TIM CAHILL’S decision to call time on his sparkling Everton career in the summer and head for a lucrative swan song in New York was sad but understandable.
Although Evertonians considered the Australian a modern-day great who contributed everything he had over his eight inspirational years at the club, most also recognised that those long, combative seasons coupled with regular international football, had taken a toll on their idol.
Cahill, while still a leading character in the dressing room and useful operator on the field, was some way off the incessant effectiveness of his prime.
Indeed – and this is certainly not a slight on the man from Sydney – his departure prompted something of a stylistic watershed for Everton.
What the Blues lost in his leadership, and goal contribution they gained in the acquisition of midfielders in Kevin Mirallas, and Steven Naismith, who possess other more progressive qualities.
Such was Cahill’s importance and legacy it was never easy for David Moyes to leave him out of his side, but with that decision taken out of his hands, his teams contain more pace, passing flair and creativity in the final third.
No longer is Moyes trying to build a team around a niche player – albeit a special one – who was neither really an orthodox central midfielder or a centre forward.
In addition to the new exciting talent in his ranks, Moyes has witnessed Marouane Fellaini step-up and fill Cahill’s boots with aplomb.
So it must surely be sentiment alone which prompts some to call for a January loan move for Cahill - who turns 33 next month.
His absence over in America has made the hearts grow fonder, but that’s where the similarities with Landon Donovan’s previous spells end.
When the Californian has jetted in, it has been to add urgently-required pace and directness to Everton’s flanks, and even that is arguably no longer needed. Of course, a cruel glut of injuries could turn this assessment on its head, making moves for both MLS stars worth considering, but if fortune favours the Blues in that department, Cahill – and perhaps Donovan – should not be required to brave the depths of a Merseyside winter again in any other capacity than as welcome and popular guests at Goodison.
As one of the original founder members of the Football League, Everton are a club steeped in history and tradition and have played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other club. Their association with the greatest cup competition in the world has thus conjured some wonderful moments, and this offering from Sport Media celebrates a century of memories since their first FA Cup success in 1906. Celebrate a century of memories with 'Everton's FA Cup 100'. Read