Neville Southall knows a thing or two about loyalty at a club. He played 747 times for Everton in a career that spanned three decades. This season he joins the Paddy Power Blog as columnist to offer no-holds-barred insight on what’s become of the beautiful game. This week, he discusses Manchester United’s ‘derisory’ joint bid for Baines and Fellaini.
The joint bid stinks. The way David Moyes has gone about it stinks. The entire world knows Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines are worth a lot more than the £28 million offered and Moyes is disrespecting Everton.
If you’ve got a good relationship with the club and you’re supposedly best mates with the chairman – and Moyes was always saying how they were when he was at the club – would you go back to your mates business and try to pinch them off him knowing that the business is skint? It’s really despicable behaviour towards Everton and disrespectful towards the fans.
The stupid offer – and it is a stupid offer – isn’t entirely down to him, but he shouldn’t go in with an offer that seriously undervalues the players just to unsettle them. Doing it this way stinks. It wouldn’t have happened under Ferguson.
There’s a real danger he will lose all his credibility with the Everton fans. He might think that in order for him to succeed he is entitled to go for players he knows and trusts, but he can still operate ethically. The manner in which it’s been done is rubbish.
If Baines goes, our chairman will be lynched. It’s the equivalent of telling the Everton fans ‘stuff you, we’re not interested in what you think, we want the money’. If Fellaini goes, not as many people will be bothered. They love Baines because he’s been great – a model pro – and letting him go would be a real kick in the teeth to Everton fans.
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The Everton fans were brilliant with him. They showed massive loyalty to him because the bottom line is he won nothing in 11 years at the club. They never got on his back. He did a great job for Everton, but he was allowed to do a great job because of the fans’ patience. When he comes back to Goodison he is going to get slaughtered.
He apologised for the way he left, but it feels like an apology just so he can come back and nick our players. Baines is the best left back in the world at the moment and he’s worth what they offered on his own.
There should be a rule brought in to stop managers who move to a new club going back to take the best players for a season. It’s like insider trading otherwise. He knows the inner workings of the club; he knows the finances and the clauses in the contracts – it’s too easy. I can see why Moyes is doing it, it’s because he trusts them, but ethically, it’s poor.
The underlying issue is why is Moyes struggling to get players at Manchester United? United have always been renowned for playing attractive football. Moyes is coming from 11 years of quite negative football. That’s partially because of the players he had to work with and partially because he’s quite a cautious guy. He’s renowned for keeping things tight and pinching results, not going out, playing good football and smashing the opposition. His reputation for being quite negative has stuck with him and its part of the reason the likes of Fabregas aren’t so keen on going to Old Trafford. It’s starting to look at bit desperate.
Looking ahead to the weekend, in terms of their financial stability, Everton and West Brom have a fair bit in common over the last decade or so. Like us, they’ve got history, got great supporters and a reputation for playing good football. The owner just gets on with things and they’re a fantastic club. They don’t go mad with splashing the cash, yet they still produce respectable results most of the time.
It’s nice and a very cosy idea, but football is about winning. You’ve got to be ambitious. Having a well-run club is fine, but you have to have a chance of glory. Everybody wants at chance at glory in football. Everyone wants to go to Wembley; wants to be challenging for the Champions League; they want to win leagues. And as a player, you want to win trophies because it proves you’re up there with the best. Everton’s chairman doesn’t seem interested in getting the investment required to take the club forward and we need to ask why. Is he looking out for the club or is he looking out for his own profits?
Before the European ban, Everton were up there with the best in Europe. We had the expectation of winning leagues and things are different now, but that should never change, even if it takes time. We shouldn’t be thinking about finishing in the Top 10, we should be thinking about finishing first.
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