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Alex Jones

Goldfish out of his Puddle
9 July 2005

Moyes: fish out of water
 in transfer deals?

I am writing to express my frustration at the increasing dbcle that is our transfer market situation.  I know the ground Moysey walks on is worshiped on this website so I'm treading on thin ice criticising him but the man has all the tenacity of a goldfish.  A competent motivator he may be although not when motivating players to stay at the club!) but a shrewd businessman he is not.  Moyes is to Branson as a puddle is to a lake, nay an ocean.

It is admittedly a sad state of affairs when the once beautiful game has fallen into the dark, murky world of corporate banality.  Yet fallen it has and if any club is to survive then, no matter how large they are, they have to adopt the strategies once the domain of banks and big business.  It is this area that Moyes falls depressingly short.

The cautious, red-haired Scot has no gumption when it comes to pushing through the final deal.  How many businessmen and entrepreneurs have made their millions by stopping at the final hurdle?  The reckless will to pursue an objective to its bitter end this is entirely absent in the prosaic Moyes.  It's not to fault him personally; he just doesn't have what it takes to make it in the modern age of agents and hard-cut transfer deals. His steely determination to wait until he's one hundred percent sure a deal is worthwhile, although commendable, is causing all the problems in the transfer market.

Take the Bellamy situation where a decent player is lined up to almost certainly come to the club yet with Moyes left to put in the final push, he baulks our offer and joins Blackburn.  Blackburn of all clubs!  The one-season wonders have nothing to offer any player of calibre and are even paying him less.  Now many loyal Evertonians are blaming Bellamy, citing his wish to play upfront as the stumbling block.  Yet, personally, I don't see it as unreasonable for a striker who left his last club because he wanted to play up front to then say he would like to play in his natural position for our club.  Yet as ever with Moyes he errs on the side of caution and informs Bellamy we are likely to be playing the "good old" 4-5-1 formation and might not be able to accommodate him!  And to think they used to call us the "school of science"!!!

The depressingly defensive formation served us well with the little class we had but you'd think, given last season's success and the new funds available, Moyes might have a little more ambition.  The 4-5-1 formation should be used as a last resort when we're struggling to contain another team's attack.  For Moyes to then push a player away because they, as an attacking player, wouldn't fit in with this system is a travesty of the highest degree.

Leaving aside the fiery Welshman, the main reason I'm writing is the failure of Moyes to secure the signing of the highly rated youngster Sissoko.  The fact that he's gone to Liverpool has only deepened the sense of desperation that is slowly seeping its way in to my bones.  How many times have we heard of a deal that is 90% certain only for it to fall through at the end?  The deal for the Valencia duo of Sissoko and Moretti had been on the cards for a week at least and yet still Moyes manages to cock it all up.

Losing one player (Parker) is unfortunate; losing a second player (Forsell) is perhaps a coincidence; a third (Emre) starts to get a little worrying... and now Sissoko!  Doesn't anyone else see a pattern forming here?  It's not even the fact that we have lost this particular individual that grates me — it's what losing yet another player to another club signifies for our club.  The lack of ambition is, i feel, completely out of touch with the feelings of the fans and probably the players.

The mantra of many Evertonians "in Moyes we trust!" has now completely disappeared for me as trust in Moyes I definitely do not!  I don't doubt his ability to make things happen on the pitch; it's just off the pitch where I feel he is out of his depth.  To refer to my earlier analogies, he's like a Goldfish out of his Puddle.

I'm not saying we should sack Moyes — far from it; I just believe a change is needed.  Perhaps adopting the continental system and bringing in a director of football who is commercially minded enough to make the final kill and bring in the players we so desperately need.  A Frank Arnesen type fellow who has almost single handedly managed to sign almost every talented, British youngster about would be a great find.  This way we could have a man with the skills needed off the field to secure our future and a man in charge on the field to keep the team together.

Yet perhaps my anger and frustration is unjustified and there's still hope Moyes will bring in the talent needed.  As to quote a fellow Evertonian I recently spoke to: "Sissoko who?"

Alex Jones


What a Load of Rubbish
This is an undeniably eloquent piece which clearly echoes the sentiments of a significant proportion of Evertonians. Unfortunately, it is also a complete load of crap.

For one thing, Mr Jones happily lays all the blame squarely at David Moyes's feet, which seems odd to me - because unless he has been privy to every meeting Moyes has had with agents and potential players, he is basing his entire argument on nothing more than imagination. Perhaps Mr Jones could tell me what exactly happened in Hitler's bunker...

I know I sound patronising, (please forgive me Mr Jones), but I can't help feeling angered by some Evertonians' (and all football fans') necessity to react and blame at any given opportunity.

Shit happens folks! Forsell's knackered knee? Tough luck! Can't afford Emre? The financial truth! Bellamy doesn't want to sacrifice the glory of scoring goals for the sake of a winning team? Good riddance! Sissoko would rather play for a manager he already has a history with and a team which currently holds the European Cup? The truth hurts.

4-5-1? 4-4-2? 3-5-2? I'll leave that to the manager who just got us into the Champions League for the first time in our history. Speaking of which, we may have one of the greatest histories in world football, but I can guarantee that on the Continent, we are currently only a tiny bit more attractive than Udinese.

I have no doubt Moyes has other irons in the fire and will eventually succeed in bringing in the necessary players, and when he does, I hope all the whingers stick this hysteria in their pipes and smoke it! IMIT! Laurent Corneille  (10/7/05)

Behave yourself Alex,
'Shrewd businessman he is not.'  You're surely 'avvin a laff!'  Cahill was the best buy of the season in the English premiership last year and Bent didn't do so badly either...  both bought by Moyes in case youve forgotten!

Cast your mind back to last season and the Rooney departure all doom and gloom was it not? Ill bet you were one of those calling for Moyess head then.  (What does humble pie taste like, by the way?)

So Bellamy has chosen the mighty Blackburn and a possible relegation battle over the chance of European glory... sod him...  He demonstrably has no ambition...  Do I really want a player with his obviously limited sense of history and tradition?  No, I dont think so.

After all, the extra money Bellamy will get at Blackburn for one season of glory in front of 15,000, will probably be spent on another car or bigger house.  Ask Sharpy or Andy Grey if theyd had rather have the memories of a bigger car twenty years ago or that glorious night in Rotterdam?

Let's be realistic Alex... Bellamy is hardly a prolific scorer and has netted a mere 11 goals in two seasons for the barcodes.  Did we really want to scrap our wages policy for a toerag like him?

And are you really sure you'd want a player who demands to pick his own position... before a bloody ball has even been kicked!!! (and will presumably scweem and scweem till he turns blue if he doesn't get his own way?)  What sort of credibility would Moyes have if he'd had caved in to Bellamy's demands?  This slightly above average player who has single handed sown more discontent at Newcastle than the common agricultural policy has sown beans.

Forsell was deemed a crock by our medical team; obviously the Birmingham medics think differently. Are you really saying we should have taken a chance with this uncertainty?  Remember, if he broke down after a couple of games and became a 4M dud wed not be able to replace him until the January transfer window at the earliest... and how would we recoup our 4M?

I will admit that missing out on Parker was a huge blow but weve got a wages cap for a reason.  Sadly, were not able to be as profligate with our cash as Newcastle but for all their trophy players what trophies have they ever won?  Get real Alex; the financial situation at Everton FC is such that we need to be parsimonious with our money and if we miss out on some decidedly ordinary players who want extra-ordinary money then Ill not lose any sleep over it and neither will Moysey I suspect.  In Moyes we Trust! Kevin Sparke  (10/7/05)

I forgot what I said
Goldfish Alex...get a grip.  Like all goldfish... apparently you don't remember anything that happened more than a few seconds ago.

I'm not one for saying that Moyes is untouchable, but for the love of God get some perspective.  The man has worked wonders at our club over the last few years.  Take it from me: he is earning a reputation as a hard bargainer; you see this as a negative, I don't.

I happen to have been in the buying game for the last 25 years with a number of FTSE 100 companies. I say that only to suggest that I do know a little bit about negotiation.  You have to show your opposite number that you have a position and objectives which you are prepared to stick with. If you don't, your opponent will take the proverbial and will always hold the upper hand; to the detriment of your reputation and associated credibility.  Sometimes this means you lose out, but as time goes on you win more than you lose; as word gets round that you act with integrity and credibility.  Believe me when I tell you that I KNOW that Moyes is gaining both of these within the football community.

In a game where every footballer is a mercenary (and I don't knock it), Moyes is weeding out the average mercenary from the Super Mercenary; i.e. Parker, Emre, Bellamy and now Sissoko.  The latter's club and his agent said that what he needed was to play regularly; which would have happened at Everton.  It won't at Liverpool. He went for the money.  Moyes realised this: otherwise he would have offered more, but he wants commitment from the players' minds as well as their wallets.

Moyes and his team are in it for the long game (as much as any of them are, although in his case I still cling to the belief that he is different) and so should we be.

Players come and go but we have a manager (for the first time in 20 years) with the potential to build a solid future for the club.  His biggest fault has been to heighten expectations with last season's success.... or had you forgotten where we've been for the last 15 years? — Steve Guy, Harrogate, (10/7/05)

Calm Down
This is really in response to Alex Jones, but also applies to all the hysteria surrounding our luck in the failure to sign relatively poor players.

I for one was delighted that we didn't sign Bellamy.  I believe him to be exactly like David Beckham in the way he believes he's a great great footballer.  The only difference is David Beckham is a great great player.  Bellamy has speed, and a big mouth with a massive opinion of himself.

This Mali character...  anyone else smell Bakayoko?  Nyarko?  5M is a big risk, especially when we can buy Keane for around the same amount.

People are ringing into phone-ins demanding that Everton change their wage structure!  We need to take a risk, we won't survive in the Champions League! So what?  We are in a complete rebuilding phase.  The club financially is in a great position, but if we do a Leeds then we could be worse off then we have been over the past ten years.  If we don't finish in the top 5, so what again? Uefa Cup would be fine for me.

Now I'm not making do with an average season, or a season less successful then last one.  But our main downfall over the past decade has been the poor management of our finances.  By consolidating what we have, bringing through the youth players, keeping the best team spirit in the Premiership alive, we will start to flourish.

Unfortunately, football is now a business.  Gordon Ramsay had a program where a big shot chef wannabe started his own restaurant and within a month had bought a BMW with a number plate A1 CHEF.  His business very nearly went under because he wanted the hi-life too soon.  A building process is needed, foundations for which to build upon.  I don't believe shelling out 50k/wk on players who are clearly only in it for the money (Parker was even in Advertising when he a kid...McDonalds ad).  Parker or Bellamy have never proven that they are a worth the money in my book.

I don't believe we should take a risk.  I think it would be unfair on the players who have got us where we are now if we were to bring in hotshots on five times the salary.

Alan Hansen once said you need four players to make a successful team: a good keeper, a solid centre back, a quality midfielder, and a goalscorer.  I feel we have all these, anything else would be supporting an already successful side.

So come on guys stop the moaning, stop calling for the head of Moyes, enjoy the fact that we are going to be playing European football, and enjoy the upcoming season... safe in the knowledge that we haven't just been robbed for a King's Ransom! — Nick Toye, Chester (10/7/05)

Moyes's Transfer Muddle
I agree with Alex Jones's excellent analysis of David Moyes's trail of failures in the transfer market.  As a long-time Everton fan and an admirer of Moyes the coach and player-manager, I find it difficult to accept that, following his disastrous performance in the transfer market this summer, I no longer live by the creed "in Moyes we trust".  He has blown that trust out the window with his behaviour.  Arguing over a sell-back clause that was never likely to have been activated in the Sissoko deal was like pole-vaulting over mouse poop and, in the end, it cost us a talented player we needed so desperately.

I'm afraid that unless the club get someone with experience in to help nurse David through the recruitment process, we'll end up getting no more recruits or recruits like Jason Euell or such like. In terms of the "cream" players, we have lost out so badly in the current market that none of them would want to join a bunch of "big league" amateurs like us.  This hurts more than losing a player to Liverpool. — John Cooper, Liverpool (10/7/05)

Taxi! Taxi for Mr Kenwrong....
I think Alex Jones is being a bit hard on David Moyes.  If I was running something the size of Everton, I would not want to leave the financial side of the business to anyone whose area of expertise lay more in putting together a tactical game plan to be carried out by a compatible playing squad.

Moyes, of course, has to identify preferred players and options and (in consultation with the Chairman and/or CEO) thrash out a value range covering transfer fees and wages within a budget.  However, once these had been determined, negotiations between clubs and with players must surely be done by the Chairman, CEO or Club Secretary.  While I don't know much of Everton's negotiating system, I have to wonder why, in the middle of a long planned pre-season training camp, Moyes has to fly to Spain to try to resurrect the protracted Sissoko transfer.

Perhaps Everton should consider the continental style "Football Director" but to my mind employing a man solely to negotiate half a dozen transfers a year is a waste when the CEO/Secretary should have these skills.  No, Everton don't seem to be able to organize the off-field side of things but the blame must lie somewhere other than with David Moyes. — Thommo, Formby, (10/7/05)

Good Greif!
I'm surprised you guys published the article by Alex he's obviously a complete ignoramus. His reasoning and opinions portrayed an astonishing naivety and quite frankly, stupidity.

I won't work my way through the piece - because it was utter nonsense - however one point nicely illustrates the guy's complete no-mark status... when he claims another Evertonian said 'Sissoko who?'......I'd like to point out to the intellectually challenged Mr Jones that a subscription to Sky Sports and a few watches of the Spanish football programmes would have given him more than enough information on how good a player Sissoko is and will go on to be.

Please can we have more enlightened articles, written by those with at least some knowledge of the game.

...but on the whole love the site. — Nick West, London, (10/7/05)

I Agree
Hi Alex, Just to say I have to agree with you.  But what I am worried about is that this is like last season, when we were linked with any number of players and making bids on them, when the club had no money.  Now we are supposed to have funds (something I am still not sure of ).  I know we have bought some players, but still I think there is some thing wrong here.  Look at the players we have been linked to and as you have said they just vanish to some other big club like Blackburn!!!!!

I cannot blame Mr Moyes totally, but the board have been nowhere to be seen AGAIN.  Is it that the club have no ambition or are we asking too much from an underachieving board?  I love Everton Football Club and this is a very sad saga, and one we must get used too.  Why do players not want to come to Everton? We are in the Champions league aren't we or are we?

The money is supposed to be there, but who has got it?  I feel we are being suckered again like last season and the squad will have to make do!!!  It is sad times at a club once footballers would come to and now they go elsewhere. I feel betrayed again by the board of Everton Football club.  The season tickets have gone through the roof with the fans paying to see new signings and have a good outlook for next season, but I feel they too are going to be let down. A disappointed Blue!!! John, North Wales

The Goldfish's Short Memory

Where do I start with Alex Jones's recent contribution?  You blame Moyes for the current spate of transfer difficulties and the fact that ,other than signing a Welsh international, a Danish international and a highly rated young goalkeeper, I agree this summer has been an unmitigated disaster.

Contrary to you, I admire his prudence and the fact that he does not want to blow the club's wage structure, or limited funds on rash decisions and greedy players.  I'll quickly run through the deals we have lost out on.

First there was Forsell.  A deal had, we are told, been all but done; however; on medical grounds we pulled out and the player signed for Birmingham.  Maybe we should have spent 3M on a player who failed our MOT, but quite rightly the names Slaven Bilic & Danny Williamson live long in the memories of the Board and the fans.  Paying 3M for a player who is a massive fitness risk is a gamble we rightly did not take.  We have seen enough money go down the drain over the years to contemplate such a gamble, now we have some limited funds to spare.

Next we come to Scott Parker.  A fee was reportedly agreed, but we would not meet the reported 45k a week wage demands.  Quite right too; we cannot smash our pay structure, which is finally being prudently managed, to bring a player to the club.  Paying over-inflated salaries seems to finally be a thing of the past at Everton and I for one am glad.

I want a player who chooses Champions League Football, the Royal Blue Jersey and to play in front of the best fans in the world week in week out, rather than someone more interested in taking bundles of money from the skunks and becoming, like most of them, another perennial underachiever.  The same also goes for Mr Arteta.

Im not going to get drawn into the Bellamy saga other than to say, if he met Moyes, then Moyes clearly didnt like what he saw and a manager who values team spirit obviously felt the deal was not worthwhile.

As for Sissoko, who can blame the guy.  He is moving to The Best Team In The World to play for manager he played for before.  If a player none of us had heard of (apart from the championship manager geeks) a few weeks ago, would rather pick up his money to warm a bench at Shamfield, then good luck to him, it is not the sort of player we want or need at Everton

The lack of ambition you state is not on behalf of Moyes or the club, but on behalf of the players themselves.  It is no coincidence that every player we are linked with is suddenly approached by Spurs, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Birmingham.  It is not a lack of ambition that causes us to sometimes miss out but a lack of resources.

If you want to blame anyone over this summers transfers, then blame the clubs PR machine for announcing deals that are not complete.  Blame agents who announce deals that are not complete to increase interest and blame players who choose money ahead of potential and possibility.  If you want to, blame the Board and their financial mismanagement of the club over the last 20 years.  However, do not blame the man who has worked miracles with a limited budget and signed the likes of Yobo, Cahill and Martyn (all of which were deals Mr Branson would be extremely proud of) and given us the best season I can remember since the mid-eighties.

You even suggest a continental style approach favoured by successful clubs such as Tottenham.  Please explain how a Director of Football (another expense on the balance sheet), especially one as loyal as Mr Arnesen, can increase the amount of money we have to spend on transfers & wages to be able to compete with the lucre on offer at the likes of Newcastle?

However, I hear Mr Pleat is available?  Why not drop Bill Kenwright a line and suggest this new found successful approach to transfer management.

We are still the 4th best team in England. We have lost some deadwood and signed some quality and potential. Forgive me for not hitting the panic button just yet.  James  Flaherty, Warwick (11/7/05)

Fish out of water? Shark in a bath, more like.
This was by far and a way the worst piece of football insight since Peter Risdale sought out Seth Johnson as Leeds' missing link.  The author, Alex Jones, obviously has little concept of how the football industry works in 2005 or he would have realised that throwing money at players, who have produced elsewhere, is not always the best course of action.  Just down the road from Goodison they still curse names like Diouf, Cheyrou and Dundee.

The 4-5-1 formation which Moyes preferred last year should be embraced and enhanced with better quality players, not abandoned in favour of the decrepit 4-4-2 it hasn't exactly done Eriksson any favours and he has the best quality players to choose from.  I recall Mourinho, Wenger and even Benitez being very successful - only last season - with Moyes' favoured system.

But I suppose Mr Jones has forgotten all about 2004-05...  Everton surprising every other football fan in the country by finishing fourth...  showing that steel and determination can win you games and the advantage of having players who really want to play for you is plain to see.  To condemn David Moyes - the man responsible for this - as 'lacking gumption' is incomprehensible.

Personally, I'm not disappointed at missing out on a lame Finnish striker or an unproven attacking midfielder, who failed to score in 30 games for Valencia.  Parker would have added real quality to our midfield, but if he would rather be better paid, than play at the highest possible level, then maybe he isn't the answer.

I still believe in David Moyes's judgement and ability to produce next season.  A lot of other real Everton fans feel the same.  Maybe Mr Jones will change his mind come September... or maybe he would rather support Leeds. Ciaran Armstrong  Brighton  (11/7/05)

I've just read Alex Jones's article about a goldfish and a puddle. Then I read the responses and thought Mr Jones is reflecting on all our frustrations but I think he's way off the mark.

In my opinion our problem lies with our big gobs. Are we the only team to fail in the tranfer market on a regular basis, I don't think so. After all I read today that Chelsea failed with a last minute bid for Sissoko. I think our club are just too keen to let the world know we are competing for players and this is our biggest problem.

I don't believe the manager has a list of 3 or 4 players and tries to buy each and everyone of them. Its more likely he's been keeping tabs on 15 or 20 players over a long period of time for all sorts of positions (he'd been watching Krldrup over a couple of years). If the manager is successful in buying a player he will then take into account many things before his next buy.

The idea of having an Arnesen role for somebody may be a good idea, but would they be able to keep voices at the club quiet when we are in negotiations with a player and his agent (who by the way have the biggest gobs of all).

We need to look back to the days of Kendall and see what we were doing right then, 99 percent of the time we only knew about transfers into Everton after the player had signed on the dotted line, (Kendall in a role for the buying of Moyes's targets - would that be a bad idea).

The one thing you have to take your hat off to with Moyes though is that he knows a good player (and the players value) when he sees one, which worries me about missing out on Sissiko, Parker and Emre. Just look at the players he's bought or had on loan, Cahill, Bent, Arteta, Yobo to name a few.

Mr Moyes knows the market well and this is alerting the other managers - "If David Moyes wants him he must be worth having."

By the way, I heard David Moyes was talking to Alan Irvine about a horse in a field and have since heard that Benitez and Souness are standing by to make an offer to WBA for big Geoff - now wouldn't that be great. — Dave Moore Kirkby (12/7/05)

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