MikeyJ still pines for the Australian Frank Lampard, or should Lamps be the English Tim Cahill?Â
Everton began the campaign in encouraging fashion but thereâ€™s no doubt that something is missing from their play recently and its easy to identify what- any team would struggle to cover the loss of a midfielder like Tim Cahill.
The combative Australian hasnâ€™t appeared for the first team this season. The dreaded metatarsal fracture is set to keep him out until at least 30th September on the current estimates and without him the Everton midfield lacks the same threat, meaning David Moyesâ€™ options are closed down.
Cahill is a midfielder who scores goals at a rate of one every four games. To put that in context, over his career he has a slightly better goals per game ratio than Frank Lampard, though a large part of his goals did come in a lower division with Millwall. There are respected strikers who struggle to post a 1 in 4 ratio.
Its no coincidence that the season that Everton cracked the Champions League qualifying places (2004/05) Cahill started 33 League games and scored 11 times. Last season he was only available to start 17 times.
The midfielderâ€™s value is not just about his goals; as well as the ability to get on to things in the box, heâ€™s always done his fair share at the defensive end of matters and having him around increases the flexibility of the side.
If David Moyes does want to play a 4-5-1 formation the Aussie is the ideal man to support the lone striker; and when Cahill is available for selection his presence takes some pressure off the strikers.
Since their bright start Everton have begun to struggle a little with successive defeats to Man U and Aston Villa sandwiching the disappointing home draw with Metalist in the UEFA Cup. Part of the reason lies in their scoring stats.
In League games the Everton defenders have delivered one more goal than the entire midfield and the same total as the attackers. Only Leon Osman of the midfield players has actually hit the target and that was in the opening two games, which means it is 6 games since a midfielder scored.
Mikel Arteta, who was actually the bookieâ€™s favourite to top the scoring charts for central midfielders before the campaign began, has not registered yet and is now injured himself. Others like Phil Nevillle, Lee Carsley, Phil Jagielka, Stephen Pienaaar and Thomas Gravesen all have very modest scoring records.
With Andy Johnson misfiring and James Vaughan out for some time with a shoulder injury Cahillâ€™s return to action cannot come quickly enough- and when he does step out again, all Everton fans will be desperate to see him have a decent run in the side.
There can be few footballers who have taken on such a heavy workload in recent years. Playing for Australia has ensured successive summers without a break due to Confederations and World Cup commitments. His particular talents means club and country have rarely been able to rest him.
Add in the amount of flying around the globe involved and its no wonder that last season his performances looked a little jaded at times. This enforced break may well recharge the batteries and though David Moyes may be desperate to bring him in, the aim must be to have Cahill fit and ready for the long term.
The injury has already been aggravated once in pre-season friendly and Everton are aware that they will lose several key players to the African Nations Cup after Christmas, so a further setback to their crucial midfielder canâ€™t be risked.
When the ex-Millwall man does return, Everton will become a more potent outfit. As in 2004/05, they appear to have a tremendously solid, durable look with the potential to make life difficult for anyone. Tim Cahill can offer that vital bit extra to turn respectable performances into high quality ones and challenge the elite again.