Oppositions view vs Everton
Before this week`s game at Goodison Park, Lloyd Reddin spoke to a Stoke based Evertonian; Matthew Jolley and asked for his thoughts of his team and how he views Stoke as a club.
1.What were your expectations for this season? And have they now changed?
A top 8 finish, with a good cup run. I would say my expectations have changed in the sense that I still think we can achieve a top 8 finish, but I am more hopeful than confident. We have not been clinical enough in front of goal, and occasional poor defending has cost us.
2. Who would you say is your danger man?
Leighton Baines. By far our most consistent player over the last 18 months, his left foot is lethal. Not only are his pacey crosses from bombing runs down the left incredibly difficult to defend, but he'll hit the target more often than not from any free-kicks near the edge of the penalty area. His England call-ups are well deserved.
3. What would you say are your strengths as a team?
We are strongest when attacking down the wings. On loan Royston Drenthe has settled in really well on the left side, he's already chipped in this season with 2 goals to go along with his lightning fast pace. Hopefully he can build up an understanding with Baines which we lost when Steven Pienaar left. Sheamus Coleman is also dangerous on the right side and will take defenders on.
4. What would you say are your weaknesses as a team?
Our biggest weakness as a team is we have not finished enough of our goal scoring opportunities this season. We have not won a game by more than a 2 goal margin all season, this means that teams can always get back into the game even if we have dominated the possession. I think last week`s game against Bolton highlighted this, we dominated the game, but Bolton always looked threatening.
5. How do you feel about your manager?
What David Moyes has achieved since taking over has been nothing short of incredible. Moyes took Everton From the verge of relegation to a champions league finish within his first 4 years. Our lowest finish over the last 5 years has been 8th. And all this done with almost zero cash. I would love to see what he could do with a transfer budget. All that said, I do think he let's himself down tactically on occasions.
6. How did you find your pre-season? As an outsider it looked odd that you got rid of the likes of Beckford and Arteta without any real replacement.
Our pre-season was the typical Everton pre-season, no money to spend and no legitimate links with top class players. Everton are a club that have money problems and we do need to sell before we can buy. Arteta had a very mediocre last couple of seasons, he often disappeared during games, only an occasion stepping up and dictating the play. I would rather we held on to him, but most Evertonians would say it was the right time for him to move on. Beckford's transfer however was very perplexing. We already lacked real firepower up-front and I don't understand why we would weaken our attack even more without replacing him.
7. You have a heavy emphasis on youth at the club. Firstly, do you believe you can progress with this mentality and secondly do you think it will be hard to keep hold of your young starlets in January?
Just looking at our first team. Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell and more recently Ross Barkley have all progressed through the Everton acadamy. I think the reason our team has such a high ratio of youth players comes down to the financial issues again. Our inability to be a force in the transfer market has pushed the youth players` progression a lot quicker. I think it's more of a temporary solution to a persistent problem of funds; it's unclear whether our youth will continue to sustain the team without a cash injection. I am confident we will be able to hold on to the likes on Rodwell and Barkley in January, mainly because I don't think Rodwell is good enough to establish himself in a top team and I think it is too soon for Barkley to gain the attention of a top team. If Man United came in for Rodewell for £20-30 million as has been reported, I would bite their hand off.
8. Which player (s) do you fear from the Stoke City side?
Peter Crouch, as a former Liverpool player, will no doubt want to come to Goodison and make a big impact, silence the crowd. He is obviously a massive threat in the air and a capable finisher with his feet. Stoke have always been the most threatening at set-pieces. I can only hope that Phil Jagielka will handle him on the day.
9. Is there any Stoke players you would like to add to your squad?
Johnny Walters. He reminds me of Tim Cahill except more capable with his feet. Walters is a hard working player, just the kind of player the Moyes likes in his squad. In fact I think Walters would be an adequate replacement for Cahill as he is finding it increasingly difficult to find a place in our squad.
10. How do you think Stoke will do this season?
I expect Stoke to achieve a solid mid-table finish. I think there are too many poor teams at the bottom half of the table for Stoke to be dragged in to a relegation battle. I also predict that Stoke will reach the quarter finals of the Europa League, going out to the likes of an Athletico Madrid or a Standard Liege.
11. What is your likely line-up for the match?
CB: Heitinga/Distin (Depending on Distin's fitness)
12. Finally, what`s your score prediction for the match?
I'll go for an open game and due to our lack of clean sheets this season, a Stoke goal. But I have to back my team.
Thank you for Matthew for taking time to answer the questions, from his views it looks like Everton are in confident mood at the moment especially with their wingers, so Stoke will have to be tight at the front, I`m hoping for a draw but with our Europa League exploits midweek, I think it`ll be business as usual and say we will go down by a goal.