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Can the Asian Cup Kick Start Everton's Season?

By Rob Burnham :  07/01/2011 :  Comments (16) :

They say the league table never lies. If it is a true indication of class, then Everton languishing below Blackpool, Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland in 13th is surely not a good sign. But do we deserve to be there? Most impartial observers would agree that our performances have consistently been a lot better than our results, but the problem has been scoring goals. Only the bottom four teams in the Premier League have scored less, and with Tim Cahill scoring nine of our nineteen goals before the Tottenham game, his departure for the Asian Cup could have signalled the start of a relegation dogfight.

However, a week later and the situation is looking a lot better. A win and two goals in the same game (!) against the team in fourth place has brightened the mood around Goodison, and these are the reasons we will push on whilst Tim is away.

1. Moyes has no excuse not to play 4-4-2 anymore.True, we have done well against all the top teams this season who have tried to attack us, but I think playing 4-4-2 was key to getting the points against Spurs. We are told that Cahill cannot play in a 4-4-2 formation as a central midfielder, and he has looked disappointing when asked to play as a striker this season, so when he is in the team (which there was no way Moyes could leave him out of in this form) he has to play behind the striker and we have to play 4-4-1-1. The problem with this is that it doesn?t seem that there are any strikers in the squad who can play on their own effectively. Saha and Yakubu have looked off the pace, Beckford seems to need a partner up front and Anichebe is preferred on the wing, although he did well on his own against Manchester City.

Against Spurs, in a 4-4-2 Saha and Beckford looked threatening, and I think we should definitely look to play a more attacking style like this more often, to try and break down teams who do to us what we did to others several years ago.

2. Other players stepping up to fill the gap left by Cahill

The other midfielders in the team will need to step up, undoubtedly, if we are to start climbing the table. Fellaini has started to look as impressive as last season recently, dominating the centre of midfield, now Arteta and Rodwell need to take up the challenge as well, as they have been disappointing compared to last season.

Our strength is down the wings, with Coleman and Pienaar enough to cause problems for any team, With Baines, probably our player of the season so far, bombing down the left side to support.

3. Strikers coming into form?

Louis Saha looked like a new man against Spurs, and if he can find any kind of form again then we can rely on him to reach 10 goals for the season comfortably. Jermaine Beckford has been frustrating to watch at times, but he has definitely not struggled for chances, which most players would after jumping two divisions to play in the Premier League for the first time and we have to believe the goals will come from him if David Moyes can keep faith in him. It remains to be seen whether Yakubu or Vaughan will be at the club for much longer, but Victor Anichebe can cause teams problems as a substitute with his power and strength.

4. Loan signings?

Who knows who Moyes will be able to bring in this January? As always, there is no money, but the man has worked miracles before. Whoever comes in will be expected to contribute straight away, both on the pitch and to the manager?s record for quality signings on a tight budget. If only we had the money to buy Landon Donovan, who has made it as clear as he can, without camping outside Bill Kenwright?s house with a banner, that he wants to come back to Everton.

So that?s that, When Tim comes back from Qatar, probably after the final on January 29th Everton will have taken 6 points from their 2 games in the Premier League and be in the 5th round of the FA cup, and our biggest problem will be how to fit the top scorer at the Asian Cup back into our team. Incredibly optimistic I know, but after our bad luck so far this season, we are definitely due a good run and there is nowhere better to start that than with our first double of the season, at Anfield on the 16th.

Reader Comments

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Joey Brown
1   Posted 07/01/2011 at 22:05:16

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Here's where I get crazy... in our last 17 games last season we gained 35 points, which would give us 60 pts.

Champions league? Probably not but if we have indeed turned the corner considering how the league appears more even this year... we could easily finish 5th of 6th.

Granted we did achieve 4th with 61 points... which everyone said we got because the league was so tight! Dream big haha
Brian Garside
2   Posted 07/01/2011 at 22:06:21

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Rob. Don´t be fooled like many others. As pointed out by other posters we did not play 442 against Spurs. We played 4411 as usuall with Saha playing in Cahills role without dropping so deep as Cahill does.
Anichebe should trouble opponents with goals. That´s what strikers are for. All our strikers have a role to play IF THEY WANT TO. Cut off the slack if they our not one hundred procent commited. I include Arteta in this demand. No one is too big for our club.
Players should remain humble with attitude thereby earning the respect of those who pay their exorbitent saleries and cheer them on every game.
Timmy has everyones respect.
The strikers will "come into form" I take it to mean scoring goals when they can play around the penalty area instead of running towards the wings in order to make space for a midfielder to bomb into. Untill a change of tactics happens do not hold your breath.
Onwards tomorrow.
Andy Morden
3   Posted 07/01/2011 at 22:54:58

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Brian, I think Saha did play deeper as you say, but I still think having him and Beckford gave the spurs defence more to to think about than Timmy looking to time runs from deep and pick up loose balls in the box / get his head on the end of Baines' crosses. Saha's comments on the OS are telling:

?It was really enjoyable (playing with Beckford). It makes it easier for me as he is always moving ? it makes things happen and makes more space for me.

?Straight away he went off and pulled defenders away and gave me space to hit the ball (for the goal). If he had not been there I would have been closed down and maybe not have scored.

?I am confident that with two up it puts more pressure on the defence and gives us more chances to do damage to the defence. It makes it much harder for them.

?I felt more comfortable the way we started the game, we were really positive and any striker wants to be involved in attacking football. Everyone was in tune and it was a pleasure to be a part of the performance.?

Saha may have been deeper, but that is what striker partnerships temd to be about - playing different roles, dependent upon their respective strengths. It must be a thankless task playing up top on your own, being marked by two centre halves, trying to hold the ball up whilst the midfield plod up in support. May explain why Saha was so up for the game, sounds like he doesn't relish the one man up top role.

Andy Morden
4   Posted 07/01/2011 at 23:01:55

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Link to the full article if anyone is interested -
Martin Faulkner
5   Posted 08/01/2011 at 09:39:29

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Sorry but I don't beleive any of this crap about Cahill not being able to play in a 442. We played well against Spurs with Saha and Beckford up top, I see no reason why Cahill and Arteta couldn't be rotated to suit either players form, same as Rodwell and Fellaini can be rotated depending on form, injuries and bans. There's still a lot of the season left to play and what moyes needs to do is grow a pair and play the players suited to their positions, irrespective of other so called top players missing out. Heitinga, Distin and Jagielka should compete for CB role and nothing else, Rodwell, Fellaini, Arteta, Cahill should compete for CM. Osman as well although can cover for RM and LM Likewise Billy. Top managers rarely play centre backs as holding midfielders and midfielders as strikers, let alone holding midfielders as wingers. I sincerly hope Moyes has learned a few things about where his players can't play from the performances so far this year. Let's hope he now gets it right like vs Spurs, I don't think for a minute 442 is the be all and end all, more a case of horses for courses.
Michael Lynch
6   Posted 08/01/2011 at 10:00:34

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If Louis did play in the deeper Cahill role, then he must be a lot better at it than Timmy is. The amount of space him Becks created was fantastic. I love TC, especially his goals, but if he is the player holding us back then he has to be dropped in favour of LS and JB, no questions. We looked a completely different team, with pace and balance.
Tony Cheek
7   Posted 08/01/2011 at 11:45:43

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Why is everyone suddenly taking off about Saha? He is still a striker that waits round the edge of the box so he can get a shot in. He is definitely not a striker that gets in amongst it. Yes, he had a good game against Spurs. But I still think that Beckford will score more goals. So, what's wrong with playing 4-4-2 with Cahill and Beckford up front when Tim comes back?
Larry Boner
8   Posted 08/01/2011 at 13:27:30

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When Cahill plays for Everton with either Yakubu, Saha or Beckford it is 4-4-2, not 4-5-1. Cahill is nearly always the player furthest forward, always the player the keeper or CBs try to hit, dropping off his marker to pick up the ball.
When we played Spurs it was not a 4-4-2 formation, it was 4-1-3-1-1 with Saha playing a more fluid off the forward role, basically I dont think Saha went into the Spurs box once, prefering to pick the ball up between the Spurs midfield and defence, turn and run at the back 4 , with support from Fellaini, Baines Pienaar etc.
If Cahill is in the team his first move is into the box for a Baines cross. When Spurs had the ball we had 6 players in midfield compared to their 4, Van der Vaart not really assisting, whereas Saha was and looked twice the player he has appeared for the last few months, he is French and would not do the running that Beckford did, but involved in the middle of the pitch his skill and ball control, shooting power was obvious for everyone to see.
When Cahill plays it is he who does all the running and closing down, not Saha.
The formation did not change, just the people and their positions, something Mr Moyes has been criticised for, we had people on Wednesday playing in positions they were comfortable with.
Larry Boner
9   Posted 08/01/2011 at 13:43:18

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Sorry, should have read 5 players to Spurs 4.
Tony Wilson
10   Posted 08/01/2011 at 14:46:01

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The answer is to drop Cahill. It's simple. It has been clear for the past few seasons. Ask yourself you want a goalscoring midfielder scoring the majority of goals and us struggling to beat poor opposition, or do you want to be competing in the league with an attacking mentality that entertains the fans. The argument that Cahill works hard and is passionate is quaint, and it says a lot about Everton fans that they remain loyal to him, but we too often play boring, negative football with Cahill in the team. He is one dimensional and not a progressive, modern centre-mid. Please feel free to ridicule me now. All the best
Larry Boner
11   Posted 08/01/2011 at 16:14:25

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Tony Wilson, stick to the Manchester music scene, Cahill is one of the top 10 players in the PL, if he played for one of the Sky Dream Teams he would be a world super star.
Look at the publicity Lampard gets, basically a school yard goal hanger.
For me, Cahill captain next season, Neville defensive coach, Cahill can play the CM role, because he is committed, he could probably do a good job in goal as well, you come across these types of players every now and again, Bonds, Gerrard, Scholes, Watson, Ball, Labone etc , they transcend the team, they epitomise the ethos of the club they play for, Cahill is an Everton player and an Everton icon, give me ten Cahills and even I could win the PL.
PS sorry for the music scene jibe.
Tony Wilson
12   Posted 08/01/2011 at 19:55:56

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Larry, Cahill is not creative enough to be picked consistently for a Sky 4 team. If he was he would have gone by now (yes, he would)!

Lampard was fundamental to our demolition in the FA cup final not long ago. Don't be asburd. He is decent at worst.

Granted, a team of Cahills would run around a lot, and would probably have a real go, but it would be devoid of creativity and be a real bore-fest to watch. How often does he play a great pass? How often does he skin someone? How many great goals from open play without his head?

Regards "transcending the team", "epitominsing the ethos", "an Everton icon", well what can I say? This language smacks of religious propaganda. You basically prove yourself to be biased without any help from me.

For what it's worth, I dont' think any player should be idolised. Idols can get away with murder, or have long and lucrative careers at the expense of fans' wallets, whilst holding their team-mates back. Cheers
Larry Boner
13   Posted 08/01/2011 at 20:56:07

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Thanks for nice reply Tony, anyone, though, who accuses me of religious propaganda, well its like saying Clegg is an honest politician.
Our "demolition" in the FA cup was down to ourselves and chronic injury problems.
I see Cahill as a player who represents the team and gives his all in every game, same as the players I mentioned, I am 60 years old and my idols stopped playing a long time ago, I expect nothing less from an Everton player than Cahill gives in every game, fill a team with players of that commitment, then you can beat anyone, Blackpool?
Andy Crooks
14   Posted 08/01/2011 at 22:07:08

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I agree, Tony. Sometimes good players have to be left on the bench. I admire Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka but I think we are a better balanced more effective team without them. It's a tough choice and one which I believe David Moyes would never voluntarily make.
Robbie Shields
15   Posted 09/01/2011 at 00:21:59

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Tony, agree with you 100%, I got slated a couple of weeks ago for just suggesting that Cahill was an enigma.

Larry, I'm afraid don't seem to get it, Cahill for all his effort and goals simply takes away from the team MORE than he contributes. You will say, but he is our leading goalscorer, and I will say that without him we will score twice as many!

Cahill has been and still is a great servant to the blues, and I love him dearly, but the evidence is there for all who are prepared to see it that he is not good enough as a striker, nor as a central midfielder, but he works very hard, scores goals and loves Everton, enigma!

I believe Cahill should be used as an impact sub, if we play with 2 genuine strikers and it hasn't worked out, then bringing on Timmy with 20-30 minutes to go will put the willies up anyone.
Tony Wilson
16   Posted 10/01/2011 at 13:42:26

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Andy/Robbie, thanks for showing me that not all fans conform to the Everton Bible. Even though I know Cahill will be Moyes's star pupil until one or both leaves, you have confirmed my opinion at least.

Larry, I very much accept that it's important to see players working hard when you have paid to be entertained, but I fear that, as in many professions, the people that have to work hardest to stay afloat are not the best. Neville, Osman, Hibbert, Beckford (Cahill?)...they all work very hard, but they are not top players.

If I wanted to watch players work hard above all else I would go and watch Marine or Southport. As an Everton (Premier League) fan I now expect to see elite players. The game has changed remarkably since the days of old.

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