What David Moyes' face may have been last night. But what is he pondering? - Alex Livesey
With the January transfer window now firmly shut for this season, Everton took the opportunity to revolve the door ever so slightly. The signing of John Stones from Barnsley is a promising one whilst French youngster Magaye Gueye left for his native land. However, what do these signings (or lack of them) mean for the rest of the season and beyond?
The whole of January was quiet on the transfer front for Everton. No rumblings of ins, a few of outs such as Fellaini to Chelsea for £(insert number here)m. That was until the 29th of the month when news broke that Dutch international Leroy Fer was on his way for a medical with a view to a move to Merseyside.
This was one from left field. Who was he? Where did he play? Does this mean Fellaini is off?
Fer flew to Merseyside for a medical, and then rumours surfaced he had failed it. I did some digging but found that he hadn't failed it. We had concerns over his knee, particularly following some surgery he had had recently, and due to the clubs financial clout being minimal the board wished to restructure the deal. Nothing wrong with that from my point of view, but from FC Twente's there was. I've since found out that the concerns were pretty serious and I have to say I am fully behind the club on this one.
It then emerged that Everton were in "advanced talks" with Sevilla for Spanish International forward Alvaro Negredo. Now although a deal seemed unlikely, I couldn't help but let my heart rule my head. However, as the day progress any hope of signing the striker disappeared as there was no further developments and then the final nail in that coffin was the Sevilla president asking for €20m and Negredo's agent saying in the evening that there was in fact an interest from us, and the player would welcome the move, but it was unlikely as Sevilla see him as an important part of their setup and to get him to leave would cost "silly money." Incidentally, Negredo captained Sevilla last night against Athletico Madrid and also scored.
There were other rumours. I received a message containing the names Joleon Lescott, Victor Wanyama, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Kevin Doyle amongst others. Regardless of names, the message assured me that the Senior Management within the club were working hard to get a few deals done. As the deadline drew closer, the only signing looking certain was young right back John Stones from Barnsley. Again, not one for now, but a deal with a minimal amount down and the rest dependent on his progress. I actually feel sorry for Stones. His signing seemed to have gone under the radar or have been under-rated as the fans expected a big name, high profile, first team signing. All the tweets seemed to have sympathy for the youngster!! It was surreal to read.
Anyway, what now for the club?
Personally, and as I said on the Twitter feed @rbmersey last night, I completely understand all the frustrations. Don't forget, I am one of you. I go to every game home and away. I share your concerns. I don't, however, feel that it is the end of the world.....yet! The mild abuse I got last night while manning the feed again was understandable. Like I said, if I get told something it is usually in confidence, meaning I cannot share details in full. I tweeted I was confident of one more loan deal as with an hour to go I was told that the club were working on it. They probably were, but define "working on it." Were they making calls? Couldn't they agree personal terms? It's vast.
Looking at the squad there can be no denying it is thin. It needs reinforcing. However, it isn't a bad one is it? Yes, we sit 5th in the league, and other results went in our favour midweek. But look at the points we have thrown away. In all seriousness we should be second. Wigan Athletic, Newcastle United, Reading, West Brom, Liverpool, Fulham, Swansea... All winnable games, all points dropped. That wasn't to do with strength in depth. It was individual errors.
The concern now, though, is as the season progresses, injuries and suspensions could take their toll. Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea all have strong squads and/or strengthened in January. Looking at a few of our benches this season I have wondered "who can we bring on to see the game out/change this game for us?" Arguably, only Barkley has done it away at Stoke - another game we should have won. But there hasn't really been anyone else. Vellios possibly? The rest has been the likes of Duffy, Gueye, Kennedy, Hitzelsperger. Hardly game changers with the greatest of respect to the likes of Duffy and Kennedy.
The real fear is dropping points through a lack of strength in depth as the season draws to a close. A loan or two wouldn't have gone a miss last night.
Looking at the wider picture I now have a concern over David Moyes. The boss is the glue at this club. John Stones last night explained that the manager was a big factor in choosing Everton over Wigan Athletic. Rightly so. There is no doubting his eye for talent. Lads who have progress through the Academy have either been thrown into the first team or moved on for small fees. The two extremes would be Seamus Coleman, a £60,000 purchase for the Academy, progressed through the ranks and is now probably first choice right back. And then there's the lads in the bracket of Jose Baxter, Mark Hughes, James Wallace. Not quite up to the task according to Moyes, so moved on for next to nothing or nothing.
Moyes himself said he would not be discussing a new contract with Bill Kenwright and Robert Elstone until the January transfer window had closed. His contract expires this summer. I am confident the boss is not done with us. I share Neville Southall's opinion that Moyes still has ambitions at Everton. However, I also share Nev's opinion that we needed to get a few faces in to help the boss in his task. Moyes clearly wanted, and needed, more players. I have absolutely no doubt that David Moyes asked for at least two players who could make an impact on the first team now. But, out of the two Moyes asked for, he got none. However, he never wants just any old players and the club cannot afford to spend for spending's sake.
What is puzzling me is the everyday supporter doesn't know three quarters of what goes on behind closed doors. The Marouane Fellaini deal coming to light around 2am the day after the window had closed is proof of that, and it's only reading Mick Rathbone's book which makes you realise how mad it is. Being told to get on a flight to Belgium to do a medical, and then getting the call "No, get in your car and get to Hyde Park in London, he will meet you there," is the nature of the beast. No one knew who Leroy Fer was, never mind that we were trying to sign him. Many didn't know who Steven Pienaar was. You can go on...
My point? Who's to say the club didn't try to get players in yesterday? On the flip side, the transfer window isn't 24 hours long. It's 31 days. Liverpool signed Daniel Sturridge early on. Newcastle signed France early on!!! Panic buying isn't the right way to approach it, as exciting as it seems. It only adds to the deflation should the club not sign anyone, particularly given the opportunity we have between now and the end of the season to get our great club back on the continent. However, I don't think being delighted to have kept hold of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines is an approach to be adopted. That is negative. They are our players. We should be delighted to have them, not to have kept them. If that's your stance then you need to wise up. That's my opinion anyway.
I don't think there is any question that despite being quiet for quite a few months now, the Blue Union/Kenwright Out brigade will be out in force, particularly if we don't finish top 6 or win the FA Cup. At the same time, I think it is imperative now that the squad morale is kept high, level of performances step up yet again, the home record remains as it is (losing only three games in just under 12 months) and we pick up more points away from home. Then we can secure Europe and hopefully the FA Cup to go with it. Certainly, booing the board within the ground during matches is not negotiable. It doesn't happen. End of debate.
Moyes' press conference today will be extremely interesting. You will be able to gauge whether or not he is content, upset, angry, frustrated, happy... I'm delighted with the job he's doing. I don't think there are many who aren't. Look at the players and the average age of the squad he inherited from Walter Smith. Compare that to today. Like I said earlier, I am slightly concerned that it seems the board don't seem to be able to provide him with the resources he needs to press on, be it temporary ones or permanent. I am more concerned that Moyes may seek pastures new to fulfill potential.
Only in May will we really know how important this Transfer Window will have been.
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