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The Dead Zone

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  24/06/2013

In what is a very long summer without a major international tournament to help break up the football-less monotony, the release of the fixture list is a milestone that helps foster that feeling that a new season beckons, even if it is still two months away.

I'm probably not alone in always being a bit torn about what I want from Everton's first game. A home fixture offers the better chance of getting the season started with three points but winning away from home on the opening day is a massive boost.

Similarly, being paired with one of the teams expected to challenge for the title, as was the case against Manchester United last August, presents an equally exciting opportunity to hit the ground running and signal our intent to the rest of the division.

An away game at Norwich is certainly a winnable one for Roberto Martinez in his first game in charge, though, irrespective of the Blues' less-than-stellar record against the Canaries over the past couple of seasons, and it would be a huge fillip to come back to Goodison Park the following Saturday with a win already in the bag.

Indeed, while it's hard to know at this stage how much continuity there will be in the squad under new management and, hopefully, on the back of some new arrivals between now and the big kick-off, a club with aspirations of improving on 6th place should surely regard the first three games the Blues have been handed – against Norwich, WBA and Cardiff – as a very inviting launchpad for 2013-14.

Those two months between now and mid-August feel a long way away, though, while things remain so quiet on the transfer front at Goodison and it will be hard to feel any real excitement about the new campaign until Martinez has started adding to the squad he has inherited. Certainly the feeling that our rivals are leaving us behind won't be eased until the first acquisition has been unveiled holding a scarf aloft at Finch Farm or Goodison Park and you can start thinking, perhaps, about an optimistic bet on Everton for next season.

With the departure of Phil Neville, Jan Mucha and Thomas Hitzlsperger, Martinez's is a team that will be three players lighter by the time the first players return to Finch Farm in a couple of weeks' time and the more glaring inadequacies – most notably, up front – still need to be addressed. There is time for that, of course, and the wheels are no doubt turning behind the scenes but, while our neighbours across the Park have already signed two players, things appear to be eerily silent at Everton.

That is understandable given that we're in the post-season dead zone between the end of the previous season and pre-season training; that period in June when many managers together with those players not involved in international tournaments are on holiday.

The biggest story in Everton's summer could yet be Marouane Fellaini. The press speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal has ramped up again after a brief lull but if the initial push was being driven by either the player's agent or his ambitious father in an attempt to start a bidding war, it doesn't appear to have worked thus far. Arsenal remain the leading suitor where media talk is concerned, chatter that made the leap from the "in the knows" on Twitter and gossip websites to the Liverpool Daily Post on Friday. He is 4/9 to move to the Emirates and as far out at 9/1 to move to Chelsea with some oddsmakers – check out bookie reviews if you're inclined to lay money on the big Fella's future!

We've been here before, of course, with Leighton Baines and nothing ever came of it but you get the feeling that the Belgian and the England's best left back are very different kettles of fish from each other.

Fellaini has made no bones about his Champions League aspirations and went as far as to say a few months back that he could leave this summer if Everton didn't qualify for the Champions League. He is still early in his contract and has made noises about being happy at Goodison but his father is clearly keen on him fulfilling that particular dream, of course, and it's a fair bet that if his release clause was triggered, he would probably be off... perhaps if he wanted it or not.

There seems to be a feeling among Everton fans, too, that, despite his undoubted importance to the team – he was top scorer last season, after all – that ~£25m release clause makes him the most saleable asset on the books and the prospect of Martinez's transfer kitty getting a significant boost from his sale would be a comfortable trade-off. More so if the manager can bring in four or five well-selected and well-priced players to help bolster that small squad.

There's also the not insignificant damage done to his rapport with many Evertonians by the startlingly poor attitude Fellaini showed in the cup debacle against Wigan. He atoned for it, of course, in the following game against Manchester City but there has always been a nagging inconsistency about him and all of these small elements combine together to help justify in the Evertonian mind the departure from the team of one of the Blues' best players. Time will, of course, tell if that happens.

Reader Comments

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Derek Thomas
865 Posted 24/06/2013 at 08:51:20
Fellaini: Short version; Show...Me...The... MONEY.
Richard Dodd
870 Posted 24/06/2013 at 09:04:34
I read that yesterday the number of signings by Premier League clubs passed the 40 mark although many of those appear to be in the 'making up the numbers' category.

The mere fact of a manager change will not have made any difference to Everton finances given that all the players released – and the departing manager – will not be off the payroll until June is out so money will remain tight.

Kenwright is said to have assured Roberto that "money will be made available" but I don`t think we should get too excited until that £25M is in the bank for Fellaini. If that sale is delayed, or never happens, I suspect £10M will be the absolute limit of our July dealings and I may be being unduly optimistic with that figure!

The 31st of August may be when we shall see the real action – if at all!

Jon Withey
871 Posted 24/06/2013 at 09:24:39
Fellaini top-scorer says it all - his importance to the current team; Our lack of striking options.

I'd rather not see him go for those reasons. Better if Martinez could add some Wigan-style bargains to what we've got.

But...we could start getting those bargains now...

To be fair, imagine starting a job and being expected to change the whole company within your first month, not trivial !

Paul Andrews
872 Posted 24/06/2013 at 09:45:14
Lyndon,

You can add the club to the list of people advertising and pushing the move. It makes sense to me to sell him. As you say,he is inconsistent. On his day, he is unplayable; unfortunately his day only happens every 4-5 games.

James McPherson
874 Posted 24/06/2013 at 10:07:35
Lyndon,

Many Everton fans I speak to are completely underwhelmed by the appointment of Martinez.

Sure we will get behind him - but that's more to do with EFC being bigger and more important than any given individual.

Martinez's appointment will not clear the lethargy and perpetual air of resignation that hangs over the club like a toxic cloud.

The "Dead Zone" as you name it is apt - the club is indeed "dead" under the present regime.

Aspiration and hope is not to be encouraged. I think of that great film Shawshank Redemption - Morgan Freeman's immortal line - "Hope is a dangerous thing" - with EFC best not go there,

The club did not get rid of that motto without some reason....

Andrew Ellams
876 Posted 24/06/2013 at 10:25:02
Jon @ 871, we had a new CEO start where I work in December with the remit of sort out the previous guy's mess and be ruthless in doing so.

If Roberto comes even close to how ruthless this guy was in Jan and Feb, we are in for an interesting few weeks...

Tony Pickering
877 Posted 24/06/2013 at 10:34:35
Good point Andrew (876). However, many people - including Blue Bill - most certainly doesn't think there is any mess to sort out. Hence I reckon Roberto's remit will to to go on as before maybe adding a bit more attacking brio to the team in an attempt to improve on last year's efforts.

Richard Dodd
878 Posted 24/06/2013 at 10:38:37
.....baby out with the bath water, eh Andrew?

Not called for here, I think!

Richard Dodd
879 Posted 24/06/2013 at 10:42:46
Teamwise, I meant!
Kieran Fitzgerald
886 Posted 24/06/2013 at 11:55:35
Right now, I think that our attitude going into the season is more important than what the squad will look like. Momentum is a great thing once you have it. We have a very decent spread of fixtures and if we win the first three games then this could more than make up for what may be another poor transfer window. Right now we have no guarantees that Martinez will get either a decent transfer kitty or the players he thinks we need.

If we make a couple of decent signings, and only lose one star player, then this gives us all the more reason to go for it at the start of the season. The new players will feel part of the squad a lot quicker if they're part of a winning team. A new style of play implemented by a new manager will make a lot more sense to the Moyes era players if they're winning games with it. They will warm to the manager and the style of play a lot quicker.

A winning start to the season for Martinez will give him breathing space and will get Goodison behind him and the team. Goodison when it's fired up really is the perfect example of the twelfth man.

With Fellaini, part of me is really hoping that we sell him. It will give Martinez the chance to make his mark and will give the squad the chance to push on from last season. Most of all, it will give everyone the chance to have a fresh start within a new era for the club.

James McPherson
893 Posted 24/06/2013 at 12:36:38
Andrew (876)The appointment of Martinez was geared towards maintaining the status quo. It was lazy and unimaginative in that regard.

Kenwright wants nothing other than a patsy.

Providing a route out for Martinez from the Championship (the sole route out, who else was there?) will deliver to Kenwright all the supine compliance he needs to continue to maintain his "status" at the helm.

Andrew Ellams
895 Posted 24/06/2013 at 12:47:54
I have a hunch that IF the Fellaini sale goes through we may well see several new faces this summer to enable the new manager to implement his style of play on the squad followed by some tinkering over the next couple of years to replace some of the older squad members.
Peter Laing
898 Posted 24/06/2013 at 12:58:31
The players report back for pre-season training on the 2nd of July and I would expect that is when Martinez fully takes over the reigns at Finch Farm.

The much more pressing issue in my opinion is whether discussions have been taking place over the past couple of weeks between Elstone and Kenwright as to how Martinez is going to be supported in the transfer market. My hunch is that these discussions haven't taken place and the Club will continue with its policy of waiting on player trading, ie, the sale of Fellaini before Martinez gets any money.

The Club will try its best to spin the 'dawn of a new era' twaddle but deep down we all know that nothing will change until the present failure of a board are removed from their duties.

Kevin Tully
905 Posted 24/06/2013 at 13:17:22
Hold on, shouldn't we have at least £25m to start with, before player trading?

£15m from new TV deal.

£8.5m Fer transfer money

£2m saved form DM's Wages.

£2m saved from Neville's wages

£1m from Mucha's wages.

That leaves a few bob for whoever is creaming it in the BVI as well.

Andrew Ellams
907 Posted 24/06/2013 at 13:28:22
If only Kevin, especially as you can add Hitzlespergers wages into that too.

Tom Owen
910 Posted 24/06/2013 at 14:11:52
Kevin
Perhaps someone will ask Billy liar at the meeting? Hey Bill where has all the money gone? And how come you are here tonight when you told us you looking for new investment 24/7!
Tony Marsh
912 Posted 24/06/2013 at 14:24:50
James @ 893 — how is Roberto Martinez a Yes-man? The lad hasn't had time to stick his coat on the back of his chair and he is getting slammed by fans like you. Moyes was the biggest yes man on the planet yet the likes of yourself and his followers gave him 11 years worth of second chances. There has never been a more negative, dour, uninspiring, defence-minded manager in the whole of the Premier League and he was treated like a God.

I am so made up RM is in and Weepy Bill's Lapdog has fucked off... FFS give Martinez at least 6 months before you stick the boot in. Maybe if RM fails we can get Moyes on the re-bound because that joker won't be at Old Trafford very long. Then chumps like you who still whinge over Deadly Dave can return to the dark ages of hoofball and shithouse tactics...

I despair, I really do.

Kevin Tully
913 Posted 24/06/2013 at 14:50:33
Tom - 99.5p in the £ goes towards lawn mowers and badge designers, but it's understandable because they are Flymo's!

Patrick Murphy
917 Posted 24/06/2013 at 15:06:16
Ah but Kevin they are a super special type of Flymo that makes the grass seem greener on the other side for those who have ambition.
Jim Harrison
920 Posted 24/06/2013 at 15:10:09
Flymos proved too expensive. I believe the mowers are now purchased from Aldi during their end of season seconds sale, brand unknown.
Phil Martin
921 Posted 24/06/2013 at 15:08:01
The "Deadzone" is a perfect description for our current plight.

It could be worse though. We might have got bought out by one of those billionaire oil/gas barons and had to suffer the indignity of returning to the elite of British football.

Can you imagine the shame in signing world class players and winning trophies?

I shiver at the thought of those worldy talented players wearing our blue jersey at a modern world class Everton Stadium.

Smashing commerical records and bringing in massive merchanidsing deals. Why would we want that?

At least we have Bill and his clearly communicated masterplan.

Be careful what you wish for folks!

Mark Frere
923 Posted 24/06/2013 at 14:54:17
James (893)

The appointment of Martinez was pretty damn imaginative as far as this board are concerned, I was expecting some kind of Moyes clone type of a manager, someone the board would see as a safe pair of hands.

Martinez is everything Moyes wasn't, there's much more flamboyance to Matinez's personality and how his teams play. Weather this will be a good thing remains to be seen, but lets not judge him before a ball is even kicked.

At least this shambles of a board have taken a little risk on appointing a different kind of manager, with a total different philosophy.

James McPherson
950 Posted 24/06/2013 at 16:24:30
Tony (912) - good to hear from you. My earlier mail did state that even holding the opinion I do I will get behind Martinez.

I have made no comment on Moyes. So what you suggest is 2 + 2 = 5. I happen to share your view on Moyes.

It is Kenwright who is determining that any manager will be a yes man - else with all the documented evidence about our parlous state of affairs, why would any manager touch us?

This has mutual convenience written all over it - much as it did with Moyes latter years.

Daniel Airey
988 Posted 24/06/2013 at 17:22:32
Just from my viewpoint, I am happy with Martinez. Not the most exciting appointment, but the best one from the realistic contenders.

Wigan had multiple weaknesses under his management, as is obvious by their league placing. However, I saw them on many occasions outplay teams, including those in the top 6, and including us. The FA Cup Quarterfinal defeat to them felt to me like pay back for a number of games where we were lucky to win.

Wigan's obvious failing was their defence; however, many of the games I saw them lose were down to them not having someone to score the goals when they were on top.

I am excited by the fact that we will play the top teams with an attacking frame of mind. And, while I am a big fan of Moyes, I think Goodison's atmosphere will really benefit from this. We have become accustomed to either a 'backs to the wall' performance against the rich boys, or struggling to beat the rest.

I believe, as we do not have the cash to invest in the best players, we had to change the way we play as we had hit the ceiling with Moyes's tactics. A more attacking outlook means we can win more games.

It could work out the other way, and we become too open and lose the games we drew this season. But I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

In terms of the transfers, I am already becoming impatient but that's mainly due to those lot across the park and Villa/ Southampton. Of course he needs to meet with the squad first, I just don't want us left behind.

The Fellaini situation needs sorting in the next 2 weeks. I think he is a great player, but we will survive without him and can spend the money wisely. When he payed behind Jelavic, he didn't really affect games bar his goals and they may have come at the expense of Jelavic.

Here's hoping to an exciting first signing!

Steve Guy
995 Posted 24/06/2013 at 17:52:54
I agree with Tony M. Give him until after Christmas (2013!!).
Phil Walling
016 Posted 24/06/2013 at 18:57:55
Phil @921: And we might have got bought by one of those chicken pluckers and be up to our ears in their shit rather than to the waist as we are.
Much more likely than oil barons, I think!
Ross Edwards
574 Posted 26/06/2013 at 19:53:20
Mark, it isn't unimaginative. If it was someone like McClaren or Owen Coyle then I'd be underwhelmed.

Do you seriously think Periera or Bielsa or whoever else we suggested on here would have considered coming to Everton?

Mark Frere
580 Posted 26/06/2013 at 20:02:09
What are you talking about Ross?
Ross Edwards
584 Posted 26/06/2013 at 20:17:05
Sorry Mark, I must have misread your post. Ignore what I said.
Phil Sammon
586 Posted 26/06/2013 at 20:19:29
You should save that phrase as a template, Ross.
Ross Edwards
588 Posted 26/06/2013 at 20:21:33
Ha ha ha, very funny Phil. I know when I'm ignored.
Alan Ross
861 Posted 29/06/2013 at 21:54:56
The one thing I will be looking forward to each week is the after match media interview. At least Martinez is more coherent than the dour one.

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