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See You, Jimmy

By Lyndon Lloyd :  18/01/2008 :  Comments (26) :

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.

Reader Comments

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Jon Livesey
1   Posted 18/01/2008 at 20:45:02

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Like Harry Redknapp when he signed Florin Raducioiu, I resorted to viewing video compilations of Arshavin today. He looks brilliant and just as impressive as in the game against us, maybe even more so. What struck me is that he has been touted as a possible left winger for us, but he is right footed and has played a lot of games up front and on the right for Zenit St Petersburg. Nevertheless, he looks fast, skillful, prolific in front of goal and good in the air- sign him up! He is the sort of potentially world class player we need to be looking to bring in, especially when the overpriced, overrated alternatives are Stephen Hunt and Stewart Downing .
Paul Lenehan
2   Posted 18/01/2008 at 20:54:01

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Excellant article Lyndon I think summing up what most blues are thinking and feeling. All the best Faddy.
Anthony Newell
3   Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:13:53

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I would also add that McFadden was absolutely useless in one-on-ones with the keeper. A couple of seasons ago at Old Trafford he wasted a glorious chance to put us ahead in another ’there for the taking’ match. I remember a similar wasted chance against Larissa I think. It is a testament to the standard we have reached as a club to be able to say that McFadden just doesn’t cut it anymore. Five years ago we would have been relying on somebody like him to keep us up. Moyes correctly playing it poker faced wrt possible transfers but personally cannot wait for the next elevation in the quality level
Kevin Sparke
4   Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:15:51

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Well written Lyndon, that more or sums up my feelings.

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.
James Armstrong
5   Posted 18/01/2008 at 21:17:38

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I remember seeing McFadden in what, if I remeber, was his first league home start for us. Anyway, we battered Leeds 4-0 and I remember him taking the mick out of Roque Junior, their brazilian centre-half, with his skills and ball control. I thought we had a potential world beater on our hands but as it turned out he seemed only capable of flashes of brilliance throughout his Everton career without and sort of consistency.

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.

Edward Peck
6   Posted 18/01/2008 at 19:22:41

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So, farewell then, James McFadden. David Moyes called you the Scottish Rooney; to me you were more like the Loch Ness Monster:

International repuation.

But seldom seen.

Alex Baker
7   Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:01:10

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Birmingham are lucky to have Jimmy Mac. He was unbelievably frustrating for us, and will be for them too, but he’s going to be important for them,and his moments of magic will keep them up.
Matt Geraghty
8   Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:24:41

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James Armstrong - you stole my thunder there mate. I was at the Leeds game too, and EVERYONE in ear shot was impressed with him and his skill.
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).

Dick Fearon
9   Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:23:31

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There are players who’s all out endeavour and long term input are rightly held in warm esteem by fans.
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.
Karl Masters
10   Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:07:48

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I, too, am sad to see him go.

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.
Gerry Western
11   Posted 18/01/2008 at 22:55:05

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Personally I’m disappointed Mc Fadden has gone and whilst I agree he didn’t always perform to the best of his ability. I do have to say the criticisms leveled at him where often over the top. It often seemed as though there was an element who couldn’t wait for him to make a mistake so they could get on his back.

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.
Ian Tunny
12   Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:17:17

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I'm actually quite emotional after reading that.

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!

Davey Roskin
13   Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:47:23

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Great article ? you make great points about 1) Faddy being a genuinely nice guy, at least by reputation, who wears his emotions on his sleeve, for better or for worse; and 2) his wonder goals, particularly vs Charlton and the long-range looper vs Fulham. Plus, his reaction to the goal vs Boro showed that he not only has class, but talent and humility. Wish him all the best, fellas. If not vital, he was at least a memorable part of our recent history.
Glen Strachan
14   Posted 18/01/2008 at 23:52:51

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A lot of us have wondered how James McFadden would have fared if he had been played in his ?true position? as a striker.. now we are likely to get some answers.

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 !
John Steadman
15   Posted 19/01/2008 at 00:51:30

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McFadden definately has skill, but what he lacks is a football brain, football is a team game which is what McFadden forgot, good ridance is what I say, 6m is great business. When you look at the 1st team at the moment, it is now getting very difficult to name your starting 11 with so many options and variations of play, we are beginning to show potential, all we need now is for Davie Moyes to show a lot more commitment into winning games away from home, here comes a top 4 place and hopefully some silverware.
Dave Wilson
16   Posted 19/01/2008 at 06:23:24

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Terrific article.
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.
Bob Turner
17   Posted 19/01/2008 at 09:15:28

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As many on here are, I am sad to see him go. He definitely has the ability, but didn’t always have the application.

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?!?
Nick Thomas
18   Posted 19/01/2008 at 11:39:25

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I so wanted him to succeed; when he first came we were desperate for a hero. I can't help thinking if he had been deployed as an out-and-out striker then he would have developed his undoubted skill and ability, but he did become a liability towards the end. I think the guy often suffered from his terrace frustration which had a knock on his confidence.

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!
Ajay Gopal
19   Posted 19/01/2008 at 12:02:57

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Wonderful article, LL!

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!
Sid Logan
20   Posted 19/01/2008 at 12:16:32

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Really good article by LL and I agree with its sentiments entirely. It was sad to see a couple of weeks ago Faddy being berated by some fans in the Lower Bullens for failing to make the right choice and to see him shout back in annoyance trying to explain what he was attenpting to do. I wish him the very best at Birmingham and hope he does well.
Alan Rycroft
21   Posted 19/01/2008 at 13:51:53

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A touching and well balanced article Mr Lyndon. Yes, Your god go with you Faddie. I think basically a good laddie, I could see it. Not like that Rooney guy at all! But if he?s been a similar player to that guy adhis potential had really shone through then, he would have been up there with the greats. Shame. Still a good player, and at times, though too few, a great player.
Good luck Faddie.
Steve Taylor
22   Posted 19/01/2008 at 16:22:35

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Excellent article Lyndon.

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.

Emma Kamu
23   Posted 19/01/2008 at 17:09:39

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Sad to see him go.
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.

Sid Madrid
24   Posted 19/01/2008 at 22:02:21

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Fair comment by LL but I think Gerry Western’s right about the positions he played in. All I can add apart from my best wishes to Faddy is that he was one of those players who, when he got the ball and started running with it, your instinct was to stand up, because there was always the chance that he would produce something great, as he so nearly did at the Bridge last week. Superhuman effort needed next week, but I know we can do it. COYB
Peter Hall
25   Posted 19/01/2008 at 22:44:30

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Following the heart-warming article here about Everton players (Faddy very much included) and their contributions to charity in various parts of the world, and the general sense that Moyes looks to character as well as football when recruiting, I want to comment on the attitude shown here and elsewhere by Evertonians to James McFadden?s departure. While the football verdict has been virtually unanimous, that he had great moments but couldn?t be part of a great team, so has the good feeling for the young man. Nobody has suggested that he let anyone down, everyone wishes him well (certain games excepted . . .) and all respect him as a decent young man whom we would have continued to count amongst our own had things been a little different.

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!
Adam Zappel
26   Posted 15/04/2008 at 18:10:20

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Faddy’s one of these rare talents in the game who DOES care about his team and his fans and does try his heart out. Sadly, when the fans get on his back, or things aren’t coming off for him, his head tends to go down and he is easily frustrated - any Motherwell fan will tell you the same thing. He wants it so badly that he takes it personally when it doesn’t happen.

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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