In truth, there was never any real chance of the LA Galaxy star coming to Goodison Park. Moyes was simply asked the Beckham question during a routine press conference after discussing the chances of Landon Donovan returning next month and gave the answer most Premier League managers would have given. Combined with the history between Beckham and Moyes – they were briefly teammates at Preston North End in 1995 – and Everton captain Phil Neville’s friendship with his former Manchester United colleague, the story took on a life of its own, being splashed across newspapers most of the weekend. But more tellingly for Everton fans, the Toffees do have a hole on the right of the midfield which Moyes has tried to fill in more than half a dozen different ways this season.
Steven Pienaar, Seamus Coleman, Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Victor Anichebe have all been stationed on the right wing at various times since August, with varying degrees of success. Pienaar, Coleman and Anichebe impressed while the remaining trio each looked distinctly out of position. There have also been experiments with three strikers and no orthodox right-sided midfielder while chasing a game but the most consistent answer to the problem has been young Irishman Coleman. A full-back by trade, Coleman’s attacking endeavour gave Everton a boost when their fortunes were flagging but his inexperience has shown at times, having few tricks in his locker other than running, head down, at his opposing left-back – at times devastatingly effective, but easily defended at others. With Anichebe coming through his first team return against West Bromwich Albion unscathed, a prolonged spell on the bench may be Coleman’s immediate future.
A short-term solution may come if Donovan returns on loan in January, and the United States international was extremely popular on and off the field in his first spell at the club. Donovan provided something similar to Coleman – explosive pace – but with a more rounded edge, the benefit of his years of experience in Major League Soccer, the Bundesliga and on the international stage, and where Coleman’s instincts lie defensively, as a converted right-back, Donovan’s history of playing as a legitimate centre-forward give him more forward thinking thoughts. The American brought to Everton dynamic movement and consistent delivery from wide – his first contribution was a corner at Arsenal from which Leon Osman scored but it is not yet clear whether Donovan will swap the Los Angeles sun for the Liverpool snow again. If he does, Everton will start the New Year on a positive note. If not, Everton’s struggles may stay longer than the snow currently blanketing the country.