After the Goldrush


‘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


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.

Black And White

It appears that Roberto Martinez is ushering in a new era at Everton that will represent the polar opposite of everything that took place under the yoke of David Moyes. Here are 10 things then to expect in this new, bizarro Everton.

1. Silverware
2. Wingers ordered to stay on their allotted flank.
3. ‘Leave someone back for the corner, for fuck’s sake!’
4. Buccaneering victories at Old Trafford and Anfield.
5. ‘Another sub? Jesus!’
6. Not rocking the Tony Pulis look.
7. Or dressing like a riverboat gambler on big occassions.
8. A reluctance to buy players from Manchester United.
9. A bottom half finish.
10. ‘Get Vellios off!’

Summer Lovin’

moyes and mourinho

It’s that time of year when everyone is scraping around for something to say, and ‘Leroy Fer still keen on Everton switch’ is viewed as news worth repeating on a daily basis.

Still, we’ll soldier on and sift through the journalistic silt to look for some shiny nuggets of red hot soccer info.

First up then, it was interesting to see Jose Mourinho rather unsubtly declare that he knew months ago that Alex Ferguson was hanging his chewy up and calling time on his career as manager of Manchester United. They had a conversation a while ago where Ferguson revealed his plan but swore the Portuguese to secrecy, presumably ending their chat with something along the lines of: ‘Whatever you do, don’t tell David, I want to see his face when it is announced at the end of the season. He’ll shit!’

It’s going to be so weird watching David Moyes this season, especially early on, as the press analyses his every gesture and compares him to Mourinho and, of course, Ferguson himself. And while he’s almost certainly not stood in front of a mirror like Travis Bickle, he must be conscious of, say, the first time that United are chasing a goal late on in a match. If he starts pointing at an imaginary watch he could end up looking like a right phoney – the press will talk about ‘Moyesy minutes’ – but if he doesn’t then questions will be asked about whether he appreciates the nuances of the dark arts required to win at the highest level.

His old fall back at Everton when he disliked something a reporter said was to adopt his hard-dad-shopping-with-the-family-on-a-sunny-day stare. The one that says ‘Eyes front, knobhead. She’s only 14.’ If he tries that at United will he give the impression that he just can’t cope with the pressure?

And speaking of people being unhappy with the press, you have to wonder what’s going on with Everton’s PR at the moment. First there was ‘shit badge-gate’, which they eventually sorted out kind of satisfactorily, but now Robert Elstone has released that ambiguous statement on the official site stating his displeasure with the manner in which the Echo reported the sale of Finch Farm by some company or other to Liverpool City Council.

There’s a touch of the Gillian Taylforth’s in all this insomuch as no one really noticed the original event – in this case the Echo’s article, in her’s noshing her fella off in the car – until the supposedly injured party – Elstone/Cathy Beale – made a fuss about it. Reading around, no one seems to have the faintest idea whether the whole ownership of the Everton training ground being in the hands of someone other than the club is a good thing or not. Owning your premises is certainly no prerequisite of being a successful enterprise, although there is always the suspicion that it is a one-off fix to paper over financial cracks – something that the present owners think they might as cash in on rather than just let someone else do it in the future. As we say, no one really seems to know.

It did seem odd though that Elstone never sorted his gripe out with the Echo in a more informal manner, and that once he decided to air his views publicly elected against specifying which bits of the article were inaccurate or spun too negatively.

And while we’re on the subject of the press and opinion formers on the local football scene, we must make a belated comment on the infamous list of Anfield agitators compiled by one-time Everton communications cat Paul Tyrell. Amid all the talk of freedom of information, data protection and just general outrage, no one really seemed to spare a thought for the real injured parties, i.e. all the fanzine and internet types who didn’t feature on the list. There must have been bloggers in Melton Mowbray fucking incandescent that they never made the cut, because apart from Peter Hooton getting labelled ‘rent a quote on anything to do with the city of Liverpool’ everyone else was made up thinking that club considered them that important.

A bit of computer hacking has revealed that Tyrell also compiled a similar dossier for Everton’s board, detailing the most influential thinkers and subversive elements among the club’s support. They are:

1. Elvis the steward.

2. The weirdo Ryan Air employee who chained himself to the post during the game against Manchester City.

3. Them Brazilian dancers who had their arses hanging out in front of the Family Enclosure.

4. Satis? fanzine.

5. Stephen Price.

6. The arl fella with the Jesus guff placard.

7. Mrs Butler’s eldest.

8. The queue for the Goodison Supper Bar.

9. Jonny Goggles.

10. The Guardian’s Andy Hunter. Of limited influence.

More random bollocks about stuff that was current about a fortnight ago to come in the weeks ahead. No really, you’re welcome.