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Long Hot Summer

By Peter McPartland :  21/07/2010 :  Comments (23) :
So the players are back in training at Finch Farm with the exception of the World Cup stars but what now for Everton Football Club?

It?s fair to say potentially this could be the Blues' best season in years. Although they have just come off their worse season in 3 years, a run of 2 defeats in 24 games saw them shoot from relegation fodder to European challengers, only missing out by 2 points but without the distraction of European football and for once having something near a fully fit squad, the supporters can feel they are on the tip of something special, something glorious, something to remember.

The Blues have just completed a successful three-game tour of Australia, largely off the back of Aussie superstar Tim Cahill, and, even though he only completed a half in both the first two games, it was enough to attract the local ?Soccer? fans to come out in their thousands to see their National hero and to see Everton win all three games. It was also an ideal setting to bed in three of the four new summer signings into the Everton way.

Jermaine Beckford , a free transfer from Leeds United, had a troublesome calf injury which held him back but at times looked sharp; João Silva, a 20-year-old from Portuguese side Desportivo Das Aves, also showed some nice touches but not enough to establish if the young Portuguese forward has what it takes to handle life in the English Premier League.

But it was another 20-year-old that had most Evertonians talking: Magaye Gueye, a left sided winger who was brought in barely days before the Blues flew out, arrived from Strasbourg and, although very early days, the Frenchman displayed all the attributes needed to shine in the increasingly fast and physical world of EPL and even capped the tour off with the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Brisbane Roar.

So with all this, why does it feel like it could all fall apart before it even begins?

Like every summer without the millions of pounds other clubs possess, Everton must keep the wolves from the door and this summer is no different. Before the World Cup, the prospect of losing Player of the Season, Steven Pienaar, was the largest danger on the horizon, with the proud South African ready to shine on home soil. Although this didn?t happen, the list of suitors appears to have grown larger, with Spurs, Arsenal and now Inter Milan all leading the pack. Pienaar is down to his last year of employment with the club and no sign of a new contract being signed...

if that wasn?t bad enough, now Everton must confront the prospect of also losing arguably their best talent, Mikel Arteta. Conflicting reports suggest the uncapped Spaniard wishes to return to Spain because of the health of his son or to play at a Champions League club, whether in Spain or England, for the sake of his International career. Whichever it is, or whether either are true, it has not put Manchester City off from securing his signature if a deal for James Milner falls through.

The club have also confirmed a bid has been turned down for the services of Phil Jagielka from Arsenal; with Johnny Heitinga?s pre-World Cup quotes regarding welcoming a move to a bigger club, the fans face an anxious wait to see who starts at Blackburn Rovers on the first day of the season.

David Moyes has some massive decisions to make if any of the clubs come knocking, knowing the team can ill-afford a repeat of last season's Joleon Lescott fiasco. But he cannot afford to lose any of the players with little if any budget to replace them with knowing it would be a massive dent to the club's aspirations of reaching the promised land of a top four finish and Champions League, the club's only real way of attracting investment and generating revenue.

The coming months could be some of most sufficient in the clubs 132-year history.

Reader Comments

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Keith Edmunds
1   Posted 22/07/2010 at 05:36:07

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Sufficient?
Michael Kenrick
2   Posted 22/07/2010 at 05:45:42

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Yea, I couldn't get my head around "sufficient". The rest is mostly stuff we've gone all over... where have you been, Peter? Get yourself registered and join the discussions!
Mike McLean
3   Posted 22/07/2010 at 05:55:38

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Arteta: it's either a last, big payout scenario or his son. His international career has three impediments to it even beginning: Xabi, Iniesta, Fabregas.
Peter Bourke
4   Posted 22/07/2010 at 07:41:05

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Maybe Pete means "significant" ??
Michael Parrington
5   Posted 22/07/2010 at 07:55:12

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Firstly, I wouldn't get to excited about the performance in Australia. The competition was very average and also in the pre-season mode. Certainly anyone at the game in Melbourne would have seen Everton look more like they were in a very light training session than in a match.

Hopefully we won't loose any players before the season starts, especially Arteta and Pienaar.

I've got a good feeling about the type and age of the players that Moyes has brought in this summer. Hopefully it will equal some real desire to go and win a trophy.
Richard Reeves
6   Posted 22/07/2010 at 09:48:37

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I would like to see all three players stay at the club but, if we are going to sell any one of them, I would prefer it to be Pienaar. £15M is too much to lose out on for someone who I think will move on a free at the end of the season. Jagielka is an established centre-back and is hard to replace. Arteta is worth more than the £10M from abroad that's being reported and I don't think Moyes will sell him to a rival Prem team.

I do think Pienaar is a very important player but, come next season, you know we won't have any money to spend ? even if we do break into the Champions League ? and when we watch Pienaar walk away for nothing, there will be a sour taste in our mouths (just another bit of negativity before the season starts, that's something we don't need as we've had more than our fair share of it).

Of course, Moyes might let Arteta go abroad out of loyalty to the player in return for the loyalty and commitment he has given us... and who could blame Moyes if he does? Moyes has always conducted himself in the right way; I think Arteta has another two years left on his contract so I'm hoping Moyes can convince him to stay. We break into the Champions League the following season and Arteta signs for life (well, we can hope and if there's a chance of it).

I look at all three players and I think who is easier to replace? As I said before, decent centre backs are hard to find and it is Moyes's priority to have a solid defence with options. Arteta, with the qualities he has, is almost irreplaceable but, as for Pienaar, as good as he is, I think Moyes could find a replacement as good, if not better.

I wonder whether Gueye can play there... I know he is an attacking midfielder/striker but he is left-footed and some strikers start their carreers in midfield (Thierry Henry springs to mind, starting on the right wing before moving to sriker and Anichebe's prefered position is as a striker and now he's on the right of midfield).

I do think like many others that this could be a good year for us and that, if we're constantly selling players before the season starts, we will always be a work in progress and to some extent a feeder club that never realises its true potential. But I'm also aware that we never have any money and never will under Kenwright, so we have to sell to buy.

It used to make me so angry that at the end of every season I used to play this game called 'Where's Evertons money gone' and you know what ? I never finished it feeling just as confused as when I started. Now I accept we are paying huge sums of money just to manage the debt and we pay huge sums on wages so we have to sell to generate money.

It's not right but it's what is being fed to us so, with no money and players linked with moves away, we have to decide which players would we miss the most and find harder to replace... and for me they are Jagielka and Arteta.

Kevin Gillen
7   Posted 22/07/2010 at 11:02:49

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I don't know why Mikel Arteta has to go back to Spain to get treatment and care for his son. We have health care in this country. If he wants to be around his family and has had enough at Everton or sees a final payday and prospects of an international recall, I can understand that and live with it. I can't see for the life of me how people as rich as Mikel can be short of adequate care for a child with a disability. It's surely a total red herring.

I for one would like to see the picture clarified about our star players. The creeping anxiety about Lescott last year did for our season. If Mikel wants to see out his contract ? fine, if Pienaar wants to see out his contract ? fine. If they want to move on ? fine, let them move over so we can get some proper replacements. The speculation and uncertainty is killing me some days. When is one of these star players going to commit to the club?

In my amateur club Healing Hotspurs U-13s, we wouldn't put up with this, lines would be drawn in the sand. I fail to see how Mikel or Steven will have a better career at any other club, they are handsomely rewarded at Everton with long contracts and are roundly adored by the fans. They could get more money, yes... but there are big risks to moving ? as both of them know from poor moves in the past.

David Hallwood
8   Posted 22/07/2010 at 11:29:07

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Kevin get real; Arteta & Pienaar are great players and wouldn't look out of place any team in Europe, has anyone ever thought that it maybe about football and ambition. They're both 28 and like the Deadwood stage the big Three 0 is comin' on over the hill.

Have you ever thought that they might want to play in the Champions League, or even, God fordid win some silverware. Yes Everton rescued both players' careers, but they are playing for a decidedly unambitious /skint (delete which ever one is appropriate) club, that will never be able to afford really top players, and the general equation is that the best teams have the best players.
Alan Kirwin
9   Posted 22/07/2010 at 11:32:46

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Regarding Arteta, it's a tough one. We could argue we rescued him from relative obscurity and re-made him into what he is today (notwithstanding his fabulous talent).

On the other hand, he could argue he has been a marvellous contributor and ambassador for our club for quite a few years, on & off the pitch. he can;t really be faulted.

And then two things. Firstly his desperation (and long deserved) desire to play for Spain. Secondly the fact that he's 28 and arguably at his absolute peak. Given these two things, if an opportunity comes along to raise both your profile and your wages, who on earth would turn it down?

The more I think about it the more I can see this is a true tipping point for Arteta and for Everton. He sees this as his moment, and nobody can really blame him. Evertonians would be in turmoil to lose our talisman. If Arteta stays at Goodison I think this would arguably represent our best signing for 2 decades. It looks 60-40 that he goes.

What with Pienaar also playing hardball, these are testing days for us. I could just about (and I mean only just about) face the loss of Pienaar if we got Donovan in return. But the loss of Mikel Arteta would be devastating to everything that we aspire to do this season.

The next few weeks look like being trying times for all Evertonians.
Ian Tunstead
10   Posted 22/07/2010 at 11:41:21

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Whatever happens this summer, we must keep Arteta and Pienaar if we are ever going to break the top four. Even if that means letting them go for free next season and the season after. By that time, hopefully Fellaini and Rodwell will have developed sufficiently and have the experience to shoulder the responsibility.

This season we are going to have to rely heavily on Pienaar and Arteta to carry this club and drag us to the promised land. And if we make it, they would be more likely to want to stay and re-sign and everyone is a winner.

It has taken years to build this team to the quality we now have; to sell them for something as low as ?7 million, which is what Sevilla are apparently offering for Arteta, would be criminal. It would be much lower for Pienaar, which is sickening.
Ciarán McGlone
11   Posted 22/07/2010 at 12:31:12

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Spot on Alan...Once more I find myself in complete agreement with yourself..
Peter Warren
12   Posted 22/07/2010 at 13:04:20

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Why let a £10M plus player play for one season and then leave for free? Terrible for team morale and stupid business sense. Flog him!
Peter McPartland
13   Posted 22/07/2010 at 13:58:45

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Can't believe I missed that typo, thanks for the feedback. I have my own podcast if anyone wishes to hear more of mine and other blues ramblings, just search "The Followtonians Podcast" on iTunes.
Ian Tunstead
14   Posted 22/07/2010 at 14:17:44

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Peter

We will be lucky to get £10 million for the pair and then who can you buy who is good enough to fill their shoes for £10 million?

I would rather gamble and go for the Champions League money this season with the added bonus of them potentially signing again for Everton having got Champions League football. It will also give Fellaini and Rodwell and extra year or two to develop without having to rely on them completly. I thought Arteta had two years remaining anyway.
Jay Harris
15   Posted 22/07/2010 at 14:13:25

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I know it's a time of player power but why treat these players and their parasite agents with kid gloves? No one player is bigger than Everton Football Club. They either want to play for EFC or they don't. Give them a deadline to sign what's on offer and, if they don't sign by then rip it up and ship them out, so we can get players in quickly. If we'd have taken that action with Pienaar months ago, we would have stood a chance of getting Joe Cole.

I also find disturbing this current trend of players seeing out their contract so that they can enjoy a bonus signing-on fee in whatever way it's paid.
Guy Wilkinson
16   Posted 22/07/2010 at 16:20:02

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I'm resigned to the fact that we will lose one of either Pienaar or Arteta.

PS Jay @13 ? we couldn't afford Joe Cole's salary.
Steve Edwards
17   Posted 22/07/2010 at 16:26:06

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I've noticed that people keep coming on talking about Fellaini as the future. Well, don't hold your breath because I think this one will jump ship at the first opportunity. His old fella was touting him for a move to a bigger club just before he got injured. It was probably a blessing in disguise that he did get injured because the form that he was showing would have put him on every 'big' club's radar. It still wouldn't surprise me if somebody came knocking, injured or not.
Thor Sørensen
18   Posted 22/07/2010 at 20:13:44

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Completely agree with Steve Edwards (#16), and I felt the same way about Lescott 18 months ago, though I expected the big-money bid to come from Arsenal, when all of a sudden City walked into the mega-cash.

Although I feel Fellaini is very unlikely to move this summer due to his injury, he may very well go in a year's time. Next summer, he'll only have two years left on his contract, so, if he does well, the club should put some effort into renewing his contract over the course of the following season.
Kevin Gillen
19   Posted 22/07/2010 at 20:55:35

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Re post 7. There is nothing unreal about asking players to play fair with the club and reveal their intentions. Pienaar and Arteta have done really well out of their association with Everton, as have we from them playing for us. I have got nothing against either of them moving on to bigger clubs, Champions League, trophies etc. I can take it but jeapordising the club in this "will they won't they" sign is immensely unsettling. Everton need to know what they are going in to battle with this season. The fans deserve better.
Jay Harris
20   Posted 22/07/2010 at 22:09:50

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Guy (#16): I'm sure we could have done some creative accounting as there was no signing-on fee and it is rumoured we'll be asking £12 million for Pienaar.

That's £60,000 per week over 4 years and no up-front payment, add Pienaar's £50,000 per week. And at £90,000 a week for Joe Cole, we'll be saving £20,000 per week and nothing to pay out up-front.

All we need is a management team with vision and some balls.
Brendan O'Doherty
21   Posted 22/07/2010 at 22:32:40

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Yes Jay but then the rest of them will be wanting £90k a week as well.

The greed of the modern PL player and their Mr 10-20%s knows no bounds.
Guy Wilkinson
22   Posted 23/07/2010 at 18:20:11

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What Brendan said...

It starts an arms race of expectation.
Mike Green
23   Posted 23/07/2010 at 23:29:03

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Spot on Brendan and Guy - there's a great book called "The Spirit Level" by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett about how more equal societies fare better.

How would Arteta feel about Cole just waltzing in to the tune of £90k? A bit fucked off I reckon. Then a couple of players back him up, a johnny come lately with a busted knee chirps up and the whole shithouse goes up in flames.

Do I think we'll keep hold of Mikel? Yes I do. Do I think we'll keep hold of Pienaar? Yes I do.

If they stay and are focused it'll be an interesting season.

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