Martin Jol is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing his Fulham side tomorrow describing opponents Everton as ‘the best of the rest’ outside the Premier League’s top four.
David Moyes’ side have enjoyed an excellent start to the current campaign and currently sit fifth in the table after last weekend’s enthralling Merseyside derby draw. Jol admits he’s hoping to improve on last season’s record – after Everton won all three fixtures between the sides last term – but was full of praise for the talent within the Toffees’ squad despite the meagre resources Moyes has at his disposal.
I think Everton are probably the best of the rest. They don’t have the same resources as some of the bigger clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur but they still finish high in the league. Last season we were like them and we had the same points but lost our final game against Spurs and they went four points ahead of us. That was a great statistic – to be near Everton – because I see them as the best of the rest and we were almost there so that was great to see.
There’s a good structure at that club; you don’t see a lot of changes all the time, they buy one player almost every year and fit him in, and that shows their consistency. They are almost always in the top 10 and hopefully we can do the same; we have managed that in the last couple of years and hopefully we can do it in the future. They are certainly the benchmark for a lot of clubs.
I feel that they have a lot of team players. They have one who I have always liked; Marouane Fellaini. Even when he was playing in Belgium he was always a star and he’s an unbelievable player. Then of course there’s Steven Pienaar who’s an individual who can hurt you. They’ve got Nikica Jelavic who came from Scotland and he was probably the player they needed, so I feel they are a good team, full of team players.
At the back they’ve got Sylvain Distin, who’s an awesome player, and Phil Jagielka who is maybe a bit underestimated, but he’s an international player. Leighton Baines is, I think, recognised as the best full-back in Britain, so I like Everton. They’ve got another side, though, as they are tough and physical, but they can play so it’s a great combination.
Moyes will likely to be able to call upon summer signing Kevin Mirallas after the Belgian forward made encouraging progress in fighting off the ankle injury he sustained during the derby on Sunday, whilst South African midfielder Pienaar returns from his suspension, which could see Steven Naismith relegated to the substitutes’ bench. Former Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson is reportedly not fit enough to return from a thigh problem that has plagued him since the start of September.