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8th May Be Our True Position

By Tim Luke :  18/05/2010 :  Comments (30) :
With the close season upon us, many of us are now waiting for the World Cup to begin. In the meantime, we spend our football “limbo” time speculating on the latest transfer rumors, as well as catching up on a variety of views, opinions and gossip regarding our beloved Everton.

I’m no different. I’ve been spending the past few weeks reading the many features and post on TW, a number of which are excellent. A common trend emerging from all these features and posts is that Everton should have ended the season higher up the league, if not for a poor start caused by long term injuries to Jaglieka, Arteta, Yakubu and the rest. None of which was helped by the Lescott saga. Nonetheless, the consensus was that the performance in the second half of the season showed how far Everton had come as a team. On the back of this strong end-of-season run, hopes among the Goodison faithful are now sky-high that Everton will break into the top 4 next season.

However, I feel that a lot of our optimism is misplaced. There are a number of factors that will make it hard for Everton to make a significant impact next season. 8th rather than Top 4 may be our true position after all. Let me explain the reasons for my doubts:-

1) Teams, including the Sky 4 or 6, will take us more seriously.

When we beat Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, and had credible draws with Spurs, Arsenal and Villa in 2009-10, everyone started to realize that Everton could play good pass-and-move football.

I suspect that we did well against these teams this time as previous Everton teams were not known for playing smooth, flowing football. So what they encountered surprised them, and they were not set up to counter this flowing Everton system. They’ve all seen us now... So you can imagine what SAF, Arsene Wenger, Mancini, Anchelotti, and the like will be thinking prior to their next match-up with Everton. They will focus hard on closing us down, countering our threats, and man-marking our ball-players.

We’ve all seen what happens when a team treats Everton with respective and counters our style of play. We just don’t have the tactical nous or confidence to overcome them. This is the reason why we’ve drawn with teams like Birmingham and Wolves, and lost to teams like Hull and Burnley. It’ll get worst when the top teams also decide to treat us with respect and to stop us from playing our natural game. I doubt we’ll be able to overcome them.

A case in point was the game at Anfield. Benitez saw what we could do to teams if given time and space. So he ordered his thugs to close us down and manhandle us. We never recovered, even when they were down to 10 men. I think the Liverpool game at Anfield will be the template used by Chelsea, Man Utd and the rest when they meet us next season.

Hence, while many on TW think that the wins against Man Utd and Chelsea was the start of a new chapter in Everton’s Premier League history where we will beat such teams regularly, I have a feeling we will come away will precious little from our encounters with them next season.

2) Teams below and above us will invest more in their squads than us.

I really doubt this close season will be any different from the last. Like it of not, we will go through the whole close season without a single signing, and when we do sign someone, it will be at the last minute and typically either loans or free signings.

On the other hand, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Villa, Birmingham, and the rest will likely be adding to their player pool, and will probably be doing so earlier than us. This means their squads will be formed within the close season, and will have a chance to train and prepare for the new season way before we can. Hence, they will have smoother starts then us, with bigger and better squads.

Therefore, we do have to acknowledge that breaking into the top 4 next season will be harder next season than this, given that many of the teams above and around us will be investing more into their squads, and doing so much earlier then us.

3) We have to sell to buy

Unless Moyes accepts the above scenario, he’ll have no choice but to sell in order to buy. And don’t be surprised by some of the sales Moyes may be forced to make to build up a cash pile to bring in better players.

We are all resigned to Pienaar leaving us. So to am I. But besides Pienaar, I believe that Moyes will cash in on Saha, Yakubu, Yobo and maybe even Jaglieka or Arteta. If he does sell these players, I have full confidence that he will use the money wisely and bring in more than adequate replacements. However, they will need time to gel and get used to the Premier League.

Given this fact, it is inevitable that the “new” team will take some time to bed down, and that we’ll only likely start to see them perform well as a team around Christmas. If so, a top 4 finish is likely to be out of the question.

Anyway, I tend to be pessimistic during the close season lull. I just hope that the above is no more than idle speculation. But I would caution all of us to be a little more guarded and to manage our expectations for next season. I for one will be delighted if none of the above comes true, but you never know… after all, this is Everton.

Reader Comments

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Andy Crooks
1   Posted 18/05/2010 at 14:32:43

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Tim, I think your article takes a very realistic look at our prospects for next season. Also, there is no guarantee that our appalling luck with injuries will improve. Without substantial investment, eighth will be as good as it gets. I'd like another cup run, Carling Cup willl do.
Roberto Birquet
2   Posted 18/05/2010 at 14:22:19

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"8th maybe our level" — Almost anything MAY be true.
"Liverpool game at Anfield will be the template used by Chelsea, Man Utd and the rest when they meet us next season." ??
Rubbish. They have more faith in themselves, and Arsenal would never do that. That Liverpool win did not so much deflate me, as make me realise how little faith Liverpool had in themselves.

What happens at that Club this close season will be the biggest story in the League. New buyers? Any money? Lose Gerrard, el Niño, and even Mascherano?
Man City, Villa, Birmingham, and the rest will likely be adding to their player pool. City, yes! Villa, apparently No (what source do you have for your claim?) Birmingham — so what?
We’ll have no choice but to sell in order to buy.... so what? It is the same for most teams except, Man U, Chelsea, Arse, Spurs and City.

Have a look around; economic recession, euro falling apart, Pompey in Administration, West Ham a total mess. Villa are still not as good as us and have finally run out of money, Spurs will at least have to play demanding European games adding to their workload, City are seemingly going to rebuild again — so a lag will come before performances hit heights; and Liverpool? — God Knows!

Everyone else is beneath our level.

Look at the table — yes, we came 8th, but 11 pts above 9th, after an awful start. Was that start not a fair reflection of our ability due to the injury crisis? Our second half of the season can answer that.

Next season could be our best chance. We must keep everyone of the major players, at least lose no more than Pienaar; get two midfielders (one on the right), a left back backup, and maybe a striker with the Pienaar money, loans and maybe £4-5 million extra.

Then, we'll be ready.

Sean McKenna
3   Posted 18/05/2010 at 14:36:38

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Tim, spot on mate. At home next year, nearly every team will park the bus and hit us on the break. Like you said, Everton struggle to break down a solid unit at home and it will be even harder next time round, however, our problem is we have NO Plan B.

Like most Toffewebbers, I believe pace is the key for us in this summer's transfer market, we need a new dimension, whether it is an out-and-out winger or speedy fullbacks I'm not sure but both would be great. Or we could go the other route of buying a top class playmaker who can slip the killer ball in and who can score 15 plus goals. It's all ifs an buts, but one thing is for sure is that every Evertonian is in for a very long summer.

Si Harwood
4   Posted 18/05/2010 at 14:36:57

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Sorry - but I disagree.

I did have a great response almost typed then the PC crashed - and Im not retyping it!

But in essence - all teams (bar Shittee & Cheski) will struggle due to fiances to make massive changes to the teams.

We will keep most of the current team next season - Jags & Mikky will stay - Yak, Vaughan, Nash, Turner Jukiletzifitz and a couple of other "fringe" players will be taken off the books - freeing up funds - and if Peanuts does go then fine, we can replace him, he's no world beater in my eyes.

AND - Sorry - but no European football is a massive advantage against the likes of Villa, Spurs & the Shite - we will have more recovery time and less chances of injuries occuring - I want and prefer us to be in Europe - but look at the advantages.

We have everything in place for great season - 2 signings, and we will be set..

.....................well apart from a multibillionaire - to get us the new ground - get the debts sorted and give Moyes a huge wad of cash - but that aint gonna happen.
Karl Masters
5   Posted 18/05/2010 at 15:26:10

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You can spin our chances either way depending on your mood.

Yours is the negative way of looking at it. I prefer to be more positive. I will be disappointed if we don't come above Villa and Liverpool and I don't see that much to fear from City, Spurs or come to that, Arsenal. WE COULD MAKE 3rd.
Ray Said
6   Posted 18/05/2010 at 15:33:24

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Karl Masters

I am with you, mate, we really could challenge and, I will go one further, with all the lads fit and 2 good buys (right wing and up front) WE COULD WIN THE LEAGUE.

We have been Champions many times before and we will be so again.
Mark Stone
7   Posted 18/05/2010 at 15:43:27

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I have to say I wouldn't be either surprised or bothered if we don't buy anyone this summer - as long as we don't lose anyone!

If anyone did come in Donovan would be ideal but it won't happen because there isn't the money to make it happen. Nevertheless, no doubt Moyes will be lambasted for 'missing out' on every Tom, Dick and Harry who the Daily Star link us with.
Tony J Williams
8   Posted 18/05/2010 at 16:08:55

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It certainly was this season, next one, who knows? It will, as ever, depend on the pre-season and transfers and how they are conducted
Giles Larkman
9   Posted 18/05/2010 at 16:10:21

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Dude, cheer up!

The top for taking us more seriously???? Please!!! To win anything, you have to beat the team in front of you. Every team wants to beat the team they're playing. We beat Man U, Man city etc because we played better on the day.

Teams below us will invest more in their squads. Maybe they will spend the money, but they will be chancing their arm on an outside bet, as no big name will be heading to Stoke or Blackburn.

We have to sell to buy. I'm with Mark Stone on this one; we need good cover and if Nuts goes, a replacement for him.

Fuck me, this season has been miserable enough without dour pessimism seeping into our close season. It's already annoying enough that the big teams want our players... and surely that's enough proof that we're heading in the right direction!!!!
Giles Larkman
10   Posted 18/05/2010 at 16:19:13

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Apologies for fucking awful grammar and spellings.
Brian Waring
11   Posted 18/05/2010 at 17:02:28

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Tim, not being funny mate, but Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal will not be using the Anfield game as a template against us next season.
James Stewart
12   Posted 18/05/2010 at 17:13:08

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Rubbish, the thought of the Sky 4 resorting to Big Sam tactics against us is just plain ridiculous.
David Hallwood
13   Posted 18/05/2010 at 17:53:57

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Close season is going to be interesting to say the least, because it may be the case that, with the exception of Chelsea & Citteh, everyone's skint. Particularly interesting was Fergie's comments about being hurt by the loss of Tevez & Ronaldo — now in the old days, if a player went, they would be replaced by another quality player, but not this time, depite having the Ronaldo money in the bank (allegedly).

We could be seeing a level playing field or the billionaires imposing a new world order...

BJ Farrimond
14   Posted 18/05/2010 at 18:43:15

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Tim, you weren't lieing when you said you get pessimistic in close season, get a grip. Part of supporting the Toffeemen is the belief that we can do well, look at the squad spirit.If you had anything to do with the team talk we would be lucky if anyone came out of the tunnel when Z cars started.
Kevin Gillen
15   Posted 18/05/2010 at 19:52:25

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Good article, well argued, but overall, pessimistic.

Firstly, there is now a top eight in the Premier League. Only Sunderland and Fulham can come close to challenging this top eight and they are both a little way off in terms of squad depth.

Chelsea appear to me to be out on their own, they should have won the league by a country mile. United are a team in transition. They set themselves high standards but to me they are short in several areas and they are ageing.

Liverpool, who knows? They lose some of their star players, especially Torres and they are very ordinary. Arsenal, they flatter to deceive, they are not the team they once were and the label promising is wearing thin on some of their players. They are struggling to hold on to their star man and they are much less of a team without him.

Spurs are a coming team but they don't have the right manager and they have some players they might lose to injury. Villa have the right man in charge but don't have the personnel despite considerable investment. Man City have the resources to be in the top four and I think they will make it next year.

I agree we deserve to be eighth or less when you consider the investment we have had but I do believe we have great management and some diamonds on the pitch, especially Fellaini and Arteta, and Cahill, who is the exceptional end of something (heading from free kicks and corners).

I think we will finish above Liverpool and Spurs and Villa next season. I'm not sure about the rest. I will say that under Moyes we have won the league on the handicap twice (happy days - cashed in big time!) and next season we really could challenge for honours with a change of attitude.

Mark Pierpoint
16   Posted 18/05/2010 at 21:46:48

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Pessimistic to the extreme Tim. I accept some of your points. To an extent some of the top four may change the way they play against us next season. Rather than their weaknesses we should talk up our strengths. We have a talented team, we should be mixing it with the top 4 at home. Yes we wont win them all but in Felliani and Arteta we have two of the top midfielders in the league. Howard can mix it with the best. Jags and Heitinga in the centre and Baines give us a strong backline. It isn't an accident when we run top teams close or beat them.

This idea of selling before we buy. I am going to go over old ground but outside of Tottenham, Chelsea and City it is doubtful that many teams will be able to spend big. Yes teams like Sunderland, Brum and stoke have the capacity to, but i am not too worried by them.

Moyes won't cash in on Saha, Jags or Arteta, period. Whilst i am a Yak fan, the right price for him or Yobo would be no bad thing so i struggle to see this in a negative light to be honest. (If Fenerbache want to offer daft money for Louis again i wouldn't be against that either)
Derek Thomas
17   Posted 19/05/2010 at 00:22:51

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Nah, sorry, total bollocks and as somebody else said, you can spin it any way you like depending on your mood, which can colour your view a bit.

A couple of good wins / performances and life through the freshly polished blue tinted specs is, well if not rosey, pretty hard given the start colour of said specs, decidely Bluey.

A couple of draws etc Vs Wolves and Stoke and the view through the bottom of the now half empty glass of bile is very distorted...twas ever the way.

We have shown, that The United team and performance proves we can take on ALL in a knock down drag out toe to toe pass and move fest, which could go any way result wise, depending on a host of variables.

And to my mind at least, it is obvious that the result will be, as in boxing, decided (apart from bad bounce, slips, etc ) by the party that applies 'our style' of in your face attitude.

You have to fight for the right to party.

Win the initial 'fight ball' which then lets you play the 'joined up football'.

And that's where we are now.

We are the fighter that has dicovered or had trained into him some BOXING skills as well, but as we have seen, we sometimes revert to type, hence our in-consistant results.

Being an all out fighter or boxer will only take you so far, in a good year it might even get you to 4th (04-05 ). But it is the ability to do both AND know when to apply it that makes Champions.

We have come a long way since 04-05 and lets face it the 'old top teams' have fallen off a bit. and the Spurs, Villa, Citeh's have still away to go.

We have the best chance now to step up, as the step is not so large.

There was never 'Glass Ceiling' that stopped us going up, It was always a sticky floor, the money teams could cover it with Banknotes and thus leap higher.

That money is now in shortish supply and thus the ( mix the metaphor ) the much wished for level playing field has now been made a bit more sticky for the others.

So put me down for ( puts on blue tinted specs) a deffo each way between 9th and FIRST!!
Eric Myles
18   Posted 19/05/2010 at 03:43:25

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Moyes can't sell Saha, his contract expires in a couple of weeks and he'll be available on a Bosman.
Richard Dodd
19   Posted 19/05/2010 at 09:23:50

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Blimey, Tim, I was saying this LAST SEPTEMBER and got a right bollocking from the Editor et al for displaying a lack of ambition!

I base my judgement (In advance!) on the fact that Man City, Spurs and Villa obviously had greater resources as well as managers who were capable of exploiting them. City panicked early on and kicked out Hughes but the strength of their squad and our early season problems ensured they were in the shake-up for Champions League.

I think — in our present circumstances — we will always do well to be in top eight, even if that isn`t SEEN as great by the more demanding of our followers.

Ryan Holroyd
20   Posted 19/05/2010 at 09:44:53

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@ 18.

What are you on about? Saha signed a new two year contract in February last season.
Mike Green
21   Posted 19/05/2010 at 10:02:59

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Good piece, Tim.

After the Cup Final on Saturday, one of the pundits asked whether Chelsea could view this as a successful season or not — and was serious — after they'd just won the fuckoing double!

This is all down to expectation though — as they hadn't won the CL or got to the final, it put a question mark over their year.

Similarly, they treated their victory over us in the FA Cup Final last year as a procession and far from anything special, such is the level of their expectations given the strength of their team, squad and recent history.

What are my expectations for Everton next season? I expect them to finish in the top 6, I also expect them to be fighting out for 4th — we're better than Liverpool and Villa, City are still going to be inconsistent and Spurs will hopefully be distracted by CL. I expect us to have at least one decent Cup run and whilst I don't expect a trophy or the title (.......) you never know — the club may exceed my expectations and suprise me.

If someone offered me 4th and a semi-final now I'd snap their hands off. Call that unambitious but I think that's where we are at the moment.
Simon Kirwan
22   Posted 19/05/2010 at 12:42:56

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1) We have been a club treated with respect for years. 5th in last two seasons etc.. SAF, Wenger & Co do not underestimate us.

2) Teams above and below perenially invest more than us... you can't buy team spirit as many have found out before us (Newcastle, Spurs etc etc). Our squad, man for man, will still be one of the best.

3) We always have to sell to buy.

The only difference next season is that our squad is significantly better than it has been over our recent successful squads.
Michael Brien
23   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:32:51

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So you're clearly not an optimist then!! I wouldn't go so far as to put money on us definitely making the 4th spot or higher myself. However, as has been pointed out, there was quite a gap between ourselves in 8th and Jasper Carrot's lot in 9th.

I know that we are not looking forward to a summer spending spree, unless somebody like Paul McCartney buys Evertoon!!!

However, from what SAF was saying yesterday, not too many clubs will be splashing the cash. There may be signings by Man United & Liverpool, but I am also quite sure that they will have to "offload" one or two players as well. Only Manchester City seem to be able to ignore the financial reality and spend as much as they want. However, making too many changes may not be to their advantage. It's all very well bringing in mega signings ever summer, but as Real Madrid have shown it does not guarantee trophies every season.

As long as we bring in any new signings before the season starts, and don't leave it until the very last minute at the end of the transfer window (as in the last couple of summers) that will be fine by me. I don't think we can afford to do all the last minute trading again — in effect, in the last couple of seasons, we have given some of our rivals a head start. We must have our squad decided on before a ball is kicked to give ourselves a decent chance. And what's wrong with bringing in a couple of loan signings and using that as a "trial" before we make a permanent deal?

Dave Lynch
24   Posted 19/05/2010 at 14:48:52

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Optimism v Reality.

The reality is that we will not know what our chances are until the season starts and we know what the squad will be. I wouldn't put anything past this board with regards selling off our best players.

New signings mean a settling in period and history dictates that it takes a while for a player to step up to the mark Moyes sets. By that time it may be too late for a push for the top 4.

Hope I'm wrong, but I'm not holding my breath. Remember the last couple of seasons lads. How many of us where on this site until midnight waiting for the big signings that never came.

Stewart Littler
25   Posted 19/05/2010 at 17:40:51

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The top 4 is no more, IMO. It's a top 2 of Chelsea and United, followed by 6 clubs who were separated by 12 or 13 points. I would agree we will struggle to match 7 points from 12 against the top 2, but think we will top 10 points from 24 against the rest — actually, sack that, the 2010 team plus Fellaini should pick up at least 5 more points against the rest of this 'top 8'.

Our problem, well, I think there's two: the first, put simply, has been excuses — we've had one for each of the last few seasons. We all know what they are and we've done those debates time and again; and the second, that lack of a killer instinct. Especially against the lower league sides.

In the second half of the season, we ran out of excuses and bettered that killer instinct, and 39 points from 19 games is close to title form. The big questions are:

  • Can we keep the core of the current squad (including the best of) and replace a few if possible? [Yobo, Vaughan, Ruddy, Nash, Jutkiewicz out {£10m}; Donovan, Senderos, Mucha, Beckford, Adam in {£10m} ????]
  • Can we apply that kind of consistency over the course of a season, and learn to be that little bit more ruthless in 2 or 3 of the recent disappointments?
If we can, I honestly think we will be close to being nailed on for a CL place... 3rd or 4th. If we can and get real lucky, and that top 2 underperform a little in comparison to this season, who knows. I think the same might be true for Spurs and City. At the same time, we could hit the 70 mark and still finish 5th.

My final point is that a late player sale would not be considered as an acceptable excuse. It's been done before, and perhaps accepted a little, since evidence suggested the money involved was to some level justification. Well this time, if there is to be a this time, let's have it out there first time. Not necessarily in public, but a firm statement nonetheless that unless a certain amount is offered, there will be no deal.
Andy Crooks
26   Posted 19/05/2010 at 18:18:34

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Michael, Jasper Carrot's lot will spend money. Yeung was prepared to spend £40 Million but, after discovering Birmingham's real position, dropped this to about £20 million. Now, I certainly wouldn't want him anywhere near Everton, I actually think Birmingham will regret they ever got involved with him. However, I think they will have short term success which will hurt us.
Eric Myles
27   Posted 20/05/2010 at 06:22:51

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@20 The someone better tell those lazy gits at Toffeeweb Towers to update their website 'cos that's where I got the info from!!

Only joking Michael and Lyndon, but the Player Profiles was my first choice for info.

Dave Wilson
28   Posted 20/05/2010 at 06:15:21

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I once got a terrific bit of inside info at Towcester races. We were told by a friend's friend, a man who has since become quite famous, "There`s no such ting as a good ting, but if there was?".

My missus had the flights booked before they`d weighed in

Cesc is Barca bound. Arsenal will struggle.

City are still a disjointed mess. Two years before they enter the promised land.

Rooney will have developed a hump on his back carrying Man U.

The Shite: well they`re just shite

Villa: stuck with a crash bang wallop Manager.

Spurs: wont stop preening themselves until chrimbo.

Chelsea: unfortunately will have Essien back and will look even stronger.

I`ve watched footy long enough to know you don't need to be a world beater to finish top of the pile, you only have to be better than the opposition. Roman`s boys will probably see to it that we can't be champs, but there are three doors into the promised land and this time they are wide open.

Lump on boys and girls.

Yer man was right of course, there is no such thing as a good thing, but if there was...

Richard Parker
29   Posted 21/05/2010 at 09:15:09

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If we can keep our squad together and get a decent start, there's no reason why we can't have a tilt at the top-4 next year.

However, I think there's a good chance we'll fall short unless we get a good striker and a pacy winger.

Moyes may let one or 2 big names go, for big money, but we should get decent ROI with that. I don't forsee any big changes, like some have predicted, we have a settled squad who lost twice in 24 games. Moyes won't rock the boat if he doesn't need to.
James Flynn
30   Posted 22/05/2010 at 08:42:53

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Great thread, this one. I'd say one thing said already a few times. Timmy me lad, lighten up. We're in the hunt for honors just as much as the teams that finished ahead of us. We ARE that good.

Another point, though, about next season: Moyes has taken these years to build the team on a relative shoe-string and here we are finally on the brink. I say ownership will give him the funds to hold on to his guys because:

A. The team is good enough to win it next season and winning means big bucks in the offing (Nothing ventured, nothing gained).

B. If they don't let Moyes take his best shot with this group, let's not kid ourselves, he's leaving.

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