The January transfer window is open and, as yet, there has been minimal Everton activity. As I write, rumours surround the future of Samuel Eto'o, with the papers suggesting he's off to Italy very soon. And Lundstram has gone to Orient on loan. So far, so predictable.
Given Everton's terrible Festive form, it seems high time to look at the squad and decide what's next. Recent games against West Ham United and Manchester City have shown that this team is willing to fight and may be about to turn the corner – but is still found wanting in too many areas. We still make too many defensive errors and still struggle to break teams down.
In reviewing the current state of affairs, I've split the first team squad into three groups of players: the young (up to 24), the established middle (24-29) and the veterans (30+). (I haven't included loanee Atsu, because nor has Martinez. I've also omitted youth players who are yet to make more than a handful of appearances for the first team).
First, the young players in and around the first team:
Joel Robles (24)
John Stones (20)
Bryan Oviedo (24)
Luke Garbutt (21)
James McCarthy (24)
Muhamed Besic (22)
Ross Barkley (21)
Romelu Lukaku (21)
This is a very promising group. There are some superb prospects and we've seen some great individual performances from the likes of McCarthy, Stones, Barkley and Lukaku.
In terms of consistency, McCarthy is streets ahead and should be the lynchpin of our midfield for the next 7-8 years. Recently Besic has come in and done a fine job; he's a tough tackling, fiercely competitive midfielder who is also good on the ball. Lukaku has been in and out of form this season but is very young and clearly has immense talent. His recent performances show he is nearly back to his best.
Oviedo has yet to have a run in the team but has showed real commitment in his cameos so far. He might best be deployed as a winger rather than a left-back. Robles certainly has his critics, and is perhaps a better shot-stopper than distributor; however, his performance (and huge passion) in the gutting FA Cup shoot-out defeat to West Ham shows that he could be the real deal.
The issue with this group, as it will always be with such inexperienced players, is that they are still full of errors. Stones has been excellent but makes the occasional mistake in areas where we are often punished. Robles has no real authority over his defence. Barkley can completely disappear in games, and doesn't seem to know his best position.
What we can say here is that all of these players must remain at the club. There is the potential here for a first rate team in 2 seasons time, with Stones-McCarthy-Barkley-Lukaku as the spine. If we can keep this group together, they could be trophy-winners. Time – and our board's willingness to rebuff big money offers – will tell.
The Established Middle:
Seamus Coleman (26)
Kevin Mirallas (27)
Darron Gibson (27)
Aiden McGeady (28)
Steven Naismith (28)
A real mixed bag. The top performers here are Mirallas, Coleman and – perhaps surprisingly – Steven Naismith. All three have become hugely important to Martinez, and our poor form has, in my opinion, been due in part to the various injuries Mirallas has suffered.
Naismith came into his own at the end of last season and started this campaign with a fantastic goal return. While his goals have tailed off, he has arguably been one of the team's most consistent performers this term. Coleman has had a poor campaign by his standards and his confidence looks shot; however we know from his previous exploits just how good he can be.
Mirallas has been a shining beacon in the dark winter months. Coming off the bench against West Ham, when Everton were losing 1-0 and down to 10 men, was perhaps his best performance in a blue shirt to date.
McGeady has looked good at times but too often loses the ball, loses his man or loses his head. Last season, we put it down to rustiness and to adapting to the Premier League. This season he's had four months and a consistent run of games, and in my opinion has failed to deliver. His two yellows against West Ham were naive and stupid – with 11 men on the pitch we might have won the game. He should be replaced.
Gibson is a strange one. When he first joined he had a good run in the team, scored a couple of goals and created many more; he looked like the midfield lynchpin we had been missing. Then the injury curse struck. The Irishman has spent almost two years out injured; his knees must be shot to pieces. He will never be able to sustain a run in the team. He has no resale value, so it may be best to let his contract run down and help him do his badges; it certain looks like his career won't go much further.
Tim Howard (35)
Tony Hibbert (33)
Leighton Baines (30)
Phil Jagielka (32)
Sylvain Distin (37)
Antolin Alcaraz (32)
Gareth Barry (33)
Leon Osman (33)
Steven Pienaar (32)
Arouna Kone (31)
Samual Eto'o (33)
What names here. Everton heroes of recent times: Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Howard. Players of unquestionable loyalty in Hibbert and Osman. But all are in the last stages of their careers, and showing as much on the pitch. This is the group that must take responsibility for this poor season. Too many mistakes all over.
Howard looks to have peaked at the World Cup, and is statistically one of the worst keepers in the league. A shame – just a few years ago he was lauded as one of the best. It looks as though his injury will keep him out until March, and by then Everton will likely have bought a replacement or come to rely on Robles. His time as first choice keeper is over.
Howard isn't the only one who has seen the last of his regular first team days. Distin and Alcaraz are past their best and need urgent replacing; Hibbert and Osman also look to be on their last legs (rumours suggest Osman may, sadly, have already played his last game for the club due to injury).
Some can still do a job and, at least in the short term, are still very important. Into this category fall Baines, Jags and Barry (who has been very inconsistent this season). But these veterans have only one or two seasons left at best.
Kone is an enigma; he can still be handy as an impact sub if he can stay injury free. Eto'o – once arguably the best forward in the world – looks to be on his way out after only 6 months with the club (hopefully providing a good return given he signed for free). Pienaar has struggled with injury but can still help the team when he returns.
The unavoidable fact is that too many of the players Martinez currently relies upon fall into the "Veterans" category. The most worrying aspect of all is how few players we have in that 24-29 age bracket, when footballers are in their prime.
There are some fantastic prospects in our young group. It's up to Martinez now to guide us to a respectable finish and have a good go at winning the Europa League; his challenge then is to remove the deadwood over the summer and build on his core of established and younger players.
But there are more pressing concerns that need addressing before the summer – this January should see at least two signings.
In my opinion, a centre-back is the first priority. With Distin and Alcaraz out injured (and performing badly when fit), we have no real back-up to Jags and Stones. Martinez needs to buy an established CB who can come in immediately and sure-up the defence; he needs to be the right side of 30 so he can partner Stones for years to come.
The other thing the team desperately needs is pace going forward – a winger. When Mirallas is fit he shows just how much impact pace can have on our attacking success. We desperately need another player in his mould. Might Deulofeu be that man?
Once the above two are sorted, it might be a 'keeper that Martinez targets (although Robles's recent performances suggest he may be able to prove his worth after all).
All in all I would hope that this January sees the departure of a couple of the players in that "Veterans" group that, sadly, are no longer Premier League standard. In their place a CB and a winger are essential. Given the demographic of the squad, players purchased must be under 30 years of age. Otherwise we'll just be back with the same predicament next year.
Your move, Roberto.
Reader Comments (38)
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1 Posted 14/01/2015 at 20:56:29
i thinks it's clear Roberto will not renew some of these player contracts and this will force his hand to bring in reinforcements - I don't think its a case of if but more when.....
2 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:33:27
They are all on TW under Players. Only three are up this summer, Distin, Alcaraz and Oviedo.
3 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:37:16
The elephant in the room is it's surely easier to sign players when the team is in OK form. Players are going to be more interested in a top 10 side than a relegation battle.
One thought - it's not a long term solution but wouldn't it be worth looking at loaning Januzaj, given he is out of favour, and would he go for the move?
4 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:40:41
The fact that they are - to put it mildly - struggling, says much about the effect of injuries to key players and even more about the ability of their manager to mould them into an effective force.
And, of course, there's all those referees who have set out to relegate us. Hmmm.....
5 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:44:25
Good article and assessments apart from Naismith IMO. He has been really poor for months now. Two PL goals in the last 4 months and no assists all season. His control and passing are really poor and his work rate has dropped alarmingly since early in the season.
He is giving the team nothing at present. When was the last time he drew a save from the goalkeeper with a shot? Mirallas should take his position with Oviedo wide left.
6 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:54:49
7 Posted 14/01/2015 at 22:01:06
8 Posted 14/01/2015 at 21:57:00
This is something I pointed out a while back. When we have a serious injury list, there are no leaders out there - too many young players who are first team choices. We desperately need McCarthy to step up and take a leaders role on the pitch, but he’s looking more injury prone as this season has shown.
There is a serious void when the older players are out, but one thing this article emphasises is the imbalance between age groups.
That’s the trouble with being Everton manager though, you have to shop in Aldi.
9 Posted 14/01/2015 at 22:14:27
1) Center halves : Winston Reid, Ryan Shawcross, read an article earlier about how Martinez might have missed a trick by not getting Nastasic. We can't afford any more 'babies' here, we need to splash out if we must, but this must be the absolute priority.
2) Tricky wingers: Deulofeu type of player. Here we probably can go with someone younger (maybe Del boy himself).
3) Center Attacking midfield: Gibbo is a sicknote, Ossie is close to hanging his boots and Pienaar is out of favour. This means we don't really have a creative midfielder who can pick out a pass. Barry, Besic and McCarthy are the engine room, we need the gearbox.
10 Posted 14/01/2015 at 22:53:15
Massive mismanagement in my opinion...Barry, Hibbert, Howard, Gibson, Pienaar, Naismith and Kone all fall in to the liability category. Who in the top 10 would want to sign Naismith?...yet we just gave him a 3-year extension on the back of a short purple patch.
We did the same with Kevin Campbell too, I think he ended up with a 5-year deal on superstar money aged about 30. I bet Walters still getting a Christmas hamper every year for that one. Before anyone says he helped save us that year, well he was on loan and had a purple patch.
Thank you and move on, but it's not the Everton Way. We're unprofessional from top to bottom, but very nice, and that reflects on the pitch too.
11 Posted 14/01/2015 at 22:49:16
Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Garbutt, McCarthy, Besic, Mirallas, Barkley, Oviedo, Lukaku.
Also have the likes of Naismith and McGeady.
In our case Distin and Alcaraz will be gone in the summer, Eto'o will be gone in a few days and Osman may have already played his last game for us. So that's 4 'veterans' who are half way out the door. Baines, Jags and Kone are early 30s so not exactly about to kick the bucket. Howard being a GK, 35 is old but not geriatric.
Given at least 4 players will be gone by the summer, we need at least 4 new faces to stay at the same level. If most of these new faces are the right side of 30 our 'ageing problem' won't be a problem anymore.
Main thing for me is to increase the quality in the squad and make sure we have a balanced side. A decent winger/wide MF is a must and come the summer (if not now) 2 new CBs are needed. Robles looks like he could be decent so no urgency on the GK front.
Main gripe I have is the length of contracts given to players over 30 and/or players who we're taking a punt on. Some examples being McGeady ('till 2018), Pienaar (2016), Howard (2019!). I cannot imagine any club anywhere offering any of these a contract paying anywhere near what we're paying them now. Pienaar is done and Howard certainly won't be good enough when he's 39!
12 Posted 14/01/2015 at 23:10:37
Kind of agree on the new deal for Nais, who is a squad man and no more for me. Handy to have though. Stick on top of the Eto’o & the absurd Barry deal & theres a pattern. We are becoming a soft touch on contracts for players who barely deserve them. Hibbo got two years!!
Four of those eleven over 30’s have been brought in by Martinez. Ridiculous.
This summer is going to be one of big change.
If he makes it through do I trust him?
Being honest, no.
13 Posted 14/01/2015 at 23:15:52
Eto'o looks like he's going this window. Osman has a career ending injury. Distin and Alcaraz will be out of contract and gone in the summer. Added to that I think there's a strong possibility Howard will be off to the MLS and I can't see how Pienaar will be kept on beyond the summer. So that will be 5-6 players who will need to be replaced by the likes of Browning, Ledson, possibly Henen if he impresses in U21's and a few signings.
14 Posted 14/01/2015 at 23:21:23
So far though Martinez transfer dealings and contractual stuff has been largely woeful.
The next couple of years will set the tone for a long time if we don’t recruit well. And after Coleman & Mirallas the last of the cheap Moyes buys profits will be gone. If this fella blows it we have a big problem.
Buy low and young, we live by the sell on. Not a 29-year-old striker for ٤ million which is immediately dead money, you tit.
15 Posted 14/01/2015 at 23:50:59
Pienaar is pretty much finished for me, so keeping the attacking threat on both flanks (key to the way we want to play) has been hard to sustain this season. Unless McGeady can reverse his 20% good / 80% poor form then I would see a loan deal for a decent wide player as important for us being able to finish off teams during the rest of the season.
Money must be spent on a centre back and a respectable keeper, and another neat and tidy midfielder is required to cover for Barry's tired legs and McCarthy's current / ongoing absence.
Two permanent signings plus two loans is the minimum I think we need this transfer window. I would have liked the two permanent signings to have been last summer (central defence and central midfield was what I was looking at then) but was accused then of being too pessimistic in thinking we were still short of a couple of players to keep us competitive in all competitions.
16 Posted 15/01/2015 at 00:38:15
I was expecting Martinez to bring in some overseas finds that had power, pace and skill, but his dealings have been unbelievably lazy for me. Wigan players, and then last seasons loans for extortionate money...allied to a lazy pre-season and not enough time to work on set pieces...WTF, has really set the alarm bells ringing for me.
Before the season started I was screaming about our lack of nastiness and leaders; nice boys everywhere and a very nice manager. We get abused by referees, as well as opponents because of this, and I just can't believe the management has been so bad. I think most of us are still in a bit of shock about this season and we are in deep, deep trouble at the moment.
17 Posted 15/01/2015 at 03:17:55
The rise in broadcast revenues has stabalised our finances, and the Chairman would argue he's backed the manager this last window, and why have him bring more players in when a parting of the ways in the summer remains a possibility?
As OFM found at OT, you want to be the one-that-follows-the-one-that-followed-"The Legend", maybe that's also the case with us!
18 Posted 15/01/2015 at 04:27:16
19 Posted 15/01/2015 at 05:04:22
20 Posted 15/01/2015 at 06:02:21
That being said, our "marquee" players are reasonably young - Baines, Mirallas, Coleman, Lukaku, Stones, Barkley. They all have plenty of years left and/or very solid resale values.
I'd still like to see some more trust in youth. I guess we're kind of stuck at the moment, in that it's very difficult to blood youngsters when the team as a whole is low on confidence and playing badly.
Need a third central defender (along with Jagielka and Stones) to compete for a starting spot; both Alcaraz and, at this stage in his career, Distin, should surely be backups at this point. And we definitely need more width; while on paper we can look at a lot of attacking talent in the team it's really unbalanced towards centrally focused players. Only Mirallas and the mediocre McGeady are outright wide players.
Letting Eto'o go makes sense, given we're apparently never going to actually play him as a striker. Naismith and Barkley can rotate for the "in the hole behind the striker" spot, until Barkley a) improves his decision making and b) gets more consistent. But we need desperately someone to balance out Mirallas, and possibly even a third to act as a backup.
Those would be my priorities; January if possible; a central defender and a direct and attacking wide player.
21 Posted 15/01/2015 at 05:30:38
We sign a 㿈m striker who plays as though his boots are on the wrong feet and we assign him a coach who couldn't dribble round a dead cat. The lad is not jumping higher or getting tougher but his ball control is getting worse and he is now missing chances he would normally take with his eyes shut.
Why are the same players subbed every game? Why replace lively legs with fresh legs and leave tired legs on the pitch? I don't include Mirallis who is the renowned 70 minute man.
Garbutt and Oviedo should not be sitting on the bench. These lads are our future and we should be incorporating them somewhere. If they go people will not be pleased.
22 Posted 15/01/2015 at 07:46:45
23 Posted 15/01/2015 at 09:49:37
24 Posted 15/01/2015 at 11:20:33
New players are needed now but we are at the mercy of Kenwright and, to be honest, a manager who hasn't got a great transfer record with us.
25 Posted 15/01/2015 at 17:30:02
Does anyone feel this way when we are watching our opposition, even teams worse off than us........"man they have all these 25 year old guys out there out running our 32 year olds" !?!? Southampton, Swansea, West Ham - these clubs have jumped us this year because they are not living IN THE PAST, MANNNNNNNN. Even terrible teams like Hull, Burnley, Villa and Sunderland have shown more fight IMO because they have mid-20's players trying to establish their careers, not just wind them down. I admit I didn't see this going so badly so quickly but it needs to be addressed.
Of your "Veterans", I'd honestly keep Baines, Jags and Kone around next year and the rest need to be gone - and that pains me a bit for Ossie and Hibbo, but we need youth, we need pace and we need some frickin Canadians or Mexicans or something.
Great post though, Charlie Gibson.
26 Posted 15/01/2015 at 18:57:35
I understand people defending Martinez as it is his second season but he has had one of the strongest squads we have had for years and it is through his philosophy and style that we are in this mess plus his stubborness to admit he is wrong and playing square pegs in round holes.
I have defended Martinez in the past and hoped he was able to turn it around but only by changing his style and improving the defensive set up until we had the type of players,both in attack and defense, that was comfortable playing his style.
I still do not think that B.K. will fire him but if we finish below 8th place at the end of the season there should he no reason not to fire him.
27 Posted 15/01/2015 at 19:13:54
Sadly we don't seem to be even rumoured to be in for any of them let alone close to getting one. Reid especially would be a great signing but can see Arsenal or Spurs getting him on a free but on large wages.
In fact the lack of rumoured Everton transfers is a bit depressing - even if we don't have much cash. Surely Robertos looking to bring in more than just another GK this window? I hope he's playing his cards close to his chest, although I thought that back in August as well and we signed fook all.
28 Posted 15/01/2015 at 19:29:40
30 Posted 15/01/2015 at 20:46:42
Woods is BK's best friend, Earl needs a GPS to find his way to Liverpool, never mind Goodison Park and is only interested in his holdings and our CEO was employed by BK and lastly Mr Carter is just an ex-President and none of them have enough shares to displace BK.
So, if no players are brought in in this January, it will be because BK will not release funds and I think even he must be wary looking at some of the decisions that Martinez has made in the transfer market.
31 Posted 15/01/2015 at 20:38:21
We don’t have one. Any!! And Ross cant do any of the above at the moment. Pienaar was key for us but it appears that’s it for him, and Ossie is running out of time as well.
Its the lack of this kind of player that is killing us offensively and is the reason we are so unbalanced.
Arsenal have Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Wiltshire. And wide players.
These type of players are key to playing the way Martinez wants. We have none. So Naismith plays in there!!! And Eto’o’s been crammed in there.
It’s all wrong. And to be honest if you want to play the way Martinez does, why sign Lukaku anyway? You need a man with hold up & link play who can go in behind.
Welbeck, for example, one off the top of my head, would have been a lot better, for the style, and cheaper. Rogers has rightly been questioned in paying the money he did for Balotelli, a player who in no way suits the way he wants his teams to play.
Martinez has done almost the same. Im not overly sold on Rom but I recognise he is big, quick, is a big threat in behind and knows where the net is, he is a pretty good finisher. He’s good one on one as well. Get the service and he will get 15 - 20 league. Due to his age and goal record his value will, mostly but not all, hold as well. But the way Martinez has set it up this season, constantly with his back to goal, why ask him to do that? I mean that side of his game needs some heavy work. Imagine trying to link with him as a midfielder?! Nightmare!
The more I think about it, this squad is poor. Last season was the last hurrah. Its hit the wall in several areas and its unbalanced, lacking in depth and nowhere near good enough for our supposed aims.
Wide, attacking mid, cover for Rom and centre half are all weak areas.
As for players under contract, Hibbo, Howard, Pienaar, Alcaraz and Barry have all more than likely, I’m being kind, seen their best days and have time left on their deals. Aside from one, Martinez is responsible for all those deals.
If Martinez hadn’t signed McCarthy his record would be very, very dubious. I fear for the future. His next few signings need to come off.
With Howard and that 4-year deal, its no coincidence this year has happened after the World Cup. He is a good age for a keeper still, but it will take some coming back from. But realistically its going to be difficult to shift him from the security of that deal. Hopefully he can come back fresh & sharp next year.
Maybe the injury was the best thing for him this season. He probably needed a break, mentally and physically.
32 Posted 15/01/2015 at 21:15:12
Before the Sky bubble bursts, let's get some younger talent in.
33 Posted 15/01/2015 at 22:39:17
Amazing that it seems only the supporters seem to know what position we have been missing for a number of seasons than coaches who earn lots of money to see this.
34 Posted 16/01/2015 at 09:45:11
So we need to retire the players who have been great but now cannot reach the top level ceiling,and also those who have fallen in the battle for greatness and,who nurse damaged bodies and those that do not make the grade. .
Right now we have an enormous vacancy in midfield for an attacking support player with speed, technical and determination. We need to address this right now. He'll play alongside McCarthy,Besic and Barry. We have some players that don't make the PL grade if we are brutally frank and they would be far better off being transferred.In their own interests.Wolves and clubs like that would benefit and so would we.
There are other problems in the club it seems. We seem to need better physio,clinical management,and we seem weak in the coaching sphere. Not fit for purpose is a team that can1t deal with crosses into the box,does'nt know how to score from corner kicks and whose attacking backs can't get forward any more. Some of our talent no longer want to stay with us it seems. Can you blame them when the set up is unfit for purpose? They have their careers to consider and as a matter of fact, so do us supporters.
35 Posted 16/01/2015 at 13:51:12
Oh for a Reid, Gray type to have said to Tombstone Teeth, "ThatÂs my mate youÂve just done. Now IÂm gonna take a card for you." West Brom and The Redshite will leave their foot in and I canÂt see us having anyone in there to give some back.
37 Posted 16/01/2015 at 15:31:52
38 Posted 16/01/2015 at 21:51:41
In the current situation, if available they should start as a midfield three with Barry in the middle. What we need at the moment is fight not finesse.
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