Everton Club Focus – Winning ugly the agenda for Cahill and Moyes

Tim Cahill this week revealed Everton have no qualms about “winning ugly” after a hard-fought Premier League victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers brought much-needed relief to the points-starved Toffees.

Cahill’s comments echoed those of David Moyes, who acknowledged the lack of flair within his side after the Wolves triumph. He said: “Maybe we weren’t quite with the free-flowing football of the past seasons but my job is to find another way of winning. At the moment we don’t quite have the flair and ability to win it the way we have done in recent seasons with the likes of Mikel [Arteta] and [Steven] Pienaar.

There were brief moments of quality from the home side on Saturday but they were few and far between, and Everton’s greatest goal threat came from the set-piece delivery of Leighton Baines, the height of Everton’s bigger players, or the leaping ability of Cahill himself.

The Australian, without a club goal in nearly a year, has become a target for supporters’ venting their frustration on message boards but not yet within the stadium, and given his always full-blooded efforts that fate is likely to be avoided. Yet Cahill was at the heart of the best passage of football of the entire game, fleeting though it was, as well as having a penalty claim waved away by the referee, and, despite his current barren run, has always been a player capable of providing a goal when it is least expected.

His current role, not quite a striker, not quite a midfielder, is subtly different from the partnership with Marcus Bent that first brought Cahill to prominence in the Premier League – Bent worked harder than Louis Saha and so created room for Cahill to exploit, whereas now Cahill has to work to make space for the more laconic Saha. It is not perhaps the best use of Cahill’s abilities but with a small squad bereft of greater options, Cahill is one of a number of players adapting to something different this campaign.

Bill Kenwright has gone on the record to say Moyes will have some money available in January, and the manager has confirmed his desire to bring Landon Donovan back to Goodison Park on loan, so a solution to Everton’s playmaking problems may not be distant in arriving. A striker has long been the priority, however, which would not necessarily return free-flowing football to Goodison, but as Swansea City and Norwich City have shown already this season, stylish play does not always require a hefty chequebook.

A player to create chances and a player to put them away are top of the manager’s wish list, but before then, dragging more out of the squad already at his disposal will largely determine how attractive a proposition Everton are to transfer targets come January. A relegation scrap obviously appeals far less than a battle for Europa League qualification, which are the two disparate paths facing the Blues. Winning ugly nevertheless is here to stay, until New Year at least.

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