It’s nearly that time of year again, no not Christmas but rather the January transfer window and 2013’s could be one that makes or breaks our season, writes David Martin.
While many are understandably seeing the Tottenham game on Sunday as, “must win” I think it is important to look beyond that. While a loss or draw against Tottenham would be damaging, Everton’s long term ambitions could well be shaped in the New Year.
This season has shown a resurgent Everton, an exciting team more in keeping with the “School of Science” than the “Dogs of War”. It’s a team who no longer sits back and sits tight but rather prefers to express itself bombing forward and causing problems for the opposition. Our first choice eleven has frequently looked like tearing teams apart and winning by a landslide and even during an injury blighted spell, the emphasis has been on football rather than the dull grind of results associated with teams under David Moyes.
However, despite what has undoubtedly been a good start leading to us fast becoming media darlings, we are at a pivotal point in our season. Injuries to key players such as Gibson, Hibbert and Mirallas have exposed the weakness in our squad beyond the first eleven while a suspension to Fellaini and the misfiring of Jelavic has shown that how much our team centres around our first choices. While we have not hit a major slump and continue to play good football we have started to struggle to turn performances into results. This will need to change if the early promise of a Champions League spot is to remain in sight or even a possibility.
This leads me to why January is so important. It is essential in the transfer window that David Moyes is able to work his magic be that in the transfer or loan market. While players such as Oviedo, Naismith and Hitzlsperger have shown that they are capable squad players it would appear they are not players who will push the first choice eleven. The loan recall of Ross Barkley while necessary for squad depth has halted his undoubted progress at Sheffield Wednesday and it has to be hoped that Moyes will be able to bring in at least short term cover in the window to allow him to go back out and develop.
There are a number of short term loan options that hopefully David Moyes will be looking at to address the lack of depth beyond our first eleven. Landon Donovan is touted annually as a welcome addition to the ranks and despite him not making the usual noises about wanting a deal any sort of move for him could only be of benefit. Despite both wings being relatively well covered in terms of numbers there is no one of as high quality or as adaptable as Donovan to come in if Pienaar or Mirallas are injured. He also carries the added bonus of being able to play up front giving extra cover for a weary Jelavic and an injury prone Anichebe.
Tim Cahill is also looking likely to become a short term loanee from New York Red Bulls although he has very much split the fanbase as to how beneficial any return would be to the squad. Many point at his lack of goals since his move to the MLS but this does ignore the fact he has adapted to a far deeper midfield role something that he has played to some effect for Everton at times prior to his departure. For me once again either as an impact substitute or as cover for midfield it is a no brainer for him to return despite the fact he may have a ban to serve.
The farce that was the on/off Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe loan may also be something that David Moyes looks to rekindle with Ofoe just starting to hit some sort of form for Brugge. While something of an unknown quantity (youtube videos don’t count) his addition would likely provide more energy and dynamism than the above more mature players and again his inclusion would allow the likes of Ross Barkley to develop elsewhere.
However, it may well be that David Moyes does not see any of the above players as necessary in the window as we do have weaknesses elsewhere. This season has highlighted the need for Tim Howard to have some sort of quality competition and despite regular rumours of players such as Butland and Gordon not coming to much, it has to be believed that Moyes would like stiffer competition for Howard than Mucha. Defensively we have been very poor at times and we have been reported as monitoring and may choose to move for Vegard Forren, a young Norwegian International central defender currently excelling at Molde. This would likely indicate the departure of John Heitinga, another player who has split the fans at times but David Moyes may well have lost faith in him after several poor performances this season. My personal opinion is that Heitinga is something of a scapegoat at the moment but it would not surprise me if David Moyes chose to sell the player while his stock remains high, particularly as he will be on high wages for a player in a rotation system.
All the above means it is likely to be an interesting January with Everton once again relying on loans to bolster the ranks. Unless the unlikely event of a big name departing the club occurs Moyes will once again have to reach into that bargain bucket. Any dealings David Moyes does manage to pull off in January may well help to define our season and could be the difference between us turning from once again the plucky nearly men to genuine contenders. Here is to a Happy Blue Year!