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The Long and Arduous Quest to Sign the Two Kyles From Sheffield

By Simon Bodian :  20/07/2009 :  Comments (37) :
Two of the biggest transfer targets on Everton’s recruitment radar are the two young Sheffield United wingbacks, Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton.

Naughton made over 40 appearances last season in all competitions and scored three times. This is testimony to Naughton’s great attacking prowess. Naughton is also very versatile and can play on both sides of the pitch. This would come in handy if someone like Baines was to become seriously injured and out for a length of time.

Walker is younger than Naughton by 2 years and has only made 7 appearances for the Blades and has yet to score a goal. Walker like Naughton is a full back who can also operate in the central role and although he has not been as successful as Naughton, he is still predicted to have a bright future ahead of him.

After a couple of renewed bids it seemed like Naughton was set for Merseyside after an £8 million bid had been accepted until the big money spenders Tottenham crashed in and offered £11 million for not only Naughton but also Walker.

Spurs seem to be very confident in signing both youngsters after selling both Didier Zokora, their reserve wing back, to Sevilla FC for an undisclosed fee and Chris Gunter to Nottingham Forest for £1.75 million after being on loan last season. However, they still have the likes of Alan Hutton, Pascal Chimbonda and Vedran Corluka at right back who are worth over £23 million collectively. And even if Naughton or Walker are tried at left back he will still face tough competition in the form of Gareth Bale who was signed From Southampton FC for over £5 million.

At this moment in time, it is apparent that the large sums of money offered to both Sheffield United and the players by Tottenham are proving to be very tempting. However, Phil Jagielka, a previous Blades player who now plays for the Blues, has been busy persuading young Naughton and Walker to join Everton and be offered the chance of first team football but at a lower salary than offered at Tottenham. This persuading seems to have done the job as Naughton failed to turn up to a medical at White Hart lane.

The young and inexperienced Walker on the other hand seems to be mesmerised by the large sums of money on offer. This battle between high salaries and first team football is proving to be a close one with no obvious outcome. Maybe the outcomes of the recent young signings of Giovanni Dos Santos from Barcelona and John Bostock from Crystal Palace would be good examples of young promising players who have failed to reach the promised land of the Tottenham first team.

Dos Santos was a young Mexican Attacking striker prodigy who exploded into the Barcelona first team in the 2007-08 season at the age 19 and even kept Ronaldinho out of the team for a couple of games. He played 28 games for Barcelona in all competitions and scored a total of 4 goals. This low strike rate didn’t do his talent justice but still managed to attract a number of top quality clubs. However, out of all the top quality clubs on offer, he sadly chose Tottenham and signed for £4.7 million.

A product of the Palace academy who had been with Crystal Palace since the tender age of 7, John Bostock was the talk of the town after breaking into their first team at the age 15 years 287 days coming on as a substitute for Ben Watson in the 2-0 home defeat to Watford. Bostock didn’t look out of place on the pitch and this young, raw prodigy soon caught the eye of all the big clubs and after being offered a place at the “infamous” Tottenham academy he packed his bags and hopped on the 745 across to the other side of London.

Giovanni Dos Santos started the 2008-09 season and made a total of 12 appearances in all competitions and scored a single gaol against Shakhtar Donetsk in a Uefa cup match. After 6 appearances Giovanni was ousted out of the first team and was sat on the bench for half the season. He was then put on loan to Ipswich for the remainder of the season. John Bostock made no league appearances and only 3 in cup competitions...

Do you see a pattern emerging here? If you don’t, then I will have to spell it out for you: Young players who have a bright future are snapped up by Tottenham, are offered large salaries and they are star-struck by these large sums of cash. Once they arrive at Tottenham, they are used as bench warmers and the only exercise they get in matches is the warm down.

Many people will probably say “Well Bostock is too young to ply first team football” but Jack Rodwell who is coincidently the same age as Bostock played 25 times last season and, yes, we had a lot of injuries that season but still Rodwell would have had quite a number of games in the first team.

I would like to apologise if I have veered of the point slightly but my overall point is that, if young Naughton and Walker want to progress as footballers in the best way possible, then they should sign for Everton because they will play a lot more first team football. And yes, they may be paid less at Everton but they must now decide what is more important to them - money or playing first team football.

Furthermore, they are at a young and fragile age where many young players become starry eyed over large salaries but they must try and resist this. At Everton, they will make more money in the long term because they will probably play more first team football.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my article and if the standard of English does not meet your standards please bear in mind that I am just 14. I am a very committed Blues supporter who lives in Watford and was brought up to support Everton. I am also a large fan of ToffeeWeb and hold the editors in high regard for all the work they put in and the quality of the articles which are posted to this site.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 21/07/2009 at 17:05:01

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Wow, impressive stuff, Simon. Standard of English is excellent. And of course I like the praise!!!

I was beginning to tire of the non-Everton content mid-way through but you rescued it at the end. Great job!
Mike McLean
2   Posted 21/07/2009 at 17:14:24

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You’ve got a future in sports journalism, James.

Well done on this ... a good read!
Tony Williams
3   Posted 21/07/2009 at 17:40:22

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Good read... but I don’t think Walker was a target, he has just been dragged into it because of Old Twitchy trying to gazump the Naughton deal.
Steve Edwards
4   Posted 21/07/2009 at 17:42:20

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My God, looks like you’ve been doing your homework, Simon. It's all gone very quiet on the Naughton front and I must say that I’m not to bothered one way or the other. I do think that other positions need to be strengthened before right full back as I would prefer Neville to operate there rather than midfield.

David Moyes will have Neville in the team you can bet on that. Still I do find the situation quite intriguing. Has he really not turned up for a medical with Spurs? I also feel sorry for Seamus Coleman if Naughton does turn up. What must he be thinking? He will certainly see his chances limited so maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for him to come to Everton. Apparently he has looked quite bright in pre-season.
Timmy Mongiat
5   Posted 21/07/2009 at 18:03:09

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I think the main pull of Spurs is London. With respect to Dos Santos, his talent is undisputed, but I think the problem with him was that he was not physically suited to the Premier League and his season was also disrupted by an injury.

However... I agree completely, I think Everton would be best for his development, and I would love to see him here as he looks a very exciting talent. With respect to Walker however, I concur with Tony; it almost seems as if we’ve just bid for him in order to match Tottenham’s deal, and although he is apparently highly rated, I doubt we will be seeing him near the first team squad for a few seasons.
Stephen Davies
6   Posted 21/07/2009 at 18:22:20

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I was very suprised at your age Simon. I thought you put your points well, in a mature reasoned manner. Well done, will watch out for more of your postings in the future.
Alan Kirwin
7   Posted 21/07/2009 at 18:37:38

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Good article Simon & astute observations.

It’s interesting because it was actually Martin Jol who started Spurs’ policy of acquiring young talent, mainly English. And under him Spurs did rather well, finishing 5th twice.

They sacked him because as a club they have developed ideas beyond their station and simply expected CL football. It doesn’t work quite like that.

Eventually, Happy Harry comes in and starts spendng money all over the place because, in his words, none of the current players are good enough. He had previously, somehow, amazingly, persuaded Portsmouth’s owners to go virtually bankrupt by financing his collection of expensive ready-made stars like Defoe, Muntari, Crouch, Diarra etc etc. So Harry has form.

I hadn’t heard the bit about Jags having a word with Naughton. I do hope it’s true because I think the kid has great talent & is undoubtedly a future full international (in the right hands).

The trail has gone strangely quiet, although where it has been mentioned, most of the media is under the impression Spurs have won the chase. We shall presumably see very shortly. I think Spurs are away somewhere right now and Moyes, Jags & the boys are obviously in Seattle.

Sheff Utd have behaved like prostitutes in the whole affair and it’s a pity this deal wasn’t wrapped up 2 weeks ago as all expected & young Naughton now in Seattle with his new team mates.

Welcome to TW, Simon — and don’t be a stranger.
Anthony Newell
8   Posted 21/07/2009 at 19:29:25

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How do you know with certainty he didn’t turn up for the Spurs medical?
Michael Evans
9   Posted 21/07/2009 at 20:25:39

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Simon - congratulations for a very good read.
Stephen Kenny
10   Posted 21/07/2009 at 20:34:19

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A good point well made,

At Everton if your good enough your old enough.

Spurs have got a bit more money but that's about it. Any young player who signs for them knowing some of the situations stated in the article and many others besides, is playing Russian Roulette with their career.

The only saving grace for those two players is that Harry Redknapp is very good with young players, especially developing them and selling them on...
Adam Cunliffe
11   Posted 21/07/2009 at 20:45:45

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Great article, matey. Coming from someone who's posted on here before and someone who is of a similar age, it's a great too see someone else my age contributing.

Great article, may there be many more.
Tony Doran
12   Posted 21/07/2009 at 23:19:49

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Nice piece but the word Arduous in the heading should be replaced with Audacious. On the prospect of getting the two Kyles I think were getting taxed on the left back in order to get a right back. I think were covered on the left but desperate for quality going down the right.

It’s mostly agents that delay these things... hoping to stir up more interest... and Sheffield Utd won’t be to bothered either. One way to stick a spanner in the works of both these would be if Everton turned ’round to spurs and said, "We’ll pull out, which will save you a few million, and you give us a choice of buying one of your fullbacks (Hutton, Chimbonda or Corluka) at a good price, they're all better than what we have..."

Timmy Mongiat
13   Posted 22/07/2009 at 00:58:46

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Kyle is also a right back, Tony. He can play in the centre but he's predominately a right-back. Tbh, I rate Corluka highly, but I don't believe Chimbonda is better than Hibbert and I think the jury is still out on Hutton, who has shown very little so far (although I accept he's been disrupted by injury).

I think Hibbert has come in for a lot of criticism lately; granted he had some poor games but I think he is a solid right back. Although, without a shadow of a doubt, it is necessary for us to improve the right-hand side of defence (and the right-hand side of midfield if Arteta is to play in the centre) if we want to make the next step.

Chad Schofield
14   Posted 22/07/2009 at 02:00:18

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Great article Simon and very well put together.

Moyes has shown that we do not burn out young players — we nurture. Bucking the trend of other clubs, like our neighbours for instance. I do think that if we had not had the injuries that we did last season, however, then we would not have seen very much of the youngsters.
Alan Clarke
15   Posted 22/07/2009 at 09:09:21

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Good article. I wish footballers would just make their decisions based on football but, as you’ve put it, the sums of money offered to these youngsters are mesmorising and I fear in the end that is what makes their minds up. Maybe I’ll be surprised and Naughton will sign and Lescott will demand to stay at Everton rather than demanding a move because, from a footballing perspective, those are the correct decisions. We’ll see.
Adam Bennett
16   Posted 22/07/2009 at 09:56:13

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If the two Kyles are unsure which club to go to, all they have to do is look at Cahill, Lescott and Jagielka. Three players David Moyes has taken out of the Championship and turned into top players who are now full internationals.

For me, the decision these two young lads make will determine what they value more — developing into possibly top players and becoming internationals… or bright lights and money.
Jamie Rowland
17   Posted 22/07/2009 at 09:53:07

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Great read... well researched.

I had the fortune of seeing Dos Santos play for Barca whilst on holiday. The mood in the stadium was that he was going to replace Ronaldinho. He was, to put it mildly, electric. When he signed for Spurs, I was shocked. I never thought he would leave Barca or that they would let him go. That was all a bit strange...

The trouble with the youngsters is that they produce the goods for about 6 months. In that short period of time, they attract a lot of attention that ultimately leads their clubs to cash-in (knowing more about the player than the prospective buyer — the power of information). They know that they are good players but not world beaters, yet at the age they are at, they ask for world beating money.

Naughton, if I believe what I read, is going to cost around £5m. Thats £5m for a player that is yet to prove himself in the Premier League. The problem then has a knock on effect. The player’s agent sees £5m transfer fee as £20-30k a week in wages (that's probably what Lescott gets and he cost £5.5m).

The system is flawed because there is yet to be a cap on either transfers or salaries... (and there probably will never be a cap). Other such young flops are:

Francis Jeffers
Half the United academy
Half (if not all) of Houllier's signings

Ruined by the lure of money, instead of signing for a club that could really nurture their talents and move them on career-wise.

Kevin Jones
18   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:10:29

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Well done, Simon: A+. When I was fourteen, I was still playing with my action man and running home to watch Rhubarb & Custard.
Stewart Littler
19   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:34:53

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Simon, I too was surprised when I got to the end — your research, points of view and language were mature beyond your years.

One observation — as you get older, you will learn not to believe all that you read in the tabloid newspapers. And despite what Mike McLean says, don’t turn to a career writing for these filth — it will damage you, permanently.

Incidentally, the SUFC website still has no news other than a deal being agreed with Everton, subject to the player agreeing terms.
Matthew Mackey
20   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:42:17

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Well shut me gob wide open!?!? 14 yrs old? Simon — well done mate. A nice read and a very, very good point made.

As our ambassador in the south, please keep posting and let us northerners know what’s going on with the Naughton and Walker soap opera.
Eugene Ruane
21   Posted 22/07/2009 at 11:50:51

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Good piece and you make a very good point that Everton should make much more of (ie; we might not be able to offer as much money as — say — Spurs, but we WILL give you a game).
Guy Wilkinson
22   Posted 22/07/2009 at 14:46:37

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Great article, Thanks
Brian Williams
23   Posted 22/07/2009 at 14:53:11

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Why don’t we, in the future, make an offer to the selling club, have it accepted, sort out the terms with the player, put him through his medical, then parade him with the shirt... .all within 48 hours?

Others do it, why not us? That way we wouldn’t lose out on a player who was obviously David Moyes’s choice as our first signing, to the likes of Spurs! Naughton having now signed for them.
Bradley Nolan
24   Posted 22/07/2009 at 14:56:54

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Spurs' website reporting they have agreed a fee for Naughton.
Michael Brien
25   Posted 22/07/2009 at 17:02:22

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A very interesting article Simon. I agree with the point you made about the "2 Kyles" having a better chance of 1st Team football with the Blues. Sadly it seems that they have opted for Tottenham. I seem to recall Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell in recent seasons moving to Stamford Bridge and what seemed like an attractive move to the bright lights and big salaries of London turned sour for both players. They moved on in search of regular first team action. As you pointed out, Tottenham seem to have acquired quite a few right sided defenders in the last couple of seasons. They can’t all play, so 'Arry might have a job to keep everyone happy.

It’s disappointing to miss out on these players. It’s probably not much consolation but, as an "exiled" Evertonian living in Lincoln, I often watch BBC Look North which comes from Hull; I have lost count of the various transfer targets linked with Hull City — none of whom have yet to sign. David Moyes is not the only manager to miss out on some of the players he would like to sign.

Jason Broome
26   Posted 22/07/2009 at 17:14:40

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Brian Williams - Thank You... unbelievable that the FA Cup finalists and 5th best team in the Premier League took over a month to lose out on a Championship player!

We dithered and Redknapp was well within his rights to outbid us.

Well done to him and well done, Simon!
John Martin
27   Posted 22/07/2009 at 18:38:25

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I doubt any player now who has a choice of teams will choose the one offering less money. Almost certainly our financial offer would be less to the player and worse terms for Sheff Utd. It's the way we operate. Spurs will pay more to the player, never mind about which club will progress him more. If it's not a CL team, more wages will decide a player's destination. So, if we are in for a player who Spurs or Villa or City want, we may as well forget about it.
Joey Brown
28   Posted 22/07/2009 at 14:49:27

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Naughton is an idiot. Maybe he had no real choice. Maybe is parents told him to go for the money. Maybe he doesn't like the color blue. But it seems pretty apparent that Kyle Naughton has given up on the idea of playing football for a nice pay check. I'm going to go ahead and assume we are going to lose out on Elm too. Mighty Fulham will swoop in with a double wages. Salary cap? Maybe it's time to think about it.
Rupert Sullivan
29   Posted 22/07/2009 at 17:21:15

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A lot has been said on here about transfers, and about Naughton in particular. I have never seen him play so I have no idea as to whether or not he should be considered a 'loss' but one thing does interest me... surely anyone who would sign for a club which already has 6 full backs on their books has motives which can be questioned? Spurs had already Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale, Pascal Chimbonda, Vedran Corluka, Alan Hutton and Gilberto — when if ever is the boy likely to play?
Michael Brien
30   Posted 23/07/2009 at 07:33:10

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Jason — I don’t think it was a case of dithering by Everton. We made an offer and by all accounts Sheffield United had accepted that offer. Tottenham came in later with an offer which included Kyle Walker 1 this involved loaning him back to Sheffield United for next season. As I understand it Everton’s offer was for Naughton only.

Interesting to see how Sheffield United in the "Tevez Affair" were stressing the unethical practices of West Ham and other clubs, they don’t seem to have behaved very honourably in this particular situation.

Yes Arry is entitled to bid for who he wants. However, I wouldn’t hold up Tottenham as a shining example of how to conduct a transfer policy. Defoe and Keane sold to Portsmouth and Liverpool and then bought back within less than a year!! How soon before they try and buy back Paul Robinson!! Perhaps they are collecting defenders and Man City strikers, so Arry and Mark can meet up and do some wheeling and dealing!!!

As I said before — we will not be the only ones to miss out on signing certain transfer targets. Man United found themselves "priced out" on a couple of the players they were after. Do you think the fat Spanish waiter will be pleased to see Gareth Barry wearing Man City colours?!!! They tried to sign him for most of last summer.

Personally I would like to see Everton making use of the loan system. It has worked very well for David Moyes in the past — Mikel Arteta, Tim Howard and Steven Pienaar all initially joined Everton on loan. I think that was also the case with Joseph Yobo. It’s a good way of assessing whether or not a player will fit into the squad.

There is plenty of time left and it’s perhaps good to remind ourselves that it’s not always the headline catching deals that are the best. Back in 1982 the signing of Kevin Sheedy didn’t make the main headlines on many National back pages. In 1981 wasn’t it a case of "Neville Who??" Probably the least known of the 7 close season signings by Howard Kendall.

I am sure that the Naughton thinks he had made the right decision — but Scott Parker thought he was right to sign for Chelsea and so did Steve Sidwell. After a year or so, both were thinking differently and heading out of Stamford Bridge after becoming "bit part" players.

Peter Wilson
31   Posted 23/07/2009 at 07:40:05

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Just saw this on the Sheffield United website. Sorry if it's old news but it's the first official confirmation I've seen of Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker having actually signed for Spurs.,,10418~1729054,00.html

John Lloyd
32   Posted 23/07/2009 at 11:10:21

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I am absolutley shocked that this lad has made the decision to join Spurs over us!!! I work woth Leeds, United, Liverpool & even a couple of City fans and they think the decision is a joke.

He’s obviously shown the type of player he wants to be, a big time charlie, who isn't interested in knuckling down to graft to give himself a chance of being a top player.

Modern footballers are starting to make me sick, how much more could Spurs have offered him??
Nick Redmond
33   Posted 23/07/2009 at 13:20:13

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John Lloyd (and others) — are you sure that Walker chose Spurs over us?

Maybe I’m wrong, but my impression is that Sheff Utd accepted Everton’s offer, and allowed our club to talk to the player. Then Spurs came along with a bigger offer for Naughton — plus cash for the other one and the option of loaning other Spurs players — at which point Everton’s offer was rejected.

So I’m not sure Walker had any choice. Who knows, maybe his failure to turn up for Spurs at a medical was a protest? But it’s asking a lot of a 20-year-old to flat out reject Tottenham in the hope his club will then do a U-turn and allow him to move to Goodison. Owen bottled it when the FSW asked him to do exactly that when he was leaving Real Madrid, because the Skunks could pay more than the RS.

Point taken about Spurs having plenty of full-backs on their books, but Redknapp has made clear he doesn’t rate many of the existing squad and he’s already moved a few on. So maybe in talks he told Naughton that there would be first-team opportunities but no guarantees — and let’s be honest, for a kid with no Prem experience, could Moyes promise anything more?

I hope we don’t come to regret the loss of Naughton. However I’m with a bunch of others on here in preferring us to sign a classy destroyer in midfield, so Pip can push Hibbo for the right-back slot. I hope also Moyes will bid for Tuncay, who could offer us something either on the right wing or at centre forward. In a small squad, flexibility is vital.
James Bowman
34   Posted 23/07/2009 at 16:42:11

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Joey Brown, I agree that there should be a salary cap, but the way things go for our club will probably mean the FA will bring it into force the week after we find our billionaire!

I read an article that said Everton were now looking to Onuoha after losing out on Naughton… and that the Tug-boaters, amongst others were interested… maybe Arry just has a thing for right backs??

Lionel Luthor
35   Posted 23/07/2009 at 16:45:04

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I don’t buy into any theory that Naughton was railroaded in signing for Spurs. He’s 20 for Christ sake not 12. Regardless of external pressure from Sheff Utd or Agents, at the end of the day he could have said no. It was his decision.

On the subject of Spurs, and in particular Harry ’Michael Myers’ Redknapp. The guy has fuck all class and I would hope Moyes doesn’t give him the time of day when the two clubs next play each other.
Shaun Parker
36   Posted 23/07/2009 at 19:15:51

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Why do we have to always air our linen in public. Why can’t we hear for once that we have signed a player instead of hearing we are negotiating with a player. When are we going to learn our lessons, don’t go public until we have signed a player.

Rasmus Elm will be the next, he looks a top qualty prospect but now clubs know he is for sale and Everton are in for him that means that once again he will not come our way.

I am not personally bothered the slightest about the sheffield lads joining Spurs, we all know that they have made the wrong choice but what I would love Moyes to do now is to steal Ched Evans from under their noses to see how they like it.

Keeping the faith always.
Jamie Rowland
37   Posted 24/07/2009 at 11:10:39

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I’m putting my conspiracy theorists hat on (again) and saying:

Maybe Moyes doesn’t sign good players but instead makes other teams sign bad players.

Parker, Emre, Smith, Forrsell, Sissoko and now Naughton (as examples).

They are players that we had here at goodison (for talks or even a medical) that where then ’robbed’ from us by other clubs. All of them turned out to be misfits.

SO, on a jovial note, perhaps Moyes does it on purpose! (I wish!).

The reality - we can’t sign an autograph!

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