It got me thinking about other transfers that just haven’t worked out for Everton – and there have been plenty over the years – far less glamorous than Samuel Eto’o for sure, but we have had a plethora of players who have come and gone in no time. For good or for bad. It’s not easy to fairly represent each and every disaster so I’ve narrowed it down to players who barely featured. No Mark Pembridge or Gary Naysmith, but here are a few that stick out for me. For Every Landon Donovan there’s been a Tommy Johnson, for every Kevin Campbell a Mark Hughes.
Eto’o’s short spell will go down as nothing more than a waste of time and a load of complaints from fans with Eto’o printed on the back of their new home shirts. Let’s hope nobody got these next few players printed on the beloved Royal Blue. As always, my interest is in the more obscure players to pull on a blue shirt – plus it’s funnier when they were a disaster – although admittedly, not at the time they were playing.
We all know the daddy, and it would be rude not to give the benchmark for all failed transfers a mention. Even beating Brett Angell. It is the one and only Per Kroldrup. A guy who cost £5m and couldn’t head the ball. Although nobody found out untill handing over £35 for a ticket at Villa Park on a miserable boxing day in which Per sealed his own fate with a display right out of my own footballing textbook to aid Villa on their way to a 4-0 romp. Sending the blues fans home, much like stoke did last boxing day, deflated and depressed. That ex-red Milan Baros scored a hat trick made it a particularly unpleasant journey home for the cold turkey and chips.
Stefan Rehn sticks out for some reason. As a 10-year-old obsessive – zero has changed twenty-five years later – it was always exciting – again nothing changes – when we signed a player and when Stefan Rehn arrived I thought he was gonna be class – because he was Swedish – a ten-year old’s logic for you. To think just four years after the likes of Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell had graced Goodison we were stooping to this level is unbelievable. And a sign of how far Everton had dropped under Harvey. Rehn arrived with zero pace, even less presence and a touch that made Amokachi look elegant. The curtain came down on his Everton career after just four appearances. If memory serves he came on as sub against Liverpool and was subbed around 15 minutes later. Everton’s very own Ali Dia. The guy who loved Moulded stud boots certainly didn’t break any moulds when it came to football talent and he was quickly shipped off back to Sweden where he went on to feature prominently for IFK Gothenburg.
The cup win season of 1994-95 started as it didn’t mean to go on as we opened the campaign with a disastrous run of 1 win in 14 games. Much the same as the nightmare were currently enduring this season. It saw the infamous Mike Walker bring Ian Durrant to Goodison – also often forgotten, it was the silver fox who brought Big Duncan to the club to provide us 30 somethings with a modern-day hero. The rest is history with Duncan as we all know but Durrant, who admittedly only came to the club for ‘fitness reasons,’ was consigned to the fly-by-night forgetables during what was technically a month-long training session conducted in the first team. Such was our desperation for an injection of anything to help sooth our disastrous start. Despite winning titles and playing over 200 times for Rangers, it is rumoured the oblivious Mike Walker had no idea who Durrant was. His first words to the Scottish international were: “Who are you?”
Durrant gave the impression he didn’t want to be here throughout, almost as if he was too good for us, his performances suggested we were far too good for him. He looked off the pace and sluggish, more trying to move a wardrobe in the middle of the park than the skillful maestro we thought we’d acquired. I remember he had a decent game against Arsenal in a 1-1 draw towards the end of Walkers reign but his magic from his Rangers days had vanished along with his desire to play for us and he was sent back to Ibrox as quick as he’d left it.
Onto Kenny Sansom. Here’s a transfer right out of the very darkest of Everton times. In the early nineties – I honestly don’t recall the sun ever shining – we were the dregs of the league. Maybe not reflected in league position but we were always capable of being regular spanked by nobodies such as Sheffield Wednesday and QPR. Fans met the signing with the same level of enthusiasm reached prior to cleaning out the grill pan. Kenny Sansom frankly looked weird in an Everton shirt. Having played about 10,000 games for Arsenal, before spells at Newcastle, QPR and Coventry, it just looked odd him being here. Well past his best at 34, we didn’t even get to enjoy his trademark mustache as the razor came out before his debut at Sheffield Wednesday. A 3-1 defeat with Wednesday going easy on us for once. Sansom, given he’d scored 6 goals in 8 years at Arsenal, showed a surprising instinct for goal in only his second appearance for the blues. A 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham. Followed up by a 2-1 defeat at Villa to crown off a four game losing streak.
It really was all fun and games in the early nineties. Attendances highlighted the enthusiasm of the fanbase with the hardcore just about bothering to turn up. The last home game of the season, against Sheff Utd, drew just 15,197. Signings like Sansom, along with Kendall on the scotch, helped buzz kill the Evertonians mood and we finished the season 13th. Largely thanks to a remarkable 5-2 win at City on the last day. As for Sansom, he was released almost as soon as he signed. Playing a grand total of seven games for the club before going onto short spells at Brentford and Watford. He was rumoured to have ended up on the streets in 2013 after drinking and gambling away his fortune.
I realise there are a plethora of players who will go down in Everton infamy and it’s impossible to name them all. Given some of the dross on the pitch, the early and late nineties squads were contenders in their own right. One signing that got Evertonians talking was signed in David Moyes’ first full season. Juliano Rodrigo, a Brazilian creative midfielder from Botafago, arrived on loan in July 2002 with the blues paying over a million, rising to £3m for his services should we wish to make the deal permanent. No such sweat here for the board. We had just put up with David Ginola, Scott Gemmill and Mark Pembridge in the previous season. As Nil Satis Nisi Optimum was ignored with reckless abandon.
Rodrigo was a breath of fresh air, at least initially. And when he had Rodrigol printed on his shirt I thought this guy must be the dogs. It turned out the extra L was down to his middle name and not his ruthlessness in front of goal. I saw Rodrigo play in a friendly at Wrexham. He was decent enough albeit against a lesser class of opposition, but any hopes of a Beardsley-esque influence on our side were soon dashed as Rodrigo, a full four substitute performances into his Everton career, damaged his knee ligaments at Southampton and that was that. Rodrigo regained his fitness at the end of the season but Moyes, not the greatest lover of flair in the first place, had seen enough and our Brazilian maestro was sent back to Brazil without so much as a dribble or a dummy for us to remember. Tellingly, Rodrigo only went on to play another 20 more games before he hung up his boots in 2008.
As stated before, the late nineties were a treasure trove of useless players not fit to wear the blue of Everton. It was comical had it not been so relegation threatening. I’m not sure what Kendall’s alcohol intake was like in March 1998 but it must have been pretty high as he handed over £1.5m of Everton’s transfer kitty for the signing of Scottish international John Spencer. Even worse, Kendall agreed to pay it after an unconvincing loan spell from Spencer whose snooker loopy namesake would probably have done a better job upfront for Everton. Kendall went in off the black back big style with this signing.
Spencer, who you would have thought would have something to prove with Scotland’s 1998 world cup squad announcement coming up, delivered nothing. On something like 10k a week John Spencer contributed less than a celebrity in a charity appeal. I’ve never seen such a lack of movement in a player. Spencer thought he’d try the opposite of stretching defences to find space and create. By simply looking like he was trying to bore them to a lapse in concentration by standing stiller than the queens guard. unsurprisingly it didn’t work. Spencer played the grand total of 9 games for the blues, failing to score in any of them before being farmed out to Motherwell. Much more Spencer’s standard.
The Scot was every bit as disastrous as Kendall’s last ever campaign. Our reward for a nerve shredding last day escape against Coventry City was four years of Walter Smith. As the saying goes: #EvertonThat
It was a tall order to cover all the horrors who have stepped out onto the hallowed turf that is Goodison Park. I know the current team is putting in some abysmal performances resulting in even worse results but, and I know it’s incredibly difficult right now, we have to believe we can turn our season around. For me we need signings badly or we are risking an awful lot should this window close with us empty-handed.
Everton Short Stay XI
Hottiger Kroldrup Senderos Sansom
Durrant Rehn Ginola
Honourable mention: Claus ‘the Scouse’ Thomsen. By far the worst player I have ever seen at Goodison. Heading, tackling, passing – you name it, he couldn’t do any of it.
Some of this team had been decent players and even great in their heyday. Sadly, not at Goodison Park. We witnessed the remains of their talent drain down the sink hole faster than a Saturday accumulator going belly up. We are in dire straits on the pitch and lets hope we can pull it together when it matters at Palace next week. We simply have to.
At least we’re not going into battle with this side.