The end of an era at Goodison Park was all-but-confirmed on this week as Everton announced they had reached agreement with MLS side New York Red Bulls over the transfer of Tim Cahill. For eight of David Moyes’ 10 years as Everton manager Cahill has been an integral part of the manager’s plan, to the point where player and boss appeared almost inseparable.
The abiding Everton memory of Cahill will not be the red card he was shown after the final whistle on the last day of last season against Newcastle United, which turned out to be Cahill’s last game for the club.
Rather, the mention of Cahill’s name likely conjures up one or more of the following images: celebrating on top of the pile after Lee Carsley’s goal against Liverpool, racing to the corner flag in celebration of one of his own, or challenging for, and winning, an aerial ball against a centre-back substantially the larger.
In these memories Cahill’s qualities are revealed – the camaraderie and team spirit to celebrate a colleague’s goal like it was his own, the effectiveness that saw the shadow boxing routine displayed numerous times, and the determination and fight that was at the heart of so many of his 68 goals and countless other battling performances.
Signed two years into the Moyes era, Cahill came to define it. Everton under Moyes in the first decade were for the most part hard-working and hard-running. Goals, despite the presence of first Thomas Gravesen and then Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar, usually came from grinding opposing teams into submission. Cahill was the bludgeon extraordinaire. Bullet headers the product of a prodigious leap allied to exquisite timing were the norm. That timing was often displayed in a different way, too, as Cahill made a habit of netting late equalisers or winners.
But Cahill was no mere lump only capable of pounding defenders into acquiescence. Few players will score a goal as spectacularly memorable as Cahill’s overhead kick against Chelsea in 2007. Fewer still can ever claim to have shared the same bond with Evertonians as Cahill. In modern times only perhaps Duncan Ferguson can eclipse that relationship, and in the pantheon of Everton icons and cult figures there is no greater praise than sitting by the side of the Scot.
Last season it began to appear that Cahill’s days as an Everton regular were numbered. He went more than a full calendar year without scoring. For the final stretch of the campaign Cahill’s place behind the striker was taken by Marouane Fellaini, and Moyes spoke of the Belgian’s long-term future being in that role. The summer arrival of Steven Naismith provided further competition for places in attack and Cahill increasingly looked marginalised.
So better for all concerned the 32-year-old moves on now. Cahill will leave as an undoubted Everton legend and with the best wishes of everyone associated with the club. A veteran of nearly 300 games, a captain, a striker and a midfielder rolled into one, Cahill’s contribution to the first decade of Moyes’ tenure is greater than all but that of the manager.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG