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Sunday morning contemplation

By Chris Jones :  27/02/2011 :  Comments (16) :
Yesterday?s good performance has me hopeful that we?ll put in our usual final third of the season push and keep our cup aspiration and Euro dreams alive. Despite this, I make no apologies for my distrust of Mr Kenwright and my frustrations with the lack of vision at the top. Given the likelihood that we?ll have the same financial restrictions in the summer, I?ve started to wonder about what we should do to balance the budget and at the same time get new players in.

Thinking back to last summer, hindsight is a wonderful thing and many of us wouldn?t have rewarded Mikel Arteta wit the £75k-a-week contract week, given his misfiring form this season. Had he been sold to Man City, I think many of us would be kicking off big style and it would?ve been a big blow for our pre-season morale à la Lescott in 2009.

The truth is that I think Moyes?s strategy to keep his best players was the right one and probably the only option he could push with the board given the way we use every penny coming in to offset short- and medium-term loans. We can debate all day why this strategy hasn?t paid off to make us top four contenders. Ultimately Moyes?s match day tactics and decisions are one of the main reasons.

Looking forward, if the money isn?t going to materialise, the club needs to change their PR strategy with the fans and be more open with our inability to invest in transfer fees. The focus should be on reducing the wage bill to take the pressure off our income streams, but at the same time reward our younger players with more time on the pitch before they start looking elsewhere.

Cutting to the chase, I think there?s a good argument to permanently offload the following players: Johnny H (£6m), Yobo (£2m), Yakubu (£3m), Anichebe (£2m), Vaughan (£1m), Agard and Turner (both out of contract) ? that brings £14m in and reduces the wage bill by over £9m per year, on top of the £2m a year the Pienaar sale saved us.

Even getting rid of these seven (five of whom are on loan anyway) it still leaves us with a squad (including the young lads) of:

Goal: Howard, Mucha, Springthorpe
Defence: Hibbert, Neville, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Duffy, Mustafi, Hammar, Garbutt
Midfield: Osman, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov, Arteta, Rodwell, Coleman, Wallace, Barkley
Forwards: Cahill, Saha, Beckford, Gueye, Silva, Vellios, Baxter

So who could we afford to bring in to supplement these players? Well Elmander of Bolton and Larsson of Birmingham are both going to be available for free in the summer. Add to them a big signing like Donovan for about £8m and I think we?d have a better, hungrier squad with a reduced wage bill (still down by about £6m) with £6m profit on the transfers. Reality is that either Felli or Rodwell could be shipped out, but I can dream while I chew on my Sunday morning scrambled eggs, can't I?

Reader Comments

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Nick Entwistle
1   Posted 27/02/2011 at 14:43:11

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An interesting post, but one that presumes a 'sell to buy' policy at the club. I'm thinking our policy is more 'sell ? don't buy'.

Mick MacManus
2   Posted 27/02/2011 at 14:39:24

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I agree with much of what you say but as for "the club needs to change their PR strategy with the fans and be more open with our inability to invest in transfer fees", it is a balancing act. The more the club says we won't be able to sign new players as we are broke, the more likely any decent players we have will want to leave asap as all they see is a sinking ship.
Chris Jones
3   Posted 27/02/2011 at 14:56:28

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Mick - I totally take your point, it's a difficult balance to strike. The message should be that, although we won't buy big, our big players are staying and we are putting our energy into producing more Rooneys and Rodwells.

I'd be happier with that, rather than the wall of silence we get until a week of the window is left when Moyes declares 'we don't have any money to spend'. If they want to nurture the fans' loyalty then they need to be as honest as they can be.

Andy Peers
4   Posted 27/02/2011 at 18:04:18

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How much do you think we could sell Arteta for? I would like to fit Charlie Adam in our team aswell as Donavon could be possible if we sell Arteta! Also sell Bily and Cahill and use funds for a Striker.
Trevor Lynes
5   Posted 27/02/2011 at 18:09:04

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The big problem is ambition...young players who are told they have great futures will not stay if tempted away by the chance of winning honours and playing on the world stage....I am sure that Rooney was chatted up when he was away with England by players who are playing at top clubs...its a no brainer that winning trophies and international caps are what MOST footballers crave...the money is pretty good anywhere you play and its a short career anyway.
David Hallwood
6   Posted 27/02/2011 at 18:16:38

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This time last year, I and surely the Everton board must've had a 1983 moment, when you turn up to games and not see plucky underdogs involved in games that could either way as long as they were up for it, but a team that was outplaying teams ?battering teams in the lower half and matching and beating the title contenders

All that was needed was investment, not £30-40 million but maybe £10 million and we could've been up there chasing a top 4 place with the money generated hopefully covering investment.

I don't think this board has such a strategy, in fact, apart from firefighting I don't think board has a Plan A let alone Plan B, and all I can see is an exodus of players Jags to Arse, Rodwell to man U, Felli to Chelsea, possibly Baines to a top side, leaving Moyes to fill the gaps with Championship & Bosmans.

After all, if the club's only ambition is to stay in the Premier League, can you really blame our better players to want to go to a club that plays in Europe year in year out.
Ryan Holroyd
7   Posted 27/02/2011 at 19:18:19

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Andy Peers

Sell three players to bring two in! Have you seen the size of our squad?

If it was up to people like you we'd have a first 11 and no-one else.

One good season for Charlie Adam and everyone goes on as if he's the new Xavi.
Andy Peers
8   Posted 27/02/2011 at 19:56:20

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Ryan,

It is sell 3 and bring in 3 better players. How did you not understand? bring in Adam, Donavon and a Striker that is 3 players.
Michael Tupper
9   Posted 27/02/2011 at 22:10:06

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An interesting post for sure.

The next couple of weeks could hopefully see a big turnaround in our season. A place in the FA Cup QF and two Premier League wins would certainly restore optimism for a good run-in.

I go along with Nick's off-loading predictions to a large extent, though I think £2M is optimistic for Big Vic ? anybody know how much a week he got on his new deal? Hopefully that won't be a barrier to his departure... sorry, but I'm not a fan and am filled with dismay every time he starts a game.

If Jonny the Lip does go then Moyes will certainly look to add a defender. I can't see us paying £8M for a 29-year-old so no way will we be getting Landon. Andy King or Chris Eagles might be more our style of purchase.

Hopefully Beckford will adjust to a role as a Premier League striker but, with just him and the perennially fragile but classy Louis, we'll still need more firepower up front and good firepower tends to cost good money. I fear we'll sacrifice Fellaini or Rodwell in order to fund the purchase of a striker.

James Flynn
10   Posted 28/02/2011 at 00:51:14

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Not sure where consistent goal scoring will come from, but believe (as frustrating as this season is) that DM is really bringing the team along talent-wise. Beckford, Bily, Coleman, Rodwell, et al.

Think any of the EPL managerial geniuses (fill in the usual names) could do it on EFC's financial shoestring budget? SAF and Wenger would retire first than have to do all that work AND keep the team competitive at the same time as DM has done.

I know I came in very late as an EFC fan. But the team I saw the last half of last season looked plenty good enough for Top 4. Plenty good enough. Who thought the goal-scoring would come up so short? Especially as we've done everything to produce goals and then not. Jesus.

Anyway, as this season's gone on (and it's not over yet), it seems our youngsters are getting in more and looking pretty good. I still say there are things to be gotten this year in the league. But development-wise, I think we're looking pretty damn good.
Thomas Williams
11   Posted 28/02/2011 at 03:15:04

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IMO, I can see some sense in the above article, but (and like how Moyes feels) would you trust our board to let the above players go and then wait for the transfer handout? History suggests it won't/doesn't happen.

I would sell Yobo £3M, Johnny £7-8M, Bily £8-9M, Yak £3-4M, Mucha £1-2M, Anichebe £2M, Vaughan £1M, that is £25-30M, for players who contribute little to the current set up ? Mucha, Vic, Vaughan have been replaced with recent signings anyway.

Go and buy any one of the Birmingham centre backs, although many will disagree... Joey Barton will not only add much needed bite, he can also create and score goals.

Another possible switch could be Jagielka (not convinced about him since injury) for Bendtner, Larrson as squad back up would help as well. The balance then should go straight off paying one or more of the loans, and also the above would reduce the wage bill.

David Price
12   Posted 28/02/2011 at 09:50:00

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Thoughtful piece, Chris. It serves to highlight what a decent squad we have despite the lack of investment. Credit to Moyes in assembling this.

On the flip side, some of these lads haven't performed well enough or perhaps not been played in the right position or often enough, points previously highlighted as a negative for Moyes. Wholesale changes are not evident, however, but this summer remains a test for Moyes in the market.

This season was classed as 'defining'; we should have challenged 4th spot, even more so with the inconsistency of Spurs, Chelsea and City. Massive failure I'm afraid.

We seem to have momentum now and need to remain focused for Tuesday to partially rescue this season's campaign.

Roger Trenwith
13   Posted 28/02/2011 at 13:26:17

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I think it's no coincidence that our indifferent to poor season is in direct relation to Arteta's indifferent and poor form since signing his handsome new contract. He showed some of his old pizzazz on Saturday and we won at a canter.

The cynic in me speculates that he is thinking "If I don't pull my finger out and play to the levels I'm capable of for the rest of the season, nobody will want to buy me in the summer, and I'll be stuck here for another year." Sincerely hope I'm wrong!

As for selling Arteta, who's to say, if we did, how much of the sale Moyes would be allowed to spend? Can't see it being over 50% given the parlous state of our finances.

Liam Reilly
14   Posted 28/02/2011 at 16:13:13

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Roger #13

Arteta: "nobody will want to buy me in the summer"
Can't agree with that. Class is permanent and Arteta's form will return, but not for the reasons you're suggesting. If he wanted to leave, he wouldn't have signed a new contract.

We should be getting behind our quality footballers not shipping them out.
Roger Trenwith
15   Posted 28/02/2011 at 17:21:28

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Liam - sorry ,but I was feeling rather cynical when I wrote that!
Let's hope his loss of form was a mental thing connected to the injury, and now he's fully recovered the form will return and we can pip t'Shite to 6th!
Alasdair Mackay
16   Posted 28/02/2011 at 23:51:30

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I think we have effectively already sold Yakubu (£4M) and Yobo (£2M) with Vaughan (£1M) another likely departure for the summer.

Personally I think Bily and Vic are keepers as they both add something to the match-day squad that is not cheap to go out and buy and I actually think both will come good for us, given matches. I do think Heitinga needs to go. His head is nowhere near the right place and he is a long way behind Jags and Distin for me.

If we got £6M for him that would gives us £13M profit plus the £2M for Pienaar. I would expect Moyes to be given no more than £7M of that to spend. For that money he would need to buy a striker, a winger and a centre-half, so expect at least the centre back to be a freebie with possibly the forward being another £1-2M at most. Moyes will want to spend the real money on a winger to replace Pienaar.

My thoughts ? Eagles in for money and a couple of squad players and teenage prodigies from the continent. It only takes one of these to work out and it has all been worth while!!

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