BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher
« Previous | Main | Next »

Carsley - the Championship's most effective player?

Paul Fletcher | 17:52 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

There are undoubtedly many reasons why Everton have struggled so far this season but you could do a lot worse than point to the absence of one player - Lee Carsley.

The 34-year-old left Goodison Park for Birmingham City at the end of the last campaign after six-and-a-half happy years as an Everton player.

And on the evidence so far Everton's loss has been Birmingham's gain.

carsleyblues438.jpgBlues might have suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening - in doing so surrendering top spot in the Championship - but they have nonetheless made an impressive start to the season after a summer of turmoil following their relegation from the Premier League.

And it is no surprise that with Carsley an ever-present so far, Blues have not conceded more than one goal in any of the 14 Championship fixtures they have played.

Carsley is a holding midfielder and as such one of those players whose worth is harder to define than, say, a striker, who can be judged on the goals that he scores, or an attacking midfielder with an eye for a spectacular pass.

His craft is more subtle, less eye-catching, but of immense worth.

Watching him against QPR on Tuesday it was easy to see why the opposition have found Blues so difficult to break down. Time and again Carsley snuffed out a move before it had time to mature or covered for an out-of-position colleague, in the process ensuring that his team's defence held its shape.

Within seconds of the match starting, an awful pass in front of the Blues defence by Mehdi Nafti gifted possession to the opposition in a dangerous area. But no sooner had the Rangers player controlled the ball than Carsley had relieved him of it. It was typical of his contribution.

When Birmingham were in possession Carsley usually occupied the territory between his defence and the half-way line and when the opposition attacked down the flanks he headed for the area between full-back and central defender, often blocking crosses before they reached their target.

Very little he did was spectacular but it was the role that served Everton well for many years - witness how they struggled when he was out with a knee injury early in the 2005-06 season - and one that he is now relishing at his hometown club.

"I am loving it," Carsley, whose entire family support Blues with just one exception, told me. "The role I have is the same as I did at Everton - it is just the personnel that are different."

Carsley - who has skippered the side this season in the absence of Damien Johnson - reckons it took him a few games to settle in. He had to adjust to new players and a different league. He also had to come to terms with a drop in quality but a more physical division than the Premier League. With a wry smirk Carsley told me: "I'm not getting any younger so I have got to use my experience a bit more."

If he found it a struggle at first then there was scant evidence on the pitch to suggest this, while off the field he quickly became involved in community work. Morale was low after relegation and he wanted to do his bit to "lift the spirits" of the supporters.

He strikes me as being a very honest professional. Carsley was the victim of a particularly nasty tackle from Mikele Leigertwood on the stoke of half time on Tuesday evening. It was high and late and the sort that could cause serious injury.

Other players with a different attitude might have milked the situation for all it was worth but Carsley seemed more intent of climbing to his feet and hobbling around than writhing in agony. It did not stop the referee from issuing a red card but Carsley seemed almost to be doing his utmost to ensure he did not influence the referee to send Leigertwood from the field. Afterwards Carsley said: "I never like seeing a fellow player get sent off and although I have a cut on the thigh where he caught me I did not think it warranted a red card."

Carsley, who started his career at Derby before spells with Blackburn and Coventry, is probably at his final club before retiring. As such it was important he made the right move after deciding to leave Everton. carsleyeverton438.jpg

He had been out of contract at the end of last season. A one-year extension was apparently offered by Everton but with the club having secured qualification for Europe the 34-year-old felt it was a good time to move on. However, it was by no means a dead cert that he would move to St Andrews.

Carsley readily admits that several clubs expressed an interest in signing him and that he was not going to join Birmingham on the strength of purely emotional reasons. "It might be my hometown club but I had been away for several years so another couple would not have hurt," remarked Carsley.

The clincher was a meeting with boss Alex McLeish, who explained his ambitions for the club and persuaded Carsley that he should be a part of it.

The ties with Everton remain - theirs is the first result he looks out for, while he is still in contact with several Toffees players and has watched a couple of their games on television.

I asked Carsley whether they were missing him, an idea that he instantly rejected. I suspect that even if he believed it to be true he would not say so in public. He chose instead to suggest that Everton will start to climb the table and eventually finish in the higher reaches of the Premier League. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Well, I hope so," came the reply.

But although Everton will always remain dear to him, it is now a closed chapter and he now has his mind set on a new goal. Carsley might have made more than 400 professional appearances but he has yet to win a promotion medal of any kind. It is something he desperately wants and an aim that he believes Birmingham have the quality and belief to achieve.

Whether Blues do bounce straight back might in part depend on whether Carsley stays fit. He might not be the youngest, fastest, most spectacular or skillful player in the Championship but I cannot think of any who are more quietly effective.


  • Comment number 1.


    I was also at the game last night, and would like to make a couple of points. Firstly, while I totally agree that Carsley was professional about the sending off and respect that, it really wasn't that bad a challenge - Leigertwood was trying to pull out having seen the ball was gone but couldn't stop his momentum on the wet surface and didn't connect with a lot of force IMO.

    Secondly, you've talked a lot about the first half, when Carsley played well and City controlled the game. But what about the second ? They were abject against 10 men (taking nothing away from Rangers), and as captain, Carsley should have had much more of an influence.

    Interesting post though, always good to hear thoughtful comment on the Championship.


  • Comment number 2.

    As an Everton supporter I can only agree with you.

  • Comment number 3.

    lordBonifed - Quite correct. This piece is about Lee Carsley and thus focuses on him but there is no doubt that QPR fully deserved their win last night. I thought they were superb with 10 players in the second-half and, anyway, had dominated the latter stages of the opening half after weathering an early storm.

    I don't think anyone could argue that QPR were the better team on the night.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great article about a great player and man. Credit for writing about one of the less fashionable players, but as you say one of the most important.

    I was devastated when not only he left Everton, but we didn't adequately replace him. I wish him all the best and have no doubt he will help take Birmingham straight back up.

    We need to replace him in january, and all I can say is thanks again Lee you were brilliant, good luck next year.

    Some fans don't appreciate how good he is, just want to say to Birmingham supporters - you're very lucky! Great man and player, best his teammates love him.

  • Comment number 5.

    I asked Carsley whether they were missing him, an idea that he instantly rejected. I suspect that even if he believed it to be true he would not say so in public. He chose instead to suggest that Everton will start to climb the table and eventually finish in the higher reaches of the Premier League. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Well, I hope so," came the reply.


    Cars is definitely missed but he fully understands the direction that Everton are trying to take. Once we are able to settle on a central midfield combination I suspect we will be a better side and we won't be looking for a direct replacement for Cars as good as he most certainly was for us.

    Birmingham have made possibly the 2 best signings in the Championship in Cars and Kevin Phillips. Its good to see such experienced players still having real influence in a side and not just going through the motions the way that a player like Robbie Savage seems to be doing.

  • Comment number 6.

    Lee Carsley is an abosolute legend. He'd easily be a £20 million player if he was 10 years younger.

    It was sad to see him leave in the summer and is almost impossible to replace both on and off the pitch.

    I wish him all the best in the future. Good luck to a great man and a true footballing legend!

  • Comment number 7.

    as a birmingham season ticket holder, i've seen a lot of carsley in "action".

    i don't know what everton did to make him look so good,

    but now, he can't sprint, or pass more than 10 yards.

    he shouldn't be captain(albeit not permanent).

    he's one of the main reasons we're one of the leagues lower scoring teams.

    i'd happily send him back, in return for fellaini on loan

  • Comment number 8.

    As an Evertonian I miss Lee big time, he is greatly missed by the fans and the club.

    Lee will always be welcome and loved at Everton for everything he did for us.

    He always put in shift for us and worked hard for the team and his quality and intelligence in protecting the back four was not underestimated by the Goodison faithful.

    I hope Lee has a great time at Birmingham where I am sure he will off great defensive quality.

    Best to Lee and here is hoping we see him at a few matches at Everton in the years to come.

  • Comment number 9.

    Everton have definetely not replaced him, but he was at the end of his best, hence a step down to championship made sense.

    Some fans though have unrealistic expectations and he is a top signing for birmingham.

    The problem is Everton play the same game they always have but they need to adapt with no Carsley playing or perhaps everton has over achieved in recent times

  • Comment number 10.

    he also likes our back four, he passes to no-one else

  • Comment number 11.

    I was very very amused by Fletch's comment "Birmingham have YET to concede more than one goal in any of the 14 Championship fixtures they have played.".

    This implies they COULD in the future concede more than one goal in any of these 14 fixtures already played ?

    Perhaps he REALLY meant that "After 14 matches Birmingham still have not conceded more than 1 goal in any match"

  • Comment number 12.

    Exiled Canary - glad you like it. I have very much taken your point on board.

  • Comment number 13.

    Lee Carsley seems to have joined one of a small group of players - late-bloomers in danger of becoming national treasures.

    He comes across in the blog as being somewhat intelligent and I'm sure he has not forgotten the years of abuse he received for being a skill-free clogger. Then miraculously, because he has learned from experience and maybe because he has slowed down, he has become an unsung hero who slogs away and at 34 is getting his reward. Still though, I bet there are not too many replica shirts with "Carsley" on the back or kids going to sleep dreaming of being "the new Lee Carsley"

    Any time I have seen him play, I have not been impressed. No such thing as a forward pass. Just block and tackle and a short horizontal pass (at best). I don't think he ever claimed to be anything better and in fairness most teams need one - Everton's most succesful team had Peter Reid and its best team had Alan Ball - grafters both.

    I'm happy that there is a place for the Lee Carsley's of this world but no more than one per team please.!

  • Comment number 14.

    Everton are not the only ones that miss him at the moment.
    Ireland had a very poor centre midfield pairing in the last WCQ and with Steven Reid gone for the next year it was crazy not to have had a man of Carsleys experience and steadiness in the middle.

    Trapatoni needs to give Carsley a recall - never lets us down - no nonsense - and he´s one of the few Irish professional footballers who doesn´t believe that he´s a direct decendant of Jesus or Pele! See Joey Ó´Brien, Stephen Ireland, Stephen Hunt etc for details.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lee Carsley is indeed one of England's unsung heroes. He has always been a very important cog in every team he played in. Coventry were relegated despite Lee's efforts and it although he left for Everton you can't blame him. He had the best part of his career with Everton and I'm sure Coventry would have loved to have welcomed Lee back. Unfortunately he moved to Birmingham and he will probably play a very important role in their success this season. If he gets injured, look out, because Birmingham will slip.

  • Comment number 16.

    Oggysda - I think that the key point in your post is when you say that every team needs a player like Lee Carsley.

    They are not spectacular, their passes are often simply and to more creative players but I reckon that if you talked to all the team-mates he has played with and the managers he has worked for, they would pay handsome tribute to his contribution down the years.

  • Comment number 17.

    lol trust me everton fans your not missing much. Carsley is lucky to be playint championship level. the blues been 2nd in league is not down to carsley at all. and the 4 or 5 players why we are must be insulted by this blog. everton u want him pay us a million he is yours for a slow and ageing player.

  • Comment number 18.

    If he's a more valuable player than Wolves' Michael Kightly I'd be very surprised. Carsley's a good player for sure, and an effective player, but the Birmingham defence and goalkeeper also have a lot to do with why Birmingham have conceded so few - while Carsley's centrality to the Birmingham midfield is part of the reason Birmingham have scored so few, despite having a plethora of good strikers.

    ....and the McLeish approach to football, of which Carsley is a central plank, might also be one of the reasons that Birmingham, despite being in the top two of the division since the beginning of the season, have had pretty terrible crowds - 17,000 or so for their last home game is embarrassing. Effective football perhaps - attractive football almost never. Does that matter? It does to some of us...

  • Comment number 19.

    Anybody who under-estimates Cars does not have a full understanding of the game. Being an Evertonian, for many years, gives me the right to express the opinion that he is one of the most professional of players that I have had the pleasure of watching. When he puts the shirt on his back he will be out on the pitch giving you 100% every game. No back flips when he scores, no kissing of the badge, no running to the crowd looking for accolades. Just a Master tradesman doing what he does best.
    If the supporters of Birmingham want 40 yard passes, Beckham-like crosses and Gerrard style free kicks they should ask McLeish to see the owners for more money. In the mean time, I think you got a good deal. Thanks for the memories, Lee.

  • Comment number 20.

    ablue1972, really didnt make much sense. if you are implying you dont want a player that is dependable and solid game in game out, and can actually read the game well, then say so. I think you will find Cars team mates appreciate the role he plays.

    Another good point raised, and a very valid one, is about the defence and keeper. Having a solid reliable defence and keeper behind him does indeed make him look good. But lets remember that that isnt a one way street. how many times has Cars forced attacking players to make mistakes, then the defence cleans up? This isnt an attack on the defence at all, they do a great job, just saying dont underestimate cars' role in the whole thing..

  • Comment number 21.

    It would seem that Carsely is one of the most underated players English football and for that matter Irish football.
    Traps refusal to even call him up is as astounding as his refusal to play andy reid.
    I don't know what he is doing at Birmingham, I think he should have stayed at Everton. Perhaps he feared for his age. Definitely an unsung hero. I would take his like over that of beckam any day.

  • Comment number 22.

    collie21, would you take the trophies Carsley's won over those Beckham's won too?

  • Comment number 23.

    and he played for Ireland! who can't love the man?

  • Comment number 24.

    Lee was offered a one year extension by a Prem team that finished just outside the top 5. That says everything necessary about the lads experience and basic 'nouse'.

    Truth be told Lee's engine isn't what it was and last season he was skinned more than a few times by the pacier strikers. Several times, when it was apparent that he was about to get outpaced, he'd resort to bringing an opponent down and he gave away a few free-kicks in area's that we really didnt need.

    He was a brilliant servant to Everton and he'll always be held in the highest regard here. I am glad he left when he did though so we can remember him as he was and not how he might be against Prem opposition now!.

  • Comment number 25.

    spiritualwolf wrote:
    collie21, would you take the trophies Carsley's won over those Beckham's won too?


    Obviously not, but then Carsely has not been surrounded by the likes that beckham has. Carsely is a player in my opinion not very far away from Roy Keane in skill and commitment. Yes he is that good. He is just quieter personally and perhaps not as agressive.

  • Comment number 26.

    A nice article on a good honest professional. Off-topic, but from what I've seen of Segundo Castillo, he could prove to be an effective replacement for Carsley. I know he's been carrying a slight injury, but he has been on the bench for the past few games.

    Whether this is a sign of Moyes' desire to break free from the shackles of 4-5-1 remains to be seen. Many fans felt that Felliaini was to be a direct replacement for Carsley, but as Moyes has stated, and as Fellaini has shown he is more in the mould of Cahill, but with more potential I believe.

    Alot of teams are playing with what appear to be two defensive midfielders, to liberate an attacking trio (Liverpool, Chelsea) but I don't feel that Everton quite have the attacking prowess in terms of midfield personnel to allow that style to blossom.

  • Comment number 27.

    The thing is, people get success because they deserve it, one way or another. Beckham may be an unattractive kind of player in many ways - that whole 'celebrity' lifestyle is repellent to most of us I suspect, but actually, he has been a supremely 'effective' player in a very real sense - he wins games, and Sir Alex Ferguson knew that from the beginning. A flash harry, married to a ridiculous should-be-Z-list-celebrity, but a player who wins games...

    Carsley is much more attractive in other ways, but there's a reason he hasn't been in trophy-winning sides throughout his career, a reason he was in a relegated Coventry side, a reason Trappatoni doesn't select him. It's a shame, but that's how it is...

  • Comment number 28.

    I disagree Spiritual wolf. Matt le Tissier didn't win much if anything in his career. He was still regarded as one of the greatest English players of his time. Eric Cantona wasn't picked for the French National team when he was at Man Utd or Leeds.
    True there are reasons, but Trapps refusal to call him in, is more to do with Trapp. Carsely proved how good he is when Staunton was forced to bring him back, he completely changed the team and how it played.
    Harsh of you to mention the relegation, as if no brilliant players ever got relegated. Carsely has showed something a lot of players don't show these days, Loyalty.

  • Comment number 29.

    danglesmurf- carsley is NOT depedable and solid,

    he gives the ball away, and is too slow to get is back.

    it just so happens he plays in a weak part of our team,

    augusten, nafti, and carsley are all as bad as each other.

    i miss muamba.

  • Comment number 30.

    I knew that we would miss Lee Carsley a hell of a lot......but not as much as we actually are doing!!!!

    Our midfield does not look as organised as it did, we've been letting in stupid goals and the same defence as we had last year does not look anywhere near as tight.

    Carsley was, in my opinion, Evertons best and certainly most consistent player last year - the same could be said for most recent seasons.

    He'll certainly be missed at Goodison Park but good luck to him at Birmingham.

  • Comment number 31.

    I find it strange that people are moaning about Carsley using words such as " can't pass forward, wins the ball and gives it to the back four, can't sprint" etc. I was of the impression that role of the holding midfielder was to do exactly that- break down the opposition's posession and then give it to the more creative players to build an attack. Added to which Carsley says he is not getting any younger and has to use his experience now.
    At Chelsea we had such a player who did exactly that to the point that his role was named after him- nothing flash, just do your job. However if you want to see how much his team mates appreciated the job he did, just look on you tube for his penalty against Charlton that he was almost forced into taking and how he was mobbed afterwards.

    As is pointed out towards the beginning of the article, this role is one of those whose worth is hard to define...

  • Comment number 32.

    Being a season ticket holder for years, I find it strange for people to complain about Carsley and long for Muamba. Muamba was / is a good player, but his strength is tackling - he is a shocking, truly shocking passer of the ball and I see nothing different in the odd Bolton game that I have watched on the box. As ever we managed to get a rising talent for a couple of years, teach him to pass (better than awful anyway!) and sell him on, but in this league I would not swap him back necessarily as the job is "get us back up".

    Carsley runs the midfield - he may not be a box-to-box player anymore, but as the article says, he is the destructive force in the midfield which makes us tick. He also makes the defence look solid - the at least 1 per game ricket that Ridgewell and Taylor / Jaidi have still occurs, but usually now Carsley is there or thereabouts to help snuff out the problem

    My only criticism is that we have lacked creativity in the midfield around him, so the team have looked solid, but haven't exactly oozed chances - and against teams who sit deep rather than play offside, we have really looked like we have no ideas of how to score - even our set pieces seem a bit one dimensional (give it Larsson and cross your fingers!)

    But that isn't Carsley's issue. His job is to make sure he protects the back 4, and I agree with all those comments which say that he does a fantastic job of doing that - and his distribution may not be the greatest, but its as good or better than all the teams I have watched us play this season

  • Comment number 33.

    Lee Carsley has been fantastic for us this year. Nothing gets past him, his passing is simple yet effective, and he's a good leader. I can't believe there are any Blues fans on here giving him stick-and as for thinking Muamba is a better player...oh dear. Carsley is exactly the sort of player we needed last year. If we'd had someone like him to mop up the little mistakes that get pounced on in the Premiership, we'd have easily stayed up. Agustien is doing well now too. One blip at QPR won't hurt us too much.

  • Comment number 34.

    The thing is, people get success because they deserve it, one way or another.


    'fraid that life isn't like that.

    Most people who get success get success because they are in the right place at the right time or. more often than not, they are just born into the right family.

    On the other hand, Football IS like that.

    And that's one of the reasons it's such a great sport and so popular. Ordinary people - who have some talent and a lot of application - can make it big.

  • Comment number 35.

    Good article Paul,

    i believe that players of the Carsley mould, or as its more well known THE MAKELELE ROLE, are unsung heros of the football pitch, i believe that every team needs a player of this caliber, so to stop the oppostion teams creative players from being as effective. Nobody ever complaind that all Makelele did was pass backwards & sideways and rarely passed more than 10yards either nor did he ever really venture past the half way line, but the point is, did he really need to, the same as Carsley doesnt, this is the role that these types of players do for the team and it seems to always be a team performance from them rather than an individual.
    people dont appreciate their worth to teams, look how chelski stuggld a lil bit defensivly after Le Mak left until they managed to get Mikel and Essien doin a bit of that role. I think that the modern game calls for players of this type to help combat hard away games and highly attacking opponents, so these players are in short supply and high demand.
    i do believe that Everton have missed his disruptive influence of breaking up the oppositions attack this campaign.

    but i ask, would Birmingham fans be saying the same and critisicing if he was not in their team and on the bench and they were shipping goals left right and center cz there was no player to do the ugly work and break up the play?

  • Comment number 36.

    It's nice to see a good article from someone other than Tim Vickery. Well done.

    Lee has been sorely missed this season by us and our loss is most definitely Brum's gain. I don't know whether he would have lasted another season in the Prem, challenging on 4 fronts but from the evidence of this season so far, he can't of done much worse than anyone else in the squad. I bet if you asked Joleon Lescott if he misses Lee, the answer would be very much in the affirmitive.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a lifelong Everton fan living in the Birmingham area I can honestly say I agree 100% with your comments here. Lee Carseley is worth his weight in gold as far as i and probably most Evertonians are concerned. What he did for us and the manner in which he did it and how he conducted himself both on and off the field was absolutely top draw. A model professional, who never complains, never moans, as honest as the day is long and a VERY good defensive midfielder who saved our skin on more occasions than I can remember. David Moyes and Everton football club owe Lee Carsely a great debt of gratitude for what he has done for them.

    One particular match that Carsely played for Everton in, which sums him up totally was last seasons Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Carseley gave absolutely everything that night for Everton. Towards the end of the game he had to be substituted because he was so bruised and battered he could hardly walk. He had given everything that night, just like he did in every game he played. Honestly, I have never seen one man give so much to the cause and be so modest about his achievements. The sort of person you would like in the trenches next to you because you know he would give everything to the cause.

    I would go as far as to say that over a six year period, which is what he spent at Everton, I would rather have Lee Carsely than say Ronaldo or Rooney or Adabayor or any of these other flash players who will only turn it on say 50% of the time. Carsely was and still is a 100% man and the first name that should be put on the team sheet.

    As I live in the Birmingham area I have been down to St Andrews on a few occasions this season. The first player I look out for is Lee Carsely and last weekend in the game against Sheffield Wednesday he was absolutely awesome. He and Kevin Phillips were a class above any other player on the field.

    I was sad when he left Everton at the end of last season, but in a way I was also happy because the man who had given his all and asked for little in return had finally been given his dream move back to his beloved Birmingham City. A fitting end to the career of a player who deserves all the praise that comes his way.

    PS: It would be nice if he was offered a testimonial by Everton against say Birmingham City?

  • Comment number 38.

    Very well put mackey013. You are 100% bang on the mark.

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh, by the way, he started out with Derby County and used to be Our rock in front of the defence.

    Does anyone remember a long long time ago (well, 9 or 10 years) when The Rams were actually a very stable premiership side?

    Carsley was totally pivotal to that side. We lost 1-0 at Highbury just before Arsenal won the league - Carsley was sold a few days later to Blackburn, never did get why. I believe that's the root reason why Derby's fortunes rapidly declined, we never replaced him.

    The same could happen to Everton.

    Just gutted we couldn't bring him back to Pride Park and he chose the Blue noses. Oh well...

    All the best to Lee Carsley, top man!

  • Comment number 40.

    The point about Carsley, and this a comment to his doubters, is, you notice his true worth when he's not there and for some strange reason a team that was playing well suddenly loses 3-0!

    A proper player in my book and a proper man off it. You wouldn't catch Cars kissing his badge in front of the away end.

  • Comment number 41.

    The Midland 20 (34.) you're quite right to correct me, it's certainly true that in LIFE you don't necessarily get what you deserve, but in football you do... the respective skills/talent/application of Beckham and his wife show the difference between football and pop music in those terms...

    ....and collie (28.) whilst I would agree with you that Matt LeTissier (one of my real football heroes) is one of the greatest English players, certainly one of the most exciting, talented, enjoyable to watch, I don't think you can put a convincing argument forward that he's one of the most EFFECTIVE of players, which is what this blog was about. That's the point, isn't it?

    One more question, particularly for Everton fans (and Paul Fletcher). If Lee Carsley is the key figure, how can you explain the 2003/2004 season (for example). Was Lee Carsley playing? Of course he was.... The reality is that over recent years Everton have been up and down the table like a yo-yo as Moyes has continually developed his squad. Lee Carsley isn't the key factor, there are lots...

  • Comment number 42.

    There was a comment from someone that if Carsley was 10 years younger, he'd be a £20m player.

    Rubbish! He's a solid midfielder and a reliable club man, like a Barry Horne before him and players of this ilk. He was never a Roy Keane or even a Gareth Barry. I really wish people would stop overestimating these types of players.

    Man Utd paid £17m for Hargreaves and Chelsea paid £12.5m for Makelele, what on earth makes you think Lee Carsley, even in his prime, would have gone for £20m? Just because Villa tried to price Liverpool out of a move for Barry doesn't mean that players in this position who do a reliable job are worth £20m of anyone's problem.

    This is the problem with the english transfer market- this is why managers go abroad to find a decent international player at a sane price instead of overrated British-based players who are apparently worth millions just for performing their role competently.

  • Comment number 43.

    As a true Evertonian, I have to say Lee Carsley has been a huge miss for us this season, although we are now getting better. That said, Cars epitomised everything that is great about Everton, and nodbody ever doubted his commitment and loyalty to the cause. Not a prima donna, just a down-to-earth, nice guy who is good at his profession and he has also done a lot of charity work as well. We miss you Cars!

    Top man.

  • Comment number 44.

    andrewbibby (7&29)

    You may be very young and if so your inability to grasp the concept of defending is understandable.

    Last season we finished 5th in the PL with one of the lowest goals against totals in the division. Our mean defence has been the backbone of our relative success in the last 5 years (4 top 6 finishes).

    This season no Carsley, and we have shipped more goals than anyone else. Obviously not entirely down to the absence of Cars, but he sure had a big part to play in the defence.

    As someone else said, if you want a Beckham or a Bentley type in place of a solid workhorse defensive midfileder, firstly you ain't gonaa be able to afford him, and secondly you would start shipping goals and slide down the table!

    McLeish wants you promoted, not finishing 7th playing like Brazil.

    Good luck to Birmingham and Lee Carsley, can't wait to see him back at Goodison where he will get a hero's reception!!

  • Comment number 45.


    Blues supporter here - it is safe to assume andrewbibby is a WUM.

    Trust me we appreciate what Carsley has brought to our team.

  • Comment number 46.

    Well said Might Blooze,

    somebody who seems to understand the importance and worth of a defensive midfielder

    as does jimjimeney also.

    people seem to forget how much big teams covert these players and try so hard to get them and pay such massive amounts of money

    for example

    Hargreaves - Man Utd

    Mascherano - Liverpool

    Makelele - Chelsea (Mikel/Essien also, altho a lil more rounded CM's)

    Flamini - Arsenal(altho he is gone they try hard to keep him but he wanted to go AC Milan)

    M. Diarra - Real Madrid

    Gattuso - AC Milan

    Vieira/Cambiasso - Inter Milan

    Poulson - Juventus

    van Bommel - Bayern Munchen

    the list goes on througout all the top teams

  • Comment number 47.

    I'd have to agree with Subterranean. I doubt Cars would be worth tens of millions. He played to a fairly consistent standard throughout his career (I doubt you will see any fans of any club hes played for say likewise) but never had any big clubs knocking on his door before he joined Everton.

    These sorts of players dont really go for huge amounts. Its a relatively new concept and its mainly down to Makelele's reputation that these sort of players have become fashionably expensive. Cars was here first though!

  • Comment number 48.

    That list of yours, Samwell - how many of them haven't won any trophies during their career? doubts that a team needs a good defensive midfielder. Of course they do! Arsenal had Vieira, for example, even at their most cavalier. What's in doubt is whether Carsley's anywhere near the class of those kinds of players. History - both his, and those of the clubs he's played for - suggest otherwise. A good player, but not a great one. A journeyman, not a master.

  • Comment number 49.

    im not saying that Carsley is of the class of any of them players, but the point that i was making is that them type of players are underestimated and their true value is never understood until they have departed a club, as most teams fans dont really like that kind of player as they cant see their true worth as they dont do the so called spectacular things that the flair players do but the job they do do is every bit as important.

  • Comment number 50.

    Lee Carsley was a lot better when people thought he and Gravesen were the same player.

    the baldy box to box player who used to play for Everton was awesome

  • Comment number 51.

    Samwell, do you really think that players like Vieira were 'underestimated'? If a player of 'that type' is good enough, no-one underestimates them.....

  • Comment number 52.

    25. At 08:31am on 30 Oct 2008, collie21 wrote:
    spiritualwolf wrote:
    collie21, would you take the trophies Carsley's won over those Beckham's won too?


    Obviously not, but then Carsely has not been surrounded by the likes that beckham has. Carsely is a player in my opinion not very far away from Roy Keane in skill and commitment. Yes he is that good. He is just quieter personally and perhaps not as agressive.


    He's a good player mate but not quite in Keane's league. Also, what has this blog possibly got to do with Beckham???? There are plenty of other blogs to bash Becks on for those inclined...

  • Comment number 53.

    The easiest position to play, you don't need any skill just a level head and commitment. England is full of Carsleys and while he may be a 'good bloke', he is the epitome of everything that's wrong with the English approach to the game. What a shame we don't concentrate on finding players who can create opportunities rather than just stopping the opposition!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Good to see a piece on a spectatularly underrated player.

  • Comment number 55.

    Lee was a fantastic player for Everton and our goals conceeded column this season is testament to how much we miss him at Goodison Park, he is the type of player that will always be welcomed back to GP because his attitude was always never say die {even when he was having a nightmare}, his attitude on the pitch and off it is an example to younger players and our squad always remarked on how he managed to lift the dressing room and get them going, definately an unsung hero in my opinion and a player who deserves a testimonial which I think he would love.

  • Comment number 56.

    The easiest position to play, you don't need any skill just a level head and commitment. England is full of Carsleys and while he may be a 'good bloke', he is the epitome of everything that's wrong with the English approach to the game. What a shame we don't concentrate on finding players who can create opportunities rather than just stopping the opposition!!


    So how come the role didn't really exist in England until a Frenchman came along and made it all his own?

  • Comment number 57.

    53. At 9:39pm on 30 Oct 2008, laval74 wrote:
    The easiest position to play, you don't need any skill just a level head and commitment. England is full of Carsleys and while he may be a 'good bloke', he is the epitome of everything that's wrong with the English approach to the game. What a shame we don't concentrate on finding players who can create opportunities rather than just stopping the opposition!!


    Bit of a daft comment that mate. As number 56 has said, when most of the English teams adopted playing someone in this position, they were just catching up with the rest of Europe. IMO one of the most important positions on the pitch.

    You say it's the English way but look at the national team. Lampard and Gerrard, need I say more? Against real opposition, one of them will HAVE to be dropped...

  • Comment number 58.

    I can't believe any Blues supporter seriously doubts Carsley's contribution. He is not a forward, his job is to assist the defence and hold things up. Ridgewell's confidence was shot after last season, Taylor still has not recovered from the Eduardo incident, Jaidi is in and out of the team through injury, yet we have one of the best defensive records in the country. Carsley's contribution to that is important - the defence has confidence that there is someone there they can finagle the ball to.

    More goals would be nice, of course, but hopefully they will come...we have players bombing crosses in with greater or lesser accuracy, we are beginning to find the defence-splitting passes and so on. But the Championship is a LOT closer than the Prem; our most impressive opponents this season were probably Doncaster, and look where they are.

  • Comment number 59.

    I would agree completly with u about carsley we need to get him back into a midfield role in the ireland team as we are lacking a bit of bite and experience..
    I would not like to go for a 50/50 ball with him..
    Good blog

  • Comment number 60.

    Only the other day I was thinking something similar about Ian Ashbee, who is Hull City's version of Lee Carsley. My thoughts were whether Ashbee is city's greatest ever player due to his influence in their rise up the divisions. Every time they have been promoted some fans have said he would not be good enough for the division above, each time he has not only proved them wrong, but has starred with his no nonsense tackling in midfield thus stopping the opposition from playing. My thoughts are that City would not have made the progress without a player of his type, not neccessarily Ashbee and their is therefore a good argument for calling him city's greatest ever player.

  • Comment number 61.

    Spiritual Wolf...

    In response to this post:

    One more question, particularly for Everton fans (and Paul Fletcher). If Lee Carsley is the key figure, how can you explain the 2003/2004 season (for example). Was Lee Carsley playing? Of course he was.... The reality is that over recent years Everton have been up and down the table like a yo-yo as Moyes has continually developed his squad. Lee Carsley isn't the key factor, there are lots...

    Lee was injured for a large portion of this season. Our tag as a yo-yo club was certainly appropriate for the years before Lee joined the club, but since then we've gone on to stablise ourselves and are the only team to gatecrash the "Sky 4" in recent memory.

    As for all these comments about Carsley being as good as Roy Keane or Hargreaves. I have to say, that is a bit optimistic. He was a great player for us and did such a good job, but his footballing skills weren't quite good enough to be put on that level and that shows by the fact he never went on to a title challenging side. Defensively he was one of the best but I lost count of the amount of times I found myself cursing him for a bad pass or a lack of skill.

  • Comment number 62.

    56 and 57 - a fair enough comment about his 'role', but you don't have to have a special talent to play it. I'm sure Gerrard COULD play it, just as he COULD play wide right, (the role Benitez used him in when he scored the most goals he'd ever scored in a season). The point is Gerrard can offer so much more to hurt the opposition in the other penalty area as can Lampard whereas generally there is a serious lack of emphasis from English coaches on using players with the skill and technique to unlock defences , preferring instead the easy option of using athletes who can get from box to box, protect the back four and/or stop the opposition playing. You only have to listen to the after-match comments of managers and so-called experts to see how negatively they think!!

    As for Makalele starting the role, that's media-hype (like 20/20 cricket being something new, when club players have been playing it for years). Way back in '66 Nobby Styles was used to break up attacks and later 'sweepers' as they were called then would sweep up in front of the back four as well as behind them, even in the semi-pro and amateur teams that I played in!

  • Comment number 63.

    Number 62 (laval74)

    Fair comments, I just think that a team will usually get found out without a good player in this position. Every team needs to play to their strengths; and England are no Brazil.

    Without a quality 'anchor' man in midfield we have no chance of ever winning anything major at international level.

    Again, it's just my opinion but respect to everyone else's

    Peace ;-)

  • Comment number 64.

    'Every team needs to play to their strengths; and England are no Brazil.
    Without a quality 'anchor' man in midfield we have no chance of ever winning anything major at international level.'

    King Eric - you've summed up our predicament and current attitude to football in a nutshell. The English system traditionally has not produced the sort of technical players needed to influence games at international level (these players being considered a 'luxury' in the blood and thunder of British football)so we have come to rely on stifling the opposition and relying on set-pieces and scraps.

    How often do you hear English managers say words to the effect of 'We had to get amongst them and stop them playing or they would have murdered us' . What they are effectively saying is 'We are not good enough to win in a contest of skill'

  • Comment number 65.


    Again, fair comments buddy. My opinion is that an anchor man allows us the luxury of Gerrard and Rooney playing more freely, swapping positions throughout the match; and being much harder to mark.

    I don't think this is a negative approach, just playing to our strengths and using our two best attacking players the most effective way.

  • Comment number 66.

    It always fascinates me how any article on any topic always ends up with people posting comments that are irrelevent. why would someone say they would rather have a Carsley than a Rooney or Ronaldo or vice versa? Does a team only allowed to have defensive midfield players in them? They are not mutually exclusive positions.

    The reason this article has generated so much interest is because it is about an unfashionable player in a less than glamorous team (Sorry Blues fans but I have lived in Brum and it's true) who plays in a role no-one seems to be able to evaluate. The only way anyone seems to able to work out Carsley's value and contribution has been by pointing out the results statistics AFTER he has left a club. The truth is this sort of player has always been around (The old W M formation may not mean much to the younger generation but I am afraid I can still remember it) and will always be undervalued because they are simply not spectacular.

    Those who believe that a player like Steven Gerard could do the role are missing the point. He is an ATTACKING midfield player who should be spending more of his time up the pitch and not at the other end. Just because he is an excellent tackler and has boundless energy is not the point. Even he cannot move faster than the ball.

    Samwell2804 has already listed many of the current players who count in this role. I watched AC milan beat both Man U and Liverpool a couple of years ago. Gattuso made all the difference. It is the same for Italy. Kaka's brilliance and attacking skills and Ronaldo's 'genius' are all pointless if your defense leak goals at the other end. The reason why football is so fascinating is because it truly is a team game. Players do not interchange in other sports as much as they do in football but the truth is that some people are just better at a given role than others. Carsley happens to be one and it is good to see so many fans give him the credit he deserves. The role outlined is a specialist role as it needs a good reading of the game and excellent timing. That is why most of the best are usually in their prime. They do not need to be fast and fit as they can see what is going to develop and snuff it out at the right time.

    As for being undervalued - Viera did not go to Real Madrid because they did not make him a good enough offer. Why? Because he would not sell as many shirts as Beckham. Arsenal have never been the same defensively without Viera. Can you imagine them losing 2 goals in the last 5 minutes if he was playing for them?

    The point is not really whether you think Carsley is a good player or not. The fact is that he has played in the role outlined in the article for many years and managers have paid good money for him to do this. If he was good enough for David Moyes who is an excellent manager then he is obviously good enough for McLeish who has yet to prove himself.

    I applaud Paul Fletcher for going to the trouble of interviewing a player I would not recognise on the streets. Also, to quote someone more intelligent than I am 'Life is not fair - life is life'. Football is not above the laws of nature and the world we live in. Sometimes talented players fail and sometimes less talented players succeed so it is balls to think it is the only aspect of life that offers rewards to those with talent and ambition. I met George Best and Kevin Keegan in Dubai once. I preferred to talk to Keegan because he had made the most of his talents. Anyway, Best was more interested in chatting my girlfriend up until he realised she had no idea who he was.

    Debate and discussion are healthy but the fact is that only their peers are really able to assess the contribution any one player makes to the team. Go back to when you were selecting sides in the schoolyard with no managers and no reputations to worry about? All the kids there knew who made the difference and chose accordingly and the same still applies to those who get paid millions. I am betting Carsley would get picked by his peers.

    Sorry if I do not sound like a barrel of laughs but humour does not translate well in writing. Besides, it is hard work being funny which is why I am leaving it to others.

    Cheers, Joe.

  • Comment number 67.


    wasn't Carlsey the person who committed that absolutely horrendous challenge on Olivier Bernard, of Newcastle 4 seasons ago, when Wayne, he's soooo great he's practically God, Rooney went up the field, got a pen, which subsequently cost us a slim chance of winning the league, when everyone was shouting for Rooney to put the ball out?

    Although many will say, it was Rooney's fault, Carsley, if memory serves was the player who caused the furore in the 1st place.

    I may be wrong, and it may have been Carsley's twin brother, Phil Mitchell, no sorry Thomas Gravesen who done it, but i'm +itive it was LC.

    Die hard Geordie, Scott

  • Comment number 68.

    As an Irishman, I think that Lee still has a lot to offer on the international front. Trap should play him in the holding roll for the remainder of our WC qualifiers.

  • Comment number 69.

    It seems to me that almost every side that achieves any kind of universal praise for its efforts - and not just the ones that have won all the trophies - have contained a player like Lee Carsley. A good, honest, hardworking midfield engine is an indispensible component of a solid team.

    Think of players like Claude Makalele, Roy Keane, Gennaro Gattuso, Paul Ince, Sunday Oliseh. Managers know that players like these will commit themselves body and soul in every match they play. They will harrie the opposition until their lungs are about to burst and sap the energy from their opposing numbers. Add to that the fact they are usually named captain or vice-captain of their teams, and you have the formula of a player who will win matches for you, albeit in a much more brutal way than a flair player.

    The point is that these players allow the more skilful ones to express themselves, because the fancy dans know that their backs are covered when they feel like they have to please the crowd.

    I'm not for a moment suggesting that Lee Carsley has achieved the same things as the players mentioned above, but he is in the same mould. One thing you can say about him, and the others mentioned, is they are usually the ones who have a long and fruitful career and continue to give their best until the absolute end.

    Players of Carsley's ilk should be praised for their commitment in an era where too many prima donnas collect their obscene pay cheques and perform like drunken seals.

  • Comment number 70.

    To Die hard Geordie Scott

    I'm a Geordie and a die hard Everton fan and it really doesn't suprise me to see a Mag dredge this up about that challenge of Carsley's.Slim isn't even the word to describe your chances of the title then.Let's face it,your lot had their once-every-81 years (and counting)-chance of the title under Keegan and you blew it!

    Next you'll bring up the state of the pitch in 1995 in our Q-F against you lot.Are you sure you're not Alan Oliver in disguise who has to be the biggest Everton hater in the north east and that's saying something!

  • Comment number 71.

    as another everton fan, just like to wish lee carsley all the best. brilliant attitude and always came across as a great fella.

    some quality goals and a brilliant work ethic, must confess to wincing at some of his tackles (even tim cahill was crocked by one).

    hopefully he'll get his beloved birmingham up and get back to goodison next year. all the best, pal.

  • Comment number 72.

    Die hard Geordie, Scott

    1. it was gravesen (he bottled out of a tackle and fouled bernard)

    2. you had no chance of winning the league

    3. put the ball out? that's the ref's call

    otherwise, good post

  • Comment number 73.

    Lee Carsley was injured in a pre season friendly before the 2004 season started against Fenerbahce , he was out for most of that season , Incidentally ,'Cars' does get forward to score the odd goal ... I seem to recall a great one last season in the dying seconds against ...... ermmm . Birmingham !

  • Comment number 74.

    Apologies for not knowing the Lee Was injured before the 2003/2004 season - it does make things look a little different. I'm still not completely convinced that he's anything more than a good journeyman - with the emphasis on the GOOD - and I'm still not convinced by Birmingham, because a team with the strikers they've got should be banging them in, and they're not, but I'm a little more convinced by Lee Carsley's record!

  • Comment number 75.

    Post 66 - Joe Perriman. Can I just say that that was probably the most eloquent, intelligent and well argued post on here - and no-one else picked up on it... so I thought I would.

    Seems to me this thread is going round in circles, so I'm going to try and tie a lot of these disparate themes together for a bit of consistency.

    Lee Carsley is a decent, honest pro. These attributes don't win you football matches but not enough people display them. He works hard and gives 100%. Again, this could not be said about some players.

    Lee Carsley is not as good as Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira. Obvious. He doesn't need to be, he's playing for Birmingham (no offence Brum - your team is better than mine). This, however, does not mean he is not effective.

    Now, the thread seems to have drifted on to the very nature and importance of Carsley's position. laval74 - it is not a sign of negative thinking this position is talked up. I agree that the tendency to encourage kids at grassroots to clear the ball rather than play it is a problem that we the English have - almost an aversion to creativity. The water carrier role is not a symptom of that. It is a vital component of a well functioning team. It is not something particularly new, and it is only one part of the puzzle, but it is an important part. As many others here have said - it allows your wingers and attacking midfielders to be ambitious, creative and risk taking - to attempt the flair pass or the audacious shot safe in the knowledge that they have extra protection. It perhaps does not require skill or flair but it requires judgement, decision making and timing - these are different and less obvious skills but important skills nonetheless. The attacker and the protector - they are not mutually exclusive but ying to each others yang. The Arsenal Invincibles still managed to play breathtaking football with a midfield enforcer (again, I know Vieira is a much better player). Also, sometimes you face a tough ugly battle against teams set up to be difficult to break down. This is when players like Carsley can come into their own - they work tirelessly - plugging away trying to set up their team mates. You can guarantee that players like this will work harder than 7/10 flair players in games like this and that gets you valuable points.

    Show me a team that is great going forward and terrible at the back and I'll show a team that has won nothing. Keegan's Entertainer's soft underbelly was exposed by a few crude Ferguson mind games. Then there was the Brazil team of 82, supposedly the greatest team never to win the World Cup. This attitude of "you score 3, we'll score 4" is great until one game you don't score 4, then you're screwed. Much better to have the attitude, "you score 0, we score 4."

    When Man U won their first title in four years two seasons ago, is it a coincidence that the only major signing they had made was Michael Carrick? Yet they still managed to find room for Ronaldo, didn't they?

    When England meekly capitulated in the 2006 World Cup, who was generally recognised as our best player? Owen Hargreaves.

    Real Madrid's decision to sell Claude Makelele was seen by many, including his Madrid team mates, as a key factor in their sabbatical from La Liga and Champion's League success, leading to their surprise move for Thomas Gravesen in an attempt to shore up their defence.

    This last example also flies in the face of laval74's assertion that this is a British attitude. No offence laval... but that's ridiculous. Makelele - the water carrier's most famous standard bearer - a Frenchman who made his name in Spain and was then brought over to Britain by an ultra-pragmatist Portuguese. Speaking of Morinhio, his Porto team didn't exactly thrill as it ground its way to UEFA Cup and Champion's League success. And his Chlesea team, while occasionally brilliant, often left the football purist pulling out his hair in apoplexy. Same for the Spanish Rafa Benitez, whose teams have often set out merely to stop the opposition - not least in the recent victory against Chelsea for which the recieved many plaudits. But there's more... Hargreaves - a Canadian schooled in Germany. Then think of that bastion of free flowing football - Italy - who of course never try to stifle the opposition and are always ready to embrace free flowing wave after wave of attacking football.

    Before I ramble myself into oblivion, I'll try and come to a point - people have a romantic view of the "Brazilian" style of football - but the best teams, almost without exception, are those that combine grit and determination with flair and creativity - United last year were a great example. Solid at the back - great going forward. When McLaren threw Gareth Barry back into the England set up it gave England balance - that is the key word. Shove all your attack minded midfielders on and you will be taken apart by a more professional team 9/10. Gerrard or Lampard may be able to fulfill this role - but so far they haven't shown that they can for England - so lets give your Barry's and Carrick's et al a bit of credit for something they've shown they can do which some of England's more fashionable names so far have not.

    And to a lesser extent - give credit to Carsley. Clearly he (and Gravesen), were very important to Everton. I think the stats back this up. Lescott has looked very shaky without him. This may not be conclusive evidence but I remember (as a Saints fan) that Wayne Bridge and Chris Marsden had a great understanding together and that when we sold Bridge, Marsden's form disentegrated. As pointed out before, sometimes you don't know what you have until its gone. He doesn't have to be skillfull - he just has to have a good football intelligence and I think he's shown he has that. If Birmingham aren't scoring look to Alex McLeish - he needs to realise he's not managing underdogs Scotland or relegation threatened Birmingham anymore but promotion chasing Birmingham, one of the favourites - and get his team to play with a bit more freedom. Carsley will be still there breaking up the play. It's not his fault if the team isn't free flowing.

    I'm surprised this much debate, and such a long response from me (sorry for rambling, but I felt the need to try and make sense of a lot of the good points made by others), which shows at least that maybe people do rate this type of player. No, he's not a world beater by any means - but lets give him a bit of respect for being an integral part of a frequent top 6 Premiership side.

  • Comment number 76.

    undoubtedly Lee Carsley is an excellent player signed for nothing and is being sorely missed by Everton but i'm amazed that no-one at everton has highlighted anything about the loss of Former Bluenose Andrew Johnston yes Lee Carsley is doing a brilliant job for us but you lost your best striker and replaced him with a zero also..
    thanx for Lee he is everything we need as a holding player and more his workrate is amazing mops up the defense and holds the line what an unsung heroe..



  • Comment number 77.

    Carsley did win promotion with us (Derby) back in 1995/96, in fact, he was excellent that season and had been switched to an attacking full-back role.

    One thing that strikes me about Lee Carsley is that he knows how lucky he is to be playing and making a good career out of football. He often mentions this in interviews and is probably related in part to back in 1995 when Alan Thompson (then at Bolton) caught him with a dreadful tackle and broke his leg.

  • Comment number 78.

    It's 2 o'clock in the morning.............. just got back from attending an on call call......... wide awake so read this blog............ many interesting points..............
    ..................... my connection with this beloved game is at the other end of the spectrum i.e. I have coached youngsters over more years than I care to remember......... it was your premise that LC would fit into the 'unsung hero' category that sparked a reaction..........
    ........I have been priviledged to have been able to work with some truly talented young players....... but there have been just a handful that have really stood out from the crowd......... and they all had one thing in common: a willingness to go that extra mile......... a fantastic work ethic, a real desire to cover for their team mates and a quiet determination to dust themselves down and just get on with the game when things didn't quite go according to plan............. ok thas three................
    .............. and the strange thing was, that was exactly the attitude that their parents displayed................
    ............... so................. what does that tell us................... uuummmmm?!
    Steve (Tractor Boy through and through)

  • Comment number 79.

    actually , spiritualwolf 41: The point about Le Tissier in relation to this blog, is he has won just as much if not less, ( I might be wrong but carsely might have a medal somewhere) than Carsely. When he was capped for England he was woeful. Carsely on the other hand has been consistently brilliant for club and country

  • Comment number 80.

    Quite simply every single team in the CCC would take Carsley in a heartbeat.

    He controls the game from his designated position a defensive midfielder. I would go as far too say half of the Prem teams would take him.

    I find it very interesting that his detractors are either rival CCC teams supporters and a couple of WUM.

    The majority of Blues fans especially the older ones fully understand his role in a successful winning side. I would suspect the ones who feel he does nothing for the side are either young or think players are only good if thay dribble or score goals.

    You need a mixture of players in a team and the role of a defensive midfielder is a crucial as a prolific striker or an exciting winger.

    If Blues get promted it will be as much to do with Carley as Kevin Phillips if he get 20 goals.

    I respect the views of the Evertoians as they've seen Carsley for years and not just 5 minutes here and there on the championship sunday mornings on itv.

  • Comment number 81.

    If a Birmingham fan cant see what they have then as an Everton fan i will happily take the guy back.
    I loved everything about him. I think i read someone say that he was a true Everton player, no doubt about it. He had passion and fight when we needed it most.
    He was our answer to Carragher, he cant really pass! But he cant half defend!
    If you blame him for your sides lack of creativity then i think you are looking in the wrong place! *cough* Nafti is playing alongside him *cough*
    I have had a season ticket for Everton for 10 years now, and altho he never had that vision or skill of a 20 million pound attacking midfielder, i still loved watching him play for his passion, drive and pride.
    Hes a team player, everyone at Everton loved him, hes extremely modest and is one of those people i hate to hear get slagged off by either Liverpool fans or people who have never properly watched him play, but just decide that hes not good because you dont see him on MOTD every week scoring or setting up a screamer!
    You clearly dont understand his worth. Yet this article does.
    There is a rumour that Real Madrid bought the wrong bald Everton centre midfielder...

    Everton legend.

  • Comment number 82.

    I love the idea that defensive midfielders are underrated. So many people claim that they're underrated that they're now the most overrated players!

    Makelele gets more praise than the likes of Lampard and Gerrard these days. Similarly, Gareth Barry was suddenly the most fashionable player six months ago.

    This isn't a dig at Carsley (above average Championship player, certainly), just a comment on how people love to jump on bandwagons.

  • Comment number 83.

    As yesterday's result (and performance) for Birmingham showed, defensive midfielders like Lee Carsley are all very well, but if you don't have the attacking flair or tactics to benefit them, they're about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

    The trouble with Lee is that making him the star of the show means, at least in Birmingham's case, you're destined for negative football, poor crowds and ultimately poor results. Is that being effective?

  • Comment number 84.

    Carsley is a good player and gives teams balance of that there is no doubt.

    However, he is 34 and is not a long term option.

    In Carl Henry, Wolves have a player who is improving game after game and is molding himself into a very good defensive midfielder. I'd much rather have someone like that than an over the hill 34 year old looking to pick up a couple of years of high wages before he retires.

    For you blues fans - great result last night! It tickled me when i saw the attendance too.......17,000!


    Come on you Wolves!

  • Comment number 85.

    i was at the coventry game last night, and carsley had a shocker (most of the team did, in fairness).

    but everytime he passed to a coventry player who was four foot away, i thought about all the dilusioned everton and derby fans who've written on this.

    he did have one our best attempts on goal though

  • Comment number 86.



    makes a change from your boyfriend tickling you I guess.

  • Comment number 87.



    ask your mom - she will tell you I don't have a boyfriend pal.

  • Comment number 88.

    carsley has been a waste of time all season for us but then again so have the rest of the team mcleish is a bad manager whether he gets us promoted or not will not change my opinion of him he has failed to get the team playing well at all this season even with the team he has got he refuses to play anyone from the academy even though we have struggled all season so whats the point in having it?
    he sells good young players like Aluko to bring in journey men players like bent who is only interested in the salary he picks up every week. he buys old players as short term fixes phillips and carsley rather than bring the youth through like jordan mutch.
    he is even more negative than bruce with his tatics (or lack of them) and he has the personaility of a doorknob he has taken every ounce of fight from the team which is what we have always been renound for and he needs to be sacked but with the spineless penny pinching board we have got that will never happen we need big sam to show us what attacking football is mceish is keeping the fans away and i can see us failing to get promoted with him in charge.
    i along with many others this season have refused to renew my season ticket or even go to games whilst mcleish is in charge as i dont see why i should pay so much to be bored rigid for 90 mins a match

  • Comment number 89.

    Just as a matter of interest, Paul, do you think the timing of your blog has anything to do with Lee Carsley and his Birmingham team going into a serious slump (one point from nine)?

    Or is the reverse the case - that you were misled into believing in the 'effectiveness' of Lee Carsley by the way that Birmingham had been picking up points despite playing poorly, negatively, and luckily?

    A reassessment is due, don't you think? A little bit of egg-on-face, perhaps?

  • Comment number 90.

    Mmm...fed up every time I log on to Championship page to be greeted by this article!!! This article's been on forever! Come on BBC! The times move on even in the Championship! He's not The Championship's most effective player anyhow! Try Michael Kightley or Ebanks Blake or Doyle at Reading!

    Don't spose many BBC hacks have to cover the lower divisions tho. Most of em are in the US waiting for Obama to buy a puppy!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Can I just say that as a Birmingham fan, he has made such a difference to the back line this season.

    Spiritualwolf (comment 89), it has not been the defence that has been the problem in the last 3 games - our strikers just can't score to save their lives at the minute.

    Although had Carsley not scored a last minute winner against us last year, we'd have had an extra point - that would have kept us up!


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.