With the Premier League season now fast approaching most Evertonians will be glad to put all the problems of, what can only be described as a moribund close season behind them. The long-term injury sustained by Seamus Coleman last Friday night against Villarreal only exacerbating the issues.
However, once the season gets underway a thorny subject is bound to raise its head before too long if things start to go somewhat awry on the pitch. Due to the nature of all things Everton, you can be certain that things will go horribly wrong at some point.
The subject I am referring to is that of Moyes’ most astute purchase during his tenure at the club, Tim Cahill. The problem isn’t Cahill himself as such, since his signing he has been nothing short of a revelation on the field as well as a superb ambassador for the club off it, never failing to put a foot wrong in ‘bigging up’ Everton whenever the opportunity arises. For the first time in what seems like an eternity Cahill has finally managed a summer of rest and recuperation and consequently has a full pre-season behind him. With the start of the season now pretty much upon us he should be fully fit and raring to go.
So what is the issue then? Firstly the majority of supporters feel that it is time for Moyes to dispense with his favoured 4-5-1 formation, particularly at GoodisonPark, which seemingly sends out the signals that the manager is settling for a point against lesser opposition. This ultimately leads to the second part of the problem: how do you fit Tim Cahill into a 4-4-2? Cahill is not a defensive midfielder by any stretch of the imagination and doubts abound as to his value in a 4-4-2 formation, would the effectiveness of his late goal scoring runs be nullified?
The one thing Everton do possess in abundance is central midfielders, with Mikel Arteta, Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell, Leon Osman and the emerging Ross Barkley all competing for those positions. There is also Phil Neville and John Heitinga to add into the equation, two players who can do an admirable job in the middle of the park if and when needed. Yet as well as Tim Cahill’s goals his other value to the team comes in what he does to irritate the opposition, a trait that seems to be incalculable to the success of the team on the field.
Surprisingly the normally bullet-proof Cahill has also received some criticism this close season for towing the proverbial ‘party line’ and criticising the formation of the ‘Blue Union’, a coalition of supporters groups, via his Twitter account. His only option of course would have been to say nothing at all; does this indicate a slight sea-change of some supporters’ opinions towards him surely people can’t actually expect him to pan his own employers? Or perhaps his performances in the second half of the last campaign, which were next to useless, after his appearances in the Asian Cup are still fresh in the fans memories?
So how does Moyes play it then? A fully-fit and in-form Tim Cahill should play every match, whatever the formation; his importance to the side cannot be underlined enough. A central midfield berth for Cahill alongside the more defensively minded Fellaini would certainly be an option with Arteta and/or Osman pushed out to the wings. Playing two up-front would also assist the strikers, providing there are actually two fit ones for Moyes to select of course.
What is apparent is that Moyes must strive to find the correct balance for the benefit of the team. Yet even as Cahill approaches the veteran stage of his career and age is no longer on his side the positives for his inclusion in the team certainly outweigh the bad, whatever formation is deployed by the manager. He is, after all, Everton’s talisman.
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