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Landon, You Have a Lot to Live Up To

By Jamie Rowland :  07/01/2010 :  Comments (28) :
Whilst it was rumoured amongst the fan sites, I didn’t think it would come true. Landon Donovan has been given the coveted Everton No 9 shirt.

For me, this is a massive disappointment. The Number 9 shirt has always been something of a symbol for Everton fans, especially me. It is a symbol that epitomises the very meaning of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum and above all else (most recently), it has been a symbol of hope for many.

It has been worn by some of Everton’s giants: Dixie Dean, Dave Hickson, Alex Young, Joe Royle, Bob Latchford, Graeme Sharp, Duncan Ferguson, to name but a few...

Even those that have donned the jersey without the prolific goalscoring edge have offered us something that has justified their wearing of our most honoured shirt. Duncan Ferguson, as an example, was far from the goalscoring machines that we have had in the past. But in my eyes he earned the jersey because of his commitment to the club and the game.

Okay, he had a bad reputation but the fact that he would fight for the Everton cause gave us all hope when things were at their very worst. Knowing ‘Big Dunc’ was on the team sheet gave us a boost that was lacking when he wasn’t available.

The Number 9 shirt has to be earned. It has to be earned so that the player privileged enough to wear it does so with pride. A pride that makes them give their all every game — a pride that honours the tradition of the shirt and honours the greats that have played for Everton.

The shirt has a fantastic history that includes unbroken goalscoring record achieved by Dixie Dean. It continued along its journey, being worn by only those who could handle the pressure of being the Everton Hero, target man, headline grabber and on some occasions, the villain.

Not every player can handle that kind of pressure and expectation. An expectation that you are going to be lively, stand out from the crowd and inspire when it may seem that all hopes are dashed. (I am sure that many Everton strikers have not opted to take this number due to this and there’s no shame in that, the pressure can be too heavy to bear.)

I am aware that some have not lived up to the status of the shirt (ahem... Beattie), but I am still upset that it has been given so easily to Landon Donovan — an unproven forward coming from a league that is not comparable to the Premier League. He probably has not heard of us or Dixie Dean and he certainly hasn’t got me excited yet... which further disappoints me when I know that he is going to wear this shirt. I sincerely hope that he is not the first player in the club’s history to wear the shirt and NOT score.

If that occurs, it would be an all-time low for me and my relationship with Everton FC — which, after the DK and Lescott saga’s of 2009, is already very damaged.

I will obviously support Landon when he steps onto Goodison park and I will give him the same encouragement that I give every Everton player... but I want him to understand that the shirt he has on his back is not something he should take lightly or for granted. It’s an honour to play for Everton and it’s a bigger honour to be given that shirt.

Landon, please wear it with pride and do it justice. Prove me wrong...

Reader Comments

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Peter Bourke
1   Posted 08/01/2010 at 03:32:38

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It will be difficult for Landon to live up to anything being here for such a short period. More than likely, by the time he settles in, it will be time to pack up and go home.

I know where you're coming from regarding the Number 9 but it is only for a short period and as long as he helps us win, I don’t care what number he wears.

Charlie Percival
2   Posted 08/01/2010 at 03:49:56

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I think this is a very wise move by Moyes. Don't you worry, Moyes will have drilled into every player he signs what it means to play for Everton; he will have notified Landon Donovan who has worn that shirt in the past and what it means. So if Donovan was offered the shirt and he took it, I think that is a definite positive and shows he isn't here for a ride.

I really think Moyes has done this to maximise Donovan's abilities, inspire him, show faith in him and maximise his abilities during the loan period.

Also, if he turns out to be a great loan signing (which I think he will as I've always thought he stands out like a sore thumb for USA like Pienaar for S Africa), then it will also give him more reason to sign for us permanently as he knows we think highly of him.
Christine Foster
3   Posted 08/01/2010 at 03:59:39

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The No 9 shirt does conjure up some great players and I admit surprise that it's given to a short-term loan player. BUT it's a clear indication that Moyes thinks that highly of him AND he will be playing upfront.

Because he plays in the US, many consider him a second-rate player (which he clearly isn’t) and that by default there are better centre-forwards in the Championship (Who?).

We have an international player who wants to play for us to improve his game prior to the World Cup. Seems perfectly reasonable to me, especially if we end up picking up points whilst he does so.

It's a good deal for both parties and who knows where it will lead too? As with all new transfers, they have to prove their worth.

I look forward to watching him and seeing how quickly he can adapt his game to the UK winter and the relative hardness of the Premier League.

Mark Rankin
4   Posted 08/01/2010 at 07:46:22

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History is just that... Good luck to Everton’s new Number 9.
Jason Lam
5   Posted 08/01/2010 at 08:34:40

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Wearing the #9 and not score? That actually is plausible with the short term loan — and if Moyes plays him like Marcus Bent!

Don’t rate him myself but he’s with us now, Good Luck to the yank.
Matt Brown
6   Posted 08/01/2010 at 10:14:27

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James Beattie...
Andrew Ellams
7   Posted 08/01/2010 at 10:20:17

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I don’t know much about the guy except for facts and figures, and whilst they look good I appreciate that these were not at Premier League level.

But, if he shows the commitment and effort of most of his compatriots that have come to our league, then I think he’ll do a job for us in the short time he’s got.
Gary Collins
8   Posted 08/01/2010 at 10:32:39

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Can we please try and beat Arsenal instead of putting 11 behind the ball, waiting till they score?
Danny Burke
9   Posted 08/01/2010 at 11:06:18

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Quote from the OS from our new Number 9, Landon Donovan.

"I am aware of the history of the number nine here in the Premier League and also the history of it at Everton," he declared.

"I am proud that Everton would give it to me and I intend to do the jersey proud as well. It did come as a shock when I was told I would be number nine.

"At the end of the day you get on the field and play but it is an honour to wear a special number, especially here."

Can we give him a chance now rather than write him off before he plays?
Neil Vaughan
10   Posted 08/01/2010 at 11:07:24

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Totally agree with your sentiments, Jamie...

I have watched this guy regularly (admittedly on ESPN) this season and anyone who thinks he will be the answer to our problem will sadly be very disappointed... 27 years old (some would say in his prime) and still in the MLS (just signed a long-term extention), failed TWICE already in Europe... enough said.

Desperately hope he proves me wrong, but ....
Ken Williams
11   Posted 08/01/2010 at 11:17:35

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Fail to understand what the fuss is about, the Everton 2 shop had Donovan's shirt on display with the Number 9 on back before the New Year.
Chris Butler
12   Posted 08/01/2010 at 11:50:30

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Hope he’s a success.
David Hallwood
13   Posted 08/01/2010 at 12:42:23

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In these days of squad numbers when the CF may be number 45, I think that No 9 has lost its mystique, anyway I’d prefer a goal scoring No 45 than a useless No 9, and we’ve seen quite a few of them over the years
Adam Carey
14   Posted 08/01/2010 at 12:59:25

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David, I see your point regarding squad numbers but still feel that a player aims for the traditional number to suit his position. For a CF, the No 9 has to be the pinnicle point when you know you’re not just a squad player anymore?
Fair play to Landon though, for doing his homework and knowing his history!
James Stewart
15   Posted 08/01/2010 at 13:04:53

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Personally, I don’t care what number he wears. People seen very quick to write him off. I suggest you watch some of the Confederations Cup matches where he looked a class act. Especially against Brazil, he was the best player on the pitch, who, let's not forget, made England look very ordinary recently.
Charlie Percival
16   Posted 08/01/2010 at 14:38:38

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Chelseas Kalid Boularouz was a right-back/centre-half and donned the No 9 shirt — that's the type of shit that would piss me off. It does and I don't even like Chelsea. Also Neil Vaughan.

Pienaar & Arteta are two examples for you of players that were deemed never good enough at their previous clubs and I expect you and many other fans said the same when they signed.

Hang on... oh yes... Pienaar is Osman with Cornrows! That was it... how that philosophy has changed!
Kenny Lloyd
17   Posted 08/01/2010 at 15:37:07

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Not bothered what number shirt he wears to be honest - if he comes in and does the business then I suspect no one will really care what number he’s wearing. If he doesn’t quite do it then it’s only a 10-week loan spell and we move on – no damage done.

As per Charlie Percival, I feel giving him the prestigious Number 9 shirt is Moyes's way of making him feel welcomed, important & inspired straight away which will hopefully help get him off to a flyer.

I do get a good feeling about him to be honest, and his attitude from what he’s said so far and his pace together with Everton's and Moyes's work ethic, could be a good fit and he could be a real asset to us over the next 2 months. Here’s hoping….
Shaun Brennan
18   Posted 08/01/2010 at 16:14:51

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I’m surprised Moyes didn’t try to re-sign Steve Watson and give him the number!

Anyway good luck Landon.

Mike Dillon
19   Posted 08/01/2010 at 20:34:43

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Has anyone been watching the Yanks play recently?

They’ve been doing fantastically and Donovan is their focal point going forward. I’m looking forward to having a new body in a blue shirt, no matter what number.

Americans tend to be bullish about such things as "jerseys" (Howard, 24, is an obvious example) and giving him the number 9 will no doubt spur him on to perform.

Good luck to him.
Thor Sørensen
20   Posted 08/01/2010 at 21:32:39

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Completely agree with Jamie Rowland in that the number nine shirt should have to be earned. In my opinion, the same goes for the Number 5 shirt and the captaincy and vice-captaincy.

None of these honours should be awarded to any loan-players or players on short-term contracts, in their first season at the club, under the age of 25 or not regular starters.

The Number 9 and 5 shirts represent a proud tradition of outstanding strikers and centre-halves respectively, and MUST be earned through serving our great club with pride, dignity and commitment for several years.

I AM EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED IN DAVID MOYES FOR DISHONOURING THIS TRADITON! — Handing out the Number 9 shirt to a complete Everton rookie, coming here on a short-term loan to make his debut in English football altogether, is nothing short of scandalous!
Mike Gaynes
21   Posted 08/01/2010 at 22:11:44

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I just hope they don’t give Donovan the same number 9 jersey that Big Dunc wore. It’ll hang down to his knees. He’ll look like a 5-year-old wearing Daddy’s t-shirt.

In all seriousness, anybody expecting bunches of goals from Donovan will be disappointed... he’s a decent finisher in the open field, but not a goal poacher in the box. What we should expect (if field conditions permit) is that he will electrify our midfield with his speed and passing ability. And he will give maximum commitment every minute, because I’ve never seen him give anything less.
Dick Fearon
22   Posted 08/01/2010 at 22:22:06

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Mike Dillon, you have completely thrown my mind out of sync. What do you mean by Americans being bullish about shirt numbers and what special significance does 24 hold for Tim Howard?
Derek Thomas
23   Posted 09/01/2010 at 06:17:56

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Noble sentiments but don’t forget there have been some ( too many ) Tossers who have worn the shirt, all the usual suspects from and maybe before Bernie Wright.

The Man ( performance wise ) maketh the shirt;

The Shirt maketh not the man.
Tim Lloyd
24   Posted 09/01/2010 at 13:23:00

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What many of you don’t seem to realise is that the number on a shirt originally corresponded to the players position in the team. All teams played in those days with:-
(1) The Goalkeeper
(2) The Right sided full back
(3) The Left sided fullback
(4) The Right half back
(5) The Centre half
(6) The left half
(7) Outside right
(8) Inside right
(9) Centre forward
(10) Inside Left
(11) Outside Left.

In those halycon days of yesteryear, there were NO substitutions. If a player was sufficiently badly hurt that he had to leave the field, he was not substituted. The team carried on with 10 players.

Strangely, I can’t remember it happening that often. Players are substituted today for tactical reasons very often, its sort of spoiled the game for me.

It so happens that players in the Centre forward position in the ’old days’ were very often the top scorers e.g. Dixie, Tommy Lawton, Dave Hickson et al. Mind you, we also had some horrors!

Today, because teams rarely play a settled team, players are given a number, it has no signicance any more. Otherwise Saha would definitely be wearing the No. 9 shirt.
Mike Allison
25   Posted 09/01/2010 at 17:48:28

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Some people will slag Moyes off for anything, now he’s disrespecting the traditions of the club because Donovan will wear number 9? It really doesn’t matter guys. If he walked on water to save a kid from drowning there’s people on here who would moan that he can’t swim.

As it happens, we’ve got two top class ’number 9s’ in Saha and Yakubu, but neither wants to wear it, so be it. Saha even changed from it in the summer because he’s always wanted to wear number 8.

Tim Lloyd, being brought up in the 80s, the numbers still corresponded to the positions, particularly in the Everton team, 1-GK, 2-RB, 3-LB, 4-CB, 5-CB, 6-CM, 7-RM, 8-CM, 9-CF, 10-CF, 11-LM. Squad numbers have obviously changed all this and frankly, it just aint that big a deal.

I think Derek Thomas sums it up nicely.
Joseph Walsh
26   Posted 10/01/2010 at 14:32:37

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Jamie, a certain player called Rod Bellfit, who we siged from Ipswich, scored 1 goal in 2 to 3 seasons wearing the No 9 shirt.
Jamie Rowland
27   Posted 11/01/2010 at 10:44:31

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Without doing research, I was under the impression that had Duncan Ferguson not scored the penalty on last day of the season (against West Brom, when he left), he would have been the first Everton player to have NEVER scored in a full season while wearing the No. 9 shirt. Given that he scored that penalty meant that he was not the first!
Simon Jones
28   Posted 11/01/2010 at 23:20:54

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Shirt numbers are squad numbers. Number 9 means nowt today. Move on. Will we bemoan a future signing not doing justice to the no.17 shirt?

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