Blend of youth and experience in midfield is key for Everton FC this season
ANY EVENT which involves Peter Reid and an Everton shirt in close proximity is enough to put a nostalgic smile on the faces of Bluenoses of a certain vintage.
The Huyton born former midfielder's in turns jovial and growling demeanour is a reminder of better times for those of the blue faith, and even if his occasional taciturn approach means he'd make an unlikely preacher, Reid is almost evangelical in his assessment of the forthcoming season for Everton.
Reid immediately cancelled plans for a relaxing afternoon watching England take on South Africa at the Oval when his favourite club came calling, asking that he help launch their opinion splitting new home kit last week.
And before he got down to the serious business of his former team's hopes for the new season, he gave a typically plain speaking assessment of the Nike shirt with the white bands on the sleeves and blue socks which has upset some purists.
Trx Equipment "It's a great shirt, but then any shirt with the Everton badge on it is," says the 56 year old.
"I think the fans will take to it. They'll get used to the white bands on the arms it's something to wipe their noses on."
That pithy matter aside, Reid is keen to get onto the business of the forthcoming campaign and he senses a rare optimism around fellow Evertonians ahead of the kick off next month, despite the club's tendency to usually start campaigns bereft of form.
"I think there's an optimism now from Evertonians," he says.
"The way they finished the season was strong. The FA Cup semi final was very disappointing but I think there'll be a confidence in the squad, especially if they can hold on to all of their better players. That's a big thing as well."
Even the identity of the opponents for the big kick off a Monday night clash with last season's runners up Manchester United at Goodison, doesn't dent Reid's positivity.
"OK You look at Everton and they have been slow starters and got stronger," he says.
"How do you change that? Is it pre season? It's hard to say. I think having Manchester United first game is interesting. I don't think Sir Alex will relish coming to Goodison for the first game at all.
"We've had Naismith come in and there's speculation about Pienaar. Hopefully the two young lads, Rodwell and Barkley will be fit and put pressure on for a first team place as well. Jelavic in the last transfer window was a master stroke. If they can actually get Pienaar it would be great, and then you're looking at a really strong, well balanced squad which you would want at any football club.
"Don't forget Everton finished above Liverpool last time, and from the point of view of their financial clout that was a good season. Of course the thing which was hard to take was the semi final but those things happen. So I trace some optimism now and I feel it as well."
Reid believes the return of Steven Pienaar could be crucial to David Moyes' hopes for success, and suggests the pro player balance of power in the modern game means that Everton should have a strong chance of re signing the South African, who has made it clear his heart is set on Merseyside.
"With Pienaar its very difficult to keep hold of a player nowdays when they want to move. Whether he had the chances at Tottenham is debatable but he didn't really do it," he says.
"But he came back to Everton and he was terrific, with that relationship with Leighton Baines down the left hand side. I think he'll be a tremendous signing if they can do it.
"If you look at the experience in the squad it's impressive too; Neville, Distin, Heitinga, Baines, Hibbert, Osman, all good players. They've got the right blend. We haven't seen the best of Gibson either yet."
Perhaps the most exciting element for Reid is the prospect of two young midfield talents fully emerging during this season.
"If Rodwell and Barkley can come through in the middle of the park it'd be great," says the man to whom dominating a midfield with aggression and brains came naturally.
"They both have ability to open up and dictate games. Why not have two young lads come through and save the club a bit of money.
Trx Force Kit "They have both had injuries but I had plenty of injuries in my career and it is difficult, but they've just got to be strong.
"With the sports science involved in football these days you can really improve your core strength and stamina and go out on the pitch and try to dominate games. Especially in the middle of the park you need that, he's got all the attributes to do it and he's got to do it. He's no longer a kid, he's a player now and has to come up with the goods I'm sure he will.
"He hasn't always had the luck. I was at the derby last season when he got that red card and it was a joke. Embarrassing. Football finally died that day after that decision. It was a great tackle and it was unfortunate but you've got to overcome those things, it's part and parcel of the game.
"Then I've had really good reports on Barkley. People whose judgement I hold in high regard have said the lad has something, he did well with England's U 19's.
Trx Suspension Training "It's the start of a new season, they should both go for it. They both have ability to open up and dictate games. Why not have two young lads come through and save the club a bit of money?"
Everton FC stars must stay put
Trx Trainer PETER REID acknowledges that Moyes will need more than just youthful potential if he is to improve on last term's seventh place finish, and retaining his top players will be important.