Now That Pienaar is Gone – a Toffee Shakeup

With the departure of Steven Pienaar to White Heart Lane for 3 million euros this week, Everton lose a star winger and a crucial player to the team. For years the Liverpool side have sat on the backbone of Cahill, Pienaar and Mikel Arteta – and built around that. Now something different will have to be devised and the following article will entail just what I would do, formation and line up wise, if I was David Moyes.

The South African’s position.

Apart from Pienaar, Everton have generally been devoid of game changing wingers – but in recent times I believe that has changed. Youngster, Seamus Coleman has stepped up in Bale-esque form this season. Mark my words, in the previous half of the season we saw the rise of Gareth Bale to one of the best wingers in the league – the second half of the season will bare similar results for Everton’s 22 year old Irishman.

He bares a dogged, never-say-die attitude (one synonymous with the blue jersey he wears) and a plethora of pace that was displayed well in their 2-1 win against Tottenham. He has the ability to tear down the line , and  with some confidence and time it will not be long until you see him cutting into the box and hammering some home instead of crossing to the likes of Cahill (albeit, never a bad thing).

But this evidently leaves us with a vacant position on the opposite flank – one with a less evident replacement. However, before I discuss this I would like to first talk about the middle of the pitch.

The jammed centre pitch…

If there’s one place where Everton are not devoid of talent, its there centre midfield. They have the advanced positioned, and prolific goal scorer,  Timmy Cahill, the playmaker in Mikel Arteta and the increasingly impressive, gigantic figure of Maroune Fellaini.

With all three playing so well in recent times – Cahill Everton’s top goal scorer, cementing his place in the first eleven upon his return from the Asian Cup, Fellaini being the most impressive player arguably all season, and definitely in the Aussie’s absence, and Arteta growing in form by the week and becoming the quick witted playmaker of old – it is hard to find a position for all of them.

So what are their options?

In the article remaining I shall list categorically each of their best options, in my opinion.

The 3-2-2-1-2 – the deadly triangle.

A very weird sounding formation, and an odd option for me to start off with – but nevertheless, if I was going to pose a bunch of obvious options then  why would you read this? More conventional options are below this one.

The forementioned trio of  centre midfielders, whilst being hard to fit into one team, could definitely be done so nevertheless. They play in a triangle within the centre of the field, with Fellaini and Arteta playing behind an advanced Cahill – who in turn plays just behind the two strikers.

The strikers of choice, in my opinion are Saha and Beckford –  I feel it important that the Liverpool side play with two strikers due to their recent lack of goals. Putting Cahill just behind them seems greedy, but if Everton had only one extra goal per game this season they would most definitely be within the top 8 and well in contention for Europe. Of course a loan deal for a player like Carlos Vela would be very wellcome.

The defence within this formation is also rather odd, but somehow manages to be plentiful despite the large amount of attack. Three centre backs (yep, three) spread behind two wing backs who play in a very advanced position, the likes of Seamus Coleman pushing high up field acting as a pseudo-winger, covered by three centre halves and the gigantic Fellaini. This would replace the need of a new winger with Hibbert at fullback, taking the focus off wing play towards the midfield dominance – a trait they’ve displayed quite capable of this season.

This formation seems very enticing, but somewhat fragile. But imagine Mikel Arteta and Fellaini bossing the centre of the pitch and playing it forward to Cahill, or to the wings of Coleman – both of which can go themselves or anywhere forward and find a striker. Or more simply, Arteta, Fellaini and Cahill pass the socks off the opponents before finding a throughball to Saha/Beckford.

Bilyaletdinov – I want to take over.

Maintaining the same formation displays a lack of depth on the wings of Everton – but Diniya Bilyaletdinov is most definitely a talented player. The laborious Russian, who has recently appeared only off the bench, has told the Liverpool Echo:

“Steven has been a big player for Everton for four years and I have to say good luck to him,

He’s a very creative player and it’s not good for Everton that he’s gone, but we still have many good players to keep us moving forward.

“Maybe Steven going will be good for me, but I’d prefer to play with him because he’s an intelligent player.

“Just because he’s gone it doesn’t mean I’ll start the next game, but who knows? Whether I’ll get more chances now isn’t a question for me, it’s a question for David Moyes and Steve Round.”

Everton will definitely hope that he can earn his 9 million euros for which he was signed. But keeping a 4-4-2 position, and directly replacing Pienaar provides a new problem – where does Cahill fit in when he returns from playing with at the Asian Cup? The Aussie is still the teams top goal scorer and was in prolific form before leaving, and will no doubt have to retain a position on his return – so either he once more plays out of position as a striker, replacing either of two strikers Saha and Beckford (both of who have found a promising form in recent times), or the following:

Wasted, sub-par or useful?

Mikel Arteta is a quick player and could definitely play on the wing. He can slot in a good cross, has the turn of pace and dribbling skills to beat defenders and could make some dangerous cuts into the centre of the pitch. But whether he is good enough to play as an out an out winger is questionable – and could be a large risk as his presence will be missed from the midfield.

This could turn out to be a genius, worthwhile move, but it screams the potential of being a disaster. I guess its up to David Moyes, who sees the players day in and day out to judge this possibility.

Probably the most beneficial part of this change up is that it allows Cahill to slot straight into the centre midfield.

Squeak out a signing?

The Toffees are not the richest side in the league – in fact they have little money at all to spend. Most fans will be extremely disappointed that they only got 3 million for Pienaar – a player with so much class who went on the cheap due to his contract that ends in the summer.

They’ve been linked, however, with a lot of loan moves – mostly for strikers, but with the departure of Pienaar, the wing has been highlighted as the weakest link and David Moyes has already been linked with some new, young talent.

One such example is 23 year old Anderlecht winger, Jonathan Legear, according to newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. In fact, Everton have already held talks with his agent, and despite interest from Newcastle and PSG, sit in pole position to have his contract.

The youngster made his debut for Anderlecht at only the age of 17, after arriving from Standard Liege’s academy. He has since then become a first team regular with very impressive performances.

This transfer rumour, will life Toffee fans in more ways than one – not only are they hot on the trail of some young and promising talent, but perhaps more importantly have displayed the will to open up the checkbook.

Despite relatively poor results this season, Everton have played really well – hopefully they can change that into results during this half of the season – quickly recovering from the loss of one of their star players.

The Round-Up: Jose Mourinho Is Too Old For This Sh*t!
Serie A: Inter Milan 3-2 Cesena Highlights (19 Jan 2011)


  1. ToffeeFolk 20 January, 2011
    • Daniel Palmer 21 January, 2011
  2. Shaunak 21 January, 2011
  3. Shaunak 21 January, 2011
  4. Shaunak 21 January, 2011
  5. Shaunak 21 January, 2011
  6. Daniel Palmer 22 January, 2011