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Ginola, Gascoigne .... Gravesen

By Matt  Willey :  25/09/2007 :  Comments (18) :

The search for quality and creativity goes full circle

The surprise loan signing of Tommy Gravesen at the end of the transfer window heralded the 'temporary' end of a protracted search for a quality ball player in the middle of Everton's midfield. The abject and unforgivable failure of the Board to land the young, already test-driven and highly gifted Manuel Fernandes clearly resulted in a panicky Plan B (for once a Plan B existed) with the return of Mad Dog, undoubtedly an accomplished footballer ? albeit a somewhat erratic one.

I believe that many supporters feel that the signing of Fernandes would have put a completely different complexion on the Everton midfield; a midfield that, with current injuries magnifying its many weaknesses, sorely lacks a creative and visionary influence... Fernandes would have provided Everton with the 'missing ingredient' for at least the next five years, teamed alongside the tenacious, strong-running, Tim Cahill and the mercurial Mikel Arteta, Everton would have had a midfield that ouzed class and although they may not have ever reached the heights of the 'holy trinity' a midfield boasting such talent would certainly have given most opposing managers sleepless nights... but alas, that is not to be...

Instead we have Plan B: Tommy Gravesen... decent midfielders are hard to come by and those available are usually in a expensive price bracket so a loan deal for a player we know and to a large degree appreciate is perhaps fortuitous. Tommy endeared himself to many fans in his previous spell at the club with his dynamic performances, particularly in his final season. Whether Tommy could ever be considered a truly creative force is a subject of conjecture, but he can clearly play a bit and is comfortable with the ball at his feet, unlike many of his contemporaries in the present midfield who treat the ball like a hot potato... he finds and creates space for himself and others reasonably well and can certainly pass with an acceptable level of accuracy for a premiership player... I temper this by suggesting that his abilities must surely have waned over the last couple of years; as they have done with one of his former team-mates at Real Madrid, David Beckham. With Tommy, strength and athleticism were important elements to his game (especially in that last impressive season, when Moyes and Irvine got him properly into shape).

Whether Tommy can recapture his fitness and rediscover the form that got him a move to Madrid is a grey area, but it is evident that Gordon Strachan thought his time was up in the less demanding SPL and this does not bode well for Everton. Everton are crying out for Tommy circa 2004, the midfield is an area of great concern and to rely on an unfit Thomas Gravesen (2007 model) as our creative outlet would be unfair on the team, the supporters and a player ostensibly brought in to fulfil a 'bit-part role' with the occasional match winning cameo (á la Bolton).

Is this is what it has come to, when we hope and pray that an aging player can make the difference to our team, based only on the evidence of their former glories? This is Walter Smith all over again only this time it is not entirely of the manager's own making! We needed Fernandes or someone in that mould desperately; in retrospect we needed Tommy as well to cover for injuries and to appear 'from the bench' in what SHOULD be a demanding season with lots of games. t was so apparent against Metallist that we needed someone who could dictate the tempo of the game and bring our expensively assembled stikeforce into play... the side at the moment is analogous to a Ferrari with a bloody SmartCar engine. The flashy strikers rendered next to useless without the crucial missing component - service.

We can blame Moyes and his one-dimensional tactics all we like but don't forget that at the tail end of last season we were actually playing some decent match-winning stuff (well, after the Spurs debacle), thrashing the likes of Portsmouth and looking like we belonged on the same pitch as both Man Utd (bar stupid errors) and Chelsea. Fernandes was an important part of this marked improvement to the side and evidently this did not escape the eye of Mr Moyes given the subsequent approach.

As a result of our failure to sign Fernandes as soon as the transfer window opened I am going to lay the blame for our current malaise firmly at the feet of the Board: short-sighted, penny-pinching and counter-productive are the phrases I would use to describe their approach to this crucial signing; canny business acumen it certainly isn't (especially if we end up dumped out of the Uefa Cup before the more lucrative group stages). All this whilst Tevez and Mascherano were being quickly snapped up by the real 'big boys' in similarly complex deals; perhaps Benitez was right with his 'small club' jibe after all? Certainly the behaviour of those behind the scenes does nothing to dispel his assertion.

Keep your fingers crossed that we get Tommy up to his 2004 level and hope that we get Mikel and Tim fit soon because if we are expected to continue with the current midfield for any prolonged time then we are seriously fooked for the entire season? you can?t make a purse out of a sow's ear and therefore you can?t expect the likes of Carsley, Neville or even Jagielka to suddenly acquire the ability to thread delicate through-balls and angled passes to our strikers!

Reader Comments

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Brian Donnelly
1   Posted 25/09/2007 at 11:07:21

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What an excellent article!

I think you also have to lay some of the blame at Moyes feet. I don?t think originally he wanted Fernandes at the price he was offered, so he should have looked for somebody else. The only position where we desperately needed improving was a creative central midfield player. Hence this should have been sorted out as number 1 priority.

We are now in the ridiculous situation where we criticise our £20m strike force, but the only service they get is the ball hoofed up the field. If it isn?t hoofed up the field a pass out to the wing is telegraphed to the whole ground, by one of our central midfield players, who then stop running having done their job.

It is not the fault of the actual players playing in central midfield ? they are all basically defenders. Even defensively, Carsley & Neville cannot seem to play together ? it?s just a shambles.
Ed Casey
2   Posted 25/09/2007 at 11:54:16

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Best article I’ve read on this site. Couldn’t agree more. I thought Grav was a step backwards and now just hope that he can add some steal and creativity to the mid-field.
Also agree with the criticism of the way we handled transfers over the summer. Wyness should take the fall on that one. We are creating a pattern with the one season good, one season bad thing and I think that is consistant with the way transfers have been handled.
After a period of relative optimism how quickly its all come crashing down around our feet! I, as I’m sure the rest of you, hope that Grav, Arteta and Cahill get fit quick, stay fit, find form and form the missing link that is so evident in our team over the last few games. We then need to look for someone in January who can be a real midfield dynamo and who will fill the hole we have temporarily plugged with Grav.
I really can’t believe we are the same team that took on and thrashed Spurs earlier in the season. To think that this might be the Everton we have to watch for the rest of the season makes me shudder.
Danny Mullally
3   Posted 25/09/2007 at 15:33:02

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In my opinion this post is nothing more than ANOTHER negative argument that is hindsight driven. Loads of people on here kick off at Tony Marsh for bluntly putting his views over, but I would place Mr Marsh’s sentiments higher than Matts. At least he speaks from his heart. Matt-your article basically points the finger at the board for failing to sign Manuel Fernandes and even has a dig at them for having the audacity to bring in Graveson last minute.
The board are guilty of many things but failing to land Fernandes is not one of them. His tie up with this third party shit was the deciding factor-I mean how straight forward would a deal be to buy a house if two other parties had a controlling interest? Fernandes was shipped to the highest bidder - Valencia for HALF of his rights. If he ever proved to be a success with them there is no doubt in my mind that he would be shipped out to one of the European big guns for a fraction of his real value.
I am no advocate of the board-I sincerely hope that there is a big change there, but for all of their faults I will not level a weak minded tirade at them for the collapse of the Fernandes deal. Manuel splinter arse has shown us what he thinks about us, and I think Fuck him I hope he’s enjoyed his 55 minutes of first team action in La Liga.
We are struggling at the moment, of that there is no doubt, but I am confidently awaiting the return of Tommy and Mikel and once they are back in the fold It will be interesting to see what the snipers have to say then.
Bob Carlton
4   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:18:14

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On the assumption that there was money available for Fernandes, it will be interesting to see if we can get a top quality midfielder in January (early January?), because even with Mikel and Tim we still need a central midfield General. Unfortunately, these players are hard to find.
Connor Rohrer
5   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:29:32

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Gravesen’s passing is as good if not better than Fernandes’s. I am not saying he is a better player but in terms of long and short distance passing he walks all over both Arteta and Fernandes. People seem to forget how good he was in that department. How many assists did he get in his final season? Well I know for a fact it was our most for that season.

Gravesen is what I would call a dictator. He can retain possession and pick out a pass. He doesnt even have to be creative all he has to do is get the wide men in good position where they are able to actually create. To many times you see hibbert giving Arteta the ball with his back to the fullback. Why? It leaves Arteta isolated and we dont play properly.

I am hoping Gravesen is partnered by Jagielka until Cahill gets back with Neville moving to right back. One thing Tommy revels on is having a ball winner behind him. Think back to his best spells in his last everton career. In my opinion, he was at his best when playing with Carsley and Pembridge. Both limited footballers but brilliant defensively.

I cant wait to see him back to be honest. If he can get himself to a reasonable level fitness wise he could be an important player for us.
Joseph Brierley
6   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:49:07

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I am personally glad we never got Fernandez.

At first i thought yeah, what a great player, we must get him, but the way he went to Valencia and the comments he made when he joined was like he wanted to go there all along. He never trully wanted to play for EFC so im glad we never got him.

Stephen Appiah in January, happy fdays.
bill green
7   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:40:01

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yes the club must accept responsibility for the loss of Fernandes, but he was a double dealing twat at the same time, and regarding gravesen, i for one am more than happy to have picked him up on loan, as we dont have any one else who even looks like he wants the ball, i think we should play the defence behind, valete, nev, jags, and cars, and give up the pretence of actualy having a midfield, and go for 8 - 2 formation, it wont be creative but it will pander to David Moyes and his negative tendancies.
Joe Rourke
8   Posted 25/09/2007 at 16:48:32

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This is an awful article with very uneducated and downright unfair comparisons.

1) Mascherano and Tevez are being loaned out for a huge fee per year. If ethier of these clubs wish to actually buy the above two they will have to pay a very, very substantial amount. Everton sought to buy the player’s registration proper.They are not comparable deals. The fee per week to rent these boys is the same as their rather large wages.

2) Nobody on the Everton board escorted Fernandes on to the plane to Valencia and made him sign on the dotted line in Valencia.That was his decision and the biggest other likely influence was probably his agent/ part owners.

3) The group stages of the UEFA cup are not lucrative. A cup run to the FA semi-final i.e. 3-4 games against any English opposition also to finish 2/3 places higher up in the league would bring in more money.You get about 10 million if you win the UEFA cup, Spurs made the quarters and earned just 2 million for their efforts. Frankly a good league finish would make more money.

4) The current Board/Moyes are not responsible too for when multiple injuries strike at one particular section of the team.Look at Chelsea at the moment - they have lost two players and the look like the wheels have come totally off. Or imagine if you took out Carrick, Scholes and Ronaldo out of the manure line up tomorrow - they would suffer too.

Do a little proper reading Matt before you write again. Subjecting us to regurgated media sound-bytes ( like about ’big boys snapping up’ ) to add weight to your un-considering moaning isn’t doing anything for anyone except perpetuating mis-conception and utter rubbish.

Gavin Ramejkis
9   Posted 25/09/2007 at 17:17:28

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Not sure if this question is to a statto or a smart arse but how can we sign Stephen Appiah in January if he will be away playing in the African Nations Cup, barring an early bath for his team doesn’t that competition run from January 20th to February 10th so a very quick move would be needed at the start of January to get the paperwork and negotiatons done and International Clearance then maybe not see the player until February with little of the season left would the ditherer wait until the summer or would Fred Elliot be unwilling to pay a player to be away for his first month playing internationals?
Michael Brien
10   Posted 25/09/2007 at 17:40:49

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Shouldn’t the blame for not signing Fernandes be down to the player himself.He had a medical, was a guest of the club for the Blackburn game and had told Moyes that he was going to sign for us.
Suddenly when Valencia appear on the scene - he does a U turn. I know that players in the present appear to be more mercenary than ever before, but I still reckon Mr Fernandes needs to learn the meaning of the word loyalty.
Personally I am glad we didn’t get him, his change of heart speaks volumes for his principles or should I say lack of them.
Danny Mullally
11   Posted 25/09/2007 at 19:34:15

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You are spot on Michael, Fernandes went through the motions signed the kids autographs then jumps on the next easy-jet arrival into Valencia-what an inspirational character. I was the biggest advocate of getting the lad in, but now he has shown us what he is about I wouldn’t want him here for the change in my arse bin pocket.
One other point, all this talk about Stephen Appiah-WHY is he onstantly getting touted? I personally cannot see what the fuss is about. He seems to get goals, but in my humbleopinion, we need a creative midfielder more than anything. He is not creative-if anything he is more of a Tim Cahill and I can not for the life of me understand why fans are shouting for him. For me I’d love us to sign a great passer of the ball, nothing flash just someone who can see a pass a second before anyone else......I wonder if Cesc fabregas hasa kid brother?????!!!!!
Brian Donnelly
12   Posted 25/09/2007 at 19:10:40

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On Fernandes, at the end of last season we didn?t want him ? too expensive etc. Eventually we come crawling back and make an offer. Then another offer turns up and he takes it - he probably didn?t have much say on where he went anyway. The point is, we left it too late in the day either getting him or getting someone else who is comfortable on the ball.

On Gravesen, none of us know how successful he will be. We have seen him play half-an-hour at a very poor Bolton. Admittedly he was superb in that time, but we can only hope he will turn it on ? we just don?t know. Given that he couldn?t get into the Celtic squad and was thus loaned out, that must give everybody some doubts at the moment.

The irony is that we have quite a strong squad of players, but we are lacking, and have been for a long time, a creative influence in midfield (outside of Arteta). Thus we are spluttering along with shite football and our forwards are looking a lot worse than what they are.
Paddy Connors
13   Posted 25/09/2007 at 21:04:42

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Fernandes - he wanted £60k a week and the fee was effectively for an extended loan - look at United , they got Tevez but they paid mega bucks and dont own him its a two year deal with a further option. Same for Mascherano - United and Liverpool anre big boys compared to Everton and they can afford to pay such fees for extended loans. Gravesen left Celtic because he didnt follow Strachans instructions - same reason he left Real Madrid. He never left due to fitness or anything else - he’s a loose cannon on the pitch and it took Moyes 3 years to realise that as well. Given a free creative role he’s as good as anything out there - he’ll be fit in a week or two as willl at least two other crucial players.
14   Posted 25/09/2007 at 21:11:37

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It is well documented that Real Madrid AND Celtic both done their homework in a fucking kindergarden when they signed Graveson. Both thought he was a midfild destroyer, who will win the ball back then both suddenly realised he aint exactly a Roy Keane or Vieira. Thats what pisses me off when peOple who think they know everything come out with crap statements like he weren’t good enough at Celtic or Real. Fact is they never knew what they had. Tommy G can be as frustrating as hell, but the positivwe thing for me is, he seemes to become more consistent in the latter years of his Everton days (part 1) and he was never a speedy player anyway, so as far as I am concerened we have got a cracking player for basically fuck all for the next 2 seasons (if we sign him).
Plenty of time to nurture a replacement......

David Diggle
15   Posted 25/09/2007 at 22:04:25

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Some parts of the post are valid. However there appears to be a notion amongst fellow blues that signing Fernandez would be akin to ’the second coming’ just because he scored a great goal against the Mancs and did a dribble of two against Arsenal. Granted, I thought he looked top class in fits and starts but I also saw him go missing for long spells of the game. In any event, I dont think you can blame the board for his disappearance to Valencia - we got screwed pure and simple.....and if he would have done well for us, he would have been shipped out by his owners in no time at all - tevez anyone?

I thought the Graveson move made sense - on loan; deadline looming; and for a player Moyes knows inside out. Give him the ball and he will play.
Steve Murdoch
16   Posted 26/09/2007 at 11:59:49

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I reckon we should go in for Steven Gerrard in the january window!!
What do you think of our chances????
Kenny Gee
17   Posted 26/09/2007 at 12:47:00

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why not xavi alonso?
Steve Murdoch
18   Posted 26/09/2007 at 13:18:50

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I’d have Fernando Alonso in our midfield at the moment!!!!!!

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