The Curious case of Steven Naismith
When Everton pulled off the signing of Steven Naismith last year there was a definite split amongst Evertonians about whether it was a decent signing or not. There were those that said it was a Moyes masterstroke, pulling in a Scotland international on a free transfer was great business and those that couldn’t get past the fact that Naismith had been just come back from 2 potentially career ending cruciate ligament injuries and could he perform to the same standards.
Looking at social media channels, Naisy is definitely this year’s scape goat and I can’t help but feel that if he was a foreign player with a fancy name that he wouldn’t get half of the nonsense that he does. So for a player that cost nothing, why are some sections of the Everton fan base so against Nais?
Thinking back to when he played for Glasgow Rangers, Steven Naismith was being played successfully as a second striker. Before he got injured the Scotland International was in a rich vein of form, he had picked up the SPFA players player of the year and also the Rangers players player and supporters player of the year, having scored 15 goals the previous season.
Which brings me to my first point; If Naismith was playing so successfully as a second striker, why has he rarely been given that chance for Everton? Off the top of my head, I can think of one game where he has played up front and that was coming off the bench for the final 10 minutes. Nearly every other game David Moyes has deployed Naismith in midfield, normally on the right. Now people will say that players should be able to play in any position, but you only have to look at our own Phil Jagielka to see that this doesn’t always work out.
When Jagielka first joined the blues, David Moyes seemed intent on playing Jags in central midfield, a position he had been playing at quite often for the relegated Sheffield United. Anyone that has watched Jags play over the last couple of years will know that he isn’t renowned for quick short passes……. He is an oldschool defender of the “LAUNCH IT” variety. As soon as he was moved back into the position that suited him, it worked and Jagielka became an integral part to the Everton team; so could the same thing happen to Steven Naismith?
Let’s try and put things into perspective, the cruciate injury that Naismith picked up was a very serious injury and many players do not return the same player. We also have to remember that Naismith picked up this injury twice in quick succession and he has done it to both legs. It can take players a couple of years to come back from these injuries and often they don’t come back to the same standard. Naismith was still injured when he signed for Everton, he didn’t really have a preseason to get fit and he had been in and out of the team. Is it any wonder that he isn’t playing to the level that anyone expected?
We also have to remember that the lad is a free transfer. He hasn’t cost millions in transfer fee’s and his wages won’t be breaking the bank. If his name was Straqualursi, then fans would be calling for him to be in the team week in, week out. The fact is that Steven Naismith has scored 3 times as many goals as the bumbling Argentinian and put in just as much effort, yet Straqa had gained a cult like following and could do no wrong. I can’t help but feel that if he was Brazilian, he wouldn’t get half the stick he does.
So looking at the bigger picture, we have a player that came to us on a freebie still injured on the back of 2 very serious injuries, he is playing in a brand new league and who then can’t get a run in the team due to fitness and form and is then played out of position. Is it any wonder that he is struggling a little?
Perhaps we should let him settle in to the side first and get fit before we judge him on his playing ability.
On a side note, one of the best shouts I have heard this season came from someone on our forum talking about Naismith’s running style: “He looks like he is running on his knees”
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