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IT WAS by no means a perfect summer of transfer dealing for David Moyes, but the Everton boss at least managed to address two key areas of concerns in his squad.
By signing the pacy, direct Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe and muscular striker Denis Stracqualursi the Everton manager is hoping to have drafted in that much needed combination of speed and goals he has craved for so long.
But how will the two new-boys fit into Everton’s current line-up, and what about their pedigree suggests they have what it takes to adapt to the Premier League.
Nic Davies is the man behind Everton-based ‘Executioner's Bong’ Tactics Website.
Using a combination of chalk-board statistical break-downs and impressive insight, Nic presents tactical essays on Everton’s games and players, and he has high hopes (along with a few question marks) about the pair who arrived on the last day of the transfer deadline.
“Stracqualursi topped the scoring charts in the Argentinean Premier Division last season, registering a shooting accuracy of 72% yielding 20 goals – including a hat trick against Boca Juniors,” he says. “He possesses good hold up play and most of his goals are headers from inside the box – a new target for Leighton Baines deliveries.
“Why do we need him? Apart from the obvious – having no strikers and a lack of goals – the big problem we faced last season is that away from home against better sides with Saha injured, we had Beckford up front. It meant we couldn’t hold the ball up, possession was lost and as a consequence we couldn’t build any sustained periods of play in the opposition half.
“Beckford was used as a deputy, but the issue with Beckford was that his movement outside the box simply wasn’t good enough for a Premier League player where you need a lot more than simply being able to finish.
“Against rigid defences you need strikers to come short or work the flanks, to drag rigid defences out of position to enable attacking mids to exploit the space in behind.
“While Beckford’s movement inside the box was good, outside the box it fell way short and he couldn’t hold the ball up for the team – not even working the defenders in a way Cahill will always do.
“It’s principally Beckford’s inability to provide any defensive option that led to David Moyes losing patience with him.
“Even though Beckford offers a more considerable goal threat, Anichebe was often preferred in away games with physically strong outfits like Bolton, or Blackburn, for his ability to work the channels and defend at set plays .
“Obviously, when you play one or the other of these two you lose something either at one end or the other. Stracqualursi provides goal scoring ability and the physical resolution at 6’3” to assist in both boxes.”
Nic is concerned that Stracqualursi’s movement outside the box is not top-notch either.
“His strength is his physicality then, but his weakness would appear to be, like Beckford, limited movement outside the box,” he says.
“Respected International Football Scout Tor-Kristian Karlsen watched the Argentinean this spring and commented on how our new striker is ‘Powerful, strong in the air, has a good shot but movement is poor, little finesse and dodgy touch’ and wait for it ‘Looks like a centre back playing up front’.
“For me, Saha will be first choice if fit, most likely with closest support from Osman or Cahill in a 4-2-3-1. But as we know, Saha will play a maximum of 60% of games in a season – so Denis will get plenty of game time.
“There is the option of starting him alongside Saha – in home games Cahill takes up a role as high up the field to legitimately say it’s a 4-4-2.
“He certainly has part of the desired skill set – the physicality we crave and a goal threat. Fingers crossed it works out and his movement isn’t as bad as Mr Karlsen says.”
Nic has far fewer reservations over Drenthe, and says - his suspect temperament aside - he is a class act.
“Certainly he is more Pienaar than Preki,” he says. “When he signed for Real, then Sporting Director Mijatovic, claimed that “Royston Drenthe is the prototype of the modern player”.
“Drenthe has excellent technique – in terms of artistry on the ball he is similar to former Blue loan ranger Manual Fernandes.
“It’s the mentality problem with him. Can we keep him in check and focused on his football? If Drenthe had the mentality of someone like Phil Neville though, it’s dubious that we would be in a position to sign him as he would probably have his pick of clubs offering higher salaries than us.”
Nic insists Drenthe, 24, is capable of being a threat from a left or right midfield position.
“Naturally left footed, he likes to go on the outside on the left flank, but this would invade the space Baines exploits so well.
“He could he be deployed wide right cutting in on his better left foot perhaps? His right foot is decent though so he could do a similar job on the opposing flank.
“He has ferocious pace and alongside the likes of Coleman, Rodwell and Fellaini enables us to play a more intensive pressing game higher up field when off the ball and looking for second balls from a target man when we are in possession.
“Drenthe is very direct and will take players on – this was one of the biggest skill gaps in the squad last season and why Moyes spent the summer longing for the N’Zogbia transfer that never materialised.”