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No sign of Everton progressing
The usual new season optimism was in short supply at Everton on Saturday.
Never mind the last-minute defeat by Paul Ince’s Blackburn, that was merely salt in the wounds for a club whose preparations for the 2008/09 campaign could barely have been worse.
After recording sixth and fifth-placed finishes in the previous two seasons, Everton’s hopes of continuing that momentum look doomed already when you consider the scant options available to manager David Moyes.
If modern football is a squad game then what hope does Moyes have when he could call on only 10 senior players for the first game of the season?
The Scot had no option but to give a first start to a 17-year-old in central midfield and later introduced a 16-year-old debutant upfront, plucked from a bench filled with untested teenagers.
How could a team in the so-called richest league in the world be so ill-prepared?
The absence of a handful of injured players – plus another away on Olympic duty – has not helped Moyes but the real question is why Everton have not signed a single player during a close season where five first-teamers departed, including defensive midfielder Lee Carsley and England striker Andrew Johnson.
The economic downturn has affected Premier League clubs with spending down notably on last year – even Everton’s neighbours Liverpool have had to sell before they could buy – but Everton’s case is the most extreme.
Unfortunately, the future looks increasingly uncertain for a club who, on limited resources, have gone as close as anyone to threatening the dominance of the ‘big four’ in recent seasons.
Their planned move to a new stadium in Kirkby looks in doubt after the government’s decision to call a public enquiry, owner Bill Kenwright has declared he is willing to sell up to a “billionaire” and Moyes himself is stalling on signing a new contract.
If new signings do not appear soon, the Goodison gloom could well deepen.
PHOTO: Everton coach David Moyes and Blackburn Rovers boss Paul Ince watch their English Premier League soccer match, Aug. 16. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis