VIEW FROM THE BLUE
A story relayed to me goes that an Evertonian and his son ran into James McFadden at a motorway services on the M6 on Wednesday, presumably as he was on his way to Birmingham City to discuss terms with Alex McLeish.
He was resigned to the fact that the deal had been done and that there was little he could do except take up the opportunity for regular first-team football. He seemed sad, however ?forlorn was the word used to describe him, actually ? at the realisation that he was taking a backward step in his career after failing to really make the grade at Everton.
It's easy to sympathise with McFadden, really. When he arrived at Goodison Park aged 21, he was anointed the "Scottish Rooney" on the basis of his scintillating form for Motherwell and seemingly had the world at his feet. He may have joined a club struggling to get back on its feet after years of decay but he leaves Everton boasting its best squad for two decades, a heroic performance away from Wembley, in the last 32 of the Uefa Cup, and on course for successive top-six finishes for the first time since the late 1980s.
I'm not sure why, but I myself feel genuine sadness to see McFadden leave even though I know he had to; that the transfer fee of upwards of £6m represents fantastic business for Everton; that he had four years to prove that he could perform consistently enough at Premier League level to command a first-team place; that the blunt truth may be that he just doesn't have what it takes to tip him over the top to become a regular star performer. I certainly didn't feel anything like a pang of regret when James Beattie left even though McFadden has been as equally frustrating to watch at times as "Beatts" was.
Perhaps it because "Faddy" appears to be one of football's genuinely nice guys underneath that rugged exterior, the edgy hairstyles, the perma-stubble, and the occasional tirades at referees (one of which earned him a red card for bruising Graham Poll's ego last season, of course). His image portrayed an impudent Jack the Lad but off the field he was, by all accounts, a quiet and retiring sort whose heart was exposed with his celebration at Middlesbrough on New Year's Day when he shed tears for Phil O'Donnell, the Motherwell captain and personal friend who had tragically died a few days previously, and to whom he dedicated the goal.
Perhaps it is because he is something of a flair player and Evertonians have always loved a player with natural ability ? you only have to look at the support offered to Andy van der Meyde (despite all logic it now seems) or the open arms with which Manuel Fernandes has been greeted this month as evidence of that.
Perhaps it was because he scored some absolutely top-class goals ? not to mention some important ones ? in his time at Everton and often looked to be on the cusp of becoming the player we all hoped he would be. That winner against Charlton Athletic last season was a piece of instinctive magic that encapsulated in a few breathtaking seconds the raw talent he possesses. And although he rarely produced the goalscoring feats he seemed to be able to perform at will on the international stage for Scotland, his goal in Kharkov that paved the way for the Blues's qualification for the Group stages of the Uefa Cup, or his inadvertant role in Tim Cahill's stunning equaliser at Chelsea this season were evidence that he could turn a game in Everton's favour an instant when he was in the mood.
Therein, of course, lies the crux of the matter where Jimmy Mac was concerned. When he wasn't on top form, he could be something of a liability and it led, unfortunately, to him becoming the dreaded Goodison boo-boy towards the end of his career with Everton. Without the pace to go with his ball skills, he was rarely able to beat his man and that, all too often, led to him running down blind alleys. His decision-making was also often suspect and he was one of the chief culprits in giving the ball away cheaply. That made him a very frustrating player to watch, especially as the quality of players around him has been raised under Moyes. Yes, he could erase many of those moments with a stunning goal but even when scoring at a rate of a goal every four games for a time it wasn't enough to enable him to command a regular starting place.
Deep down, he probably knew that his days at Everton were numbered and the fact that he stalled for a few months on a new contract at Goodison suggests as much. Many fans have felt for a long time that he would have a field day in the Scottish Premier League and I suspect he was hoping that one of the Old Firm would snap him up this month. The transfer fee more than anything probably frightened off both.
He will get more regular football at Birmingham, though, and I truly hope that under McLeish he can flourish as well as he did under him with Scotland. And if he can perform well at St Andrews, that move back north of the Border to one of the big Scottish clubs probably won't be too far away.
The attention of the fans will, of course, now turn to whether or not Moyes will replace him this month.
I feel strongly that we should do our best to find a replacement for the role in which McFadden was often deployed ? an attacking midfielder who can play up front or out wide is how Moyes viewed McFadden when in truth the player himself always regarded himself as a striker ? if we are serious about pushing into the top four this season. Speculation, of course, surrounds Andrei Arshavin who is available due to the fact that the Russian league in its close season and who, if his reputation is anything to go by, would be the ideal player to fill that role in the team.
The manager has covered all his bases with quotes attributed to him today in the Daily Post:
?I think you are always looking to strengthen. I am quite comfortable with the squad and the players we have got but we are always looking to improve.
?I don?t know whether we will be delving into the transfer market quite so quickly. We just need to see what we have got available to us.
?We brought Manuel Fernandes in to add to our midfield area but we will keep looking and you never know, there is still a couple of weeks left in the window.?
Time will, of course, tell but for now I wish James McFadden well ? except when we play them again later this season, of course! ? and say adieu by thanking him for some memorable moments in Everton blue rather than dwelling on his more enigmatic moments.
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1 Posted 18/01/2008 at 20:45:02
2 Posted 18/01/2008 at 20:54:01
3 Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:13:53
4 Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:15:51
I feel sad that a genuine flair player is leaving us but he’s left some excellent memories... I just wish there had been a few more of them.
If he ever starts to think as quickly as world-class player and take the right option more often than losing the ball (yet again!)... he’ll grace any club.
5 Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:17:38
If i am honest I wish he would have stayed, but £6M was just too good to turn down. Think he will do very well for Brum, he will be their main man like he is for Scotland. Good luck, Faddy.
6 Posted 18/01/2008 at 19:22:41
But seldom seen.
7 Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:01:10
8 Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:24:41
I am sad that he has left, but the fee was a great bit of business for Everton.
For me, that performance and the goal against Charlton were his highlights. Good luck to him, I hope it works out for him (unless he’s playing against us).
9 Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:23:31
There are others with blinding yet fleeting flashes of sublime skill can light up our dreary existence if only for brief moments and make us realise what our game is truly capable off.
From this and I am sure many other evertonians, farewell and best wishes James.
10 Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:07:48
That goal against Charlton was sheer class, but in nrecent times I have only ever been able to see him performing a ’Super-sub’ role.
Moyesie did give him four and a half years, but he could not quite get that level of consistency needed. A frustrating player more often than not, but if we have a UEFA Cup campaign to remember just don’t forget whose goal turned the tide in Kharkiv.Of all our other forwards, possibly only James Vaughan would have tried that turn and shot fom 20 yards. Without that goal, we may well have gone out at the first hurdle again and even Moyes has said that could have cost him his job.
Good luck, Faddy.
11 Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:55:05
His best position was clearly as a striker but he was rarely given the opportunity. On the rare occasions he was afforded a chance he didn’t disappoint. I really do believe that but for the actions of the boo boys he could have developed into wonderful player. I hope he goes on to fulfill his undoubted potential but to do so he needs a manager who believes in him and the fans to get behind him sadly he received neither.
The signing of Arshavin would be a major step in the right direction he’s already given us a demonstration of how well he can perform on the Goodison turf. His contribution in that game certainly left an impression on me. I have to agree he would appear to be an ideal replacement for Mc Fadden.
12 Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:17:17
Everton have made huge strides over the past few years since Faddy arrived and just when Everton look to be finally making a break through with Europe and trophies within reach, Faddy will be left behind. As well as having to say good bye to all his friends at Everton.
It's difficult to imagine what he must be feeling right now to leave the club that has nurtured him and been a big part of his life for the last few years, having a child here and so on, and to now take a step backwards and leave the great city of Liverpool capital of culture, to have to go to Birmingham.
I hope he doesn't dwell on it too much and gets his head back on the game. Hopefully he can relax now and begin to enjoy his football again and come good. Come on Jimmy lad!
13 Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:47:23
14 Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:52:51
His departure was inevitable, especially as the fans seem to have taken to pouring scorn on everything he does and since the current Everton squad has definitely and rightly become ?Yakubu?s Team? ? not to mention the fact that as an outsider. I have no idea of the current financial state of the club but the manager?s recent comments have suggested that we might be a bit stretched.
Just as Rooney had to be sold back then, Faddy had become an obvious sale if ?quick money? was required and it will be interesting to see if any others follow.
Now that one ?whipping boy? has been sold , it will be interesting to see if any other player emerges to fill the target role for the boo boys.
Since the ?one man up front? is David Moyes obvious preference (with Tim Cahill perfect for the supporting ?second man? role), it will be intriguing to see how Andy Johnson fares next month if he is consistently used between then and the end of the season as a wide midfield player.
That would put Andy J in the McFadden role and it will be interesting to see just how many goals he scores if that move is tried out.
Nice article, Lyndon and shame on the nitwits who posted these virulent, hate-filled messages on this site today about a player who never gave us less than his best effort !
15 Posted 19/01/2008 at 00:51:30
16 Posted 19/01/2008 at 06:23:24
Don't be surprised if, when we play Birmingham, Faddy breaks our hearts, and rams the boos and the catcalls down a few people's throats.
The treatment he recieved at GP last week still makes me feel very uncomfortable.
You're right of course it, was terrific business. Eck will not be able to make him quicker nor will he be able to instill a footballing brain to improve Faddy?s option choosing. I too want Faddy to find a role where, despite his obvious flaws, his amazing skills are enough to bring to the hearts of the Birmigham faithful.
A loved James Mcfadden, will be so much more potent than the much-maligned frightened one we have seen at GP.
17 Posted 19/01/2008 at 09:15:28
He’s the sort of player that thrives on being a big fish in a small pond, hence his performances for Scotland cf how he often performed for us.
Maybe moving to a smaller pond will be the thing he needs to kick start his club career, and I wish him well (apart from when he plays against us, obviously!)
What odds a wonder goal from him against Chelsea today?!?
18 Posted 19/01/2008 at 11:39:25
While he had four years at the club, I think that was long enough to evidence he wasn't going to develop any further at Goodison.
I personally prayed he would develop, he is clearly a well-liked squad member, and always respected the jersey. I hope Jimmy Mac does become a legend at Birmingham. A seemingly nice guy, who deserves recognition. See ya, big man; all the best!
19 Posted 19/01/2008 at 12:02:57
I always felt that he was not utilised well at Everton. But, fair enough, he was given his chances and at the end, we got a good price for him.
I wish him well ? I will definitely follow his career with great interest.
Show us what you got, Faddy!
20 Posted 19/01/2008 at 12:16:32
21 Posted 19/01/2008 at 13:51:53
Good luck Faddie.
22 Posted 19/01/2008 at 16:22:35
I agree with every word, I hope the lad does well at Brum - & would agree that his heart is probably still North of the Border & he’ll almost certainly end up at either Celtic or Gers.
23 Posted 19/01/2008 at 17:09:39
The transfer fee is irresistible though.
Oh... who are we going to get now?
Please don?t go for Downing.
The paper says we will lose to Chelsea.
And we can?t beat Wigan.
Looks like the biased media is back.
Keegan will bring Newcastle glory? Haha...
I just can?t stand these kind of crap.
Newcastle will challenge for the title?
Give me a break.
Cahill wants to start another club/country row?
Remember he said he wanted to play more for Everton.
And now he?s started it all again.
Please please, we have important matches coming.
Lescott scoring 1st goal 17-1.
Yakubu is gone.
No news about Manny?
Defence can do the job against Wigan, but Chelsea?
Osman back or not?
No news about that?
I think we can beat Wigan.
Draw is not a bad result considering their recent form.
I also think we can beat Chelsea.
Time to go for some food.
24 Posted 19/01/2008 at 22:02:21
25 Posted 19/01/2008 at 22:44:30
Given the selfish attitude shown by football fans in most websites and phone-ins, this attention to Faddy?s character and future shows that many fans of this club have retained a decent attitude even in these days when so many fools are saying ?on those wages he should score every match?.
So good luck to Faddy, and let?s never have a Barton or a Bellamy darken our door. And when Faddy comes back I know he will get a fine reception.
And finally, the Kharkiv moment. I sent an article 6 months ago (unpublished, boo-hoo) suggesting that the UEFA Cup QR was going to be the most important moment of the season (future seeding, serial Euro under-achievers, finance, etc), and we all know we were on our way out untill Faddy produced a Scotland moment - but for once for us. Thanks for that one Faddy!
26 Posted 15/04/2008 at 18:10:20
He is blessed with bags of ability, but although he lacks that little bit of pace, he’s always capable of magic thanks to that left foot of his. Seems to shoot better from 30 yards than from 10, hence most of his goals being of the sublime variety. Remember his goal v Fulham? Or when he latched onto the long through ball at Boro and cracked it home from about 4 miles out - those two goals were absolute stunners and let’s face it, if that had been Rooney it’d have been all over the news.
I think he’ll do well for Birmingham for the simple reason that he won’t be in and out the team, he’ll be a first pick most weeks and Eck won’t ask him to do anything other than what he does best. Moyes wanted to change a lot of Faddy’s game and play him in all manner of positions (which is allowed, of course!) but seldom used him in the one position where he does his finest work. He has scored a couple of beauties for Birmingham already. Eck knows how to get the best out of him and so offered Everton money they simply couldn’t refuse. £6m for a squad player can’t be turned down and I do believe both teams have won here. Faddy will make his mark and I hope the Birmingham fans appreciate him, he’s a smashing player and a terrific fella.
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