Club Focus – Everton – Howard’s Pienaar comments throw Moyes’ transfer record into the spotlight

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard gave an interview to Sky Sports News yesterday in which he spoke of how important he believes it is Steven Pienaar signs a new contract at Goodison Park, and stated that while there is no doubt the South Africa international is a vital member of the Toffees’ team, if Pienaar does depart for pastures new at the end of the season there should be little doubt David Moyes will adequately replace the mercurial midfielder.

Moyes is after all the man who brought Pienaar to Everton in the first place, picking the 28-year-old up on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund in 2007, making the move permanent a year later. The two transfers cost Everton a combined £2.35m – £350 000 for the loan and £2m for Pienaar’s signature on a three-year-deal, the same contract that is due to expire next summer – and Pienaar is not the only example of Moyes’ ability to spot a bargain, rather one of a celebrated trio of cut-price purchases, along with Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. But that is a category a number of players could fit into, considering the form they have reached under the manager’s tutelage.

Howard himself, despite a couple of errors this season, has proved excellent value for money – £3m, again after a loan period – while Phil Jagielka cost Everton £4m in 2007 and has become one of the top defenders in England, one who would cost at least three times the fee the Blues paid Sheffield United if he were on the move today. £3.5m for Phil Neville, £5m for Sylvain Distin, an undisclosed – but believed to be low – fee for Louis Saha, even the £6m handed over to Wigan Athletic for Leighton Baines have all proven money well spent as each player has, at times, been a standout performer.

In more expensive moves, Marouane Fellaini may have taken time to settle at Everton after his £15m move but when he did the results were outstanding, with some of the best one-man performances seen in a blue shirt in many years, while Yakubu justified his £11m price tag in his first season as an Everton player when he netted 22 goals, the first Everton striker to break the 20-goal mark since Peter Beardsley in the early 1990s. The only question mark remaining hangs over Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, but there were enough positives in his debut season following the £9m transfer from Lokomotiv Moscow to suggest the Russian will come good.

The criticisms of Moyes stem mostly from the signings of James Beattie – £6m from Southampton – and Per Kroldrup – £5m from Udinese – and the Kroldrup signing is indefensible. The Danish international played just once for Everton in 6 months before returning to Italy with Fiorentina, and the best that can be said about that saga is Moyes corrected his mistake at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile, Beattie was neither a success nor a failure at Everton, more a long frustration at a clearly talented player struggling to fit in, although he did manage 11 goals in 38 games during his first full season at the club.

While every club wants to retain their best players and avoid the inevitable tumult of their departure, Moyes has earned the trust of both Everton’s fans and players that, should Pienaar leave, whoever replaces him will be the right man for the job.

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