David Prentice: Manchester City transfer link worrying for Everton FC

By Administrator on Jun 26, 09 12:54 PM in Journalists

EVERTON have endured bigger transfer shocks than the summer's day in 1977 when Ken McNaught decided the grass was greener elsewhere..

I'm thinking Alan Ball, Steve McMahon, Nick Barmby, Once a Blue . . . to list but a few.

But to a naive 14-year-old who still believed that Everton Football Club was the centre of the sporting uinverse, Ken McNaught's defection to Aston Villa was a shaker.

Because it was a sign that Everton lacked ambition.

McNaught was a hugely promising young centre-half who had been Everton's only ever present the previous season.

But when Aston Villa offered £200,000, Everton snatched their hands off. Worse still, they offered to throw in that bluest of Bluebloods, Mick Lyons, if agreement couldn't be reached with young McNaught.

It was a moment when Everton's place in the grander scheme of things came sharply into focus.

Villa had been a second division club just two years earlier.

With McNaught on board they were crowned European champions just four years later.

Everton were nearly men, never quite making that final push from contenders to champions.

I repeat the story because history looks like repeating itself.

The constant tabloid speculation linking Joleon Lescottt with Manchester City is based on fact.

And Evertonians fearing the worst are already seeking to soften the blow in case he goes.

"His knees have gone," "We could take Micah Richards and Jo" "Jack Rodwell is going to be a world class centre-half". That's just some of the bar-room wisdom I've listened to in the past few days.

But the truth is, Joleon Lescott is an outstanding centre-half.

Like McNaught, he is hugely impressive and young. Unlike big Ken he scores a prolific number of vital goals.

He is also English, which is increasingly significant to clubs who hope to be regularly involved in European football.

Until, fingers crossed, Phil Jagielka makes a full recovery from his dreadful knee injury, Everton are not well covered at centre-half.

Back in 1977 Everton promoted a promising young junior defender into senior service called Mark Higgins. It was a bold and successful move.

The Blues could contemplate a similar switch this season with the enormously promising Jack Rodwell, but it would still be a risky move, with the possibility of ruining the progress of a superb young footballer.

With senior Goodison officials either on holiday or unavailable, no-one has issued the kind of strenuous hands-off warning that Rafael Benitez saw fit to deliver as soon as similar speculation linked Javier Mascherano with a move to Barcelona.

But it was still reassuring to read Dominic King's understanding that Everton would toss out any City bid of £15m.

They should do the same with bids of £20 and £25m, because selling your best players is not the way to win trophies.

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