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Everton Past Player Profile
MICHAEL BRANCH
Striker

Michael Branch  FACTS
Born Liverpool, 18 October 1978
Height 5' - 10" (178 cm)
Joined Everton as a trainee in July 1995
Debut Sub: v Manchester United (a), 22 February 1996
Full: v Sheffield Wednesday (a), 27 April 1996
Nickname(s) Twiggy
Left Everton for Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2000 (£500k)
Finale v Liverpool (a), 3 April 1999
Honours England U-16, U-18, U-21
 EARLY EVERTON CAREER
Season Team Apps Gls
1995-1996 Everton Reserves 16 (3) 6
1996-1997 Everton Reserves 10 4
1997-1998 Everton Reserves 5 4
1998-1999 Everton Reserves 10 4
1998-1999 Manchester City (on loan) 4
1999-2000 Everton Reserves 5 5
1999-2000 Wolverhampton Wanderers (on loan) 7 + 1 2

 STRENGTHS  WEAKNESSES
  • Very, very quick
  • Good technique
  • Quick turns
  • Very determined
  • Has flair
  • Inexperienced
  • Not very big – not very good in the air
  • Easily shaken off the ball
  • Hasn't yet found the scoring touch in the first team
  • Looks to be injury-prone
 BIOSKETCH
 
"Michael Branch is the most natural goalscorer to emerge from Everton's ranks for years" – that's what it said in the Everton Matchday Programme in February 1996.  Incredibly, he approaches his fourth season in the first-team squad without having realised that promise.  Michael Branch started training at Bellefield in July 1995, after a long stint at the National School of Excellence in Lilleshall. 

During 1995-96, he moved up through the reserves (scoring 6 goals in 19 appearances) and made his first-team debut.  Unfortunately, this has led to an excessive level of expectancy about his likely goal-scoring abilities in the Premiership.  In a full season of first team football (1996-97), Branch did not really produce the goods.

Part of the problem seemed to be a misplaced policy of protection employed by Joe Royle.  Numerous parallels with Alec Ferguson's slow introduction of Ryan Giggs to top-flight football were quoted as justification that Branch should not be thrust in at the deep end.  In fact, he appeared desperate to play for Everton, and yearned to be given a full chance to prove himself.  Far too often, Royle withdrew him from the match early, or put him on as a sub with Everton trailing and only 10 or 20 minutes left.  Out of 10 starts under Joe Royle, Branch was allowed to complete only 3 games!

Dave Watson had more faith in the young Michael Branch.  After Joe Royle left in March 1997, he gave Branch five consecutive starts, four of which were completed, yielding two more Premiership goals.  Branch is good on the ground, and suggests that he could feed well off balls drilled into his path as he runs into the penalty area.  Everton have been notoriously reticent in providing such a supply line and, until they do, we may never see the true possibilities of young Michael Branch. 

In the next season under the new manager, Kendall sadly appeared to be following the Royle pattern and Branch found it as hard as ever to score.  Then, after only a handful of sub appearances, he picked up a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for a while.  Then, he came back in November 1997 only to pick up a fracture in his leg, and was out for the rest of last season. Michael Branch's stop-start career is on hold yet again.  He now lines up behind Mickael Madar and John Spencer in the pecking order.

Michael Branch finally shook off his injury worries in October 1998, only to find that Walter Smith couldn't really use him in the first team squad after he sat on the subs' bench for a couple of games.  But Joe Royle has always liked Branchy, and persuaded Smith to let him take Branch on a month's loan at Manchester City.  Branch did well enough for Royle to make a £750k bid for a permanent deal, but Everton turned down Royle's offer, and asked to make sure that Branch does not get cup-tied.

He returned to Goodison in December 1998 but found it hard getting beyond the subs bench.  When he did get on the field, he failed to impress, even when given a surprise start that stunned Evertonians at the Anfield derby.  Walter Smith yet again played a bizarre selection wild-card, which, needless to say, did not pay off. After four seasons of hope and hype, the majority of fans consider Michael Branch to be only 1st or 2nd Division quality... is that why Walter Smith was so reluctant to sell him? 

In April 1999, Michael Branch reached a new low, after his arrest for being drunk and disorderly in Liverpool city centre following an alleged dispute.  He was bailed to appear at Liverpool city magistrates on June 1.  This was compounded by Walter Smith's eventual decision to place him on the transfer list, along with O'Kane, Farrelly, Grant, and Oster.  Yet another promising player who did not make the grade...

Since the summer of 1999, Michael Branch's limited value as a footballer was reflected in a comedy of on-again, off-again transfer moves to other clubs.  First there was the fiasco with Portsmouth, where Branch initially turned down Alan Ball's offer, then changed his mind only to be told he was too late.  After that, we have had "firm" offers from Birmingham City and Bristol City... but Branch instead went on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where scored a brace on his debut – against his previous loan club, Manchester City. 

Despite not scoring any more goals in his 2-month loan spell, Michael Branch finally agreed a move to Wolves in January 2000 for an initial fee of £500,000, rising to £625,000 depending on appearances.

In December 2001, Michael Branch was placed on the transfer list by Wolves after failing to make an impact under boss Dave Jones.  Branch failed to gain a regular place in the first team and Jones said the arrival of Kenny Miller and Dean Sturridge further limited opportunities for Branch.  He finally moved on to Reading in March 2002 but made only two sub appearances before returning.  He then went to Hull City on loan for most of the 2002-03 season, but made only 6 starts (scoring 3 goals).

He finally secured a free transferred to First Division Bradford City to play alongside his old Everton mate, Danny Cadamarteri, where he scored 6 goals in 30 starts but, at the end of the 2004 season, he was given a free transfer to Chester City, newly promoted from the Conference to the Third Division of the Football League.  After a spell as captian, he reportedly walked out on the club in March 2006 following a 'disagreement' with new City boss Mark Wright, and being stripped of the captaincy.

 
 EVERTON CAREER STATISTICS
Season Squad
Number
League
Apps (sub)
League
Goals
Cup
Apps (sub)
Cup
Goals
TOTAL
Apps (sub)
TOTAL
Goals
1995-96 23 1 (2) - - (-) - 1 (2) -
1996-97 23 13 (12) 3 1 (1) - 14 (13) 3
1997-98 16 1 (5) - - (-) - 1 (5) -
1998-99 16 1 (6) - - (2) - 1 (8) -
1999-2k 31 - (-) - - (-) - - (-) -

Totals: 16 (25) 3 1 (3) - 17 (28) 3
Last update: 6 June 2004

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