Now or never for Darron Gibson

Now 28 but with just 38 league starts in four-and-a-half years, Darron Gibson's new two-year deal represents his last chance to make his name at Everton.

Lyndon Lloyd 09/06/2016 56comments  |  Jump to last

As the final quarter of 2015-16 plumbed the proverbial depths and awful result followed awful result, many Evertonians felt the impulse after three years under Roberto Martinez to see the club just rip everything up and start again; to throw out everything to do with the Catalan’s tenure and start again.

Obviously, that wouldn’t have been a practical or wise solution — there is plenty of talent in the Everton ranks for new man Ronald Koeman to re-shape, re-energise, re-train and then improve with targeted additions in the summer transfer window. However, there was certainly a sense that, with Farhad Moshiri’s financial muscle, the days of the club needing to keep its older, deader wood lying around was over.

This summer, there are more players than usual that might answer to that somewhat harsh but, nevertheless, realistic description. Leon Osman has just turned 35, Tony Hibbert passed that milestone in February and his treatment room companion Steven Pienaar is now 34. Like the 37-year-old Tim Howard and “perma-crock” Felipe Mattioni, all three were expected to leave the club this summer and, of course, they still might.

Joining that list of departing players was expected to be Darron Gibson whose contract was also up at the end of this month, so it came as a surprise to many today when Everton announced that the 28-year-old has penned a new two-year deal with the club.

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On the face of it, it’s a move that, from Everton’s perspective, simultaneously seems to make plenty of sense and yet no sense at all. Just as he struggled for fitness at Old Trafford, Gibson has battled a succession of injuries throughout his time with the Blues. In four-plus years at Goodison Park he has made just a season’s worth of Premier League starts, 38, and just 12 in all competitions since Martinez took the helm in 2013. He arrived with a decent reputation for scoring goals from outside the box but has just two to his name in Everton colours.

With his time with the Blues seemingly winding down, he was made available for loan in January alongside his compatriot Aiden McGeady but either couldn’t find a willing suitor or wasn’t interested in any of the offers that came his way.

Throw in his drunk-driving charge, and subsequent sentencing to a 12-month community order last year — reason enough for some to cut ties with him this summer — the fact that he was overlooked by Martin O’Neill for this month’s European Championships and Tom Davies’s breakthrough into the first team all the signs were that Gibson would be eased out the door this summer regardless of who was manager.

Certainly, he hasn’t been regarded as a first-team option in the minds of supporters for a long while, simply because he hasn’t ever been reliable in terms of his availability and there are many who felt that a fresh start and a focus on bringing through maturing youth players would make more sense

The frustrating thing about Gibson, however, is that he is a very good footballer when he is fit enough to play. Able to operate in a defensive or attacking role, he can mix combative midfield play with visionary passing and, as he displayed in a couple of recent performances in Martinez’s struggling team, he was one of the few players committed to moving the ball forward.

In that sense, he will always offer something as a squad rotation player when he is fit and, in the event that the plan is to tie him down to a new contract so that the club can secure a fee for him to another interested club rather than lose him for nothing, then it could be a gamble worth taking. More so if he has been retained on similar or reduced wages with sort of some pay-as-you-component to his new deal.

If his comments after signing his contract extension, where he says he has turned down other offers to remain with Everton, are any indication then he appears committed to fighting for his place. At 28, he should be at the peak of his powers and could provide valuable competition for places in apart of the field where there will be plenty with James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic and Davies all in contention.

But — and it’s a significant “but” — there will always be concern over whether he can stay fit. In that regard, he has certainly not had the luck of the Irish but it’s now or never then for the Derry-born midfielder.

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Reader Comments (56)

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Ian McDowell
1 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:13:59
Good article Lyndon and I fully agree with you that there is certainly ability in Gibson and this is his last chance. If he can get fit over the summer could be a huge asset for next season.

He has a great shot on him a, bit like Frank Lampard. He could possibly get us 8-10 goals from midfield if he can keep fit and nail down a regular role. Over to you Gibbo.
John Daley
2 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:19:03
"He could possibly get us 8-10 goals from midfield if he can keep fit"

A season? He hasn't scored that many goal in his entire career so far?

Gavin Johnson
3 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:19:18
He's a good player when fit, and it's not a players fault they get injured. Although I do wonder whether lifestyle choices have also hampered Gibson's fitness to some extent.

I don't agree with giving him another deal. Davies is already ahead of him IMO, but he can be a useful squad player..if he stays fit! But what are the chances of that happening?!?

Derek Williams
4 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:35:23
All very odd, a decent player when fit but he hardly ever is. You can't build a team around someone who plays two games then misses twelve.

And who made the decision to keep him for two more years anyway? Surely that's Koeman's job, assuming he does eventually sign on the dotted line. Has RK been involved already in the keep that one, move that one on decisions? That seems a bit unlikely so he's going to be landed with a 28 year old bit part player on (presumably) hefty wages whom he can't pick, that's even assuming he wants to do so. Get him in, THEN sort out the comings and goings

Steve Hopkins
5 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:47:15
Who on earth is Felipe Martini? Must admit he passed me by
Pete North
6 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:50:16
I think this could be an excellent decision and agree with Lyndon. I remember noting that in Gibsons first 27 games for Everton, we lost only 2 matches. Remember the end of the 'Fellaini' win over Man Utd when Gibson ran to the supporters with his fist brandished in triumph. He looked and played like a true blue.
He says he's been fit for a season but has hardly been used. It'll be interesting to see whether McCarthy stays ahead of him under a better manager. With a new proven fitness boss at the club, he's surely got a fair chance of staying fit.
We probably can't afford to lose all the players who don't make the first eleven so its goodbye Hibbo, Pienaar, McGeady, Kone, Niasse, Leon and any of the remainder who won't battle for the team who I think should go first. Gibson isn't one of them.
William Cartwright
7 Posted 09/06/2016 at 19:54:34
a what will be will be sort of appointment. Many potential positives and equally perhaps more potential negatives.

On balance a contract extension does make sense. There will obviously be many outgoings and several incomings, but there is need for some continuity. Also there is an exceptionally good player in there who may well emerge from time to time. The potential to safeguard any sell-on value should not be overlooked as well

I don't read anything sinister into the decision making process being made before RK takes up his position. The decision which on balance seems to be in the best interests of the Club and the player was best made as soon as possible.

However there is a sense of the last chance saloon about the situation, and perhaps that will be the push the Gibbo needs. Best of luck to him.

Mark Wynne
9 Posted 09/06/2016 at 20:03:48
I'm speechless.
David Booth
10 Posted 09/06/2016 at 20:25:17
Jesus wept: 17 habitually injury-prone games in three seasons and we give him another two years? Who the hell sanctioned that?

How many of the rest of those popularly and justifiably expected to have their services dispensed with are we going to be similarly stupid with?

Gibson can ping it as far as he likes - but it's only any good if he does it for 30-plus games a season.

Unfathomably nonsensical decision. We continue to be a charity for unwanted (manager's) pets it seems.

If Osman gets another two years, I'll fully expect David Moyes to be unveiled in a shower of Finch Farm confetti and fireworks next week!

Andy Meighan
11 Posted 09/06/2016 at 20:38:49
Good footballer, etc but his injury record is atrocious. And as David said who sanctioned this? Well, whoever did needs sectioning. All very bizarre.
Charlie Burnett
12 Posted 09/06/2016 at 20:47:26
All my excitement over the last 2 weeks has just been blown away. Would have agreed on keeping him for a year out of a bad bunch but 2 years and had only played 13 games for us is a bit of a silly offer.

We just pray he has the list that on everyone lips for dead wood and he don't give them all an extension.
James Brand
13 Posted 09/06/2016 at 20:55:58
Surely has to be a pay-as-you-play! Billionaire businessmen do not become Billionaire Businessmen by employing lame ducks!! Moshiri seems to know what he's doing.

In my personal opinion though, no I would have let him go. Move forward despite his abilities which he rarely shares with the class. Which is probably why I'm nowhere near a Billionaire Businessmen!

So IT MUST BE a pay-as-you-play

Steve Hogan
14 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:01:22
Disappointed with this unexpected news today. Thought we were entering a new era where the permanent 'sicknotes' were being phased out.

I don't see how Koeman could have been involved with this decision, what sort of message is this sending out to the 'young guns' in the squad?

I believe it was Moyes who sanctioned the 'golden handcuffs' contracts for Osman and Hibbert in their latter years. If money was tight at Everton as we were led to believe, then a conservative estimate of around £6m spent on their two salaries (£30K a week?), simply stunk of 'jobs for the boys)

It would have been better spent on attracting promising talent from the lower leagues.

Conor Skelly
16 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:09:11
He's a good squad player if he can stay fit. Obviously has a touch of class in the way he passes the ball. Very surprised Ireland didn't take him to the Euro's. Especially when they brought midfielders like Hendrick , Meyler and Stephen Quinn instead of him.
Rob Dolby
17 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:12:34
This is just common business sense.
We now have an asset that we can sell for up to 10m if he has a run of games.
Remember when Craig Short signed a contract extension and we sold him the following month!
Without doubt the lad has ability though unfortunately in a half decent team he is a squad player who gets injured a lot.
Lets hope Steve Bruce buys him for 10m in January.
James Hughes
18 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:17:35
I would like to think of the player who sang 'Grand old Team' after beating Manure at home, captured by TV at full time.
Still one of the very few players who can pick out a pass and get us moving forward.
His fitness record is cause for concern and always will be but he does not deserve slagging off.
Sam Hoare
19 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:33:50
I like Gibbo as a squad player though wouldn't have been sad to see him go.

Think we have quite a few mediocre central midfielders to be honest. Dont see many of them getting into the top 4 or 5 teams last season.

Peter Fearon
20 Posted 09/06/2016 at 21:59:27
Sorry, this makes no sense to me. I had hoped the "new era" would mean the end of the road for the hangers-on, do-nothings, no-shows and permanently walking-wounded like Cleverley and Gibson. Apparently not. These are passengers who have been traveling First Class for far too long. How these two stay on the payroll I just cannot imagine. What next? Buying Victor Anichebe back from West Brom?
David Greenwood
21 Posted 09/06/2016 at 22:18:09
Cracking player when fit. Will he stay fit? Who knows.

I'd be amazed if this isn't a low basic, heavily incentivised pay as you play deal.

He's one of ours, get behind him.

Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 09/06/2016 at 23:05:34
Now or never Lyndon? Think it is the last one.
James Flynn
23 Posted 09/06/2016 at 23:38:47
Steven (14 ) - "I believe it was Moyes who sanctioned the 'golden handcuffs' contracts for Osman and Hibbert in their latter years. If money was tight at Everton as we were led to believe, then a conservative estimate of around £6m spent on their two salaries (£30K a week?), simply stunk of 'jobs for the boys)"

Jobs for the boys perhaps.

But Osman's contract came when Moyes was gone and before Roberto was signed. Wound up being the only player played in all 38 games of OFM's first season, though.

Hibbert got his after Roberto was signed.

"I don't see how Koeman could have been involved with this decision, what sort of message is this sending out to the 'young guns' in the squad?"

Koeman will run the rule over Gibson same as the other players. He'll either decide to keep him or tell him to have his agent seek another opportunity.

The "young guns" will impress Koeman or they won't. Nothing more to do with Gibson then with any other current member of the team?

Gavin McGarvey
24 Posted 09/06/2016 at 23:39:46
I think he's a great player, and I hope it's not never but that's the way I'm leaning. He seemed to have a bit of fitness after he joined but since he returned from that initial injury, I've always felt he's been made from glass. I hope it works out for him, but it doesn't look good.
Roberto Birquet
25 Posted 09/06/2016 at 23:53:43
I always feel confident when Gibson's on the field. He marshals the team, dominates the opposition, so composed and always looking for the simple pass that gets defence into attack. He's excellent.... when he plays.

As for the first post. Gibson is no Frank Lampard. I wince when he lines up a shot.

James Stewart
26 Posted 10/06/2016 at 00:07:34
Never. Gibson is finished. His mobility against Leicester was an utter disgrace, and as for the penalty he gave away.... no words.

To see him get any minutes at the expense of Tom Davies would be a major regression.

Andy Crooks
27 Posted 10/06/2016 at 00:09:35
Exactly, David, # 21. He is an excellent player and I would hope and expect that he is seen as fit enough for the contract. He has had appalling luck with injuries as had Peter Reid.
Matt Williams
28 Posted 10/06/2016 at 00:13:51
By giving him a new contract, this is the only way were ever going to get any money for him. We all know he's a talented footballer, so this gives the new manager the chance to decide if he wants to keep him or get rid. This way, at least the club recoups some money rather than just letting him walk away.

Apologies if someone else has already made this point.

Mike Allison
29 Posted 10/06/2016 at 00:25:47
Andy, it's not luck over that period of time.
Don Alexander
30 Posted 10/06/2016 at 00:54:49
At the risk of me being banned from the site for being repetitive, we need to be doing what our opponents least want us to do, and offering the likes of Gibson a further contract is, to say the very least, unlikely to piss the rest off.
Anthony Dwyer
31 Posted 10/06/2016 at 01:12:09
Do me a fucking favour.....

How many chances can one idiot get.

Derek Thomas
32 Posted 10/06/2016 at 01:36:24
Now or Never? I think the answer is Hardly Ever. On the surface of it one of the more stranger decisions to come out of L4.

Inspired master stroke or Baldrick-esque cunning plan...who knows.

Brian Sephton
33 Posted 10/06/2016 at 04:58:01
On this pay-as-you-play idea, if Gibbo had other interested parties, why would he sign that here?

I too think he at least was a fine player... god knows now but I would never have signed him up again.

Stevie Pienaar, yes and he has a history with Koeman, who rates him highly still. Back to Gibbo: I suppose with no signing-on fee and the chance of a sale in the near future, it could be a good move.

In Mr Moshiri We Trust.

Kieran Fitzgerald
34 Posted 10/06/2016 at 07:18:19
He has been fit for a number of months now. The club medical staff would have double checked this and made sure of it before he was offered a new contract. Why give him a new contract given our manager position if he was not fully fit.

Gibson was available for games in recent months and Martinez just didn't play him. Martinez would have played Barry and McCarthy if they had four broken legs between them. There was no chance of Gibson or any other midfielder getting a look in.

There must be a plan in place for Gibson if he has been given a new contract. Not going to the Euros is a blessing as it will give him and the club a chance to really get him read for next season.

Kevin Gillen
35 Posted 10/06/2016 at 09:05:59
I'm not surprised at this. Gibson at least attempts to pass the ball forward and did well in the semi-final. He also seems at least to want to play for the club.
Michael Evans
36 Posted 10/06/2016 at 10:44:55
Wasn't Peter Reid written off as injury prone and not worth the risk when we signed him ?

Seem to remember he subsequently came good.

Surely this is worth a punt.

Nick Entwistle
37 Posted 10/06/2016 at 10:48:40
Fantastic player. Utd wouldn't have sold him if he could stay fit. Brought the best out of Fellaini and gives the team drive and determination... but if he's not on pay as you play I'd be amazed. Total sick note. Makes Darren Anderton look super human.
Mark Cooper
38 Posted 10/06/2016 at 11:09:41
Nice piece Lyndon, my first reaction was wtf, I would have got rid after the dd incident personally, but that has happened now and the club dealt with it as they did. I can however understand this decision.
Of all the players we could get rid of this summer, Gibson is the most talented. People are going to have to accept that we can't get rid of everyone at once, it will have to be a phased process and the squad will probably be a bit top heavy for a year or two, while Keoman has a proper look at them. He maybe thinks that his fitness coach could do something with Gibson but I can't see him being a miracle worker. If though we can still call on him to do a job next season then we could do worse while the kids mature.
I don't think Gibson will figure much and probably be gone next summer.
Damian Wilde
39 Posted 10/06/2016 at 11:13:14
Could sell him in a year for a small fee. Hope he stays fit. Good player, but strange one. Down to Kenwright? I heard Hibbo is being given an eight year contract.
Mark Cooper
40 Posted 10/06/2016 at 11:59:04
Can't see this being Kenwright but who knows for certain. If Hibbert gets a new contract, then the alarm bells will sound.
Peter Gorman
41 Posted 10/06/2016 at 12:26:29
Are we going to ask this every year?
Dominic Tonge
42 Posted 10/06/2016 at 13:27:07
Could this not just be a case of keep him, then shift him for a fee rather than lose him for free? Even if we pick up a million or two, at least we re-coup some money. We might have a better chance of keeping him fit under a new regime, I mean if we had signed Douglas Badar he would of done his hammy at our place last year. We had a chronic injury record . Gibbo is a good player, just seems to be made of glass.
Phil Jeffries
43 Posted 10/06/2016 at 13:31:45
This is either Koeman's decision and likes him as a footballer or Moshiri's. Th new owner may well look at him having a sell on value that other players so not have from the list about to expire. He isn't a wealthy man by accident. If he is our marquee signing come August, i'll have a duck egg. But for now I'll just nod my head and wait for the next 6 weeks or so to unfold. COYB!
Pete Edwards
44 Posted 10/06/2016 at 14:33:42
I thought he played quite well when he got a couple of games towards the end of the season, moving the ball forward quickly and dropping between the tw centre-backs.

No one knows what the details are of the contract so to have a go at him or the club is a little silly given this as I'm sure there are caveats in place.

Gareth Williams
45 Posted 10/06/2016 at 16:44:32
Darron Gibson is a good player but picks too many injuries up.

I thought the club would have waited till the new manager comes in before giving him another contract.
Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 10/06/2016 at 18:37:17
Not sure how Davies' name keeps coming up in this conversation, but I'm not aware that he has ever played in a defensive midfield role. Does anybody here know better?

If I'm correct about Davies, then Macca and Grandpa Barry's only backup is Besic, who is just as much of a chronic crock as Gibbo. Obviously Gibbo hasn't done much here, but I view him as critical squad depth until RK gets into the transfer market and sells him on.

Tim Greeley
47 Posted 10/06/2016 at 19:45:20
Looking at him, it's crazy to think Gibbo is 9 years younger than I am. Gibbo is like fine bourbon, ages well. Gibbo also likes fine bourbon, aged well.

As with a few others, when I think of Gibbo, I can't help but remember the excellent run we went on when he first signed, with him and Fellaini in the middle we barely lost. A lot of typical Moyes draws but also some truly exciting wins.

He also has a talent in his long range passing that I can't think anyone else currently on our roster possesses. Maybe Stones one day. I'm good with this. Good ol' Gibbo. Get over here you little whippersnapper!

Peter Caley
48 Posted 10/06/2016 at 22:11:17
What a joke, squad player at best, likes to drink too much and often seen in the watering houses of Hale... Lucky git. You'd Think he'd walk more to the alehouse rather than drive and knock over a cyclist and petrol pump!

He's played 46 games in 4 years, most as sub, and sadly always injured and struggles to get thru 90 mins. Who made this decision? After this news I'm off for a pint myself and then dig out the boots for a comeback,

I'll go apoplectic if McGeady or Kone are next on the stay list.

Eric Myles
50 Posted 11/06/2016 at 05:33:17
Peter (#48), Gibson's contract is up the end of the month, hence the extension.

McGeady and Kone contracts are not up, so they are automatically on the stay list unless we get offers for them.

Eric Myles
51 Posted 11/06/2016 at 05:53:49
Peter (#48), they are on our retained list


Denis Richardson
52 Posted 11/06/2016 at 10:16:57
Now or Never? That's a joke in itself, could have said that when we first signed him in 2012.

For people saying he's good when fit, keep in mind the guy is never fit for any extended period of time. Looked up his stats and other than his loan to a Belgian club 11 years ago (when 18) he has NEVER managed to make 30 or more senior appearances in a single season. In fact the most appearances he's managed in a single season in the last 10 (TEN) years is 26 - barely half a season, including sub appearances.

In the last 3 seasons with us he has made a total of 27 appearances, in all comps and including off the bench. Given these stats, every contract he's ever had was a 'now or never'.

Even if we're only paying him on a pay as you play deal, he's still taking up a place in the squad that could have gone to an up and coming youngster. The guy is stealing a living off the club and I cannot believe the idiocy of offering him an extension.

Only upside is that we've at least gotten Howard, Osman, Pienaar and Hibbert off the books (well by 30 June anyway).

Kevin Dyer
53 Posted 11/06/2016 at 12:09:06
Players below a certain age don't count towards our 25 man squad so Gibson isn't taking a place that Davies etc would otherwise occupy. Personally I wouldn't have re-signed him. He was worth a punt originally as he was young and had ability, despite his injury record. After all this time I just don't see him turning things around and expect to see him make a handful of appearances this season before being loaned out or sold for a minimal fee next year. As of now his value on the market is very small.

As regards Kone, Niasse, McGeady etc all are sadly still under contract and it's unlikely any can be sold as nobody will match their current contracts. Best we can do is loan them out to offset some of their wages.

Loko Sanchez
54 Posted 11/06/2016 at 12:14:39
One day, you're a hero – the next day, they called you a deadwood. Great show of appreciation!
Andy Griff
55 Posted 11/06/2016 at 12:49:57
Be a player if he could only stay off the ale.....
Michael Polley
57 Posted 11/06/2016 at 16:29:47
I'm very surprised that he got an extension on his contract. A good tough midfielder who has a powerful shot, but I doubt if his fitness and availability will change for next season.

Did Koemann sanction this from his sun lounger on the beach?!!

Denis Richardson
58 Posted 11/06/2016 at 17:00:11
Kevin, players below 21 don't count towards the club. We have a few at the club 21 and over who would manage more minutes that Gibson is guess.

Anyway, it's done now, will see if he can stay out of the treatment room and off the ale for 5 minutes.

Keith Glazzard
60 Posted 13/06/2016 at 16:41:43
Potentially a very good player, as we all know. Still a surprising extension.
Neville Jones
61 Posted 14/06/2016 at 13:54:38
Completely agree with you on Darren Gibson, a good palyer whose got a couple of seasons left in him, glad he's not in the Ireland squad, he won't get injured. As for his driving offence, not important. remember a certain Duncan Ferguson?

I thought you might have said something about Osman, Hibbert and Pienaar, treated disgracefully, Hibbert had one of the best games (halves) I've seen from a right back this season so I think all players could have been given a 1-year contract or at least told before they weren't wanted.

Whilst Tim Howard has been poor, at least he was given a good send off, but Osman and Hibbert have been with us longer. Let's hope this is a temporary cock-up whilst we've been appointing a manager because it's most un-Everton-like.

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