Seamus Coleman was the player to pick up the strikers’ slack this time. After Tony Hibbert deflected the ball past his own keeper in the 16th minute, Everton, without a recognised forward on the pitch but with three sitting on the bench, were rattled. The prior 15 minutes had been almost exclusively the preserve of the Toffees but the own goal disrupted the visitors’ play and hinted at Moyes’ decision to leave Yakubu, Jermaine Beckford and Louis Saha on the sidelines being the wrong one, but the young Irishman’s goal just before the break restored parity in plenty of time.
Coleman now has three Everton goals this season, across all competitions, with the combined might of Yakubu, Beckford and Saha has producing just five, perhaps one of the most telling statistics regarding the damp squib that is Everton’s forward line. Matters are only about to get worse when Tim Cahill jets off to Qatar to represent Australia in the Asian Cup and the prospect of an incoming striker being mere rumour and conjecture at the moment. Whoever Moyes drafts in will be a temporary signing, and one who must hit the ground running as when Cahill’s goals leave for perhaps as long as a month, none of the strikers currently on Everton’s books have looked like plugging the gap lately.
A year ago it was Landon Donovan arriving on loan and while the American proved immensely popular at Goodison Park it is not to him that we should look for an example of what a loan striker can do, for the LA Galaxy player took up a position on Everton’s right flank, a position that again needs reinforcing but without the urgency of centre-forward. Instead, a player who came to Merseyside 12 months before Donovan, again on loan, but as a centre-forward is the kind Moyes is searching for. Then, in January 2009, it was Jo, borrowed from Manchester City’s burgeoning ranks of unused or unwanted multimillion pound strikers.
Jo may have proved a frustration when his loan was renewed for the 2009/10 season, to the point Moyes ended the deal early and sent the Brazilian back to Eastlands when the January transfer window opened, but the first spell the £18m signing from Shakhtar Donetsk spent in Liverpool was encouraging. In 12 games, Jo scored five goals, all in the league, including two on his debut against Bolton Wanderers, despite never having a settled run in the side as Everton progressed to the FA Cup Final without the cup-tied loanee. With names including Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz from Manchester City’s current stock being linked to follow in Jo’s footsteps, a similar contribution from whoever signs in at Goodison next month would be extremely welcome.