Monday 18 December 2017

Transfer market beckons for the Goodison Irish

Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy might be paying particular attention to his phone during the January transfer window. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy might be paying particular attention to his phone during the January transfer window. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ronald Koeman went to the well three times at Goodison Park during Everton's 1-1 draw with Manchester United and each time he left James McCarthy kicking his heels.

McCarthy's face left nobody in any doubt what he thought about it. Blood rises to his cheeks when he's angry and his physiology gave him away.

It was the third substitution which annoyed him most of all. Tom Cleverly off and Gerard Deulofeu on; one lightweight midfielder for another while McCarthy sat seething.

It bounces off Koeman, there is no doubt about that and he has made up his mind about McCarthy.

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that he hasn't changed his mind on McCarthy because Koeman seems to have made a call on him which pre-dates his arrival at Everton.


During pre-season, the word emerging from Goodison was not good about McCarthy's future at the club and many felt he would leave in August.

He chose to fight for a place but now, it is about as certain a bet as you can get that McCarthy will be out the door, if not in January then next summer.

Koeman dismissed McCarthy as an irrelevance in pre-match media and he matched words with actions during the game against Manchester United. Everton were struggling but he didn't see McCarthy as a solution.

Where did it all go wrong? How has Everton relationship with Ireland turned so sour and should we even care?

Back in 2013 when David Moyes departed Goodison, he left behind Seamus Coleman and Gibson and that was the extent of Ireland's interest in Goodison Park.

Roberto Martinez arrived in 2013, signed James McCarthy almost immediately and then Aiden McGeady during the January 2014 window.

Suddenly, three first choice international Irishman were working under the same roof which could only be good for the senior team.

Wrong. Martinez put a fence around his players and at the slightest hint of a knock or bruise, he tried to interfere with the international call-up process.

This created the first flashpoint between an Ireland manager and Everton. Giovanni Trapattoni, with no Premier League baggage, took out the megaphone, demanded McCarthy's release and it has been downhill ever since.

Roy Keane had to give Goodison both barrels too and when that didn't work Martin O'Neill went to bat as the torch passed to Koeman from Martinez and the level of grief seemed to increase.

Now, as well as kicking up an endless fuss, Everton are firing accusations around about O'Neill "killing" McCarthy.

Koeman is Everton and those with a more permanent stake in the club than a here today, gone tomorrow manager should remember that he speaks for the club.

The club has done some fantastic business in Ireland Richard Dunne and Seamus Coleman are just two of the most recent Irishmen to wear Everton blue.

Everton still enjoy strong relationships within the schoolboy community in Dublin that can change. The Toffees have been creating bad press here for three, messy years.

Everyone understands that the vagaries of football insist that what might look good on paper often fades in the cold light of day.

It would have been great if McGeady had worked out and Koeman inherited three very important players for Ireland he could work with but Coleman is the only one to meet his standards.

McGeady never settled but his time at the club ended poorly, a fact balanced by the extreme patience Everton have shown with Gibson who has produced little or no return for a hefty salary.

So in three short years, a rosy picture for Ireland at Goodison is now bleak.

McCarthy will find a new club and there is a good chance that Everton will come under pressure to cash in on Coleman which would leave Gibson, a shadowy present around the fringe of the first team and unlikely to ever be anything more, standing alone at Goodison Park.

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