Ian Mills gives us a pre-season report from Bellefield

 Royal Blue Mersey

The pre-season to date has been dull.  With the exception of Alan Stubbs (a true blue who has finally completed his dream move) who is a tough tacking center back.  We haven't had much to smile about.  Even the Tomas Radzinski signing hasn't got us jumping out of our seats.  A foreigner who no one has ever really heard of for 4.5M?  I think we learnt our lesson with Nyarko and Bakayoko: we all thought we had signed quality when we had signed useless no-passion players.  I think we are all hoping he is as fast as they tell us, and he scores as many goals as they tell us, but until a few weeks, we'll just have to hope.

Daniel Prodan, who spent 24 months at Rangers carrying an injury, is also being given a blue shirt by his ex-boss Walter Smith.  It seems too good to be true that a fully fit International captain is on a free transfer; it sounds more like a semi-fit former international captain to me.

The goalkeeping situation is not helping either.  I think signing Magnus Hedman would be a good deal, but having four keepers on our books will be ridiculous.  Thomas Myhre seems to be only attracting loan deals and, with two years left on his contract, I think we will accept a knock down fee for him after Christmas.  Steve Simonsen, however, I think should stay; if he has impressed enough at Tranmere then what harm would there by in sending him back down their for a season?  He is only 22 and in a year's time after a few loan deals, I think he could be a good man to have around.

On Wednesday I was at Bellefield and particularly looking forward to speaking to Michael Ball, and what happened?  He was first out.  He stopped and signed everyone's autographs and I asked him as many questions as possible. I  asked him why he said no to 20,000 a week, I pointed out that every Evertonian would play for Everton for free.  He asked me who said he turned down 20 grand, my reply was the press.  He laughed and said they also said I wanted 30 grand a week.  He asked me to answer him this, "Why would I turn down 20 grand a week" before he said his goodbyes and went.  This left me thinking, did the club offer him 20 grand, or were they bluffing?  Someone here ain't telling the truth!

No one else really said anything important on Wednesday; David Weir said he doesn't know whether he'll be captain; Stubbs and Radzinski said they are happy etc, but David Unsworth said something that shocked me.

"Are you staying Dave?"

"It doesn't look like it mate!" He replied, before he dialed someone on his phone (maybe so he didn't have to speak to us).

Duncan and Gazza both looked good.  On Thursday we could watch them train and Duncan scored a a beautiful right-footed half-volley; Gazza was looking really good.  In fact, both look very fit. 

Idan Tal is out of tomorrow's game at Preston and maybe Wednesday's game with Burnley; he has hurt his groin.  Abel Xavier is also out, but he said he could feature in pre-season games at some stage.

Bally said he hopes to stay, blah blah blah yesterday, nothing we ain't already heard, and then Walter came out!  YES!  I was going to ask everything!!!

"Why didn't you offer Michael Ball a better contract when you offered Jeffers a stupid one?"  Walter laughs but doesn't reply.

"Do you think he'll stay?"  "Hopefully," says Walter...  Suddenly he was gone.  With people still waiting for autographs, he just drove off.

Mark Pembridge is also injured, but he said he will hopefully be ok for the start of the season.

Anyway, that's it from Bellefield!

Take Care and I'll see you tomorrow at Deepdale!

Ian Mills

27 July 2001


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