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24
2012
The Curious Case of Victor Anichebe
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It's the final day of the 2005/06 season, and rumour has it the sun's setting on Duncan Ferguson's Everton career. West Brom are the visitors to Goodison and after being consigned to the Championship, there shouldn't be any problems.

The script is written, but an expectant crowd finds the Blues two down as the game ebbs away. With just over twenty minutes remaining, a tall, stocky youth-team player is waiting to come on and even the anoraks are struggling to inform their neighbours in the stands. Shortly after, they're on their feet as a low ball to feet is controlled, spun 180 degrees and nestled into the bottom corner in the Gwladys Street end.

The crowd salutes a new hero as the current one dusts himself down to equalise with the final kick of the game. Not quite the script we had in mind, but the latest Bellfield graduate has been unearthed. And so starts the love-hate relationship Everton fans have with Victor Anichebe.

As it transpired, the West Brom game was Ferguson's last in professional football and perhaps it's fitting that as the curtain fell on his career, the bell sounded on one that's since followed a similarly stunted path. Although Ferguson's was tarnished by a combination of self-inflected suspensions and injury, Victor's downfalls are less transparent.

Yes injury has featured, but there are other considerations. Moyes' preferred 4-4-1-1 formation favoured Tim Cahill as much as it's hindered our 11-time capped Nigerian.

Johnson, Yakubu and Saha have all been deployed in the lone striker's berth since Victor made his debut, while Fellaini and Cahill were preferred for much of the 2008/09 season. In this time, he's watched from afar, either from the sidelines or the treatment room.

Age and his lack of experience are possibly factors Moyes looked at during this period, but a bigger concern was beginning to develop in Victor's game: self-doubt.

In a career that has at times promised so much, his mentality has been the biggest obstacle to him threatening a sustained run in the first team.

The biggest criticism you could level at Victor is he hasn't taken his chance when presented it. One year after making his first-team debut, he paired up with James Vaughan in an exciting 3-0 win against Portsmouth in the final home game of 2006/07. Although it was largely won by the creative talents of Mikel Arteta and Manuel Fernandes, it was a vote of confidence he appeared to have heeded.

The 2007/08 season saw Victor retain his starting place as a goal against Wigan and a colossal win at White Hart Lane helped propel the side to second in the table. However, when Yakubu arrived and found his rhythm in the league, Victor's impact was consigned to the UEFA Cup, where he impressed with four goals as the side reached the final 16.

In many ways the 2007/08 season was a success in Victor's fledgling career. When called upon, he delivered. But as the games dried up through no fault of his own - Yakubu was in the midst of successfully becoming the first Everton player since Peter Beardsley to net 20 goals in a season - here began a self-doubting process that remains evident today.

Injury then became an all too a regular occurrence as the Goodison crowd began to grow restless. How can a man built like an ox seem to be made of glass?

Victor has since been consigned to a bit-part role the past few seasons. As brilliant as he was influencing the 2010/11 Anfield derby, he's been woefully average on other occasions. Victor may point to being played out of position, but that derby game he helped change came from being switched to the left flank.

This will now be Victor's seventh in professional football, and at the age of 24, it's high time he carved out an identity in the game.

The fact I only now pronounce Anichebe correctly says more for my negligence than it does of him not being able to stamp his authority on our first team. But such neglect is perhaps born from a player that, in six years, has failed to cement a position for himself on the pitch.

There is no problem in being able to play in two or three positions, and in Moyes' squad, it can be a necessity.

But if Victor sees himself as a centre forward, now's the time to show it. As one door closes, another opens, and although the team will feel Jelavic's absence, it's up to Victor to fill this void. After one and a half games, you'd have to say he's relishing the challenge.

Two goals against Newcastle and Swansea could and should have been more. But as he said in his post-match interview in south Wales, the fact he's getting into these positions can only bode well.

He'll get more opportunities in the coming weeks, and I for one hope that when Jelavic returns, Moyes has a selection headache for that forward position. It has been a while, after all.

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about The Curious Case of Victor Anichebe
 
9
He's his own worst enemy. If he'd stop complaining and get on with it he would achieve more. It's his complaining that annoys the fans.
Smegger, Nogsy, 9:26 PM 27/09/2012
 
8
I desperately hope he keeps up the form. He hasn't always achieved what he should have done, but much of the criticism he has received has been nothing short of disgraceful. Some of the chaps who sit around me in the Bullens Road Paddock have been particularly bad. When we beat City 2-1 at the end of the 10/11 season, he was up front on his own in the 1st half against Kompany and Lescott with only long balls to feed on. He won most of the aerial, but with no support following up, the shouts from around us were 'Who was that to, Vic? Pathetic!' or 'That's useless, Vic. Get him off!' Second half, he moved wide and gave the full backs a nightmare and we came back and won. He had a good influence on that game, but got little or no credit. This has happened frequently, and indeed this is the first article I've seen him get any credit for that derby performance at Anfield. My point is that he has never been that far away, but I don't think that he has been given a fair chance by certain sections of our support.
Grongy, Salford, 5:53 PM 25/09/2012
 
7
Big Vic on his day is a great player what lets him down is his own self confidence, as long as he keeps his head up the lad has a good game.
Tony, Leamington, 5:01 PM 25/09/2012
 
6
'Coulds' and 'shoulds' don't count. The fact is he scored two goals in two matches. All strikers miss a few. If he keeps up a ratio of one goal per match he can't be left out. It's as straight forward as that.
Spectator, Crosby, 11:12 AM 25/09/2012
 
5
Good article but all it is, is common sense. the victor haters are so blinded by their own pre-conceived ideas they can't open their minds for a second. No one is saying victor is faultless but give him a bit of credit and give him a chance. He won't improve being booed or jumped on at the slightest mistake.
Colin, Liverpool, 10:26 AM 25/09/2012
 
4
It's time we gave Vic our full support his goal return for minutes on the pitch is quite good and he was starting to play well when a horrendous tackle put him out for a long while [not because he's made of glass]. So come on give Vic our support COYB
Tony Q, Waterloo, 10:03 AM 25/09/2012
 
3
He needs to stay on his feet and stop looking for the soft options. Fight harder and stay upright, opportunities will open up.
rob, queanbeyan, 2:02 AM 25/09/2012
 
2
The lad deserves a chance, for as long as he is pulling on the royal blue i'll support him he obviously has quality too the fact he can trap the ball, turn then shoot in nearly one movement is testiment to that.
Stu, Park End, 11:31 PM 24/09/2012
 
1
He's strong, fast, got a good first touch and hes up there with the best finishers in the prem. Always said hes class and if his attitudes right im sure he'll win all us toffees over! Moyesy wouldn't have kept him if he didnt believe in him. In Moyes we trust!!!
Nick, Manchester, 10:40 PM 24/09/2012
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