The English Premier soccer league kicks off this weekend. Once again, it looks like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and maybe Arsenal will dominate. Among the candidates for “best of the rest,” teams like Tottenham, Newcastle, Manchester City, and West Ham have splashed the cash to bring in big name, mostly foreign players to boost their fortunes.
As usual, Everton, which finished behind only the big four and Tottenham last year, is taking a different approach. Our superb manager David Moyes has again elected to keep faith with his core players, while trying to add a few young players from lesser teams to that core. In the past this approach yielded Tim Cahill (from Milwall), Andy Johnson (from Crystal Palace) and Joleon Lescott (from Wolves). This year, we’ve added Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United) and Leighton Baines (Wigan). Not only is this pair young and talented, but both players supported Everton as boys. In fact, Jagielka was released by Everton as an apprentice before going on to develop into a solid and very versatile defensive player. Baines and Jagielka can be expected to play with the same great commitment to the cause that has characterized Everton’s play during most of the Moyes era.
Unfortunately, Everton’s attack will likely be a problem. Cahill and James Vaughn are injured and may be out for months, while under-performing James Beattie has been sold. No goal scorers have yet been brought in to fill this gap, though Moyes apparently is trying to splash some cash himself to accomplish this.
Even if he succeeds, our squad may not be deep enough to sustain a strong European run and another good domestic campaign. And until we can do both, we will have trouble attracting top talent, and possibly keeping all of the talent Moyes has assembled. But while we may be running in place, it’s a much better place than before.
UPDATE: At the Forum, Tigertail writes:
Paul: It pains to read you, season after season, hoping and praying for any Everton success at all. They consistently finish 5th or lower most years. Face the truth, they are not willing to do what Chelsea or Arsenal or even Liverpool does. That is, go get the hottest and best players from all over the world and playing attacking Premiership style football. They are good team, a solid defensive team (especially with American keepers on board) and a lot of fun to back I