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Colm Kavanagh considers the merits of our dwindling strikeforce




We two are one

The sale of Franny Jeffers and the "is he / isn't he" saga surrounding Anderlecht's Tomasz Radzinski may indeed be the talk of many Evertonians at the minute but equally as important are the questions one could ask of our other two strikers (not yet sold off during the current summer purge!): Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell.  Is it fair to say that both men have more than a point to prove this coming season?

We'll start with the bold Dunc, the Big Yin. 

His arrival last summer sparked enough debate amongst us: 

  • Was he a good or bad purchase?  
  • An inspirational return of the terrace hero? 
  • Was it a wise move to spend so much money on a player we all knew to be so injury-prone particularly when it became apparent that we were once again spending money we didn't have?

Looking back on the year that was, I'm just thankful Duncan remained foot-&-mouth free!  Seriously though, the gamble that was his return from Newcastle didn't work out as people hoped.  Once again, his fitness became the subject of debate instead of his ability on the pitch.  Therefore it is a very big season coming up for the player, who'll reach the ripe old age of 30 this coming Christmas.  Thirty years of age and still searching for the fulfillment of a talent first spotted in the tangerine of Dundee United.  

A player of Duncan's undoubted talent should have nothing to prove and question marks should not be dogging his every step.  Sadly, though, life has never been without complications for Duncan.  Throughout his career, his progress has been hampered (sic) by persistent injuries.  It is annoying when you know what influence he can hold over a game when fully fit and raring to go.  

In fairness to the big fella, he did manage to achieve a relatively decent ratio of goals per games last season in the games where he managed to make himself available.  He actually surprised one or two with his tally.  But how assured can we be on his presence in the side?  Answer: We can't. Simple as that. 

The decision to haul his lanky frame into Bellefield for early pre-season training hopefully points to a longer-lasting injury-free run for the player.  God knows it is going to be tough enough for us this term!  A fully fit Duncan Ferguson, with something to prove to himself and his detractors, can only add to an already ordinary looking Everton side.  We have enough players at Everton earning their way via sitting on their arses.  Time to stand up and be counted, Duncan by doing what we all know you're capable of.

Which is the very same message I'd like to see being volleyed across the bows of Kevin Campbell.  I don't want to appear to sound overly harsh on our saviour of two seasons ago but last term we definitely saw the Super removed from Kev.  

Yes, injuries did hinder his performances.  In fact, he appeared to play many games carrying a knock or two, which cannot have been in the player's best interests health-wise.  I can only hope that the few weeks cobbled together and labelled "summer break" does him and his knees the power of good.  

He wasn't helped either by managerial tactical blunders.  Not many of us are used to witnessing Everton playing continually with one man alone up front.  Walter Smith persisted on too many occasions with a half-fit "Super" Kev for anyone's liking.  It certainly did Campbell no favours a situation compounded by questions being asked of the merits in handing a 31-year-old such a lucrative contract.  

For a player to be earning 30,000 plus, you'd hope for a better return.  That we did not get last year.  He'll most definitely miss the presence of Francis Jeffers.  We've rarely seen a better duo up front in recent times.  I hark back to the days when Campbell first arrived.  Almost from the off they had a working understanding and a knowledge of each other's strengths. 

It's sad in a way to think we'll probably not see a goal of the calibre seen against Charlton Athletic in their last relegation year.  That goal, placed in the corner, by Jeffers epitomised their partnership. Campbell had a point to prove when he returned to English football from Turkey.  There are many who feel he has to go through that process all over again.

If the Club secure the services of Anderlecht's Canadian international Tomasz Radzinski, then it could be fun and games up front with one or two egos taking a battering.  I've yet to see Walter select a three-man attacking force during his tenure as manager and I don't expect him to release his defensive shackles just to accommodate Messrs Ferguson, Campbell and Radzinski. 

Could be worth keeping an eye on the development up front so who'll be first to go hammering on the gaffer's door unhappy with being left out?  I can't see the likes of Joe-Max Moore or Danny Cadamarteri getting too many first team opportunities.

Of course there's always the probable scenario of certain strikers finding themselves on the treatment table more often than not!  Same shite, different day, eh?

Colm Kavanagh