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Lack Of Midfield Dynamo.

By Dick Anderson :  22/10/2009 :  Comments (22) :

I don't want to waste too any time talking about the 5-0 drubbing from Benfica... Yes, it was embarrassing; yes, it's another heavy defeat for Moyes... and yes, I'm not looking forward to the rematch in a fortnight.

Rather I'd like to talk about something which I feel is the real problem of the current team. We don't have a midfielder who can sit in the middle of the park and run the game.

Everton have some great players and a quality squad but what they need is a Steven Gerard/Frank Lampard type player. A player who dominates games. A player who can win some tackles, make some defence splitting passes and score match winning goals.

I know that Gerard and Lampard are players who come along once a generation. I admit Moyes will probably never find a Gerard or Lampard but surely there's a player like that out there? Even if he's only three quarters as good. I'll take that.

The problem is that the current squad doesn't have that type of player.

A few years ago we had Thomas Gravesen. Every now and then the Mad Dog would perform like a genius. At his best, Gravesen could dominate a game. Tommy G was a player who could inspire Everton. Admittedly he was also piss-poor at times and let's be fair it didn't end well for Tommy, Real Madrid mistook him for a tough-tackling dog of war player and then he eventually went mad and started dating a porn star. But on his day he was great.

Tim Cahill is often credited as Everton's best player — our talisman... but Tim doesn't dominate games. His nickname is the invisible man and in big games he has a tendency to vanish. Cahill's best attribute is scoring headers from corners. Now that's a useful gift but he has very little else in his locker. Not particularly good at tackling, not particularly good at passing, no pace and let's be honest, the goals have dried up.

When Benfica were taking the piss out of the likes of Rodwell, Coleman, Gosling & Baxter, it's the senior players who need to stand up and be counted. Where was the invisible man?

Talking of Rodwell, yeah he's going to be a great player but he's not going to be a Steven Gerard type. Rodwell is too laid back and defensive to truely dominate a game. I expect eventually Rodwell will become a player similar to Gareth Barry or maybe Michael Carrick. Able to tackle and use the ball intelligently but he won't be a match-winning dominating game runner like Gerard or Lampard.

Osman is too lightweight and has a tendency to lose form too often. Neville is great at protecting the back four but limited on the ball.

Then there's the Big Freak. Our transfer-record-breaking midfielder Fellaini. In theory Fellaini should be that type of player. He certainly has the physique to dominate games. He can tackle reasonably well and at times can make a decent pass. But he's slow and has a tendency to make mistakes. Fellaini has looked both very promising and very average. So far I'd say he was a good player on his day but he's nowhere near his transfer fee and nowhere near ready to dominate games.

Finally we have Arteta. A much missed star who has proven he has the ability to run games. It's such a shame he's injured. This is his prime and he was just starting to become the type of central midfielder Everton needs. Personally I think Arteta has the ability to dominate games but apparently he's some way off returning from injury and there's no way of knowing how long it will take to get back to his best form.

I don't know what the answer is. Can Moyes hunt the lower divisions and find the next Steven Gerard? Can he search Europe for a new Cesc Fabregas? Can Jose Baxter stop smoking pot and counterfeiting money long enough to emerge from the ranks as the new Wayne Rooney?

I don't know answers to any of these questions. All I do know is that Everton will never dominate play and out-football teams with Tim Cahill in the middle of the park.

Reader Comments

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Russ Quinlan
1   Posted 23/10/2009 at 08:23:36

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Thing that pissed me off about the Invisible Man last night was summed up in the 2nd half. Like you say he should have been setting an example to the younger guys but there was one point when one of their players want past him in the middle of the park and he just stood still and put his hands on his hips and watched him go, instead of busting a gut to at least track back. Okay so we were 4 - 0 down but you don’t give up FFS, these sods are on massive wage packets and to just give up like that is shameful. I don’t blame any of the young guys at all, I agree with what you say about the so called experienced ones but Tim really has to have a good look at himself, that wasn’t a performance at all, let alone for a stand in Captain. There is no was I could see Pip showing that sort of reaction no matter what the score. It was disgraceful.
James Stewart
2   Posted 23/10/2009 at 09:26:45

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We need more than mythical one player!

How about a manager who can train a team to string a pass together! You could put Gerrard or Lampard in that team and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference.
Steve Pugh
3   Posted 23/10/2009 at 09:56:05

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Dick, I totally agree.

James, like who? A lot of people come on here saying we need a new manager to change the way we play. But what manager would that be? Apart from Arsene Wenger I honestly can’t think of any manager that could do any better with the restraints that are on Moyes.

Remember the Newcastle side of the early 90’s, losing by the odd goal in 9. Very pretty to watch, really exciting, but how long before we were complaining about the lack of a solid midfield. Players like Reid and Bracewell, not technically wonderful but solid as a rock, and giving the flair players like Sheedy and Steven something to build on.

Would the title winning side of the 80’s been able to do it without Reid, Steven, Ratcliffe, Sharpe and Sheedy for long periods of the season?

I doubt it, yet we expect the current squad to cope without Neville, Arteta, Jags, Yak and Piennar.
Chris Sawyer
4   Posted 23/10/2009 at 10:52:31

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I have only just joined this site although I have been following it for sometime. Generally I find the articles to be considerably more thoughtful and insightful than others... in particular that of Dick Anderson above.

It is this lack of a central midfield ball player which prevents Moyes getting the best out of the most talented Everton squad in 20 years. if you remember it was only by accident that Moyes found out that Arteta could perform in that role and the difference in Everton’s play was substantial.

This leads me to another point — it's all very well getting results such as 1-0 at Portsmouth and saying three points is the important thing but I am sure I’m not alone in having a desire to see an Everton side consistently trying to play the kind of football we saw against Arsenal at home last season.

Dominic Duerden
5   Posted 23/10/2009 at 11:09:25

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Chris , Arteta played in the centre midfield role before he came to Everton. It was Moyes choice to play his best player out on the right hand side, instead of controlling games in the middle.
Colin Malone
6   Posted 23/10/2009 at 11:10:30

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We might have that midfield dynamo already, ie young Wallace, who knows? Moyes puts a centre forward in midfield, BARMY TATICS.
It was by mistake that Jags got put in defence.
Everyone on this site wanted Arteta in the middle 2 years ago.
Mick Wrende
7   Posted 23/10/2009 at 12:02:43

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Moyes is obsessed with defence — it is obviously in his character. If we lose a defender he replaces him asap. If we lose a midfielder he doesn't — like Gravesen, like Arteta so we don't have a midfield playmaker, so we play shite defensive football. That's what Moyes is and he will never change.
James Stewart
8   Posted 23/10/2009 at 13:51:47

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Steve - C’mon now, let's not pretend there are not any managers around who could do a better job, that is a crazy statement. Quite frankly I do not think there are many restraints on Moyes at all! In fact, I would say he is very cushy! He has also had money to spend so don't give me any of that rubbish.

We play some of the worst football from an Everton team I have seen in a long while and there is no excuse for that.

Matthew Tait
9   Posted 23/10/2009 at 14:31:22

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I agree with pretty much all of the article, nice contribution. Although the conclusion is really once again just that we’re really hamstrung as a team until Arteta gets back, which we really should all know by now.

Moyes isn’t going to hunt out a Gerrard-type dominating player - it wouldn’t make sense to invest in an experienced player in that role when Arteta is due back soon, and a young player will take time to develop. So, really, we just have to wait.

As an aside - I don’t know where you got the idea Fellaini can tackle reasonably well Dick! Whatever his merits (and I do think he’s a handy player), tackling is sadly not even close to being one of them...
Russ Quinlan
10   Posted 23/10/2009 at 14:51:49

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I’m worried everyone is waiting for Arteta to come back but what if he turns out to not be the player we knew before, or even if he does eventually get back to his best it could be the end of the season by which time we’ll be firmly planted in mediocrity and mid table, at best.
Dave Richman
11   Posted 23/10/2009 at 15:06:27

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Steve Pugh said: "Would the title winning side of the 80’s been able to do it without Reid, Steven, Ratcliffe, Sharpe and Sheedy for long periods of the season?"

I seem to remember at the start of the 86-87 season we had an injury holocaust and just about everyone was out injured.

In came the likes of Kevin Langley, Ian Marshall, Dissa Pointon, Neil Adams and the rest...... We did ok and certainly never got tonked like we did last night.... In fact we went on to win the league.

I may be wrong, but that’s what it felt like at the time, and I can’t be arsed to research it but maybe one of the stattos could confirm.

David S Shaw
12   Posted 23/10/2009 at 15:46:28

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Dick Anderson,

Interesting post. I remember Kendall saying that a player needs to have 2 out of 3 of tackling, passing and shooting. It’ll be hard to track down a player with all three.

By the way, can I ask you a question about something you posted a couple of weeks ago? You made a suggestion of an Everton song for Bily to Come on Irene, would you recall the original Everton version of that song at all?

Off the point sorry, but it’s been niggling away at me for a while now !!
Steve Pugh
13   Posted 23/10/2009 at 15:59:50

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Quite right Dave, sorry I was thinking of the 84-85 season when we were really lucky with injuries.

I’m glad you brought that up, for some reason I remember Inchy as being a supersub but not a regular starter, but in 86-87 he started everyone of his 41 games. Weird how memories can be so wrong. That season only Inchy, Rat, Clevor Trevor and Paul Power started more than 40 games in the league. We had early season injuries to Paul Bracewell, Pat Van den Hauwe, Gary Stevens, Derek Mountfield and Neville Southall, By this point in the season we had lost 3 times in the league and drawn 3 times too, against Sheff Wed, Coventry and QPR. The defeats were against Spurs, Arsenal and Charlton.

We had also lost twice to the RS in the silly cup 3-1 at Anfield and 4-1 at Goodison. It was only once the injured players returned that we really took off.
Dave Richman
14   Posted 23/10/2009 at 17:12:33

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Yeah Steve, I remember that season well!

In the days before internet and satellite TV we would be huddled around the radio - BBC World Service - every Saturday (remember when we used to play every Saturday).....

One of my fondest memories of that season was against Charlton at home (I think!) when Gary Stevens made a thunderous challenge on the edge of their box and it flew in, and we went on to win.

There was a purple patch around Christmas when Inchy was on fire and we seemed to win 3 and 4-0 every week....

Sigh..... getting all nostalgic now! hehehehe

Those were the days!
Dave Richman
15   Posted 23/10/2009 at 17:17:28

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Forgot to mention Paul power there as you quite rightly said...... I heard an interview with him after we had won the league, and he’d been told when Kendall signed him that he’d been brought in to help out with the kids, and maybe get the odd game here and there.

He was ever present as I remember and weighed in with a couple of goals...... not bad for an over the hill Man City reject as he was called by some - including me - when we signed him :-)
David Booth
16   Posted 23/10/2009 at 17:35:03

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What sort of ’dynamo’ would Lucas Neill make?

We clearly need some aggression and inspiration in midfield.

Seems a shame to keep him on the bench, while the likes of Rodwell, Fellaini and Cahill play ’after you Claude’...

Any thoughts anyone?
John Martin
17   Posted 23/10/2009 at 18:25:04

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Palacious @ Spurs would have been the ideal signing if we had gone in for him last summer before we spent 15 million on Fellaini. Even in the summer although not as good Cattermole & Cana were available and would have provided the platform for a more creative player to perform. Any of these 3 players are also good enough to allow us to play 442 as the midfield doesnt get over run as it does now when no matter what combination of midfielders we’d used we cannot play a 442.
Steve Pugh
18   Posted 23/10/2009 at 18:20:02

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Sometimes bringing in experienced players at times like this is exactly whats needed. Hopefully Distin is the new Paul Power.
Steve Pugh
19   Posted 23/10/2009 at 18:29:55

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Cor, I never thought I’d say that...
John Martin
20   Posted 23/10/2009 at 18:28:17

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I remember a couple of years ago when we first signed Baines. One of Moyes’s lame excuses as to why he was being left out was "we are a small team". He also said he would look to add height and power to our team to get Baines more games.

Fellaini, for his size, does not dominate games and the only other midfielder Moyes bothered to sign is Billy although skilled is not quick or strong or tall.

I am like a stuck record every summer hoping Moyes signs powerful or quick midfielders and every year we don't.

Ray Kelly
21   Posted 23/10/2009 at 21:19:58

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Lack of leadership, tactics and footballing nouse, period.
Derek Thomas
22   Posted 24/10/2009 at 05:23:11

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I read the piece ’ Lack of a Midfield dynamo’ and my initial thought was it could be shortened to ’ lack of a MIDFIELD ’ ( yeah trite I know but it sums it up )... The game is won and lost in the midfield, it supports the attack, it protects the defence.

I even read a few of the replies, so I scrolled down and stopped at the ’ your comment ’ I look up and what do I see?? at the very top of my page, one line, it reads...

Ray Kelly.............Lack of leadership, tactics and footballing nouse, period.

SPOT ON RAYMONDO ’nough said.

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