Mon, Aug 03, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Moyes faces fight to keep Everton on pace

AFP , LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Everton’s Joseph Yobo, left, kicks the ball past MLS All-Star player Conor Casey on Wednesday in Sandy, Utah.

PHOTO: REUTERS

David Moyes’ ability to keep Everton hot on the heels of the Premier League’s top four could be seriously tested in the coming season.

Moyes, who replaced fellow Scot Walter Smith as manager at Goodison Park, has proved to be a managerial revelation, transforming a club who were perennial relegation candidates into consistent top 10 finishers.

He has won the League Managers Association Manager of the Year on three occasions since joining Everton and with extremely good reason.

Last season was perhaps Moyes’ most satisfying as he led an injury-ravaged squad to fifth in the Premier League as well as the FA Cup final, where they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea.

However, all is not well on the blue half of Merseyside — primarily because Everton have no money to spend on new recruits.

And in the Premier League, clubs simply cannot afford to stand still in the manner Everton are doing.

STRAPPED FOR CASH

Club owner Bill Kenwright is a lifelong fan and highly publicized “local boy,” which has bought him some leverage with the Goodison fans, who at least appreciate that his heart is in the right place even if his wallet is empty.

He accepts that the cupboard is bare and that he can provide precious little money to help Everton build on last season’s finish.

Kenwright said: “When I get the texts saying ‘are we signing Kaka or Messi?’ then of course I would love to make that happen, but the truth is we couldn’t even afford their wages. This football club needs money. I can’t go on like this every year because the pressure is far too great.”

“David Moyes must be sitting there looking at these figures thinking: ‘They have given me nothing again and they want me to get into the Champions League’” he said.

Everton’s lack of finances causes two major issues.

First, it prevents them from bringing in top quality new players and second it means other clubs know Everton are vulnerable to high bids for their players because the club desperately needs the cash.

This off season has proved both those points emphatically.

Everton’s only acquisition has been Brazilian striker Jo, who is visiting from Manchester City on a 12-month loan.

But despite his reasonable return during another loan spell with Everton last season, he is hardly the proven goalscorer that fans are craving.

The second issue — the fact that having no money makes clubs circle over Everton like a vulture, eager to pick off their best players — also involved Manchester City in the guise of Joleon Lescott.

Since moving to Everton from Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2006, Lescott has steadily improved into one of the English Premier League’s most consistent central defenders.

That has prompted City manager Mark Hughes to bid £20 million (US$33 million) for the player, safe in the knowledge that Everton will have to be open to such transactions — regardless of the club’s official line.

Moyes has done his best to deny that he has to break up last season’s squad but behind-the-scenes, the £20 million Lescott would be a huge boost.

NOT ALL NEGATIVE

Yet despite the lack of financial clout, it is not all negative for Everton. The emergence of Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling last season should cheer Everton fans as will the return from long-term injury of Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka and Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Everton managed to perform above and beyond expectations last season.

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