Everton's loan critics miss the point
Loans remain a steady talking point this season -- scrutiny continues to fall on Roberto Martinez and his resourceful use of them, with Everton capitalising on this open market to improve the squad of a club lacking the financial resources of their competitors.
On the two prominent occasions in which loans have become the focus of attention, it has coincided with fixtures against Arsenal. With the two sides battling it out for fourth place and the accompanying Champions League spot, this may not be the last we hear on the matter.
Attempts to diminish the progress made under Martinez have become a habitual theme this season, with talk centring on a supposed over-reliance on those loaned in from elsewhere. Though there is no denying the positive impact of those on loan and their role in this progressive season thus far, they are far from the sole reason for a team riding high in the table.
Everton were victorious at home to Chelsea earlier in the season, when top scorer Romelu Lukaku was ineligible against his parent club, as Steven Naismith added to his list of crucial goals scored in this campaign. The Blues were also deserving of more than a narrow defeat in the return fixture last month. The fact that other clubs have loaned players this season has almost become irrelevant, as it appears loan critique only arises when they are used effectively. After all, there are no complaints about Everton’s loan move for Lacina Traore, who has made just one appearance due to hamstring injuries since his January move from Monaco.
The various column inches devoted to examining Everton’s use of the system, which others could have used to their advantage had they wished to do so, merely underlines the misplaced nature of this particular grievance.
The ins and outs of the system -- the parent club rule, the number of loans allowed per team, etc -- are light-years away from being one of the greater issues in modern football. Those inclined to believe otherwise run the risk of missing the bigger picture by the proverbial mile.
Everton use loans in a bid to compete in the ever-evolving, cash-rich world of the Premier League, one headed by a gaggle of teams with wealthy backers and vastly superior bank balances. Such a fact should attract praise, not criticism; the Blues are working within their means to find a path to the top table. Clubs spending exorbitant amounts on transfers, wages and agent fees are more deserving, for want of a better word, of the scorn poured on Everton. These unabashed complaints about the comparatively cheap, risk-free option of a season-long loan seem hollow when there are players are moving clubs for 80 million pounds.
Large transfer fees must be replenished and supporters are the obvious target when it comes to increasing revenue streams. The easiest option is ticket prices, even though they already border on extortionate in some quarters. Despite the new record TV deal meaning clubs can afford to slash prices without losing out financially, many clubs will implement price rises in 2014-15.
Again, focusing on supporters -– the heartbeat of football -- there is also the seeming lack of consideration paid in regard to fixtures and kickoff times, namely the showpiece matches at Wembley such as FA Cup semifinals and finals.
In May 2012, with Everton and Liverpool contesting an all-Merseyside FA Cup semifinal, the match kicked off at 12:45pm. Given the lengthy trip to the capital, this meant thousands of supporters leaving Liverpool in the early hours of the morning. The needs of the supporter come out as secondary.
Similarly, fixtures are often changed for television coverage, yet the decisions rarely benefit supporters. Long distance away trips to far-flung corners of the country, especially those moved for the television schedule, can create transport problems for fans.
These are just some of the endless, more relevant issues that those objecting to Everton and their loans could tackle, instead of trying to drill futile holes into the creative and perfectly acceptable transfer policy of a manager enjoying a successful first season at Goodison.