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Timmy or Billy?

By Sam Hoare :  17/05/2010 :  Comments (10) :
I happened to have to go to Fulham on Saturday and came face to face with some offputtingly drunk and happy Chelsea fans who were celebrating their league victory with an open top bus and then their Cup win with copious amounts of drinking and swearing. Fair play... but, as I was pelted with celery and salad from the top of one of the open buses, I thought to myself: What chance the real Blues celebrating such triumph?

Due to their Russian roubles, Chelsea have in my opinion the best squad in the Premier League, even if it is a tad on the aging side. But what has particularly delivered the trophies their way this season has been their record number of goals.

Two contributors have especially shone. Drogba and Lampard have between them over 50 Premier League goals this season. Everton as a team have 60.

Now we would all love to bring in a player of Drogba's calibre (minus the histrionics) but it's realistically not going to happen with our budget. Maybe a young player who will one day emulate... Or maybe Yak will have a huge World Cup and come back with his yesteryear boots. Fingers crossed...

But, for Lampard, we have already two midfielders who boast impressive if not quite comparable records. Timmy and Bily. Both have scored a number of important goals for us this season and both will play a vital part next season. However, much as I love our Aussie talisman and all that he has done, I can't but think that it is the Russian who represents our future.

Wikipedia tells me that Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has scored 6 goals in 23 appearances. That's better than 1 in 4 — and probably a lot of those 23 are sub appearances. Not bad when you consider he starts out wide.

Perhaps more importantly, the majority of those goals have been from open play and a few from absolutely nothing. Lampard scores a lot of his goals from just outside the box (think disaster in the last FA Cup Final) and Bily is more than capable of the same, with probably our best two goals of the season.

Now don't think I'm ignoring the fact that Bily has looked like an asthmatic baboushka in a lot of his time on the pitch. His inconsistency has seen him more often that not the first player withdrawn. Maybe he's tired; maybe he's not.

However, if he can show the improvement in all-round play that Fellaini did in his 2nd season, then maybe this lad can become the Lampard clone we need.

Again, I love Timmy. I think he's a nightmare to play against, has become an Everton legend and would be in my starting 11 for next season. But Bily has touch, speed of thought, agility and youth on his side. He can also strike the ball beautifully with both feet. His lack of pace may not make him the perfect winger but pace is not so important in a more central role.

To me, it seems Bily is tailor-made to succeed behind the striker(s), playing in either the Cahill or Lampard role. If he can improve the rest of his game — maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day — he can be the new, better, thinner Lampard... and it will be me throwing the celery.

Reader Comments

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Ben Jones
1   Posted 17/05/2010 at 14:23:45

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I think you're spot on Sam, I've always said this and agree with you wholeheartedly. His weakness of lack of pace makes him suitable for that role whilst touch, technique and finishing could make him excellent for it also. I think next season would be too soon for him, Tim Cahill would only be 31 and will be playing every time barring injury. I'd give Billy a few games there to give him the feel of it.

But in a couple of seasons ahead, when Cahill is older and Billy is beginning to peak, that will be his time.

I also think we have Osman, Pienaar and Rodwell if need be for that role. And definitely Donovan if we get him.

But you say Billy will play a vital role next season? Do you think that will be in Pienaar's spot Sam? I wouldn't be surprised to be honest and wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Andy Morden
2   Posted 17/05/2010 at 21:23:48

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I had similar thoughts about the need for the Lamapard style player able to conjur up an all important long range goal or to break from Midfield, get in the box and knock in a goal. Lampard is a better all round player than Cahill, he is equally comfortable in a 4 man midfield and can help to dictate play.

Cahill is the deep lying second forward cum attacking midfielder, often nicking goals from set pieces. Bily may have the potential to offer more in our all round play from midfield, but he will need to toughen up and get involved with tracking back to play in the middle (esp to offer us the option of a 4 man midfield).

I am personally interested to see how he will develop and what options he will be able to offer us. And I think that is the key — having different players with different attributes who can help us to have a 'plan B' or to alter Plan A when required.

Joe Carroll
3   Posted 17/05/2010 at 23:08:09

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What at first appeared farfetched, is actually not a bad prediction. Me and my brother have said all season long that Bily looks like he'd benefit from a more central role. He's certainly not showed the pace necessary to beat a man on the wing, however his touch and skill on the ball means he'd be better just behind the striker(s)

We suggested a formation in which Bily, Arteta and Pienaar roam behind a holding midfielder (Fellaini). All three are comfortable on either side or in the middle so I wonder how well these three players who could fluidly stroll behind our striker(s) would play together... we dont have any conventional wingers, so let's not pretend we do!
Joe Carroll
4   Posted 17/05/2010 at 23:18:02

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When I say 'roam BEHIND a holding midfielder', I mean INFRONT OF a holding midfielder...
Sam Hoare
5   Posted 18/05/2010 at 09:52:26

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Ben, its' hard to say as it depends on who comes and goes. I agree that Tim will start the majority of games next season when fit but think that Bily will definitely contribute from either one of the wings or coming off the bench.

Joe; I would LOVE to see Pienaar, Mikel and Bily given license to roam and interchange behind two strikers. Sadly not really Moyes's style.
Richard Parker
6   Posted 18/05/2010 at 09:38:18

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A five-man midfield of Fellaini and Rodwell deep and Bily, Pienaar, Arteta is not bad at all. With Ossie, Cahill, Pip and eventually Gosling as options, I reckon that's not bad at all. Add a pacy winger and we're looking at a top-4 midfield.

If we keep Pienaar and Rodwell and Arteta and Fellaini......
Peter Warren
7   Posted 18/05/2010 at 13:38:23

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If Bily proves his worth and is better than Cahill in that position — great... but, although he has a great left strike, I'm still to be convinced.

I think Bily will start more and play on the wing next season and Cahill in the team through middle as it looks like Piennar is off... so I don't see the straight choice yet.
Guy Wilkinson
8   Posted 18/05/2010 at 17:21:25

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Absolutely right. He developed as an old fashioned inside left and as you say he should play in an advanced position withdrawn from the striker(s).

I do not understand

A - Why Moyes plays him out wide;

B - Why people think he is a winger??!!!
David Booth
9   Posted 20/05/2010 at 13:50:34

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He's not a winger... he's an 'inside forward' (with apologies to Life Of Brian).
Ernie Baywood
10   Posted 24/05/2010 at 03:00:26

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I'd imagine that Bily is now Pienaar's replacement... unless we sign someone.

Pienaar is gone without a shadow of a doubt in my mind.

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