fancy us to put together a good run in the cup bearing a nightmare draw. Although tbh I’m already thinking about next season and hoping we can go into it with a fit and settled squad and at least start on the same level as our ’rivals’
Ciarán McGlone
29   Posted 06/11/2009 at 10:44:22

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Moyes was so undecided..that he decided to sign him....I think you’ll find the issue was dithering over the price by our precious board

And, as you’ll well know...during that second period Manny was carrying an injury and was being played out of position as a winger.....

Pienaar plays the Cahill role for South Africa. Not a play maker role.
Timmy Mongiat
30   Posted 06/11/2009 at 11:59:05

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Come off it Ciaran, the cahill role for south africa?! From what planet were you watching these games? He is there primary playmaker, if you would have watched any of the games in the confed cup you would have seen that (esp the first one when he was unwell and on the bench and there lack of creativity as a result was there for everyone to see).
Ciarán McGlone
31   Posted 06/11/2009 at 12:31:57

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Maybe if you weren’t confusing an attacking midfielder with the playmaker role - you’d understand my point.

Pienaar plays too far up the pitch for South Africa to be considered a playmaker...
Geoff Edwards
32   Posted 06/11/2009 at 12:42:44

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"How much did Krancjar go for again...after waiting around all summer on a transfer?"

Pompey fans were delighted to see the back of Krancjar. And look at Spurs’s performances since Modric got injured and was replaced with him.
Timmy Mongiat
33   Posted 06/11/2009 at 14:02:43

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Ciaran there is nothing confusing about a playmaker, and they can play in differing positions, from an attacking position, either central or wide (Ribery for instance, or do you mantain that he is not a playmaker?), a central mid position or a deeper position (i.e pirlo). It is bizzare to argue that playmakers only play in the very centre of the midfield (which pienarr btw, has done for SA, because you seemingly are arguing without having actually watched a south africa game, check out one of the conf cup games or the recent friendly with the rep of ireland)(that friendly would also serve as a good example of what an exceptional playmaker pienarr can be).

Kranjcar has obvious class and would have been a great signing for us. I was hoping we would get him in the summer but was of the belief that a figure near 6mil would be neccessary, and to see him eventually go for as cheap as he did was a real blow. He hasnt set spurs alight so far but he has done a good job in the games he has played, despite often being in an unfavoured position.
Ciarán McGlone
34   Posted 06/11/2009 at 14:50:11

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I don’t agree with your assertion any midfield position can be considered a playmaker..

On that basis it’s a bit of a catch-all definition which really loses any meaning at all - other than creative..

For me a playmaker essentially needs to be a depper lying central midfielder with creative passing capability.

I’m struggling to figure out how you are concluding I didn’t watch the confed cup games or the Ireland match (which I was at).

Pienaar played as an central attacking midfielder in all those games...
Timmy Mongiat
35   Posted 06/11/2009 at 17:32:23

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I assert it because you state that Pienaar does not play the play maker role for south africa when clearly in the confederations cup and in the recent friendly against the rep, he played that role. Against Ireland he was the focal point for the midfield and it was others that ran past him from midfield on numerous occasions in that match. No one played the ’cahill’ role in that match for SA, but if anyone came close to it then it was Van Heerden not Pienarr.

And to state that a playmaker needs to be in a deeper lying central midfielder and that others who dont play this role cant be playmakers is verging on unbelievable for a football fan. Arguably the two best playmakers last season were Xavi and Iniesta, neither of whom are deep midfielders, especially iniesta. Whilst Kaka, one of the consistently best players in the world, is a playmaker in the attacking sense. Or do you mantain that neither Kaka nor Iniesta are playmakers?
And Zidane, who is generally considered as the best playmaker of recent times was principally an attacking orientated midfield or am not a deeper midfielder. To consider that a playmaker has to be deep in midfield, is to ignore most of the best playmakers that have played the game and completely disregards the ’modern’ number 10 role.
Ciarán McGlone
36   Posted 09/11/2009 at 09:21:05

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So you think all midfielders are effectively playmakers then...

Timmy Mongiat
37   Posted 09/11/2009 at 21:54:26

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Lol, I consider that world renowned playmakers are playmakers... Now, you like dodging questions when you’re wrong, but I'll ask you again. Are you actually stating that Xavi, Iniesta, Kaka or Zidane are not playmakers? Because they don't play in the deep midfield position?

Great work Ciaran, really great work. On the plus side your stubborn idiocy is amusing.

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