Barry, Lukaku highlight a familiar Goodison trend

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Romelu Lukaku scores for Everton at Man City.PA PhotosRomelu Lukaku scores for Everton at Man City.

David Moyes muddied his image on Merseyside with a series of preposterous offers for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini during the summer, but there was a necessary trend started by the former manager that looks set to continue under Roberto Martinez.

During his Everton tenure, Moyes had a knack for providing a settled environment to many of the lost souls of the footballing world. This covered a variety of areas, including players languishing on the bench, struggling for game time, those with unfulfilled potential, or those effectively sent out to pasture.

One of the first players to underline Moyes’ eye for a bargain was Nigel Martyn. Nearer to 40 than 30, the out-of-favour Leeds United keeper had little hope for regular football at Elland Road. Moyes acquired the veteran as a backup initially, but he would later describe the former England international as his best signing.

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Moyes even managed to coax a good season out of journeyman forward Marcus Bent, with the front man contributing key goals en route to the fourth-plae finish of 2004-05. Other notable bargains included Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar; the pair had been slowly meandering towards anonymity before settling on Merseyside.

Frozen out at Old Trafford for varying reasons at various times, the trio of Phil Neville, Tim Howard and, most recently, Darron Gibson found solace in transfers to Everton. Injuries still haunt Gibson, but the midfielder is a key figure when fit, while Howard reaffirmed his credentials impressively against Aston Villa.

In spite of the television money influx this season, Everton continue to operate on relatively modest means; the summer transfer window represented another in which the net spend was a negative figure. Therefore, the ability to pluck players from these endless proverbial scrapheaps is vital in alleviating the financial strain that often weighs heavily on the Goodison hot seat.

Martinez will need to be just as shrewd in future transfer markets, though the loan acquisitions of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku suggest few problems in this area. Like many of the aforementioned players, this duo also faced little prospect of first-team football at their respective parent clubs.

The highly rated Lukaku is sure to find his time on Merseyside limited to a solitary season, with the player set on proving himself at Chelsea and the Blues unable to afford any potential fee accompanying the player. But the youngster has settled instantly and is clearly enjoying his football. Five goals in five leagues games is testament to that.

Likewise, though largely due to an ultra-competitive midfield environment, Barry knew first-team football would be in short supply at the Etihad. Fortunately for Everton, the midfielder is beginning to display the same level of consistency that led to City supporters holding him in such high regard.

Comparative to Moyes and his record purchase of Fellaini in 2008, Martinez underpinned his assured summer business by spending heavily on James McCarthy. Overall, with the majority of their business in the bargain bucket section, their strategies in terms of recruitment hold many similarities. Though Martinez is more adventurous than his predecessor, the two are markedly alike in their eye for astute signings.

As it was for the best part of 11 years under previous management, Goodison appears a suitable home for the unwanted and those needing to kick-start/revitalise their careers. This may make Everton sound like the footballing equivalent of the RSPCA, yet on past and current evidence that is no bad thing.


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