David Moyes has spoken for the for the first time of his assessment of Jermaine Beckford debut premier league season, the standard he needs to reach and his hope that their is still more to come from the former Leeds hitman.
Having scored a fine goal, provided an intelligent assist and ran the opposing defence ragged during an impressive first-half display, Jermaine Beckford might have expected a warm slap on the back from his manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday.
Instead, the striker got the hook and a very public dressing down from David Moyes at Molineux.
If ever there was an indication of the high standards expected of an Everton player, it came during the immediate fallout of Beckford’s 74th-minute substitution.
Instilling a Premier League mindset into a player who, before his free transfer to Goodison from Leeds United last summer, had only previously played 10 games at Championship level has taken time.
But while Moyes accepts there has been some give and take with Beckford, he believes the striker has all the attributes to become a top-class striker – if he really wants to be.
“We’ve had to make allowances for him a little bit,” says the Everton manager. “If I had paid £10m I might have been more worried. But I’m not. We both knew when he signed that we were both taking a chance.
“If he wants it, he can really step up to the Premier League. He has the ability. But now it’s a lot to do with his desire.
“He maybe has to come out of that comfort he has been in. He knows he has gone to Leeds and scored, he’s gone to Scunthorpe and scored.
“But when you step up to one of the top clubs in the country and are playing against international defenders, although you might score you need to keep stepping up and stepping up.
“You have to do it for the team. You can’t just score the goal and think ‘that’s me, I’m done’. At Everton we require more than that.
“I’m not on at him a lot. But I think he knows what we would expect from him. This week in training, I think he’s shown that he realised he needs to up it another notch again.”
Beckford’s header last weekend moved him on to a healthy nine goals in his debut Goodison season. Indeed, the 26-year-old’s seven Premier League strikes have come at a rate of one every 145 minutes – a record bettered only by Didier Drogba, Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez.
Beckford’s tally of 85 goals in 152 appearances for Leeds United persuaded Moyes to take a punt on the striker as a free transfer last summer.
And the Goodison manager says: “He has definitely got goals in him. That’s why I signed him. Some of the best movement I’ve ever seen in the box was by John Aldridge. I thought he was brilliant, I used to think ‘how the heck does he keep on scoring?’.
“Robbie Fowler was another with great movement in the box. He’d take the centre-back one way then the other, then suck the defender in and spin off the other side.
“I think Beckford has all of that in the box. In terms of movement in the box, he’s right up there. He is very, very hard to mark.
“So it’s up to him. How much does he want to really make himself a Premier League player? If he wants that, he can do that.”
Everton’s chronic injury problems, and the absence until next season of Louis Saha, have opened the way for a regular run in the first team for Beckford, who has started four of the five games since inexplicably turning up late for the FA Cup defeat to Reading last month.
“His work rate has improved,” says Moyes. “We need him at the moment. He gives us an outlet, he is able to run in behind defences and he gives us speed up front.
“Our other centre forwards tend to come towards the ball but Becks can get in behind defences. But if you are going to be that kind of player, you have to keep on doing it.
“For 45 minutes on Saturday he played really well. He scored a header, could have maybe scored another one, set up the goal for Phil Neville, had another he could have played in, so that’s three or four incidents he has been involved in.”
Beckford is expected to lead the line again this afternoon when Everton look to extend a six-match unbeaten run during the visit of struggling Blackburn Rovers.
The forward started the opening-day defeat at Ewood Park back in August, but Moyes admits it was too much, too soon for the new boy.
“Jermaine has done what I hoped he would have done, which was by the end of the season becoming more regular in the team and understanding more about what it’s all about,” says the Goodison manager.
“He actually started the first game of the season at Blackburn, and I knew then that it was too soon. He wasn’t ready.
“He probably needed six months of seeing how the Premier League worked – he was jumping up two divisions, don’t forget – and he needed to be coming off the bench and starting cup games. He wasn’t ready to start back then, but now he is.
“Goals breed confidence for forwards, and Jermaine thrives on them. I have seen that. When you are that type of player where much of your game is about yours goals, and you aren’t maybe that involved in the rest of it, and you aren’t getting the goals, then what other part do you play?
“He can score in any division, the Premier League, the fourth division. He can score in all of them.”