Loan focus clouds the bigger picture

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

AllsportGareth Barry has made a major impact at Everton since arriving on loan from Manchester City.

Boo, hiss and any other word with connotations of disapproval. Let us place endless shame on Roberto Martinez for daring to improve his Everton side by the comparatively cheap method of loan deals.

Wait, on second thought, let us not; that would be ridiculous -- almost as ridiculous as the interest currently foisted on the Catalan and his excellent use of a market open to all. Others could have used loans to their advantage had they so desired.

- Report: Everton eye Deulofeu loan extension

From Arsene Wenger and beyond -- though the Arsenal boss did raise a valid point about scrapping the parent club rule -- the business of loaning players is the talk of the town. This focus has coincided with a rise up the table, although maybe that is just cynicism taking over. Still, it is hard to imagine anyone batting an eyelid if Everton had loaned players and struggled.

Forgetting the nonsense surrounding the subject, the reality of the situation is that loans are a viable -- and judging by the three acquisitions this season -- productive means of player recruitment for a club short on disposable income.

There is no Russian billionaire charging in on his helicopter to save the day; there are no sporting franchise owners from across the pond. There is only Bill Kenwright and his board, and they offer little more than free tickets to the opening night of Les Miserables.

Martinez must work with the hand he is dealt. Fortunately, for all concerned, he has found a winning hand. Should Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu fire the Blues into Europe, any scepticism or complaint arising will not be from L4, that much is certain.

Much is made of the fact that only Barry is likely to remain beyond the summer, but that does not diminish the contribution of the trio. Given the option of borrowing genuine quality for a season, with Loic Remy at Newcastle another example, or squandering millions on misfiring players as some London-based sides did, the choice is an easy one.

Furthermore, the unnecessary attention on loans, and their various long-term and short-term benefits/pitfalls, only serves to devalue the impact of the permanent residents on Merseyside. While Barry and company have obviously improved the side, they are not the sole reason for Everton riding high in the table.

James McCarthy, who misses the visit of Fulham through suspension, is arguably the standout performer since his arrival from Wigan. McCarthy leads by example, impresses with a wide array of attributes and has struck up a formidable midfield partnership with Barry -- Wenger and his league leaders can attest to the latter.

Another standout player, one at the club considerably longer than McCarthy, is Tim Howard. Plenty of criticism landed in his direction last season, as errors crept into his otherwise consistent game, yet the American is back to his shot-stopping best.

There were early signs of struggle adapting to the passing style of Martinez, but such concerns are also beginning to dissipate. Seemingly revitalised since his heroic Villa Park display, Howard was key in the trips to Old Trafford and the Emirates. Everton would not have their four-point return without him.

In all honesty, the list is endless. There is the emergence of Ross Barkley, flourishing under the freedom granted to him by Martinez, or the ever-impressive defence that boasts the cleanest sheets in the league.

This is a collective effort; the whole squad is responsible for a group approaching an eminently winnable run of fixtures with sky-high confidence. So, while those on the outside quibble about the system -- to loan, or not to loan: that is question! -- let us continue to enjoy watching a team intent on reopening the School of Science.


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