The Everton manager David Moyes told us he has the best midfielder in the country a few weeks ago, and maybe now we have to stop laughing and take him seriously: Marouane Fellaini, also known as Big Screech. Fellaini came with a huge price tag and the footballing sense of a lost Bambi, as he was stuck up front or just tucked in behind Tim Cahill, when Everton lost every one of their strikers on the books to injury.
I remember Moyes saying at the time that he would eventually be a holding midfield player. Against Arsenal and Manchester City, he was nothing short of brilliant. Experts will point to his Maradona turn to escape the clutches of Craig Bellamy, but it was his tackling, passing and work rate that really impressed me. It goes to prove what I've always thought, that non-British players, no matter how good, usually take time to settle in to the hurly burly of the Premier league.
Look at Alberto Aquillani who looks like a fish up a tree, to use Paul Merson's evocative description. Maybe you could throw Blackburn's Nikola Kalinic into the equation. He couldn't buy a goal initially. I know they lost in an epic Carling Cup semi-final to Aston Villa, but two goals suggests he is beginning to fit in. With Fellaini alongside the brilliant Steven Piennar, with Cahill, Landon Donovan, and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in support, Everton are suddenly playing more passing football than they have done in years and are proving they are a much better side than their early-season results showed.
If they can find some consistency, I predict they will finish the season like a train! Blackburn may have lost in midweek, but I get the feeling Sam Allardyce has them on the right track. His mood after going out in the Carling Cup semi-final against Villa, will not have been helped by missing a trick with his racehorse this week. Gifted Leader is co-owned by Alalrdyce, the Hull manager Phil Brown and a friend of ours John Tyrell, who has been in Dubai this week.
The horse was running at Southwell and the internatioanl phone calls wizzing back and forth to Dubai about its fitness, the distance, the going, and its chances of winning were enough to keep etisalat in business for years. The trainer, Ian Williams, was not sure. Brown was. Allardyce was having doubts, but he quickly became one of the favourites as others picked up the vibe. Suffice to say it won pulling a cart, as they say, and Brown cleaned up, while Allardyce was gutted he had not invested.
Everyone should have known it was going to win, as I did not have a penny on it... and you can gurantee when that happens it's a sure thing! @Email:email@example.com