News of Tim Cahill’s departure has been greeted by a variety of emotions among Evertonians. Cahill’s determination and work-ethic were the embodiment of the club, but it was clear that the past season or so saw a steep decline in his abilities. With Mikel Arteta departing before last season, the very heart of the current Everton squad has been taken away. As we have discussed before, these teams were built around the attacking prowess of Cahill and Arteta, and it is up to Moyes to rebuild.
The biggest problem at Everton over the past 2 seasons has been the lack of offensive creativity. Arteta had an awful 2010-2011 season, and this past year it took more than half the season before the players had any idea how to generate goals, and that required bringing in a quality striker, as well as the good man Stephen Pienaar.
Having only one creative outlet is not enough however; Everton needs someone in the center of the pitch to slice through the opponent’s defense. We need a midfielder who is willing to take on defenders, or play that quick through ball to Jelavic for another goal.
Go back and watch the first couple of games last season. Even in defeat Ross Barkley was pushing Everton’s attack forward. I think one of Moyes biggest failures this past season was keeping Barkley on the bench so much. Moyes mentioned wanting Barkley to work on his defensive approach to the game which is fair, but I find it hard to believe that Barkley wouldn’t have been useful in some games when we were trailing late.
Moyes has often had a problem turning over starting positions to young players. Excluding Seamus Coleman, it seems like years have passed since Moyes turned a young player loose on the pitch. Most of the changes to the lineup seem to come from new transfers who have an established record at other clubs. This year there is no excuse. Unless Moyes decides to switch to a straight 4-4-2 to take advantage of Steve Naismith, there is an extra starting midfield spot up for grabs. Pienaar will have the left locked down, Coleman and Osman can compete on the right, and the center of the pitch comes down to Fellaini, Rodwell, Gibson, and Barkley. Oh and there is no excuse for starting Neville in the midfield. I don’t care if he is captain, little kids cry when he tries to play midfield.
Just think about this lineup and tell me we can’t at least compete for a Champions League berth
Pienaar – Gibson – Fellaini - Coleman
Baines – Distin – Heitinga - Hibbert
Oh and did I mention our bench would include Naismith, Neville, Jagielka, Osman, Vellios, Anichebe, and Duffy? Yea I am pretty excited.
Expectations are undoubtedly to high, but Barkley needs to step up, otherwise we will have to deal with yet another slow start to the season. Hopefully Moyes will give him all the minutes he needs.