herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

McCarthy must not get stuck in Toffees struggle

Wigan's Ireland midfielder needs to sign for a top-four club to fulfil his big potential

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and James McCarthy. Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and James McCarthy. Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

WITH all due respect to Everton, a club with strong Irish roots and a rich history of success, those of us who expect great things from James McCarthy hope for better.

A reunion with Darron Gibson might be good for Everton fans but for McCarthy's long-term development, Champions League football must be on the menu.

Don't even mention the overtures coming from Tyneside and Alan Pardew's effort to strengthen midfield. Newcastle would be a cul-de-sac.

Damien Duff went to the north- east at the height of his powers with Premier League winners medals in his pocket and while the man himself claims he has no regrets about that move, all he has to show for it is the Intertoto Cup, which Newcastle won in 2006.

For most professional footballers, that medal is nothing more than a novelty item.

Highs

His time with the Toon put an end to the flow of silver into his trophy cabinet – if he has such a thing.

More likely, Duffer slings them in a box under his bed and never has a second thought about the most tangible evidence he has of a career that hit some serious highs at Stamford Bridge during Jose Mourinho's first coming. And that venue provided the ideal ready reckoner if anyone needed an example of the gap between the top of the Premier League and everyone else.

Robbie Brady and David Meyler's desperate struggle to hold on to Chelsea's global smorgasbord of midfield talent on Sunday at Stamford Bridge told its own story.

Newspaper previews in Ireland on the day carried interviews with Brady and universally acclaimed the wisdom and timing of his exit from Old Trafford.

Brady pointed out that if he hadn't left Manchester United when he did, he would have missed Hull's promotion and perhaps found himself thrashing around during this or next summer looking for a club.

But the elephant in the room was the fact that Brady had to drop to the Championship to find a club and if the Chelsea game is a reliable indicator, Hull will be back where they came from this time next year.

Brady made a considered choice and decided that he wasn't going to break through at Old Trafford so he left. He will have a nice adventure with Steve Bruce and then he'll be back in the Championship.

Gibson left Old Trafford behind for Goodison but his time at Everton has been fractured by injury and hardly a roaring success.

McCarthy has been patted on the back for taking the slow road to success but this is the time when he needs to move into the fast lane or be left behind. At the start of the summer, the names being bandied about as a potential new homes for McCarthy were Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs.

It has to be a cause for concern that the list has been distilled down to Everton and Newcastle, perennial strugglers in a league neither can really afford when it comes to fighting for prizes rather than position and the cash that comes with it.

Pursuit

It will never be enough and McCarthy, no matter how good he has become and how good he can yet be, won't change that fact.

With 10 days to go before the window closes much can happen and, at the moment, it seems David Moyes' pursuit of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines is the pivot around which McCarthy's transfer could move. All we can hope is that bigger clubs are still considering McCarthy. Arsenal could certainly do with what he has to offer.

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