I am sure that most people would agree that this has indeed been an intriguing transitional season with clear signs of the change of approach being seen on the pitch itself. It has of course been beset by a series of events that have clearly hindered some positive aspects of this transition, injuries to key personnel at a crucial time of the season and ludicrous situations such as the current one with the loanee Traore.

However, for me, one of the most crucial elements in the all the setbacks was the injury to Brian Oviedo, coming especially at the time in which it occurred. It is a long time since an injury to a player genuinely upset me (I am 69 so have had a lot of time!). It did so for a number of reasons but principally in my opinion because he was showing himself to be a player of outstanding promise. Not only was he showing that he can be a crucial part of the first team at present, but hopefully a tremendous asset to the development of the team in the future.

Among his many qualities, and the one which I think has been particularly noticeable in his absence, is the drive and threat he brings to a midfield role when he is played there. He has also proved himself a more than adequate left back when asked to play there during Baines’s absence in fact, so well did he play there and so lack-lustre had been some of Baines’s performances compared to his previous high standards that I would maintain that Oviedo had every right to keep hold of the position even upon Baines’s return.

However, I think it is in the midfield role on the left that I think his impact has been, and hopefully will again be, his greatest asset. He has what Everton’s midfield seem to lack at the moment and that is real physical drive allied to good technical ability and what is more carry a very real goal threat. He was just beginning to show that he is a force to be reckoned with when the fates intervened and I think his injury above all others has played a crucial role in some of the problems that have since arisen.

Obviously Leon Osman is coming to the end of his truly effective career and, while many will disagree, so too I think is Pienaar. For a very short time to come, I would think that they would be seen as possible "impact" subs midfield players such as they needed when possession is crucial during perhaps the later stages of matches. I would contend, however, that what neither of them have, and which Oviedo brings, is the "drive" and energy; the attacking impetus and real goal threat both inside and outside the box that we have so sadly been denied in recent months. Barkley may well bring his undoubted talents to fruition in the future once he has really mastered the midfield role more effectively and I feel that, had Oviedo been alongside him this season, his education in this unit of the team would have been enhanced, even allowing for Barkley’s own injury problems.

Oviedo was showing all the signs that Everton had a genuine "superstar" in the making unsung, a seemingly committed team-player and yet a young man confident in his ability to really impact a game, relishing the physical battles but blessed with good technical ability and a willingness to affect the game in the one area that matters most putting the damn ball in the back of the net! I truly wish him a speedy recovery from his injury with the fervent hope that he continues where he left off.

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Reader Comments (27)

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Alex Parr
1 Posted 04/03/2014 at 15:09:15
Agree 100% with everything written there. Good article. Hoping Brian comes back as the force he was, difficult injury to come back from though. COYB.
Sharabi Singh
2 Posted 04/03/2014 at 14:59:04
Well said. He seems a perfect (and of course free) replacement for Pienaar and his defensive qualities also help. I really hope Gibson can recover from his injuries too because he looks the perfect type of player to play the Martinez way.

I would also cash in on Mirallas; as good as he is, he's not a team player. He's played in nearly every midfield position this season so you can't say Martinez hasn't tried to accommodate him. He hardly scores and, when there's an obvious pass on, he ignores it nearly every time.

My team for next season (I've left the striker blank as it doesn't look like Lukaku will stay and I've no faith in Naismith (although he works his nuts off so I would definitely keep him at the club).


If we can just get a decent striker I think we have a top team.

John Gilfoyle
3 Posted 04/03/2014 at 15:09:40
Yep great little player, with an exceptional attitude on the pitch. Can see him establishing himself next season as one of the first names on the team sheet.

Don't think I've seen one bad comment on him on this site, which itself is an achievement and shows the high level of performances he must be giving us very critical bunch.

Sam Hoare
4 Posted 04/03/2014 at 15:21:20
I love Bryan but I wonder if Kone has been the miss of the season? We have really needed some more goals and sharpness up front and that is what we paid 6M to Wigan for. If he had been match fit all season, I daresay we might have a few points more... but who knows.
Robin Cannon
5 Posted 04/03/2014 at 16:30:23
I'm a huge fan of Oviedo, but I actually think he's been one of the least missed of our injured list. Not because he's not a great player, but because he's injured in one of the few positions where we have pretty adequate cover.
Mike Gaynes
6 Posted 04/03/2014 at 16:41:43
Robin makes a good point. Until Baines was injured, Oviedo wasn't getting any more minutes from Roberto than he had from Moyes. And with Baines back on form and McGeady added to the bench, I'm not sure how much he'd be playing even now. Which breaks my heart, because I've been a huge Oviedo admirer since even before he joined us, and I think he has a chance to take Pienaar's job next season if he gets the chance.

I agree with Sam that Kone has been a major miss, but my nominee would be Barkley, who was just truly blossoming when he was injured and has yet to show even a glimpse of that form since.

Anto Byrne
7 Posted 04/03/2014 at 16:53:34
Also scored the goal of the season.
Ray Roche
8 Posted 04/03/2014 at 17:25:36
The biggest compliment you can pay to Oviedo is that we didn't miss Baines when he was injured.
Dave Williams
9 Posted 04/03/2014 at 18:31:21
Mike- spot on mate!
Ross has failed to spark since his injury and the swagger in our play has likewise disappeared along with much of our penetration. If he can get his form back for the run in and Lulu stays fit and sharp then we may just surprise people.

That said I too am a huge Oviedo fan and I think we have badly missed his pace and ability but also he seems the type of lad who would be badly missed for his presence in the dressing room and his energy on the pitch.

The sooner he is back the better.

Jimmy Salt
10 Posted 04/03/2014 at 18:39:41
I love Baines but I can honestly say Oviedo was fantastic till that tragic injury ruined his season, and I don't think Baines has matched him since.
Dan Brierley
11 Posted 04/03/2014 at 19:02:16
Definitely a surprise of the season, put in some great performances and showed real drive and determination. His style is more like Coleman on the other side, a good honest player that drives forward and gets the crowd going. At 4 million quid, looks an absolute bargain and is still only 24.

Agree with the sentiments above though, doesn't look like he is going to get a look in at LB now that Baines has signed long term, unless he is able to convert into an out and out left midfielder? I hope so, as Pienaar needs some competition for that spot.

Alastair Donaldson
12 Posted 04/03/2014 at 19:43:44
Definitely the season low point for me..coming in an awful week. Still on the plus side he's back on the bike and more likely to return than poor old Traore!

From the glimpses I saw of him, he does look to fit the utility player bill and in that offer a lot more than our previous equivalents...thinking of Neville primarily. Martinez probably follows the Spanish template of filling the team up with what I call midfielders, albeit ones who are comfortable on the ball....a bit like some of the earlier Spanish teams, the lack of an out and out striker will probably be a problem until it's properly addressed.

Would love to see BO at the World Cup..lining up against England.

Harold Matthews
13 Posted 04/03/2014 at 21:03:43
Yes, his injury was a real heart-breaker. A terrific player with intelligence and zip.

Agree with Sam with regard to Kone. A mighty blow for Martinez.

Not too worried about Barkley. I feel he is about to explode again.

Hasan Noor
14 Posted 04/03/2014 at 23:57:28
Agree totally. We miss Oviedo's flexibility and work rate. Is it any wonder our performances dipped as soon as he got injured and Lukaku was out?

Oviedo's energy is badly missed in my opinion.

Dick Fearon
15 Posted 04/03/2014 at 23:53:47
Oviedo reminded me a lot of Landon Donovan. Kept it simple with no fuss or fiddling. Prior to his run in the first team, I mentioned his excellent performance in a frieendly versus Australia. I think I voted him as MotM.
James Stewart
16 Posted 05/03/2014 at 02:28:02
Oviedo was better than Baines this season. Big miss.
Paul Kelly
17 Posted 05/03/2014 at 02:44:55
Quality player who stepped up and surpassed all of our expectations, so much so I didn’t think Baines deserved his place back (and the only reason I believe he got it back was to make him not be on the bench when TGT came sniffing around him). Hope that was the reason or RM made a big mistake in my opinion.
John Daley
18 Posted 05/03/2014 at 17:06:18
"I wonder if Kone has been the miss of the season"

Exactly my thoughts Sam. Kone, if fit, could have proved invaluable with the paucity of striking options in the past 6 weeks or so. Maybe, even before that to give Lukaku chance to refresh his batteries. I know he got hammered a bit in his few cameo appearances earlier in the season but there is a good player in there and his speed and goal threat could have been the difference in us keeping pace with the top four instead of dropping away

Dave Lawley
20 Posted 06/03/2014 at 09:02:01
What a great bloke on and off the pitch, I would echo the legendary thoughts of gunnery sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket in saying "I like you son, you can fuck my sister."
Phil Walling
21 Posted 06/03/2014 at 10:25:42
Given the mega-contract given to Baines, I suspect Oviedo would have spent the second half of the season competing for a midfield place and often being overlooked for the likes of Ossie and Pienaar.

I would go with Barkley as 'the loss of the season' but have a sneaking fear that he is one of those players who will fail to fill his potential because of a propensity to get injured. A higher quality Rodwell, if you like.

On the evidence to date, it is impossible to know what element was lost by Kone's absence. I was very suspicious of 'the fasting stories' that surrounded his abysmal pre-season and on the very brief look we had of him in real action he looked no improvement on Jelavic.

So to me 'the greatest loss' of this season has surrounded Lakuku. First his loss of scoring form and then his absence through injury. I'm convinced that the goals we expected of him will prove to be the difference between fourth and the inevitable seventh.

Jim Potter
22 Posted 06/03/2014 at 08:56:27
I agree Anthony even with the much maligned Ossie bit. It has been an 'effective career' by a real pro, with plenty of skill, reads the game well and is a true Evertonian and gent. He's not my favourite and I see him more now as 'bit part' player but I find some opinions of him on this site disrespectful and sometimes malicious (but not in the comments above). I'm sure all these people truly excel at their jobs, all the time and never perform at anything below perfection.

I think had Bryan stayed fit he would have reduced the disappointing Pienaar to a permanent bench position by now. I find Pienaar so frustrating often a headless chicken, who goes down at the slightest touch and then moans at his colleagues when he hits yet another lazy or inept pass way beyond them then looks on incredulously that they didn't 'read' it. I'm not saying he doesn't have his moments... but they are now way too infrequent for me. A once classy player going down hill unfortunately.

Pot. Kettle. Black? I don't think so. I haven't been malicious or disrespectful to Pienaar. But fire away anyway.

Andy Boyer
23 Posted 06/03/2014 at 14:20:59
All these comments about how Pienaar is past his best, an impact sub, lazy, frustrating etc etc etc are completely correct......

Oviedo would be owning the left mid / wing position if he had not gotten injured, Pienaar has been looking like he's half interested lately, there's been no drive or determination and we miss that massively however future for us in that position is bright as when Ovideo comes back he'll provide what we're lacking.

And as for Jim Potter @970, I couldn't agree more with the Osman remarks, he just plays his game and does his best, always, it's not his fault that he's "not good enough" or that he was played out of position for years by OFM.

As if he's going to turn around and say "hey boss, seriously I'm not good enough to play that position, pick someone else please...." and yes I know lots of people that I have worked with over the years who were crap at what they did but did they turn around and resign or something, no they didn't and furthermore if your boss asks you to do something you don't usually do or asks you to do something that you know you are rubbish at, is it really your fault that things don't go the way they are supposed to......?

For years Leon lived near me and his kids went to the same school as mine, whenever I saw him I felt like walking and apologising for the nasty remarks and downright abuse he suffered / suffers from sections of our supporters, he's an honest lad who does his business as best as he is able to and I for one am glad he's had the career with us that he has.

Roman Sidey
24 Posted 06/03/2014 at 22:45:58
In the matches he played, I would have had Oviedo in our top three players this season. Miles ahead of Baines and Pienaar, who, despite a few moments of brilliance here and there have actually been pretty ordinary for a while.

Sam, it is a valid point that we have missed an extra striker this season, but to say Kone has been the miss of the season is a bit of a punt, as he really hasn't played for us yet a few minutes here and there at the start was it? On the other hand, Oviedo had played consistently for the first XI for a significant amount of matches before his injury.

Roman Sidey
25 Posted 06/03/2014 at 23:02:54
Additionally, I think Oviedo is a Champions League player. If we don't make it, a club that does will try to buy him.
Patrick Murphy
26 Posted 06/03/2014 at 23:13:37
We have undoubtedly missed the lad and it is his directness in the final third that we have missed the most, why Baines or Pienaar won't have a go from outside the box on some occasions is a mystery to me, especially Baines who we know can strike a ball. I haven't done a game-by-game comparison but my gut reaction is we took a lot of points when Oviedo was in the side.
Colin Glassar
27 Posted 06/03/2014 at 23:17:47
I've said the same things a few times on different post. We miss his enthusiasm and skill. He's the type of player who can create something out of nothing and he never gives up. His energy is something that we've sorely missed.
Jimmy Sørheim
28 Posted 08/03/2014 at 18:05:01
Though I agree he is sorely missing, he was not the cause of us turning bad. To me, the most influential to our good form was Barkley and Deulofeu, with Lukaku' s goal drought another cause.

The best players this season that contributed the most while in form were Barkley and Deulofoe, but losing Oviedo was sort of the last nail in the coffin for our form.

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