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The Will to Win Off the Pitch

By Rob Vera :  23/07/2009 :  Comments (9) :
One of the defining characteristics of David Moyes and our team is the will to win. In almost any other sport, were you to take away the top two players, much less THREE of your most important players (Yak, Arteta, Jagielka), there would be a mental hurdle that most would find completely acceptable to trip over.

If we had finished the season on fumes and in ninth or tenth, I certainly would have pointed to injuries because at a certain point you can't remove that much elite talent (especially from a team in such short supply of what is often referred to as "quality") and expect to perform at the same level. However, on almost pure guts, heart, and will, our team finished 5th and made a nearly miraculous run to the FA Cup Final. This is a team that never allowed adversity to affect them and never made excuses — even if they had every right to make them.

So why does it seem that in every off-season our club always seems to find a reason... any reason to prolong talks with a possible transfer or to complicate the proceedings to such a degree that they almost always break down? Do not get me wrong, I understand that more money would solve a lot of problems, but seeing clubs like Aston Villa, Sunderland, Wigan and Hull City find a way to make deals whereas we seem to find a way to NOT make many deals in the face of logic and circumstance truly disturbs me.

Now I don't know if Kyle Naughton is worth the fuss. But did it really surprise any of us to have a bid ACCEPTED and have the player prefer us and STILL find a way to not make it happen? I'm sure Sheffield United played their part, but these kinds of things sure FEEL like they only happen to us.

There's an expression in American sport for when a team prevails in unlikely circumstances known as "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat". Doesn't anyone ever feel like we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the transfer market? We must have SOME money to have a bid accepted, so I don't want to hear that we don't have a pot to piss in. I'm just asking for reasonable activity.

There is nothing more frustrating than checking the unofficial mouthpiece of the club — the Liverpool Daily Post — and reading about the club once again "rubbishing reports" of yet another quality player linked to Everton — often quality players who come with a reasonable price tag (Lorik Cana, anyone?). Once again, I fear overly cautious policies will once again leave all the transfer work to the last minute and thus demand yet another Cinderella run from our team just to maintain our present status.

Loosen the bureaucracy just a bit, gentleman and just get... the deal... done. Pay a few pounds more, accept that you don't always get the exact to-the-letter deal you want, and focus on the bigger picture, which is moving the club forward. Our current players have earned it and our fans deserve it. We find a way to win on the pitch. Let's find a way to win more often off it.

Reader Comments

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Martin Hughes
1   Posted 24/07/2009 at 06:58:18

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Rob,

I totally agree with you about the time it takes from getting a fee agreed to the actual completed transfer of the player. Kyle Naughton I will be honest is a player I don't know about, was/is he good enough I don't know? But DM does know!

Maybe it was Everton who stalled, maybe Spurs could stump up the cash now (in full); Everton may have offered money in stages.

Is the supposed takeover (which has been denied and quite frankly I’ve heard enough and it will happen when and if it happens) had an affect on the board, Moyes and maybe just maybe Moyes could be looking at a greater/higher level of players!

In my view, DM and EFC should be signing players now, they are having a good pre-season (much better than last seasons fiasco, with DM delaying a contract etc), this would help players settle in more quickly.

I can't wait for the start of the season, I think we will be quick off the blocks, and I think with Saha, Jo, Yak, Big Vic and Vaughany the strikes force is settled as is the defence, we should be getting a couple of decent midfielders to create and another to anchor the defence (a younger Carsley). Also a new goalkeeper to put the pressure on Tim Howard.

I think EFC will do just as well this season as last, but to break into the top four — well I leave that to Man City. COYB
Tony Anetts
2   Posted 24/07/2009 at 07:24:55

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Mate, it’s not easy when you have no ready cash. Every time you negotiate you are seeking a hire purchase option. This means that you have little bargaining power, particularly if there is competition.

The harsh reality is that this is the harsh reality. We will seek to get players on payment over many year deals, with add-ons, performance payments, on-selling payments etc - anything to prolong the pain of payment.

Such is life. The aim must be to do this well and make fewer mistakes in the process than those around us.
Tim Veitch
3   Posted 24/07/2009 at 08:21:40

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I think we drive quite a hard bargain. In general, clubs who offer above the going rate will wrap up deals, as the seller will be keen to close the deal before the other party changes their mind!

I don’t think this is a bad thing. If you look at the amount we’ve spent on our players, its rare to find one where we’ve overpaid. But at the same time, this strategy means that deals can easily be gazumped by teams that are prepared to pay more than the player is worth.

I think the answer is patience. This strategy is ultimately the right one, given that money is not our strength. We just need to wait for the right deals to come along (as they inevitably do...Cahill, Arteta, Lescott, etc).

I suppose the difficulty, though, is that as we move up in the world, we’re looking to sign better quality players, and thus competing with the rich clubs for players...

The answer: more patience...buy the good players when they’re young!
Philip Rowe
4   Posted 24/07/2009 at 12:44:09

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It is suggested today thay Lorik Cana is going to Sunderland. Sunderland!! Doesn’t that tell you something? It is clear we don’t have any pot to pee in & that the offer to SWeds was derisory so they took a better one. Everton won’t sign anyone like Fellaini this year so let’s get used to it. Unless that is Shitee pay-up £20m+ for Lescott then we can buy a couple of young defenders & a midfielder. However, if we keep clear of injuries & when everyone is back fit we will be really difficult to beat. COYB
Andy Crooks
5   Posted 24/07/2009 at 12:45:35

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Tim, unfortunately I think it is no longer inevitable that the good players wiill come along. Also, Naughton is an example of failure to get a good young player. Our strategy, which has worked admirably, can’t go on forever. We need to invest, if the money isn’t there then we must sadly sell Lescott if he wants to go. Whatever must be done, let's do it quickly. Buying on the last day of the window shows desperation, not patience.
Tim Veitch
6   Posted 24/07/2009 at 15:05:30

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Yeah, I agree to an extent, Andy. Buying late, as we did last season, does show desperation. I think that has been the exception, rather than the rule, through most of Moyes’ tenure.

In general, I think it’s smart to buy when other people aren’t buying, or look in the places that other people aren’t looking. That’s when the "bargains" come along. Moyes very rarely goes for the players that everyone’s looking at, and I think that ultimately provides more value. Unfortunately, it seems that other clubs have cottoned onto this, and decided to just wait for Moyes to make a move, and then copy it! So, I’m not sure what the answer is! I hope it doesn’t mean selling Lescott, though...
Mike Oates
7   Posted 24/07/2009 at 17:51:21

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I think the problem we are now seeing is two fold . One is we do not have the cash available to compete with the real A grade players - by that I mean seasoned CL material , not only Top4 UK clubs but also Top 3 - 4 Country by Country European club players. Not only do we not have the cash to play there neither do Aston Villa, Spurs etc . Therefore these clubs are aimimg lower.

What this means is that we are aiming for Grade B players (Cana), or Lower Grade gems (Naughton,Elm) , who unfortunately want £40-80k a week , which again we cant afford. These players are the ones the likes of Aston Villa , Spurs , Sunderland have the cash to buy and in some cases like Spurs are also willing to pay the salaries if need be to get them, something I think Everton , Villa and Sunderland wont.

Moyes knows this and he can only build a team from youth upwards .
We unfortunately cant compete even with the likes of Spurs, Villa Sunderland et al in the transfer market or salary league.

I can only see one outcome - we will ultimately loose our better players over the next few years - Arteta,Yakubu,Lescott, Jags , Rodwell, Pinnear and possibly Baxter.
Timmy Mongiat
8   Posted 25/07/2009 at 14:13:19

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Firstly relax guys. Every season there’s been players ’we’ should have got, and the obligatory posts regarding our failures. Players like Forsell, savage etc who havent exactly turned out great. Alot of the players flying around this window are just rumours, just because a paper/player says we are interested doesn’t mean we are. There’s alot of cases were agents will offer players, or stories are just constructed because they make sense. The fact is that we definitely want/wanted three players this window. We wanted Naugton(the deal with walker was worth over 8mil so we’ve got a little bit of money) but he chose spurs. It could have been money, it could have been the lure of London, it could have been all manner of reasons but the reason the deal took so long was because of Tottenham’s and Sheffield United’s conduct not ours. We want Elm. He is a fantastic talent and prospect and there is alot of interest but Kalmar needed him for their recent champions league qualifier so he wasn’t going anywhere last week. But I’m sure if Moyes think he is good enough he will make a bid. We also wanted Defour, like Elm he is a young midfielder of immense talent, probaly on a higher level than Elm, but Standard Liege will want a fee of 13-15million, so Moyes will only go in for him, depending on the success of other proposed transfers.
The fact is that we haven’t got loads of money, and I would rather see Moyes take his time than rush a deal. He has picked up so many gems at various stages of the transfer windows, Jags, Lescott, Baines, Arteta, Pienarr, Cahill etc. We need to have faith. And with respect to our rivals, sure Manchester city have spent, but they have an bottomless pot of gold and are not comparable to the normal football team. However, our nearest rivals last season, Aston Villa, have lost two of their most influential players in Laursen to retirement and Barry to Man city, they’ve also lost yet another defender in Knight to Bolton. The only player they’ve signed so far is Stewart Downing, a player who is out injured until december and plays in the game position as their best player, Ashley Young. Spurs so far have added two unproven youth right backs, despite having three senior right backs at the club. Fulham have added Risse, an unproven midfielder in the prem and West ham have added no one of note. And with respect to the top four, the premiership Champions have lost their best player in Ronaldo and an exceptional talent in Tevez and have replaced them with an injury prone Owen and Valencia, who is not worth half of his price tag. Liverpool have added a rightback, Chelski have added a young striker, a reserve goalie (due to him being english) and one exceptional player in Zhirkov. Arsenal have added an unproven centre defender and have lost their best goal scorer to Man city.
A multitude of clubs haven’t been spending. Three of the other top six have lost key players. There is no need to panic, we are in a recession, that should be considered, and if it wasn’t for Manchester city and Madrid, this summer would have been one of the quietist for a very long time. But we have added Jo, a top quality striker, we’ve added a couple of extremely highly rated youth players and Moyes will no doubt add a rightback, another midfielder and central defensive cover before the window closes. But have patience.
Derek Thomas
9   Posted 26/07/2009 at 06:15:13

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One of the main reasons that Hull, S’land, Wigan and others are out bidding us is the fact that they are ’new’ to the debt-yourself-up-to-the eyeballs lark. Whereas BK has mortgaged all we possess, maxed out the Visa at the bank as well as maybe stashing away cash towards DK. Give them a few years and they will be just the same... or maybe they won’t seeing as they don’t have, as yet, a set of muppets running the financial side.

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