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Stepping up a Gear

By Mike Oates :  13/05/2010 :  Comments (23) :
If you look back on what we achieved this season, you’ll actually see that we were only 2pts away from last season’s total and on 61 points as we were in 2004 when we qualified for the CL in 4th place. So, quite clearly, the league has moved on and there is serious new competition to gain entry to the CL, most notably Spurs and to a lesser extent Man City. Getting 4th place this year took 70 points!

Whilst we all now know that our form from December onwards would have given us 3rd place extrapolated over the whole season – you really need to understand what we have to do to cement a CL place: it means really playing at a level which can challenge for the 3rd place, and failing 3rd would hopefully cement 4th place.

The 3rd place means we have to score about 25 more goals, we have to concede about 15-20 goals less, and we have to win about 7 more games. We cannot accept the draws home and/or away against the likes of Wolves, Stoke, Birmingham, West Ham – they have to be won. We cannot accept the defeats against the likes of Hull, Bolton, Fulham and bloody Liverpool – they all have to be won AND we must not revert back to home defeats/draws against the Big 2. This is a tall order by any means.

What we have got going for us is that the likes of Spurs, City, Villa and Liverpool will have the extra European games, and the accompanying fatigue, injuries, and team disruptions the competitions tend to bring.

Can we step up a gear to do it? – Who knows... but for sure it's not getting easier and to me the real key is to find that 20-goal-a-season scorer – wherever he may be and unfortunately at a knock-down price. Is Beckford the answer?

Reader Comments

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Mike McLean
1   Posted 14/05/2010 at 05:58:52

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If Beckford is the answer, the question needs rewording.
Kunal Desai
2   Posted 14/05/2010 at 08:16:07

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Can't see it happening. Going by Elstone's latest comments, it would suggest it's another summer of sell to buy.
Ciarán McGlone
3   Posted 14/05/2010 at 09:25:23

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A 20-goal-a-season striker is pretty useless if you've no balance in midfield.

We need the right and the left sorted first...
Eugene Ruane
4   Posted 14/05/2010 at 09:08:37

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70 points a tall order?

All we needed this season to get 70 points was a little bit more concentration.

We threw 6 points away in the last mins against Arsenal, Villa and West Ham.

Had we got them, all we'd have needed to do is convert JUST two of our draws (specially at home) against shitty teams and that would have been us on 70, 71.

(Yes, I know they're 'ifs' but they're not 'big ifs'...)
Graham Atherton
5   Posted 14/05/2010 at 09:26:52

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After what we have seen since Christmas, there is another 10-15 points in the present squad, as long as injuries don't strike more than one or two main players at a a time.

Loss of one or two won't help but there are enough rising stars to compensate, and of course we know that the money raised will be put to good use.

There are now 6 fighting for 3rd & 4th, so none can afford to spend as much as they used to get there (excepting City) as failure is a far more real possibility than it has been for a long time — this truely is a massive change.

There is more hope this summer than there has been for a long time. Top 4 is more than possible and that is the first time I have thought that for many years.
Sam Hoare
6   Posted 14/05/2010 at 09:33:45

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Gonna be a big ask with an extremely competitive top 8 next season. Tottenham, Villa and especially City will all spend. Liverpool and Arsenal will surely be reshaped or at least have alot to prove. Man U and Chelsea are probably a class apart over the length of a season.

For us the key, key component will be injury. If we can keep the likes of Arteta, Pienaar (if he stays), Fella, Jags and Heitinga fit all the season, then I don't see any reason we can't be in the mix.

Can Yak become a 20-goal striker again... I hope so because our budget gets you a 10-goal striker if you're lucky.
Thomas Christensen
7   Posted 14/05/2010 at 13:09:23

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I'm inclined to agree with Ciaran - we all saw what a threat we were with pace in the team with Donovan to complement our central midfield. We need better quality from the left and / or right.

Moreover, the assumption is that with more quality going in to the box the likes of Saha, The Yak et al will score more and I think they can... just don't bring Jo(ke) back.
Dave Lynch
8   Posted 14/05/2010 at 14:37:02

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All this bollox about 20-goal-a-season strikers? Yakubu and the other strikers we have at the club are well able to slot 20 goals a season, it's down to the chances you create as a team.

The reason the top 4 have 20-goal-a-season strikers is that they create lots of chances. We don't. End of.

Kevin Gillen
9   Posted 14/05/2010 at 14:29:02

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As for moving to the next level, the most important players for Everton are not those ones out there in the world of fantasy football but the players currently at the club. Have they got the improvement? The cojones to really break into the top four and stay there? I think we will know in the opening weeks. I think Arteta and Pienaar are as good as anyone in the league and Fellaini as the guy who might make the difference. That lad doesn't concede a milimetre to anyone.

I also saw signs in the Man Utd match that Rodwell might be the attacking/goalscoring midfielder that we need away from home. We do miss some pace down the flanks to stretch teams and we need to be able to find a striker that can win us games on the break. King Louis can do it and I think he will benefit from having Beckford snapping at his heels.

I am surprised by the speculation regarding Beckford. I'm not sure if he has the touch we are looking for but give him some credit, he knows where the goal is. The goalkeeper and defence will be key. We need more clean sheets. We have got some top defensive talent but they did not perform last year.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
10   Posted 14/05/2010 at 15:39:41

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Hibbo posts have been moved to a new Hibbo thread in the mailbag.
James Stewart
11   Posted 14/05/2010 at 17:40:32

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Dave Lynch and Ciaran — spot on.
Sean McKenna
12   Posted 14/05/2010 at 20:56:54

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Dave, 100% correct! Plus more pace is a must this summer.
Brian Garside
13   Posted 14/05/2010 at 21:36:21

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Eugene. Have you forgotten Burnley (a)? Saha missed a pen. One more point to your total.

With a fit squad we are a match for anyone and everyone knows it. Teams defend against us. Even Arsenal, United and Chelsea will show us more respect after this season's drubbings.
Sean Patton
14   Posted 14/05/2010 at 22:32:27

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There is also the Birmingham game 2-0 up and crusing but we throw it away and draw 2-2, that is another two points. Forgive me for raining on this parade boys but it all seems to be from one point of a view.

What about the games where we profited from late winners. This year alone we have beaten Blackburn,Fulham and Portsmouth with goals either in the 90th minute or later.

The team does need pace on the wings as mentioned. When we break it is always too slow and defenders are allowed to get back into position.

To get to 70 points and above we are going to have to be a bit more attacking away from home and be more clinical when playing the flotsam and jetsam of the league.
Brendan O'Doherty
15   Posted 15/05/2010 at 01:22:38

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Sean you are dead right. The points thrown away in the last few minutes are cancelled out by the points we nicked in the last few minutes. We ended up were we deserved to be with 61 points. Spot on in your analysis of what needs to done to get to 70 points next season. I do think we have been creating many more chances this season but have lacked the clinical finishing.

There were signs towards the end of the season that the Yak was getting his little bursts of acceleration back, so hopefully he will be back to his 2007-08 form next season. That would help a lot.

Matt Traynor
16   Posted 15/05/2010 at 07:04:52

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It's also going to be tougher this year — Man City will "re-shape" their squad, Spurs will probably spend as they have done previously to try to ensure qualification for the group stage.

The only team I don't see spending heavily is Aston Villa (though O'Neill has to also sell to buy — he'll sure have a starting pot bigger than us).

We may face danger from other teams (e.g. Birmingham) spending to "push on". Elstone said in the City interview, the Board very much depend on Moyes pulling rabbits out of hats.

The CL is a poisoned chalice in many ways. Spend a fortune getting there, spend big to stay there, and pray no-one else usurps you.
Mike Elbey
17   Posted 15/05/2010 at 10:19:23

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Eugene, Sean is spot on, and you can add the Wigan game at home at the start of the season as well - 93rd minute penalty.

We did throw away points at the end of games but we also won them as well. We were hopeless for half a season and consistent for the other half and at the end of the season you finish where you deserve.

As for next season, a RM with pace and keep the current squad. Maybe someone like Huntelaar on loan?

However, I think we are going to lose Pienaar — there is no valid reason for him not signing his contract other than he wants a big pay day. I have now accepted that he is a greedy bastard who is happy to sit on someone's bench to enhance his pay packet and CV. I say get the lad sold as quickly as possible after the WC as his value may increase, and move on — not another Lescott saga, please.
Peter Askins
18   Posted 15/05/2010 at 13:18:25

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To answer the question, no, Beckford is probably not the answer to our 20-goals-a-season striker problem. However, on a free transfer, with "only" his wages to pay, it's a no-brainer. Get him in, use him as a last-15-minutes sub, and who knows, he might pop in a couple of crucial goals. If his only two recognised attributes are speed, and being in the right place at the right time, well, I'll have some of that.

If Beckford doesn't work out, the option will always be there to sell him on, at a tidy profit. Simples!

Jay Harris
19   Posted 15/05/2010 at 19:10:28

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Sorry to disagree but IMO:

1. We have created many chances and spurned them.

2. The real problem is in defence where we can't seem to keep a clean sheet in most games.

I really believe we need a top class CB to complement Jags and Heitinga because, Heitinga apart, we have too many lapses of concentration.

Felli's return will help with the goalscoring and so will Tiny's return to form. For me the main requirement of a forward is to ensure we retain the ball and link up with MF. Yak and Saha just need more consistency.
Nick Armitage
20   Posted 15/05/2010 at 23:31:01

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I reckon Seamus Coleman will net 20 next season no bother. He's better than Messi you know.
Martin Clark
21   Posted 16/05/2010 at 05:27:25

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If we strengthen one position this summer, I'd like it to be someone on the right, preferable Landon after the way we played against both Chelsea and Man Utd — it demonstrated what having not only threats from both wings and pace but also two wingers who could swap round.

I'm not worried about what other teams do this summer because the main thing Everton seem to have is team spirit in abundence. The players seem to love playing for Everton, I get this feeling that it's like one big happy family. Having a settled team could give us a boost on others who blow loads of dosh on players who are unsettled and will need time.

If the Yak is back next season, he's gonna get a lot to feed on, I feel.
BJ Farrimond
22   Posted 16/05/2010 at 14:09:04

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Cash in on the Yak and get someone younger and more eager. Not sure it's Beckford though but anyone's workrate has got to be an improvement on Yakubu who at times just doesn't look at all interested.
Wilson Tan
23   Posted 17/05/2010 at 11:11:18

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BJ: Yak is only 28 this year (and Beckford is 27). I think he has a few years to go yet. While I agree the Yak doesn't seem like his old self, we need to realise he is still recovering from an injury that, had it happened 10 years ago, would have meant the end of his career.

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