GOODISON, as Everton’s matchday programme has been boasting in recent weeks, will hold a darts exhibition later this year.
GOODISON, as Everton FC’s matchday programme has been boasting in recent weeks, will hold a darts exhibition later this year. Some supporters, though, may well have been hosting their own impromptu game at home this week.
Several might even have pinned images of Bill Kenwright or Robert Elstone to the dartboard after Everton’s attempts to strengthen before the January transfer window culminated in frustrating failure.
From having precious little funds for much of the month, David Moyes found himself with access to a sudden wedge of cash and few days in which to spend it.
So the announcement of an £8.6million deal for Holland international Leroy Fer was a pleasant surprise for Evertonians anticipating another deadline-day scramble.
Then, of course, matters quickly unravelled. And that’s when the fingers began to point, the tungsten being primed.
Where on earth did the money come from? Why was it released so late? And why were Everton then not willing to take a chance on a player who was performing without any issue for FC Twente?
Moyes, for the best part, has kept his counsel, but admitted last week he wasn’t helped by the money only being released with barely a week before the window slammed shut.
Everton’s board deserve credit for conjuring up extra funds, particularly with Elstone having blogged earlier in the month of how little cash Moyes had at his disposal.
The club operate within tight restraints and refuse to spend beyond their means, although that reticence to speculate to accumulate has grated with fans who can see how close the team are to the highest echelons of the Premier League.
That said, with the Fer deal scheduled to have been paid in installments, it is an illusion to suggest Everton suddenly had a potful of money.
And with the medical showing the player could have played 100 games or just one before his knee problem flaring up, those were odds the board just weren’t willing to take.
But in trying to help out, they have ultimately left themselves open to accusations of indecision and an unwillingness to back their manager.
Precisely the criticism that, for much of last season, prompted such discord among sections of the Goodison faithful.
Indeed, it was before the home game against Aston Villa last season there was the threat of a demonstration against Kenwright, and there were similar rumblings at Saturday’s 3-3 home draw with the Midlanders.
The game itself brought one issue into sharp focus. Not so much that Everton almost lost. More that the player who dragged them back from the brink with two goals was Marouane Fellaini.
Fellaini cost £15million back in September 2008. His value has increased in the meantime to almost twice that fee.
And his double on Saturday showed that, more often than not, you get what you pay for.
A move for young right-back John Stones aside, Everton spent nothing in January. Certainly, nothing that can immediately benefit their quest for Champions League qualification.
Will they now end the season with nothing? You’d hope not. The efforts in the previous two transfer windows are why Everton remain within striking distance of the top four.
But what happens between now and the end of the season will go a long way towards shaping the immediate future of the club.
Failure to finish in the top four would most likely prompt Fellaini to depart, while many of the leading clubs will surely launch concerted efforts to lure Leighton Baines away from Goodison.
The main question mark, though, surrounds Moyes. Now in the final six months of his contract, the Scot has shown no signs of rushing to put pen to paper on a new deal.
The last thing Everton want as they press for a strong finish to the campaign is continued speculation over the manager’s future. But the failure, for whatever reason, to sufficiently bolster the squad last month could prove a decisive moment in Moyes’s 11-year Goodison tenure.