It's Time For Moyes To Drop Cahill To Make The Toffees Sweeter

He's been a hero at Everton for years, but without goals he adds little but tenacity and forces a certain style of play on the team. Thanks for the memories, Tim, but it's time for a change...
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He's been a hero at Everton for years, but without goals he adds little but tenacity and forces a certain style of play on the team. Thanks for the memories, Tim, but it's time for a change...

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He's been a hero at Everton for years, but without goals he adds little but tenacity and forces a certain style of play on the team. Thanks for the memories, Tim, but it's time for a change...

Before I stride in with my main point of this article, I would like to make clear my adulation for Timothy Joel Cahill. The Aussie, now 32, was plucked by David Moyes from lower-league Millwall in 2004 on the back of playing a starring role in the Lions' FA Cup run and, coming at a cost of just £1.5 million, he has rightly been labelled as one of David Moyes' best ever signings.

His seven years at the club have yielded over half a century of goals and he has done himself no harm in Evertonian eyes by scoring a healthy number of them against the old enemy, Liverpool. He has been a wonderful ambassador for Everton and for Australia, an asset both on and off the pitch. Tim has provided us with moments - the overhead kick at Stamford Bridge, the numerous derby winners and the regular beating of Manchester City's corner flags - that will last with Evertonians for a very long time.

But the trouble is painstakingly evident: he hasn't scored for Everton since the 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Eastlands on 20th December 2010. By the time Everton take to the field for the Premier League fixture against Swansea on Wednesday night, it will have been exactly a year and a day since Cahill last found the net wearing royal blue. And for a player whose game is almost wholly based on goals, that is simply not good enough.

As is often the case, many Evertonians will tell you that international football is partially responsible for Cahill's severe drought and loss of form. In January 2011, Cahill left Everton to participate for the Australian national side at the Asian Cup. During the final moments of the Socceroos' group stage victory over Bahrain, Cahill limped off with a thigh injury. In the aftermath of the game Cahill's international team-mate Harry Kewell said that the Everton midfielder "knows how to take care of his body and can play through injuries".

As much as Moyes won't want to drop one of his 'favourites', let's have a go with Ross Barkley, Royston Drenthe, Apostolos Vellios or even Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in his position

Foolishly, that is exactly what Cahill did. He played through the pain barrier as Australia went right the way to the final, where they went down 1-0 to Japan. On his return to Everton and the Premier League, Cahill looked tired. Injured, even. Although the effort, the passion and the willingness to give anything for the team was still there, his goals had dried up. Corner flags up and down the country breathed a sigh of relief. He failed to get on the scoresheet for the remainder of the season. Ah well, said the fans. He'll be OK after a Summer of rest.

He even missed a couple of Australia's Summer friendlies, opting instead to relax ahead of the new Premier League season. But when the season came along, the story hadn't changed. Still passionate and combative. But no goals. Not one.

It's now December 17th and I'm writing this piece after having watched Everton draw 1-1 with Norwich City at Goodison Park, a game which Everton probably deserved to win but were far from convincing in. For Cahill, it was a performance that typified his individual year. You can see that his determination has not gone away, that he is still trying his best and giving his all for the blue shirt. Evertonians wouldn't expect any less.

But still no goal. It's a cliché that 'he just needs one to go in off his backside' - and he probably does. But you can't even see that happening at the moment. The closest he went to finally finding the net today was a first half effort, his outstretched leg diverting a cross just wide. You just knew it wasn't going in. He was eventually taken off with half an hour to play - which was nothing less than his performance had merited.

Even when Cahill used to score goals for fun, you could see that he wasn't the best technical player. His timing, jumping ability and knack for important goals was exceptional, but it was always clear that he wasn't one for the footballing purists. The thing is, when he was scoring, we didn't care that we were watching 'uglier' football. Now that he doesn't even offer goals, his inclusion in the team contributes to Everton being a poor footballing side.

Take today's match against Norwich as a prime example. With Cahill on the pitch, we relied almost entirely on crosses from wide areas to create opportunities. When he was substituted, we were more direct, carving out opportunities from different areas and looking more of an overall threat.

So what next? I am sure more Evertonians would be in agreement with me when I say that I think it is time for Cahill to have an extended rest. It clearly isn't working with him in the team and he has been offering very little for too long a time. As much as Moyes won't want to drop one of his 'favourites', let's have a go with Ross Barkley, Royston Drenthe, Apostolos Vellios or even Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in his position. Those are players who can unlock a defence. Those are the type of players we need leading our line.

Thanks for the memories, Tim.

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