DAVID MOYES will have been one very frustrated man on Saturday evening.
Having failed to substantially strengthen his squad before the transfer deadline, he then saw Everton come within minutes of losing at home to relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
Teams are almost falling over themselves in the race for fourth. Tottenham Hotspur are not without their problems – not least a lack of strikers – and they, Chelsea and Arsenal all have European commitments now on the horizon.
It’s a chance for Everton to keep chipping away and hanging on in there.
It’s unfortunate they were unable to complete a couple more deals in the transfer window.
During a transfer window, a team will have Target A, and if they can’t get him then it’s on to Target B or C and so on.
It’s interesting that Everton left their transfer move for Leroy Fer so late. Transfers can be a tricky and time-consuming business, so I’m not entirely surprised Moyes didn’t have anybody else up his sleeve.
It takes a long time for a transfer to come to fruition, especially in January when teams are reticent to sell and would be happy to encourage an auction for their players.
Everton aren’t the only ones to be caught out. Tottenham were keen to find a centre forward, but if you leave things until the last minute then if the deal falls down, you are in a mess.
I said last week that this was Everton’s best chance in years to finish inside the top four. And while I don’t think they increased their chances in January, I wouldn’t say they have been overly harmed.
If everybody stays fit, I’d say they would finish fourth. But that’s not how football works.
It might be regrettable they haven’t given themselves the best chance when they have such a good opportunity of finishing fourth.
John Heitinga looked like he was running in treacle against Villa last weekend.
He had a beast of a day.
There lies the problem for Everton. Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert are injured and Phil Neville can’t play two games in a week now.
So it meant having to shuffle players around, and either have Heitinga at right-back up against Gabriel Agbonlahor or at centre-back against Christian Benteke.
I’m sure Moyes was going mad after about 15 minutes. He’d made a mistake.
Heitinga wanted his first-team chance and it hasn’t worked out.
The manager has probably already made his mind up before the last week, and I’d expect the Dutchman to be on his way in the summer.
Everton will be happy with the manner they dug themselves out of the problem but the worry is that every time Villa came forward, they looked as though they could score.
There was no Nikica Jelavic again. All top strikers have periods when they don’t score, but they are normally for three or fours games. Jelavic has gone longer.
Top strikers, even when they are struggling, still play like a number nine. Sometimes you see strikers run the channels, get behind the ball, defend well but then forget to get into box.
Jelavic has come into that category. When he next plays, he just has to get back to what he was doing last season. He needs to stop thinking about it and not be frightened to miss.