As part of our season roundup for Everton we are continuing to take a look at the season based on position. After covering the defense and the midfield, we are going to take a look at Everton's offense for the season. According to most fans I could probably end this article right now, but it is time to take a deeper look into the attack, and debunk some of the common myths most Evertonians have about our offense.
Perhaps the biggest myth most fans of his that Everton needs to find an amazing 15-20 goals a season striker to truly catapult our team into Champions League contention. The fact is that is simple not true, we just need players to be more clinical in their finishing. Our last player to score 20 goals was Yakubu in the 2007- 2008 season when he notched 21, but before that the last time the Toffees had a 20 goal striker was the 91-92 season when Peter Beardsley scored 20 goals. Since that year, we have only had a handful of years where we have even had a player score 15 goals in the season. Add to the fact that when we qualified for the Champions League our leading scorer was Tim Cahill with 11 goals. Would it be nice to have a striker that can score 20 plus goals a season, absolutely. That said we don't need to blow all of our money on such a player when we have proven it is possible to have success with several lesser quality players who perform consistently.
The second myth is that Everton didn't score enough goals this season. The fact is while goals were down from last season when we finished 8th, our season total of 51 was still similar to the total of 55 from the two previous years we managed to finish 5th in the league. While more goals is always nice, it doesn't automatically equate to wins. When we won the Champions League we managed to score only 45 goals and allow 46, yet we were still able to finish 4th with the 12th most goals scored in competition. The point I'm trying to make is that the quantity of goals is not as important as when they are scored. Manchester United took a lot of flak from people for grinding out wins by one goal at some points, but in the end all you need is one goal. If you won every game 1-0 and only scored 38 goals for the season, you would still win the league. This is a problem that Arsenal often confronts although their cause is different from Everton's. Once again I go back to the need for all of our players needing to become more clinical in front of goal, and when they get the chance, step on their opponents throat and not let up.
So top of the list of observations from the year has to be that Tim Cahill absolutely saved our butt during the first half of the season. Between Cahill's headers and Baines' crosses, the Toffees were able to avoid a disaster of a season. That said it is a shame Cahill wasn't able to replicate his early season form once he returned from the Asia Cup, although injuries certainly played a part of it.
In addition to Cahill's performance, Jermaine Beckford was certainly a benefit to the squad. Beckford may be the most divisive figure on the Toffes, but that fact is that he managed 10 goals in his first season in the EPL. This of course came after jumping 2 divisions after his fantastic season at Leeds. Beckford has plenty of room for improvement in his game, namely his off the ball work, but to ask a player to significantly contribute in his first season after jumping 2 division is often a lost cause. Hopefully Beckford can continue to improve his play and help the squad out even more, although Moyes will need to run a 4-4-2 in order to utilize Beckford's talent most efficently.
Looking at some of the good and bad from the previous season, it is time to look at what Moyes could do to improve the attack. The first is that in its current makeup, Everton perform best when playing a 4-4-2. Granted this is predicated on everyone being healthy, but the Toffees do not have the personnel needed for a 4-5-1. Even Louis Saha at full health is not the perfect player to take up the lone striker mantle, although he does an effective job of it. If anything Moyes needs to find a striker who is comfortable with his back to goal, and can hold the ball to allow the midfield time to get involved in the attack.
Although Moyes does have some options in order to upgrade our offense, it is going to come down to the players we have who will increase our goals scored. If they can improve their finishing ability then Everton will be in an excellent position to make a charge towards a European berth this season. Until next time COYB!