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High praise for Tomasz


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More highs than lows as Blues fall short

May 16 2003

Fanscene By Mark O'Brien

SO, no European adventure for the Toffees after all.

Obviously we we're all desperately disappointed but ultimately you finish where you deserve and Blackburn, who played great football while being mugged twice by us, must be applauded for the performances that lifted them just above us at the death.

It would be easy to simply blame the Mike Riley and Ruud van Nistelrooy double act for our downfall but, as the old cliché goes, these things eventually even themselves out.

Our form did seem to dip near the end, which may have been down to fatigue due to our small squad, but just as likely is the fact that we simply had a glut of hard fixtures in the run-in.

When we look back over the whole campaign it becomes apparent that we didn't lift ourselves into the higher reaches of the league by beating the top teams - apart from the odd exception - but by generally taking something off the weaker sides, particularly at Goodison. Therefore we shouldn't get downhearted when we look at the squads of Manchester United or Chelsea when we wonder how we're going to move on next season; they're not really the teams we're competing with.

If David Moyes (above left) does manage to strengthen his squad, and particularly the midfield, then it's not beyond the realms of possibility that we could even improve on this remarkable season simply by being a bit more ruthless and not dropping silly points against the likes of Spurs and Birmingham, for instance. That's obviously a big challenge, but that's the nature of the game, you set standards and then try to incrementally improve on them. Luckily we have - and now it's official - the best manager in the Premiership working hard to bring about those improvements.

So, before minds turn completely to barbecues, wasps in your beer and Henman choking at Wimbledon, it's time to reflect on the highlights and stars of the season.

Wayne Rooney's first Premiership goal is the obvious number one magical moment, although everything he does is a bit special. Despite his impact, however, Tomasz Radzinski must be the player of the season - unfortunately that was underlined by just how much we missed him.

Hopefully, despite living in the shadow of Rooneymania, the Canadian realises how much Blues appreciate him. And while it's nice to single out the headline-grabbing stars it must be remembered that the dramatic progress we've made this season is equally down to the efforts of the likes of Lee Carsley, Steve Watson, Scot Gemmill and Alessandro Pistone.

These players, and plenty besides, have been in and out of the side but when called upon have never given anything less than their all in what has been a fabulous team effort. They've given us some wonderful days out and done us proud, which is ultimately what it's all about. Happy holidays.

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