Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Is Everton stagnating?

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I was watching Gillette Soccer Saturday and saw Phil Thomson commenting on the team and the squad right before the Villa game. He thinks our team is stagnating. I don't think he's the worst pundit in the world, but as he was an ex Liverpool player (and normally he's biased as hell too), but he is wrong here.

With the financial aspect, of course I agree with him. We have been making record transfer deals earlier on, and now we havent spent anything in 2 seasons, and have seen players such as Arteta leave. Teams like Stoke and Wolves have spent a lot more than us, and are looking to break the top 10 barrier. Everton are a bigger club than them, and it is dissappointing to see teams like them appearing ahead of us in the transfer market. I think the Blue Union are doing a terrific job in their aims, and they are getting unjustified negative press.

But in terms of our squad, I disagree completely. The only issue is size and perhaps filling in a couple of problem positions. But if you analyse the squad, it does look very strong. We have established internationals like Heitinga, Baines, Cahill and Jagielka, established Premier league performers like Osman and Hibbert. Yes, Hibbert is not the best player in the world, but a lot of Premier League clubs would take him because he's solid and has plenty of experience.

The amount of youngsters though is very strong. I would consider these players to have a lot of potential: Coleman, Barkley, Rodwell, Fellaini, Gueye... Possible players include Vellios, Anichebe, Duffy, Baxter, Silva etc. How many clubs can honestly say we have this many good youngsters? The top 4, yes of course. Liverpool yes. Spurs maybe. But outside that, I can't think of many.

The new signings look quite good also. With Coleman and Drenthe on the wings, we look we have genuine width now, and The Strac is obviously a gamble, but could prove a revelation.

The squad gives us a sense of optimism, and Moyes has done well to get some good youngsters in. It does bode well for the future. Yes, the financial side is worrying, but it is about time there is some perspective on the squad. Yes, there are problem areas, yes there are some underperforming players, but the amount of youngsters gives us hope for the future.

I have tried to provide a sense of optimism which is realistic. So yes, our finances are stagnating, but our squad definitely is not.

Ben Jones, Anglesey     Posted 12/09/2011 at 12:53:49

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Sam Hoare
1   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:07:38

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I thought we did rather well on Saturday and were quite unfortunate not to hand an unbeaten Villa team a bit of a spanking. In particular i really think that we have the makings of a very exciting midfield in years to come.

Drenthe ? The earliest of days and no guarantee that he would stay permanently. But just feel that he might be a gemstone. Good touch with pace to burn and a fire in his belly after being deemed insufficient at Real Madrid. Our first genuine winger in years? 24 years old.

Fellaini ? For a while now, I have thought he was our best player. Dominant on his day. Great touch, good mind and obviously enormous. Not always consistent but getting there. 23 years old.

Barkley ? Again, early days but seems no doubt to me that this lad has something special. Composed, two footed, quick and creative. Surely a future star? 17 years old.

Rodwell ? Has stalled somewhat in his development but, if he can stay injury-free, is still young enough to reach his potential. Strong, fast and composed on his day. Captain of the England U21 team. 20 years old.

Coleman ? Nominated for best young player last year. No Messi, but quick, brave and full of energy. He works hard and poses a genuine threat on the right. 22 years old.

For me that is potentially a very exciting midfield combination offering power, pace, guile and creativity while also being strong and solid defensively and good in the air (three of the five are 6'-2" and over).

With an average age of just over 21, they are only just early on in their development and if they have the chance to stay and play together at Everton could surely become a potent force that might just allow us to challenge at the top level again if supplemented with a tight defense and the emergence of a goal scoring striker (Vellios or Stracqualursi?)

Of course keeping them may be the biggest obstacle and already rumours about Barkley to Man Utd abound. With any luc,k Blue Bill has given the £15m from Arteta and Beckford straight to the bank and that along with a reduced wage bill may go some way to ensuring some increased financial stability and curb the necessity to sell. Who knows?

Chances are that even if we are a touch better off financially that, unless some footballing miracles occur and we qualify for the Champions League, that bigger clubs will always be a tempting for any up-and-coming young footballers. Some things will never change.

But, for now, I am content to be excited by the potential of some of our young squad and of the possibility of developing a magical midfield.

Sam Hoare
2   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:23:58

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Interesting Michael that you make my longer article a post onto someone else's shorter article. Favouritism?
Ben Dyke
3   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:36:20

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I've been thinking about our 'new' team, built around the big man 'Our Fella' (until he takes his double your money deal at Liverpool next summer... lol).

Right, we know a bit about Barkley. But where do we see him long term? Presumably centre-mid? Is he OK playing cameos at right-mid this season and doing bigger stints in the Cup runs?

Rodwell ? I thought he looked a bit more lively (attack-minded) on Saturday. Do we still think he will be the next Rio Ferdinand or is he a good enough centre-mid?

Gueye ? Good enough for left-mid? Shows attacking intent that I like. We've yet to see him and Baines really have match time to create a partnership that makes up for losing Pienaar. Let's hope we see more this year.

Vellios ? I liked him on Saturday. I'm hoping he becomes a good target man with a bit of mobility.

Drenthe ? Yes, we may only have him for one season but who knows? He will be exciting to watch at times this year and him and Baines doing their stuff on the left may be worth paying admission money for.

Stracqualursi ? no idea what he will turn out like but he is still young and I hope Moyes has unearthed another gem. I can't wait to see how he does against Vidic and those type of defenders.

Anyway that's just a few thoughts to help us start looking to our future on the pitch and take our mind off the off-field nonsense and tensions.

Phil Martin
4   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:37:52

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I'd say selling your most exciting, creative 2 players (over the course of the last 4 years) in 6 months. Followed by not being able to buy a single player with any transfer fee for two years.
Combined with selling you're only regularly fit goal scorer (to a Championship club). I'd say stagnating is a polite way of putting it.
Michael Kenrick
5   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:40:19

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Just grouping together similar posts, Sam. See... I switched things again, so part of your comment may no longer apply. The real theme here being: Are we stagnating?

For me, the real stagnation is the man I am no longer allowed to criticise (if I ever was!). We have promise, but Moyes will sadly hold these players back. His whole down-in-the-mouth approach to limiting expectations kills me, it kills any desire to break out from stagnation... it is stagnation itself.
David O'Keefe
6   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:49:52

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Hasn't stopped you in the past, Michael.
Duncan McDine
7   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:59:26

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don't know what happened to my response MK???
Colin Prendergast
8   Posted 12/09/2011 at 14:46:00

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Agree with Phil #4. Selling your best footballer in the last hours of the window, not being able to properly invest in the squad for over two years, and with no fit, experienced strikers are all clear evidence of our stagnation.

These are further reinforced by a combination of fan protest, dwindling attendance and the club's ongoing PR strategy aimed at creating clear divisions within the fan base.

Yes, there are bright points. Baines' consistency, Barkley's major potential and Fellaini's occaisonal dominance. But honestly, does anyone really believe that all three will be here next season?
Ben Jones
9   Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:27:56

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Haha Sam, don't worry. I tried to put this as an article as well.
Karl Meighan
10   Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:33:28

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If were not stagnating we certainly aint marching forward. One or two quality additions every season to freshen things up and replaceing players who are either not good enough or getting old should not be beyond us.

Man Utd won the League they brought in players, now ime not saying we can compete in financial terms with Man Utd but if a team who wins the Premier League and gets to the final of the Champions League are adding players there is a clue to be had from that for me.

Stoke for instance are playing the same way but are now adding a better quality of yarddog, of course not all signings are a success but i expect more good than bad plus when your not buying players the vultures circle around your better players knowing a decent bid will be accepted.
David Chait
11   Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:47:55

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We can't say we are stagnating if the youth investments we made are now reaching some level of fruition.. wasn't that the point... first real view of Velios.. short cracking cameo.. but so to did Jutkewiez.

by MK #5 .. I don't want to believe its true.. but I can't find too much evidence to the contrary... unless the players have more rope than we think and don't have the balls to take more of a charge.. or even push up more!
Danny Broderick
12   Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:59:19

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The kids are just kids. We have had so many kids come through over the years and, apart from Rooney, none of them have pulled up any trees - Jeffers, Dunne, Ball, Cadamarteri, Baxter, Vaughan, Anichebe etc.

The likes of Duffy, Silva, Velios etc - they might be playing in the championship next year. I hope they become top class, but i'm not convinced.

Phil Thompson was right - we are stagnating. The squad needs freshening up. We are woefully short up front for starters, and we have sold our 2 most creative players. We haven't had any significant arrivals in over 2 years. We will struggle to match last season's top 7 finish so, all in all, we are clearly stagnating.

Danny Broderick
13   Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:59:19

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The kids are just kids. We have had so many kids come through over the years and, apart from Rooney, none of them have pulled up any trees - Jeffers, Dunne, Ball, Cadamarteri, Baxter, Vaughan, Anichebe etc.
The likes of Duffy, Silva, Velios etc - they might be playing in the championship next year. I hope they become top class, but i'm not convinced.
Phil Thompson was right - we are stagnating. The squad needs freshening up. We are woefully short up front for starters, and we have sold our 2 most creative players. We haven't had any significant arrivals in over 2 years. We will struggle to match last season's top 7 finish so, all in all, we are clearly stagnating.
Drew O'Neall
14   Posted 12/09/2011 at 16:10:49

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Arteta was passing and dribbling sideways and I don't even know who this other most creative player was unless you're still wining about Rooney.

Moyes is managing expectations downwardly because when the chips are down we play best, and we've proved time and time again that we can't handle the expectations... SAF has proved for years that adversity Is the best motivation. He tells his players everyone hates them and the FA are against them and that's what David Moyes is doing.

It's a shame he couldmt have unloaded a couple ,ore of the high earners such as Cahill, this transfer window and make some more room for the quality youngsters.. It's genuinely exciting at Goodison this year..
Andrew Laird
15   Posted 12/09/2011 at 16:24:37

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Are we stagnating? Yes.

I would of happily gone through today if I didn't have to agree with that ski - slope faced, numb nut. My day is now ruined!!
Tri Tan
16   Posted 12/09/2011 at 16:34:13

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On Ross...Is it just me that my heart starts to race when Barkley advances the ball? For 17, he is about as composed and in command as you could possibly hope. Gemstone? Diamond in the rough? Hardly. Barkley is simply sublime.

On Jack...I liked what I saw. Does not matter his shots were wide...he took advantage of opportunities and sooner than later they will go his way. The key to Rodwell's progress is his willingness (not ability, he has that!) to mix it up and play like the superior physical talent that he is.

Seamus...The lad wasted no time showing us all why he belongs on the WING. When Seamus is decisive, which thankfully he is most of the time, he is dangerous and an opportunity creator.

Bily...Well, I'm not in love with him on the wing. Rather, would rather see him behind striker, in an central attacking mid role where he can do what he does best - turn and shoot. But it was nice to see some signs of ambition.

Drenthe...Speaking of ambition was Royston fired up or what? He came in and showed everybody what he is capable of. Once he establishes his lungs he will be a force.

Felli...By end of this year's campaign, he will be the most sought after midfielder in EPL. Mark this. He is just physically too dominant and his feet are too gifted. EFC will have trouble holding on to him.

Velli...He needs to figure into Moyes' starting XI sooner than later.

- Tri
Jeremy Benson
17   Posted 12/09/2011 at 17:04:23

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He would say that.

Probably just secretly upset because the shite have spent mucho money on some absolute rubbish this closed season.

I'd rather spend nothing, than be mugged.
Simon Atkins
18   Posted 12/09/2011 at 16:59:10

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For me it is very simple, if your finances stagnate that automatically means the team stagnates.

The only way you can ever freshen things up is by selling your best players to generate income (if you are lucky) for new players. If not you are left with the loan market and if you see Moyes' comments about Denis you will see that this is hardly a market full of quality.

We are going backwards, no two ways about it.
Peter Laing
19   Posted 12/09/2011 at 17:09:37

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Stagnation a quick definition from an online dictionary search - 'in a rut Stuck in an established routine; mired in monotony; caught in a stultifying sameness' or try in 'the doldrums Inactive, stagnant, nonproductive; depressed, in low spirits, down in the dumps'. Go figure, to me that's what it feels like at the moment being an Evertonian, support the team oppose stagnation.
Martin Handley
20   Posted 12/09/2011 at 17:13:09

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All I can say is that we were robbed on Saturday,I thought we played really despite ginger numbnuts' selection of starting with no strikers(see Michael I'll criticise the ginger tosser for you!).
If Big Denis isn't fit yet then Velios HAS to start against Wigan.
Finiancially we're in a mess,but football wise big nose on sky has got it wrong again! Mind you his pal once said you win nothing with kids,hmm made a bit of a tit of himself over that as I remember.
I've posted before if we lose Cahill next summer then so be it,it's not that Idon't think he's a legend because he isbut the injuries are stacking up and his value is lessening.
Maybe we'll finish 7th again and have a cup run but that's ok this year as next season Barkley et all will have another seasons experience under their belts.
And no that's not accepting mediocrity it's being realistic ...for this season.
Tri Tan
21   Posted 12/09/2011 at 17:29:03

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re: stagnation - the first thing that matters is how efc plays on the pitch. this year vs. last, efc looks much better/sharper and it reflects in the standings. transfer markets are overrated.

re: "we were robbed on Saturday". I would argue that efc did the mugging prior match. played like absolute cr*p vs. blackburn and win it.

The #1 issue with EFC right now is that it is in need of a few MINNOW KILLERS! EFC is perfectly capable of being competitive and winning against big teams. The problem is with those clubs which are on par or below. I am hopeful the Strac and Velli can be the ones that fire 2 in the net vs. the likes of Swansea, QPR, etc.
Drew O'Neall
22   Posted 12/09/2011 at 18:04:56

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Just a point on Cahill #20.. Interesting he wasn't given the armband on Saturday as he has been I the past when Pip's been out.

The winds of change are blowing through Goodison Park and David Moyes is building a new young team... COYB!!
Tri Tan
23   Posted 12/09/2011 at 18:13:59

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Drew O'Neall - You are spot on.

COYB!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Martin Handley
24   Posted 12/09/2011 at 19:35:08

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He still won't play a striker though!
Joe McMahon
25   Posted 12/09/2011 at 20:01:25

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The answer is yes, the same old faces (the two new ones are loans), and the same old tactics since 2004.

Drew O'Neall - does this mean he's also going to play 2 strikers? Or prioritise strikers over playing CB's in midfield then when making his team selections? I still have nightmares about going to bottom of the table West Ham only a few months ago, with no strikers in the starting 11. Wasn't Beckford brought on about the 85 min mark?
Simon Thorne
26   Posted 12/09/2011 at 20:26:02

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Stealing other youth is disgraceful I agree.

In other completely unrelated news, I wonder if any of those lads we're looking to get off Cheltenham will make it?
Jimmy Sorheim
27   Posted 12/09/2011 at 20:28:31

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In Strikers position we have 1.choice Saha and Straqalursi. They will be our most trusted, and much will rely on Straq hitting ground running starting as soon as possible. We desperately need him as Cahill is no alternative. 2. choice is Vellios, he has strength pace and shooting power. I have very high hopes for him. 3choice is Anichebe and Silva and to me they dont deserve to be at this club, they dont posess anything that we need.
In alternative Gueye can also play striker, but he prefers to play as a attacking midfielder.
Ciarán McGlone
28   Posted 12/09/2011 at 20:47:07

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I can't believe the blind faith being put in some Argentinian that noones ever seen. The next peterlin.
Martin Handley
29   Posted 12/09/2011 at 21:29:08

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Ciaran give Big Denis a break he hasn't even played yet! Would you rather have Anichebe?
Jimmy#26 Bit harsh on Jo Silva mate!
Drew O'Neall
30   Posted 12/09/2011 at 21:50:22

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I think Anichebe's getting a hard time on here. He's given a job to do which is hold up the ball, and he does it.

With a little more confidence I think he can add goals to that.

He's only a young boy and he gets absolute dog's abuse, it's hardly surprising he can't pull it together.

I hope he'll flourish as he becomes one of the more senior members of the team.
Drew O'Neall
31   Posted 12/09/2011 at 21:54:56

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ps: You can't classify Silva whom hasn't even featured yet with big Vic who has done a job, probably better than Cahill in the same position, for a sustained period.

Vic's quick and powerful, if you added confidence to that, you would have a scary player.
Colin Prendergast
32   Posted 12/09/2011 at 21:57:33

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Drew totally disagree with you on all points. Happy to sell Arteta, suggest Cahill should've gone and you believe Anichebe will be a player. Have to admire your optimism mind...
Colin Prendergast
33   Posted 12/09/2011 at 22:04:25

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Sorry just read your last bit, Drew. Vic has done a better job than Cahill in the same position for a sustained period?!!? Never mind optimism, what planet are you on?
David Price
34   Posted 12/09/2011 at 21:54:55

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Stagnating? No I don't think so. Taking away an influential player like Arteta can sometimes release aspects in other players. I'm sure this will be the case in Fellaini and Rodwell in midfield and Baines to be the set piece king. Coleman and Barkley will flourish under a more inventive set up. Drenthe is a cert to add to this also, Vellios certainly played without fear in his cameo.

No doubt if it all comes off, Moyes will have stumbled on this by accident rather than design as he can't win in some people's eyes on TW. The Arteta money could be for Drenthe in January, time will tell but i think we'll look back and say what good business it was to sell, rebuild at a profit and get a better side out of it.

You see that's the difference in moaning, hindsight is the only weapon with stagnate as the only prediction.

Danny Broderick
35   Posted 12/09/2011 at 22:20:48

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Drew,
When I mentioned we had sold our 2 most creative players,I thought it was fairly obvious I was talking about Arteta & Pienaar. Pienaar & Baines were a wonderful combination down the left,the best in the league in my opinion. And an on form Arteta (preferably when played out wide) was sublime at times. I think we will struggle to create this season, particularly from wide areas. Coleman can do a job on the wing and even though he had a good game the other day, I can't help thinking he is a right back playing on the wing. And Billy is the most frustrating player I have ever seen in an Everton shirt. Hopefully Drenthe will offer us something on the left,but again I don't think he's an out and out winger. I'm sure he's another full back who can do a job on the wing.
I hope I'm wrong but I do think we will struggle to create this season unless we can get someone in in January...
Callum Wilson
36   Posted 13/09/2011 at 03:32:41

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I guess its too early to tell, on a side note though should the title not be "ARE Everton stagnating" ? not IS?
Karl Meighan
37   Posted 13/09/2011 at 17:35:42

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Billy isn't frustrating Danny just shit and i cant believe Cahill isn't getting any praise after running Dunne and Collins ragged.

No way do i see a inexperienced Argy who noone has heard of getting more goals or being a more important player than Cahill.

Cahill is simply imo one of the best bargains ever brought to the Club and i believe will show his value even more now that Arteta has left and if that means he plays upfront then so be it as i dont see him letting anyone down and it wouldn't suprise me if he easily finishes are top scorer.
Tom Bowers
38   Posted 13/09/2011 at 22:00:55

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Phil Thompson could cut it as a manager so he just spouts off and is best ignored.
The performance against Villa was a big improvement in attitude and if the ref. hadn't bottled a second sure fire penalty then we would have been 2-0 up before they equalised. However the starting eleven was puzzling and I am still not sure that Moyes is going to get this team any further than last season.
Not playing Barkley from the off was a mystery.The lad has played as well as anyone in midfield but I remember he did the same with Rooney and look what happened.
Let's hope the same spirit carries over to the Wigan game and beyond.

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