By standing toe to toe with the EPL's finest, David Moyes's Everton team have earned a respect amongst the hacks that maybe they didn't have a couple of months ago. For the first time in a very long time, we are being complimented for the quality of our football, Everton players are becoming household names... Arteta is widely admired; Tim Cahill has become a TV star!
But it's our defence that is attracting most of the media attention, even the kopites at the BBC are beginning to doff their caps in recognition. Hibbert has overcome some very difficult times and is currently one of the best right backs around. Baines has been a revelation, his swashbuckling overlaps are rapidly becoming his trade mark.
But its the central partnership that has some of football's shrewdest judges sitting up and paying very close attention. Lescott, having finally got the central berth he's always wanted, has been top draw, his partnership with Jagielka was recently described by our usually conservative manager as being world class — this drew a few sniggers amongst the kopites, but how many of them are sniggering now?
The Dynamic Duo were almost flawless on Wednesday. Goodison roared its approval as the Jag dealt with the threat of the brilliant Torres with an ease that bordered on contempt.
In Alan Kirwin's earlier article "Plaudits" — which prompted this post — he points to the possibility of the Real Madrids of this world sniffing around... he's right of course, in fact we may not have to look any further than the other end of the East Lancs to find wealthy predators. I would love to think these two relatively young men could form the rock that a future successful Everton could be built upon. So how do we keep the wealthy clubs at arms length?
A couple of years ago, Bill Kenwright and David Moyes surprised the lot of us by securing the services Arteta and Cahill on longer contracts by offering improved terms, Maybe similar action with our center backs would be wise... Everton can't afford to bid for the top players, but if we are to have any chance of competing, we have to push the boat out to hold on to the ones we've got.
Slapping enormous price tags on them may also act as a deterent and persuade some of the wealthier clubs to look elswhere...
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