While clubs like Tottenham, Aston Villa, Manchester City and the like have dived into the summer transfer market with relative abandon, Everton can only dip a toe into the pool here and there. This season’s early injury epidemic seems to support the point, as it forced Moyes into playing people out of position and testing unproven youth just to plug the gaps.
‘Lack of funds,’ everyone shouts, ‘lack of funds. Not enough cover.’ It’s a popular view, and not without some merit, but until Bill Kenwright’s knight-in-shining-billions rides through and rescues the club from relative poverty, it’s a useless point to rehash. A cash windfall doesn’t seem to be on the immediate horizon, and wishing for one serves no purpose.
In the meantime, Landon Donovan’s example may offer a route around the problem. Donovan’s addition did not solve the personnel issues. His arrival only increased Moyes’s available selections by one player. Why then, did the look of the team and its attacking verve change so dramatically? The short answer: pace. One attacking player with heart-stopping quickness can completely change the way an opposing defense performs.
The big four, apart from Liverpool, all have wing backs that get forward consistently and start offensive moves. They allow the midfield to push forward and fill up offensive lanes, forcing defenders to divide their attention between the strikers and free-running midfielders. It’s a domino effect, with the attacking impetus generated in the back, and the resulting pressure on the defending side becomes too immense to withstand for very long.
A single fast winger neutralizes this effect. In his first game for Everton, Donovan’s quickness kept Arsenal’s attack-minded fullbacks on the defensive, negating their offensive contribution. Chelsea’s Ashley Cole was forced to keep one eye on Donovan rather than bomb up the touchline with his usual abandon, and Chelsea became a defensive team. Even when Moyes chose to play Donovan on the left side against the slower Gary Neville, the general effect on United’s defense was noticeable, as both center backs and Patrice Evra recognized the mismatch and remained at home to make up for Neville’s inevitable skinning. One fast player on the wing single-handedly changed the defensive shape of the top three teams in the league.
Too often, the post-transfer-window autopsy focuses on numbers. Everyone highlights the quantity of the players other clubs purchase and bemoans the mere one or two Moyes buys. Based on Donovan’s effect in the games against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man United, maybe depth and numbers aren’t the only way to bridge the gap between Everton and the top four. Realistically, Everton cannot hope to rival their buying power, or even that of clubs like Tottenham and Manchester City. Maybe we don’t need to. Perhaps all that’s needed is one fast winger with free reign to terrorize a back line. He doesn’t have to score goals or even create them. He forces opposing defenders to remain defenders only, which in turn forces opposing midfielders to drop back and collect the ball, which forces opposing strikers to come back as well or hope for long ball service. One fast winger opens up space all over the field. Genuine pace, even in the absence of other gifts, can rule the day.
Everton have been linked with such players at times in the past – Downing, Bentley, and Wright-Phillips have all been suggested targets at one time or another – but Moyes has opted to spend his limited funds on solidifying Everton’s central foundation. Jagielka, Fellaini, Heitinga have all come in and done fantastically well in their respective central roles. Indeed, the middle of Everton’s formation is as dependable as any in the Premiership. Now that it’s in place, though, the time may have come for Moyes to blow the whole transfer fund on a fast attacker. Everton will never consistently compete with the big four by continuing to buy players based on their versatility. To get over the hump, the team needs a speed merchant tearing down the flanks.
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1 Posted 16/03/2010 at 02:53:42
2 Posted 16/03/2010 at 04:35:17
3 Posted 16/03/2010 at 04:50:01
4 Posted 16/03/2010 at 05:58:35
5 Posted 16/03/2010 at 06:02:42
Excellent thought piece Nate. Also noticeable that against lesser teams, such as Birmingham, that Donovan had much less of an impact. In fact the lumbering Anichibe caused Birmingham all sorts of problems on the right hand side, admittedly against a centre back playing out of position.
When Donovan came on he did not have much of an impact - nor did he in the FA Cup game agaisnt Brum.
But in a sense this proves your point. We need different sorts of players for different sorts of games. Donovan’s pace alone pegged back Chelsea’s left hand side in the recent league game, whereas in the Cup final Ashley Cole could give Osman a 20 yard start and still get back in time. I am not sure Anichebe would have been any more effective than Osman on the right flank in the cup final.
Whilst on the subject of Anichebe I thought he showed a few flashes of skill and first touch against Brum that I had not previously noticed. If he can control the ball better he could become a very useful player, as he has the natural strength to hold it up well - but only once he as got it under control. Used to think he was a bit of lamp post.
6 Posted 16/03/2010 at 06:47:14
7 Posted 16/03/2010 at 07:47:45
Cannot agree however that the "middle" has been sorted out.
We are leaking goals like a sieve even when Fellaini was in.Seems we cannot buy a clean sheet this season.
We need a major overhaul of our defensive set up and tactics as well as a pacy right winger IMO.
8 Posted 16/03/2010 at 08:09:50
9 Posted 16/03/2010 at 08:44:40
I agree with what you have written about Donovan the impact he has made on the performance of the team.
What is not so clear is that one more player will not transform Everton into into a top 4 team. Yes, it would help tremendously.
Picture this scenario: We’re winning 1:0 due to a Donovan cross or goal. Suddenly a freak accident like Shawcross’. or May be not so freak like a viral infection. What now for the next game? Who steps in to keep the momentum up? Osman? Strength in depth is still a problem but it is significantly reduced for a period of time.
Also, lets look at why Donovan was brought in. We were short. Moyes would not have looked to a loan signing had there been sufficient cover or a fully fit squad.
I do agree though that having a player like Donovan does and will help tremendously.
10 Posted 16/03/2010 at 08:17:10
So Arsenal full back didnt attack down our right at the Emirates? that can only have been said by someone who didnt see the game.
Ashley Cole didnt bomb forward at GP ? oh yes he did, or are you talking about AFTER he left the field with a broken ankle ?
And the best yet : Donovan single handedly changed the defensive shape of a top three team ? nothing to do with our midfield players brilliant performances or the fact that united played with a make shift back four then ?
Everton need a right winger, most Evertonians could have told you that five years ago, but Landon is most definitely NOT that player, abject performances in Lisbon, at WHL and again at St Andrews told me all I need to know, Moyes knows it too, thats why he lost his place to a player who has hardly kicked a ball for a year.
And talking of Anichebie, Why the hostility ? "Lumbering" Vic is here, he gives the ball away nowhere near as often as Donovan, he cost nothing and he scored the sort of goal at St Andrews Landon wont score as long as he has a hole in is arse. A little support for a local kid wouldn’t go amiss.
11 Posted 16/03/2010 at 09:09:42
Similarly one attacking player can occupy the attention of multiple defenders freeing up space, time and territory for his teammates.
I disagree with earlier comments about Coleman - I think he would benefit from going out on loan, preferably to a team challenging at the top end of the Championship. He is 21, needs the games, and should then be a real option to start next season. If I thought he was going to start some games I would keep him obviously but I just can’t see that happening unless we have injuries and if we do we could recall him from the loan anyway.
We do need a pacy wide man on a more permanent basis - who would be affordable and likely to come to us though?
12 Posted 16/03/2010 at 09:26:01
13 Posted 16/03/2010 at 09:23:02
As for Coleman, he’s never, ever going to be a pacy right winger. Open your eyes. Even in his good game and a half it was enthusiasm and attacking intent rather than pace or skill that reaped rewards. He has a chance as a full back, and as its clear he’s not going to be thrown in to the first XI this season, and right back is the one position we’ve got numbers in, then a loan seems like the sensible option.
14 Posted 16/03/2010 at 09:27:48
People are surprised with Anichebe because he looked disinterested in the past and didn’t look like he’d made the grade. His general attitude stunk. If he has changed and his goal against Birmingham was absolutely superb, then great but most are sceptical because what they have seen and heard about him over the last few years.
15 Posted 16/03/2010 at 09:36:30
16 Posted 16/03/2010 at 10:28:56
The game at the top level isn’t about fixed positions any more.
17 Posted 16/03/2010 at 11:42:37
18 Posted 16/03/2010 at 12:44:36
I would’nt mind there’s loads of them either festering as squad players or playing in the less lucrative leagues around the world.
Can’t someone hack in to Arsene Wengers computer and get their details.
19 Posted 16/03/2010 at 16:32:37
I’m not a chess player myself, but I guess that you were talking about strategy rather than ’should we buy Shaun Wright-Phiips’.
Moyes was first of all the motivator, getting the best out of Rhino and the rest. Then he built his fortress, leaving the admirable Marcus Bent (who should have an honourable mention in our history somewhere) to roam alone. Europe beckoned.
Pace - wonderful for the reasons you state. Pacey player? Oxymoron. And that’s the problem. They tend not to be team persons, oft described as passengers. Bellamy, possibly the best in this generation, has never been the obvious choice wherever he has been.
My instincts tell me that Bily will have a wonderful season next year, without pace. But with what I would call mid-field press - which will push them back (as rogue pace might) will win a season rather than a match.
I believe that in another age Harvey Ball an Kendall did that.
I think this is what is building. And it doesn’t depend on your pacey star.
20 Posted 16/03/2010 at 17:44:07
As Nate says so well, in essence, the best form of defence is attack.
The reason we leak goals is the whole mid table / inconsistant thing, it’s a self fulfilling prophesy, We are mid table coz we are inconsistent (for a whole host of reasons) and because we are inconsistent we get Man U results one week and Bham results the next, hence mid table.
Going back as far as I can remember and the 24-year theory is a prime example if not proof. We have been like the little girl in the nursery rhyme when we are good we are very very good and when we are bad we are horrid, with the odd plain boring thrown in at one end of the inconsistency scale and the none 24yr title wins, 70 and 87 at the other end. We are even inconsistent at inconsistent.
21 Posted 16/03/2010 at 22:37:42
I think he will be an important player for us for the rest of the season
22 Posted 17/03/2010 at 00:53:50
23 Posted 17/03/2010 at 01:50:22
I wasnt just referring to your comments, I was talking about a lot of comments I read on here.
To be fair to you "lumbering" isnt the most inaccurate way to describe Big Vic, he frustrates me too, he has pace and power, he has a cannon in both feet, he is decent in the air and yes he does have a good first touch, but for some reason he hasnt been able to put these atributes together, his attitude seems immature, he lacks co-ordination, He can look as strong as an ox one minute, then powderpuff the next and he seems to be blowing out of his arse after 10-15 minutes.
The fact is, not everyone is like Rooney, the finished article like at 17-18, many many players dont come into their own until their early twenties, People slated players like Cole, Zamora were slated in their formative years but both would cost 10milion plus now . .and remember Lez Ferdinand ?
Anichebie may well not be the answer, but he’s a different league to Donovan, he’s played more "top league" football at the age of 21 than Donavan will play in his life, despite missing the last year, there’s a very good reason for that.
I dont want to disrepect Landon, its been great fun having him here, but I fear there’s an awful lot of people on here suffering from "The Ashley Cole syndrome" they are so desperate to scour the world for talent, they forget whats at home. A local boy should only ever be replaced by a better player
I believe inside Victor Anichebie there is a proper footballer, whether Moyse can bring it of him out is another matter, but he cost nothing and surely the favoured option should be to give this guy every chance betwen now and the end of the season.
I fear this wont happen, too many people will overlook the obvious qualities and jump on the slightest mistake
24 Posted 17/03/2010 at 02:47:03
Xenophobic ? pull yourself together lad
25 Posted 17/03/2010 at 04:10:25
26 Posted 17/03/2010 at 04:23:44
27 Posted 17/03/2010 at 05:03:31
28 Posted 17/03/2010 at 06:42:40
Moyes believes Vic can play wide, His last eight starts for Everton have been on the right and with the exception of the Spurs game - his first for a year - he has been impressive, what he produced last week quite simply isnt in Donovans locker.
Not sure anyone doubts the value of a TOP wide player, but they are few and far between and they cost millions saying we could do with a Kanchelskis is like saying we could do with another Big Nev, its merely stating the obvious.
My point is this : I’m far from convinced by Vic, but Moyse obviously believes Vic is a better player than Donovan, so why on earth would he go and spend a fortune on somebody he considers inferior to what he already has ?
I’d love a Kanchelskis here now, but it aint gonna happen, the days when we could afford top established players have gone, lets at least try to encourage the development of our own players before calling for average replacements, we dont just want wingers, we want good wingers
29 Posted 17/03/2010 at 08:07:53
30 Posted 17/03/2010 at 09:09:18
That has been the killer for a few seasons, we are even startin to sound a little like the knobs from over the park, "Next year will be our year"etc
We keep on getting a better squad but then royally screw it all up at the start of the season.
31 Posted 17/03/2010 at 09:53:45
Your dissonance is crackpot..
32 Posted 17/03/2010 at 12:23:21
I have said on several occasions that Donovan has done ok, no more no less, unlike you in your ignorant spiteful posts where you single out the people whos jobs you dont understand, I have only talked about Donovan when the thread was actually about him, so not interested at your desperate "hypocrite" jibe
Unfortunately you’ve gobbed off, again, probably ruining yet another thread, so I’ll have to expose your ignorance, again,
During these "superb" performances - and please dont spout about when he came on AFTER Hull had thrown the towel in - Donovan must have made a whole load of goals if he was such an "superb" winger
Care to list em ?
33 Posted 17/03/2010 at 18:07:52
The moment that sticks in my mind from the last game was him losing the ball in his own half. and then just standing still not even bothering to try and win it back.
Ridgewell doesn’t take much beating either so I wouldn’t get carried away there! Donovan is more than twice the player Big vic will ever be. And I don’t care whose played more top class football. Donovan was a class act on and off the field. His attitude was first class. More than I can say for most footballers these days. Quite frankly you calling his time with us as "done ok" is a disgrace.
34 Posted 17/03/2010 at 18:27:21
Ciaran cant come up with a list - there’s a surprise - you wanna have a go ?
How many times did this "superb" winger skin a full back and set up a goal . . or even a chance ?
Oh and if Ridgwell doesnt take much beating, how come he spent the second half either taking the ball off Donovan or catching him offside ?
I say Donovan did ok because I watched every game he played and thats about the size of it, I simply wont be carried away with this illusion that he was/is a "superb" winger.
I agree Donovans attitude was first class, however your opinion that he is twice the player Big Vic is obviously isnt one shared by our manager,
35 Posted 17/03/2010 at 19:25:41
I thought is best game was against the mancs but also had v. good games against chelsea and man city.
Had a crap game, especiallu first half against brum in cup, aside from that he’s been fanastic.
Hope that jogs your memory - he certainly has "done ok" . Unlike Anichebe who’s had years to settle in side, he’s had 2 months.
but go on dave, over egg Victor’s superb wing play for everton over the years because all fans must have blind loyalty to a local lad with a shoddy attitude
36 Posted 17/03/2010 at 19:28:31
Nobody can give a list of goals Donovan assisisted because we aren’t anoraks and we don’t have photographic memories or videos of every game but I’d say without doubt that his direct assists, partial assists and goals puts him high in the specialist category that he is in. The club results with him in the squad were exceptional including wins against the top two clubs. If we could get him at 6.0 million surely that would be the buy of the decade at current silly values.
Interesting point, do you see more if you go to the match or if you watch on TV. For me it’s the latter.
37 Posted 19/03/2010 at 02:03:36
Landon did take the corner at the Emirates, but it landed on the penalty spot, if Ossie hadn’t met it with such a stunning Header, would anybody have raised an eyebrow ? Still, fair’s fair, an assist is an assist and I know he scored against Sunderland and played well against Garry Neville and yes I’ll even grant you the goal and assist against an already routed Hull, but rather than jog my memory I think you rather prove my point . . Donovan played over a dozen games, its hardly the stuff off legends is it ?
Landon seems oblivious to the offside law, he was caught offside more than anyone - even Saha - he persistently gave away possession, he had stinkers at Sporting, Spurs and Birmingham. when he missed from a yard against Chelsea Goodison looked on in disbelief, I will never forget the many many Evertonian’s who’d been stuck in Harringay traffic for hours after the Spurs game, pulling into the service station, nobody was moaning about the traffic, we expected it, but people were shaking their heads in disbelief and asking each other "how can a professional footballer miss a chance like that ?" even the Spurs fans couldnt believe it
Yes Peter I do remember his good times but I try to take his whole time here into consideration and I believe to say he did ok, is pretty fair and accurate. I wont be swept away in the clamour to proclaim him a "superb player"
You claim I over egg big Vic’s play, I dont think I do, read my post again, even though I think we should try to develop this kid, I’m far more critical of him than I ever have been of Donovan.
I’m sorry but it was very definitely a straight choice, as soon Anichebie was fit - against Spurs - he was in and Donovan was benched, Moyes confirmed his preference against Hull and again at St Andrews.
If Donovan had skinned a few full backs and created goals, trust me there are enough anoraks on here to point them out - I know this, because I am one - he didnt, so they wont.
Do you see more at the match than on TV ? well I do both, I go to the match then watch it again later - like I said, anorak - and although I dont see replays and slow-mo’s at the match, I see an awful lot more than what the guy with the camera decides I see.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you think Donovan is the answer, fine, although I’ve enjoyed having him here I think there’s an awful lot more we could do with the money
38 Posted 19/03/2010 at 06:20:12
What can we compare him to position for position? Downing, Bentley, SWP? I see no value in them.
Sorry, I also thought that Moyes started subbing him (as he subs many good players such as Coleman) when he knew that he had to replace him.
I obviously can’t form as good an opinion on him as you me being an armchair pundit now but there are many who rate hime highly including Moyes. The miss against Spurs was unbelievable I agree.
39 Posted 19/03/2010 at 07:00:57
Sounds to me as if you have seen enough to make your mind up.
The majority of the people I go to the game with are in total agreement with you, they would take Donovan in a heartbeat. so would I if he were free - like Big Vic
Money is tight and if you were to ask 20 Evertonians where we should be spending what little we have, you’d probably get 20 different answers
40 Posted 25/03/2010 at 00:10:06
At no point on the loan did he assert himself as he does routinely with Galaxy and our National Team for years now.
Pretty disappointing as an American to be in here these last months and find so many life-long English soccer fans who's comments about Landon prove they are clueless about the game.
EFC is on the verge. Hopefully, our US boy Landon will be a part next season. He wants to come and DM wants him.
Landon's led every team he's been on since childhood, including our National Team's showing in 2002 WC when he was 20 years old. A deal can be cut satisfying everyone (Rodwell on loan for MLS?).
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