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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 12:16 GMT
Sharp backs Beattie for success
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Former Everton striker Graeme Sharp has backed 6.5m record signing James Beattie to be the new spearhead of David Moyes' rejuvenated Merseysiders.

For Everton to land Beattie with Aston Villa in direct competition is a massive thing for the club
Former Everton striker Graeme Sharp

Sharp - a two-time title winner at Everton in the 1980s - believes Beattie arrives at Goodison Park from Southampton with a point to prove.

But Sharp is confident the 26-year-old has the mental strength to cope with the pressure and add an extra dimension to fourth-placed Everton as they bid for European football.

Sharp told BBC Sport: "James Beattie has proved he can score goals in the Premiership and it's great news for Everton and David Moyes because he was clearly the top transfer target.

"He will give Everton an extra goalscoring edge, and maybe the lad himself will feel he needs to kick-start his career again after going a bit stale at Southampton.

"He's a real signing for the future of Everton as well. This is a big sign of David Moyes building his own team, because people like Kevin Campbell and Duncan Ferguson are out of contract at the end of the season, along with a lot of others.

"Everton have been linked with Dean Ashton at Crewe - but do you take what might be a chance on a player from the lower divisions, or do you pay bigger money for someone who has scored goals in the Premiership and has played international football?

"Beattie has had injuries in the last couple of months, but when he's fit he's a proven goalscorer, and that extra goalscoring edge will be what Everton will really be looking for.

"He's a big, strong, powerful lad. He can hold the ball up and he's shown he can get different types of goals.

"Everton will need to get balls into the box, and the interesting thing will be if David Moyes plays Beattie in his tried and trusted 4-5-1 formation that he's used this season, or whether he will switch to 4-4-2.

"Marcus Bent has played the lone striker's role really well this season, and he offers a different option in that he has more pace than Beattie and gives teams more to worry about with the ball over the top.

Everton manager David Moyes
Moyes has pulled off a coup by landing Beattie

"The 4-5-1 formation has been fantastic this season because it has worked really well and allowed Lee Carsley, Tim Cahill and particularly Thomas Gravesen to really flourish."

Sharp also believes Beattie's decision to choose Everton ahead of Aston Villa is confirmation that the Merseysiders are moving in the right direction once again.

He said: "Ironically, it was the same decision I had to make myself when I left Dumbarton. I chose Everton ahead of Villa at that time because they just felt a more homely club.

"For Everton to land Beattie with Villa in direct opposition is a massive thing for David Moyes and the club, and sends out all the right signals.

"Villa are a massive club, but Beattie clearly feels Everton are the better bet and that's a sign for other players as well. It shows that if you are up there in the top four or five places, you are automatically a more attractive proposition.

"It is no disrespect to Villa or their manager David O'Leary, but Beattie has obviously looked at Everton and sees they have a young manager who knows what he wants and is trying to build a successful team.

"James may also regard it as a fresh start for himself. He was a big fish in a small pond at Southampton, but life is very different at a huge club like Everton.

"He might also still have ambitions to play for England again, and to do that he will have to play well for Everton.

"The Everton supporters don't just expect 100% on a match day, they expect it on every single day you are at this club, which is exactly right. He has to do the business.

"He has been at Blackburn and Southampton which are, with respect, two smaller clubs than Everton and he will have a manager in David Moyes who will work him hard and tell him exactly what he expects from him.

"It is pressure and some people might struggle to cope with it, but from what I can gather the lad has for the right mental approach to take it."

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