Last weekend saw two teams managed by Glaswegians, Owen Coyle and David Moyes, unfortunately only one team turned up with the typical Scottish fight, pride and passion. That team was Bolton who smashed Everton 2-0 to force the Toffees into a potential relegation battle. One managed looked proud and inspired as his squad played a good looking game of Football for 90 minutes. The other looked a jaded character, fed up and ready for the coach trip home.
That man was David Moyes and after nearly nine years at Everton you have to wonder whether he can take a team that was once aspiring to European Football and a fourth place finish, any further. Without a doubt David Moyes has proved himself a more than competent manage with many Everton fans I’m sure, regarding him as World Class. Unfortunately for Moyes several cracks have begun to show around Goodison Park which has seen a traditionally competitive team slip down the table over the years. Now they sit just three points above the relegation zone in 13th.
It would be easy to blame David Moyes but a closer look at Everton’s team and the club setup tells a chilling tale which would suggest their manager is a miracle maker. Last weekend Moyes admitted "I've thought we were in a relegation battle since the third weekend of the season." When you take a look at the first team squad you can understand why.
With no funding available to him at the beginning of the season, the big signing for Everton and Moyes was Jermaine Beckford. The ex-Leeds hitman who banged in goal after goal to help Leeds soar up the table, then he hit a dreadful goal drought which saw the fans and players lose confidence and patience in the lad. This year it has clearly been a struggle for him to adapt to the Premier League after the colossal jump from League 1.
However Beckford was supposed to be the man to cover for the ever-so-fragile Louis Saha, another great goal scorer but you can’t guarantee his fitness from one week to the next and its hurt Everton in the one place they can’t afford to strengthen and that’s up front. This season Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini have been drafted in as makeshift strikers on so many occasions, it’s no surprise then that between them they’ve bagged 10 league goals, the same amount that Saha and Beckford have scored between them.
The squad however isn’t just in dire need of rebuilding up front, all over the pitch there are problems for Everton. Mikel Arleta looks like a shadow of his former self from last season, yes he’s had his injuries, but when he’s had a good run of games he hasn’t performed like everyone knows he can. It may just be that seeing Spain win the European Championship and the World Cup without him being involved, may just be getting to him a little this season, especially as the media have questioned his exclusion from the Spain squads and as a player he must be asking questions of himself as well.
Then of course there’s Jack Rodwell, the onetime future of England who seems to be fighting fitness at the moment as well as a regular place in the Everton midfield. In contrast to the rapid rise of Jack Wilshere this season it seems Rodwell isn’t improving as quickly as Moyes, and Everton, had hoped for. If anything he’s stalled and that big money move may be a while off just yet.
Whilst Everton may be seemingly suffering from a lack of squad depth at the moment they have found a hidden gem this season with Seamus Coleman, who’s made his way up the Everton ranks for a place at right back and occasionally as winger, smashing five league goals in along his way. But it will take a lot more than one really in form player to turn the sinking Merseyside outfit around.
Their next three games are crucial though, with Chelsea in the FA Cup this weekend a win could lift spirits for their upcoming league games. Everton then take on Sunderland at home, a game that ended up 2-2 at the Stadium of Light and since Sunderland have dipped a little form-wise, Everton can expect a hard slog. Then it’s a trip up to Newcastle who will be looking to definitely take all three points from Everton, especially after the 1-0 win for the Toon earlier this season, thanks to a Ben Arfa wonder strike. It’s a tough run of games for sure.
It will be very interesting to see where Everton end up at the end of the season, relegation would seem unlikely with the few quality players in the squad. There are certainly 7 worse teams below them in the league right now, but with Moyes losing faith in the squad and the club not giving funds to strengthen the team, it will be interesting to see if Moyes decides to stay on as manager at Everton. After all he has led them to a fourth place finish and the last four years he’s guided them to top half and UEFA Cup finishes. Either way Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright should do all within his power to keep Moyes on and provide them the funds he badly needs and wants to strengthen a squad that not too long ago was a constant threat to 4th place. But at the minute it seems unlikely with no new plans for a stadium and the stadium-share with Liverpool has been thrown out window for a long time.
It is a shame however to see a decent top-half of the table club struggle as much as Everton this season and with Liverpool slipping away as a powerhouse within English Football, it seems these days both Merseyside clubs have lost the standing within the Premier League as teams to be respected.