Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fifth and a Cup Final – What Next?

For the first ever guest post on PMP Richard from the excellent Blargains injury time website looks at what lies ahead for Everton following their second consecutive fifth place finish and that painful FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea.

Do take the time out to check out his site to at


What a season. I don’t think even the most optimistic blue could have predicted the finish to the season the Toffees had at the end of the 08/09 season. It had all begun so poorly and with a home defeat at home to Blackburn no less, it looked to be a season of hardship – perhaps even the R word might have been mentioned.

Quite what happened last summer is anyone’s guess. The fact that we were so poorly prepared for the season ahead, and had made no signings until after the season had started, David Moyes looked odds on for the exit door. The summer of discontent had followed a very good previous season, but once again, Everton had failed to build on it – at least in regards bringing players in.

Major injuries throughout the season looked to further derail things, but in fact, it was all these bad things that galvanised the team and produced a team spirit unlikely to be bettered anywhere. Despite losing the three top players to season ending injuries, and a host of other long term injuries to important players, Everton somehow managed to claw their way up the table, and finally overtake an Aston Villa side that the media were clamouring for them to remain in the top 4 so as to break the monopoly.

Incredibly, the same team also managed to get to the final of the FA Cup, with the scalps of Villa, Liverpool and Man Utd along the way. Unfortunately, Chelsea proved a step too far and 300 million quids worth of talent blew the Toffees aside.

So, with a second successive fifth place finish and a final, what now for Everton?

Firstly, it is essential that the squad be strengthened. And this must be done as soon as possible, and the quality must be better than that acquired late last summer. Fellaini has done remarkably well for a young player in his first season in a proper league (finishing joint top scorer too), but the rest have been quite luke warm.

So, which areas need improving? Easy answer. Our whole right side needs a major overhaul. This was highlighted by Chelsea ripping it to shreds. Hibbert was awful that game, but while he has been steady, he has never been consistent. Osman is not a right midfielder/winger, and has been poor there all season, save one or two moments. He should now be used as a squad player.

A new right back and right midfield man is required. Personally, I would love to see us get Moutinho. I know he’s primarily a centre midfielder, but he is very versatile and could fill the right midfield spot in a manner similar to Pienaar on the left. Arteta needs to stay in the centre, as with him there, I have never seen Everton dominate midfield and matches the way they have with him there, since the mid 80’s.

Also, as Moutinho is young, by the time Arteta does move on, he will be ready made to move to the more central area and make the spot his own.

Whether we get him, remains to be seen. Sporting didn’t like our offer last year, but rumours are that he’s available for around £10 million, as there have been problems between him and his manager.

For right back, Glen Johnson would be a fantastic signing, but there’s no way we could afford him and Moutinho, so we should either sign the average Jacobsen on another years contract, or preferably, move Neville back to right back and look for another good quality ball winner for central midfield, one with a bit of pace preferably. M’Bia of Rennes could fit the bill, and noises are that he is available for around £4 million. Could be worth a shout.

The question is money. How much do we have? Well, we’ve just finished fifth in the richest league in the world and reached a major cup final. But noises from Everton are that there will be no record breaking deals this summer (how could there be, our previous record signing is injured, so we can’t sell him to fund one like previous summers), but that could just mean David Moyes is looking at buying several quality players rather than one top quality player.

Or it could also mean we have very little money – again!

One thing’s for sure, we desperately need to strengthen. Our rivals will be hot on our heels again. Villa have lost Barry and so are currently weaker, but no doubt they’ll strengthen. Spurs may well struggle to get anyone decent on board, seeing as they’re not in Europe next season.

The biggest threat from below now comes from Man City. They are going to be buying big, and will offer big £££ to get their men. Whether they will be able to get the team to gel is another thing, and from what Jo said about them, they seem a team of strangers (incidentally, I’d love us to get Jo back, even on loan again – fantastic attitude).

If we can get the right faces on board and give them a proper pre-season’s training, in addition to getting our wounded heroes back, there is no reason why we cannot press on. Arsenal are there for the taking, perhaps even Liverpool are too, given their recent financial problems in that they may have to sell to stay afloat.

One thing’s for sure, if we get quality faces on board, our walking wounded fit and some luck on the injury front next season, we could see fourth or some silverware within the next 12 months!

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