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14 July — A Lucky Escape

By Karl Masters :  14/07/2009 :  Comments (14) :
What do you think of when you hear today's date?

Middle of Summer? Bastille Day in France — let them eat cake and all that? Maybe it's somebody's birthday or only a week of school left if you're lucky enough to be that young?

Me - I think of 14 July 2004. 5 years ago today. Funnily enough it was also a Tuesday just like today. I was painting the balcony on the front of my house with the TV on in the lounge with Sky Sports News to keep me company. Suddenly, our Scottish purveyor of Transfer Gossip, Jim White announced that Everton's website was stating we had made a formal offer for Robbie Savage of Birmingham City.

Things had been very quiet on the transfer front after Euro 2004 with most of us simply praying that Kenwright's assertion that it would take £50m to buy Wayne Rooney would be enough to keep the Wunderkind at Goodison for the foreseeable future. Radzinski had just buggered off to Fuham for a measly £1.9m criticising the Club as he left (wonder where he is now?) and most Evertonians were beginning to fear the worst for the upcoming season.

We were being linked with the likes of Danny Murphy and Carlton Cole, but had already been re-buffed by Jermaine Wright of Ipswich who chose Leeds United instead (smart move Jermaine — not!!) and the rumours were that we had no money at all to improve on the previous season's finish of 17th. In fact, we now know it was actually even worse than that — Rooney's eventual sale for half of what Kenwright had been shouting about was all that kept our heads above water at the Bank (apart from the Fantasy... sorry, Fortress Sports Fund....)

So, the news of a potential signing was good news — or was it? Savage, although rumoured to be an Evertonian at some time in the past was already descending from his best days at Leicester a few years before. He had a habit of getting up the noses of not only the opposition, but referees and sometimes his team mates. I can't say I was thrilled, but In Moyes We Trust I reminded myself as I went back to the painting.

Of course, it is now history that Everton's 'offer' if you could call it that involved a miniscule downpayment and, if reports are to be believed, payments over 5 years - all for a total of £2.5m!

Birmingham, despite their ambitions, are no financial big hitters, but the offer was not only rejected, it was ridiculed in public by The Porn King, Sullivan and his sidekick Karren Brady. Basically, they could not help smirking as they declared a so called 'big Club' like Everton could not even afford to put in a decent offer for what they considered to be a prized asset. Savage, himself then declared that he wanted to stay (clearly embarrassed and wanting to distance himself from the whole thing) and that was that. Could it get any worse? Well, Marcus Bent signed a few days alter and that did seem worse to some (although Marcus had a very good season for us in 2004-05 and is not always fully appreciated) and then Kenwright and Gregg began playing silly buggers over ownership of the Club in public.

Tobias Linderoth left for £1.3m and Everton scraped together enough to buy Tim Cahill from Millwall — a purchase that did little to appease the by now frustrated and angry Evertonians. But, what a masterstroke that proved to be!! Tim Cahill epitomises all that is good about EFC in 2009. One of our best buys ever in my opinion.

All this goes to show what a lottery transfers can be. Would Robbie Savage and Jermaine Wright have driven us to 4th in 04/05? 14th more likely or possibly even worse. Would Robbie Savage ( and I will admit I don't know him personally, but the way he subsequently engineered a move to Blackburn a few months after put him in a very bad light ) have been the kind of fantastic role model that Tiny Tim has been? He certainly wouldn't have banged in the goals Tim has or played on his own up front when we had no fit strikers.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, and it's easy to look back. But, whenever this date comes around I always remember that desperate Summer of 2004 and thank our lucky stars that Robbie Savage got away. So, if Naughton ends up at Spurs or Moutinho ends up at Anfield, don't go throwing yourself off a bridge! Davey doesn't always get it right, but luckily fate can step in and lend a helping hand. After all, Cahill was all set for Crystal Palace until his agent upset their Chairman. Palace would surely have stayed up with Andy Johnson and Tim Cahill knocking in the goals, but that day fate dealt them a cruel blow and us a lifeline and it's something we have built upon ever since.

14 July 2004 was a pivotal day in Moyes's reign. I wonder how we will look back on this Summer in years to come?

Reader Comments

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Ismael Bondarenko
1   Posted 14/07/2009 at 17:26:38

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Good Article, I agree with all the main points with the exception of the ’Naughton Issue’. Some fail to see that this is about principles and morals (or the lack of). When have you ever heard of the selling club publicly announcing the agreement of a fee and its financial attractiveness only to then refuse permission to discuss personal terms because another club offer more money? I cannot recall a scenario.

I have no problem with Sheff Utd wanting to sell to the highest bidder, but in that case don’t be shouting from the rooftops about how ’this is a good deal for Sheff Utd and the player’.

Also RE: the inclusion of Kyle Walker in the potential £8M Spurs deal including a loan-back option — that appears to be £5M for Naughton and £3M for Walker — haven’t we offered £4m rising to £5M for the player, if so there appears little difference to qualm about.

I want Naughton, but won’t be crying if he goes elsewhere, but the lack of principles on show (if all is to be believed) make this an exceptionally disgusting case.

Editor's Note: Ismael, just on principle, it's "principles" not "principals"... who are an entirely different, though often principled, proposition. Since you're so hung up on these principles, I changed them accordingly.

Mike McLean
2   Posted 14/07/2009 at 18:02:22

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Not a word on the OS of Sheffield about any interest from Spurs. Perhaps people are being a bit precipitate?
Alan Kirwin
3   Posted 14/07/2009 at 18:33:14

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Great article Karl. always nice to read something different. There’’s a nice moral in your story and it’s one I fully subscribe to.
Marc Williams
4   Posted 14/07/2009 at 18:44:09

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Excellent little piece that Karl, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Dave Charles
5   Posted 14/07/2009 at 19:48:47

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It’s probably revenge for John Ebbrell... He, heeeee.
Stan Ashbourne
6   Posted 14/07/2009 at 20:16:15

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Very good article, Karl. If we don't sigh Naughton, it's not the end of the world. The guy has never played in the Premier League and there are other players out there with just as much potential.
Jay Harris
7   Posted 14/07/2009 at 21:41:19

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Good article Karl and good memory. I can't even remember what happened last season these days.

It does go to show that luck/fate does play a part in football and hopefully our up-turn in fortune will continue next season no matter who we do/don't sign.
Michael Evans
8   Posted 14/07/2009 at 22:20:34

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Good article, Karl — yes, I remember that summer and the feeling that Robbie Savage and Everton wasn’t a good mix.

Piivotal moments in EFC history which have been positive - somebody remind me who played THAT back-pass against Oxford? Heath scored?

Kendall was busy buying whitewash to cover the "Kendall OUT" slogans daubed on walls etc ... and ’if you know your history’, that was the turning point.
Karl Masters
9   Posted 14/07/2009 at 23:21:15

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Thanks for the kind words everybody.

As Jay rightly says, luck and fate seem to play a massive part when you look at transfer targets, but I must say that I think Davey Moyes usually gets it spot on. That Summer of 2004 we were also very close to signing Matthieu Flamini from Marseilles before being gazumped at the 11th hour by Arsenal. We were also very keen on taking Michael Carrick from West Ham for £2m but simply did not have the cash and he ended up going to Spurs before an £18m move to Man Utd in 2006.

What season might we have had with those 2 in the engine room in 04-05? But then again, Gravesen would not have played as much, not been spotted by Real Madrid and we may never have signed the comparatively unknown Mikel Arteta!

Generally though I am always happier seeing Moyesy going for younger ’unknown’ players with potential or players who have lost their way with a point to prove (Arteta or Carrick at that time who was rumoured to be into coke in a big way) rather than the finished article such as Beattie or Van der Meyde. In fact he got a lot wrong in 2005 with those two, along with Simon Davies, Krøldrup, Ferrari etc but picked a real gem in Arteta!

Who’d be a Manager, eh? :)
Steve Edwards
10   Posted 15/07/2009 at 00:51:42

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Very enjoyable Karl, certainly makes you think.

My thoughts on the Kyle Naughton business are that we could probably use the money we have to improve other positions before the right full back spot. Apart from Hibo, I am quite happy with Phil Neville filling that role. I would sooner Moyes went for a quality holding midfielder. I therefore will not be disappointed if that deal falls through.

I see now that Sky Sports are reporting that Everton have now put in a bid for Kyle Walker as well. One or two people on here recon that he is the better player. Does that mean we have matched Spurs for both players? I’d love to know what's going on.
Adam Cunliffe
11   Posted 15/07/2009 at 07:38:21

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Yup, Karl... only a week till the 7-week hols for me :) Good article though. 2004 was a pretty shit pre-season. Then we all feared the worse after we got hammered by Arsenal first game of the season. As we all know, it did turn out to be a good season after all and I reckon Marcus Bent played a big part in it.
John Roberts
12   Posted 15/07/2009 at 15:13:58

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Same as most summers/pre-season, we missed the boat on players/pretend offers for players and basically talk a good game in transfer market... Oh! I forget to mention, when we do get a offer accepted, we spend 3 or 4 weeks trying to do the deal!!
Stan Ashbourne
13   Posted 15/07/2009 at 17:14:07

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Michael Evans, it was Kevin Brock who made the pass-back for Adrian Heath to nip in and score against Oxford. The rest is history, so they say!
Damian Scott
14   Posted 17/07/2009 at 10:18:06

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At Everton, Radziñski scored 25 times in 91 Premiership outings before requesting a transfer, eventually securing a three year deal with Fulham F.C. worth £1.75 million. Radzinski wasn’t as prolific at Fulham as he was in his previous side, but won over the fans with several crucial goals. Radzinski was released at the end of the 2006-07 season by new manager Lawrie Sanchez, totalling 17 goals in 117 appearances.

On August 28 2007, he signed for Greek team Skoda Xanthi, on a free transfer. One year later, on August 30 2008 he signed a 1 year contract for the Belgian Second Division club Lierse, although his previous contract still applied until 2010. Lierse first had their eye on Peter Utaka, but when he was transferred to Odense, they chose to attract Radzinski. Radzinski had disclosed to the press his belief that members of Skoda Xanthi had been involved in match fixing and was seeking a transfer.

--- He’s now 35 and playing in the Belgian Second Division...

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