When I was a lad, every so often I would skive off school. It wasn’t a chronic problem, for the most part my parents ignored it and my teachers didn’t seem to notice. All except one teacher – he taught English and French, had the features of a hawk and a crew cut to match. He would always sniff the air before he made a withering comment about my previous day’s absence. Sometimes I was actually legitimately absent; he still didn’t care. Once a schoolmate broke into his desk and uncovered a trove of little notes written about us. The note about me said that I was “naively aimiable”.
When Duncan Ferguson was sold to Newcastle I stayed at home, heartbroken. The next day I trudged to school, wincing as he swept into the classroom – expecting a lashing from his cruel tongue. Except nothing happened. Even he understood.
News crept through this week of the third coming of Duncan Ferguson and lots of us were overjoyed. The Big Yin, who doesn’t have his coaching badges yet, is going to help Alan Irvine out with our youth teams at the Everton Academy. He could be perfect as a coach, eventually. His personality, coupled with his obvious love for our club
, could work well with our young impressionable kids.
Duncan Ferguson is an Everton legend. Not like Neville Southall, Dixie Dean, Alan Ball or Alex Young, but no blue in the Premier League era has been worshiped like this totemic Scot. He was a fitting hero for the mid 90′s Everton – a team shorn of glamour that brushed cheeks with relegation. Who are the smug older Evertonians to tell us that he isn’t a legend? They were spoilt with their stars – and Duncan was our hero: skilled, injury prone, violent; the birdman of Barlinnie prison, a big game player and purveyor of skyscraping headers.
The joyous reaction to Duncan’s return is an obvious one. We were starved of summer signings, we’ve just lost three league games on the bounce, and financially we haven’t got a pot to piss in. We’re scratching around for good news. What I’m more confused by is the reaction to the signing of James McFadden on a free transfer. My initial thoughts were negative too, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I think he will be a good addition.
The first problem that people have with McFadden is that he is a “crock”, and that his cruciate injury has destroyed him as a player. But pace was never integral to McFadden’s game, and he has already played 45 minutes for the reserves and done well enough in training for Moyes to sign him. Many felt that selling McFadden to Birmingham in the first place was a good move because he was so infuriatingly inconsistent, what we have now is a more mature player who, at 28, is only hitting his peak years and will also bring added maturity that was perhaps missing in his previous stint at Goodison Park.
The second issue that is brought up is that he was on a free transfer. The lack of a price tag, the fact that he was shuffling around in the free transfer darkness looking for a for club, surely meant that he was worthless and useless. No one else wanted him, so why did we – utter mugs that we are – swoop for him? Well as it turns out, other clubs were in for him too – Wolves were in talks to sign him and Celtic were interested too. In fact, Birmingam City wanted to keep McFadden but couldn’t reach an agreement. So as it turns out, Moyes isn’t signing a player no one else wants, he is signing a player who was being tracked by other clubs and is still only 28.
The third gripe with the signing of McFadden is that it is “a step backwards”. Why are we buying him, when we have Barkley, Drenthe, Vellios et al champing at the bit? Is this crippled Scot going to be fast tracked to the first team? All these moans baffle me. Moyes has given no indication that he is going to go straight into our first XI, I suspect he’s been brought in to bolster our shallow squad. Whereas teams like Man City have an ocean of options, we have a paddling pool. Signing a proven Premier League talent like McFadden is surely a sensible move.
My fridge is currently looking a little bare, a couple of bricks of cheese, a few yoghurts, some milk. Why would adding some eggs to my fridge ever be considered a backward step?