Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Lescott switch won't quell Moyes' dreams for long

Manchester City have finally got their man. After weeks of dogged negotiation which may yet be subject to a Premier League "tapping up enquiry", Joleon Lescott (pictured right) leaves Everton for a five-year contract at Eastlands.

Admittedly, City played poker to force Everton to the table and turned the head of a seasoned and consistent professional. Bids of £16million, then £18million were rejected out of hand. But £22million was just too much for the Toffees to halt Lescott's departure, especially as the player himself was already lost mentally to the Goodison cause. They won't have to worry about losing Image Rights revenue from Lescott. Some say he's a bit ugly, actually!
The timing of City's offer, coming as it did on the eve of the new season was pretty low - but all's fair in love and war, and the transfer window is open.
It's common practice for clubs with financial muscle to tap up players. Fergie's a dab hand at it, either directly or through intermediaries. It's always been a part of football's landscape.

So what? it's a credit to the Everton manager David Moyes, who showed a lot of steel in the face of a rather unsophisticated financial sledgehammer. Moyes built a fantastic side on limited budget with Lescott as his defensive lynchpin.
But £22million is adequate compensation for such a blow. Yes, Everton have made a lamentable start to the season, but they were poor at the beginning of last term and they still managed to claim their second successive fifth-placed finish.
Moyes' teams thrive on match fitness and there isn't a more self-motivated squad of players anywhere in the Premier League. I back the Scot to steer his team up the table despite their nightmares against Arsenal and Burnley.
And with Sylvain Distin, Matthew Upson and others up for a new challenge, Moyes will still have cash in the bank to strengthen again in the January Transfer Window if he has to contend with injuries or the added demands of a cup run.
I well recall the Aston Villa side of 1979 being broken up within weeks and the Holte End thinking we were doomed. Having won the League Cup and finished as high as fourth, Villa were an emerging European force.
What happened next? Andy Gray was sold to Wolves for a British record £1.5m, John Gidman went to Everton for £750,000 and John Deehan joined WBA for £450,000.
Villa boss Ron Saunders risked the bullet. But what came next was a virtual miracle. Villa bought Tony Morley from Burnley, Chelsea's Kenny Swain, Hibernian's Des Bremner and Peter Withe of Newcastle. Those new arrivals were fashioned together with Dennis Mortimer, Gary Shaw and Gordon Cowans first into the Champions of England and the following year, European Cup winners.
It's not possible these days, you're thinking. All I'm saying is you can lose what looks like a key player - or even the heart of the team, and still emerge stronger.
Everton are a big club with a big manager. Only time will tell whether £22million in Everton's Bank Account is worth more to them than Joleon Lescott is as a Manchester City player.
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