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Stuck in the middle with you

By Peter  Laing :  27/03/2008 :  Comments (23) :
Without the rubels, dollars or bhat that a rich foreign investor brings with them to launder, David Moyes has undoubtedly worked a minor miracle on the team within a restrictive budget. During the six years of his tenure he has strengthened the team in key areas whilst adding quality, reducing the average age of personel, blooding youngsters and adding resale value to players that have been acquired.

Looking at the current squad, there is undoubted talent and versatility, built in the image of Moyes himself with a strong and commited work ethic. The situation with Moyes's contract negotiations would appear to be largely influenced by how much cash he has available to him during the summer, because I feel like you and I the manager is aware that to continue to make progress we need continuing financial resource.

In looking at this season objectively we have continued to progress, competing on all fronts and once again challenging for 4th place in the EPL. My personal opinion is that our only archilles heel this season has been the lack of quality or available bodies in midfield, as in season's gone by with the defence and attack this is something that given the money David Moyes will address during the summer.

During the 10 game purple patch of unbeaten games it was both the consistency and availabilty of player's that made such a run achievable. As injuries have kicked in and the disruptive effect of Afcon, it would now seem that we are struggling to cross the finish line with many player's exhausted, carrying knocks and running on empty. Thomas Gravesen, Andy van der Meyde and Manuel Fernandes to date have added little or nothing to our fortunes and all three will likely be shipped out as the season closes.

Once again the summer will be interesting; it will be a barometer to the Moyes-Kenwright relationship, and big Keith will once again need to produce white rabbits from a hat if we are to purchase the midfield jigsaw pieces required to move us on to the next level. The European Championship's will obviously inflate transfer prices and it will be interesting to see where Moyes does his shopping; recent comments from the manager would suggest that he will be hoping to buy British???

Reader Comments

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Dan McKie
1   Posted 27/03/2008 at 13:44:23

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Its going to be a difficult one this summer I think for Moyes. First and foremost is not losing anyone that we don't expect to and replacing those that we do expect to lose(VDM, Gravesen) and I think Fernandes will come down purely to price. After that though, he still needs to add to the midfield and the centre of defence (if we dont keep Gardner who I'm told is here?)! I hope that maybe Gosling and Rodwell will be ready to play a part next season too! I dont think Moyes will ask for or expect silly money to be handed to him but i would hope we are in the £20-30 mil summer spending bracket!
Ciaran McGlone
2   Posted 27/03/2008 at 14:04:43

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I fail to see the point of specifically aiming to buy British. If they are quality players then fair enough but buying players because they are British is not only discriminatory, it's hardly in evertons interest!

Every man and his dog knows that British players cost more per pound than anyone else. What I'd like Davey to say is that he?ll buy the best, whatever part of the globe they come from.

Bolstering the English national team is not the job of Everton Football Club.... and the idea of forcing English clubs to have more English players in an erroneous belief that it will somehow magically improve the national team, is absolute nonsense anyway.
Mike Allison
3   Posted 27/03/2008 at 15:26:08

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Buying British is done with the intention of helping Everton Football Club and is not intended to help anyone?s national team. English players are more expensive, pound for pound, but that?s because of certain benefits they have:
  1. They?re settled and they know the country.
  2. They are used to the English style of football and proven in it.
  3. It is easier to build a team ethic and team unity with an English/British core.
Buying a player from abroad carries more risk of them not settling, not being able to play football to the demands of the English game or being awkward or disloyal. Van der Meyde, Bakayoko, Krøldrup and even Manuel Fernandes fit into one or more of those categories and I may have missed out some other examples.

At least with awkward or disloyal British players we tend to know all about them and so can avoid them easily enough. You don?t just buy a player, you buy the man and with British (or more specifically English speaking - think Howard and Cahill) players its easier to get that right from contacts or in contract negotiations.

Ciarán McGlone
4   Posted 27/03/2008 at 15:37:32

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Sorry but that's all circumstancial nonsense. This whole Buy British agenda is coming from Soho Square and Uefa, and it's certainly not in Everton's favour, because the reasons you give don't stack up! It's no conincidence that the top 4 have more foreigners in their teams than British/English... if British/English players had the overwhelming benefits you suggest, then why are the top teams not crammed with Brits? Could it be a case that they're just not good enough?

To suggest that foreigners don't settle, or can't adjust to the English game is inherent nonsense. We?ve seen English players move from Premiership club to club claiming they can't settle....and we?ve seen just as many British/English players cause problems at Prem clubs as foreigners.... I would suggest that the management of the club is more important to team unity than an irrational assumption that foreigners are trouble!

I also certainly can't accept your examples ...... Van der Meyde has been a joke wherever hes been (a quick bit of research would've shown this); Krøldrup was a bloody mystery to everyone; and Fernandes was one of our best players last season... who isnt even match fit yet!

To suggest that team unity is better built up with home-grown talent may be a nice fairytale, but it certainly doesnt have any factual basis....

One word: Arsenal!
Colin Smith
5   Posted 27/03/2008 at 15:54:38

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Mike, why mention Fernandes in the same breath as VdM etc? Has he played badly, missed training, gone out on the pop, been seen fraternising with grannies? Also, buying British, British speaking does not always gurantee success, Beattie, Bernie Wright, Radzinski & there a probably a few more duds out there as well.
Jem Bir
6   Posted 27/03/2008 at 16:09:30

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Tomasz Radzinski ? pain in the arse ? but he did score quite a few goals for us. In fact he was a pretty handy player. When he left (after bad mouthing us all) I was glad, if only because he?d become slow, and he was rubbish at Fulham

I was going to say something nice about him, but my memory has just reminded me what a prat he was.
Dave O'Brien
7   Posted 27/03/2008 at 17:44:45

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British players aren?t the most expensive pound for pound. When they have proved their abilities they are. That?s why plucking Championship players like Lescott for instance now actually looks like a bargain. He?s British and quality - cost less than a certain defender we bought when we finished 4th.
Mike Allison
8   Posted 27/03/2008 at 17:51:57

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It can only be circumstantial because there is no data on it. (Tomasz Radzinski is another example btw).

The ’Buy British’ agenda as you call it isn’t coming from Soho square its coming from David Moyes, and he’s been doing it since he got here.

I totally accept the point that many foreigners do settle, and some British players don’t, but I think my point stands that its much easier to know about British players and so therefore buy the right ones, the risk is much less with British players.

Ciaran, your most important point is about the top teams being crammed with foreigners. I don’t think this has any effect on my point as it applies to Everton. The reason I think this is twofold: the main point is that the top teams can buy the VERY best foreigners, and pay an awful lot of money for them (more than British players cost). Therefore they get the cream, the ones that can adapt, that do have the right attitude, and will be ’loyal’ because there’s nowhere else to go anyway. Even so, exceptions to this exist; Shevchenko couldn’t adapt, Robben was greedy and wanted to move on etc.

The market we are in is not for the very best players, we’re a notch down, where risk is higher, and knowledge and contacts are important. If Moyes wants to buy a British player, he can have a fairly good idea of what he’s like from all the contacts he knows in British football. When he buys a foreigner he can’t do that.

This brings me on to the second reason why the top teams have so many foreigners, and that’s the foreign managers. Wenger has those contacts in France, and through France, Africa, so he brings in those players, because he knows about them. Mourinho only ever paid top dollar anyway, or signed Portuguese players (Ferreira, Maniche), Benitez either pays top dollar or brings in players from Spain who he knows or can find out about. Ferguson again only ever pays top dollar now anyway, although he also has an extremely expensive scouting network at his disposal. The ’Champions League 4’ in England are able to select from the best players in the whole world with only a handful, maybe 4 or 5, teams competing against them for players. That’s why they have so many foreigners.

Colin, I mention Fernandes because, although we don’t know the full story, he seems a prime example of disloyalty. He sat in our stand, signed autographs for our fans and then signed for someone else. He fits into one of the reasons I gave why people prefer British players.

As for your ’one word: Arsenal’ comment, again, two points. The first is that they are almost all united by a single language/culture - French, the second is that they are in the middle of bottling their season, and seem the least unified team in the league anyway (Bendtner/Adebayor, Gallas and everyone, especially Walcott).

I think Everton are the best example of team unity in the Premiership, and that’s through a core of ’British’ players (where I include Howard and Cahill in that as native English speakers who’ve been in the country a long time). Certainly a lot better than Arsenal.
Mike Allison
9   Posted 27/03/2008 at 18:11:24

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Sorry, just noticed a comment of yours Ciaran that I shouldn’t have let slide. No-one is making an ’irrational assumption that foreigners are trouble’. Maybe you should read what I’m actually saying rather than assuming you already know what I think.
Alex Pat
10   Posted 27/03/2008 at 19:16:48

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Ciaran... are you a PC merchant then?
What was the ?discrimantory? comment about?
Ciaran Duff
11   Posted 27/03/2008 at 23:04:49

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I’ll have to back up my namesake (Ciaran) here. I don’t get this "buy British" angle. The argument that they fit in better just sounds like absolute bullshit to me. We already have players from Australia, S. Africa, Nigeria, Spain, USA, Rep. Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Iceland as well as "British" and apparently have one of the best team spirits in the EPL. All the top teams have heaps of non British players (albeit expensive ones) and they seem to fit in fine to their teams. BTW, non British players can often bring some extra skills to EPL. For example, experience of other styles of play (handy for Europe) and exposure for Everton in other markets and countries.

IMHO, we should just buy the best we can, no matter where they come from.
Julian Wait
12   Posted 27/03/2008 at 23:53:15

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Personally I think the desire to "buy British" is because Moyes doesn’t want to deal with more / too many African players because of the timing of the tournaments, doesn’t want to deal with players flying to Australia, Asia or South America, and doesn’t have the money to compete for the top European players.

As an added bonus, the British sides don’t qualify regularly for the European Championships or World Cup!

Tournaments and travel are tiring, and can make them injury prone (Cahill? Beckham? ) especially for older players.

If Moyes can get good young British players at a fair price, its a good strategy he has proven himself capable of pursuing.

Moyes hasn’t said anything about that being an exclusive strategy however, if the right player comes along he will sign them if he can.
Stuart Reid
13   Posted 28/03/2008 at 00:34:27

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Not sure whether British players are always the answer but players with British experience would be useful. Just been reading about Gilberto Silva wanting to leave Arsenal - what a signing that would be for us, a powerful, combative midfielder who can pass. Other decent midfielders who could be available in the UK are Jimmy Bullard, Steven Davis (currently on loan at Rangers), Zoltan Gera.

I’d quite fancy Morten Gamst Pedersen too. And please, Moysey, please, for the love of God, buy another right back!
Gavin Grayson
14   Posted 28/03/2008 at 02:00:17

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Stuart, I am on the same page with on Jimmy Bullard... He is the kind of player we need in the middle of park, someone combative and can least hold the ball and pass...

He may not be top quality, but I think that he will be a useful player to have and he will fit in well with the rest of the squad.
Eric Myles
15   Posted 28/03/2008 at 02:14:46

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I don?t think it?s really a question of buying British in terms of nationality but maybe more in terms of location.

Cahill, Howard, Gravesen, Arteta, Fernandes and The Yak are all foreigners that came from British teams and have been a sucess (OK maybe not Gravesen this time round) whereas the players acquired directly from foreign teams AVDM, Krøldrup, (Pistone and Valente to some extent) have been failures. Pienaar being the very notable exception.
Bill Cooper
16   Posted 28/03/2008 at 10:37:42

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I have to take issue with Eric’s analysis. Arteta (although he did play for Rangers) was signed from Real Sociedad and Fernandes hardly played for Portsmouth (and was signed from Benfica). 1st time around (when he was a success) Gravesen was signed from Hamburg. As for Pistone - he was signed from Newcastle!
Ciarán McGlone
17   Posted 28/03/2008 at 11:22:33

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Mike, as you well know David Moyes has bought more foreigners than he has Brits in his time at Everton, so how you can state that buying British is Moyes's agenda, is beyond me....and of the Brits he has bought...quite a few of them have been high profile duds: Beattie, Wright, Davies....

It may be much easier to spot trouble Brit players but is this not the whole point of research and scouts? if you're advocating the lazy way out, then why not go the whole hog and base our tranfer policy on Championship Manager?

Your point regarding the top teams buying the best foreigners doesn't stack up either. Who?d heard of half the Arsenal team before Wenger brought then here? Not many. And we have the same situation at Man U (Vidic, Evra etc)... Chelsea are in a financial world of their own so they can buy whoever they want. So the point is moot for both of us, and I'd rather not talk about that lot across the park.

As for your suggestion that foreign managers are best placed to do better business with foreign players, i don't really buy that. Again, is this not the whole point of backroom staff and scouting staff? And in relation to Arsenal it's rumoured that a lot of their underage scouting was actually done by Liam Brady, so again, your point doesn't really stack up.

ps: My point in short is that we need to box clever in the transfer market and be extremely shrewd. In my opinion, value for money is not achieved by British players, and the benefits you speak of are so minimal that they are not cost-effective.

What is more cost effective is proper research, something that we seem to have semi-coherently achieved post-Krøldrup.

@Dave O'Brien

I'm afraid the facts don't back your opinion that British players are only the most expensive players pound for pound after they have proven themselves: Hale, Nugent, Walcott etc etc.
Ciarán McGlone
18   Posted 28/03/2008 at 11:44:36

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I didn't assume what you think.... I read your post and the implication was quite clear that you think foreigners are trouble... If you think the following doesn't more than impy that, then I suggest your not conveying your message very clearly.

You stated...

"Buying a player from abroad carries more risk of them not settling, not being able to play football to the demands of the English game or being awkward or disloyal."
That's quite clear to me... foreigners are more likely to be ?awkward or disloyal?...your words, not mine.
Ciarán McGlone
19   Posted 28/03/2008 at 11:52:52

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I have come to the conclusion that only clowns use the term ?pc? ...and it's usually as an excuse for there own short-sighted bigotry...

If you have a probelm with the meaning of discrimination, then look it up.
Dave O'Brien
20   Posted 28/03/2008 at 16:08:12

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Ciaran - perhaps I didn?t make myself clear. British players when proven are worth more than foreign players of similar ability. There will still be speculative purchases such as Hale, Nugent etc. Arse paid £10m for Walcott - he was supposedly world class and there had been excitement growing - he has yet to show his class, Nugent slightly similar story. These are just poor buys, it doesn?t alter the price rise for good British players
Ciarán McGlone
21   Posted 28/03/2008 at 17:06:23

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That is exactly what I thought you were saying. The evidence clearly points to British players being more expensive than equivalently talented foreign players, whether they are proven or not.

Perhaps you could provide me with a single player who was unproven British player who moved to the Premiership for the equivalent price of a similarly talented foreigner?

I know its not an exact science... but surely buying an unproven British player is a gamble, or ?speculative purchase? as you call it...
Dave O'Brien
22   Posted 28/03/2008 at 17:24:45

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Ciaran me old mucker - Lescott was unproved at Premiership level and he moved for £5M, so to find a foreign defender for the same amount... tricky to be exact but how about Patrice Evra? Monaco to Manchester United (£5.5M) Jan 2006. "Perhaps you could provide me with a single player who was unproven British player (Lescott) who moved to the Premiership for the equivalent price of a similarly talented foreigner?"(Evra).
Gavin Ramejkis
23   Posted 28/03/2008 at 20:33:56

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The trouble with buying players in England which sadly is quickly catching up in Europe is that everyone knows the EPL is "the cash cow" and watch as players who just a few seasons ago would go for £1m maybe £2m would now easily expect to cost £8m upwards as the lower league sides would want to make a killing and the seller would always be king unless the player was out of contract. Looking at the comparative costs of players from Europe and England and you get whole lot more bang for your buck in Europe, the majority speak English better than we do and have more talent and skill having not been subjected to the dirge which is the current Howard Wilkinson school of anti-science. Look at European championships under and over 21s and see the talents these kids and older players have, look at the Engerland national squad and try not to laugh at their supposed talent.

We should look for the best we can afford, the scouts should do their job, DM should also see them in the flesh playing then it’s up to those upstairs to find the money.

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