Summer is the longest time of year for any football fan, but in particular Everton fans seem to face a tough one year after year. They see their rivals and clubs around them splashing the cash and bringing in new faces to strengthen, yet see their own side staying static and still throughout the close season. Unfortunately for Everton this year again has seen them lack investment, and David Moyes has once again been restricted to free and loan signings, but they have even struggled there, as they simply cannot afford players astronomical wage demands. With no deal imminent for fresh investment into the club, should they sacrifice one of their big hitters in order to generate some transfer funds to strengthen the squad as a whole?
Everton might have thought at the beginning of the summer, that they could have shifted on some of the fringe players like Yakubu or Joseph Yobo, thus generating some transfer funds that could have been reinvested. However, only James Vaughan has moved on to Norwich for £2.5 million. They have only brought in Eric Dier on a loan, and he’s unlikely to feature in the first team. So should they sell a Leighton Baines or a Phil Jagielka, a star man, who will generate funds?
Everton rejected a bid from Arsenal earlier in the summer for Jagielka, which immediately signalled Moyes’ intention to hold onto his stars. They have a solid squad, but it is a small one, and if they suffer a few injuries they could well struggle with a lack of back up. They also need a good centre forward who is going to get them goals, something they struggled with for large parts of last season. Jack Rodwell is another player who has been talked about with the potential to generate a larger transfer fee, and in terms of the current squad he would probably be the one Moyes would be most willing to sacrifice. Losing Rodwell would be damaging for Everton’s future, but not their present. Rodwell is highly regarded and a great talent, but he only played 20 times last season, so it wouldn’t be a disaster to lose him in the short term compared to other names. However, it would be a shame for fans, who would see yet another talented player moving on.
Moyes has done an admirable job on a limited budget in the past, qualifying for Europe, making the FA Cup final, and putting in pretty consistent finishes in the league. He has wheeled and dealed and got some players from lower leagues who have turned into great players for the club, hard workers, who fit with Everton’s team ethic, but it seems as if the investment isn’t even there for those sort of deals this season.
Unfortunately for Moyes, he has become a victim of his own success, as expectations at the club are now high. Can they compete with the sides around them who are spending a lot more money or will they slip behind? Targets like Charles N’Zogbia and Shane Long who could have brought pace and potency into the midfield and attack have slipped by, leaving Everton frustrated. A player like Joey Barton could strengthen Everton’s squad, however they would struggle to pay his wages, and he could unneccessarily rock the boat. Big signings like James Beattie and Andrew Johnson have flattered to deceive at Everton in the past.
The other problem now facing Everton is that it is so late in the window, that if they do now decide to sell a big star-like they lost Joleon Lescott last minute in 2009-it could leave the side unsettled and badly prepared for the season. Also they would then have to replace that departing star, with a player of near or equal quality, which would not be easy in this inflated market, and at the last minute.
So is it better for Moyes to just stick with what he’s got, hope that all the players play to their potential and that they don’t suffer many injuries? Everton do have some promising young players coming through like Ross Barkley and Apostolos Vellios, who might just be given a chance to shine this year, especially considering the small nature of the squad. If they were to perform well, then it would certainly take the pressure off Moyes and the board.
It seems as if it would only be worthwhile selling a big star, if they could bring quality in to replace that player, so Moyes might be better sticking with what he’s got for now, but whether it will be enough when those around them are throwing cash around, remains to be seen. However one thing Everton will always have in abundance is passion, spirit and determination, and those are things that money can’t buy.