Tony Thomas is a lifelong Evertonian who has spent his entire playing career
on Merseyside, until recently with Tranmere Rovers. Seen as an odd purchase
by Howard Kendall his fourth since returning for his third managerial
spell Thomas was expected to increase competition for a critical
right-back spot that was firmly held by Earl
Barrett during Joe Royle's tenure.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this new acquisition is what it
meant for Jon O'Connor, a player of tremendous
talent and skill who found it impossible to force his way into the first-team
line-up, and was eventually sold to Sheffield United.
did not start too well for Thomas, who was subbed at half-time in his debut
match, with Kendall later admitting it was a mistake to play him so early.
As the season has progressed, Tony found it hard to put together a decent
run of matches. The one to suffer from his absence was perhaps
Duncan Ferguson. Thomas had sent in some excellent
crosses that Big Dunc converted three in just six games ain't
bad! But injury problems made it a stop-start first season at Goodison Park for
one of Prenton Park's finest, and the arrival of Walter Smith meant an uncertain
future for Thomas as one of Howard Kendall's marginal signings. And the signing
of Alex Cleland hardly helped his cause.
He got a brief run-out against
Nottingham Forest, but
was given no real chance to prove himself, especially as Walter Smith abandoned
the whole idea of playing conventional full-backs. Walter prefers instead
to populate the back line with four or five centre-backs. Tony Thomas's
stop-start move to Motherwell must have come as a fait accompli
for this lifelong blue who was forced to bid farewell to the club he loved.