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By Jamie   Crowley  ::  03/04/2012   43 Comments (»Last) Lately I've had that butterfly feeling in my gut when pondering all things Everton. The Club is playing some beautiful football, I'm looking up the table rather than down, and I'm enjoying what I'm watching. And then I ponder the future.

I feel as if Everton, this squad of players, could be excellent. Visions of Top 4 have re-entered my cranium. Then I come back down to earth.

No money, crap summer, no investment, player sales to balance the books.

My heart sinks, the butterflies turn to sour meat in the belly...

I religiously download a podcast here in the States: Men in Blazers. The two hosts, Roger Bennett (a Blue) and Michael Davis (Chelsea supporter) are simply hilarious, witty, and know the game. Michael Davies, on last Wednesday's podcast, said something that shocked the Hell out of me, and got those proverbial butterflies churning away. He believes in our Club and where it stands, on the pitch, at the moment.

He said:
"I would say at this point Everton are playing better football than Liverpool.

"Everton have been inconsistent this season, as have been a lot of other teams...

"They've looked really good and then suddenly looked absolutely awful...

"Everton can go on and beat Liverpool. And I would say more than that.

"Everton, despite the marches outside the stadium, people very unhappy with the owner and the management for not finding a buyer and not bringing in new players, however little they've spent on this squad... This squad has the building blocks to go and be a very, very good team. And I think Everton's ambitions, and the ambitions of the fans, have to be higher.

"This is a team that is good enough to finish, dare I say it, in the top 4 of English Football."
When I heard it, my jaw hit the floor. A pundit, as neutral as Switzerland, just said we should be a top 4 side if we can simply kick on just a bit and build on this current squad.

I so desperately want to believe him, and in my heart I do. I truly believe that since January we are a very, very good team.

Michael Davies is right.

So if that's the case why do those butterflies of hope and anticipation turn into a sour stomach ? have me reaching for my Tums?

Please Bill and Dave, realize we can and aim higher. And please all you supporters, demand they do.

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Jamie Sweet
701   Posted 04/04/2012 at 05:28:18

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Interesting post Jamie.

I think we have a starting eleven which is well capable of beating anyone on the day, and if they could all stay fit, top 4 wouldn't be completely out of the question.

We have been pretty unlucky with injuries in the past and that will continue to be our achilles heel. As soon as a couple of key individuals are unavailable we can suddenly look very ordinary again.

Lose Baines at the back, Fellaini in Midfield, or Jelavic up front and we wouldn't look half the team we do with them playing, because we lack strength in depth.

Jelavic has been key to our improvement in style. Lose him and where's the quality up front? Then look at the bench of clubs above us. Tevez, Berbatov, Defoe, Drogba to name just a few, all waiting in the wings.

We are currently doing very well with what we've got, and I hope that some of the younger ones coming through can start to offer us greater squad depth. However, I fear that unless we find significant investment, we will always struggle to maintain a level of performance required throughout an entire season to be genuine top four contenders.

Keep everyone fit until the end of this season though, and maybe all our stars may align at the right time for the Cup? Now that thought does give me butterflies!
Dan McKie
711   Posted 04/04/2012 at 08:21:57

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We have players that can pass the ball and play with a bit of style, then also gritty when needed. The problem is Moyes seems often to be gritty first, style.....march!
Richard Dodd
724   Posted 04/04/2012 at 09:31:37

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Where`s Tony Marsh when you need him, Ed?
Mark Murphy
725   Posted 04/04/2012 at 09:24:57

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The potential of the TEAM (not the squad - thats Bills failing) sums up my problem with Moyes.
Our best 11 - picked from best 14 - is better than performances this season suggest.
In Moyes defence we have looked better since the arrival of Jelavic, a proper mobile striker who can find the net, which was the main failing of the team up until january.
On the other hand the sale of Beckford didnt make sense at all at that time!
James Morgan
733   Posted 04/04/2012 at 10:38:02

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Sorry, but not a chance. I think we are capable of 6th at best. We just haven't got the squad in depth, we need a quality right back to go with a right winger, maybe another striker and a back up left back. Maybe then could we get there.
Dan McKie
736   Posted 04/04/2012 at 10:58:58

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Bidwell has apparently been looking the part playing for Brenford on a regular basis. Hopefully he will be deemed good enough to be Baines' understudy next year. As for the right side, how long have we been saying we need to sort that area? We need to look for someone who actually specialises on the right side of midfield, but we never seem to. Its always square pegs in round holes. I think we can get another season or 2 with Neville/Hibbert at right back, before hopefully Coleman takes it up. Lets face it, we need to either sign up or replace the loans, then add 4 or 5 players on top of that. Anybody see that happening this summer?
Kev Johnson
739   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:34:25

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Bidwell and Garbutt look like decent players in the making, but if/when they come back they won't get a game unless disaster strikes. Baines never misses a match!

I think Matt Jarvis at Wolves will be on the move in the summer and I reckon Moyes might try and get him. He's a pretty good right sided midfielder. Not a world beater but he's made one appearance for England, and he might be able to push on.
Mark Stone
740   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:36:59

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And Garbutt at Cheltenham. But who is better?
Kev Johnson
744   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:42:30

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Mark - I had the impression that Garbutt is the better prospect but that Bidwell is probably ahead of him right now. Might be wrong, but I think Bidwell would only be a squad player for us - or maybe a Hibbo-style solid club man - whereas Garbutt has it in him to play regularly for a top team... Us, for example!
Roger Sunde
745   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:45:24

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Bains is our best and most consistent player and he would be on the bench on all top5 teams atm.
Just to get a perspective, a couple of injuries and we have kids on the bench.
Iam sorry but money talks and bs walks, and the only way to climb table. Sad but true.
Mark Stone
746   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:40:08

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Beat me to it Kev!
Dan McKie
747   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:49:22

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Roger, Baines on the bench for all top 5 clubs? Id say he would get into Spurs, Arsenal, Man City fairly easily, and he would push for a spot for Chelsea and Man U too.
Thomas Lennon
749   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:44:48

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If that is a neutral view then it is good news. That perception makes our chances of a rich buyer slightly better.

Top 4 = a Bigger squad = more money. Nothing else will get us there. Even if a few on the fringes develop they will need to be paid or they will leave.

Forthcoming changes to spending rules may change things a little, but not in our favour.

More money needs new stadium (£250 million?) and then an aggressive policy to use it to raise more cash. £50 million a season puts us on a par with 4th, Champions league comes AFTER that figure is reached not before, CL is a bonus on top.

Are Everton fundamentally capable of raising that cash from its current supporter base?
James Stewart
752   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:53:51

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We have been saying this kind of thing for years under Moyes. The late season push swells optimism for the next season only to all come crashing down like a house of cards.

Now I agree our squad is good enough for a 6th place finish I think but to suggest we can break the top 4 again a step too far. We need a quality RM such as Donovan or equivalent and have done for years and we need some pace and depth. Then perhaps we could compete. But we all know the funds are not there for that so we will continue to tread water.
Tony J Williams
756   Posted 04/04/2012 at 12:06:42

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I'm as optimistic as the next man, but unless we discover about six wonder kids and manage to keep hold of them, Top 4 is just a dream.

We are nowhere near consistent enough and our squad will probably reduce in size this summer, not increase
James Morgan
758   Posted 04/04/2012 at 12:06:05

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Stubbsy on talk sport in a minute.
Bobby Thomas
760   Posted 04/04/2012 at 11:48:31

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Kev, completely agree on Jarvis, looks dangerous, the quick penetrating wide player we need.

Seems to play mainly on the left when ive seen him?

He can cross well with either foot and go either side which full backs hate. For example, Hibbert generally has wide men who like to go to the dead ball line in his pocket, but Ashley Young, who can go either side, used to give him terrible trouble.

One problem though. We already need to get Piennar back in so theres £3mil gone, plus he's English, capped and therefore the fee would be ridiculous, they would probably ask for approaching double figures. So basically, we can forget it!
Stephen Kenny
768   Posted 04/04/2012 at 12:34:38

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Do we have a first 11 to finish top 4? IMO no. But we are a better side than the shite and Newcastle is a close one, though I'd say they have a definite advantage with their forward line.

I'd say when you take the squad into account we fall below the shite and 8th is a fair position with these players. Only the piss poor form has me thinking what if?

A better RB and Drenthe playing regualrly on the right along with Pienaar playing would change my mind and put us above Newcastle. That means signings we may not be able to afford.

In the past Moyes had shown he could make a team better than the sum of it's parts. He's still got his eye for a player but the money in the game means he will never build a side to get into the top four bar maybe a crazy fluke.
Roger Sunde
771   Posted 04/04/2012 at 12:50:06

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Dan, ok ill give u Arsenal since its their weakest spot atm.

But my point was we dont have a squad for a top6, there are players on wolves that would be in our starting XI ffs.
James Stewart
773   Posted 04/04/2012 at 13:01:29

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Roger your way off. Baines would walk into City Spurs and Arsenal teams. Ekotto? Don't make me laugh he got torn a new one by the mighty Coleman! Arsenal's defence is a joke. He could easily displace Cole at Chelsea as he will do in the England side.
Evra would probably keep him out but thats it.
Roger Sunde
776   Posted 04/04/2012 at 13:14:26

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James, I dont think Baines would take Kolarovs place, and he wouldnt walk straight into a spurs side, Ekotto is a good player like Baines.
Iam glad however city bought Kolarov for 17mil, they prolly would get Baines cheaper.
Dan McKie
777   Posted 04/04/2012 at 13:20:49

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Roger, Kolarov was kept out of the side most of the year by Clichy, who is rubbish too. Assou Ekotto is not a good player, Bale does most of the attacking and defending down Spurs left side, and Baines is better than Gibbs too. The only top 5 sides left backs he would have a battle with are Evra and Cole (the latter based on reputation rather than how they now play).
John Pendleton
780   Posted 04/04/2012 at 13:26:44

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Avoid the 'form' of the first five months of this and every other season and who knows what this squad could achieve.
Roman Sidey
786   Posted 04/04/2012 at 13:33:01

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We've stormed 4th before without spending more than a few quid on Cahill (granted, spending wasn't quite what it is now), and there's no reason why this squad shouldn't be able to play a full season of 38 games and finish in the top 4.

If we're not in Europe, and the manager, be it Moyes or whoever the fuck, just says, "Right, the cups can go and get rooted, we're focusing on the league." and looks to hit the ground running, rather than take 4 months to settle into a competent side, these players could do it.

As I said, we've done it before, and Moyes pre-2008 could have done it again. Just not so sure he's got the stones anymore.
Denis Richardson
794   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:04:09

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Top 4? Really have to disagree. Having the odd win against Man City or Spurs at home does not automatically translate into top 4 potential - afterall even Blackburn managed to beat Man U at OT this season(a feat we have not yet managed in 10 years under DM).

We have one of the top defences in the league (all top quality apart from RB), however our midfield and attack is nowhere near top 5 standard, let alone top 4. We desperately lack creativity and pace in the midfield and the likes of Pienaar and Gibson would struggle to get into the starting 11 of any of the current top 5 teams (nevermind top 4). Fellaini is not even guaranteed to get into the starting 11 of any of the top sides and he's supposedly our best midfielfder.

Always amazes me how short peoples memories are after a few decent results. Just a couple of months ago we lost miserably at home to Bolton and struggled to beat Tamworth. People also seem to have forgotten about playing 2 games back to back without a single shot on target.

Granted we look a more balanced side with the current squad but 3 of them don't even belong to us. Take Pienaar and Drenthe out and we have the wing play of a championship side. Jelavic looks a decent player but he's hardly one of the best strikers in the premiership - and we only have one decent striker at that.

On the whole; Baines, Howard, Heitinga, Jags, Fellaini, Jelavic - 6 very decent players that we have (that belong to us). The rest are very very average, over the hill or yet to prove themselves.

Top 4? - 'aving a laugh son.
Roger Sunde
796   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:38:14

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Dan, well my point was, besides Baines and Fellaini, which players would even make the 25-man squad on the top teams? few, very few.

We don't only need a bigger squad, we actually need better players in the starting XI, so we need investments.
Denis Richardson
798   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:50:57

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Might just add, we are 10 points behind 6th place and 6 points above of 14th place!

Let's try to keep our feet on the ground after victories against the mighty Swansea and Sunderland etc...
Roger Sunde
799   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:52:00

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Denis, completely agree with you.

Except Jelavic, hes without a doubt better then the rest but that dont say alot. I thought he would be used to knockles coming from scottish farm football, but I feel hes overacting and complains way more than he should.
Denis Richardson
800   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:55:58

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And yes I am a miserable git sometimes:-)
Dan McKie
801   Posted 04/04/2012 at 14:49:25

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Agree with you, Roger, but we have also shown on our day that we can compete and beat anyone. Yes, we need some more quality in the first 11, but more players of similar quality would also be a big help, and much more affordable. Not only would it help with injuries and fatigue, but also to have the players that have nailed-on places in the first 11 to always be looking over their shoulders.

I don't buy into what the original post says about top 4, but I believe we could get closer; as I said earlier, we would need to sign up the loan players (well, Pienaar and Drenthe anyway), then add another 4 or 5 players to give us a real chance, but that wont happen. Even so-called 'free' signings cost a fortune these days. Your origanal point though was about Baines bench warming for all top 5 teams, which he wouldn't, and neither would Fellaini, but sadly, that is probably it.
James Stewart
805   Posted 04/04/2012 at 15:57:24

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Sorry don't agree with you at all Roger. I find it a sickening modern trend that all players at the Sky 5 clubs are treated as world beaters. Ekotto is crap and a liability at the back. If you swapped him for baines our team would be a lot worst. Same with Kolarov. If you think players like Heitinga wouldn't make their squads you are on cloud cuckoo land. He is one of the best CB's in the league! Same with Jagielka who arsenal tried to buy. Gibson consistently was in the Squad at Utd and he is starting to look every inch that class of player. Even our shite players like Neville were wanted by Spurs.

Its a moot point anyway what does it matter if they would or they wouldn't? Long as they are part of a good collective team here. Give me that anyday over watching the likes of Balotelli argue with his own team over who takes a free kick. Embarrassing and pleasing to see them fall behind one of the worst Utd teams for awhile.
Stephen Kenny
810   Posted 04/04/2012 at 16:25:16

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Your probably one of a small minority on this site who want Moyes out more than me.

But reading your post #786 makes me think you want it for all the wrong reasons.

If you honestly believe what you have written then you are way out of touch with the realities of the game and the need for a squad of players.

I expect and demand a better standard of football, better performance in the cups and a more positive attitude about the club but I don't expect us to get in amongst clubs who all pay at least double what we pay, spend up to a billion quid on the worlds best and have boards, and in some cases sovereign states, who have got billions and are willing to spend it.
Denis Richardson
817   Posted 04/04/2012 at 17:01:30

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Jame 805, I think most people agree that we have the odd player or two who is good enough to play for a top side, (eg. baines should be the no. 1 a LB for England). Issue is that most of our team is not - there lies the problem. Sorry but Neville would not get near the starting 11 of a top side, 'appy 'arry was probably just trying to waeken us by signing him (who would he seriously replace in teh Spurs side?)

Defense aside, we are very poor going forward and if the league was done on goals scored, we would lie.........17th! (Only Stoke, Villa and Wigan have scored less league goals...). Inability to score goals is not the mark of a top side, need sound defence and attack.

Although saying that, I dont think we need a big wad of cash to change things. Players like Rodallega, Junior Hoillet and Sinclaire (i think) are out of contract end of the season - why are we not trying to sign some of them?

We may strugle to beat off competition from the top teams for someone like Hoillet but transfers fees will not be the reason why we cannot sign them. Get rid of the likes of Straq, Macfadden, Neville and even Cahill to make room in the wage bill to freshen up the squad with some decent 'free' transfers. My thoughts anyway.
Jamie Crowley
835   Posted 04/04/2012 at 19:41:11

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A lot of ppl saying we're not deep enough. But are we that shallow?

If Moyes would take a page from Sir Alex and actually PLAY the youngsters here and there to give them experience they might actually be READY when called upon due to injury / rotation because of fixture congestion.

I think a "bare bones" 4-4-1 system would need 3 strikers, 2 CAM, 4 CM, 5 wingers, 2 LBs, 2RBs, 3 CBs, and 2 goalies.

Bear with me... and imagine if we actually played the young guys every now and again, assuming we hold on to our loans. A big ask I know but the original point Michael Davies made was we have the building blocks for a good team and must demand just that little extra investment.

Jelly, Straq, Vellios
Cahill, Barkley
Felli, Gibbo, Osman, XX
Drenthe, Gueye, Pienaar, XX
Hibbo, Nev
Baines, XX
Jags, Distin, Heitinga, Duffy
Howard, Hahnemann

That covers the positions. We have one surplu CB and need another CM, winger, and a LB

Sell Jags, reinvest in dependable back-ups and we have enough depth and sufficient talent to at least dream of 4th??

Or is that just entirely too poly-annish???

Sour stomach - can't sign the loanees, can't sell Jags for enough to bring in 3, crap summer, no money, slow start to 2012-2013...

We're so close IMO. Frustrating.
Jamie Crowley
836   Posted 04/04/2012 at 20:01:16

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should have read 4-4-1-1
Jamie Crowley
837   Posted 04/04/2012 at 20:02:09

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Jesus I ate a bowl of dumbass... forgot to list Coleman as the 4th winger, leaving us short 1 for 5 total.

Sean Patton
841   Posted 04/04/2012 at 20:56:17

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I would say the team need 3-4 players for the top 4. It is just a shame those players are Lahm,Robben,Villa and Iniesta!

If Barkley turns out as good as we hope and BOTH Pienaar and Drenthe(or a fast winger equivalent) are signed and you throw in a good right back then maybe just maybe.
Shaun Brennan
847   Posted 04/04/2012 at 21:18:36

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Tony J Williams #756

I agree 100% with him. Unless we start producing a crop of youngsters who can step up to the plate as we certaintly won't buy any players ready to push us on. Infact we'll probably step back or if we are lucky stand still.
Mark Stone
849   Posted 04/04/2012 at 21:35:21

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Yeah I think Tony is right. There is a huge gulf in quality and depth between us and the top 4. Quite often, actually, I'm of the opinion that the quality of our squad is hugely overestimated and our opponents hugely underestimated (by contributers on this site).
Chris Davies
861   Posted 04/04/2012 at 22:01:42

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I like to dream too but I think we're a long way off.
We finished the season with (if my memory serves me well) 61pts when we finished 4th. Both Chelsea and Newcastle will clear that easily this year.

The year we qualified for the CL was the lowest points total for a long time and, I think represented how bad 'the rest' were.

Now we have 5 teams aiming to win the league every year. Until we start the season with the aim of winning the league, we can forget 4th.

I'm sorry, I'm usually as optimistic as the next blue but our squad and their squads.. Pfft.. Forget it
Ciarán McGlone
867   Posted 04/04/2012 at 23:09:24

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This thread reminds me of the way the English behave after being dumped out of a major Championship.

James Flynn
950   Posted 05/04/2012 at 14:42:08

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Jamie - I listen to them all the time myself, The Men in Blazers. They know their stuff and are a couple of characters, so a few laughs with it. You know you can read them, too, at Bill Simmons' Grantland.
James Stewart
996   Posted 05/04/2012 at 18:58:20

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No I agree with all you say there Denis and those would be the kind of signings we should be looking at. I was merely making the point that a lot of our squad would make the squads of teams above us so its not like we have total dross. Yes it needs improvement but we have a spine.

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