Among the many unfinished articles that litter my hard drive, thoughts not completed by the point they are rendered “old news” by the passage of too much time, is a piece in response to the ludicrous furore that erupted from some quarters last December – i.e. back when we were a couple of points off the top of the table and flying – around the “unfairness” of Everton’s loan players.

Predictably, the clamour against this affront to football died down as the Blues fell away from the Champions League race, only to be revived this week by an article in Metro by Newcastle United fan, Paul Mannion – Why Everton are out of order for signing so many loan players – in which he bleats:

A third of Everton’s starting line-up were on-loan players from the world’s elite clubs and their whole team is built around them.

The victory wasn’t exclusively down to these three starters but they all played a huge part in the win and almost certainly made the difference on the night. Other clubs have players on loan, Newcastle included, but none have had greater impact than at Everton.

The Football Association need to address the Premier League loan system to stop it having an adverse affect on the table.

It's hard to know where to start, really, but the hyperbolic reference to "so many" loan players in his title followed by the mathematically-challenged assertion that "[a] third" of our starting line-up on Tuesday evening were loan players are as good a place as any.

Everton have four players in total signed on loan – one of them, Lacina Traore, has played just 60 minutes of football for us – and they were not acquired through any massive or unfair advantage over any of our peers in the top half of the table – unless, of course, you count Roberto Martinez himself and maybe, because he's stuck with Alan Pardew, Mr Mannion does!

The opportunity to loan as many – or more! – players or to sign players on loan of the quality of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu was open to every club in the Premier League, not just Everton, and, obviously, it's always been that way. Martinez merely played perhaps the most astute hand in the loan market last summer and used his reputation and powers of persuasion to bring them to Goodison. The fact that Everton were better placed than most to offer those players a crack at qualifying for the Champions League no doubt also played its part.

Of course, no one was complaining when David Moyes was unleashing Royston Drenthe and Denis Stracqualursi on our top-flight rivals; it's only now that we have augmented our best side in a generation with three top-class players borrowed from other clubs that people are, somewhat comically, making a fuss.

Nor is anyone taking into account the fact that merely acquiring good players is no guarantee of a great team. Just ask Tottenham Hotspur who have splashed around a £100m on new signings in the past year and are no nearer to cracking the top four again than they were last season. They've sacked their manager in the interim and who would be surprised if his replacement, Tim Sherwood, doesn't make it to the start of the next season?

Lukaku may have scored 17 goals for West Brom last season but Martinez is the one who had to transform him into a regular starter, capable of lasting and influencing matches for 90 minutes.

Gareth Barry looked destined to rot on the bench at the Etihad Stadium this season before Everton stepped in on transfer deadline day because few other managers seemed to have Martinez's foresight to grab him. And then pair him with the perfect partner in James McCarthy.

And anyone who saw photographs of the manager talking earnestly with then 19 year-old Deulofeu in the bowels of Sun Life Stadium in Miami after his frustrating outing against Valencia last August or who has witnessed his arm-throwing tantrums on the pitch when things haven't gone his way at times this season will know that the temperamental Spaniard clearly needs leadership and arm-around-the-shoulder guidance from the right kind of man.

There is also a delicious irony in Mr Mannion's article: Newcastle's top scorer this season is Loic Remy, a player on loan at St James' Park for the season from Queens Park Rangers, and I'm assuming he hasn't asked himself how much further off the top seven the Barcodes might currently be without his 13 goals.

What he and his ilk don't address, though, as they moan about our loan stars are the four 800lb gorillas currently occupying the English Premier League's Champions League-qualification places, four clubs whose Nett spend for the past 10 years is north of £773 more than all of the rest of the top flight teams combined. If it's unfairness you're looking for, it exists in the top four on a scale that utterly dwarfs Everton and their three loanees.

Because it's the obscene wealth at the disposal of Manchester City and Chelsea that made players of the calibre of Barry and Lukaku surplus to requirements, available for loan in the first place, and has pushed up transfer prices to uncomfortable or unreachable levels for teams like Everton with significantly smaller budgets. To put things in perspective, Chelsea have a total of 27 players out on loan this season... more players than our entire senior squad.

At the end of the day, the game is changing and player loyalty is not what it used to be. As Martinez is showing, he views football as much more of a game of shrewd squad-management, that the long-term ownership of players is becoming less and important in the modern game and that targeted loan acquisitions are a vital weapon in his arsenal.

While the super-rich clubs can go out and plug holes in their team at will, almost regardless of cost, teams like Everton have to work every angle to remain competitive and keep on their coat tails, waiting for the day they can gatecrash the top-four party and begin to elbow their way into that exclusive elite on a permanent basis.

Rather than complaining about the success of Martinez's strategy, fans of our peer clubs trying to break the hegemony of the six richest teams in the division should be applauding his efforts and then imploring their own clubs to emulate him.

There's the rub, though – it could well be that it is the managerial prowess of Martinez and not merely the power of the astute loan signing that is Everton's real secret.

Addendum

I should add a qualifier that I forgot to add regarding the "unfairness" of the lopsided nature of the top of the Premier League where financial resources are concerned.

The speed with which they were transformed and the staggering financial might they were given obviously makes City and Chelsea the real boogie men of this argument.

I would argue, however, that Manchester United, though fortunate to time their ascendency with Sky's invention of football in 1992, and Arsenal have actually gone about their amassing of wealth in the right way to a degree – incrementally and (mostly) sensibly. The Glazers' methods obviously leave a lot to be desired but United were always going to be a behemoth of the modern era.

Similarly, though benefitting from wealthy backers, Arsenal command a degree of respect for the way that have gone about things, particularly with regard to the Emirates Stadium.

Still, it's the constant fuel to their power and the perpetuation of the exclusivity of their club provided by the millions on offer each season in the Champions League that has widened the gap between them and the rest of us.

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Brian Hill
567 Posted 28/03/2014 at 06:10:58
Typical Barcode stupidity. Their "big club" delusion knows no bounds so it must be torture to witness their team, which operates "in a different league to Everton", being outclassed in every area of the game by plucky little Everton. If they have a problem with the loan system then lobby the Premier League to change it rather than whine about a club that utilises it much better than their own.
Terence Leong
580 Posted 28/03/2014 at 07:59:26
Yes, I agree. Post it where people can see through the myth generated by such "sour grapes".
Tommy Coleman
582 Posted 28/03/2014 at 08:12:13
The message? You can have loan players as long as you don't become more successful than us.

Jelously and hypocrisy. God knows what they'll say if we get into the Champions League.

Gavin Ramejkis
585 Posted 28/03/2014 at 08:21:39
A published response in the original rag the Metro would be a good idea.
Patrick Murphy
588 Posted 28/03/2014 at 08:27:59
I honestly don’t know where these people get their ideas from. I am dead against the loan system and think that it’s bad for the game as it is really a way of the rich clubs to farm out their big squads but there is no reason why clubs like Everton shouldn’t take advantage of the system as it stands. If Wenger or Moyes or indeed any other club had used the system there wouldn’t have been a host of critics lining up to moan, in fact they would have been lining up to praise them for their savvy.

But I do worry about the game as a whole when Richard Scudamore the Chief Executive of the Premier League states that Manchester United’s poor season adversely affects the worldwide brand of English Football’s top-flight.

Is this the reason officials seem to favour some clubs over others? Unwritten Law 99 of the officials rules must be "Do not let our major clubs down as they enhance the PL brand - we don’t want rag-tag poor clubs representing the English game in the Champions League as it would devalue the Premier League brand.

Cone on Roberto get the lads into the CL - I’d quite enjoy the PL brand being tainted by a successful Everton team.

Peter Murray
593 Posted 28/03/2014 at 08:51:32
Basically a complaint that Everton's loan players are better than Newcastle's.... And whether a player is loan or permanent, it still requires managerial talent to get the best out of him.
Mark Johnson
599 Posted 28/03/2014 at 07:52:31
What needs to happen to make it more even for the poorer teams is a cap on how much you can spend in the transfer market say the max could be £30 million over the course of the season. That way it would bring the price of players down I reckon anyway.

Nice article, Lyndon.

Ajay Gopal
601 Posted 28/03/2014 at 09:14:08
I read that article, Lyndon, because the link was streaming across the top of the TW page, and I couldn't believe it! Perhaps, we shouldn't get too worked up over it - after all, it was written by a Barcodes fan! If it had been by a mainstream journalist, that would have been a different matter.
Dave Lynch
602 Posted 28/03/2014 at 09:17:21
Anybody who thinks the FA don’t favour the big 4/5 is just plain naive. It is no coincidence they get the majority of the big decisions in important matches and the likes of Clattenburg have for me at least bore this out.

As for Newcastle? Deluded fans and club who lets face it, for a one-city club have been rubbish for virtually their whole history.

Thomas Lennon
607 Posted 28/03/2014 at 09:25:12
Good point Patrick.
There is now apparently a collective need for several parties to 'look after' the clubs that bring in the most money to the Premier League.

Referee's are rarely criticised for a decision in favour of a big club, often the excuse being 'who wins penalties at Anfield/OT?" etc.

Smaller clubs tend to have a mentality that they must defend against big clubs, invariably leading to a defeat. But then defeat was expected, a draw hoped for. Why? If everyone starts to beat a big club alarm bells ring, funding may fall.

Great players want to move to a 'big club' as they expect them to win. The new (FA?) funding rules 'lock in' success for those who already have large turnovers. Sky are dependent on the vast majority of fans from big clubs paying for their subscriptions. They talk up the big clubs. BBC less so? The Premier League need the big clubs to do well to sell their product worldwide – they sell elitism.

Everyone from players to management to broadcasting to the people running the game and league have financial vested interest in the status quo and it is reinforced at multiple levels in the game. Some of my points above are probably just perceived bias but with this comment by Scudamore we may begin to wonder just how many are unfounded.

Russ Quinlan
622 Posted 28/03/2014 at 10:25:41
The above point about referees bias towards the rich clubs was borne out again in the Arsenal v Swansea game, can anyone see the referee blowing up for full time if the Arse were breaking away in the last minute like Swansea were? Now wonder they were pissed off, that one incident proves the point.
Steve Guy
625 Posted 28/03/2014 at 10:33:29
Exactly my view, Lyndon. When it was an issue last December I saw it as sour grapes. We had simply played the system superbly. For a Barcodes fan to now kick off is hilarious: delusion and ignorance combined, no change there from the loveable Toon Army.

If we do get CL (and I still see it as a massive ask) you can bet this issue will raise its head again. I hope it does because (a) we will be in the CL! and (b) we can grin patronisingly at all comers with two fingers firmly stuck in their direction.

Tony Draper
629 Posted 28/03/2014 at 09:55:17
The truth is that the "Simplistic View" is followed by people who do NOT understand the sport of football but DO earn their living from it... indirectly (i.e. parasites).

TV especially traditionally works upon a high proportion of contract and freelance workers, people who are considered only as useful as their last contribution and the viewing figures of that project. Consequently, these short

-termers, with a pre-loaded mindset, only back racing certainties and ignore the likelihood of some gatecrasher upsetting the applecart.

However; the Premier League "untouchables" themselves are only as good as the last visit of the engraver. Where were Chelsea & Man City in the ranks of the "untouchables" when the Premiership was inaugurated? By NO MEANS were they considered as even pretenders to the throne.

And in that same period, where have Blackburn Rovers & Leeds United gone? Were they not both successful and powerful when the PL began?

I seriously believe that efforts are made to ensure that the income streams are maintained by ensuring that the biggest box office attractions are well cared for. But this season MIGHT JUST create a shift in thinking, because the additional funds to more clubs has arguably produced the most captivating PL season so far. Additionally, the most successful manager ever has retired and long lost skills are required in his place.

The PL is a "Soap Opera" and has never had so many or more fascinating storylines. Hopefully this "Soap Opera" mentality may just permeate into the fabric and culture of how the game is assisted as a consequence.

(Footnote: I won't be holding my breath on this possibility)

Tony Draper
630 Posted 28/03/2014 at 11:14:49
Additional Comment

Perhaps by limiting the number of players that a club is allowed to both register overall and to loan out then the ludicrous figure of Chelski's 27 out on loan would reduce transfer fees and increase competition.

A good parallel would be the NFL rules, where it was decided that having a few "franchises" continually monopolisng would not be good for business overall.

Paul Thompson
641 Posted 28/03/2014 at 11:59:11
My first reaction to the Metro piece was 'crying delusional Geordie (supply own term)'.

Then I thought I'd take a look at their TW equivalent (NUFC) and see what the fans are saying. A couple did make a point about the loans, but the overwhelming majority either bemoaned how shit they were or how good Everton is.

The most perceptive comment in relation to complains about loans was:

'Not sure. Deulofeu is class, but they have been just as effective when he was out injured and when he wasn't playing as much earlier in the season. Lukaku is quality and Barry has been solid for them. But I don't see any reason why they won't bring in some more loan stars or even sign a couple of decent replacements. They must be quite an attractive proposition for clubs wanting to loan players. They play the right way, they'll be in Europe and Martinez is a good manager that will probably aid their player's development.'

I thought ToffeeWebbers might enjoy the following:

'Its quite sad to see an Everton side who were so robotic under Moyes playing flowing football with plenty of movement and everyone knowing what there job in the team is, Martinez is a manager who plays the best way with the players he has.'

But before the old MOB goes into raptures, try these three as well:

'You are missing the most important aspect of the comparison; Bill Kenwright loves, lives and breathes for Everton FC, he puts as much emphasis on success on the field as he does off it, within his means. Mike Ashley could not care less about the prestige or success of NUFC on the pitch, he is only interested in making money, or so it seems'.

'Martinez has walked into a brilliant set up, with people who care about the club'.

'Yes well run good manager and play attractive football it's certainly not us!'

Happy days.

Kris Boner
642 Posted 28/03/2014 at 12:08:15
Has anyone seen the response article though, also on the Metro. I skimmed this thread from top to bottom and it didn't just out so I thought I would link it.

http://metro.co.uk/2014/03/28/newcastle-fans-should-concentrate-on-their-own-team-instead-of-moaning-about-everton-4681129/

Mike Gaynes
651 Posted 28/03/2014 at 13:13:16
It's funny how such a ridiculous piece of writing as the Mannion article could trigger such a thoughtful discussion of the loan issue.

Lyndon, I'm not sure I would necessarily agree that "player loyalty is not what it used to be"... particularly in light of the explosive growth of the financial unfairness you accurately point out. The rich have always gotten richer, but the lopsidedness has grown exponentially in this new era of megabillionaire owners and rich TV contracts. This has created a play-or-die mentality where fine players are often penalized for loyalty as superstars are purchased and installed in the first team, and the bypassed players face the choice of playing elsewhere or being permanently buried in the squad. That's what happened to Gareth Barry, for example, and his willingness to go on loan to us -- and save his career -- could hardly be described as a lack of loyalty to City.

There's a difference between being a pure mercenary -- and those have always been a minority in my opinion -- and being forced by circumstance to find another pitch to play on.

Phil Walling
652 Posted 28/03/2014 at 13:16:20
I couldn't give a stuff if we upset other clubs' followers by exploiting the loan market.

Of more concern is the fact that Everton only exists because of loans - most of them from Bill's mates in Virgin Islands - so why should the playing staff be seen as any different.

The whole game stinks!

David Ellis
671 Posted 28/03/2014 at 15:00:20
Lyndon I read the Metro article in vain for their point made in the headline- i.e. why Everton were wrong to play the loan system. In vain. The article merely listed how great the loan players were and how much they had improved the team, but at no point did it take the next step to explain why there was anything wrong with this. Bizarre.

It just seemed to think it was self evident that if the loan players made a difference then it was somehow wrong. This makes no sense (except maybe to a 10 year old).

David Ellis
674 Posted 28/03/2014 at 15:08:15
However I was much more irritated by Chariman of the Premier League saying Man Utd doing less well somehow made the league less attractive. I can see this might be true as suedo Man U fans in Asia tune out - but actually they generally do not tune out, they simply switch their support to a team that is doing better - at least that's what happens here in Hong Kong. They are utterly pragmatic and a result spare themselves all the anguish that we Evertonians have to suffer through. I used to look down on them for this, but they are entitled to consume the sport however they like and they do not have the tribal addiction that match going England based fans have. Often I wish I was also wired that way!

However the joy they get from football is merely a scintilla of what we experience on the rare occasions when things work out well (for us).

But back to the main point I think it is terrible for Scudamore to openly say a successful Man U is important to the PL. It really should not be the case - what is more important is a competitive league and this season at least we have that (unlike in Germany this year).

Joey Brown
711 Posted 28/03/2014 at 18:14:03
I was rather frustrated by that article as well. When Everton are out of a race I always pull for the non-money, newer challenge sides.

In the end do we really want to see the current top 4 and you’d imagine United keep winning? If it were Newcastle in our position I would be cheering them on.

Sour grapes is pretty pathetic.

Andrew James
748 Posted 28/03/2014 at 22:28:57
I like the way he conveniently avoided mentioning that two of the goal scorers on the night came from our youth academy. I can see it now...

"the sooner the FA sort out Premiership clubs being able to field players from their academies the better. It gives an unfair advantage especially when our academy only produces crocks or wide boys like Nile Ranger and Andy Carroll."

Or if Seamus Coleman had done the damage...

"Signing players nobody has heard of for £60k is unfair. All players, like our own, should be really expensive flops who had too much spent on them and everyone figured out long ago."

What that dickhead journalist also fails to mention is the fact the defence which looked so comfortable against his team were all bought and paid for. But why let facts get in the way hey?

Barry Stevens
752 Posted 28/03/2014 at 23:18:44
Newcastle moaning about loan players is nothing new. It was due to them moaning about Lualua scoring vs them for Pompey that players were banned from playing against parent clubs.
David Pearl
758 Posted 29/03/2014 at 01:05:18
Very good points Lyndon and well written. I think other clubs feel a sense of jealousy at what we have achieved... and that is daring to push the bigger spending clubs when others have failed. As we hover below the top four where else would a player want to go other than to us if they can't break into their own team. Not a great thing to say for us historically speaking, however I think I can see more players - especially from City joining us in the next few years.
Jack Molloy
759 Posted 29/03/2014 at 01:53:14
Great stuff Lyndon. Right on target.
Tony J Williams
766 Posted 29/03/2014 at 03:10:51
Saw the headline in the Metro, though "wankers" then clicked elsewhere. Bitter, twisted logic
Albert Perkins
767 Posted 29/03/2014 at 03:55:03
I was listening to a Fulham radio show and was delighted to hear how positively Everton are viewed by so many of our oppositions' fans. They love Roberto and wish they had signed him. They love the way we play and wish they could play the same way. They wish us well and hope we have an off day and they get lucky on Sunday. And they love our loan signings and think this is one way to help balance the rich clubs dominance.
Alan Clarke
782 Posted 29/03/2014 at 07:36:43
Mannion's article is as bitter as they come. "You can only loan players so long as they're shit". Instead of asking the FA to address the issue of loans, he should be asking why Pardew's loan signings haven't had the impact of Everton's.

It tastes very sweet to have taken 6 points off them this season with 6 goals scored and non conceded.

David Ellis
826 Posted 29/03/2014 at 12:46:18
Alan, I think we conceded two at Goodison?
David Ellis
827 Posted 29/03/2014 at 12:46:18
Alan, I think we conceded two at Goodison?
Carl Sanderson
828 Posted 29/03/2014 at 12:49:30
I think they scored two at Goodison.
Brian Garside
918 Posted 29/03/2014 at 21:03:15
And we shall take their best loan sighning next season. Iceing on the cake.
Tony Abrahams
925 Posted 29/03/2014 at 21:34:47
Great article that, Lyndon, this should be shown to fans everywhere and then the whole country could start a debate?

Arsenal have gone eight years without a trophy, yet still play every year in the Champions League.

I have always felt that if a club wins nothing for three years then it should be compulsory for them to forfeit their place the next year so as to give someone else a go. Spread the wealth a bit better and then maybe clubs wouldn't need the loan market as much. Surely the only fans who could argue against such logic would come from the supposedly biggest clubs.

While we're at it, we could also debate why every Premier League club got an extra £20M each this year but none of them reduced the price for the fans?

Chad Schofield
096 Posted 05/04/2014 at 04:37:41
I agree, the staggering fact isn't the Toon Army's misguided representative, but that crazy Chelsea statistic: "a total of 27 players out on loan this season... more players than our entire senior squad."

That's obscene.

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