A slightly more in-depth recollection of another strange episode in Everton's recent chequered history with talented foreign stars, that of the wonderful talent who was fondly remembered as 'Manny'
Manuel Henriques Tavares Fernandes was still a month shy of his 22nd birthday when he rejoined Everton in January 2008, but he'd already packed a fair amount of incident into the early part of what promises to be a glittering career.
His return to Goodison on loan a year after arriving on similar terms was his third move in 18 months... but both player and club alike hoped that he would sign permanently in the summer and gain some semblance of stability.
Fernandes grew up in the Lisbon suburb of Amadora, often playing street football with fellow midfielder — and corn-rowed lookalike — Nani, who signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2007.
His professional career started at Benfica, where he rose up through the youth ranks and made his SuperLiga debut for the senior team in the 2003-04 season. After playing a significant role in the Lisbon club's 2004-05 title success, it became clear that he was a special talent and it wasn't long before the Portuguese national team beckoned.
Fernandes was a highly talented midfield player and the then Chelsea manager, José Mourinho, compared him to Claude Makélélé, stating that the Manuel was better than the Frenchman at the same age, but his strengths appear to be going forward.
Nevertheless, either because he was surplus to requirements at the Stade de Luz or merely because he represented a sizeable cash windfall for Benfica, Fernandes joined Portsmouth on loan in July 2006 with the option to sign permanently. The terms of the contract were somewhat unusual, though — Pompey would be required to buy Manuel for £12M if he played three consecutive games for the south coast club.
Fernandes played 12 games for Portsmouth, and scored in the Carling Cup, but Harry Redknapp baulked at the huge transfer fee and he returned to Benfica in the winter of 2006.
Seeing the opportunity to add some genuine flair at no immediate cost, and sign a young player with Premier League experience, David Moyes approached Benfica about bringing the midfielder back to England on loan until the end of the 2006-07 season.
Arranging the deal turned into a saga that took over a week to complete due to red tape and a clause pertaining to Everton's option to make the arrangement permanent at the end of the season. The FA, in the wake of the raging Carlos Tevez furore, took exception to the joint ownership of the player between Benfica and a group of investment bankers called Global Sports Agency. The loan was eventually concluded, however, just two days before the January 2007 transfer window slammed shut, making him the second squad addition that month after Anderson Silva.
Fernandes really did add a much-needed spark of flair and vitality to what was at the time Everton's generally moribund brand of football under David Moyes. He was, however, expected to improve the more defensive side of his game and fall in line with the team's general work ethic.
The Everton fans, however, fell in love with "Manny" after some great displays of skill, the wide expectation was that the club would make efforts to sign him on a permanent contract that summer. Capable of mesmerising skill on the ball, with great passing ability and an eye for goal, Manuel won over the Goodison faithful with a stunning strike against Manchester United in April 2007. But Everton would go on to lose that game 4-2 at home — something Fernandes would regret as he recalled:
“It was one of my best goals, but I played awful in that game. You can't lose at home from that position... at 2-0, we started trying to protect our lead.”
All the more frustrating, then, as the close season dragged into July and pre-season training got underway, that Moyes was still to make his first signing of what was supposed to be a busy period of squad-building ahead of the Uefa Cup campaign; all interest in Fernandes appeared to have been dropped due to the lack of available funds to purchase a player whose rumoured price fluctuated between £8M and 12M depending on which currency the initial reports were based on.
Suddenly, as the faithful started to panic and Moyes apparently signaled in no uncertain terms his own frustrations to the Board, a £25M mortgage, underwritten by new director Robert Earl, freed up the necessary capital to splash £11.25M on Yakubu and a further £6M to bring Fernandes back into the Goodison fold.
It is believed that Benfica weren't that keen to sell him by this point but Everton had triggered his release clause so it was up to the player. When Fernandes learned of Everton's interest, he flew to England right before Benfica's first match of the season (against Copenhagen — he didn't want to play in Europe to avoid putting a possible transfer in danger) apparently without the consent of his coach.
Personal terms were agreed on a 5-year contract at Goodison Park, he had trained with the club for a week and completed a two-part medical while the third-party ownership issues were supposedly resolved with the FA. To circumvent the Premier League's objection to his part ownership by Global Sports Agency, Everton had agreed to pay the whole £12M to Benfica and leave the Iberian club to sort out how much would go to GSA for their half of the player's rights.
Everything appeared to be in place for an exciting signing and the player attended Everton's home game against Blackburn Rovers as the special guest of Bill Kenwright. The player was hours from putting pen to paper to finalise a complex £12M transfer that would apparently have bought 100% of his rights from Benfica and Global Sports Agency. Hands were shaken on the deal at a meeting between the Everton chairman and Fernandes's representatives, he signed autographs and shirts for fans... the deal was done and signatures were to be made on the dotted line the following morning.
Quite why the deal wasn't rubber-stamped after the Blackburn game isn't clear — perhaps the Goodison hierarchy were content that the deal was done, or perhaps Fernandes stalled once it became known that a rival offer had come in — but concerns were raised when the player didn't show on Sunday morning and wasn't able to be contacted.
As it turns out, Valencia had stepped in on the Saturday with an offer that gazumped Everton's. The perceived truth at the time was that, since Spanish football accepts third-party ownership, Valencia had offered between £10M and £12M to Benfica with Global Sports Agency retaining their share. It's conceivable that Benfica had more or less ordered Fernandes to fly to Spain to conclude a more lucrative deal from their point of view.
The reaction of Everton, club and fans, was stunned amazement that he could so quickly turn his back and the club finally made this statement on the Monday:
Everton Football Club feels it should clarify the situation with regards to Manuel Fernandes.
We worked hard all last week on what was a very difficult and complex three-party agreement.
Everton staff worked through the night on Thursday, finally reaching agreement with the English footballing authorities on Friday afternoon.
A similar night's work on Friday left us satisfied that we had both addressed and agreed all issues with the other involved parties.
However, on Saturday we were informed that another club had come in with a rival bid and despite sustained efforts over the remainder of the weekend the player today joined Valencia.
On being unveiled at Valencia, Fernandes claimed to ‘know nothing' about how the Everton deal collapsed and insisted he was persuaded to move to Spain by fellow Portuguese player Miguel.
“What happened with Everton are things that I know nothing about and what is most important now is that I am here,” said Fernandes. “I did not expect everything to happen to me so quickly, but I am very excited to be here. I talked to Miguel and know that I am joining a good club and a place where I can grow.”
Had Everton only wanted to buy the 50% Benfica owned — something the FA wouldn't allow? Were Everton still deciding whether to pay the full £12 million when Valencia appeared with the funds all ready to go? Few know for sure and statements from Everton the following January when he returned to Goodison only seemed to muddy the waters.
His move to the Mestalla turned sour almost immediately, however. No sooner had Fernandes arrived at Valencia, than the manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, departed, and he was left in limbo. He struggled to get into the team under new coach Ronald Koeman who set about overhauling the squad. Fernandes had started just 3 games by the time the January transfer window came around.
Years later, the player would recall “I didn't want the move and it was difficult to change my mindset. I wasn't mature enough to deal with it and didn't care enough if I didn't play. The first six months were awful. I was unhappy and felt I'd made a huge mistake.”
Koeman, grappling with something of a a crisis of form for the team, made it clear that Fernandes could leave the club, particularly after the 21-year-old was arrested for an alleged theft in a nightclub. Fernandes found himself surplus to requirements and Evertonians slowly became more attuned to the possibility that Manuel could be rejoining the Blues in the January transfer window.
And so it was that strong rumours to that effect were seemingly confirmed by Valencia while Everton remained tight-lipped over the reports that they had held talks with Fernandes's representatives regarding a return to Goodison Park on loan. David Moyes even went as far as to deny all knowledge of the pending agreement, presumably cautious given the events of the previous August.
Fernandes eventually flew back to Merseyside on 9 January 2008 and, after completing a medical, concluded the loan deal on Friday 11 January, just months after seemingly turning his back on a permanent move to Goodison Park in favour of Valencia in Spain. However, he didn't receive international clearance to play in the home win over Manchester City that Saturday. But it was a sign of the affection with which he is held that he was welcomed back to Everton with open arms in January 2008 despite the controversy surrounding his volte face the following August.
Under the terms of the deal, Everton had the option to make the transfer permanent for a reported £12M (some way short of the €60M release clause originally written into his Valencia contract) but may have been looking to negotiate that figure down in the summer.
Apparently, the third-party ownership issue has been resolved but that would rest on whether Valencia did indeed purchase 100% of his rights in August. (If they didn't, then a portion of his rights would still be owned by GSA and that would need to be addressed, although Wikipedia suggest the Spaniards paid £17M in all for Fernandes. If true, that would seem to suggest that GSA were paid in full.)
Whatever the details, Manny rejoined the club at an important time, with three players — Yobo, Yakubu, and the increasingly influential midfield dynamo that was Steven Pienaar — all away for 4 to 6 weeks at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Furthermore, although Fernandes played three times in the Champions League for Valencia, he was eligible to play in the Uefa Cup for Everton under the European footballing body's regulations.
His second debut on loan for the Blues came against Chelsea in the League Cup but, despite playing well, he could not prevent Everton's departure from the competition. He would also play against SK Brann in the Uefa Cup but was injured for both ties in the next round against Fiorentina, with Everton going out on penalties. In the Premier League, Manny helped Everton up to a very creditable 4th place going into he final third of the season.
Moyes seemed in two minds about the player, however, saying this in April 2008: “He's not done as much as we'd hoped so far. But he might get his opportunity in the coming weeks to see if he can do that. He has everything in his locker to become a top midfielder. I think he's a talented player and I thought bits of him recently have been very good. He came on in the derby last week and actually passed the ball very well."
His performances during the second loan spell had been rather less impressive than the first as Everton finished the season poorly, with only two wins in the last two months, but he finally came good in the last game of the season, a vital humiliation of Newcastle. Fernandes showed his value to Everton in the final match of the season, setting up two of the three goals. The Blues were very lucky to retain 5th place.
“But I did not perform as well as I wanted,” Fernandes recalled. “I was very, very happy to go back and so motivated. But I'd not been playing and wasn't physically fit. Then I got injured in my fourth game [against Manchester City] and it was even harder to get in shape.
“No matter how talented you are, you have to physically match your opponents. I couldn't. It was only towards the end I showed some semblance of what I had in my first spell. The disappointment over not doing what I wanted stayed with me for a long time.”
Fernandes would not score any goals in his second loan spell. Excellent set pieces, killer passes, and some great skill, but for Moyes perhaps it was the lack of tracking back that would see no further action taken to secure him on a permanent deal.
Strange and decidedly dubious sources at the time (wikipedia; PremierLeague.com) suggested he had been retained on loan, and he remained a fixture on the squad list at evertonfc.com for months after he had returned to Valencia at the end of his second Everton loan spell. Would he return for a third time.... Apparently not!
Back at Valencia for the 2008—09 season, new Valencia coach Unai Emery declared Fernandes to be part of his plans and the player teamed up well enough. But in January 2010, Fernandes was expected to sign on loan with Inter Milan due to lack of opportunities at Valencia, with the Italians having the right to buy off his contract at the end of the season. However, he failed his medical, cancelling the deal; he was also linked with a return to Portsmouth in the same transfer window, but that move fell through after paperwork failed to clear in time.
Fernandes would go out on loan to Beşiktaş in 2011 before moving there permanently for 3 years. He would then spend 5 years with Lokomotiv Moscow and become a surprise performer for Portugal in the 2018 World Cup. He currently plays for Krasnodar in Russia.
Reader Comments (45)
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1 Posted 14/04/2020 at 11:48:55
I just hope that under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, young Kean will flourish and not prove to be another "flash in the pan" signing.
2 Posted 14/04/2020 at 12:02:49
I forgot to add a link to the feature credited to Paul McNamara on the Everton website, for those who may have missed it:
3 Posted 14/04/2020 at 12:04:01
I'm sure I'm not alone, amongst TWebbers, in this thought, but I wish to thank you, Lyndon, Paul and others for providing us with topics to discuss during this difficult time of isolation.
Thank you from me and, I'm sure, thank you from the TW family across the board.
4 Posted 14/04/2020 at 13:10:19
5 Posted 14/04/2020 at 13:25:03
Yes, he scored a great goal against Manchester United and goals stick in supporters minds. He did have flashes of brilliance, very, very quick ones.
But he played for himself not the team. One game at Wigan, a night game, Moyes put him on the right wing; the lad wasn't interested... sulked and hardly did a tap.
"Fuck you, mate," I thought, "you can do one as soon as you're ready." Saved ourselves a few million there, I think, and a load of bother.
6 Posted 14/04/2020 at 13:35:46
7 Posted 14/04/2020 at 14:21:21
A big thank you from me too, ToffeeWeb makes life a little bit better for all us isolating Evertonians. It really is appreciated.
8 Posted 14/04/2020 at 14:23:46
9 Posted 14/04/2020 at 15:21:07
But my God – what a terrible feeling to lose that game!
Am I right in remembering the end of that game where Rooney taunted one of our defenders in front of the Man Utd fans? That still annoys me just thinking about it!
Going back to Manny, he turned out to be an average player, not really fulfilling his potential... we've had a few of them!
10 Posted 14/04/2020 at 15:34:54
He lobbied hard for Fernandes, I extolled the many, MANY virtues of Moutinho.
We came very, very close to landing Moutinho in his prime. IMHO he could have lifted that Moyes team in the same way that Bruno Fernandes has immediately lifted Man Utd. He was in the same category of the Holy Trinity and Reid, Bracewell & Sheedy.
Manuel Fernandes would – didn't! – not have done that for Everton.
This piece has reminded me to drop my mate a line later!
11 Posted 14/04/2020 at 15:38:56
As a comment, we should never have lost that game – we were well in command (Howard was not in goal as he was on loan at the time) and a combination of dithering defenders and wobbly goalkeeper, and managerial instructions to protect what we had, gave Man Utd the initiative back.
12 Posted 14/04/2020 at 15:45:23
Jay (10), there was a massive difference in those two players, Mourinho could play, very well, Fernandes thought he could!!
13 Posted 14/04/2020 at 16:11:02
But, oh ye feint of heart, don't watch the last 30 seconds!!!
14 Posted 14/04/2020 at 16:53:04
In the lobby of the best hotel in Tripoli, Libya, in the company of the Ugandan Ambassador to Ghaddafi-land, a United supporter. The Ambassador that is, not Ghaddafi (he was probably a RS).
The Ambassador was a good lad. Even moved to dancing a little jig as the 3rd and 4th goals went in.
15 Posted 14/04/2020 at 16:54:01
The messy ownership structure may have been detrimental to the young Manny Fernandes. Getting treated like a piece of meat and hawked around for the best deal must have been a bit unsettling.
He never had stability at the right time in his development. Another player whose potential wasn't fully realised .
16 Posted 14/04/2020 at 17:02:35
Most of us thought we'd found another gem like Pienaar but the two players were chalk and cheese.
Went on to do very little which tells its own story.
17 Posted 14/04/2020 at 17:13:34
Whatever happened in the interim period before his return is a mystery. Injuries, mental attitude, overall fitness? Who knows. But the sad fact is that he wasn't a fraction of the player. He suddenly looked totally lost in a blue shirt.
I don't believe players lose their natural ability, but I've always been at a loss to understand the rapid demise of Fernandes. From potential superstar to flop in such a short space of time. Most odd.
18 Posted 14/04/2020 at 17:28:03
I think it's correct that Howard did not play as he was on loan from Man Utd then. Ian Turner was in goal and at 2-0 he dropped an innocuous corner kick under no pressure which led to their first goal and we know what happened after that.
19 Posted 14/04/2020 at 17:32:28
May I also use this opportunity to pay respect to two Blues who have passed away in the past couple of days?
Brian Boggild, an attendant at Blundellsands and Crosby railway station. I did not know he was a Blue, but it turns out he was, and there is an Everton flag hanging at the station pay-kiosk. I just knew him as a lovely guy who always had a smile, was always helpful, and always had a good or funny word with you.
And Len Norman of Crosby. Len was the last survivor of the men of SS Peter and Paul's parish who included my dad Charlie, Terry White's dad Dick, Jack Fleming, Archie Downie and others, who organised wonderful trips to Maine Road, Burnden Park, Old Trafford, Villa Park, Filbert Street, in the 60s. They would never forget their lads, except for a few hours on the way home when they would stop for refreshment, leaving boys stoked on lemo and crisps to play footy in pub car parks.
Most memorably we all went to Wembley on 14 May 1966 for the day of a lifetime. Len, the last of the Corinthians.
May they rest in peace.
20 Posted 14/04/2020 at 18:01:50
Another enigma to add to decades of enigmas at Goodison Park.
21 Posted 14/04/2020 at 18:13:15
22 Posted 14/04/2020 at 18:16:09
23 Posted 14/04/2020 at 18:31:19
Then again, Ferguson might have wanted Tim to play, knowing the cock-ups he was always likely to make, but I'll accept that I've got this wrong.
24 Posted 14/04/2020 at 18:50:46
25 Posted 14/04/2020 at 20:28:45
Commiserations on the loss of a family friend and to all the family and friends of those departed – it is always good to revisit comments from the past and I enjoyed immensely the anecdotes and periodic comments attributed to Charles Mills and Dick White in James Corbett's excellent book "Everton - The School of Science" – clearly Len was part of the gang of such true Blues. RIP.
26 Posted 14/04/2020 at 21:02:31
27 Posted 14/04/2020 at 21:35:59
28 Posted 14/04/2020 at 21:42:53
As you say, excellent source and very well written – regularly pulled from the bookshelf to re-read the odd chapter and get misty-eyed!!
29 Posted 14/04/2020 at 21:51:51
30 Posted 14/04/2020 at 22:00:16
You should have got him involved. Your ambassador wouldn't have been so cocky then.
31 Posted 14/04/2020 at 23:33:42
Guess who I think the man is who's responsible?
32 Posted 15/04/2020 at 06:43:22
The match against Man Utd occurred in April and he was dropped as part of a 'gentleman's agreement' to keep the spirit of the loan deal alive when the Man Utd fixture came around.
This is massively unacceptable for obvious reasons: one club cannot dictate another's team selection and it brings the question of match-fixing into play (not exactly helped by the final result and the performance of Turner in particular).
Man Utd argued that they were in no rush to sell Howard, so he could have been dropped legitimately had they kept to the terms of the loan, but the fact is, at Everton's insistence, they sold him mid-loan – but still both clubs acted according to the terms of the loan. I've not known a situation like it and it was a frankly embarrassing act of subservience from Everton to Man Utd, from Moyes to Ferguson, and not for the last time.
33 Posted 15/04/2020 at 06:48:32
Everton and Man Utd's 'little pals' agreement was tantamount to match-rigging. The only mitigating technicality was that Turner wasn't trying to be so bad.
34 Posted 15/04/2020 at 09:38:15
35 Posted 15/04/2020 at 10:01:23
36 Posted 15/04/2020 at 13:20:31
Sure, he loses the ball needlessly on the edge of his own box... but the next bit was pretty special.
37 Posted 15/04/2020 at 15:25:07
I believe he claimed he was never made an offer by Everton and therefore decided his future lay elsewhere. Nevertheless, why he was wined and dined by Bill Kenwright and never had a contract put in front of him to sign, I will never know.
Another indictment of the amateurish way the club was run.
38 Posted 15/04/2020 at 15:38:27
39 Posted 15/04/2020 at 22:19:03
40 Posted 16/04/2020 at 00:50:00
Well Manny, it didn't take you long to suss out what all us supporters already knew.
41 Posted 16/04/2020 at 13:39:47
42 Posted 16/04/2020 at 18:19:54
43 Posted 16/04/2020 at 19:48:44
Last game against Newcastle remember saying all we need were a few top players. Oh well. Another wasted opportunity!
44 Posted 16/04/2020 at 22:58:10
Then we realised how close we were to actual success and promptly bottled it!
45 Posted 20/04/2020 at 15:04:09
The internal machinations that go on behind the scenes are mind-blowing.
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