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Monday, 06 October 2008

What Have Geovanni And Lee Carsley Got In Common?

The obvious answer to the question posed in the title is 'not a lot'. The second instinct is to find out if Geovanni has an Irish grandfather, or if the pair are linked in an obscure Question of Sport incident.

It's nothing like that. Simply these two contrasting players are proving the old adage that nothing matters in a football team- and especially the midfield- so much as having a balanced line up.

At Hull City the Brazilian who cut a peripheral figure at Manchester City has delivered 3 goals in five matches- in each case the Tigers have taken 3 points from the game.

When Hull came up from the Championship a player like Geovanni represented something of a gamble but the Tigers came up with more ambition than to be just 'battlers'. A succession of sides have featured in the Premiership winning plaudits for their spirit but ultimately making the journey back down- Barnsley and Watford are two examples.

Phil Brown's side have fulfilled the battling criteria to the letter but nicking draws and going down to spirited defeats don't keep a side up. The key difference between the Premiership and Championship is quality and that is what Geovanni offers.

He may not be suited to putting in a major defensive shift, which could backfire on occasion, but Hull have others to do that- he gives his manager and his team mates the belief that the Tigers can nick a goal at any time, which is priceless at this level.

Lee Carsley represents the other side of the coin. While Geovanni is a supremely gifted creator, the ex-Irish international is a gritty professional who does the solid, unspectacular work in midfield.

Yet without a player like Carsley teams can struggle and his former club Everton are a case in point.Last season the Toffees were always tough to beat but in 2008/09 they have been shipping goals at a rate of knots.

Various players have appeared in central midfield but none have offered the defensive shield that Carsley provided so well; and in addition to his defensive duties, Carsley's discipline allowed the more talented elements in Everton's engine room licence to roam. Since he left, Everton have been a team without a proper shape.

To get the best from Tim Cahill's attacking instincts the Aussie needs to know the back door is covered when he roams upfield; players like Arteta, Osman and Pienaar aren't natural midfield battlers and benefit from a 'minder'.Phil Jagielka could be tried in the role but he will take time to do it as well as Carsley. The same applied to the young gun Rodwell.

At 34 it is questionable whether Everton could have given Carsley a long contract but it is noticeable that he's slippedinto the same role with Birmingham City. David Moyes will have to take a look at his personnel to see who can take on the job to January and then decide if he needs a new man for the role.

At the KC Stadium Geovanni may have periods where his form dips but he's already contributed to 9 points  gained and 5 or 6 more goals (or assists)  in the campaign will be more than enough to warrant Phil Brown's bold investment.

These two players could hardly represent a greater contrast, yet one by his skills and the other by his absence, are proving that success in the top flight needs each of their particular contributions to the cause.

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