Victor Anichebe has been praising teammate Nikica Jelavic in today’s press, but many Evertonians would say the Nigeria forward is deserving of plaudits himself.

Anichebe, asked about his place above Jelavic in the pecking order, told press: “I wouldn’t look too far into him not playing.

“Nikica has been unbelievable since he came to us and his record speaks for itself. I was injured for two months and he took the burden on his own and he has been playing on his own every game.

“There comes a time when you have to take him out because he is pretty tired but the best of him will come.

“He has been playing for a long time on his own. Now I am back it is probably good time to give him a rest.

“I talk to him all the time and some of the positions I am getting into is because of him, he has helped me get into more goalscoring positions.

“We can play together. If he doesn’t play, if I don’t play, it is not a big deal.”

The attitude shown by the Anichebe is worthy of praise in itself. Often accused of sulking and rumoured to have had bust ups with Moyes, the comments show a maturity that neither the rumour mill nor the fans credit him with. Indeed, if you believe the words of his squadmates and manager, this player who was viewed by many as perhaps a typical arrogant Premier League player has quite the opposite problem: a lack of confidence.

Leighton Baines, stellar teammate and no stranger to problems with confidence himself, recently said: “He has taken a massive step forward [this season] and he has almost started to become aware of how good he is.

“We know as team-mates because we see him every day. The most important thing is that he believes it as well. I think now he does and we are seeing that in his performances.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Newcastle United v Everton - St James' Park

Admiration: Leighton Baines has commended Anichebe for his improved form

Moyes has made comments to similar effect, hinting that perhaps Anichebe’s career hasn’t just been hindered by injury, but by a lack of confidence in himself.

The striker, born in Lagos but raised in Crosby, has had a rollercoaster relationship with Evertonians throughout his career. Initially he was well rated, but overshadowed by the emerging James Vaughan who at the time was seen as one of the best young talents in the country. Following a smattering of first team appearances and goals, he first experienced adulation from the crowd during the 2007-08 season. He was a key player in the Uefa Cup, scoring four times, against Metalist Kharkiv, Larissa, FC Nuremberg and SK Brann. Coming on as a ‘supersub’ his physique allowed him to bully continental defences, and he looked like a world beater in the making.

SK Brann v Everton - UEFA Cup

Anichebe celebrates his goal against Brann Bergen in the UEFA Cup, until now his finest spell at the club

Unfortunately a string of injuries and poor performances stalled his career, and he had become a forlorn figure who often seemed disinterested during games as recently as last season.

He is enjoying a renaissance this season, however, with a change in attitude and contribution. He’s worked hard for the cause, covering for Jelavic when he was injured and Fellaini when he was suspended, acting as a target man and displaying more impressive hold up play than ever before in his stop-start career. His efforts have been rewarded, too, with 5 goals coming from his last 8 league starts, it’s no wonder his teammates and manager have been praising him. And that statistic may even prove his worth as a starter, which will come as welcome news to the most used substitute in Everton’s 135 year history.

The only question remaining on blues’ lips is this: can he keep it up? Can Anichebe finally put injury and inconsistency behind him and become the player we all want him to be?

Personally, I think that as long as he keeps his head up, and works as hard as he has been doing the sky is the limit.

 

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