After a bank holiday weekend of over-indulgence and a return to work today my plan was to sit down tonight and write a bit about Everton’s late disappointment against Arsenal on Saturday evening. If ever a 90 or so minutes summed up being an Evertonian it was our 2-2 draw with the Gunners; from excitement, confidence and jubilation came regret, frustration and downright disappointment – the main emotions which probably best describe supporting this Football Club!
However this is Everton we are talking about, and you just can’t be angry at them for long, can you?
Instead of dwelling on our game with Arsene Wenger’s men, I now sit here hearing the news that we’ve just signed veteran striker Samuel Eto’o on a two-year deal and I can’t help but feel excited about his capture. Eto’o is 33 years of age and arrives at Goodison Park with a wealth of experience from a number of leagues and on the international stage too. The Cameroonian spent time at Chelsea last season – hitting nine goals in the process – and although he isn’t a spring chicken anymore there is no denying that it is a major coup by Roberto and the Club to capture the three-time European Cup winner.
What is great to me is that we’ve again managed to bring in a big name, after years of struggling to do so. In the recent past we’ve had some iffy strikers (and in other positions too) to say the least, and when you read our squad list now to what it was back when we finished fourth in 2005 (take nothing away from them) – the names are on another level. This speaks volumes for what Martinez has managed to do since arriving at Goodison Park; he isn’t afraid to approach the big names and share his vision for the Club, and more often than not since walking through the door at Finch Farm in June 2013 he has managed to persuade them to join him.
This started with the loan capture of Deulofeu, a signing that had Evertonians jumping through hoops. The boy from Barca was the first exciting name to become a part of the Martinez-era and since then he has not only brought in many of his former players from Wigan (less exciting, I know!), he has signed Premier League winner Gareth Barry, one of the hottest prospects in Europe in Romelu Lukaku, whilst also convincing the talented Mo Besic to move to England and be a part of his project at Goodison Park. Add to this the fact that nearly every Everton player has signed new deals at the Club and remained on Merseyside since the Spaniard took charge, plus the loan signing of another young prospect Christian Atsu, and now the smart addition of Eto’o, it is fair to say that Roberto Martinez is having a major influence as the Manager of Everton FC. From once being labelled as ‘plucky’ and that dreaded tag of ‘punching above our weight’ we are now serious Champions League contenders and a Club ‘to be at’. I’ve written about the Martinez vision previously and it is plain to see that it isn’t just us Evertonians who buy into it – these players do to, and the confidence that this breeds is incredible.
Just have a read of Eto’o’s quotes taken from evertontv, I think you will see what I mean…
“I am very happy to be here, I am looking forward greatly to putting on the Blue shirt of Everton.
“I have been very impressed by the style of play Everton adopt. I could see straight away that at this club I will have the opportunity to play football. I had the chance to speak with the manager over the last few days and we agreed that this was what we would do.
“I was impressed with his enthusiasm but also by the knowledge of football that Roberto Martinez carries, his vision of football and how he reads football. I still think I can learn a great deal from him here.”
I don’t know about you but to see faces like Barry, Lukaku and Eto’o signing for my Club this summer has left me pinching myself at times, and I feel enormous pride when I see these big names donning the royal blue of Everton FC. I spent years signing Eto’o on Champ Manager, a few years later it was Lukaku who I used to recruit whilst forming my fantasy teams on that particular game, and now that aforementioned duo will be running out at Goodison alongside each other wearing the Everton shirt, it’s going to be a strange feeling but one that I will embrace and enjoy.
All too often over the years we’ve just had to ‘make do’ with transfers and hope to bring through players from the academy or from the lower leagues – and Moyes deserves praise for what he did to develop the latter and make them into Premier League stars. However times have changed on Merseyside and to see the way the Club have performed in the market over these past 12 months is truly refreshing and you just can’t help but say to yourself ‘it’s about time’. Kenwright and his colleagues have given Martinez sufficient funds to continue his work at the Goodison helm and the players he has attracted in just a short time since arriving from Wigan is a statement to his work and his plans for the Club’s future.
Eto’o might not be the youngest but who’s to say he is going to play week in, week out. In reality he probably won’t, but to add his experience and goal-scoring knowledge to Lukaku’s power and promise and Steven Naismith’s hunger and neat finishing is a smart move in my opinion. I was going to add Arouna Kone in the mix there too but it would be unfair as he just hasn’t got going since coming to the Club, but in fairness to the Ivorian he has struggled with injuries and will hopefully play his part this season too. That means we have a good balance up front now, and gone are the days of Vellios, , Beattie, Beckford and the Stracq (might upset a few, with that last one but let’s be honest..!), we now have major competition for places and some massive names in the footballing world vying for places in Martinez’ team, and it fills me with even more confidence that the good times will soon return for Everton FC.
With less than a week to go until the transfer window closes many Blues out there might say we still need new players and I’d echo that sentiment. Ideally another body in defence or who knows up front again, we could do with one or two more. Martinez might have something up his sleeve to further bolster the ranks for this season and with injuries already mounting up I feel we could see some more action over the coming days. But for now I am reflecting on what I believe is a smart addition by the Club in signing Samuel Eto’o. His experience (likes Barry’s) can only benefit the players around him, just look at some of the sides he has played for and the fact he has won 19 major trophies. Eto’o has hit over 50 goals for his country and turned out for the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. More recently he spent time in Russia with Anzhi and enjoyed a decent spell with Chelsea last term, proving that he does still have goals in him at the top-level.
Everton is the next step in Eto’o’s career and although many of our supporters might suggest we should be signing younger players and maybe not spending as much on big wages for a 30+ year old, I didn’t hear any mutterings when we signed Gareth Barry. Lukaku is the young prospect at the forefront of our attack and will hopefully be for many a year, and with Eto’o as his team-mate for at least a season surely this can only be beneficial to Rom and Everton FC in the long-term. The blend in our squad is terrific, and although we’ve started with two draws and picked up a few knocks already, don’t get too down about it Blues. We should enjoy seeing our Club signing players of this ilk and as supporters it is a great feeling when we do. Samuel Eto’o is the latest name to join the Toffees and become a part of Roberto’s dream for Everton and it is clear to me that he is not only building for a successful future for this Football Club, he wants success right here and right now, and there is no reason to believe it cannot be achieved.
Up the Toffees.