In light of such financial restraint, do we really warrant ‘punishment’ for our use of the loan market as Paul Mannion of the Metro requested, and is our season’s success truly built on a ‘£50 million sham’ as suggested by Martin Samuel? Quite frankly, all this chat is becoming a pain in the arse, so here’s the perspective of an Everloanian and the incredible contradictions that have come with our condemnation.
Let’s start by taking a look back to the Moyes era. The Scotsman was certainly never afraid to dip into the loan market for reinforcement, attracting the likes of Stracqualursi, Castillo, Westerveld, Gardner, Li Weifeng, Rodrigo and Ibrahim Said to the club temporarily. Strangely, from memory, I can’t recall articles or general comments criticising such loan deals at the time due to their quality. Under Martinez, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu have all been signed up on temporary deals (Lacina Traore too, but we may as well not count him since I have genuine concerns he is a figment of my imagination); now we’ve been subjected to a whirlwind of criticism, with some practically labelling our achievements this year as illegitimate.
There seems to be an interesting trend there. Back in the Moyes days, when at times we loaned in a hoard of plain abysmal footballers and weren’t really challenging for the hallowed top 4 spots, everyone seemingly couldn’t care less; but now that we’ve secured genuine quality and appear to be going places, it’s like we’ve just volleyed the British media’s Nan into the Grand Canyon. Take a look at Sunderland and West Brom for instance. Both have 5 players on loan, all of whom are available and most of whom have played at least a respectable part in their fortunes this season; but as they’re both scarily standing over the gorge of Championship football, they haven’t been subjected to Everton’s barrage of disapproval, even though we’ve loaned in one less. The logic here is simply ‘you can loan whoever and as many as you like, as long as they’re all s****’. Arguably, there’s a sense of bitterness that we’ve used the loan market so intelligently and to such great effect; it’s allowed us to remain extremely competitive without high financial loss. It’s hardly as if such a strategy is available purely for Everton alone either, with loans being a universally permitted way of conducting transfer business; others have simply missed the trick or have the funds to look to more permanent deals.
I feel it’s a case of misplaced priorities. We live in an era where the stockpiling of players is commonplace, with clubs like Chelsea having huge reserves of professional footballers (often at an early stage in their career) begging for a crack at regular first team football; a scenario that surely deserves infinitely more criticism than the approach we’ve adopted. If loan deals were not a possibility, we would see talented, young players like Deulofeu and Lukaku simply wallow away in the lower parts of the squad instead of the far greater opportunity available elsewhere. Perhaps if we had only obtained one of the three proper loan signings we made there would likely be no real complaints, as we’d just have one temporary squad member. The mind-set therefore might be that some feel we’ve hogged an unfair number of high quality players… but that’s just the nature of football – dog eat dog. Every player we’ve loaned in would likely have been out on loan or have left their parent club regardless, the fact that we’ve managed to secure all three should in reality be praised not condemned; we can hardly be blamed for trying for their signatures or being such an appealing loan destination.
The belief of some is that these loan signings are giving Everton an inflated league position, and that without their influence next season we will be unlikely to replicate such a strong spell of form. Barry, being out of contract in the Summer, will likely sign a permanent deal making this an irrelevant factor; Deulofeu could equally stay on another season depending on Barcelona’s stance after their transfer ban, with the player reportedly keen. Lukaku, then, is the only one that in reality is likely not be at the club next year, but with a huge chunk of the Fellaini money left over, replacing him shouldn’t be such a detrimental issue. Those that believe Everton are doomed without their loan deals also under-estimate the squad, with Roberto clearly having an extremely able bunch of players on his books.
When asked his view on the matter, Arsene Wenger stated ‘It would be best if players are loaned only in lower divisions or abroad – and even abroad I’m not convinced it is right’. Bizarre really, coming from a man who’s sent 12 players out on loan this season and tried a move for Demba Ba on deadline day, only to be rebutted; managers moan, but in reality they know it’s a perfectly acceptable and extremely cost-effective method of running a club. In fact, few seem to speak of neither Tevez’s enormously successful 2 year loan spell at Man United nor Courtois’ impressive and essential 3 year spell at Atletico Madrid. Sadly, it seems we just can’t win can we? In the eyes of some our approach will never be justifiable and holes will continue to be picked. The idea of punishment is laughable and the belief in major reform to the loan regulations arguably equally so; the gulf in quality between the richer and poorer sides in the Premier League will simply stretch further and further, removing a significant competitive element. Loans are an essential part of the footballing world, and Everton’s scapegoating and torrent of disapproval due to relative success is simply unexplainable.
But anyway, at the moment we’re boss and a brilliant number of people seem to be fuming about it. Some will never be satisfied, but as long as it’s getting points on the table are we that arsed?