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Squad report card

By Conor Waters :  30/03/2009 :  Comments (0) :
I know we still have 8 games to run in the season, with a few things yet to be decided, but I thought it was time to review how our boys have performed up until now. As ever, I expect many may not agree but this is simply my opinion. Ratings are out of 10.

Tim Howard: A relatively good season with only one real howler vs Liverpool. Tim is as good a 'keeper we've had since Nige. He suffered a shakey start, suspiciously conceding 3 consecutive own goals, which all showed a real lack of commanding his area. But he has since recovered and very often come to our rescue. 7

Tony Hibbert: Personally I don't don't rate him. But he always gives 100%, especially in the tackle. He enjoyed some great performances this season, notably at home to Chelsea. I just wish he could improve on his awful distribution, he has virtually no assists and I'll eat my hat if he ever scores a goal. Unlucky with injuries like many this season, Tony finally faces some competition with Lars now having made his debut. 6

Leighton Baines: Finally we are seeing more of this lad. A very gifted full back who is starting to fulfil his potential, thanks to a consistent spell in the starting line-up. An England call-up a sign of his progress. Most improved player by a mile. 9

Joseph Yobo: Plagued by injuries and strangely upsetting the formation since his brief return to the side. We all know Joey is a class act, but he is in danger of losing his place to Jags and Roger. A stalwart in the side since DM arrived, this has not been one of his best seasons. 6

Joleon Lescott: Got off to a nightmare start, it seemed he could do nothing right. Confidence shot to pieces. But has shown real character to bounce back. He has the knack for finding the net, but has recently shown an improvement in one-on-one clashes. 8

Phil Jagielka: What can I say, except potential legend. Think back to last year when he was awkwardly being employed as a defensive mid, he was so out of his depth. The gift to Ashley Young in November could've rattled others, but just like after the Fiorentina penalty miss, he came back stronger. Torres in his pocket on two occasions. He actually made the Spaniard look like a League Two player. My player of the season, and a future Toffees legend. 10

Mikel Arteta: Cruelly had his season taken away by yet another injury. Still our best creative player but I feel he only showed his true ability midway through. Has honed in on his free-kick accuracy, scoring more this season than ever before. His talent and ability is unquestionable, which can often make it frustrating when he doesn't deliver, but is still the best little Spaniard we know. We are sorely missing him. 7

Andy van der Meyde: A lot of people have a ridiculous soft spot for Shandy, myself included. The fact is he has never delivered on the pitch and at this stage will never. Nothing more than a blight on our wage book. 3

Phil Neville: We get jeered for having a Manc as captain, but frankly if somebody is good enough, man enough and a true leader, then it doesn't fucking matter where he's from or who he's played for. Pip isn't a great player, but this season has seen him grow into the captain's role. Every side needs a player who can dish out a rollicking and never accepts defeat. Can still do a job at right full, but I think we're all agreed that centre mid suits best. The closest thing to a Carsley replacement, an increasingly regrettable loss. In a time of hairband wearing, Bentley rolling and whinging fannies (cr7), Phil is a model pro who has become a valuable squad member. 8

Segundo Castillo: Touted by David Moyes as the Carsley replacement. Thank fuck this wasn't a permanent deal. Not good enough. He lacks pace, composure and simple passing accuracy. Hopes were high after a Uefa Cup goal but, despite a lack of games and regular involvement, I seriously doubt we'll be seeing this Ecuadorian next season. 5

Marouane Fellaini: Big transfer fee, big pressure... even bigger hair. Nobody can honestly call this one yet. He has shown glimpses of great skill, towering strength and signs of a real talisman. Flip the coin and it's: 12 bookings, suspect lack of pace, language problems etc etc. All I know is that we paid big bucks for this lad, and we have got to give him time to settle. A player at that price-tag comes with a heavy burden of responsibility. All the more difficult when you throw in his inexperience and cultural differences. A definite one for the future. Inspiring or insipid. I'll go with the former. 7

Tim Cahill: I watch this guy week-in, week-out. All my non-Blue mates saying how he's the one they'd want in their side. I watch him... like player cam. And he defies logic time and time again. Tiny really isn't the greatest passer of a ball, his tackling is rough at best, in fact there are times when entire games can seem to pass him by. Any yet, without question, the first name on the teamsheet. He is like some kind of wonderdrug. No player has ever come up with so many vital goals this or any other recent season. He leaps like a bleeding salmon and is Everton through and through. Niggling injuries, particularly this year, are beginning to worry me though. Tim remains our main match-winner. 8

Jack Rodwell: Blooded last season, young Jack has impressed me this season. Doesn't do a whole lot when he plays, he keeps things simple and uncomplicated, but does it with a composure way beyond his tender age. He has shown enough this season to give me hope for the future. 7

Dan Gosling: Will forever be remembered for the derby cup goal. Burst into life with a great display at Boro. Had a chance to cement a place in the side following the endless list of injuries, but perhaps it's all still a big step up for him at this stage. I do think he'll prove a great purchase. 7

Leon Osman: Leon, Leon, Leon.... you drive me bananas. I know you're small but fuck me can you not hold off a challenge??? A player with natural talent and an eye for goal, but far too often this season he has disappointed. Really should've been dropped on a number of occasions, which I think would've given him the kick up the arse he needs. I fear he has reached his peak, and it certainly wasn't this season. 5

Steven Pienaar: We all cheered when we finally secured the permanent deal for peanuts. But in truth it's been somewhat of a clichéd "difficult second season" for the South African. Like Ossie, he has wasted possession too often this season, often downright careless and casual. He wants everything to be a free-flowing classy move with flicks and neat touches, but invariablly ends up in a broken-down move. Maybe he can prove me wrong in the run-in. 5

Louis Saha: I would've put my house on this rating being n/a, due to lack of appearances, but Louis has surprised me. Imagine if we had him a few years ago? I've seen enough of him this season to show me he is a class act. The goal v West Brom alone was born out of pure natural skill and striker's instinct. Saha's presence on the pitch tends to bring out the best in other players also. He could just be the one to nick the cup for us. 7

Victor Anichebe: Big Vic lacked the explosive sub appearances this season and in truth is starting to look more like recent cast-offs Jeffers, Cadamarteri etc. A training-ground bust up, whatever the truth of the story, displayed a real lack of respect. And a horrific lunge from Nolan really only compounded what was gonna be undoubtedly a bad year for Vic. A fleeting glimpse of his potential came in the league match at Anfield, and that was about it. 5 Jô: Let's not kid ourselves, we needed a striker and we're stoney broke. He fit the bill. Popped up with a few goals. He's Brazilian, so of course he has some innate natural flair. But if I see him milk one more bloody challenge... It's embarrassing, a grown man hitting the deck at the most minimal of contact, sad. Thank god we didn't pay the big bucks City did. In saying all that, he was needed. 6

Yakubu: I don't think it's fair to put a rating on the Yak considering his early departure. He got off to a blinder with a well taken goal on the opening day, a few more bundled in along the way. He will forever look like he couldn't be arsed, but a proven goalscorer. Get well soon lad. N/A

James Vaughan, Jose Baxter, Lukas Jutkiewicz: All N/a. Carlo Nash, Lars Jacobsen, Nuno Valente: All N/A

Well there it is...

My prediction for the remaining fixtures - doubt we're gonna catch anyone above us (unless we get 3pts at Villa Park) and, barring a total collapse, we ain't gonna be caught. 6th And as for the cup - I see a rallying performance to see off Utd in the semis with a scrappy 1-0 win (rooney seeing red again!), but a step too far as Chelski will turn us over 3-1 in the final.

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