Where are they now: Everton teetering on the edge of success

Everton: a model for success teetering on the edge.

by Phil Gregory

Very easy to stick the knife in here, but I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon just yet. We all know Moyes has done a fantastic job with them over the years, but can we really see them breaking the top four as they are?

Frankly, while teams such as Tottenham, City and Villa have the financial muscle to push on in the future, Everton simply don’t (short of a new stadium or a wealthy benefactor emerging).

Looking at the squad, Heitinga looks to be a wise acquisition, his versatility will be invaluable and Everton’s issues at right back were all too well documented during the recent FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

The defence still looks a little light in the middle, ( no central defence should ever  have to suffer a Neville slotting in), but with Jagielka returning in November, and Distin recently brought in this shouldn’t be too big an issue.

Midfield looks nice overall, though the lack of a midfield enforcer is often complained about by Evertonians, with Phil Neville only ever “doing a job” there.

Up front it is more interesting.  Saha himself has said it has been a long time since he managed a proper preseason fully fit, Jo has averaged just under a goal every other game while he has been at Everton, and Yakubu can always be relied on to hit the back of the net in the Premier League.

Everton won’t struggle for goals this season; they didn’t last year without any fit strikers at times.

Overall, the squad’s pretty good, balanced and deep enough. My only criticism of Moyes would be his handling of the Lescott affair – he couldn’t afford it getting messy as it did.  Personally, I thought he took a reasonable risk in calling Lescott’s bluff in turning down his transfer request – Lescott always seemed a good professional and I thought he would take it on the chin and move on instead of risking being dumped into the reserves to stew during World Cup Year – but it simply didn’t pay off in the end, Moyes had to take the money.

It has clearly disrupted their last few games, and if they don’t get points on the board soon it’s all going to snowball a la Spurs last season. Confidence is volatile – three wins on the trot and Europe is there for the taking, but a few more losses and fears of relegation grow. A squad like Everton’s is full of fighters, so I think they’ll get points on the board soon, overcome this blip and come in at 7th this season.

This could well represent a glass ceiling for Everton who will only go two ways over the next few years.  If a new stadium will be constructed/a wealthy benefactor will be found and they will be become Europa League regulars and Champions League hopefuls.

Alternatively Moyes (deservedly) gets offered a big job, and they get edged out of the European places by the more upwardly mobile clubs. I like Everton, they do things the right way, but it seems clubs like them will just be squeezed out over the coming seasons.

Arsenal-Everton eleven (442):


Sagna Vermaelen Gallas  Clichy

Arshavin Cahill Fabregas Arteta

Saha Eduardo

Bench: Howard, Fellaini, Yakubu, Song, Heitinga, Jagielka, Van Persie

Bit trickier this time. Howard is solid but I’ve plumped for Almunia, could’ve gone either way. Back four is fairly self-explanatory, Everton have some good centre backs, but judging on current form I’d go for the Arsenal pair. Slightly broke the rules by putting no defensively-minded CM next to Cesc, but wanted Cahill on the teamsheet.

Arteta sneaks in ahead of Nasri, with Rosicky discounted from selection due to injury. Saha slots in ahead of Van Persie, who is benched, with Eduardo up top with him. Fairly good Everton representation on the bench which I think shows their strength in depth. Not a bad team, overall!

Phil Gregory.

13 Replies to “Where are they now: Everton teetering on the edge of success”

  1. nice tony,u tell me whr are we moving now there’s another money bag in england in man arabs.. our champions league position looks more threatened..wht if we dn’t qualify fr it this season..will there be meltdown..i guess our debt is around 400 mill..it will be foolishness to ignore threat posed by man arabs..

  2. nice article, and i agree about cahill, he’s a tricky little fecker who had a great last season.

    but putting saha in ahead of, well, every other arsenal front man doesnt seem realistic to me. i dont think that given the combined squad, either manager would put saha in.

    i like the isea of these articles, and i can appreciate how difficult it is to pick a squad from the combined teams that isnt all arsenal players.

    most teams in the prem might have one player good enough. some will have none, but i look forward to your analyses of the manchester teams and the london teams.

  3. Phil – Sorry but this piece contains some serious flaws.

    i) Many of the articles on here praise Wenger and the board for the way Arsenal are run in a self sustaining manor. The way forward is not to say “the only way forward is for a club to find a wealthy benefactor” but to make all clubs run within their budgets. It is just lazy to follow the herd and say a rich backer is the solution to all problems.

    ii) How can you drop Rosicky because of his injury record but include Saha.

    iii) Cahill is a good player but to play him in midfield with Cesc with give you a completely unbalanced midfield with no defending or holding players. You cannot shape a team like fantasy football, the most effective teams don’t always have the best players but nearly always have the best balance.

    I do however like the idea of assessing some of the other clubs in the PL and would encourage more pieces of a similar theme.

  4. Arteta over Rosicky is understandable given the injury situation but based on current prowess, Saha over RVP is completely unimaginable.

    Cahill does a decent job defending but still can not be categorized as a defensive midfielder per se. But, one can live with Cahill – Cesc in the middle whereas Saha for RVP is plainly a mistake.

  5. Phil,

    your article is open to conjecture,though I fully understand it is based partly on fact and partly on your own opinion.

    Everton are cash strapped, and to an extent like us,suffering injuries and have a comparatively small squad.The team you chose would be different for home and away games, and the only one Everton name that comes to mind to be included would be Cahill.

    Based on current players available RVP would start ahead of Saha and possibly Eduardo would be a sub.I admit to being a bit biased.

    Looking further ahead I feel Moyes will eventually move on, as there is a limit he can achieve at Everton.

  6. Not one single Everton player would get in our side. Saha ahead of Van Persie? Not in a million years.

    Arteta is a good player but he is not a wide player. He could make a good sub.

  7. I’m goin off topic now, sorry for that, but as we are going to LOndon next thursday and do a legends tour with Perry Groves, just a question do you have any proposals to fill up the rest of our day out?
    Are there other places to visit in the neighborhood of The Emirates or between The Emirates and Kings Cross ?

  8. Phil: Van Persie and Eduardo are far above Saha in class. To drop any of those two for Saha is wrong in my view. I am not so sure that Arteta is an effective winger, so you might like to review his positioning. I would rather put him on the bench. Cahill & Cesc in the middle? Well, that’s not defensive, is it? I would have thought that balance in the middle is very much essential. But then, you may just get away with it.

    Very good article though.

  9. If Everton want to make the step up they need better technique, creativity and speed. Chaill, I feel is overrated. Why? Because he is a functional player but hasn’t really got the technique to play deeper or the creativity to play higher. Arteta will improve Everton’s fortune when he returns because he’ll keep the Toffees ticking and create chances. Bilyadetinov is a signing in the right direction because that should push Pienaar more central.

  10. Anup: our debt isn’t purely paid for by Champions League revenue – we can meet interest payments ever if we come 5th. Other options for fundraising include share rights issues and Gazidis has said he is looking at our sponsorship deals too. But we won’t come 5th, we’ll have a stab at the title. Have faith !

    Pig: thanks for the compliments, Man City will be up next hopefully. I can see where you’re coming from with Saha-RvP debate but what Saha can do when fit is incredible. Lets not forget this man’s emergence had Van Nistelrooy benched, and I don’t need to remind anybody of Van Nistelrooy’s sublime scoring record for United. As I said in the article, this is the first fully fit preseason Saha has had for a while, he said so himself. Lets wait and see if he can recapture his form.

    Marc: I’m not blindly saying the way forward is to find a wealthy benefactor. I only have a short piece to get my point across, but I’m sure you are aware of the issues around Everton’s new stadium plans and how they are floundering, and the difficulty getting credit from the banking system is only making this harder. If Liverpool are struggling to finance a new stadium, then imagine the issues for Everton without the Champions League revenues etc. Kenwright has come out and said he will sell up to the “right” person, and he believes that has to be somebody who can pump money in, albeit responsibly. I agree with him that a wealthy benefactor seems the only way Everton will stay in touch at the top long-term, but do not presume that means I believe wealthy benefactors are the way forward for all clubs – that is absolutely not the case. I’m very much pro Arsene and with a long term view on the future of our club.
    I fell I’ve already addressed you’re Rosicky query in response to Pig’s comment, so have a look at that.
    I completely agree with you on the lack of balance – I’ve also selected two out and out goalscorers and no real “number ten” which rarely works. However I do mention that I “cheated” slightly in the paragraph below the teamsheet – it’s eleven names in appropriate positions, as opposed to a team.

    Rd: A bit of fun, to provoke some debate. Seems to work 🙂

    The Brain: some good points there. Though I disagree about Cahill somewhat, he did very well as the top of what was effectively a midfield six at times last season, so I feel its unfair to state he’s not got the technique to play that sort of role.

  11. As an Everton fan, may I commend you on this excellent article. You know your onions. Although I’d have had Pienaar at least on the bench of the combined team.

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