Given that our first team is a pretty settled this season (and so far pretty successful) with the line up of Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Mirallas, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Pienaar; Lukaku, I got thinking about the squad players and wanted to see what people thought about them and their futures with the team.

Here is my review of squad players that are around the first team. I have left off some of the juniors that others may think are worth mentioning and would be interested to hear your thoughts. These are obviously just my opinions but when I read it through again it made me think that the squad is not as strong as I had previously thought and given the number I expect/would like to leave, we would need a fairly big recruitment drive next year.

Robles Looked good at Wigan; while I do not think he has shone for us yet, I believe his presence as the new manager’s purchase has lifted Howards game. Still young; I see him as a replacement for Howard although more longer term than I expected.

Springthorpe Do not know much about him; he seems to do ok at the other levels but I’m not sure about his credentials in terms of the first team.

Hibbert Great servant to the club, still a real competitor and a solid defender. I’m not sure he fits into the manager’s passing style but I cannot see him going anywhere else so he will be around till he calls it a day.

Stones After a great pre-season, I am surprised that he has not been given more of a chance; he is likely to be the long term replacement for Jagielka.

Heitinga I actually thought he had a good pre-season and thought that he would fit better into our new style of play... so I am surprised that he has not really played. Given the numbers we have in his position, I think he is the obvious one to be shipped out and would be surprised to see him here past January.

Duffy For me, he’s a good solid defender but I do not think he fits into Martinez’s idea of what a central defender is and this is backed up by the fact he gave him no playing time at all, not even in pre-season. He will probably be gone in the summer.

Alcaraz He is the managers choice and I expect that he will replace Distin once he is fully fit; thought of highly at Wigan so I would be interested to see what he can do with a run of games.

Oviedo I like what I have seen from him and think weaknesses he shows will be ironed out with a string of games. Baines’s replacement if/when he moves on.

Garbutt I have been reading the excellent reports from Dick Brady and I’m not sure he will be making it with us. That could change if Baines leaves but I think he will be gone at the end of the season.

Gueye Now I am not all that sure what has happened to him; at the beginning of the season, Martinez seemed keen to give him another go only for him to pick up another injury and now he seems to have disappeared off of the radar. For me, he has had more chances than a lot of players get and failed to grab them. I do not see him adding anything to the team so I would be expecting him to be gone in the close-season.

Osman Great player still, but recent evidence suggests that he can no longer last the full 90 minutes; he has a future role as a super sub and as general cover for the midfield when needed. I imagine he will end his career with us.

Francisco Junior On loan at the moment at a decent level but not getting masses of game time. Was on the fringes of the first team this time last year but seems to have dropped off dramatically. I personally would like to him to be given another chance but get the impression that Martinez is not interested. For me, I would give him another season but he may well be out of here in the summer.

Gibson - Very injury prone, but good enough when fit to justify keeping hold of. If he continues to pick up these injuries, then that may change... but he is too good to give up on just yet.

Deulofeu After the initial excitement, I just do not see him getting the game time that will really make a difference to us or him. We will be better placed to judge after Christmas but, at the moment, it seems like a good experiment that may not be the great deal we all thought it was

Naismith Works his butt off and gets far more stick than he deserves; he’s not a bad squad player but I doubt he will ever be a first choice player for us. Whether he stays with us depends on if he is happy to be a squad player or not.

Vellios I quite liked him and felt for him a little as he did okay in a run of games he had but then was completely dumped. He does not show enough in the Under-21 games for me and I also do not see him as a Martinez-style player so he should be gone by summer.

McAleny He was scoring loads in the Under-21s and it would have been really interesting to see how he got on while on loan, so its a massive pity for the lad to have got such a nasty injury. Certainly worth seeing how he develops over the next couple of years.

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Ray Said
1 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:01:42
I watched Hibbert play against Man Utd for the reserves/development squad last week. He seemed to be operating as the right side of a three at the back and he played really well. His passing was good and his anticipation of where the danger was impressed me a lot. I would like to see him given an opportunity for the first team again soon, especially if we decide to go three at the back.
Ian Burns
2 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:00:39
Bit of a wake up call this article Stuart and I must say well thought out. I can see why, when you read back through your post, you lost confidence in the depth/quality of the squad in and around the first team.

I - no doubt like many others - have been feeling extremely comfortable knowing we have a strong bench, particularly in the manner in which RM uses that bench, it has been in the main impressive.

However, when you look at the squad and read your take on the those in contention, it does send a few shivers up the spine and has me reaching for the gin!

James Flynn
4 Posted 30/10/2013 at 15:39:30
Deulofeu refuses to track back. Let him sit and learn.

Naismith - With the ball at his feet it's fingers-crossed time and no doubt about it. His work-rate is terrific, though, so I'd like to see him in against Spur.

Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:08:45
Ray, thanks for the report on Hibbert... delighted to hear he's doing so well. As much as we love Coleman, we did get a good look at his defensive issues against Villa. So having Hibbo back in the mix will be great.

Stuart, good summary. I think, however, you're too impatient regarding Stones and Deulofeu. In order for Stones to have "more of a chance" you'd have to sit down one of the regular backliners, and that sort of experimentation would look like a really bad idea for our upcomng fixtures. As for Deulofeu, he'll get plenty of playing time when injuries start to take a toll on the first team.

Roman Sidey
6 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:21:33
Mostly true about the players you list. Heitinga's a strange one as he was our best player one year and then dumped out straight after. Same with Vellios two years ago - shows some muscle and actual ability up front so we'd better clip his wings and ruin him. Oviedo hasn't had a bad game for us yet still can't get a decent run. Deulefeu will spring to life when he gets a start, and I find it hard to believe Bill hasn't put his fist down demanding he play so to save the loan fee if he plays half the games available to him. As long as Coleman's fit and Stones is versatile, I'd say Hibbo has played his last game for us.

All in all I'd say our squad is as healthy as it's been in a long while, but, yes, only a few injuries away from the team picking itself.

John Shepherd
7 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:13:37
I disagree with with the Alcaraz replacing whomever, I firmly believe when he's fit he'll be the lynchpin in a back three. Giving a bit more freedom for Baines especially, and then Pienaar and Mirallas either side of Lukaku with a choice of two midfielders between Barry, McCarthy, Barkley & Osman given that they can revert back the current roles, it makes us a lot more flexible as a team and also makes it a bit easier for any subs in similar positions to slot in without too much disruption. That for me would be a great attack-minded team... I can dream anyway.
Barry Rathbone
10 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:26:59
Greatly improved squad.

The problem is the money liverpool have spent over the last 12 months plus their financial clout in playing hardball over Suarez is bearing fruit.

Arsenal have at last spent shedloads as their fans have been demanding and Spurs have splashed the Bale cash on some cracking players.

Yes we are better but so are they.

Brent Stephens
11 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:37:48
Out of that lot, Delboy is the biggest frustration for me. Looks as if he could really threaten going forward (though I do have some doubts about how predictable he is in which way he'll try to go past a player). But otherwise he just ain't a team player yet.
Paul Olsen
13 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:53:54
"Oviedo hasn't had a bad game for us yet still can't get a decent run."

On the other hand Oviedo still haven´t played a good game for us either.
I think he has been pretty below average on the few chances he has had so far. Ooozes mediocre for me.

Ajay Gopal
14 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:23:06
If you have freakish injuries and suspensions in a particular area (for example, when we had a goal keeper crisis a few years and we had to request the FA for special permission to get a goal-keeper on loan for a few months), then the team with the best squad in the world can do very little about it. In the Premier league, only Chelsea and Man City have really strong squads - the rest of them are not that significantly stronger than ours. Witness the hiding that Chelsea (with 10 changes) gave Arsenal in the Carling Cup. I do agree though that we need to strengthen in a few key areas - forwards, defensive midfield, left & right wing, for a start.
Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 30/10/2013 at 17:01:27
Paul Olsen, we must not have been watching the same Oviedo.
Iain Love
17 Posted 30/10/2013 at 17:12:55
Are Kone & Jelavic not squad players ?
Robert Workman
19 Posted 30/10/2013 at 17:45:55
Duffy did play in pre-season. He was the only player - apart from Robles, who made 3 great saves/blocks - to play the full 90 minutes against Austria Vienna. He seemed very hesitant and made mistakes, one of which led to a goal.
Francisco Junior was only given 20 minutes in that game, but looked to me like one of the worst players to wear an Everton shirt.
Pablo Connelly
20 Posted 30/10/2013 at 18:58:46
Ideally, to say you have genuine strength in depth, you need two players for every position (and 3 strikers) that are all interchangeable and still be capable of beating anyone. So, worst scenario, how many Premier League games would the below win?

Hibbert Alcaraz Stones Oviedo
Heitinga Gibson
Deulofeu Naismith Kone

No too many is my guess!

Pablo Connelly
21 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:23:48
Just realised I forgot Osman although with his appearance record you could say he is a first teamer, but if you swap him for Heitinger it looks a bit better!
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
23 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:31:37
We seem to be getting a lot more multiple posts than normal.

Could I ask all who are posting to carefully hit/click/touch the Submit Comment button JUST ONCE....

And then wait patiently until the internet, ISP, servers, etc have processed that one message?

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!

James Martin
24 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:29:29
Better squad than previous seasons although in my opinion still not near the quality of the moneyed teams (for obvious reasons). In my opinion though we've always got more out of our starting 11 (how a team with a midfield of Osman and Neville finished ahead of Liverpool two years in a row is beyond me)

When you saw Chelsea's changed 11 the other night you saw how far we have to go. In fairness though they're the only ones along with City who have that privelige. If you take the best players out of teams like Liverpool Arsenal and Spurs then the quality of their replacements fall drastically just like ours.

For me we need another midfielder (especially with Gibson injured) and another two wide players consdering we only have three at a push, one of which would prefer to play in the middle, one of which would prefer to play upfront, and one of which has no conception of anything to do with the defensive side of the game.

Pablo Connelly
25 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:41:44
Michael, if like me some people are submitting through an iPhone it tends to freeze whe you hit the submit. I ve noticed it on other sites as well, it's a problem with the device, but I'll consider myself told off!
Derek Thomas
26 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:46:31
As alway and not just us ' we're 3 or 4 players short of winning the title. While United for instance might also say this, we would have to add... and 3 or 4 squad players as well.

IF and big If, we did go 3 at the back the defensive part would(?) be well served by Alcaraz, Jags and Hibbo, it does nothing for the PIOFTB aspect.

We can only hope that Untd keep under performing and the CL carrot looks further away there than here. If we lose the best wingback in the world it makes 3ATB pointless.

With all due respect ot any replacement ( unless we unearth another one ) it was and is only ever viable WITH Baines and A.N Other on the left...with Baines as the main man and Coleman as support, not Coleman as the main man and an unknown in support.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
27 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:58:54
Pablo, is it perhaps a question of noticing the little whirly thing (does it have a name) in the status bar, indicating the gears are churning?

Glad you are in receptive mood: here's a couple to work on:

1) It's called the Premier League... (not 'premiership') has been for many years now. Get with it!

2) I have it on good authority that Heitinga does not like to see his name spelt 'Heitinger' that sounds too Germanic for his liking!

3) And as for Deulofeu... well it seems to be hard to pronounce so is that an excuse? Not if it is 100% phonetic: Dey-you-lo-fey-you in bastardized English phonetics (sorry, I can't do the real thing).

Hope this helps!

Mark Frere
28 Posted 30/10/2013 at 19:44:00
I don't think Pablo Connelly's team (031) is that bad at all. I would drop Naismith for Osman though - Naismith shouldn't be allowed near our reserve team never mind our first team. Losing Gibson for the majority of this season is a massive blow because he's such a good player when fit. We don't have anyone with Gibson's passing range either. A new CM is a MUST in January.

Osman's only position in the team should be behind the striker, he's definitely not suited to playing further back in the positions Gibson and Barry currently occupy.

I'd love us to try and Sign Tom Ince in January if the price is right.

Ross Edwards
29 Posted 30/10/2013 at 20:27:54
Mark, D.Gollum is offering Zaha on loan in January, so maybe we should come in for him.
Mark Frere
30 Posted 30/10/2013 at 20:34:02
Nah Ross, I would want a permanent signing if we are to get another winger in - a player like Ince with bags of potential. RM still has Del Boy at his disposal if he wants to use him, I'm thinking long term.

A top CM on loan would be okay to cover while Gibson is out.

Ross Edwards
31 Posted 30/10/2013 at 20:43:25
Fair enough. Id prefer a permanent signing to replace Gibson to be honest.
Mark Frere
32 Posted 30/10/2013 at 20:46:15
You may have a point there Ross, Barry may sign a permanent contract with us after his loan deal has expired, but he's still getting a little long in the tooth, will need replacing. Lets face it, we may never be able to rely on Gibson because he has so many injury woes. The only CM we can say is our future is McCarthy. Come to think of it, a new permanent CM in January would be my preference.
Pablo Connelly
33 Posted 30/10/2013 at 21:12:33
You know what will really wind your goat even more Michael. I absolutely noticed those spelling mistakes before I submitted and as my spell checker didn't fix it I couldn't be bothered. I'll let you know how much sleep I miss over it tomorrow (if you haven't banned me in a thesaurus based rage!)
Trevor Lynes
34 Posted 30/10/2013 at 16:04:11
Our present starting team is as good as I have seen in the last 10 years. But this is tempered by the fact that 3 of our squad are on loan! If they all go we will be back to Mother Hubbard's cupboard days unless Martinez has money available for the January window, not counting whatever is decided over Baines.

If Baines has to go, then all the proceeds should be made available to try to plug the gap and strengthen where needed.

Gerard Carey
35 Posted 30/10/2013 at 23:22:40
Michael tell Pablo to sit in the bold boys corner!!!!!
Jimmy Srheim
36 Posted 31/10/2013 at 01:25:30
Ha, ha, ha, funny man you Gerard.

I like this post, pretty accurate views and interesting subject, well done, Stuart.

I think you made some quick judgements on Vellios and others, but otherwise I agree.

It will be interesting to see what Martinez decides to do with them.

Harold Matthews
38 Posted 31/10/2013 at 04:19:04
Yes, I guess our squad is a bit patchy here and there with Duffy, Vellios, Gueye, Heitinga, Junior and Garbutt looking surplus to requirements. Jelavic must also be teetering on the edge and Baines might only have two months left. Not a great situation but Martinez is firmly locked into players of a certain type who will perform above their valuation and these will gradually be added,

Naismith will be kept because he doesn't moan about sitting on the bench and will work his socks off when asked to do so.

Mirallis is a different kettle of fish altogether. Very talented. Very inconsistent. Needs to be molly coddled. Definitely not a Martinez type team player but can cause lots of damage when in the mood.

The rest of the squad look pretty reliable and I hope we can hang on to Barry next season. Lukaku I'm not worried about. He'll be off to pastures new and we might replace him with someone who is genuinely thrilled to wear the Everton shirt.

Peter Jones
39 Posted 31/10/2013 at 05:45:45
Barry 984- I agree with what you say regarding our opposition improving. But I think the law of diminishing returns is applicable to the teams that finished ahead of us last season and would explain the parity we are seeing in the prem as a whole. For instance, at Everton, the spine of our midfield and attack has improved drastically. Where we once had Osman, Neville, Fellaini (out of position), and Jelavic, we now have Barry, McCarthy, Barkley, and Lukaku. Barry and McCarthy are better percentage passers, play at a higher tempo, and make many more tackles/interceptions than the previous holding duo. With Barkley in the 10 role rather than Fellaini, we can break at pace and put pressure on our opposition so much quicker simply because he's a natural at the position. While Fellaini was awesome for other reasons, we could never counter attack because he and Jelavic just don't have the pace or trickery. With Lukaku, we added 10-15 extra goals, pace, strength, and an outlet with back to goal. So, we've basically improved all the areas we were weak in markedly.

Now compare that to say, Manchester City. Yeah Jovetic, Fernandinho, Negredo, and Navas are all nice players with hefty price tags, but do they really add much value to them? Is Fernandinho miles above Barry? Is Negredo better than Balotelli? Is Navas any better than Nasri or Milner? Will Jovetic ever get a game anyway? I think the answer to all of these questions is no. Yes, the team has strengthened, but have the replacements added more value than their predecessors? The team didn't have any major weaknesses in the first place so the new additions can only make so much of an impact.

Southampton is very similar to us in the way they've improved by fixing pressing issues. They desperately needed Wanyama, Lovren, and Osvaldo because they were weak throughout their spine like we were. They got these guys, addressed the problem and now they're the stingiest club in the league at present. Teams like Chelsea, City, and Arsenal don't really many pressing issues so picking up players like Schurrle and Willian doesn't mean much because they already have a wealth of talent at the same position. Every time I see the supposed depth of these super rich teams in the Capital One Cup, I see them struggle just as mightily to pick up the win as our backups. City with all their star studded players, needed extra time to defeat mainly Newcastle's backups. Spurs needed pens to beat Hull. Again. I just think the gap between the mega rich and the rest of us is much smaller than it used to be. League looks wide open.

Mike Gaynes
40 Posted 31/10/2013 at 06:22:04
Harold (132), your last comment caught my eye.

If you're implying that Lukaku isn't genuinely thrilled to be wearing the Everton shirt, I would take issue. His passion, commitment and enthusiasm for the badge after scoring are clear for all to see.

The fact that his future and his dreams lie elsewhere is something I won't hold against him -- to my eye he is doing great honor to his Everton shirt every minute he's on the field.

Ian Bennett
41 Posted 31/10/2013 at 07:30:26
Totally agree Peter. City have spent a lot of money, but I don't see a lot of world class players. Most players are magnolia, when the room was already that colour.
Harold Matthews
42 Posted 31/10/2013 at 07:21:46
OK Mike. Get your point. Knew it would be a tin hat job when I pressed the submit button. The lad is doing fine.

The fact is, both last season and this season, we have created so many gilt edge chances that any decent striker, apart from Jelavic, would have scored a bag full. Lukaku is a good striker who cost Chelski £20mil but there are other good, more reasonably priced strikers out there who Martinez has probably earmarked. This is why I'm not worried about losing him. Our new boss has a definite plan and will not recruit a bummer.

Jimmy Srheim
43 Posted 31/10/2013 at 08:42:55
Honestly I think Lukaku looked better for WBA, and that may have something to do with the fact that he is playing full games here and needs to adapt to that.

In spite of that, Lukaku is bringing just enough to help us in most games and that is what we need from a striker.

I would be more pleased, however, if Martinez could get Vellios and Kone some playing time so they can act as proper back-ups when goals are needed and Lukaku is not up for it.

Ken Crowther
45 Posted 31/10/2013 at 08:54:06
Pablo #076

I'm still working on "wind your goat".

Laurie Hartley
46 Posted 31/10/2013 at 09:14:38
The one position where I feel we are really exposed is Centre Back. I don't know how good Alcaraz is but from what I have read he lacks pace.

Distin is a marvel to me at 36 - you would back him against most players in a race for the ball. Eventually he will loose his edge and I don't know where we are going to get a replacement with his strength and pace.

Dave Lynch
47 Posted 31/10/2013 at 09:40:39
I have thought for the last couple of seasons we have had a decent squad.

The problem we had was OFM refusing to utilise the resources he had at his disposal. Constant reliance on his old favorites IMO cost us and i'm convinced he knocked the confidence out of some players.

Roberto on the other hand is trying to utilise the full squad and with the additions he's made I genuinely look forward to us playing anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I believe he will nuture the young talent we have at the club and IMO the confidence throughout the club is already growing.

We'll take a few beatings along the way but things feel and look a lot fresher on the pitch.

Mike Allison
48 Posted 31/10/2013 at 09:47:56
"The one position where I feel we are really exposed is Centre Back."

I wasn't going to comment on this thread, but this came up in the recent comments section.

I think the one place we're overstocked is at centre back. We've got Jagielka, Distin, Heitinga, Alcaraz, Stones and Duffy. I think we all expected Heitinga to leave in the summer, especially when Alcaraz came in.

The one place we're short is in midfield. With Gibson out, we have three central midfielders for two positions (Barry, McCarthy and Osman) with one of them (Osman) making his case to be considered one of the three attacking midfielders rather than a deep lying one. Unless Lundstram and Francisco Junior are smashing down the door in training and in the reserves, then that's where our next signing has to be, possibly even the next two.

The key thing about our squad is what's happened in the last two games. We have players who come off the bench and change the game. Pienaar and Osman have scored two and assisted one coming off the bench and turned two points into six in our last two games. Does anyone have any stats about how often that has happened in recent seasons? I'd be surprised to see many match winning goals/assists by substitutes over the last few years. And this is before Deulofeu has even had a serious chance.

James Stewart
49 Posted 31/10/2013 at 11:22:54
Lukaku has papered over all the cracks in the squad when he goes it will look a lot worst. Mirallas has been really poor for me this season and I'm not sure what happened there as last season he looked unplayable.
Trevor Lynes
50 Posted 31/10/2013 at 11:32:25
There is no need to tamper with the present starting 11 or the subs available. For the first time in years, we have a bench that is adequate and not either a creche of youngsters or has-beens. We still need to unload the likes of Heitinga and Gueye and bring in proven Premier League standard young players with a few years left in them.

Money is already available from the business done in the last window so Martinez has very possibly identified players he wants. If Baines insists on leaving then the money generated MUST be given to Martinez so that he can sign a proper replacement for him and not be left with a pittance to attempt to plug the gap.

I would not consider playing Heitinga again as he gives me the jitters every time he is opposed by someone fast and big. He should be out of any future equation and so should Gueye who has had more than enough chances.

If we are hopeful of competing for Europe then the board should give the manager financial support. I would love to see a few of our youngsters push for places but none seem to be doing enough.

Watching Rodwell last night I just felt so glad that we had moved him away and got decent money for him. He showed no glimpses of class at all and is a mediocre player who I am sure will be leaving City soon. I really hope we do not take him back as he is far from the player we need. I just hope that one or two of the surplus top class players that are on the sidelines at Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man Utd can be loaned out for next season. I would love Lukaku to remain for another season along with the acquisition of the likes of Mata, Moses etc etc.

We are presently looking season to season and the loan situation seems as good if not better as just spending whatever money we have on perhaps one player.

Phil Sammon
51 Posted 31/10/2013 at 12:13:39
Papering over the cracks? Or simply an astute loan signing?

If we have a lad on loan then he's 'papering over the cracks', if we have top class youth players then who cares because they're off to Chelsea - and our best players are ditching us for Man Utd.

So why am I so happy about going to Goodison these days?

Players come and go, whether they are on loan or not. Our policy is to sell who we need to and improve the team with that revenue. It's working so far isn't it?

Kenwright is the villain and deserves all the abuse he gets. However I can't abide this criticism of the team who are actually performing remarkably well.

John Crook
52 Posted 31/10/2013 at 12:18:38
It will take too long on lunch to write my review of the current squad so I'll just summarize what I expect and want to happen in the January window.

I suspect the highest profile departures will be Jelavic and Heitinga. They both need to find clubs where they can start and play their way into the respective World Cup squads. I also think Gueye will go to whoever will have him.

I think another centre-half will be brought in (partly to replace the reduced squad size with Heitinga going and partly as a long-term replacement for 36-year-old Distin). And sticking with like for like, I hope we can find another striker to replace the outgoing Jelavic (and once again, an eye on the departure of Lukaku next summer).

I also want to see a midfield powerhouse (Fernando??) as extra strength in depth and also to cover the man currently down (Gibson).
Duncan McDine
53 Posted 31/10/2013 at 12:25:30
In fairness to James (166), we will struggle without Lukaku... and before anyone mentions the Chelsea game that he missed, I'm talking about the course of a season.

I personally don't like the idea of 3 CB's (if and when Alcaraz is ever available for selection)... reminds me of the Walter Smith days, and that was more depressing that OFM days.

James Stewart
54 Posted 31/10/2013 at 13:31:56
There is a reason barely any teams play with 3 CB's. That should be a plan B or C at most as it will not work against many.

My point about Lukaku was that if you swapped him for Jelavic say the results the team would be getting would be drastically different. If you can't score it doesn't matter how good the rest of the team is you won't pick up points.

Harold Matthews
55 Posted 31/10/2013 at 13:09:33
Top loan signings are now part of our strategy. Mr Martinez said as much only a couple of weeks ago. It's one of the legit ways a cash strapped club can add quality in order to compete with the mega-rich. They also help buy the new manager the extra time to suss out his inherited squad, assess the youngsters, and make plans for the future.

As people have pointed out, with Gibson injured, we appear to be short of cover in midfield and there is not one natural, old fashioned winger in the whole squad. Deulofeu is supposed to be ahead of schedule but remains a mystery.

Whatever the state of things, we've surprised many this season, myself included, and long may it continue. Goodison Park, packed to the rafters, is a fearsome sight indeed.

Ben Jones
56 Posted 31/10/2013 at 14:38:29
I think people just say buying a new centre midfielder is a must, or a long term replacement for Distin or whatever.

But would this replacement really want to come to potentially be on the bench for a season or more? I would imagine Barry is the midfielder that "needs replacing" in question. He is playing well at the moment, and if Barry stays beyond the loan signing, then its going to be difficult for this new signing to play first team, if Barry maintains this form.

People have to look at it both ways.

But with regards to the original post, it's a very good summary. Not sure about Alcaraz coming in to replace Distin though. He may look good, but he's only played one pre season game this season, and Distin, though not in keeping with Martinez's style, is still a fantastic defender and is going to be hard to displace.

Sam Hoare
58 Posted 31/10/2013 at 14:52:31
Our squad has an alarming lack of depth compared to our rivals for the CL. This is what see's us still rated as CL outside bets by all bookies.

Where Spurs can look at a second XI spine of Kaboul, Sandro, Holtby and Defoe our is currently more like Stones, Heitinga, Osman and Jelavic. Not disastrous but not in the same league as lots of our top 4 competitors.

Dave Trudgeon
59 Posted 31/10/2013 at 15:02:23
Maybe we could go for Benteke in the summer if we get European football? I know its a bit of stretch because a lot of clubs will be after him, but think about it: he will have given Villa another year, and they will only just be outside the relegation places (mid-table at best), so Everton would be a real step up for him.

He's a similar type of player to Lukaku so he would be able to see the kind of service we can give him, and it wouldnt take much of an adjustment for our players to play with him. I know I'm in dreamland, but signing him is way more realistic than permane.ntly signing Lukaku who is younger, has more potential, and already plays for a massively succesful club

Paul Thompson
60 Posted 31/10/2013 at 15:42:40
Sam@194 is (as usual) right - this 'second eleven' bears no comparison to what Chelsea, Man City and United, Spurs and Arsenal can field. There hardly a name on the original poster's list that would get anywhere near those equivalents. Osman is the exception and he's in our starting 11 most of the time. Before the usual suspects wade in, this is not an attack on Martinez, Moyes, the Board or anyone else. We live and more specifically buy within our means. The starting 11 and bench are stronger than previous years and that allows the manager to make more a difference in games. I wouldn't be worried about loanees as that is now part of the planning picture for all but the very top clubs. However an injury crisis would certainly put our resources to the test.
Harold Matthews
61 Posted 31/10/2013 at 16:37:00
Agreed Paul. Injuries and 3 game suspensions would hit us for six.
Brian Harrison
62 Posted 31/10/2013 at 17:15:04

Absolutely correct we cant match the spending of Chelsea, City, United, Arsenal and Spurs latterly with the Bale money. So we cant possibly expect us to compete with our tiny transfer budjet compared to these clubs. And that's why we will struggle to make a Champions league spot, as it is usually the strength of your bench that deems which teams will be able to compete despite injuries. While we have a good starting 11 apart from 1 or 2 we would struggle to compete if we had injuries in certain key positions. I think even our wealthier neighbours will struggle in this department should they get long term injuries to both Sturridge and Suarez as their back up strikers are not as good as our back up strikers.

Tom Bowers
63 Posted 31/10/2013 at 17:41:14
In reality, the squad is not yet good enough but is a work in progress and seems to be heading in the right direction under Roberto Martinez. With injuries to Gibson and Alcaraz the progress may have been stunted somewhat although loanee Barry has done well and Distin still quite consistent.

Obviously there will be movement in January as some players as yet untried by RM may seek pastures new, especially as the team continues to pick up points.

Some big games over the next few weeks may define the clubs position. Spurs and Redshite are our challengers for the top four positions and good results against them will really endorse the improvement.

Gerry Quinn
64 Posted 31/10/2013 at 17:54:42
On a side note, but still to do with the players...

The biggest surprise for me is that we appear to be hitting the same amount of long balls as the last 2 seasons...has Jags doubled his effort then?

Kieran Fitzgerald
65 Posted 31/10/2013 at 17:46:02
I think the way in which we picked up Barry may be the way to go. From January, his is free to talk to other clubs as his contract with City is up in the summer. I think, but stand to be corrected, that he can sign a pre-contract with us in January. Get him signed up as soon as we can and avoid any problems with other clubs bidding for him come the summer.

James, at the moment, I don't think that Lukaku on loan is papering over the cracks. If we had our usual £4 transfer budget coming into the January transfer window I would agree with you in full. However, the net profit we made in the summer means that this cash, plus whatever we raise from selling fringe players in January, gives us a far better chance of buying outright a quality striker. I would prefer we bought in January but if we have to wait for the summer rather than rushing it in January then fair enough. Lukaku will for now give us the goals until we do sign a permanent striker. Yes, any team would struggle if they lose a player of his quality, but for once we seem to have the cash to buy a quality player, hopefully it will be a striker.

Trevor Lynes
66 Posted 31/10/2013 at 22:01:21
Kieran..what if Baines leaves in the summer? That will make a priority over signing a proper replacement with proven premier league experience. Unless we do a deal with Baines going and a player plus cash in exchange.

We badly need a top class fullback to replace Baines if he goes, we cannot just put Oviedo in and hope he does the job. Oviedo may be OK in a pinch to cover for injuries but I would worry if he was used long term as he is not proven.

Hopefully Baines will stay until the end of the season at least, but who knows ? I trust that Martinez has made provision for any eventuality and I expect him to add at least two more players in January even if Baines stays. The club made good money with the transfers of Fellaini and big Vic but are spending far less on our acquisitions.

Douglas McClenaghan
67 Posted 01/11/2013 at 02:02:49
I have a feeling Lukaku will stay, my spidey-sense is pretty reliable. You read it here.

On the other hand, if he leaves in summer feel free to call me a tit.
Ian Burns
70 Posted 01/11/2013 at 08:31:36
Douglas - 284 - if I was a tit I wouldn't go out, I would stay in with me gin!

What a top quality thread this has turned out to be.

Clubs like EFC need top quality scouts out in the world looking for the gems we can afford, including the lower leagues.

We need a spread of top quality coaching from different cultures for the youngsters to see if we can bring them through all but ready for 1st team action.

Easy to write but not easy to achieve but for EFC at present, quality loan players (such as we have in Barry and Lulu) and the above strategy is our immediate tomorrow.

Phil Walling
71 Posted 01/11/2013 at 10:53:45
I agree with those who say our first choice team looks as good as anything we have seen here for years. Whilst I'm not sold on all the pissing about at the back, I'm happy to accept it until it costs games which I sincerely hope it won't.

In terms of being able to compete with the properly resourced clubs and claim a European slot, I suspect we are behind at least six of the early pacemakers and that could be seven if Southampton maintain their early form.

Where we are so inferior to most of our rivals is in the quality of the back-up squad which Stuart Obee and many respondees seems to see through rose coloured spectacles. Of last Saturday's bench I see only Osman and Stones of true Premier quality and whilst we could possibly add a fit Heitinga and Hibbert to that list, reserves like Robles, Naismith, Gueye, Jelavic, Deulofeu, Oviedo and even Kone look nowhere near sharp enough to be relied upon to perform at top level if required.

It's true that Gibson and Alcarez have shown the quality required in the past but their fitness problems seem overwhelming and I do wonder whether we shall ever be able to see them at their best.

So, in this age when the 'money boys' can field two teams of outstanding quality, Everton are really up against it in breaking into their cartel and, once again, it will be up to the manager to 'make and mend' if we are to maintain a top third place. It may not seem overly ambitious but I think Roberto will have done very well if he pulls it off.

Denis Richardson
72 Posted 01/11/2013 at 13:20:13
I'd say our first XI is definitely top 8, good chance of being top 6 and with a massive amount of luck potentially a dark horse for top 4. But 4th wont likely happen as injuries and suspensions will mean the rest of the squad has to be used.

After the first XI things go downhill pretty quickly. The squad is definitely much much better than last season and we finally have some subs that can come in and improve the team as opposed to making it markedly worse (like your mcfaddens, nevilles, anichebes, straq etc). However, we don't have any real depth in quality.

I'd say we have about 14-15 quality players and the rest are a mixture of hopefulls for the future, hard working squad players, has beens and stocking fillers. In this I would include the likes of; Naismith, Oviedo, Vellios, Gueye, Jelavic (what on earth has happened to the player who came to us?) and Hibbert, with the jury still out on Kone and Alcaraz. I still think the last two will both turn out to be good signings, if they ever make it on the pitch!

The obvious headache for RM is that of the 14-15 quality players we have, 3 of them are here on loan. So come Jan or June he's going to have to show some magic again in the transfer market. But thats for then and not now...

Vast squad improvement on last year and if we keep improving year on year, then we'll all be happy.

Richard Dodd
73 Posted 01/11/2013 at 13:51:48
'Twixt optimist and pessimist the difference is droll, the optimist sees the first team and the pessimist the whole.' That seems to sum up the opinions here although a general picture of reality permeates the thread.

Now I have had my balls chopped off too often to suggest we are certs for Europe although, for the life of me, I can see no reason why we shouldn't be serious contenders for a Thursday night slot.

It's not as though we can expect the complete first team to go down with the plague, so it will only be a question of having players to slot in for the odd injury or loss of form. What makes the situation better than in previous seasons is that all departments seem to be covered at least for the short term eventuality.

The great blessing is that Martinez does seem to see beyond 'a chosen few' (although his fascination for Naismith as automatic sub belies that at times!) and he does have a knack not visible in his predecessor of knowing when and who to introduce into the game.

What's great about the present set-up is that they have all the fighting qualities of OFM's teams but a great deal more guile and variety. And we do have Lukaku!

Trevor Lynes
74 Posted 01/11/2013 at 16:47:53
Denis I fully agree with your estimation of our squad. Martinez did so well in his first transfer window that I am much more optimistic then for many seasons. The team that finished 4th were not a patch on our present side, this seasons team are playing far better football and not just using spoiling tactics to stifle opposition teams rather than trying to outplay them.

The team that finished 4th relied on set pieces to score then just sat on whatever lead they had. We actually finished the season with a negative goal difference and were outclassed once we made Europe. I really believe that Martinez will add to the squad whether we lose Baines or not and for the first time in ages I am optimistic for the rest of the season. We are just two or three decent players away from being serious challengers.

If we could find a proper playmaker and wide man who can consistently cross the ball well plus a replacement for Baines (if he leaves) of near his ability then we will continue the decent start we have made. Obviously if Lukaku leaves then we will need someone comparable....maybe another loanee !!
Harold Matthews
75 Posted 01/11/2013 at 15:02:34
If we reach a Euro spot it will be the greatest feat since the Welsh lads survived the battle in "Zulu". Realistically, we haven't a snowballs chance in hell of finishing ahead of three out of United, Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton but football is a funny old game. The aforementioned will all suffer dodgy results, especially towards the end of the season when relegation teams fight like maniacs and Champions League, Uefa cup, FA cup and the Capitol cup interfere with things. Exciting times indeed, especially if the big strong lad up front keeps finding the net and Mirallis rediscovers his shooting boots. With World Cup places up for grabs, they'll both want to impress. So too the England lads.
Denis Richardson
76 Posted 01/11/2013 at 17:14:30
One game at a time Harold.....had Stoke (deservadly) gotten something out of their game at old trafford last week, who knows what would be happening at Manu now.

It'll be tough but I'd say we're just as good if not better than Southhampton, Manu could still have a melt down and spurs are getting results via very lucky late goals at the minute.

I wouldnt rule us out of europe just yet, also depending on who wins the cups, 6th or 7th might be enough to get in (we could also win the FA cup!).

Beat spuds on Sunday and......

John Zapa
77 Posted 01/11/2013 at 17:18:11
I'm not convinced we have a strong squad, and come the end of the season it will show.
Raymond Fox
78 Posted 01/11/2013 at 17:23:13
Both Lukaku and Barry were judged to be surplus to requirements by their managers which in itself tells a story.

Our reserve players individually are inferior to our top 6 adversaries 2nd team because of one reason-- MONEY.

That doesn't mean we cant finish in front of them in the league though as its a team game, it will be very much against the odds if we do, but we can live in hope!

It could be our esteemed manager pulls another rabbit out of the hat, he'll need to.

Roman Sidey
81 Posted 03/11/2013 at 00:20:01
Mike Gaynes, I think you and I are becoming to Oviedo what Jimmy Sorheim was to Drenthe. We champion him a lot, and don't seem to have many share our views on him.

Trevor Lynes, your statement regarding our little Costa Rican is true, but is a common angle I think is used far too often - "Oviedo may be OK in a pinch to cover for injuries but I would worry if he was used long term as he is not proven.". It's your right to worry, but how many players are proven before they're given their opportunity? How do you get "proven" if you haven't played much?

As I said, I understand the rhetoric, and accept it has some merit, but, personally, don't think it should be a valid detraction from Oviedo's chances.

Gary Poole
82 Posted 03/11/2013 at 01:42:42
Roman - why do you champion him. I watch Everton every week and have hardly seen him. Where do you get your extra insight from?

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