Saturday should have taught Everton fans two things, and hopefully taught gaffer David Moyes a couple too.
Although it’s not quite red alert time yet, Everton have to face up to their worst start to a Premier League season since 1994/95.
Newcastle’s performance on Saturday, full of drive, guile and determination was reminiscent at times of the sort of football Toffee fans have become accustomed to in recent years. This Everton on the other hand were bereft of clear-cut chances, and the attacking options of Jermaine Beckford in the first half and Ayegbeni Yakubu in the second were at times left frightfully exposed.
So, what did we learn? Well, firstly, and this is perhaps less of a lesson and more a refresher course, but without Tim Cahill there is little to no link between midfield and attack. Squad depth has always been an issue under Moyes, with the financial instability at the club limiting the potential transfer options during the two transfer windows. It seems strange to suggest that without Cahill this Everton side lack creativity, since the Everton squad possesses some of the most creative midfield talent in the Premiership in Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini. However, what Cahill brings to the side is a determination, spirit and crucially the nous to be in the right place at the right time, and without him Everton are sadly all style and zero substance.
The second key learning from Saturday is that at present, Dutch World Cup Star John Heitinga looks to be struggling for form and fitness, and the sooner Phil Neville is back to orchestrate and marshal the midfield from his holding position, the better. Don’t get me wrong, Heitinga is a player of real quality, but it was sad at the weekend to see a player capable of great performances made to look decidedly average by a midfield which predominantly plied its trade in The Championship last season.
Once again, as with the games against Aston Villa and Man Utd, Seamus Coleman impressed going forward, although there will be perhaps be one or two question marks over his defensive qualities. Despite this, he should be given the opportunity for a full ninety minutes against League One Brentford in the Carling Cup Third Round on Tuesday evening. Likewise, Yakubu ought to get the nod over Beckford, as he appears to have regained some of the form he has been missing for the past two seasons.
Tuesday’s game shouldn’t provide any real problems for Everton, and a comfortable away win could be just the tonic taking them into the tricky away tie at Fulham on Saturday. Defeat however, will increase the cacophony of boos heard at the full-time whistle last weekend. And if there’s one lesson football managers have learnt over the years, it’s that if performances on the pitch continue to be poor, eventually the boo-boys will always win.