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The Rob Fox Column
Columnist: Rob Fox

Great Expectations
21 July 2005

 

INCOME UNDER MOYES
Including players he inherited
EXPENDITURE BY MOYES
Including all current players

Steve Simonsen
Paul Gerrard

Alessandro Pistone
Gary Naysmith
Steve Watson
Alex Cleland
Tony Hibbert
David Unsworth
David Weir
Alan Stubbs
Peter Clarke  500,000
Sean OHanlon  150,000

Mark Pembridge  500,000
Idan Tal
Scott Gemmill
Jesper Blomqvist
David Ginola
Tobias Linderoth  1,750,000
Lee Carsley
Niclas Alexandersson
Thomas Gravesen  2,450,000
Kevin McLeod  250,000
Leon Osman
Alex Nyarko
Paul Gascoigne

Duncan Ferguson
Kevin Campbell
Thomas Radzinski  1,750,000
Nick Chadwick  250,000
Wayne Rooney  23,000,000
Joe Max-Moore

 


Nigel Martyn  500,000
Richard Wright  3,500,000
Iain Turner  50,000
John Ruddy  250,000

Tony Hibbert
Gary Naysmith
David Weir
Joseph Yobo  4,500,000
Per Krldrup  5,000,000

Lee Carsley
Tim Cahill  2,000,000
Simon Davies  3,500,000
Kevin Kilbane  1,000,000
Mikel Arteta  2,000,000
Li Tie  1,000,000
Leon Osman

 

James Beattie  6,500,000
Marcus Bent  450,000
Duncan Ferguson
James McFadden  1,250,000
James Vaughan


|

Total:  30,600,000

 

Total:  30,600,000

 

Five to one, baby, one in five, no one here gets out alive; they got the guns but we got the numbers, cmon baby were taking over J. Morrison, 1968

When you examine exactly what David Moyes inherited, the fact that we are now in the Third Qualifying Round for the Champions League is nothing short of remarkable.  To sum it up, when we played Spurs at the start of the 2002-03 season, the prospect of signing a player of the quality of Simon Davies seemed a long way off; now he is considered a bread-and-butter signing.  Theres no doubt weve come a long way in a short time.

Looking at the two lists above, the difference in numbers is startlingly obvious but, when you start whittling down the players who were actually capable of cutting it regularly in the Premiership, the improvement in quality, age and sell-on value is dramatic.  I know at this moment in time a lot of Blues are disappointed with and sceptical about our transfer dealings this summer, but a comparison between the two lists should clarify exactly how much David Moyes has transformed the Everton squad particularly when considering the transfer deficit in doing so (the figure for Rooney may of course end up higher, but 23M is probably around what we will end up with).

Clearly we are short of numbers never an accusation that could ever have been levelled at Walter Smith.  Forget about Newcastle, Spurs and the rest the only valid comparison is with what has gone before, although it is worth pointing out that Joseph Yobo and Per Krldrup cost a combined fee of  1M more than Newcastle paid for Jean-Alain Boumsong.  I suspect the coming season will only serve to highlight David Moyess acumen in the transfer market.  He can only reasonably be judged on the players he has bought, not the ones he hasnt.

A year ago, we were bemoaning the lack of quality and quantity.  Now I think it is fair to say that the quality is gradually arriving, if not in the numbers we would like to see, and, unlike in the days of Gascoigne and Ginola, before it has passed its sell-by date.  Recent interviews with both Moyes and Wyness, heavily publicised on the Internet, have hopefully made the entire transfer approach of Everton clear.

David Moyes identifies the players he wants, sets a valuation and has a final say on every transfer.  Both Moyes and Wyness are unequivocal in making their position clear the buck stops with David Moyes.  The fact that we have refused to pay above our valuation is entirely down to Moyes, it would seem.  Moyes could quite easily have brought in another five or six players, appeased the fans in the short-term and crossed his fingers that everything came together.

He hasnt done that.  Craig Bellamy and Mikael Forssell are cases in point.  Both apparently had talks with Everton, and accepted wisdom seems to be that the reason they are not now Everton players is because Moyes felt they carried a risk he was uneasy about taking on.  Birmingham and Blackburn had no such qualms and good luck to them.

Clearly, we have missed out on some players because they have chosen to go elsewhere, for whatever reason.  Although we havent made a song and dance about it, we have also clearly chosen not to sign other players.  If we had, our squad would look much stronger on paper but, if Evertonians have learnt one lesson in recent years, I would have thought that it would have been that star names and big squads are no guarantee of success.

Nigel Martyn recently highlighted, as many others have done, Moyess thoroughness in preparing his players for what happens on the pitch.  Another glance at the current squad highlights one common characteristic in virtually all of our players and for the first time every player in our squad has been offered a contract by Moyes and that is a tremendous work ethic.

This doesnt just apply to the players he has brought into the club, but also those he inherited, such as Lee Carsley and even Duncan Ferguson; they are unrecognisable from the players who, occasionally in Duncans case, ambled about for Walter Smith.  All of this highlights David Moyes's ability to get the very best out of all of his players and is testament to his tactical acumen, thoroughness and organisation skills assets he takes into his transfer market dealings.

He signs players knowing exactly what he wants to do with them, and what they are capable of as will hopefully be proven by the form of Per Krldrup and Simon Davies next season.  In my last article, I likened his transfer approach to a filter, with only the exact pieces fitting the bill.  Moyes has shown tremendous patience and courage in the transfer market, as typified by the fact that Mikel Artetas desire to be an Everton player saw he and Sociedad eventually compromising their financial demands.

Lets imagine that we had rushed through a deal for Sissoko, paying over the odds to secure his services once we got wind of Liverpools interest.  Sure, we would have the players signature, but would we have his heart and mind once he learned, too late, of Liverpools interest?  Before you have a seizure at this comment, bear in mind that to Mohammed Sissoko he had a choice between a team he probably knows little about or the European Champions, worthy or otherwise, and a manager he knows well.

Dont think I am unemotional about such things. I was gutted when I heard he was signing for them, but then I reminded myself that I hadnt heard of him a week earlier and that we still had David Moyes as manager.  I felt better then.  I can console myself with the thought that in Mikel Arteta we have signed a midfielder who has been given plenty of time and space to make a decision and is 100% certain that he wants to play for us.  As John Gregory will testify, that is better than signing a player whos heart is elsewhere.

My screensaver is the celebration of Duncs winner against the Mancs, and the joyous expressions on the players faces warms my heart even now.  Mikel Arteta is in the thick of it, and it is reassuring to know that his joy was genuine and heartfelt.  Personally I had many reservations about this player when he first arrived; now he strikes me as a player who has found his spiritual home.

Expectations have risen this summer, and understandably so.  But that is all down to David Moyes.  The fact we have been linked with so many good players is due to our raised profile.  The club has been criticised for publicising incomplete deals, but hopefully Wynesss recent comments have clarified this.  Once details of transfers have been leaked, the club has little choice but to respond.  At this stage, there is little to be gained in denying a link that is true.

Agents are clearly central to much of the transfer speculation, and it is not in their interests to keep deals quiet.  Unusually for me, I will defend agents in this.  Their job is to get the best deal for their client and in this respect they are simply doing their job.  When a player such as Parker, Emre or Guti becomes available there will obviously be a lot of interest.

If you are selling a house or a car it is common sense to convince a prospective buyer that you have other offers and that they will have competition from people with money to spend.  If an agent didnt take that approach with buying clubs he wouldnt be doing his job properly.  As the Guerrero saga has shown, Evertons new status as a Champions League club has elevated us into the category of eligible clubs to link your client to.

The club has had to field all of this new-found interest and are fortunate to have David Moyes in there to retain a sense of perspective.  His recent comments about top-half finishes may not be what supporters want to hear, especially his reminder that we are not even in the Champions League yet.  But they are the truth.  Moyes is not a fantasist, and if this leads to us missing out on fantasy players so be it.

It is his pragmatism, desire, organisation, thoroughness and ability that have transformed us from relegation fodder to Champions League contenders.  Our cutting edge approach to medicals, fitness, training and tactics are what have made us what we now are under Moyes.  Arteta is obviously happy under this regime, and what will ultimately keep Krldrup and Davies happy is being at a club that do things properly.

Signing for a club potentially on the fringes of the big time, who dont offer crazy money in wages, shows a certain self-belief, desire and professionalism which needs to be met by the approach of the manager and training staff.  Bringing in quantity is easy, as Walter showed, but bringing in the right type of quality is much harder.

We have lost Stubbs, Watson and Pistone and effectively replaced them with Davies, Krldrup and Arteta.  Surely this represents a step forward in terms of the quality we are looking for, even if the squad does look unbalanced in certain areas.  Like Moyes, I am confident this will be rectified by season start.  Personally, I will be using the form of Beattie and Krldrup as bench marks this season.  If they perform well, this will vindicate Moyess transfer acumen once and for all.

Moyes has resisted temptation to rush in this summer.  He has shown tremendous patience, self-belief and courage.  The Internet forums are awash with depressed Blues obsessed with other clubs signings and bemoaning our ability to move forward.  The same thing has happened nearly every summer since we last won the league, but of course expectations have been raised by last season.

It seems many Evertonians only remember the end result and have forgotten how we got there.  We had a small squad last summer and were outgunned in the transfer market by nearly everybody.  We showed heart, courage and desire to finish 4th.  It seems many Blues believe this cannot happen again.

Perhaps these people agree with the kopites that we did overachieve last season.  Other teams had much bigger, stronger squads but we prevailed.  Many games last year were tight, but we had one extra ingredient nobody else had David Moyes.  His contribution in terms of organisation, tactics, substitutions and encouragement from the touchline should not be underestimated.

I am not nave enough to think that the extra games wont take their toll, but that does not mean Moyes should compromise the thorough, patient and positive methods that have brought us this far.  Compare the squads at the top of the article if you are still not convinced.  All of that progress is down to David Moyes, so lets back him to continue moving us forward.

For anyone who remembers the Doors quote at the top of the article, it was of course the hippies who had the numbers and the establishment who had the guns.  The guns won.  In the rarefied atmosphere we are attempting to enter, there is no substitute for quality and that is what Moyes is trying to bring into a club which is short on numbers, thanks to the errors of previous custodians on and off the pitch, and which has to work within a budget.  With our tight finances, bringing in quantity will obviously compromise the quality, and Moyes has clearly decided upon the route he has chosen.  We are after quality, on a lesser budget than some, but quality all the same.

The small squad will obviously be stretched to the limit, but maybe we will have similar luck with injuries as last season.  Or maybe our stringent medicals, coupled with our professional approach to training and treatment of injuries, will give us the best chance of easing our players through a large number of games.

Time will tell, but I cant wait for the new season.  A few more signings would be welcome, but only the right ones.  Half way through what has been a frustrating summer for a supporter, I am beginning to be truly reassured by the Moyes aura of composure and focus on the task ahead.  If he refuses to panic, then so do I.  And well all be there in the trenches again next month, ready to give the team the support they need, even if there are more familiar faces on display than we bargained for.

And, you never know, there might even be a signing or two before then to cement our progress.  Whatever happens before the season starts, we are still moving forward and Moyes is trying to put together a squad to compete for a top four place regularly.  This cant happen overnight, so perhaps it is time we all showed the patience and belief on the team that our manager clearly has.

They didnt let us down last season, and in fact exceeded even our most optimistic expectations by some distance.  The bar has been raised, but Moyes has done that.  Expectations have been raised, and we have done that.  It will be harder for the players to live up to this heightened expectations, but at least with the stringent Moyes approach we can be confident of having the right type in the trenches with us.

 

Rob Fox


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