Has there ever been a player that has caused so many groans amongst Evertonians in his first season? “He’s shite him”, “Not an Everton player”, “Crap touch, no pace he’s got nothing about him”. I tend to give players more time than the average blue who often, understandably I suppose, expect great things from a player straightaway.
When I first watched Steven Naismith I saw a player short on fitness, really low in confidence and being played out of position. I saw the odd touch of class and vision and someone who was exceptional in the air for his height. In short, I saw potential. Towards the end of his first season I referred to him as having some of the qualities Tim Cahill possessed and I was lambasted and laughed at, maybe rightly so at the time but can anyone say now that Steven Naismith has not earned his place as a important Everton player? Are those comparisons so laughable now?
This season has seen a player transformed. Rangers fans insisted that out of our two signings, Jelavic and Naismith, it was Naismith who would turn out the better signing. Naismith is starting to prove that this is the case. He remains excellent in the air but with growing confidence and a refusal to let an unforgiving Goodison crowd effect him, he has improved in virtually every other aspect of his game. His passing and vision has been superb at times with today an example of that with some glorious passes and touches. He has always had the ability to be in the right place at the right time but he has added composure to his finishing and proved to be a genuine option as a striker, add to that a tenacity and workrate you expect from every Everton regular and what you have is a squad player perfectly suited to the Everton cause.
Naismith may not ever be the player that starts every week, he tires dramatically at times and his game can suffer as a result but there are few who have turned round the opinions of fans so dramatically than the diminutive Scotsman. I would like to give a warm welcome to the many new members of the Steven Naismith fan club, he’s Everton him.