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I am hoping that we can get back a bit of Blue Steel at the back and keep the points coming in. Before Jags got injured, I was wondering with all these rumours about teams sniffing around Heitinga whether Moyes was punishing him. Distin and Jags have had a few blips this season but Moyes hasn't seemed close to dropping them. Distin is a big strong defender and has pace. Problem seems to be a lack of concentration at times.

If Moyes wasn't going to drop the centre backs, would he consider playing Heitinga at right back? I feel Heitinga is a much better player than Neville and, although I admire Neville's leadership quality, I feel with the added quality in our squad, he's good cover for a number of positions. Though Moyes would always find some way to get Neville and Osman in the team!

Leading to the other expensive acquisition in question... Bilyaletdinov! If Moyes has issues with the way he plays, I read somewhere it could be his unwillingness to track back, though I'd have thought Moyes would have had it sorted by now.

I was surprised to see Bily left on the bench with Osman getting the nod to play on the left in Pienaar's absence. Although Osman apparently played well, I wonder how Bily is feeling? Now he's no longer a starter for Russia would also play on his mind. I feel he needs backing and giving confidence and the left midfield position should be his in the absence of Pienaar.

I just wonder if there is more to it, and find it unusual for Everton to have two players with the estimated combine value of £17 million sitting on their backsides!
Martin Clark, Sydney, Australia     Posted 09/10/2010 at 07:29:53

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Eric Myles
1   Posted 09/10/2010 at 15:15:23

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Maybe Bilyaletdinov has caught a dose of Per Krøldrup's Disease?
Guy Hastings
2   Posted 09/10/2010 at 16:30:10

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Don't be surprised if Hibbo turns out at CB.
John McLoughlin
3   Posted 09/10/2010 at 17:38:46

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Osman always finds a way into the team because the players bought to keep him out (VDM & now Blly) have done nothing to justify regular runs in the team. So Osman gets back in. With Coleman getting games on the right side of midfield and doing ok, I expect when Pienaar is fit again Osman will be dropped. But rather than look at Osman's sometimes poor performances, look at others' often even worse performances.
Andy Crooks
4   Posted 09/10/2010 at 18:26:34

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Heitinga and Distin are our best centre back combination. If there was any truth in the rumour that we were offered £14 million for Jags in the summer then David Moyes was utterly incompetent in not grabbing it.
Liverpool are woefully short of pace at the back and Beckford must start along side the Yak. This is an opportunity to hurt them badly. All we need is a coach with a backbone.
Sam Hoare
5   Posted 09/10/2010 at 18:35:23

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Strong words really think Distin is a better defender than the man Capello called the 'driver of his defense'? Not sure I agree.

Would love to see Beckford start alongside Yak but no way Moyes will go 4-4-2.
Mike Elbey
6   Posted 09/10/2010 at 18:48:06

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I have been one of the biggest exponents of the 'get Heitinga in the team' brigade but the more time passes the more I think that Heitinga is merely using Everton as a stepping stone to what HE believes is a better club, whoever that may be ? and I reckon Moyes knows that.

For all his qualities, of which there are many, I don't think Heitinga has any intention of being at Everton next season, let alone till the end of his contract. Just look at the comments he made last year when linked with Man City and Barcelona. And recently he didn't exactly quash rumours about an approach from the German clubs.

I also don't think he did himself any favours in Moyes's eyes when demanding the ball off Beckford for the penalty against Huddersfield ? not exactly the actions of a team man. What a twat he looked when he missed! And did you see any of our players consoling him?

He is a good player but I am afraid his commitment to Everton extends only to how far he can progress his career and I now see this and I reckon that is why Moyes turned down the Jagielka deal ? he didn't want to lose a strong committed defender for the opposite.

Expect Hetinga to go in either January or next summer and a promising, tall, strong left-footed centre-back bought in with the cash.
Mike Allison
7   Posted 09/10/2010 at 19:38:54

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Heitinga and Jagielka at the back, I don't really see why Distin is anywhere near at the moment.

I've even heard seen people write about him as being our 'only left sided centre back' as if its a specialist position. Our two best centre backs should play at centre back, I don't see a need to make life any more complicated than that. I don't even agree that they'd be particularly weak in the air, especially when Fellaini plays to add his height.
Guy Rogers
8   Posted 09/10/2010 at 19:52:49

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4. John Mc - Osman dropped? I don't think so... when Piennar is fit, yes, he will return on the left and Osman will be back on the right, being pushed over and very slow, and poor old Coleman will be making the odd cameo at best! It is Moyes after all!!!
Dick Fearon
9   Posted 09/10/2010 at 20:28:03

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Osman has one decent game in the past few years and all at once he is everyones darling, give me a break! Of all the derbies he's played, can someone tell me when he was better than a load of semi invisible rubbish?

Andy # 4. I agree with your analysis of the RS back four and that we should play two up front. What two does not matter so long as they are mobile.

What I would really like to see is Moyes repeating what Ian Holloway's words before Blackpools game at Anfield. No one gave his team a chance yet Ian said "we will find what their back four is made of." He played with two strikers and Carragher and Co were run ragged.

Thomas Christensen
10   Posted 09/10/2010 at 21:55:38

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Mike #6 spot on mate. Moyes hasn't forgotten stupid Johnny's "get a flag and cycle" quote before the World Cup. He is probably still suffering from the World Cup and losing the final. That or he is tired from cycling home.
John Daley
11   Posted 09/10/2010 at 22:05:11

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Heitinga has got to be the most over-rated Everton player in a long time. He prematurely became a fans' favourite last season basically because he could pass the ball a bit and he ran around like a fucking loon all game. Those who say he is a better defender than Jagielka are sorely mistaken in my opinion.

Heitinga can't jump, has no pace whatsoever, and pussies out of way too many challenges for someone who likes to cultivate the image of being an uncompromising 'hard man'. The way he went down feigning injury against Wolves, laying motionless in the middle of the pitch after pulling out of a challenge, was simply embarrassing. The fact it led their goal only rubbed salt into the wound. All the false fist-pumping histrionics may serve to get some people on side but they don't mean shit when you show less spine than Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Someone will probably point to the fact that he played in the World Cup final? Yes he did... for a while anyway, until he stupidly got himself sent off thereby piling further unwanted pressure onto his team mates. His performances during the tournament were nothing special, ranging from steady to poor. Holland did not reach the final because Heitinga was bossing the defence did they? World Cup finalist does not necessarily = great player. Mark van Bommel played in the final as well but he's still just a hatchet man with limited ability.
Ray Robinson
12   Posted 09/10/2010 at 23:27:22

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John Daley - you've got it spot on with Heitinga. I agree totally.
Glen Anderson
13   Posted 10/10/2010 at 09:02:58

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John Daley - You may be right but can you please do a similar appraisal of each of our other centre halves?

I think you'll find each to be lacking in certain areas.

Heitinga may not be as tough-tackling or as sensible and consistent as Jags but are you saying that you prefer Distin or even Neville/Hibbo at centre back rather than him?
Brian Waring
14   Posted 10/10/2010 at 11:18:02

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I actually wonder at times, if we send someone out to watch the players we buy? I'm sure Bily for his last club, and for country, played just behind the striker. If that's the case, why is Moyes trying to fit the square peg into the round hole with him, by playing him out wide?
Richard Dodd
15   Posted 10/10/2010 at 12:17:08

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Simple really ? Hibbert at RB, Pip in midfield, Heitinga at CB. Up front: Fellaini and Cahill. That`s Davey`s preferred formation and how we shall line up next Saturday for a spanking win!

And before you say `no strikers`? we haven`t got any who score goals so what`s the point of including them?

John Daley
16   Posted 10/10/2010 at 11:41:43

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Glen, I'm acutely aware that none of our central defenders are perfect. Jagielka is committed, good in the air for his size, strong in the tackle, but is let down by his tendency to lump the ball forwards far to often. I can live with that though as the guy's job is primarily to defend, not spray Hollywood passes out wide to Osman. If a few of our midfielders actually made themselves available to collect the ball from him more often, then that deficiency could be rectified.

As for Distin, I believe he possesses all the physical attributes needed to be a top class centre-half but mentally he is lacking. Like Yobo before him, he is prone to costly lapses in concentration and appears to immediately lose confidence after making an error, rather than just shrugging it off. Quite often, he is slow to react and wanders out of position but I do think he has become something of a scapegoat recently. I thought he was constantly shite last year but this season he has actually managed to put in some improved performances, albeit interspersed with shite like the Utd game.

For me, Jagielka would be a certain starter every game with one of Distin/Heitinga alongside him depending on the opposition. For games against big, brutal, physical fuckers, Distin would get the nod. For games against those less reliant on an aerial bombardment then Heitinga would be selected.

I wasn't suggesting before that Heitinga should not be starting games at all. I was just pointing out that he was hopelessly over-hyped and had become a fans' favourite for basically performing a bloody Thomas Gravesen impression. I think he's a decent enough player but certainly nowhere near being great and I believe Jagielka is ahead of him as the best defender at the club by some distance.

He'll also be gone in the summer.
Steve Edwards
17   Posted 10/10/2010 at 13:37:57

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I have now come to the conclusion that Phil Jagielka is a 'backs against the wall' type defender. In other words, I don't think it suits him when his team defend further up the pitch, which is what Everton are doing at the moment. His main asset is getting in the way of things, he pops up and gets a block in when all seems lost. When we dominate midfield, which we do now in most games, it means that the Jagielka's distribution comes more into focus. Unfortunately, this is the weakest part of his game.

It now looks like he will miss the derby game next week. I expect that Heitinga will take his place. He is best suited to defending further up the pitch as his distribution is very good. So it will be interesting to see what he can do... that's if Moyes plays him.

I was talking to a Dutchman while on holiday recently. Heitinga's name was mentioned and the Dutch guy was not impressed. He is an Ajax supporter and he was not bothered about Johnny leaving them when he did. Asked why, he replied, "Always makes a mistake". Second thoughts: maybe we should play Hibbo centre back next week against the shite.
John Crook
18   Posted 10/10/2010 at 14:39:37

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If Jagielka is out for a few games, it's no big deal. From January 2010 to early March 2010 (until Jagielka's return to the 1st team) Heitinga and Distin looked to have an excellent understanding and a good balance about them. It was that partnership that helped us in our most in-form part of the 09-10 season, including the wins against United, Chelsea and City (home). It is a big deal though if Distin or Heitinga take a knock or an injury.

I wrote an article after Yobo's departure about the need for four natural centre halves in a squad. It was a silly decision to let Yobo leave without a replacement ? I mean there must a loan signing somewhere available. So if Distin or Heitinga get injured or suspended then we will have the uncomfortable notion of 2/3 games with Hibbert as a centre half.

Jonathan Field
19   Posted 10/10/2010 at 16:08:07

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I heard heitinga missed a days training prior to fulham so has been punished since. He'll be back in against Liverpool
David Thomas
20   Posted 10/10/2010 at 16:42:40

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John Daley 16,

Excellent post. One of the best on this site for a long time, agree 100%.

Heitinga is a good player , but this fan adulation he has developed is very similar to that of TG who through a lot of running round like a headless chicken and fist pumping to the crowd seemed to get this adulation from the crowd that ignored his obvious faults.
David Price
21   Posted 10/10/2010 at 18:42:07

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John Daley, excellent summing up. However, Heitinga played really well last season, so could Jag's injury be a turning point for him?

You're right though, he has a lot to prove this season if he gets the chance.

Sean McCarthy
22   Posted 10/10/2010 at 19:55:28

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Spot on analysis. Especially the analogy to Gravesen and his fist-pumping shite!! He was here for over 4 years and had a good 6 months when angling after a move. Johnny may have played in a World Cup Final but then so did Dirk Kuyt ? and he's shit!!!!
Ian Kearney
23   Posted 11/10/2010 at 07:54:59

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Heitinga was our best CH last season by a mile, he has attributes that the two yard dogs we currently employ at the back can only dream of, how come when Johnny plays out of position in midfield and he's garbage, but when Jags is even worse in midfield, he's a CH playing out of position.

Richard Dodd, only you and David Moyes could come up with such an awful selection, if Fellaini plays out of position so that Neville, who makes Jags look like Lothar Matthaus, can play in midfield, the club can kiss goodbye to my season ticket subscription next season.
John Andrews
24   Posted 11/10/2010 at 15:28:05

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John Daley, absolutely spot on. At Birmingham last week, every time Jags or any of the back 4 got the ball, we had no movement in midfield whatsoever, no options. This makes defenders look poor with their distribution of the ball.

In saying that, Jags needs to get back to what made him, in my opinion, one of the best centre halves in the league. No need to step into midfield or play 40-yard balls ? do what got you into the England set up: no-nonsense defending.

Paul Sullivan
25   Posted 13/10/2010 at 13:42:36

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Have to agree with the above about Heitinga ? a good but over-hyped player clearly using us as a stepping stone and should be traded in with his World Cup Finalist inflated price-tag. Hopefully Moyes will be careful to keep his attitude problems quiet and avoid depreciating his value before he sells him.

As for Bily, part of me feels a bit sorry for him as he is clearly not suited to Moyes's style of play/management. Seems to me he would be better off in a team where skilful players are given more license to hurt the opposition, usually via tactical selection of a more defensive player. Judging by the quality of the odd goal he has scored, the guy clearly has a lot of quality but lacks pace and is not suited to running up and down the wing after the opposition full-back. I think he is another player that Moyes, with his seemingly authoritarian management style, has broken rather than developed. If he wanted a Dirk Kuyt willing labrador running 15 km a match, he should have gone and found one. On a related note I was interested to read Elmander's criticism of Megson's "angry man" style of management ? perhaps Moyes should take note.

Anyway, back to the derby: Moyes will obviously go for 5 in midfield but hopefully 4 of them attacking and linking with the lone striker and 1 holding and snapping at Gerrard's ankles. I hope Gueye gets a chance of a cameo and the Yak can break his duck, then there's Timmy coming back to haunt them.

Regardless of them and their "Yanks out, Yanks in" court case victory euphoria, this is still the poorest RS side we have faced in years, certainly the poorest defence, and the best chance to beat them while they're down.

A final note to the players ? I'm sure you read this site (!); when Carragher wrestles you in the box GO TO GROUND. After about the tenth time, Howard Webb might be embarrassed enough to give you a penalty.

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