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It's That Time Of Year

Radio City's Alan Irwin, 14th November 2008 - 09:48

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Alan Irwin is the Voice of Everton for Liverpool's Radio City 96.7. An experienced radio journalist, Alan commentates on all of the Blues' matches and is well placed to provide insightful blogs on the progress of the team.

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Well, it's usually around this time of year when it all gets underway............so if you can't beat them as they say, you might as well join them. No, I'm not referring to the masses of shoppers descending upon the new Liverpool One complex to undertake that annual ritual of Christmas shopping. I am, of course, going to join the debate that always gathers pace from mid November onwards: European qualification.
 
Our own Joleon Lescott even expressed his views on the subject this week, believing we should be challenging for that fourth Champions League spot, never mind the UEFA Cup. He's right of course - given the size and stature of Everton Football Club.

The reality though is somewhat different. I know we would all love to be up there amongst the top four but the facts are clear. Our squad size simply wouldn't support a sustained Champions League challenge and we're in a position now where, let's face it, we're still on a learning curve in European football. As much as we all enjoyed last season's extended UEFA Cup run we still couldn't secure a place in the final eight and there were many lessons learned along the road during that European campaign.
 
I retain hope that a prolonged run of form and fortune could propel us towards Champions League qualification, but I remain a realist and my belief is that a UEFA Cup place is our goal, and that in itself will be difficult enough to attain.
 
Our run of good fortune rather than form is the reason for our current 7th place standing. Not that I'm complaining in any way!! As I mentioned last week nobody berates the "big boys" when they steal a victory from the jaws of defeat. All we can do is ask the players to give their all to the very last whistle in an effort to reap the reward, and that is exactly what's happened in our last three victories. The most common phrase I heard from my Evertonian mates on our journey back from London last week was "I didn't see that coming". Well neither did I, and that was what made it such a pleasant change and oh so sweeter!!!
 
Middlesbrough, Wigan and Tottenham are next in our sights and I'd be delighted with 7 points from 9 which would take us nicely into December. Then we WOULD be perfectly positioned to really begin the European challenge. December (and not before!) is also the right time to pursue that other great English pastime, Christmas shopping!

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