Comment: Sept..oct..nov.Dec

Last updated : 09 January 2003 By Matty McGrath
Cough Cough Splutter Splutter, Seven points from seven league matches, Worthington cup trouncing at Chelsea. An Embarrassing FA cup exit at the hands of the mighty Shrews. This is the tale from the last day of November till now this first week of January. Not the festive indulgence Evertonian’s had hoped for.

Doubters believe the inevitable has finally arrived. Others remain philosophical, whilst some will undoubtedly show scepticism. However the blues were worth the points they never got at Newcastle. They were a little stiffed in the home match against Chelsea. whilst if only in theory, on count back winning the verdict from the derby match. The mid December victory against Blackburn had a hint of grand theft, and the last second snatched point verses The Citizens, probably pushed that lady named luck a little to the limits. Enter Shrewsbury. Nevertheless the concern to many has been the continued disability in putting away teams whom hover nearer the bottom of the table than in the lofty heights of where the Blues aim to be. Draws with the likes of Birmingham City and Bolton do leave some cause for bemused glances.

Many an expert will have theories as to the cause and significance of this recent form slip. No doubt some will say the bubble has burst and that claims of Everton being overachievers have been justified. Others will point to referees, heavy schedules, injuries and suspensions. In spite of this there are another 19 clubs whom have to deal with and overcome the same abovementioned tests and trials that accompany any seasonal campaign.

To put things into perspective is it all that bad? It is not as if the blues are getting trounced every week. Only once could one really say that the Moysiahs charges were comprehensively done over; the w/cup loss to Chelsea with a somewhat experimental playing system, and personnel changes. Nonetheless in an immense show of character, that result should have been justly overturned in the preceding days with the return premiership meeting at Goodison now history. Yet all the bleeding hearts can hardly cry foul of bad luck, with the results against Rovers and Man City swinging the pendulum of luck somewhat back to the way of a level balance.

As mentioned previously Injury and suspension is a facet most clubs have to learn to deal with. Everton is no different in regards to this aspect. Since the Yobo dismissal against Newcastle both suspension and injury has ravaged David Moyes Squad, which in all honesty is the crux of current problems. It is common knowledge that the Blues do not have the greatest squad in the premiership. However encouraging a start to the season the Blues delivered, the biggest fear was always what may happen when a few of the better players were possibly missing from the first team for periods of length.

It is apparent that blues manager David Moyes has what he considers to be a best eleven. This was evident during the team’s superb run of September, October and November. During this period Settled organised and hard working were attributes that won many plaudits from varying quarters. However what is even more alarmingly apparent is the fact that to many changes, whether tactical or forced, has effects detrimental to the side’s performance. It seems that the squad players are at best just that “ Squad Players”. With the clubs financial state well-publicised, major changes are momentarily out of the question. The manager has bought in a few new faces for the second half of season, and it still remains to be seen whether these late additions are merely numbers to add to the squad, or genuine 1st team premiership standard players.

A few cracks are now evident from the surface. With the engine room needing a possible overhaul, if not at least a tune and service, genuine height and power upfront a concern, and rumblings that a few players are not quite the happy campers all were led to believe. Then where to from here? With three weeks or so of the transfer window remaining, it seems apparent that Moyes will have to reach his ambitions for the rest of the season with predominantly the squad he already has. The only viable option is to sell to buy. Another burning question would be whom and whom, whom to sell and whom to buy. Whispers would have one believe that Alesandro pistone is on his way out of the Everton valley. Nevertheless Mr Moyes must be sure to replace what he sells with genuine quality, many observers would be very disappointed to see the potentially gifted pistone leave, whilst others of much less calibre stay. Thomas Gravesen is another such name to be quietly mentioned as a possible cash cow. It seems that supporters either love or hate the mad dog. Several supporters would possibly be pleased and others disappointed to see the chrome domed Dane leave the club.

Sympathy must be reserved for the manager, as no doubt a few inspired signings could possibly get the good ship at full steam once again. This now is where senior club officials must burn the midnight oil and find solutions to the current cash crisis. David Moyes must be allowed to bring in players he genuinely wants and not just scraps he can only afford. There is the case of an expensive African player on loan in France whom selling on would raise much-needed funds. There is also the touchy issue of a certain cult figure whom continues to receive many millions of pounds that could be well spent in the transfer market. These issues and more face the clubs top office management, with no doubt difficult decisions to be made in the very near future.

For the humble supporter it is a privilege to be in the position to be criticising the club on such things as fighting for places in Europe. A far cry from recent seasons. As a lifer this Evertonian whose first visit to Goodison was the European cup tie against Borussia Monchengladbach in 1970 as an embryo, the thrills and spills of the season so far have invoked and instilled fires not felt for many a year. For this thanks must go to David Moyes the players and all involved at the club.