A football club’s most valuable financial asset is its players. Some clubs are bank-rolled by American magnates, Russian oligarchs or Arab potentates and their playing squads can be strengthened at almost any cost, while under-performers can be parked in the reserves or sold at a loss with impunity. Others, such as Arsenal, have a state-of-the-art-stadium set in a global city, which throws off such a healthy stream of cash flow that the club is able to sustain and renew itself with relative ease. Everton do not have these advantages. They have to carefully husband their resources. Generally a player can only be bought if another has first been sold. Players can be loaned, but the wage-bill has to be kept under tight control; all football decisions are constrained by financial considerations. Lucky then that in David Moyes Everton possess one of the best judges of a footballer in the country. His record of acquiring ‘lower league’ players and polishing them into premier performers is outstanding; the list of names does not require repeating here.
Jack Rodwell was this week sold to Manchester City for £12m – rising to £15m. Last season Rodwell suffered two major hamstring injuries and made just 17 league and cup appearances. His play, throughout his career, can best be described as solid but unadventurous. Given his physique and technical ability his constant failure to impose himself on opposing sides was a feature of his play which if it was noticed in the stands, must have been worryingly obvious from the dugout. Against Liverpool at Goodison last season, for twenty minutes, until his game was ineptly cut-short by Martin Atkinson, he finally looked the part – aggressive, strong, and assertive – alas that was one of a very few occasions this writer can recall where he stamped himself on a game.
He was considered full of potential by the media, his name always accompanied by adjectives such as ‘promising’ and ‘talented’ he was taken for granted as a future England regular, talked of in the same breath as Wilshire, Welbeck and Sturridge. At least that’s where he was last year; constantly linked with a move to Manchester United or Chelsea. The contrast with this summer was stark; his name hardly mentioned; even the cheap rumour mongering web-sites and red tops had given up on him as a credible target for anyone, such was his fall from grace.
Everton’s financial situation and the uber-competative nature of the Premier League means that there is little room for emotion, we cannot afford to fall in love with our players anymore. Like a stock or bond portfolio where returns must be maximised, players have to be treated like commodities for the greater good. And if David Moyes can put the money to better use, which we suspect he can, then we have no argument with the sale of Jack Rodwell.