With this week’s back pages unsurprisingly dominated by the departure of Rafael Benitez, another occurrence upon Merseyside failed to slip under the radar of most. Across Stanley Park, Everton manager David Moyes completed the free transfer signing of Leeds United forward Jermaine Beckford. The prolific hitman, scorer of 85 goals in 152 appearances for the Yorkshire side, had gained notoriety for his impressive scoring feats in League One. Critics however, have asked whether the 26-year-old possesses enough quality to make the transition from lower league football. Can Beckford really make the step up to Premier League football?
Whilst it would be easy to belittle Beckford’s League One achievements, his goal tally would suggest that his talents are unquestionable. 85 goals in three seasons is an absolutely phenomenal statistic, one that clearly demonstrates Beckford’s superb finishing abilities. This assertion is reinforced by the fact that he scored against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s FA Cup. Beckford’s scoring record also highlights his other attributes, namely his pace and intelligent movement. Moving to Everton will allow Beckford the opportunity to play with a better calibre of player; the likes of Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar will certainly create a lot of good chances at Premier League level for the former Chelsea trainee.
More importantly for Beckford, he has chosen to work under a manager who has a proven record of nurturing lower league talent. Moyes’ previous lower league acquisitions of Tim Cahill and Joleon Lescott have both managed to establish themselves as Premier League quality players.
In spite of his record over the last three seasons, Beckford has not been short of detractors, with his own fans at Leeds notoriously critical of him. The forward has been lambasted for his ‘selfish’ attitude and lack of team play, and the player is thought to very single-minded. Question marks have arisen over Beckford’s ‘poor first touch’, ‘weak link play’ and opportunistic approach. Premier League defenders will not afford Beckford as many chances and opportunities as those in League One.
Having arrived on a Bosman transfer, Beckford represents a very low-risk move for David Moyes. With Beckford in possession of the raw attributes needed to become a decent top-level striker, good coaching and playing against quality players will surely help to develop his game. Everton’s current striking ranks contain the likes of Louis Saha, Aiyegbeni Yakubu, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe. With these players notoriously prone to injury, Beckford is likely to be afforded plenty of first-team football. Whether Beckford establishes himself in the Premier League remains to be seen, but playing under David Moyes will provide him with the best opportunity to do so.
Do you think Jermaine Beckford will be able to continue his scoring form in the top flight?
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