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Inspiration or Desperation?
Julian Cashen casts his eye over David Moyes's deadline-day signings

2 September 2003

David Moyes: Are his new signings enough to propel the Blues into Europe?

After failing with our principal transfer targets of Davis, Ferguson and McManaman, and then suffering a fourth consecutive home derby day defeat at the hands of the horrible Reds, Evertonians were in need of a lift.  Four new faces on transfer deadline day, with one deal apparently being concluded with literally minutes to spare, does give us some hope but will these new players enable Moyes to take the team the step forward we are looking for and to seal European qualification?

Of the four, two are known quantities for Evertonians, particularly the Prodigal Ears.  Jeffers was my favourite player before his defection.  He makes the most intelligent runs of any player I have seen.  He is a penalty-box striker in the way neither Radzinski nor even Rooney will ever be, a natural finisher in the Michael Owen mould.  His goals-to-games ratio has always been good, although his career has been blighted by injuries.  He thus represents a massively positive addition to the squad, and any Evertonians who still blame him for taking a huge pay rise and gaining experience training with the best players in the world, ought to get over this and get behind the jug-eared one.  He will certainly get us goals over the course of the season.

The other known quantity is Nigel Martyn, a 37-year-old former England keeper.  This signing, like that of Jeffers in some ways, is as interesting for the message it sends to other squad members as it is in its own right.  With Wright having had a few dodgy moments, but neither Simonsen nor Gerrard seriously pushing to become first choice, we did need competition in the Keeper Department though Martyn has played so rarely of late that its hard to judge whether hes the man to provide it.  But the signing certainly spells the effective end for two of our existing complement of keepers.

The other signings are less familiar to us.  Kilbane, being a Republic of Ireland winger, will inevitably be regarded as a poor mans Damian Duff.  As a left winger he will fill rather a problem position for us, hopefully permitting the relegation of Unsworth to the bench.  You can only get away with playing full backs at wide midfield for so long.  Certainly Moyes knows the player well, having worked with him before at Preston.  One thing with this transfer is, I believe we have got good value.  I know from the experience at my adopted second club Ipswich, that relegated clubs have been badly hit by the collapse of the transfer market, and are desperate to sell at almost any price just to cut their wage bill.  By nipping in at the last moment we have almost certainly got Kilbane for a fraction of his worth two or three years ago.

Finally, James McFadden is a less well known player but already being touted as potentially the most exciting of the four signings.  We know from the Kanchelskis days the value of a free-scoring midfield player and, while its unfair to heap expectations on one so young, a good contribution of goals from midfield would make a huge difference to the team.

The implications of all these signings for the squad are fascinating.  In particular, it surely means a step down the pecking order for Big Dunc and SuperKev.  While Super has been a great servant and Dunc an enormous disappointment, its hard not to feel particular sympathy for Nick Chadwick, seemingly always at the tail-end of an ever lengthening queue.

However, its exciting to consider the attacking players now at Moyess disposal, and I would particularly like to see Rooney tried just behind the main strikers, where his vision and passing could make him a lethal supply line while hed still have licence to get among the goals.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to ponder how many of these players were on the original list apparently drawn up by Moyes and Kenwright, and to what extent the derby result caused the panic button to be pressed. Certainly the first four games of the season showed up deficiencies that to be fair have been pretty clear for years and it is to be hoped that these signings do something to address them.  In particular, the lack of width and of a 20-goals-a-season striker, should be remedied by these deals.

It will be interesting to see what 11 Moyes picks for the next game, but at least this flurry of activity has restored some enthusiasm.  Come on you Blues!!

by Julian Cashen



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