Adventures In The Skin Trade


Going to bed an hour before the transfer deadline means that you never know quite what you are going to wake up to – a bit like Christmas Eve.

Well, that is if there’s a chance that Santa Claus might drunkenly stamp your Big Trak into plastic shards and leave a big shit on the Axminster.

‘How could you not stay tuned for Jim White’s vinegar strokes though?’ you ask, knowing that the Blues were embroiled in a veritable tug-of-war with West Bromwich Albion for the services of staggered-run Super Cup spot-kick scuffer Romelu Lukaku? Well, despite being more philosophical than most about Everton’s position in football’s new world order, the thought of them desperately battling (i.e upping the wages on offer) to sign some fucking Chelsea reserve is not a welcome one.

It’s like you accept that your ma has to do whatever she can to feed her crack problem, but it doesn’t mean you want to watch her down on her knees at the docks. And you certainly don’t want running commentary from Vinny O’Connor.

It is, it’s exactly like that.

And while we’re on the subject of unsavoury sexual shenanigans, you have to say that years of being the cutest little thing on the Premier League prison yard has taught Everton a trick or two about survival while David Moyes appears to be struggling in his new role as top dog. The Manchester United manager eventually got what he wanted from the Blues, namely the signature of Marouane Fellaini, but the eventual price of £27.5 million – four more than he could have had him for the other week – represents a badly bitten cock.

Roberto Martinez took the money, or at least a portion of it, and replaced the versatile Fellaini with three specialists. Lukaku is a big centre-forward who scored 17 goals last season while on loan at West Brom – he certainly appears to be an upgrade on the strikers already at the club. The Baggies wanted him back by all accounts, but instead were left to sign our own Victor Anichebe instead. It’s reported that deal could eventually be worth £6 million, which few people would argue looks decent business for the Toffees. Anichebe made great strides last season in terms of his form, but did anyone ever see him genuinely becoming the first-choice Everton centre-forward? Good luck to him though – there will be a lot of expectation on him at the Hawthorns, especially as they not only missed out on getting Lukaku back but also allowed Shane Long to go to Hull City.

In terms of the roles Fellaini was asked to do in midfield, Martinez made another loan signing in the shape of Gareth Barry, a dedicated deep-lying or defensive player. It’s not the most glamorous appointment ever, granted, but in terms of ability he has always been underrated, and a title-winning England international can hopefully bring a degree of experience and character to the side. Don’t roll your eyes too soon, he might prove to be a very shrewd signing.

Finally, all-action – whatever that means – Wigan midfielder James McCarthy completed his protracted move to Goodison for the princely sum of £13 million. It’s a few bob, that’s for sure, but McCarthy has always impressed since a televised game against Liverpool that the Latics won 1-0. He left the field at the end purple in the face after harassing Steven Gerrard worse than an infamous local villain. At the time, Evertonians were trying to convince themselves that their own young midfielder Jack Rodwell’s ability to get through every game with his shorts spotless was a signifier of ‘class’, but unlike the golden boy McCarthy is no stranger to graft having made his debut amongst the shopping trollies and melted wheely bins of the Scottish First Division a day before his 16th birthday.

Martinez certainly appears to rate him as well.

With Leighton Baines remaining at Goodison then, and three almost certain first-team starters replacing one, you have to say that Everton have come out of this transfer window far better than they might have.

And as an added bonus, Moyes and Manchester United have emerged looking like absolute plums.

Swansea City And That

file under cuntish

Before the start of this season few people would have had this game down as an ‘eagerly anticipated clash’ but the way the ‘campaign’ – terrible word but it saves us saying season again – has unfolded for both clubs, this ‘encounter’ – same again – has an intriguing look about it.

The match at the Liberty Stadium encapsulated Everton’s season so far and, to a certain extent, this most unpredictable of Premier League seasons – we actually used it twice there but possibly got away with it. Everton absolutely murdered the home side for long stretches and eventually ran out 3-1 winners but that only tells part of the story: as well as squandering a ton of chances to make the scoreline even more emphatic they were caught on the break repeatedly and just before half-time Swansea might have actually levelled the scores and changed the outcome completely.

Michael Laudrup’s team are mustard on the break and they will certainly look to soak up Everton pressure on Saturday and then spring counter-attacks when the opportunity arises. The onus is on the Blues then to pin them back and keep them chasing the ball to the point where they start to get dispirited and doubt themselves when the time comes to try and commit men forward.

Their midweek win at Stamford Bridge showed just what they are all about and underlined once again how cool their star man Michu is when presented with a sight of goal. Both goals on Wednesday night were very similar, with Michu and then Danny Graham pouncing – yeah, that’s right, pouncing – on Branislav Ivanovich errors. When you are long-haired and slightly Christy-looking like Michu your finish gets noticed by everyone whereas if you are Graham and resemble one of the lads off the stacker trucks in the Wernham Hogg warehouse you barely get a mention. Such is life.

That result against Chelsea will have certainly given Swansea a boost then in terms of confidence but Goodison Park is one of the last places they would want to visit only three days later.

It will be Marouane Fellaini’s first home game back following his three match ban and if the newspapers are to be believed it could well be one of his last. Many of them are of the opinion that there’s a release clause in his contract somewhere north of £22 million and that Chelsea are prepared to activate it. That fee is the equivalent of 11 Michu’s – the Spaniard is has become a standard unit of measurement now, the transfer fee equivalent of London buses, full-sized football pitches and areas the size of Rafa’s shadow.

We’ve been through this whole Fellaini to leave thing countless times now so there’s really no point sweating it. It is worth pointing out though what a snidey development these provisions in contracts are though. Essentially, when you negotiate a new deal you insist that if you actually justify your pay rise then not only do you have the right to move elsewhere unopposed, but there should be a limit on how much money the club can make on the deal –therefore maximising the amount you can leverage in terms of a signing fee. That said, no one forces the clubs to agree to these terms in the first place so they only have themselves to blame when players and agents exploit them.

Wigan’s James McCarthy is said to be the player David Moyes sees as a replacement for Fellaini, even though their styles are not really alike. The young Republic of Ireland midfield rarely scores but he does look a good player though – big, quick and all action, sort of like a Jack Rodwell who doesn’t mind getting his kit muddy.