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The problem with Everton

Everton’s penalty defeat at Brentford last night in the Carling Cup rounded off a miserable start to the season for David Moyes’ men, but just what is going on when so many, including this writer, thought they could break into the top-four this year?

Moyes must be feeling the strain after a woeful start to the season

What will worry Everton supporters is that defeats have included games against Blackburn and Newcastle and a manager-less Aston Villa team. The manner of the defeat at home to Newcastle on Saturday was worrying, but equally so were dominant displays against Aston Villa and Wolves resulting in just a single point.

The thrilling last-gasp display to earn a point with Man Utd should have signalled a turn-around for the team with so many promising first-team players. However defeats to Newcastle and Brentford have followed and with Moyes hoping this would be the season his team kicked on and challenged with the league leaders, time may be running out on his future with the team. Eight years is a long time to be at a club where he has yet to win a trophy, but there is a growing sense that something has gone stale within the club.

Away games at Fulham and Birmingham, a home clash with city rivals Liverpool and a trip to Spurs are the next four for Everton and it represents a daunting period for a team looking to get a first league win of the season.

Saha's constant injury problems mean Everton lack a reliable centre forward

Moyes is generally hailed as having done a terrific job at Everton, whom he led to the Champions League qualifiers in 2005. However last summer should have been the time to reinvent the squad, particularly the forward line. Senior players like Yakubu (who Moyes has admitted wanted to leave) and Saha should have been allowed to leave the club, while youngsters Anichebe and Vaughan have been given chances to shine and failed. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has been an expensive failure while an argument could be made for changing some of the old guard including Neville and Hibbert, while Yobo has been shipped out on loan.

The team is an established one now, the likes of Cahill in his seventh season, Arteta in his sixth, Howard’s fifth, Hibbert has been with the club for life. Even more recent signings Jagielka and Baines are starting their fourth seasons at the club.

Some of the players coming through deserve their chance to shine now. While Jack Rodwell’s injury is preventing him playing, the young star is being tipped for the top and should be a regular when he returns to fitness. Likewise Seamus Coleman has impressed coming through and Joao Silva has to be worth trying given Moyes’ relative lack of trust in his current crop of strikers.

However Moyes has to work with a small transfer budget, the capture of Jermaine Beckford on a free transfer being the most exciting move this summer, so Moyes needs to move some players on and put the transfer fees towards one or two top players. The club can attract good players and can use the likes of Arteta and Cahill signing new deals as well as the talented Marouan Fellaini who at just 22 can be a top class player if he puts his mind to it (and cuts out the rash red card challenges) to show that the club has a good spine to build upon.

The club has been unlucky in many ways with their results this season and will soon start moving away from the bottom of the table. But the next four fixtures are tough and Everton could feasibly struggle to get more than three points. The interesting game will be the Merseyside derby, when both managers could be under extreme pressure….

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