Everton need to overhaul their defence
As a non-Evertonian I watched the Merseyside Derby searching for reasons why Everton have had such a poor calendar year. The departure of Gravesen, followed by the long-term injury to his partner-in-crime in midfield Lee Carsley, has accelerated a decline in fortune for the club who took the Premiership by storm in the first half of last season.
Yet I don’t consider Everton's main problem to be in midfield. Many Premiership teams would like to select midfielders with the experience and talent of Arteta, Neville, Davies, Osman, Van der Merde (when he's fit!), Kilbane, and Cahill.
And as I saw against Liverpool, their problem isn’t a lack of heart and commitment. These players care and are giving their all for Moyes and the fans.
For me, Everton's number one problem is their defence. In short, three out of four of the defenders in Everton's back four are only average Premeirship quality and are always liable to concede quite a few goals.
David Weir is too slow and lacks strength relative to the demands of the Premiership.
Tony Hibbert is a limited footballer and is only still in the team because Wigan beat Moyes to purchase the excellent RB prospect, Ryan Taylor, from Tranmere.
And Nuno Valente is badly struggling to make the transition from the low-tempo, highly technical Portugese Championship football to the high-tempo, highly physical Premiership football. He lacks pace and I have been surprised how poor he looks for someone with a 2004 Champs League medal.
These three Everton defenders are weak-links for a team trying to stabilise. Saying this, however, it is also wrong to pin-point blame alone on Everton's defence for the club's poor results; every Everton player needs to examine their own contribution to the defensive effort as does Moyes own coaching. Conceding four goals three times this Premiership season, plus five against Bucharest and seven in May to Arsenal is a worrying trend that demands circumspection by everyone concerned.
On the plus side, I look forward to seeing whether Per Kroldrup can make the difference and strike up a good partnership with the improving Joseph Yobo who has impressed me this season. Overall, however, I reckon a bigger overhaul of Everton's defence is required if Moyes wants better consistency and form than displayed in this calendar year.