When he signed a five-year contract in 2015, it was greeted with relief. Instead of a blossoming career as Baines's natural successor, however, Luke Garbutt will leave Everton this summer having never fulfilled his early promise
Roberto Martinez's time at Everton might have ultimately ended in ignominy with his overdue sacking in May 2016 but in each of this three seasons at Goodison Park he had moments that both he and Blues fans no doubt look back on and wonder what might have been, particularly given that the fourth anniversary of his sacking was yesterday.
In the spring of 2014 when, having taken Champions League rivals Arsenal apart at Goodison Park, his side were in the driver's seat to finish in the top four for the first time in almost 10 seasons, but an ugly home defeat to Crystal Palace followed by a dismal loss at Southampton quickly ended that dream.
In 2016, despite the fact that club had fallen into the bottom half of the Premier League where they would ultimately finish that year, the Toffees lost both their League Cup and FA Cup semi-finals under the Catalan's stewardship in agonising circumstances.
Sandwiched in between was another hugely promising cup campaign in the Europa League, one that saw Everton qualify for the knockout stages with ease and emerge from the group phase as one of the tournament favourites, a reputation enhanced by their demolition of Young Boys in the Round of 32.
Of course, it all unravelled in depressing fashion in Kiev at the hands of Andriy Yarmolenko and company but if there were consolations at the time they came in the form of things like Romelu Lukaku's scoring return and the belief that Everton had found the long-term successor to Leighton Baines in Luke Garbutt.
Pried away, somewhat controversially, from Leeds United as a talented teenager, Garbutt had joined the Blues in 2009 and waited patiently for his chance to break into the first team. That opportunity came in 2014-15 following a successful loan spell at Colchester United the season before, one that was cut short when Bryan Oviedo broke his leg in a cup tie at Stevenage in January 2014.
From the fringes of the first team for the remainder of that campaign, Garbutt was vaulted into Martinez's senior XI in October that year when Baines was sidelined by injury, necessitating that the untried and inexperienced 21-year-old deputise in a Europa League group game against highly fancied Wolfsburg in Germany.
Garbutt had had very few first-team outings prior to that and had only made his full Everton debut eight weeks earlier on a horrible evening for the Blues in South Wales that saw them turfed out of the League Cup by Swansea City by a scoreline of 3-0. He acquitted himself superbly against Wolfsburg, Kevin de Bruyne and all, and played a significant role in a handsome 2-0 victory to add to the 4-1 win Everton had enjoyed in the reverse fixture a couple of months prior.
Luke would reach double figures in appearances that season and featured in both European matches against Young Boys, displaying traits similar to Baines and another effective crossing fullback from Blues' history, Andy Hinchcliffe. His efforts earned him a new five-year contract — but not before he had allowed his existing terms to run down amid speculation he could cross the Park and sign for Liverpool — and it seemed as though he had a big future ahead of him, one that Martinez believed could be moved forward by regular first-team action elsewhere.
Little did Garbutt know it at the time but it would mark a significant turning point in his career, one that would see him disappear from the first-team reckoning at Everton until the door opened again for him briefly in early 2018, when an injury crisis in defence bit under Sam Allardyce.
With Brendan Galloway providing stiff competition at left-back at Goodison, a promising loan move to Bournemouth was negotiated for Garbutt in the summer of 2015 which would provide him with the top-flight experience he needed but, crucially, the transfer fell apart at the last minute. The Cherries surprisingly opted to bring in Tyrone Mings on a permanent basis instead, leaving the Everton man in limbo until a temporary switch to Championship side Fulham was arranged.
“It was difficult because I had a loan in the Premier League sorted and it got curtailed at the last minute, so I went to Fulham,” the Harrogate-born player explained recently to The Athletic. “Bournemouth had flown out to see me while I was with England Under-21s at the World Cup, I'd signed my contract and then, at the 11th hour, they went and signed someone permanently. It was strange because I'd spoken to Eddie Howe and everything was agreed. It was tough to take.
“I got injured early on at Fulham and none of it went to plan. You recover and get back in the team, but you don't do as well as you'd thought. Then you're out of the team and you dip in confidence and start doubting yourself.
“That was the tipping point for my Everton career. It was a downwards spiral from there.
“To this day, it is hard because I really felt I had a future at Everton and was doing really well,” he admits. “Football's a cut-throat sport and it was just the wrong decision here or there. You're soon forgotten about and that was the case with me.”
Perhaps with memories of that confident cameo in 2014-15, Garbutt wasn't completely forgotten at Everton, even if former Blues boss Ronald Koeman had overlooked him at the start of that season despite there being no adequate cover for Baines at the time.
A potential route back to the senior side nevertheless existed for him in 2017-18 when he returned to the Under-23s fold and by January, with Koeman gone and Allardyce at the helm, an injury to Baines prompted the new interim manager to register Garbutt as a squad member as cover for the veteran fullback.
David Unsworth spoke glowingly of the then 24-year-old's progress for the second string side but he never was called upon by Allardyce who was gone within months and replaced by Marco Silva.
Garbutt's career would take him out on loan again, this time further down the divisions to Oxford United in 2018-19 before Ipswich Town picked him up on a season-long loan for the current season — which is where, a resumption of matches permitting, he will almost certainly see out his Everton contract.
He certainly seemed to have settled at Portman Road and, by most accounts, has been well-received by the fans in East Anglia. 25 league appearances and a return of five goals have been illustrative of a player re-finding his feet at a level close to where he would ultimately like to be.
The coronavirus crisis, however, threatens to plunge him back into limbo — Garbutt is one of a number of players whose loan terms or contracts are up at the end of June — but he is pragmatic about his future, wherever that may be.
“Everything is complicated,“ he continued. ”Clubs are a little bit reluctant to talk to players as they're just trying to get the season finished in the safest way possible. I've just got to wait and then look to perform well and do the things I'm doing in the summer to get a move, whether that be Ipswich or elsewhere.”
That Garbutt will leave Everton as yet another example of a punt the club necessarily and laudably took on a young player that didn't come off, feels particularly disappointing given how promising he looked in that brief purple patch he enjoyed under Martinez.
Ultimately, just when it looked as though he was on the track to becoming a future England international and the next Baines, the contributory factors of circumstance, luck, psychology and timing might have conspired to take the Yorkshireman down a different path from the one he seemed destined to take.
Reader Comments (62)
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1 Posted 13/05/2020 at 02:01:03
Who, if I remember correctly, basically censured him, gave him a new £30,000 contract, then sent him out on loan, aka, banishment.
Coulda been a contender.
2 Posted 13/05/2020 at 02:32:02
I'm sure all clubs could create their own similar list but, every time I read one of these articles, it really does hammer home how much money has been thrown away on huge contracts for players who never made it.
I know there are complicated human factors at play here and hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing but we do seem to specialise in awarding big contracts to individuals who we hope will deliver and yet, for whatever reason/reasons, don't.
If I was Farhad and I read ToffeeWeb, it would certainly encourage me to keep my wallet closed.
3 Posted 13/05/2020 at 02:41:07
If we were (and we are) looking for a reasonably priced replacement at left-back from a lower league, I reckon we'd look at him. Yes, he's 25 but he's had the experience & knows what it's like to have to perform, week-in & week-out. I'd bring him back and give him another go. It would cost us nothing other than his wages. If it works, great. If it doesn't, no harm done. Just don't give him a bloody 5-year contract.
4 Posted 13/05/2020 at 04:09:56
As for comparisons with other clubs I haven't done or seen any proper analysis. Ancecdotally I would say we do okay.
If you want to cheer yourself up, watch "Sunderland 'till I die" on Netflix. In Season 1, they had about 8 ex-Everton players... and (plot spoiler) it didn't end well. Now that is a club in massive hole, which but for the grace of God.
5 Posted 13/05/2020 at 04:52:28
To my eyes, he was always a step slow, a bit thick and less than intense about his work, like your best mate on your Sunday league team who never yells at the ref or gets too upset when you lose.
The left foot may have been Premier League quality, but the rest of him has always seemed League One level to me.
6 Posted 13/05/2020 at 08:59:42
Goes to show you more than just a good left foot (or good right foot) to make it at the highest level.
We've seen many a potentially good player over the years fall by the wayside because they never bought into the work ethic side of sport.
7 Posted 13/05/2020 at 09:23:48
His agent let his contract run down, neatly getting a fabulous new deal off the club, if Derek @(1) is correct a five year deal at £30,000 per week makes him a millionaire at the moment.
He had some talent which resulted in Everton paying £750,000 for him at 17 and Leeds Utd thought they had been robbed!! It was the other way round.
I watched him only a couple of years ago going through the motions for our U23s side, no desire to try and prove himself, none whatsoever. I'd put him under the heading “Too much, too soon”.
Maybe, now, he realises he could have done better, not financially, if he had been more committed to his career, maybe it's too late. If it is he can sit back and count his money, it might be a good conciliation for him. I'd have more regrets if I was him.
8 Posted 13/05/2020 at 09:44:47
9 Posted 13/05/2020 at 09:47:30
His route to the first team was never clear. We therefore should have sold him while his stock was high and picked up a replacement from the lower leagues, Scotland or our own youth team. Otherwise, the motivation dwindles and we end up with someone on the payroll on a downward trajectory.
Facing similar issues now with Baningime, Bowler, Adeniran and a few others.
10 Posted 13/05/2020 at 09:50:32
I'm in the "too much, too soon" camp!
11 Posted 13/05/2020 at 10:06:11
12 Posted 13/05/2020 at 10:10:10
The trouble is it is not about that initial purple patch, that adrenaline fuelled first dozen games , with the wind in the sails and the euphoric adulation over the top. We have to learn that big long term contracts need to be based on proven high level consistency.
Take DCL, he has been consistent for a long time, even with the pressure of the Koeman episode. This season he has improved again, Holgate has been consistent this season too and improved, both deserved a decent long term contract.
I think in the past we have been a bit too trigger happy in awarding massive contracts like Lukes. More thought on how to structure improved contracts for young players needs to be given. Incremental and performance based deals maybe. If one or two decide to leave because they want more, so be it.
13 Posted 13/05/2020 at 10:40:24
14 Posted 13/05/2020 at 12:34:39
But then you only have to look at some of the players who have fallen by the wayside who also featured in that game...Will Keane, Connor Whickham, Jordan Slew, Thomas Ince, Saido Berahino - the list goes on. Some have made jobbing careers, like Shelvey. Others, like Ter-Stegen for Germany and Wilfred Zaha have fulfilled their potential.
Garbutt seems to be yet another example of bad luck, a lack of opportunity, injury, too much too soon – you name it. It's interesting that Galloway had a similar moment in the spotlight that quickly came to naught too.
15 Posted 13/05/2020 at 14:08:09
16 Posted 13/05/2020 at 14:41:40
17 Posted 13/05/2020 at 15:46:41
I thought he was going to make it and he had that big physique and athleticism but then I watched him when he went back to the U23s and he was woeful. No concentration and no motivation.
To make it in the Premier League, you need to be at the top of your game consistently.
18 Posted 13/05/2020 at 16:27:23
Dave's right IMO, lack of hunger for excellence may have been the biggest contributor to Garbutt's failure.
With Galloway it was different. He seemed a fine prospect until the league caught on that he was easy to beat to his right. Could only tackle with his left. Got smoked in a few games, then got hurt, and his confidence crashed and burned, never to return.
Adam #14, spot on, you watch youth tournaments and the talent is dazzling, but you never know who's going to make it. I remember watching the world U-17s when the second-best player in the tournament (behind some tiny kid from Argentina named Lionel something) was a 14-year-old Yank named Freddy Adu, who had a hat trick in one game. He later played in three U-20 World Cups and the Olympics with the U-23s. Seemed a guaranteed US star for the future. And then... pfffft. Nothing. Washed out in MLS, at Blackpool, and in lower divisions all over Europe -- Poland, Serbia, Finland, Turkey. Finally dropped from a US minor league club at age 28 and hasn't played since.
19 Posted 13/05/2020 at 16:52:25
I think you have hit the nail on the head regarding Youth Development at Everton. When young players who are loaned out, they appear in most cases to be forgotten about and there appears no real development plan or mentoring.
What's more, quite a few young players appear to seek loans out, maybe even questioning their futures at Everton. Without monitored clear objectives regarding a loan out, it looks like a way of reducing the wages bill. It's a risky move for young players to try to wing it on their own, advised by their agent.
20 Posted 13/05/2020 at 17:08:20
If you want to see sporting potential have look at 6-year-old Arat Hosseini on YouTube. Hes now on the RS Academys books. Phenomenal.
21 Posted 13/05/2020 at 17:09:13
Garbutt at least contributed some little thing along the way.
As terrible a signing as Niasse was, you can actually point out where some of his goals led to points gained.
Neither was the complete bust Besic was and remains. And he's getting one more year's wages.
22 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:19:46
23 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:24:30
24 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:26:02
Ray, he's already taller than Messi.
25 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:27:38
26 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:32:26
27 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:40:27
28 Posted 13/05/2020 at 19:49:47
29 Posted 13/05/2020 at 20:32:44
The U23s can win the league again, happy days!!
ps: Garbutt has never been good enough!!
30 Posted 13/05/2020 at 20:53:31
He stuck around at the end for a good 10 mins to talk about what was going on behind the scenes with Roberto as, despite two semi-finals that season, the wheels were coming off and, even though he was out on loan, he knew enough to confirm it wasn't a happy camp under unravelling leadership.
No huge shock there but what did surprise and disappoint was that he said he hadn't once heard that season from either the manager or Joe Royle who had been brought back in a loan-player liaison role.
So, out on loan, big fat contract, generally positive showings for the first team and nobody from Everton even bothering to stay in touch?!
Obviously his hunger to make it still has to be there but other factors are often involved too and I certainly hope we've shaped up in that department under Brands – but who knows.
31 Posted 13/05/2020 at 20:58:45
I thought Galloway was going to fill out, get stronger and move into central defence, and had actually forgotten about him till Lyndon mentioned him, but I'm sure he will also be another multi-millionaire?
Someone mentioned Sheedy, I was looking at his goals-to-games ratio on something earlier, and it was a goal just over every three games, but Kevin was a proper footballer, he absolutely brilliant.
32 Posted 13/05/2020 at 23:34:43
The first was extending the contracts of certain player's who were well past their 'sell-by' date. Hibbert was given yet another 3/4 year contract near the end of his career, and ended up starting four games in three season's, and then complained to the press about his shoddy treatment by the club, when he wasn't told he was being released at the end of the season.
Dear old Uncle Bill then extended Martinez's existing contract at the end of his first 12 months in charge (after an impressive first season), it came back to bite the club in the arse big time, when they sacked him with something like 3 years of his existing contract still to run.
We have a 'soft centre', hopefully the new regime will eradicate this eventually.
33 Posted 14/05/2020 at 01:19:00
34 Posted 14/05/2020 at 09:22:20
If the figures quoted about Luke Garbutts contract are correct he will have been paid almost £8m for 5 years of not very productive football.
Not his fault, I know, but its insane.
35 Posted 14/05/2020 at 09:28:50
We had let his contract run down and then he suddenly played a few games and looked very good. Rumour has it that Liverpool were going to get him on a free. We had a choice at the time, offer a decent contract or let the natural successor to Baines leave for nothing and go to Liverpool. We did the right thing at the time, unfortunately it didnt work out.
Id rather a 30k a week gamble on Garbutt that £100k plus on each of Walcott, Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Mina, Pickford and Bernard. (I like Bernard, but not at 120k a week)
We have 7 players on £100k plus a week, and arguably our best 3 players from this season arent there.
36 Posted 14/05/2020 at 10:03:55
They heard it from family that read it in The Daily Mail.
Shoddy treatment indeed, and you question his right to have a moan about it?
37 Posted 14/05/2020 at 10:53:39
The club should re-name as 'Soft Touch Everon FC' !
38 Posted 14/05/2020 at 11:25:25
Not sure when it was last updated, but it makes for some embarrassing reading.
39 Posted 14/05/2020 at 11:42:50
For some it was the mistaken belief that they'd made it and could coast along. Others got injuries. Some got found out by opposition as having exploitable weaknesses. In many cases, it is just a combination of these and not actually being good enough.
One of my favourites for this list would be Stuart Barlow. He had a flair for the spectacular and on rare occasions could be brilliant. I saw him on a Wednesday night at Nottingham Forrest score a fantastic headed goal where he ran from distance pointing to where the cross should go. He also scored (I seem to remember) a fantastic volleyed goal at Goodison once, which was met by total silence after he'd missed a stack of sitters across the park 4 days earlier. It seemed for Stuart that the big occasion got to him. He did well as a big fish in a much smaller pool further down the leagues.
The truth is as many have said here, chances need to be taken on youth. Sometimes we get it right, (DCL, Holgate at the moment), sometimes we get it wrong. It isn't always our fault (Mustafi). Sometimes it is.
40 Posted 14/05/2020 at 12:07:50
41 Posted 14/05/2020 at 12:22:55
A commendation goes to the first to name the Brazilian's co-top earner !
42 Posted 14/05/2020 at 14:39:21
And how many games did he start in that time? The point I was making that in that period certainly, 'we were a soft touch'.
He stole a living from the club the last few years, a poor player who was simply a 'steady Eddie', and the reason the club settled for mediocrity employing him.
Having been made redundant three times in my working life, I don't have an awful lot of sympathy for players who can retire as multi-millionaires in their mid-30s, but still get upset if they are not given the news 'officially' by their employers.
Isn't that what agents are for, to find these things out as the contracts run down?
43 Posted 14/05/2020 at 15:05:37
44 Posted 14/05/2020 at 16:05:11
Chris Coleman when Managing at Sunderland was often baffled by Evertons lack of interest and contact with Everton Loanees at Sunderland. He was quite vocal about it regarding Galloway and Browning.
45 Posted 14/05/2020 at 16:24:42
Isnt it true that Hibbert didnt have an agent? I know the Neville brothers never used an agent preferring to do their own negotiations but I think Hibbert was the same. Anyone throw any light on this?
46 Posted 14/05/2020 at 17:42:21
47 Posted 14/05/2020 at 17:56:12
48 Posted 14/05/2020 at 19:11:06
I don't know the background details to Hibbert's contract with Everton or whether he had an agent or not. I think him, Osman and Neville were Moyes favourites tho and all perhaps stayed longer at the club than they should. I think I'm also correct in saying Neville was one of the big earners on the payroll.
They've long gone I know, but today it was announced that Everton's player salaries were running at 85% of the club's income, the highest in the Premier league.
That's simply not sustainable.
49 Posted 14/05/2020 at 20:35:20
50 Posted 14/05/2020 at 21:11:08
Loads of crap, a few decent on their day, but not really good one's. There is far too much money paid to average players nowadays, it's not just an Everton thing.
No 1 priority for me is a new keeper, he is too strung out for me and flounces around trying to make every game all about him- Joe Hart mk2. When he does behave normally, he is good, but I don't want Everton waiting for him to grow up, drop the muppet, he unsettles the entire defence - this is top grade sport, not high school.
If the stories of these salaries are correct, bugger me we are getting rogered left, right and center. All that outlay for that garbage!!!
And finally, this present lot can only dream of being as good as Sheeds, never, ever been replaced-a class act when footballers played for the right reasons and looked like they gave a shit.
Over to you Carlo, class player's please with good attitudes, and get rid of most of these.
51 Posted 14/05/2020 at 22:53:41
We need to get rid ASAP of these deadheads and put in place a commercial plan to raise our income. Now I know many will raise their eyes to the Gods with this suggestion but I put it to you that this situation has existed for many years. Its imperative that the Board get things right when this crazy time is over. Stay safe folks
52 Posted 14/05/2020 at 23:34:33
Kenwright at the first AGM that Moshiri attended at the Philarmonlc Hall said, about Moshiri “ He is the man who keeps giving” Yes he was and plenty at Everton kept taking, average players were given fantastic contracts and salaries that didnt match there ability.
Nobody pulled Mr. Moshiri to one side and told him to put a hold on his money and have a look at what was going on. He was taken for a ride by people who should have looked after him, instead they jumped on the gravy train.
I hope Mr. Moshiri has looked back and learned something from those wasted millions and had a good look at the people who let him waste them.
53 Posted 15/05/2020 at 00:42:53
54 Posted 15/05/2020 at 00:55:50
55 Posted 15/05/2020 at 03:53:03
When you were made redundant did you read about it in The Echo? Or did your boss just ask 'what the fcuk are you doing here?' when you turned up for work one morning?
56 Posted 15/05/2020 at 09:42:22
We've got little chance of making any impact at all on the top 6 until these previous decisions have been expunged and we can reenergise the squad with younger hungry quality players. This process could still take another two years.
Marcel Brands has been brought in to arrest this grave and amateur situation, but it isn't easy. It will take time to repair the spellbinding ineptitude of the scouting and recruiting regime that went before him.
57 Posted 15/05/2020 at 13:19:38
It should be easy to structure deals that have trigger points to extend deals and give salary rises based on appearances and other merit points.
58 Posted 15/05/2020 at 14:59:04
Poor old Tony, sounds like he's the 'victim'. At least he can spend his retirement counting his millions, unlike most of us.
By the way, he never struck me as the 'sensitive' type.
59 Posted 16/05/2020 at 09:45:34
60 Posted 17/05/2020 at 10:58:40
61 Posted 17/05/2020 at 11:18:48
62 Posted 18/05/2020 at 10:19:30
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