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On a wing and a player?

By Chris James :  27/07/2010 :  Comments (12) :
There have already been numerous posts here on the pros and c... err, well actually just 'pros', of Landon Donovan signing to take up our right-wing berth. There have been an equal number of statements as to why that is unlikely to happen on a full-time basis at least (i.e. lack of cash, competition from the Arabs at Citeh and the fact that the MLS don't want to sell their star performer).

There have been even more stories about Pienaar's presence or otherwise.

Instead of re-treading those whys and wherefores, I wanted to consider for a moment what our current (and potential) solutions are on the flanks. I've dealt with each in turn, although to a degree they should be exchangeable

Lefthand side:

Stephen Pienaar

The obvious first choice and rightly so (provided he's here of course), Pienaar's combination with Baines on the flank and interpassing with Arteta and Co in the midfield were instrumental in much of our creative work last season. Even if the end product isn't always as clinical as we'd hope (he should score more goals), there's a reason why he's sought after elsewhere and we want him to stay ? he makes things happen.
Verdict: Proven success.

Magaye Gueye

The new 'guy' has slotted in to Pienaar's position with comparative ease. Granted it was against inferior opposition in Australians and Preston, but nevertheless he's shown enough pace and precision to suggest he could be at least a back-up on the bench.
Verdict: Too early to say, but potential back-up

Right wing

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov

After a decidedly hit-and-miss first season where he served up equal measures of delight (some superlative crossing and shooting) and despair (often looked lost, knackered and off the pace, can't seem to dribble past players), most fans have high hopes for the Russian now that he's had time to rest and settle in. However, with pre-season performances so far looking remarkably similar to those at the end of last year, it's looking like maybe we don't have the next Kanchelskis on our hands after all but rather a reluctant winger.
Verdict: Has his moments but doesn't seem a naturally wide player.

Victor Anichebe

A strong, pacy forward who's shown he has an eye for goal, but an equal ability to disappear when given the chance, Victor is going to be itching to make a breakthrough this year but, with the Yak and Saha ahead of him (for most likely just 1 CF slot), and competition alongside him from new boy Beckford and fellow youngsters Vaughan, Silva and Apkan (plus Cahill), the reality is that chances to lead the line will be thin on the ground. He's already been tried a number of times on the flank and I'd expect to see a lot more of him there this season.
Verdict: Has the power and pace, but does he have the discipline? ? I would give him a run of games to find out...

Seamus Coleman

For my money (and I'm not expecting very long odds) Seamus will be this year's breakthrough youth player (assuming that Rodwell broke through last year), his pace, skill and fearlessness being bonded with a little more nous and experience to make him an all-round better defender.

Like many here, I think he will become our first-choice right-back in the near future (possibly even by the end of the season); however, also like many here, I can't see Neville and Hibbert being sidelined so easily and considering their experience that's perhaps rightly so. So, what price on Coleman being given a chance to move from attacking full-back to attacker full-stop on the right flank?
Verdict: Has pace and skill in abundance, could be the answer but also needs to be given a chance at right back.

Leon Osman

Little Leon has often flattered to deceive over recent seasons, putting in some match-winning performances against smaller clubs then wilting entirely in the bigger games. For my money, he's a good squad player that offers cover or an option from the bench rather than a nailed-on starter. Though he has had experience on the flanks and does have quick feet and good control, he lacks the pace to be a real hit in this position.
Verdict: A talented player but more cover/sub for midfield positions than starter.

Mikel Arteta

Although his preferred position (and it would seem Moyes now agrees too) is the central midfield playmaker role, Mikky has spent much of his Goodison career working the flanks and could return there if required. (I'd be intrigued to see a switch with Bily for a friendly just to see if the Russian can do the biz in the middle.)
Verdict: Keep him in central midfield (assuming we keep him at all!)

Other possibles

It's also possible that Beckford, Silva, Baxter and Agard could all be given a run-out on the flanks, but we don't know enough about any of them to see how successful it would be (who plays on the wing for reserve matches?)
Verdict: Unknown.


Ultimately then it would seem we're not short of candidates, but we are short of proven, pacy wide players who are happy to be out on the flanks, doubly so if Pienaar leaves.

Assuming Pienaar stays, I think we should be able to manage with Bily, Vic, Osman and Coleman rotating on the right till we find the best fit, but would still prefer to get one specialist in, ideally Donovan; if not, I think we should consider the likes of Bentley, Shawn Wright-Phillips (on loan if possible) or someone pacy from the lower leagues.

If Pienaar goes (and we get the £10M we'd hope) then I'd argue we have to hit the market for two wingers, one decent quality replacement (Landon) and one fresh option from the lower leagues.

Reader Comments

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Andy Crooks
1   Posted 27/07/2010 at 14:28:31

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How about Bellamy on loan for a year with City making a contribution towards his wages? I don't care for him much but he would certainly give us something different.
Dan McKie
2   Posted 27/07/2010 at 14:23:29

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The MLS wont sell Donovan. They got exactly what they wanted from his move to Everton, and that was regular games in a high-profile league (the highest, some might argue) for their high-profile US player, and now they plan to milk it for all its worth for the MLS, and why not? Beckham is never there, he will be back fit just in time to swan off to Milan again. If Pienaar went, we would need somebody as creative and as comfortable on the left side.
Christian Yandell
3   Posted 27/07/2010 at 14:55:29

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the problem we have is that Billy is best in central mid - where he was brilliant in Russia and for the National side.

Now I have no Idea how we fit him in there but that is the problem DM has as he is not a wide man.
Matthew Tait
4   Posted 27/07/2010 at 15:48:27

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Why is Pienaar not listed as an option on the right wing, nor Bily an option on the left? Noted you said that to a degree the players are interchangeable, but overall I think the default position should usually be Pienaar on the right and Bily on the left, not the other way round...

Pienaar is right-footed, and Bily left-footed, and Bily in particular is an excellent crosser from the left. Granted, putting Bily on the left minimises his shooting from distance (and we also lose the Baines/Pienaar axis), but my understanding was that Bily was bought primarily to play on the left wing and that's where I would tend to have him all other things being equal.

Otherwise, I agree entirely with your analysis of each player. Especially agree that Coleman should probably be given a chance at right mid, and I'm also not convinced that Anichebe has the skill to be effective on the wing (or anywhere else) against qualify defenses (but he could be a useful impact player).
David Hallwood
5   Posted 27/07/2010 at 18:30:51

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Bily, Vic, Leon or Arteta are not wide men, either change the system to 4-2-3-1, or 4 in a diamond system... or buy a wide player.
Jon Cox
6   Posted 27/07/2010 at 19:24:47

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I like the 4-2-3-1 set up. It seemed to work for teams at the world cup. It also goes somewhat close to DM's 4-5-1. As for the right mid attack. Give Coleman a go.

Unless of course nobody ever wins anything with kids...

Stephen Kenny
7   Posted 27/07/2010 at 22:19:07

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I think we may see a change of formation to a more attack minded 4-3-3 style. Personally, I think Moyes really likes Victor on the right side as he has played him there consistently when he has been fit, with mixed results to be fair. The one time this has looked really good was at B'ham away where he gave Ridgewell a torrid time for about an hour or so.
Steve Pugh
8   Posted 27/07/2010 at 22:39:40

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It would be interesting to see 3 up front Gueye on the left, Yak or Louis (depending on who's fittest) in the middle and Big Vic on the right.

Then play Screech, Rodders and Mikki behind them.

Back four of Baines, Jags, Jonny, and Hibbo. I know that a lot of people would prefer Coleman at right back but I think that this formation needs a defensive right back more that an attacking one.
Matthew Tait
9   Posted 27/07/2010 at 22:54:03

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We already do often play a 4-2-3-1...
Martin Clark
10   Posted 28/07/2010 at 12:16:31

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How's about Ben Arfa as a possible target?
Chris Fisher
11   Posted 29/07/2010 at 15:05:59

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Kevin Prince Boateng?
Dan Kemp
12   Posted 29/07/2010 at 16:35:39

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Tony Hibbert?

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