The season is coming to an end. And it has been ever so... well, underwhelming. A million and one reasons will be given for this, more often than not these reasons are along the lines of Martinez being the root cause.

As valid as such arguements are, I would like to explore a different angle. That is, our famous Midget Gems: Osman, Pienaar and Cahill.

During the Moyes years, when, in spite of what revisionists like to say, we played some of the best football of my lifetime (29 years old). Heights such as the Man City victories, some admirable performances against Arsenal (who always won with some anti-Arsenal goal, mind), Fiorentina at home and quite a few more.

We played some delightful stuff, and had in these player three midfielders who offered creativity and goals. A bit light-weight at times, not quite top-4 quality, but in my opinion, players we desperately miss.

Let's start with Pienaar. Ever since he arrived, his movement and link-up play with Baines took us up a level. Good at set-pieces, determined, and someone who enjoys the game were other attributes that made him stand out. But the most important element was his excellent technique which enabled him to keep possession high up the pitch.

This gave the likes of Cahill time to position themselves, and Baines time to join him in what was a devastating left-side attack. This ability to hold and keep the ball also enabled us to organize the defense against any counter-attack. His absence has been devastating, but at 34 what could we expect.

Osman: much criticised throughout his career, many claim he 'is not a Premier League player'. If anyone still holds that opinion, well sorry, you are an idiot. Is he world-class? No... but neither are we.

Consider this, at 18 he was the next big thing. Then disaster struck: cruciate ligament damage (and 15 years ago it was much more serious than today). The years followed and the ship seemed to have sailed, like with so many before him. Then, after some decent loan moves, at 23, he comes into the team. This alone shows the man's determination and spirit, which every team needs.

Beyond this, over the last 10 years he has been a consistent performer. Often played (and wasted) out wide, when played in the middle he would show his prowess. Excellent technique, good, forward passing and the threat of a goal.

When he has played this season, the team has been better for it, but at 33 his time is coming to an end. I hope he remains on the substitutes bench for a good 2 years; I'm sure he has much to offer (especially as mentor to young players like Ledson).

Cahill: we did love Tim, a modern legend whose goals were key during this period. His workrate and determination made up for his lack of technical ability, and for me, he is exactly what we need now as a No 10.

We will never sign (and keep) an Erikson type (Cahill + technique), but Cahill just behind a striker like Lukaku would be remarkable. Cahill's movement could pull defenders and create space for Lukaku, while also shouldering the burden of goalscoring.

These three lads are sorely missed from this team, and we lost them at pretty much the same time. That is a hard gap to fill, especially with our resources.

Three cheers to the Midget Gems. And fingers crossed the next generation comes along ASAP.

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Reader Comments (41)

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Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 19/05/2015 at 18:45:24
Those three players were very good in their time at Goodison but the fact that two of the three are still in the first-team squad and we havenÂ’t up to now replaced them tells more of a story than the quality of those players. The Moyes years will be seen in future times as the golden era of Everton FC in the Premier League - sad but true if the pundits and business gurus are to be believed.
Dick Fearon
2 Posted 19/05/2015 at 19:48:25
Fran, the only comment I would add to your OP is that Osman and Pienaar often went missing in action, something Timmy never did.

Regardless the physique and toughness of opponents, Timmy get stuck in. He would never allow himself to be bullied off the ball.

Paul Jeronovich
3 Posted 19/05/2015 at 20:46:58
11 Timmy CahillÂ’s will do for me.
Peter Mills
4 Posted 19/05/2015 at 20:44:47
Tim Cahill was probably the roughest and toughest (whilst still being talented) player IÂ’ve ever seen. He will suffer for it later in life. IÂ’d love to see him back at Goodison, now there would be a manager who really would take on all-comers.
Gavin Johnson
5 Posted 19/05/2015 at 20:58:05
When I saw the headline, I thought it was a story about HKÂ’s midget gems of Cottee, Beardsley and Mo Johnston.

IÂ’d never think of Cahill has a short arse, that said, I guess like Gary Speed, he had the ability to out jump players who were easily over 6ft tall.

Stephen Brown
6 Posted 19/05/2015 at 21:15:37
Gavin #5 thatÂ’s a blast from the past! WasnÂ’t Mark Ward in there too? Peter Beardsley though- class !
John Daley
7 Posted 19/05/2015 at 21:12:49
"Osman and Pienaar often went missing in action, something Timmy never did"

Seen as though his only real skill was popping up with a goal now and again, he kind of went missing for the entirety of 2011 when he failed to hit the net all year. He also did a pretty good impression of the invisible man during his last season at the club. He was utter pish, scored about twice and got sent off in the last game. That was the sum total of his Â’last hurrahÂ’.

IÂ’ve got nothing against Cahill...he was a good (sometimes very good) player for us...but itÂ’s unfair to lay that MIA charge against the other two, whilst conveniently overlooking the fact Cahill didnÂ’t constantly fire on all cylinders himself.

Gavin Johnson
8 Posted 19/05/2015 at 21:50:48
Stephen #6 - I forgot all about Mark Ward. I think he was even shorter than Beardsley, Cottee and Johnston, which is saying something.
Michael Winstanley
9 Posted 19/05/2015 at 20:44:36
Nice article Fran.
I think weÂ’ve missed Pienaar massively this season, quite frankly the replacements have been dire. I think itÂ’s time he hung up his boots, apparently he considered it during his injury and given heÂ’s not played since his cameo I doubt his body can recover.

I donÂ’t think we should consider him for next season, he gets a right good kick-in every game, I remember the united away game, four or five of their lot hammered him and that was that. We were strolling in that game, Baines misses the penalty and when they go 2-1 we hammered them and De Gea saved them.

Pivotal game that one, Stones got injured and bit of belief was lost.

Dave Ganley
10 Posted 19/05/2015 at 21:32:23
Loved watching Pienaar, Osman and Cahill. However, as John rightly points out, to suggest Pienaar and Osman go missing in games is way wide of the mark in my opinion. It was because of Pienaars constant tracking back and seemingly never ending supply of energy that allowed Baines to become the potent force he was/is. He was everywhere and it was very seldom if ever that you could say Pienaar wasnÂ’t in the game.

Osman is another that always wants the ball and even when having a bad day, never shys away from having responsibility. The only problem with Ossie was that he lacked in stature and it was emphasised when he faced the likes of Obi Mikel, Gerrard et al. He just wasnÂ’t top drawer but that shouldnÂ’t detract from what he has given Everton over the years. Contrary to popular belief, he can shoot from distance (remember Larissa?) and he was like a leaping salmon at times when going for a header (Scoring the winner against City few years ago)

Cahill was, well Tim Cahill really. Loved having him in the side, he gave everything for the blue shirt and whilst others have correctly pointed out his limitations, he maximised what he did have.

What all 3 have in common is that they gave/are still giving everything for the club and for that alone I am grateful. True Pienaar shouldnÂ’t have gone to Spurs but he soon realised that the grass was not greener and returned.

Good post Fran, happy memories from all three players

John Daley
11 Posted 19/05/2015 at 22:17:19
"Cahill:....His workrate and determination made up for his lack of technical ability, and for me, he is exactly what we need now as a No 10".

I would argue that, right now, we need exactly the opposite. A player whose primary attributes are great technical ability, vision and the ability to play a defence splitting pass. Cahill possessed none of those things. Workrate and determination are always admirable, but thatÂ’s not what weÂ’re lacking when weÂ’re struggling to make the breakthrough against stubborn defences. Stracqualarsi also had desire, determination and would defo have offered to carry Frodo Baggins up a big fuck off mountain, but those qualities (commendable as they are) donÂ’t translate into a top class link man/chance creator. All the top teams have tricky, technically gifted, almost sneaky players performing that role for a reason. They often make the difference in tight games, against defensively well drilled opposition, wheras a more blunt instrument can be rendered about as much use as a cock on a chocolate mouse if it comes up against some brick shithouse simply willing to stand toe to toe.

Peter Mills
12 Posted 19/05/2015 at 22:33:18
Mark Ward. Now thereÂ’s a player worthy of a place in the Everton history books, if only for leaving his car in the Bellefield parking space specially marked with the letters MW on the orders of that footballing genius Mike Walker.
John Daley
14 Posted 19/05/2015 at 22:50:46

Ward probably thought it stood for My Wheels.

Tom Bowers
15 Posted 19/05/2015 at 22:52:51
Those three players all did some good work toward the Everton cause over the years and Cahill was terrific at his best and one of the best Â’Â’stealsÂ’Â’ in the transfer market in many years.

Pienaar was also a good buy as well as Â’Â’buyingÂ’Â’ many freekicks but has not done well on his return to the Blues.

Osman has good feet and a really good brain but for the most part lacks in the areas that the team needed to get most from him in the middle of the park. Speed and tackling is not part of his game and it was hard to figure out what position was best for him if any.

Personally I think his time, like PienaarÂ’s has come and gone, as neither have the consistency to be starters in future Everton teams... but, then again, RM has his own weird ideas.

Gavin McGarvey
16 Posted 19/05/2015 at 23:20:06
I know what people mean, but for someone lacking in Â’techniqueÂ’, Cahill scored a fairly reasonable goal against Brazil in the last World Cup. Apart from that, good article.

ItÂ’s a pity we are getting into nostalgia so soon after Moyes, but it has been the worst season in at least the last five years. I think we should add Arteta to the list above as he was another great player in a team that never managed to lift a trophy.

LetÂ’s hope Martinez turns things round and we are talking as fondly about McCarthy et al in ten years time, though hopefully with at least a cup final win to look back on.

Jim Jennings
17 Posted 20/05/2015 at 00:31:11
WeÂ’ve never really replaced Kanchelskis either. Imagine him and Seamus down our right flank! A shame also we donÂ’t still have Materazzi to replace Distin. ThatÂ’s what we have been missing this season...
Dennis Stevens
18 Posted 20/05/2015 at 00:46:41
Fran, I think youÂ’re the one whoÂ’s being revisionist here!
William Cartwright
19 Posted 20/05/2015 at 03:38:09
Good article, Fran, also the notion of Cahill as a manger ... amazing!!!!
Eddie Dunn
20 Posted 20/05/2015 at 07:57:39
John Daley is right, we donÂ’t need a "Cahill type at 10 with high work-rate, but limited technical ability, we already have that in Naismith.

We do need a "Mata" or an "Erikson", a man who can get on the ball, with good vision and the ability to open-up defences.

Ossie only really lacked a bit of beef to withstand the bigger units out there, and a bit more power in the shot. Although I have slated him at times for being knackered( he may well have been playing with an injury), the team functions much better with him in a central role, putting his clever little passes through, opening things up on the edge of the box, and scoring lovely goals like the one at West Ham.

He seems very popular with his colleagues too, keeping team spirit buoyant – much needed this season!

Andrew Ellams
21 Posted 20/05/2015 at 08:57:20
I think Leon will be at the club for many years to come in some capacity, but he will be 35 by the end of next season so maybe we should be saying thanks to Leon the player at the end of next season and welcome to Leon the coach.
Mike Allison
22 Posted 20/05/2015 at 09:58:48
Arteta was clearly part of the midget gems, probably the main one, and the player we miss the most, having never replaced him adequately.

Naismith does a very similar job to Cahill behind the striker so I donÂ’t understand why everyone says we miss him so much. Naismith had a good run in the side earlier in the season, did okay, then incurred the wrath of the ToffeeWeb Â’faithfulÂ’ (as everyone does) when he started to look like a dead horse being flogged.

Pienaar was written off early in the season, so IÂ’m glad to see people now recognising the movement, intelligence and craft that he brings to the side going forward. Osman has always been worth his place in the squad, but has sometimes struggles physically, and has been a player who should only really play 60-70 mins most times for a while now. Some of his criticism comes from his managers not realising this.

Rick Tarleton
23 Posted 20/05/2015 at 10:20:09
There are four great midget gems for me and my generation. Bobby Collins all five foot three of him. Alex Young and Roy Vernon, less than twenty stone and the greatest post war strikers and Alan Ball, his two mates werenÂ’t much bigger.
Martin Mason
24 Posted 20/05/2015 at 11:58:20
Excellent points and well made and I totally agree about how well we played at times in the Moyes era. We have the odd high now but I have never seen anything like the lows.
Jim Lloyd
25 Posted 20/05/2015 at 20:15:44
Spot on Rick. Alex and Roy between them got 50 odd goals in 1962/63. I think if the Little General had stayed, weÂ’d have won much more than the one league title and one cup betwwen 62 and 70. Still donÂ’t forgive Catterick for selling Collins.

I agree with the posts about our next most important signing. I hope itÂ’s going to be a midfield general, who can distribute killing passes, hit the ball well and if poss, run the midfield and take a game by the scruff of the neck. A Bobby Collins mark 2 would do nicely.

James Stewart
26 Posted 20/05/2015 at 21:34:20
Agree with the analysis of the Moyes era. Similar age to you and with hindsight and MartinezÂ’s ineptitude I appreciate him slightly more than I did at the time.
Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 20/05/2015 at 21:54:00
Rick (23) yes, IÂ’d have Ball, Collins, Vernon and Young, and although they didnÂ’t play long enough for the Blues IÂ’d add Tommy Ring and Tony Kay. What a loss Kay was through no fault of Everton.
Trevor Lynes
29 Posted 21/05/2015 at 15:24:46
Fully agree, Dave. Tommy Ring was a wonderful winger in the Mathews mould. Dribbled fantastically well and could cross on a sixpence. Like Collins and Vernon, he was not with us long enough. Although the Catt won trophyÂ’s he gradually got rid of John CareyÂ’s players and the side lost flair.

Incidentally we had a top fullback for a short time in Kenny Sansom who was about 5-ft 4-in but he was still a very fine fullback.

Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 21/05/2015 at 21:11:52
Trevor, I agree Catterick got rid of some players too soon, but in Tommy Ring's case, he suffered a bad injury, broke his leg at Chelsea and never fully recovered and was allowed to go to Barnsley. But you are right: a great player.

It always riles me that Duncan McKenzie was preferred to Ring in EvertonÂ’s Hall of Fame and I know it is all about opinions but there was no comparison. Tommy Ring was pure class, McKenzie turned it on now and again.

Trevor Lynes
31 Posted 21/05/2015 at 21:35:48
It was a great pity about Tommy Ring as he was a fantastic player and none of the younger fans had the chance to see and admire him. I really enjoyed the team that John Carey built and it was a side that always entertained.

Having played at a decent level myself I always loved players who could do things I could not. That is why I liked that early 60s side, it was filled with flair.

CatterickÂ’s best signing would have been Kay if only he hadnÂ’t been banned as he really injected steel into the midfield and could pick a pass too.

Steve Carter
32 Posted 22/05/2015 at 10:59:10
Jeez John Daley, talk about glass half empty. "...he was good (sometimes very good)..." "...we need exactly the opposite [of Tim Cahill]". Who wouldn't want merely a "good" Tim Cahill in our side at the moment???

Mate, go search "Tim Cahill" and "Everton" in YouTube. Suggestion: leave the goal at Stamford Bridge 'til last.

Brian Garside
33 Posted 22/05/2015 at 11:59:46
Peter Ried was not so tall I recall. Get him in the back room staff. He could motivate a coffin. With the backup of Duncan Ferguson, I do not envisage one single lacklustre performance.
John Daley
34 Posted 22/05/2015 at 14:05:54
How is describing Cahill as "a good (sometimes very good) player for us", glass half empty? That's got to be 3/4 full at least.

What would you like me to say? That he was extraordinary and one of the greatest players to ever don the royal blue of Everton? That would be pure, unadulterated, hyperbole bordering on total hippo-bollocks. He was good at what he did: ghosting late into the box to grab his fair share of goals and putting himself about a bit. I'm not knocking that contribution, but neither am I about to cum in my pants over it.

When I said this current team needs a more skilful, technical, playmaker performing in the number 10 role....rather than a simple Cahill clone....I meant we're currently crying out for someone who can open up defences with a bit of trickery, an incisive pass or through ball. Cahill, for all his endeavour and fight, didn't possess those attributes. I mean... come on...if I wanted to have a dig at the guy, I could've just said he wouldn't be a very good fit for a team that likes to retain possession because his passing was almost as shite as Superman's dad's in the Man Of Steel when he was swept away by a half-arsed hurricane and his adopted demi-god son just stood by and watched like a slack jawed meff with his dick stuck in a mousetrap.

I don't need to go search for Cahill's goals on YouTube. I watched them all live at the time and some of them were very important goals in fairly big games, so are consequently burned into my brain. I liked Tim Cahill as a player, but that doesn't mean I have to look back through a haze of nostalgia and hoist him up onto a pedestal his actual ability and performances don't merit.

Dave Abrahams
36 Posted 22/05/2015 at 18:24:28
Brian (33), if Ferguson has been motivating the players this season they haven't been listening. I'm afraid Duncan hasn't proved anything to anyone that he has the making of a good coach.
Mark Frere
37 Posted 22/05/2015 at 18:27:23
I liked Cahill but he occupied the position (behind the striker) that Osman would've prospered in. Osman has suffered so much throughout his career from being played out of position. Being stuck out on the wing never suited him and I'm pretty sure if he had have been played in his correct position, we would all have a much higher opinion of him.

Cahill was just a more polished, better version of Naismith but not a great link-up player, and I think Osman would've have done a better job in a creative sense.

This is a good article by Fran, but I can't believe he's left Arteta out of his list of 'Midget Gems'. Arteta was probably the most creative, gifted and influential midfielder of the Moyes era and is the kind of player we are crying out for at the moment.

Nick Armitage
38 Posted 22/05/2015 at 18:39:55
Steven Pienaar has been our best player of the last 15 years. Only Kanchelskis and Speed were better in the last 20 years. When he is fit he makes the team tick. The reason we haven't replaced him is because we can't.
James Martin
40 Posted 23/05/2015 at 00:14:57
Where is our Arteta in this analysis? I agree though you cannot replace superb footballers like Arteta Pienaar and Osman with defensive midfielders and on loan wingers. Moyes's problem, much like Martinez is that he never trusted Arteta and Osman enough to play in the middle together he tried to shove them on the wing whenever he could and allowed yard dogs like Neville and Fellaini in just like Barry and McCarthy get in now.

Really we need to go out and spend 20 mill on two players to replace Osman and Pienaar, but Martinez won't. He'll go out and buy Tom Cleverley plus another useless winger on loan then spend the season moaning why his two 35 year old creative midfielders aren't fit enough to play 90 mins of every game.

Mike Childs
41 Posted 23/05/2015 at 01:47:16
As a Jimmy Mac fan I believe he has shown he can move move forward and a bit more of an offense clog now the BBS has taken the shackles off of him. Ossie definitely has the brain to be a 10 but size and age are against him.

Barkley has to move back to reach his potential. Maybe we can get Areta back as it looks like Gooners are moving. Areta only laced with us the first year I became a fan.

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