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Osman ? the Merseyside Iniesta

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It is time for the Osman-doubters (a sub-section of Evertonians whose membership is largely the same as the Hibbo-haters) to admit they got it wrong. Leon Osman has developed into a class player, well worth his place in the team. In the second half of this season, he has probably been our best player.

His strengths are his control, first touch, ability to keep the ball in congested areas and a little bit of a shimmy when he starts dribbling to create himself a bit of space. Attributes he shares with Barcelona's Andres Iniesta.

Of course comparisons between the two are unfair ? on Ossie. If he played for Barca, every time he got knocked over, he'd get a free kick and be seen as a protected species, have it much easier, and be able to show a lot more of what he's got. But playing for Everton, he can't buy a free-kick when big midfield bruisers from Stoke and Blackburn sit him on his arse. If he got the same treatment as Iniesta, Everton would finish against 10 men every week.

And that header on Saturday, beating a bloke a foot taller than himself to the ball through superior skill and judgement, was not unlike Messi making fools of Ferdinand and Vidic in the 09 Champions League final.

At the beginning of this season I thought we had moved on past Osman and Hibbo but this year they have proved their worth in the Premier League. We all hope for a stronger squad but these two have earned their place in it.

Let's face it, Osman and Hibbert are emblematic of Everton. They aren't flash. They battle. They're probably too honest for their own good. They love football and they turn up every week and give it all. OK, back to work.
Dan Murphy, Melbourne, Australia     Posted 10/05/2011 at 02:05:01

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Russell Buckley
1   Posted 10/05/2011 at 04:02:24

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It been good to see Ossie getting some respect on here lately. In the past he has gone missing during games or simply looked been overpowered trying to go up against athletic wingers (e.g. FA Cup Final).

But once he has been given a spell in his real position he has been fantastic. Great touch and foot work and blood hell how good was that header. Long may it continue.

And Hibbo has been Hibbo this season. Limited in some areas as we are all aware but always gives his all for the shirt and has played well enough.

Both blue to the bone.
Ernie Baywood
2   Posted 10/05/2011 at 04:41:35

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The truth is somewhere in-between the "he's shite" calls of the start of the season and the "he's our Iniesta" calls in the latter part of the season.

To say he's emblematic of Everton is right. Premier League standard but nothing like top 4 or 5; good form right now doesn't excuse the dross we've had to watch, only starts playing once the season is dead and the pressure is off.

But he's given me one of my highlights of the season and this run of form means he well deserves his shirt at the start of next year. I'll not be calling for him to play for England just yet; let's see if he can play when it actually matters.
Paul Gladwell
3   Posted 10/05/2011 at 06:24:50

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Ernie, Osman started playing well when we where only three or four points off the bottom three, when our season was far from over, Pienaar had left and all our so-called flair players were injured and I worried big time we would get sucked into a dogfight as I could not see us scoring given how the season had gone and how little flair we had left.

Thankfully the little fella stood up to be counted big time and deserves a start next season in the middle of the park. The lad deserves a medal big time because it's a fine line when you are sucked in at the bottom and that danger was real for us.

Robbie Shields
4   Posted 10/05/2011 at 07:34:37

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I'm one of those Osman doubters to which you are referring and I have absolutely no problem acknowledging that Leon has played very very well in the last couple of months and deserves to be in the team, no doubt. His touch, vision and ability has never been in doubt.

There are a couple of 'howevers' though: If he can play at this level now, then why hasn't he done it more in the past?

He is still slow in comparison with most Premier League players and does fall over a lot under pressure, but, give him his due, he has toughened up a lot these last few months... so again why has it taken so long for this to happen? I agree with the Barcelona analogy, if he played there I'm sure he'd be much better suited.

Bit of an enigma really, I think his recent performances just go to show why some of us have been completely underwhelmed by him some much in the past. For all his qualities though, any talk of him playing for England is a bit OTT IMHO. If he had been playing like this for the last 5 years, then OK, but a Lampard or Gerrard he isn't I'm afraid.

If he was bigger and faster than he'd be like Ruud Gullit, but he ain't ? he's Leon Osman, 5ft-4in, 10 stone and not too quick, which means he has to work his balls off every match to make an impact. I hope he keeps it up; good on ya Leon.

Alan Williams
5   Posted 10/05/2011 at 07:54:18

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I agree about Osman, when all the top earners went missing, he stepped up to the plate and deserves his squad/team place.

Big Victor, whilst seemingly getting all the praise (for what I?m not sure) is a Championship player and we must get rid, his ball control is just embarrassing and when did he last score? Bye, bye Victor and close the door after you!! COYB

Alan Clarke
6   Posted 10/05/2011 at 08:00:50

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I have absolutely slated Osman on here before to the point where I'd have sold him for nothing just to get him off the wage bill. It shows what I know.

I'd like to apologise because this guy has been nothing short of brilliant in the second half of the season. We were really in the shit, not far off the bottom and wondering whether we'd be fighting a relegation battle with Fellaini, Cahill, Arteta and Saha missing. Osman has stood up and been the driving force behind our most recent form. I think he's shown glimpses in the past like the Man Utd home game last year when he ran the midfield but now we're seeing him perfrom consistently. Right now, he'd be the first name on the team sheet.

Now, if we could just get Hibbert to realise his true potential!
Mike Hargreaves
7   Posted 10/05/2011 at 08:37:11

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The trouble for Leon he has always been played fit somewhere in midfield and not his true position. However if you look back several years when he played for the reserves (when reserves actually meant something) he was always one of the top goal scores season on season.
Mike Oates
8   Posted 10/05/2011 at 09:01:41

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Osman's best position is just behind the front man or as the most forward midfield player - not out wide , though he can link up with Baines quite well if real needs arise.

The problem he has is that Moyes will always go to Cahill when fit and will use Fellaini and Arteta as the central midfielders and Osman picks up the scrap positions left. That's his role as Moyes sees it . He will never ever use Osman in that front role as first choice as realistically he is lightweight and doesn't get stuck in to the opposing defenders BUT Osman is without doubt our most technically gifted player by a country mile, pity he's only 5ft 6in and 9 stone wet.
James Martin
9   Posted 10/05/2011 at 09:13:47

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I think his best position is the one we saw him play against Man U, Fiorentina, and Chelsea, as one of two central midfielders. Whilst he has performed well behind the striker he lacks the pace and the height (although he circumnavigated that on Saturday) to really play there at the top. He has shown though he has the touch guile and passing vision to play centre mid as well as the positional sense. How Fellaini, Heitinga, Rodwell or Neville has ever got in there ahead of him is beyond me.
Mike Bates
10   Posted 10/05/2011 at 09:30:29

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I have upgraded Osman's status from what has always been 'shite' to 'alright'.

This status is subject to change after Saturday.
Chris Perry
11   Posted 10/05/2011 at 10:03:03

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Oh well... Gareth Farrlely must also rank as a "world class" player.

A Load of bollocks! 10 good games in 9 seasons.
Alan Clarke
12   Posted 10/05/2011 at 10:25:03

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Surely that header, Mike, takes him up to "quite good"?
Dick Fearon
13   Posted 10/05/2011 at 10:47:00

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As another Osman critic, I have to say his recent performances have been an eye opener. Makes me wonder if the last few years were only a bad dream...
Tony J Williams
14   Posted 10/05/2011 at 11:08:19

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I have this kind of conversation with one of my match going mates for the last 5 years. No matter what happens Ossie always seems to worm his way back into the team and pulls out some cracking performances.

The problem is that, when he is poor, he is Victor poor.

He needs a good pan of scouse down him but I have never thought of it in the way that Dan has, in that if he was in a better team, he would have numerous men sent off for the way they just drag him off the ball or drag him down.

Good player, nothing more... but he has earned his corn since January deffinitely, when so many others haven't.
Chris Fisher
15   Posted 10/05/2011 at 11:26:16

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I've always liked Osman, my only problem with him has been the fact that he usually goes missing in the really big games.
Andrew Ellams
16   Posted 10/05/2011 at 11:52:36

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Alan @ 5, I think Hibbert does know his potential. He is an old fashioned, defending full back. Unfortunately as most of the players he faces up against are soft as shite prima donnas, Hibbos strongest attribute ie tackling is slowly being taken out of the game.
Alan Clarke
17   Posted 10/05/2011 at 12:04:22

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It's funny because I didn't see Hibbert tackling Silva on Saturday. That up and under from Kompany is the worst piece of defending I've seen all season. Hibbert just let Silva bring the ball down, turn one way then the other and then have a shot. Hibbert may as well have not been there. Any decent defender would have just headed it out while the ball was in the air still. I think Moyes agreed hence why he took him off at half-time.

Since I'm not an actual scouser, is the respect for Hibbert purely becuse he's a local lad? Because I don't think he has any attributes. He can't pass, can't tackle, can't cross, has poor positional sense and he can't head the ball. On that basis, I should be a Premier League footballer.
Tony J Williams
18   Posted 10/05/2011 at 12:08:57

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You're right Andrew, Hibbert has also commented upon that very point.

It's no longer a man's game anymore and I am currently winding up the redshite in work about how much a diver Suarez is. He doesn't like it when I continually call him a "fecking pussy".
Daniel A Johnson
19   Posted 10/05/2011 at 12:13:26

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Amazing what happens when a player is played in his correct position and given a run of a few games in that position.

Square peg in a square hole for once, Yous ee Mr Moyes not fucking rocket science is it.

As for Hibbert .........he will always be shite.
Tony J Williams
20   Posted 10/05/2011 at 12:11:04

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Alan, the cross that Rodwell ballooned was from Hibbert.

He can't tackle? Actually it pointless going on with this post, as your viewpoint won't be changed with that kind of blinkered opinion.

Toodles
Ian Campbell
21   Posted 10/05/2011 at 12:57:17

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If I (or Bily for that matter) woke up tomorrow and suddenly started playing like Zidane would that mean that all of my performances up to now were world class too? No of course it wouldn't so to say that people were wrong or should now be apologetic is bollocks.

Osman has been fantastic of late and long may it continue, I've always thought that he is a decent squad player and now with recent performances he clearly deserves a longer run in the team. It doesn't mean that he hasn't been lightweight in the past though and perhaps it's something he's worked on!

As for Hibbert ? shite!
John Anderson
22   Posted 10/05/2011 at 13:02:40

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I think Ossie has always shown signs of class, it's just that he's always been inconsistent; for every sublime performance he'd then follow that with two awful games. He's now starting to put together regular runs of good form; it won't be long before the English press start picking him for England games!
GJ Butler
23   Posted 10/05/2011 at 13:09:10

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I've given Osman a lot of stick in the past, and I've given him his dues recently. But I just know I'll be giving him stick again in the future, becuase he's not good enough. And defining 'good enough' is doen to your own ambitions for Everton.

And so try answer truthfully, we are 7th. Would Osman get into any of the 6 teams above us? My answer is no. Emphatically so. And so to continue with mid-table, end of season boredom, by all means, start Osman next season. It's not like we have the funds to replace him anyway.

For what its worth, you can go through the entire squad and ask who would get into the top 6 squads - I'd say Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Neville (Spurs bid remember), Rodwell, Cahill, Arteta, Fellaini, Saha (possibly). Osman? Not a chance. And theirin lies the problem.

Enjoy his purple patch, but don't analyse the fact he's your player of the season - because that will depress you.
Liam Reilly
24   Posted 10/05/2011 at 13:24:09

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Yup, he's gone up a notch in my opinion; so that's one notch.
Kunal Desai
25   Posted 10/05/2011 at 13:28:10

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Unbelievable!! Osman has a couple of good games and scores a few goals all of a sudden he becomes a world beater! Fucking hell ? it doesn't take much for the majority on here to be easily pleased.

Make no mistake he is no Iniesta, please don't compare Osman to the spanish maestro.

If Osman had shown in the past 7-8 odd years the performances he's put in the last couple of months, then fair enough ? he'd get a lot more credit from me... but to start saying he is quality is laughable. He'll be back to his usual self next season, getting knocked off the ball far too easily. In my opinion, he still needs to replacing and should be kept on as a squad member.

Stephen Leary
26   Posted 10/05/2011 at 14:03:27

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I've said it once I will say it again, Ossie in 07-08 was superb playing in the middle, with Arteta out on the right, and Pienaar out on the left. In my opinion, he is our best player to play in the "hole": he has skill, vision and en eye for goal. Playing there throughout a season, I would say Ossie would have 10 to 15 assists and 8 to 12 goals easy. He is a fantastic underrated player.
Tony Kelly
27   Posted 10/05/2011 at 14:50:01

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Osman, at last, is playing in his true position ? the position he played in when he was the star player in the Everton youth side, an old-fashioned inside forward. His first touch is his strength, the best from an Everton player since Trevor Steven. He has been wasted on the wing for the last nine years.

I would like to pose the question, Would the following centre-midfielders do a job as wingers: McMahon, Robson, Reid, Lampard, Souness? I think the answer is no.

Dave Wilson
28   Posted 10/05/2011 at 15:42:58

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Hear, hear, Dan,

Funny how every time these two get into the team we rise up the table ? they haven't played more games for Everton in Europe for nothing.

Hibbert is the best tackler in the league and if there`s a player playing better than Ossie at the moment, I haven't seen him.

Not bad for a pair of "Championship" players.
Andy Amey
29   Posted 10/05/2011 at 16:05:48

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I know he was compared to Andy Gray after Saturday's header, but it reminded me much more of Sheedy's header against the other Manchester team in '85. Sorry to just remember some history..........
Colin Prendergast
30   Posted 10/05/2011 at 15:51:23

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I've always liked Osman ever since he first came into our team. But I can see the other side of the argument with him as well. His first touch has always been superb in my view, his workrate and committment are always on show and he often looks like he's got a goal in him. The problem is his qualities are simply more evident when playing against inferior sides.

He's often accused of going missing in the big games. And I can see the point. He lacks the physical strength when he's been up against the likes of Keane, Gerarrd, Ballack, Lampard etc in centre mid as well as pace when played outwide against decent full-backs. Would he have been better with one of them types alongside him, we'll never know.

And whilst I doubt we'll ever be a top 4 /5 team with him in our team, I do wonder who all these other players of ours are who haven't gone missing in the top games. There's been a few who've played well in some, but Cahill aside maybe, many have tended to be less visible when it's really mattered - chelsea cup final, LC semi, redshite etc.
James Stewart
31   Posted 10/05/2011 at 16:57:31

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5 goals for Osman for the season now and Pienaar still on 2. Interesting stats. Osman is a useful player I don't think there is anyone denying that. Very pleased to see him grab the headlines and I hope it continues.

I don't think you can label him with Hibbert though. That's quite unfair on Ossie!
Guy Wilkinson
32   Posted 10/05/2011 at 17:04:59

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Fair play to Ossie, he is a greatly better player then he was last season.

His retention of the ball is better and he lurks nicely at the back post a lot.

He needs to work on his pace. I like his attitude, good lad.
Peter Barnes
33   Posted 10/05/2011 at 17:19:05

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The pleasing thing about Osman is that, upon reaching the age of 28 and being in and around the Everton 1st team for 7 or 8 years, he has just received his first chance at playing in his favoured position. And guess what! He is suddenly a superior player than all of the doubters on here imagined.

It strikes me as amazing that his critics hadn't spotted that a 5-ft midget who cannot run very quickly but who has good feet and a clever football brain should really be playing in the middle rather than stuck out on the wing. I am sure that Moyes knows this; unfortunately, Osman is a victim of Moyes's bias toward certain players.

Andrew Clare
34   Posted 10/05/2011 at 17:30:35

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Great Evertonian, terrific, skillful footballer delighted for him. It just makes you wonder about all of the other players Moyes has had/has playing in the wrong positions. I know Heitinga is one who is absolute world class when he plays in his correct position.
Ian Tunstead
35   Posted 10/05/2011 at 18:36:36

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I'm sorry but playing well for 2 months in the last 8 years does not make Osman Iniesta. Yes he is in the form of his life but that doesnt make him England standard.

He has played well now that he has less responsibility and is allowed to stay further up the field in more central positions but lets see if he can do it over the course of a full season. I wont hold my breath.
Andrew Keatley
36   Posted 10/05/2011 at 18:35:49

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I like Osman. Especially right now. But Iniesta is probably better at every single component of football than little Leon.

Who thinks that Tony Hibbert is the Goodison Dani Alves? Anyone?
Jim Hillier
37   Posted 10/05/2011 at 19:32:29

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This whole thread is a wind-up, right?

Ossie's header was superb, one of the best moments of the season, but first half his shooting was crap.

That's our Ossie. Capable of a match winning bit of class, and twice as many advantage squandering touches of shit.

One obvious adjective is ... inconsistent. There are others, but overall I reckon that is the one.

Love him or hate him? No... Love him AND hate him.
Andrew Fair
38   Posted 10/05/2011 at 19:40:21

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http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/10-11/comment/mailbag/15827.html

I wrote a piece on Osman earlier in the season and got slated for it. But I think now he is proving everyone wrong not that they will admit it.
Pat Finegan
39   Posted 10/05/2011 at 19:48:52

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Hibbert may be useless on offense, but he's the best tackler on the team. 30 years ago, he'd have been an England regular. Unfortunately, the game has moved past players like Hibbo. He's still useful, he's just much different from the typical modern fullback.
Alan Clarke
40   Posted 10/05/2011 at 21:24:35

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Honestly, is Hibbert the best tackler? Did he even try putting in a challenge against Silva? Why did Moyes bring him off if he's such a good tackler? If he's such a good tackler, he wouldn't need to worry about getting booked because his challenges would be fair. He fucked up in the Cup Final and he keeps on fucking up. If he spoke with a cockney accent I think it would be unanimous that he's shite.

It's all very well saying he's more suited to football 30 years ago. Build the donkey a time machine then and get him as far away from our present day team as possible.
Tony J Williams
41   Posted 11/05/2011 at 10:50:13

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How did he fuck iup in the final? He was given no protection from an unfit Osman and to add to that he was unfairly booked within the first 10 mins which effectively ended his final. Also, if memory serves me, we weren't losing when he went off. How can a player not on the pitch be blamed for a defeat?

Care to substantiate you theory of his constant fuck-ups? Is this going to go down the same route as the imaginary red cards and penalties?
Adam Fenlon
42   Posted 12/05/2011 at 02:30:20

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He still fluffs far too many chances, including the horrendous sky-ball early on Saturday.

But yeah credit where its due, he has improved significantly and now thoroughly deserves his place in the side.

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