After the Goldrush

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‘Insulting’, ‘derisory’, ‘a bit last’ and ‘cunty’. All words used in certain quarters to describe Manchester United’s £28 million bid for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.

Various reports keep suggesting that this double bid has provoked ‘outrage’ and ‘anger’ on Merseyside, but surely any Evertonian who would like those two players to stay must really be made up with that sort of offer.  After all, despite David Moyes using his intimate knowledge of the inside workings of his former club, United’s attempted ‘swoop’ was always doomed to failure.

Everton actually took This Is Not Football’s advice and responded by releasing a statement that more or less mocked the champions’ proposal, however that was always suggested as a tactic designed really to prick at Moyes’ ego and try to get him to come back with a much improved bid befitting one of the richest clubs in the world.

That’s different from declaring that the players are not for sale.

In fact, in these situations the old joke falsely ascribed to Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx and George Bernard Shaw always springs to mind. You know, the one that ends ‘We’ve already established what sort of woman you are, now we’re just haggling about the price’.

The focus with this sort of story is on the actual numbers involved – on Radio 5 last night, for instance, pencil-top troll Robbie Savage was blathering on about how Arsenal should have just offered £45 million for Luis Suarez as opposed to sticking a nicker on what they thought was his release clause. Your license fee is funding that Bros jeans wearing tit to come out with these raw nuggets of wisdom.

In truth though, the real key to this present scenario at Everton isn’t so much the actual numbers; it’s how Roberto Martinez wants his squad to look on the 2nd September. If the Spaniard envisions Fellaini and Baines being Everton players for the remainder of the season then things are pretty straightforward.

However, if he does see James McCarthy, for instance, as someone he would like to add to his ‘roster’, then sadly something’s got to give. That scenario, which seems quite likely, requires Everton to leverage as much as possible for one or both of Fellaini and Baines. On the other side of that, United will almost certainly know if Everton have been talking to other players and that’s why they have opened the bidding with their initial lowball offer. They suspect a deal can be done and they want to feel as if they are setting the parameters.

How it all plays out from here depends on who is the most willing to walk away without any sale. If Martinez sees missing out on McCarthy or Luca Marrone or whoever but keeping the same squad as he has now as an acceptable outcome then Everton hold all the cards. If he desperately wants to move either Baines or Fellaini on though, the balance of power shifts somewhat back towards United as they can always ‘pursue other options’ and potentially leave Everton with a disgruntled player, or maybe even two. Everyone assumes that Martinez would be willing to sacrifice the big Belgian but not the England fullback, but don’t be so sure. It might also be a bit hasty to simply take as read that just because Baines seems quiet and likes The Byrds that he isn’t ambitious to play in the Champions League and earn yards more money.

You know what they say, never trust a hippy.

Expect loads more posturing and manoeuvering over the next couple of weeks, but remember that ultimately you are just worrying about who exactly is going to be paying the increasing wages of the world’s thickest millionaires. If this pair go then rest assured they will be replaced post haste by some other tattooed morons.

It’s really not worth burning a £50 replica shirt over.

Friendly Fire

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The Premier League season lurches ever closer and Evertonians continue to try and get some indication of just how different Roberto Martinez’s team will be to that of David Moyes.

If you are hoping to get some indication here, with in-depth analysis of the two recent friendlies against Euro-behemoths Juventus and Read Madrid then you are in for something of a disappointment, as staying up until all hours to watch an exhibition game on the internet is the behaviour of the serious oddball.

Kevin Mirallas scored a good breakaway goal against Juventus but the Italians drew level thanks to a lovely swerving drive from Kwadwo Asamoah. The ball only broke to the Ghanaian thanks to some slack control by Leon Osman but he still ‘had a bit to do’ as he leathered it first time from long range.

Osman also missed in the ensuing penalty shootout but apocalypse survivalist Andre Pirlo put his kick wide before teenage defender John Stones chipped the ball home in a manner that could only be described as ‘impish’.

Everton won then and earned the right to face Real Madrid on Saturday night. In what sounded like an open game, Cristiano Ronaldo broke twice from deep, first rounding Tim Howard to score and then teeing up the startled Mezit Ozil for a tap-in. There was talk off off-side for both goals, as well as a disallowed Everton goal and calls for a penalty.

Nikica Jelavic scored a consolation in the second half with Aroune Kone yet to impress, by all accounts.

As ever, you can’t read much at all into these games. It’s only in the high pressure atmosphere of the Premier League that we will get a real indication of any real change in Everton’s style. Knocking the ball around the back at a leisurely pace is all well and good on a balmy evening on a baseball diamond – it’s what the Blues’ defenders do when getting kicked up the arse by Romelu Lukaku, with Cockney fatties screaming ‘kill the Scouse cunt!’ from the sidelines that will be the true measure of the new continental approach.

After all, there is only so much you can alter when using the same players and thus far, despite being linked to all sorts, there hasn’t been any movement on that front since the initial flurry of purchases from Wigan Athletic. Presumably the funds for James McCarthy, Tom Ince, Aiden McGeady or any of the long list exotic foreign midfielders Martinez is reported to be interested in will only become available as and when Leighton Baines or Marouane Fellaini are sold, and the understanding seems to be that the ‘transfer merry-go-round’ that will probably whisk one of those two away will only really get going when Real Madrid finally locate a stick big enough to put the moon on as requested by Tottenham Hotspur as payment for Gareth Bale. Plus cash.

An odd news story in the week concerned Manchester United’s written apology to Everton over the way they recruited David Moyes. Presumably Bill Kenwright is too classy to wipe his arse on it and send it back. After all, if they were sincere they had plenty of opportunity to act completely differently and above board but chose not to. On the other hand though, it still seems incredible that the Everton board had no idea at all that something was afoot all the while that Moyes was sitting out his contract. The whole thing is distinctly iffy, quite frankly, but ultimately it’s irrelevant – the idea in the papers that Everton’s displeasure about the way it was all handled could sandbag a deal for Baines is phoney. If they offer enough money and Baines really wants to go there then it will happen, apology or not.

Blackburn Rovers 1 Everton 3

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Oh man, don’t you wish the Blues would hurry up and get snotted by Juventus just so we can read something on Newsnow other than ‘United interested in Belgian midfielder’ or ‘Blues consider McCarthy bid’?

Even the ‘outrage’ by Liverpool cyber-puritans about the inevitable salty banners at the game against the Italian champions will be some diversion from endless ‘Baines an option for Moyes?’ waffle.

That said, we are still going to go over this old ground again in a manner that some observers could legitimately label ‘hypocritical’.

Firstly, Baines. One of the many talking points in the frankly hilarious footage of him giving a gang of school bullies a lift to the Blackburn game was the fact that when asked whether he was going to sign for United he was at best non-committal. Seriously, with a bunch of Everton Taliban right up in his grill and wondering whether to skin up on his UK Road Atlas he couldn’t bring himself to outright lie and say something approximating: ‘Fuck that, lad, why would I, the naughtiest left-back in the world, sign for them, lad’.

According to Alex Buttner and his agent any deal for Baines seems to hinge on Patrice Evra leaving Manchester, presumably for Monaco. When the outcome of the Frenchman’s situation is known it appears that United will decide whether Everton can keep Baines or not. And yes, that is starting to fucking grate.

Similarly with Marouane Fellaini, the papers seem to think that Moyes will ‘settle’ for the Everton midfielder if he fails to recruit the completely different type of player he really wants, Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas. The slightly unseemly pursuit of the Spanish snide is reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Moyes singing sweet nothings under his window while his grotesquely ugly but worldly-wise mate feeds him lines from the shadows.

It’s probably nothing like that at all, but it’s an enduring image, isn’t it.

Occasionally Evertonians suggest that once Fellaini’s release clause expires – the one that’s moved more times than the Mayan end of the world – then the real bidding can begin. However, this seems to overlook the fact that anyone paying above the stipulated price once that date has passed would have to be some sort of fucking simpleton. That £23 million or whatever is the absolute maximum that anyone who doesn’t want to be carpeted by their boss the next day would even dream of paying. Everton’s best hope of getting decent poke for Fellaini then is that someone under pressure to make a signing blinks before their competitors and offers to cough up the lot, more than likely at the very last minute.

Does any other scenario look even in the slightest bit feasible? He’s no one’s first choice, let’s be frank, so we won’t be holding anyone over a barrel, Daniel Levy-style.

Going back to Saturday, Everton had the proverbial ‘good workout’ against a clearly religious Rovers team. Well, Ramadan was the excuse Sylvain Distin used for Aroune Kone’s performance on the game’s periphery, and the Blackburn team definitely looked, well, actually, is it considered offensive to say Islam can make you shit at footy?

They were, anyway.

Everton played a 4-2-3-1 in the first half with Darron Gibson dropping deep to start moves off every time Tim Howard had the ball. Against a dreadful side they got away with some of the aimless passing and hopeful side-footed clearances into the midfield space that would be punished ruthlessly at the top level, but as Roberto Martinez stated, these games are all about trying new things. There was definitely a feeling of all foreplay and no fucking before the break though, despite Kevin Mirallas opening the scoring and Kone’s one notable contribution – almost breaking the crossbar when through on goal.

The introduction in the second period of Nikica Jelavic and, more notably, Leon Osman and Seamus Coleman, saw Everton’s ‘tempo’ increase though and more of the good work done in the Rovers’ half. Let’s be honest, if there’s ever a game that’s tailor-made for Osman it’s a friendly on a gorgeous day against a gang of half-starved Muslims.

Jelavic scored twice, heading home Steven Pienaar’s corner and then converting Coleman’s low cross at the second attempt. The Croatian remains an immensely popular player despite being absolutely shite for most of last season and the Everton crowd being notoriously quick to criticise – most Blues would like to see him at least get a chance to show what he can do under the new manager before being released to some rather uninspiring side like Hamburg or West Ham.

The Blues have been linked with a possible replacement, Austria Wien strike Phillip Hosiner, however the tabloids can sing his name ‘til the break of day; it still seems an unlikely move.

‘Oh no he di’n’t’

‘Oh yes he di’’

Scott Dann headed a late consolation when Joel Robles got caught under a far post corner, but other than that Everton could only be pleased with the work they did.

Anyway, that’s it for now then. Swear down, lad.

The Star Club

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According to most of the papers, SV Hamburg seem pretty confident about signing Nikica Jelavic.

Some director or other of the German club has been tweeting that Everton have made it known that the Croatian striker is available and they are big fans.

Without an appreciation of the bigger picture in as much as who else Roberto Martinez wants to bring in and what the player’s attitude is, it’s hard to work out whether releasing Jelavic, whose form has varied wildly over the last 18 months, is a good idea or not.

The player who arrived from Glasgow and seemed to score with every other touch was invaluable, but then at some point early last season it looked as if he said ‘Uh oh’ mid-match as Dr Sam Beckett quantum leapt into his body. After that, even the goal he scored against Manchester City at Goodison was the result of Dean Stockwell screaming in his ear: ‘Ziggy says JUST FUCKING HIT IT!’

There’s a school of thought that David Moyes was to blame for the alarming loss of form, because he asked him to do too much work outside the box, but Jelavic’s role didn’t really seem much different from when he was scoring ‘for fun’. All modern forwards are required to graft – it’s hard to think of any who are told to ‘just get up there and goal hang’ – and chasing the ball down doesn’t seem to adversely affect the goalscoring of, say, Luis Suarez or Wayne Rooney.

Jelavic just seemed to react badly to missing chances and his confidence crumbled, Fernando Torres-style. Eventually no one argued when he was replaced in the team by Victor Anichebe – as big an indicator of a lack of form as you are ever likely to see.

In terms of striking options though, if Martinez doesn’t think it is worth persisting with Jelavic then presumably he will be looking to sign another centre-forward otherwise he will be left with only Aroune Kone and Anichebe with any proper first team experience. The new Blues’ boss is now linked with eternal misfit Scott Sinclair after seemingly giving up on Victor Moses, so perhaps he envisages a more central role for Kevin Mirallas, but still it looks like there is still some work to be done in order to fashion a forward line that carries a genuine, consistent threat in the Premier League.

Links with yet another Wigan player, James McCarthy, persist, but with figures of over £12 million being quoted it seems clear that deal will only happen in the event of either Marouane Fellaini or Leighton Baines leaving Goodison. However, everything seems to have gone a bit quiet in terms of both players, who were tipped as certs to be heading for Champions League clubs earlier in the summer.

Moyes would obviously love to have Baines at Manchester United, but a couple of stories recently give the impression that he’s been told that Everton’s refusal to sell is a genuine one – not one of those that actually mean ‘increase the offer and we can talk turkey’. As for Fellaini, we’ve said it before, where does he fit in at somewhere like United? Surely any side with genuine title aspirations would want a more creative player supporting the striker – not a target man as Fellaini pretty much was for many of his best games for Everton. That leaves the defensive midfield role that he isn’t consistent enough to be trusted with. Put it another way, Darron Gibson, who left United for a pittance was far better doing that job than Fellaini, and Michael Carrick, the current incumbent at Old Trafford, was one of their players of the season as they pissed the title.

If he doesn’t go to Arsenal, who seem to be desperate to spend a load of cash on anyone, just to show that they can, then it’s hard to see where he gets this big move that’s being predicted.

One final thing that was revealed this week was the deal that brought Gerard Deulofeu to Everton on loan stipulates that if he players 50% of the games while he is here then the Blues pay no loan fee. In which case you have to assume that the loudest cries of ‘Get the fucking Spanish kid on Martinez you cunt’ will come from the directors’ box and not some prick behind me in the Park End.

Other than that, we’ve been linked with some French defender – make of that what you will – but otherwise everyone still seems to be guessing in terms of how Everton are going to line up on the first day of the season.