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Solid performance from the boys yesterday, we did the simple things well and importantly we scored at the right time which is something we're often guilty of not doing.

Clearly we have some key absentees at the minute, but what was very noticeable yesterday was the age of our team; Howard (32), Hibbert (30), Distin (34), Neville (33), Cahill (32), Saha (32), Osman (30 in May) all 30+, that's 7 of the starting XI that are all in the twilight of their respective careers. Plus Mikel Arteta isn't too far behind, he is 29 this week.

So then you look at Felli and Rodders as the young blood and future of the team, fantastic talent, but how confident are we that they're here for the long hall?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying at 31, 32 your career is suddenly over, but I look at the likes of Cahill who, for me, has his best years behind him, and it starts to worry me. DM is often heard saying he's trying to build a team for the future ? on this evidence it needs doing sooner rather than later.

Another potential reason, along with the state of GP, why investment isn't forthcoming?

Ben Hunt, Manchester     Posted 20/03/2011 at 09:35:43

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Tony J Williams
1   Posted 20/03/2011 at 14:00:00

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I think nowadays players are ultimately more fitter than before and especially defenders seem to play for longer.

Just look at Sherringham and Les Ferdinand, they were still Premier League players when almost 40.
Wayne Smyth
2   Posted 20/03/2011 at 14:16:17

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Many of our squad probably do have a few years left but, to be honest, with the exception of Distin, there aren't any there who I think would leave a massive hole.

I'm actually glad when Hibbert, Osman and Neville are not on the team sheet as I think they are not at the same level as Arteta, Baines, Felli, Distin, Saha. Their lack of all-round ability I think is why the squad lacks confidence.

My gut feeling is that, if Moyes stays, he is going to have to do what he did 7 or 8 years ago, clear out the ageing players and replace them with hungry youngsters with potential... for not a lot. Let's hope he can find us new Cahills, Artetas et al. It's obviously still possible, as Seamus Coleman proves.
Ian McDowell
3   Posted 20/03/2011 at 14:25:26

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I thought Phil Neville did well yesterday; it makes a difference having a player in there who can tackle and break things up.
Jason Heng
4   Posted 20/03/2011 at 14:59:41

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The return to form seems to coincide with Osman and Hibbert being back in first team in place of Arteta and Fellani.

Coincidence?
Wayne Smyth
5   Posted 20/03/2011 at 14:58:20

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Neville can tackle, but there were several occasions I saw him playing as a defender, in line with our defence when he really should have been 20 yards ahead, offering an out ball. Instead we humped too many long balls to no-man's land or Saha on his own because there was no-one to pass to.

He does his best and he is a model pro, but he is just not of the quality we need to push on, even in his natural position as a right back. His main faults in my opinion are his poor distribution and overly-defensive mentality.
Duncan McDine
6   Posted 20/03/2011 at 16:54:38

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Wayne, you couldn't be more wide of the mark. We need a tough agressive defender in that Carsley role and, since Carsley left, Neville has been by far our most effective player there. Felli, Rodwell and Arteta just aren't hungry enough to win at all costs. Pip is.

And to slate the lack of ability of Osman is laughable... his touch is better than Arteta's, and in the few games he's played, has created more than Mikel has all season. These lads are what we've lacked.... what some of them lack in ability, they more than make up for in drive and determination. That needs to start rubbing off on the Rodwells, Bilys and Heitingas in the squad.
Rob Wilkinson
7   Posted 20/03/2011 at 18:07:44

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Howard 32 (best years for a goalie remember Martyn), Coleman 22, Duffy 19, Heitinga 27, Baines 25, Fellaini 23, Rodwell 20, Billy 26, Beckford 27, Gueye 20, Anichebe 22. Baxter 19, there's a XI made of the current first team squad average age = 25.

People on here have an un-nerving skill of putting a negative spin on everything! And as for putting Cahill out to stud, you joke, he's one of our main threats and the way he targets oppositions main players and knocks them off their game, ie, Vidic and Duff this season. I wouldn't want to play against him!
Ben Hunt
8   Posted 20/03/2011 at 20:31:15

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Rob Wilkinson, I think you're missing my point. I'm talking about players who are actually good enough to take us forward for the next few years ? Heitinga won't be here, Bily will never be quick enough for the Prem, Baxter is not even Championship standard and Anichebe is worse than my Gran.

As for me being 'a joke', I think you should watch Cahill's movement and overall contribution to a game, then dig out a video from 2/3 years ago and compare. He used to be box-to-box, start a move and finish a move type of player ? he can't do that anymore, certainly not for 90 minutes anyway. I love Tim as much as the next blue, but you have to be realistic.

I'm not a doom and gloom type of fan, quite the opposite in fact, I'm merely making the point that the squad is getting old and we need to look at bringing in some decent young talent who are ready to come in to the first team squad now and learn from the seniors ? hopefully this will happen with the likes of Gueye and Vellios.
Tom Bowers
9   Posted 20/03/2011 at 21:44:06

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Wayne, I agree with you about Osman and Hibbert who have far too many weaknesses to be considered top class but Moyes seems to reward honest endeavour, even if it doesn't help the team much. I put them in the same class as Terry Darracott, Mike Lyons and Eamonn O'Keefe to name just a few but, let's face it, they wouldn't get a look in at the top clubs.

Neville is getting long in the tooth and still tackles poorly, as does Heitinga. The midfield has been a problem all season and just as Arteta and Fellaini were getting their act together they get injured. However, we have won 4 of the last 6 Prem games which basically puts us in a safe position but we are still struggling and yesterday's second half was abysmal.

Hard to see where things will change for next season. Hopefully Rodwell will really become a force and maybe Moyes will give one or 2 benchwarmers a chance before this season is over.

Iain Love
10   Posted 20/03/2011 at 22:39:56

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I think that, with modern training and better nutrition, players can go on for longer, ie, 30 is the new 25.

I'm 50 and still play twice a week, yes I've lost a bit of pace and can't make lung-busting runs without a bit of a break but I'm not the only 50-year-old still playing. Whereas years ago it would be unheard of.

My concern would be the same as everyone else's, ie, the lack of investment ? not the squad's average age.

Tim Kells
11   Posted 20/03/2011 at 23:12:30

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Sorry, Tom, but I don't see Rodwell becoming a force. I was hoping he would kick on this season but if anything he's gone backwards. I really want the lad to succeed but at the moment I'm struggling to see much more than potential.
Ian McDowell
12   Posted 20/03/2011 at 23:41:01

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Tim, I agree with you on Rodwell. I really thought he would kick on this year but, for whatever reason, he looks lost. If Osman played as badly he would be getting slated.
Andrew James
13   Posted 20/03/2011 at 23:44:52

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Age-wise I see it like this:

Defence ? we need a younger centre-back and left-back cover. I was annoyed that Wheater wasn't snapped up as he's Jags but 4 years younger.

Midfield ? there is youth there in Rodwell and Fellaini but we need to start getting Bily more involved or get a replacement as Arteta hasn't got long left. Coleman should just play right wing as he's awesome there. Therefore we need a left-sided player and a centre-mid box-to-box player.

Up-front ? crying out for a decent young striker! Saha and Beckford are relatively old. We desperately need a 21-25-year-old who can score 10-15 goals a season.
KPR Williams
14   Posted 21/03/2011 at 00:07:05

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"Up front: crying out for a decent young striker! Saha and Beckford are relatively old. We desperately need a 21-25-year-old who can score 10-15 goals a season."

Shite just paid £35m for a player like that. Ahem... Bill, any chance of putting your signature on this cheque...
James Flynn
15   Posted 21/03/2011 at 01:15:51

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I'm not sure of this Rodwell business. Not the game by game comments. If he's out there, he's open game.

But he just turned 20. It's 2-3 years from now some of these negative comments can make sense fairly. Not now. He's a pup in a Big Dog's league. THE Big Dog's league.

This kid's going to be fine.
Jimmy Sorheim
16   Posted 21/03/2011 at 05:50:00

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I think we have to sell in order for us to devlop our squad any further, so the question is who can we sell without having to cry afterwards? I would vote for Heitinga, the problem with him is that he is worth too little so we may have to offload one more. If we sold Rodwell too, we would be able to buy that new striker plus a new quality left winger.

It is of ultimate importance that we keep recycling our squad to keep it at its best, and the need is for a new left and right midfielder and a new goalscoring top notch striker! Without selling either of these two, we will be in big trouble.

The most likely to happen is that Moyes will sell all his loan players, like Yobo, Yakubu, and Vaughan. I for one will want to keep these three, especially Yobo and Vaughan as I have seen signs of Vaughan coming to life again at Crystal Palace: without all the injuries, he has scored many goals and I think he should stay instead of Anichebe who has scored and shown nothing so far this season.

Yobo is a quality Nigerian international and we need his ability in the air and his strength and pace, he is the closest we have to Distin who is tall and great in the air.

Yakubu I have more of a doubt over; will he want to come back? Plus would his worth go down the longer he stays and can't hit 20 goals a season? I think he still has it in him but, if he doesn't hit more than 15 goals at Leicester, then he must be past his prime for sure. Just hope then that we can get at least £5 million for him.

Ray Roche
17   Posted 21/03/2011 at 07:38:03

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A Leicester fan was on BBC 606 saying that the Yak looked fat, unfit, disinterested and would we take him back. Sounds familiar.

And lay off Osman and Hibbert. The past couple of games they've been outstanding.

James Martin
18   Posted 21/03/2011 at 10:43:01

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David Moyes must be a magician that he can get this team of completely useless 30 somethings and even after a ngihtmare season they're stll 8th in the Prem and on a decent run of form.

Why players like Neville, Osman and Hibbert are getting slated is beyond me, when they're in the team we win and do things like qualify for Europe and reach FA Cup Finals, the first season they're not in the team we're in a relegation fight until they're reintroduced, yet all anyone notices is the odd bad pass or Osman being shoved off the ball by some talentless iron-pumping oaf playing for a team who finish a lot lower than Everton every year.

Neville is showing Fellaini and Rodwell how to play defensive midfield properly and the results prove it.

Ray Roche
19   Posted 21/03/2011 at 11:16:22

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Well said, James.
Duncan McDine
20   Posted 21/03/2011 at 11:12:13

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Spot on James. I find it funny how people go on about Moyes having his 'favourites'. There are a lot of fans who have their favourite scapegoats, and these 3 always get undeserved criticism.

It's refreshing to see them back, and fighting for their place in a blue shirt. Far too much complacency has crept in to the team this year.

I'd argue that despite many eye catching performances, we often get better results without Fellaini in the side. For me, the central midfielders are the ones that can set the tempo of the game, and having some urgency with Neville (even with the odd dodgy pass) is more productive than an eye catching, skillful, but very relaxed Felli. Unfortunately Rodwell is looking equally as 'relaxed' as Felli when looking for a team mate, and that often results in sideways 'nothing' balls to the full backs.

Both Felli and Rodders would be lethal if they could add some drive and directness to their game (a la 'shithouse' Gerrard).
Andy Callan
21   Posted 21/03/2011 at 12:16:58

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Personally I'm not arsed how old they are if they are good enough.

What does age have to do with it?

Get shut of Coco The Clown and Rodwell in the summer and buy some new / better players, I say ? coz they're both shite.
Ray Roche
22   Posted 21/03/2011 at 11:16:22

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Well said, James.
Peter Laing
23   Posted 21/03/2011 at 13:16:49

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I'm one of Kenwright's biggest critics for the issue of lack of investment. The last three transfer windows have seen the squad pruned further with little in the way of adequate reinforcement and consequently the squad / team is becoming to look tired and stale.

With the addition of a proven goalscorer, I am confident to conclude that we may have converted many of the drawn games this season into wins. The issue regarding Cahill losing his edge is quite frankly cynical, to my reckoning he remains a top scorer and has missed almost two months of football.

On a positive note, we have a couple of lads coming through the ranks in the shape of Ross Barkley and Luke Garbutt, who hopefully will provide competition next season in midfield and left back respectively. In terms of Jack Rodwell, I can honestly see the lad moving back to centre-half in the coming years should he not be sold on. Once he has filled out a bit more and continues to learn the game, centre half will become his rightful position be it at Everton, Manchester United or anywhere else.

The Academy set up at Everton is second to none and, given the financial straight jacket that we appear to be perpetually paralysed with, seems to be the only source of making players available to the 1st team squad.

James Marshall
24   Posted 21/03/2011 at 17:31:37

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Andy Callan@21

Coco the Clown - hahahaha!

I agree by the way, he's overated at best and I'm not even sure who by!

Rodders will be a class act though, IMO.

Age doesn't mean shit - look at Milan over the years as a prime example of an old team doing well. OK they're quite a bit younger this season and top of Serie A but historically they (and many Italian teams/Chelsea?) use older players.

The modern day player can go on a lot longer these days anyway - diet, training, injury aftercare has all changed massively since the days when players were put out to grass at 32.

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