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Johnny Heitinga

By Chris Bannantyne :  03/06/2011 :  Comments (51) :
With a disappointing season now over, and the unsurprising news that Moyes will have to sell in order to buy new players, a lot of Everton fans appear to be making a shortlist of players that they deem to be expendable for the production of transfer funds. Obviously everyone has varying opinions on the matter, but the general consensus seems to be as follows:

? Joseph Yobo
? Yakubu
? James Vaughan (already gone)
? Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
? Johnny Heitinga

It is the final player on this list that I wish to discuss. When Johnny Heitinga arrived at Everton in the 09-10 season, I was almost instantly impressed (and I'm sure a number of fellow Evertonians were too) with his defensive abilities. He could pass well from our own area, he was always in for a physical challenge, his tackling was superb, and his self-confidence and arrogance towards the opposition was quite refreshing to say the least.

When the World Cup came around, I watched all the Dutch games to see how our Johnny fared, and found him to be performing admirably for his country also. The Dutch defence was rock solid, with very few goals being scored against them for the entire tournament. The eventual winners, Spain, whilst dominating the game, just could not penetrate their defence until deep into extra time, after Johnny had been sent off by that bastard Howard Webb. In fact, after Australia got knocked out in the group stages, I got myself a Dutch jersey with Heitinga 3 on the back and openly supported The Netherlands for the remainder of the tournament.

With the Jagielka/Distin combination being favoured by David Moyes, the 10-11 season saw Heitinga sit out a number of games on the bench. When coming on as a sub, it was predominantly in the midfield, usually as a defensive midfielder. At times he did well, other times he was woeful. The midfield is not a place where many Evertonians (myself included) felt he really performed. In fact, Heitinga freely, and sometimes publicly, voiced his opinion on these matters; stating that he was not content with coming off the bench, and that he didn't want to play a game at right-back ever again. Quotes like these didn't help to endear the (at times) controversial Dutchman to the Everton faithful.

Looking back, Mr Heitinga has had a number of public outbursts that supporters have found less than endearing. Maybe most (in)famously, his talk of wanting to play for a "big" club, and how he would ride a bicycle to Spain, carrying a flag if Barcelona were to ever come calling. This kind of talk got the Toffee crowd all miffed, and rightly so, and it is because of this apparent attitude, coupled with a lacklustre season that sees Evertonians adding Johnny to their "to be sold" lists.

Having been surfing the interwebs this morning, digesting article after mind-numbing article on how we are signing Demba Ba, or how Moyes is still favourite for the Villa job, I came across a little interview with one John Heitinga. "Oh no" I thought "Johnny's up to his old tricks again."

This article was different, however, as Heitinga spoke about how Moyes is a good manager, how he hopes to see a couple additions to the squad, and how he believes we could go on to win some silverware next term. In regards to potential new signings he said ?I don?t think just anyone can play for Everton, we are a club with a lot of tradition and you have to show your spirit."

Is Johnny finally starting to show loyalty to the club? Is he starting to get what it means to play for Everton? There were no talks of joining Bayern Munich, or riding bikes to Barcelona, just an honest appraisal of the squad and manager, and a rundown of his ambitions for next season at Everton.

I, for one, hope Heitinga is not sold in the transfer window. I hope he is played in central defence where he belongs, and I hope he shines again in that position. As long as he makes the right noises to the press and the fans, I feel a player with his ability, attitude and aggression can go on to become an Everton legend.

Reader Comments

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John Baker
1   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:41:23

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A pretty fair and balanced appraisal I'd say. He appeared to be a one-man publicity machine for everything a player shouldn't be in the first half of the season... but, given time, he could hold that defensive midfield position we seem so tactically minded on playing, game after game, especially if Rodwell moves on this summer.

I still favour Distin and Jags in the centre-back roles, however.
Tony J Williams
2   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:40:31

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He is a very good defender, poor midfielder. I cringe everytime I recall the challenge he shit out of and then Wolves went on to equalise.

The one thing that I was not impressed with immediately, is that he could last the 90 in his first game. he cramped up.

He is a character but needs to be careful that he doesn't disappear up his own arse.
Ryan Scails
3   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:39:54

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But by age or talent is he a just replacement for either two members of that pairing? Honestly, I'm interested in people's opinions.
Trevor Lynes
4   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:48:17

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Heitinga's tackling superb??? ?Not in my book. He needed to be sent off when he was and that Dutch side was the worst 'footballing' Dutch side I have seen and they played a very physical game which I am glad they lost in the final.

Heitinga is a good standby for centre back and may make his mark in defensive midfield but, apart from that, he does not excite me in any way!

Sam Hoare
5   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:56:34

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I honestly feel that Johnny is, despite being a world cup finalist, not more than useful back up.

I don't see him as a midfielder unless we are really short on numbers. He can do a job there, just about.

In defense, though his distribution is great, he lacks alot of needed qualities. He is not quick (like Jags), he is not strong in the air (like Distin) and i don't think his reading of the game is fantastic. In short i'm not sure he quite deserves to be a first choice CB for a team with everton's ambitions. Not on last season's evidence anyway.
Andrew Byrne
6   Posted 03/06/2011 at 11:58:40

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He is a typical Dutch footballer. They are all over-opinionated and more than a touch arrogant but I am not worried by this, he is just actually being honest from what I can tell and not just paying lip service for lip service's sake. Let's face it who would NOT want to play in that current Barca team? I am a Blue through and through but it must be a joy to play that quality of football in that team.

He is a cracking central defender who can also provide cover in the midfield and let's face it he was generally deployed in midfield at a time when we had injuries galore and were not playing well as a team. I too hope he stays because players of his quality generally cost much more than the £6 mill we paid for him.

Roberto Birquet
7   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:05:49

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As Sam Hoare writes: In defence, his distribution is great. (Why does everyone at toffeeweb spell defence with an s?)

I like Johnny, cool under pressure, assured passing ability. Can be a good tackler, but has been too weak on some occassions. Hopefully, he'll learn from it as he has obviously learned on media skills.

He is no Fellaini at centre mid, but his abilities in distribution make him a very decent back up for me. That said, he may not be at the club very long if he is always employed as back up to someone being out injured. But the players we already have in those positions (Jags, Distin, Fellaini, Rodwell, even Neville) means that is his role.

I'm not too fussed at comments to the press, as long as he does the business on the field, and I hope he stays. He has taken some media training skills, it seems. But what is a "big" club?

Depends on your perspective. For most people nowadays it is at least a club that is int he Champions League, or the very least likely to enter it. We are not the first of those, and are a long shot on the second.

The others listed above plus Anichebe wiould proably bring in about £16 million, enough for a pair of strikers.

I would prefer no other sales, and then hope for funds to be provided for a winger (say £5-6 million). But some hope, eh?
Al Reddish
8   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:16:39

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How would people view things if someone came in for Jags at a decent price, say £10m plus?
Would you look for a top replacement and still sell Johnny, keep him and put him next to Distin or sell both and get someone totally new in?
Tony J Williams
9   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:23:12

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It would be suicidal to sell both Jags and Johnny.

Johhny is the younger of the two and Jags would get more money in. The problem is, how much of it would be available to spend on players?
Erik Dols
10   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:26:30

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I just read the interview in Dutch but it seems the translation to English is a fair view of what he said.

I can't let one thing go though, again the flag to Barcelona-comment is dragged into the equation. That's really just lost in translation, it was a tongue-in-cheek answer. It was a joke. That being said, I watched Barcelona play against Man Utd a week ago. I think every Everton-player would want to play in that team...
David Barks
11   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:42:26

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I think it is very unrealistic to think that our two starting CB's are going to have such an injury free season as they did last season, especially Distin. I still think Heitinga is a fantastic player that we're lucky to have, and despite him not being a midfielder he does a lot better there than Jags or Distin could do. I hope we keep him. I think he could easily be starting and we wouldn't miss a beat. And I have to point out that toward the end of the season Distin's mistakes started to go up and up. It might have been fatigue, but the mistakes definitely increased by Distin after being rock solid early in the year.
Adam Rathe
12   Posted 03/06/2011 at 13:58:24

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I hope we keep him and I'd love him to be in central defence but I think he's got to wait until Distin plays poorly, which based on last season doesn't look too likely, before he can get his favourite position back. We don't need to sell him from a money perspective, we have more saleable assets like Yobo, Yak and unfortunately Billy (as I do like him and think Moyes misuses him).

It'll be an interesting one to keep an eye on but I don't think he'll leave

Roberto Birquet
13   Posted 03/06/2011 at 16:22:20

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Al Reddish
How would people view things if someone came in for Jags at a decent price, say £10m plus?
Would you look for a top replacement and still sell Johnny, keep him and put him next to Distin or sell both and get someone totally new in?
No, no no no! Crazy idea! We've got two sound CBs, why would you sell them both? Which you seemed to have asked twice.
Chris Bannantyne
14   Posted 03/06/2011 at 17:02:46

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Personally I think Heitinga is a better CB than Jagielka. I don't mean that as an insult to jags, I think he's a great defender, but his distribution is terrible.

Also I think Heitinga offers a level of aggression that I think our team generally lacks. That's how I see it anyway.
Ray Robinson
15   Posted 03/06/2011 at 18:35:49

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Don't always agree with Moyes's team selections but on the evidence of what I saw, Distin's occasional cockups (not that many, really) and Jag's indifferent start on his comeback notwithstanding, Heitinga has done nothing to warrant selection ahead of those two. Great centre back in a continental style match, but not tall / physical enough for the Premier League.
Dean Adams
16   Posted 03/06/2011 at 19:15:30

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Did we not have our record number of clean sheeets when JH was at the back?

Best defender we have at the club as he knows how to pass to a team mate unlike some of our other defenders.

Keep JH and play him with Jags. Keep Dusty bin for back up and cup games.

And almost every proffessional player would want to play for Barca so I see no insult in that little gem.
Jon Cox
17   Posted 03/06/2011 at 19:08:09

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I think Moyes has been looking for that so called "tonight Matthew my names Lee Carsley" I always got the impression thats how DM saw our Jonny.

Fair enough it didn't work. But no-one has thought of this. Distin has what? one two seasons lefgt. Then what? Buy another CB with money we owe to Fred ther shread.

No way. The replacement is already here and it's Jonno. Moyes surely would have told him this and I dont here him screaming for a transfere.

His time will come be sure of that.

Oh and Roberto (6) It's better than when people say "there" as in belonging to as opposed to their.

Dont start me on double negs because the comedy aspect drives me mad !! E.G.

Dont do no parking
John Ford
18   Posted 03/06/2011 at 19:48:17

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One thing you pick up from Johnny, esp when watching him live is just how often he finds space....but then doesnt receive the ball. It is typically Dutch in style, clever thoughtful, despite the meat eating. He does this when picked in midfield but just isnt seen, despite us having players with decent vision.

One game, we were poor - Birmingham at home, he creates 'an out' repeatedly, moving into space ten/fifteen yards off the ball in a forward direction but it just got lumped somewhere else. He is potentially a great addition to a great passing team.
Mark Scarratt
19   Posted 03/06/2011 at 20:26:19

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To fit Heitinga at the back would mean breaking up Jags and Distin. He would have to replace Jags coz we need Distin for balance as the only natural left-footed centre-back. I'm not sure he is as good as Jags defensively, but he has better distribution. I agree with others that he looks out of his depth in centre mid at times, but then so did Jags when played there.

The only other option is to play with 3 centre halves and have 2 wing backs, Coleman and Baines pushing on. You could then play Heitinga as sweeper, but in reality they would all get in each other's way and it would probably be a nightmare.

Roman Sidey
20   Posted 03/06/2011 at 22:10:35

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Heitinga should be first named in our squad week in week out.

To extend on Andrew Byrne's comments (which were spot on), if any of Everton's players didn't want to play for Barcelona, I wouldn't want them playing for Everton, as they obviously lack ambition of being the best.

We can play Heitinga at the back and still keep Jags and Distin in there, but it would take some formation adventure from Moyes to make a three man back line with the wing backs playing a bit higher.
Chris James
21   Posted 03/06/2011 at 23:49:06

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As a defence-first team, we need a top quality back-line and with Distin, Jags and Heitinga that's what we've got at centre back.

I say keep him and let him fight for his place.
Derek Thomas
22   Posted 04/06/2011 at 02:04:55

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Roman #20 That would for me be the best of all worlds, in theory. Two things tho'...would the theory work, well we will never know, beacause Moyes will never go that radical.

I seem to remember Johnny's purple patch at CB was with Neil. He had Rooney and Droghba in his pocket .

Now Neil is a RB cum Rt sided CB and Johnny fitted in OK.

So I don't see a problem.

David Barks
23   Posted 04/06/2011 at 03:31:51

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To be fair, can anyone name a manager who would go that extreme? I can't say I would be totally opposed to trying it. But it's easy to type out on a key board without my job on the line. A 3 man defense of Heitinga, Jags, Distin, with Baines and Coleman on the wings, sounds very interesting to me. Put Neville as the holding midfielder since he will always be included, with Fellaini, Arteta, Osman and a striker and it would be interesting to see. And that's going off of last years midfield so don't get all analytical about it. Osman and Arteta can float out wide but like to be central, and Coleman and Baines given freedom to get forward would allow them to do both. But, it will only happen on football forums.
James Flynn
24   Posted 04/06/2011 at 05:56:39

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Landon and Heitinga would link-up perfectly together. And Baines.

Jesus!! We're so close.
Rory Slingo
25   Posted 04/06/2011 at 06:21:00

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David Barks (23), job on the line?? This is Moyes we're talking about here. His job is completely safe because Kenwright thinks the sun shines out his arse. He could play Roman's 3-5-2 and lose every game first half of the season and he'd still be nowhere near losing his job. Everyone knows Everton's season starts after Christmas where Moyes would revert to tried and true 4-5-1, dragging us back up to finish mid-table again.

Or, he could try that system which no team would expect us to do and therefore have no answer for, which might actually turn results around for us in the first half of the season against teams that have sussed out how to contain Everton's current style of play?
Derek Thomas
26   Posted 04/06/2011 at 07:30:32

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Many have gone on about sq pegs in sq holes, or in our case mainly the lack of.

We have, to all intents and purposes two wingbacks, why not use them to the full.

We have 3 CB's why not use them to the full.

Thats half the out field players well and truely square pegged.

I don't think that Pip is now the automatic choice he once was, so on the bench as back 3 cover and holder cover if we play with one.

The elastic diamond then one striker, which would salve Moyeses cautious ness.

3-1-6 in all out attack mode.

There is the option to go 2 upfront, depending on personnel, using 3-5-2

3-5-1-1 in build up mode

5-1-3-1 on the back foot.

5-4. when severely under the cosh ( keeping one on the halfway line to stop them pumping it right back at us; e.g. every corner we defend at the moment ).

I await it with bated breathe Vs Villareal.
Matthew Lovekin
27   Posted 04/06/2011 at 08:33:17

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Play JH at centre-back or sell him. Simples!
James Stewart
28   Posted 04/06/2011 at 18:09:16

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Agree with Mathew @27 CB or sell him.

Personally I would like to see him stay and replace Distin.
We are a simply a different class of team when he plays CB and Fellaini is CM. Some of the best football we have played under Moyes has been when they have played in those positions.
Mike Allison
29   Posted 04/06/2011 at 21:24:25

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Mark (19) Your centre backs don't need to be different footed! This point has been made over and over again and it is absolute NONSENSE! I think Jagielka and Heitinga are our two best centre backs (Distin is also getting quite old) and so should play together, its as simple as that, the partnership grows from there.

I can barely name a decent centre back pairing who are different footed to each other, if you name any of the top partnerships they are nearly always both right footed.

Lets have a go:

Currently: Ferdinand & Vidic (both right). Ferdinand & Terry (both right). Terry & Carvalho, or Alex, or Gallas or Luiz or anyone he's ever won the league with (all right). Pique & Puyol for Spain and Barcelona (both right). In fact, Lescott and Distin are the only left footed centre backs in the top 7 (at least) of the Premier League, everyone else is right footed.

Historically: Baresi & Costacurta (Milan), Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton (England '66), all the Brazil teams recently, France and Italy's defences that won and reached finals. The 'legendary' Arsenal back fours involving Adams & Bould/Keown. Liverpool throughout the 70s and 80s, Ratcliffe and Mountfield. You'll do well to find any left footed centre backs in any of those teams at all.

It simply is not, and never has been, an issue when selecting a football team so PLEASE can we stop repeating it as if it matters!

The only issue mentioned on here is that Jagielka and Heitinga together make up a relatively short-arsed centre back pairing, but I think with Fellaini as the shield in front of them this isn't a massive problem.
Derek Thomas
30   Posted 05/06/2011 at 00:41:00

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Mike Allison, The L&R arguement well put to bed. (Thought Ratcliffe was a serious Leftie)

The Guy is a class act at CB, why would you not use him.

Either use him or move him on and free up his wages for some one else.

Over to you Davey...
Andrew Presly
31   Posted 05/06/2011 at 00:59:18

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Jags is "neither footed", sadly, along with El Capitano and Tony The Shoe, in the preferred backline.

Re Johnny, he does believe he can pass but it doesn't mean he can. I enjoyed him not passing Ashley Cole though, and for that alone lets give him another year at HQ, unless someone gives us circa 8.

Ray Robinson
32   Posted 05/06/2011 at 10:48:16

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Radcliffe had no right foot!
Mike Allison
33   Posted 05/06/2011 at 12:00:34

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Gutted, I thought I'd better mention an Everton combination as I'd just mentioned Liverpool. Ratcliffe stopped playing for us when I was 11. Still no excuse really, although I think my point still stands.
Roman Sidey
34   Posted 05/06/2011 at 16:22:06

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This season we conceded 45 goals, just over one per game. I honestly think that Heitinga, Jags, and Buzz are all solid defeneders, and if we played a 3 CB formation - be it 5-4-1, 3-5-2, 3.5-6-0.5, I don't care right now - we could bring it down to about 28-32 goals in a season.
Ray Robinson
35   Posted 05/06/2011 at 17:18:45

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I quite often disagree with Moyes's selections but on the CB pairing this season, I think that he got it dead right. Despite the Heitinga admiration society on here, I don't think Heitinga did anything to warrant displacing either Jags or Distin. He is actually quite poor defending the high ball.

As for playing 3 CB's, well that just might (emphasise, might) cut out a few extra goals but do you then still play with two fullbacks? Moyes is often accused of being negative but what does a 5 man defence do for the side offensively? It just takes another man out of midfield! We don't score often enough as it is! If people want to go back to the Walter Smith days, then fair enough I suppose!
Roman Sidey
36   Posted 05/06/2011 at 19:03:14

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Ray, fair enough on the point that 5 men in a defensive line can bring about more negative football. However, any formation in football can be attacking if used with an attacking mentality.

As there's already been discussion and confusion on the idea, you can have either three defenders and 5/6 midfielders, or five defenders, but it gives the two wing backs a lot more freedom to go forward.

As Baines is an exceptional winger going forward, and a comparitively suspect in defense, and Coleman is still young and not cautious like a fullback should be, it would certainly give us a wider forward play, and give us something other than hoof and hope options.

With the squad we have, and the fact that Moyes admits to picking "his best players" regardless of position, 3-5-2 would suit our squad quite adequately
Jonathan Tasker
37   Posted 05/06/2011 at 19:28:30

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get rid- he is a mercenary
Drew O'Neall
38   Posted 05/06/2011 at 21:05:42

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Heitinga knows that after sitting on the bench for Everton for a year, his stock is low and he wouldn't get paid anywhere near the wages he does at Everton.. That's why he's not marketing himself around Europe, that and the fact that no one wants him.
Anthony Hawkins
39   Posted 07/06/2011 at 12:20:08

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personally I think Heitinga and Jagielka would work well together and we should keep hold of Heitinga.
Trevor Lynes
40   Posted 07/06/2011 at 14:47:38

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Ive seen many EFC players being touted as prospective transfer interest..BUT not Heitinga....obviously he is not held in such a high regard by other managers home and abroad....Perhaps that is why he has begun to talk as an EFC squad player...he is like Bendtner..much better in his own opinion than others think he is !!
Martin Anderson
41   Posted 07/06/2011 at 18:58:36

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Jonny was a member of the Dutch worldcup final team - in central defence - a position you dont get easily - when he played there for us he was excellent - I would definitely partner him with Jags next term. Distin gives away a goal every game - great lad, but you cant go on like that.. That's why we had all the draws last season...
James Stewart
42   Posted 07/06/2011 at 19:31:35

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Agree with Mikes point. The idea you need a left footed CB is farcical. The Vast Majority of the worlds best cb pairings are right footed so what.
Trevor Lynes
43   Posted 08/06/2011 at 14:19:06

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I see that Yobo may well be back until BK gets a transfer fee he will accept...I would just like to thank Yobo for his service while he was a first team regular and wish hime well for the future !!
Andy Mack
44   Posted 09/06/2011 at 06:34:52

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and Heits is shooting his mouth off (allegedly), again, re lack of European Footballs. Rather have Yobo back and Heitinga gone, for a fellow thats only been here a couple of seasons, he's ready to leave an awful lot. World cup CB or not.
Eric Myles
45   Posted 09/06/2011 at 08:19:38

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He's at it again.
John Daley
46   Posted 09/06/2011 at 09:08:15

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Well, his show of loyalty lasted about as long as a fifteen year old getting his hole for the first time:

"" I am ruling nothing out this summer. I have three years left on my contract and could see it through.

"But a new possibility could come up and in that case I will think about leaving."

Hopefully he won't have to think too hard about it. I'm more desperate for another club to come in for him then he is. The guy's a fucking charlaton. A centre-back who can't jump, pulls out of challenges and possesses the pace of Pat Butcher from Eastenders.

Hold on a minute though: "Jonny was a member of the Dutch worldcup final team ". Really? In that case let's gloss over his piss poor performances for us over the past two years, and ignore the fact that both Jagielka and Distin are better than him and get him straight in the starting line-up without having to earn it first. That whole argument is just redundant. Val Kilmer was in Heat with Deniro and Pacino but it doesn't make him a world class actor by association. He's still just a fat, blonde prick with a ponytail.
Duncan McDine
47   Posted 09/06/2011 at 10:17:43

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John Daley, I love you!

Think I'll have to invest in some man-nappies if I'm to carry on reading your posts.
Ron Haslam
48   Posted 09/06/2011 at 11:03:52

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Well said John Daley #46.
Agree 100%. The guys a mercenary with an overinflated ego. Can't be good for team morale so let's get rid of him. I believe that his former club Ajax are interested and can offer CL. They also have the cash after selling Suarez etc.
Goodbye Johnny
Sam Hoare
49   Posted 09/06/2011 at 14:56:34

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Apparently he's on big wedge as well!!

I say pack him off to Ajax for 6m and a loan of their newest technically gifted youngster...they usually have a few.

He's a hugely paid back up at the moment and thats not good for him or us.
Trevor Lynes
50   Posted 09/06/2011 at 15:33:05

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If Ajax want him its news to premier club has shown any interest and I have said all along that he is the worst Dutch international I have ever seen and I have seen a lot...the present Dutch side is not typical of past 'great' sides and I was delighted when they lost in the world cup final because they kicked their way into it...I would not sway DISTIN for Heitinga and Distin is at least five years older than him !!
He and Bily have been a total waste of money !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gary Hughes
51   Posted 24/06/2011 at 01:46:58

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I can't be arsed looking up the stats but if memory serves we played 3 or 4 consecutive seasons in Europe before Heitinga arrived then his first season coincided with us failing to qualify for European football. His second season resulted in another failure to qualify. If Heitinga or Fellaini or whoever else are so desperate to play in Europe, may I be so bold as to suggest that if they would have played a bit better we would have qualified. Just a thought.

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