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The Current Crop: June 2011

By Graham Holliday :  30/06/2011 :  Comments (4) :
There?s been plenty of discussion/speculation on Toffeeweb recently surrounding the state of our squad ? who needs to leave, who needs to be brought in, etc.

A couple of years ago, I used to post a column twice a year on here looking at the condition of our squad ? ages of players, contract length, quality, quantity etc.

For the last year or two, I?d decided not to do this because it seemed fairly obvious that there would be little activity. With no money available, and seemingly no desire to offload any current players, Moyes was always destined to scramble around trying to find a loan or a free transfer that might boost the squad?s depth (if not always its quality), or more likely bring in a youngster or two who it was hoped might come good.

However, this year seems like it might be different. It?s almost certain that Joseph Yobo will leave, and it would be a great surprise if Yakubu didn?t follow him out the exit door. Vaughan and Pienaar have already gone, and there?s also rumours that Moyes might be willing to part with one or two more of his senior players.

I don?t trust the transfer rumours I see in the media one jot, so I?m not sure how much activity we will see, but it does seem more likely that Moyes might be more active in this window ? and so I?ve decided to run the rule over the current crop, just as he surely must have done towards the end of the season.

I?m sure this will provide a platform for our Football Manager fanatics out there to let their imaginations run wild, but also provide a decent analysis of the state of Everton?s current squad.

NB ? Forgive me if there are any mistakes with the info about ages/contracts etc ? please let me know, I plan to keep a record of players coming and going in future, along with contract renewals etc. Also, some players are listed in the senior/reserve squad that you may think are the other way round ? plus breaking players down by position isn?t necessarily easy, but I did my best!

Goalkeepers:

Tim Howard (32) ? June 2014
Jan Mucha (28) ? June 2013

In the past, Moyes has always liked to have two senior goalkeepers (always with a clear Number 1), and a couple of youngsters dotted around ? though, admittedly, none have ever made the grade.

This summer, with Iain Turner being cast off on a free and John Ruddy sold last season, there don?t appear to be any youngsters to speak of ? but I can?t see this being an urgent issue that Moyes will need to address.

The academy will have a keeper or two to turn to should we need someone to fill the bench for a week or two, and emergency loans can be brought in should a disaster occur ? so expect the only movement of goalkeepers to be if Jan Mucha decides he doesn?t want to sit on the bench for the rest of his life.

Moyes?s current first choice: Howard
Possible first choice by end of season: Howard

Defenders:

Tony Hibbert (30) ? June 2014
Phil Neville (33) ? June 2012
Seamus Coleman (21) ? June 2014
Leighton Baines (26) ? June 2015
Jake Bidwell (18) ? June 2012
Phil Jagielka (28) ? June 2015
Sylvain Distin (33) ? June 2012
John Heitinga (27) ? June 2014
Joseph Yobo (30) ? June 2014
Shane Duffy (19) ? June 2012

As always seems to be the case under the current manager, the club is probably best stocked in terms of defenders.

At right-back, Moyes has Neville, Hibbert and even Coleman ? who it seems Moyes deems to be a full-back in the long-term ? to choose from. At centre-back, the first-choice pairing would seem to be Jagielka and Distin ? though if Heitinga can recapture his form in this position, he will surely challenge for a place ? especially as it remains to be seen how long Distin can continue at his current level (for what it?s worth, I think he can go on for another season or two). However, Moyes?s first ever signing at the club Joesph Yobo is destined for the exit.

Player of the Season, Leighton Baines, is surely the first name on the teamsheet these days at left-back ? but there does seem to be a lack of cover here. I?ve included Jake Bidwell?s name here for that reason, but I?d be worried if Baines got injured for any significant length of time ? in all likelihood we could probably expect one of the right-backs to fill in there ahead of using young Bidwell.

But, with Yobo leaving, we would only have seven senior defenders (unless Duffy makes the step up to Premier League comfortably ? always difficult for a young centre half)... so I?d probably expect some movement here ? although once again I can?t see it being an urgent priority.

Realistically though, a squad player that could provide cover at centre-back or left-back would be a useful addition.

Moyes?s current first choice: Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
Possible first choice by end of season: Coleman-Jagielka-Heitinga-Baines

Midfielders:

Marouane Fellaini (22) ? June 2013
Jack Rodwell (20) ? June 2014
Leon Osman (30) ? June 2014
Ross Barkley (17) ? June 2013
Tim Cahill (31) ? June 2012
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (25) ? June 2014
Magaye Gueye (20) ? June 2015
Jose Baxter (19) ? June 2012

The list above seems sparse, but let?s not forget that Neville and Heitinga can fill in at centre-mid if required ? plus we?ve seen Coleman excel as a makeshift right winger last season. However, I think we?d all agree that none of these should be considered anything but a back-up player in our first-choice midfield.

The argument about 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 rages on these pages, but from my perspective I think it?s something of a misnomer. Even teams that are listed as playing two strikers usually have some form of combination ? one poacher/one creator, one lazy fucker/one who chases and harries. Cahill would be part of that partnership in Everton?s first team, bridging the gap between midfield and forward lines ? leaving two spots up for grabs.

When Cahill is injured/out of form though, the question becomes: Does he get replaced by a ?midfielder? or a ?striker?? ? Moyes has almost always opted for the former, much to the dismay of many Evertonians ? especially in light of the fact that Bily?s talents seem like they might be suited more to a central role than to the wing.

So, to the two other spots. Fellaini is surely a starter, whilst Arteta ? despite his poor form last term ? would still seem to have the edge on either Osman (who excelled both centrally and drifting in from the left last year) or Rodwell (whose career stagnated somewhat in the past 12 months). In theory though, especially with the emerging talent Ross Barkley making his way back from injury, the central positions seem covered.

It?s out wide that the squad has gaping holes: Bilyaletdinov has failed to justify his £9M price tag; Coleman has done well but is in all probability not a long-term solution; and Magaye Gueye is not yet considered a senior enough member of the squad to be a starter. As said above, Osman is possibly the only midfielder that we have who could legitimately claim a first choice spot on the wing. Though his best position is central, he does seem to link up well with Baines in a similar way to Pienaar, by drifting infield, taking the full-back with him and giving Baines space to whip in crosses.

Were Rodwell to really step-up as a first-choice midfielder this season, we might also then see Arteta freed up to move out wide. The Spaniard has struggled to recapture his glittering form in a central berth ? and, from past experience, we know he?s more than capable out wide.

But, for the time being, I?d expect him to remain a central-midfielder, which would suggest we need to bring in at least one winger capable of pinning down a place in our first team ? as an absolute minimum. Personally, I see Osman as the best placed for the left-wing slot at the present time, possibly to be challenged by young Magaye as the season progresses ? so someone that can give us width on the right would be ideal.

Moyes?s current first choice: Coleman, Arteta, Cahill, Fellaini, Osman
Possible first choice by end of season: {New Player?}, Rodwell, Cahill, Fellaini, Arteta

Forwards:

Louis Saha (31) ? June 2012
Jermaine Beckford (27) ? June 2014
Aiyegbeni Yakubu (28) ? June 2012
Victor Anichebe (22) ? June 2014
Apostolos Vellios (19) ? June 2014

Another area in which we seem to be crying out is up front. If Saha could stay fit, Beckford could grow into the role, Yakubu could recapture his pre-injury form or Anichebe could... well, have a complete personality and ability swap with a world-class centre forward ? we could have a decent set of strikers on our hands!

Sadly, I have ? as I would hope Moyes has ? given up hope on one or two of these. Saha would be first choice when not injured, I?d think... but this seems to be something of a rarity, so it?s vital we look at our options beyond him.

Yakubu looks like he?s off for one reason or another, so next in line is Jermaine Beckford. Now, I think he?s got a lot of attributes of a decent Premier League striker. Do I think he?s Champions League material? Well, no... but a competent Everton striker capable of getting 10-15 goals a season nonetheless. In addition to getting goals, he stretches defences, and this gives players like Cahill, or Saha who acquitted himself well as second striker last season, space.

I?m not exactly sure what Moyes sees in Anichebe to warrant giving him a deal until 2014... but one thing I am sure of is that he?s not the top drawer striker we?re crying out for. Vellios is still a pup, and so I think it?s clear a minimum of one striker capable of competing for a starting spot is required. Hopefully the money from the sales of Yobo and Yakubu will be enough to cover this, though we wait and see on that one.

Moyes?s current first choice: Saha, Anichebe
Possible first choice by end of season: {New Player?}

Summary:

So, with Yakubu and Yobo on their way, the money from these sales must surely go towards the purchase of a winger and a striker to bolster the ranks. The obvious concern is that this is simply not going to be enough money ? and we won?t have anything else to fund the buys we so desperately need. And so Moyes may be forced into either foregoing one of them, sacrificing on quality of purchases, or selling a valuable asset in order to drum up funds.

Other Reserve/Academy Players:

Defenders:
Shkodran Mustafi (19) ? June 2012
Aristote Nsiala (19) ? June 2012
Johan Hammar (17) ? June 2013
Luke Garbutt (18) ? June 2013

Midfielders:
Adam Forshaw (19) ? June 2012

Forwards:
Joao Silva (21) ? June 2013
Conor McAleny (18) ? June 2012
Hallam Hope (17) - Unknown

Reader Comments

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Ajay Gopal
1   Posted 30/06/2011 at 18:09:32

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Nice sensible article. Although you have missed out listing Arteta in your list of midfielders (to be fair, you do mention him in your analysis).

Two class players should be enough ? N'Zogbia & Sturridge will do it for me. And I hope that 1-2 of the youngsters (Barkley/Hope/Forshaw) break through this year.
Andy Crooks
2   Posted 30/06/2011 at 19:21:22

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Excelent article Graham. I have a feeling that what you have named is pretty much what we will start with next season. What is that group of players capable of? With huge luck with injuries, maybe 6th. With our normal luck 12th. With a new coach and a fresh approach?
Graham Holliday
3   Posted 30/06/2011 at 20:29:48

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Well noticed Ajay. I note the irony of Arteta having gone missing...
Gavin Ramejkis
4   Posted 30/06/2011 at 21:00:19

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Well written article; I agree. Pretty much nailed on who to expect to start next season. I'm not really sure we'll see new faces, though ? just more departures.

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