Rumours linking David Moyes with the managerial vacancy at Aston Villa have dogged Everton’s start to the summer, with the departure of Gerard Houllier only adding to the gossip surrounding the Toffees’ boss. Former Fulham manager Mark Hughes is the bookmakers’ favourite but Moyes is as short as 10/1 with some outlets.
Moyes was reportedly in Villa’s sights last August when Martin O’Neill resigned, but following Houllier’s decision to step down, the Scot’s name is again being mentioned in connection with the Villa Park outfit. A local newspaper poll found Moyes to be the supporters’ choice, with 42% of respondents favouring the 48-year-old ahead of ex-Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and the apparent choice, former Manchester United striker Hughes. Hughes received only 6.8% of votes, hardly a ringing endorsement, but with his resignation from Fulham yesterday, the Welshman would be a more straightforward option. Moyes is under a long-term deal at Goodison Park and Everton would demand hefty compensation should he wish to move to the Midlands, although the indications are Moyes is no more interested in the position this summer- than he was last autumn- when he publicly distanced himself from the role.
The tittle-tattle over Moyes’ future has threatened to obscure Everton’s transfer business. With only James Vaughan having left, and fees yet to be agreed with suitors of Joseph Yobo and Yakubu, Everton are still working on one of the tightest budgets in the Premier League. Loan deals and free transfers appear the most likely route for Everton, although a £9m move for Lille forward Gervinho was strongly mooted in numerous publications this week. Quite where Everton would find £9m going spare was not explained in any of the stories linking the Ivory Coast international with a move to Merseyside – although it is possible the Everton board have provided Moyes with more funds than anyone expects – but the most telling aspect of the transfer rumours around Everton is that most of the players mentioned are forwards. The most recent addition to that list is Miroslav Klose who has been released by Bayern Munich this week.
The Liverpool Echo this week said Everton are not interested in Jay Bothroyd, the England international who left Cardiff City at the end of the season, as it is not felt he is of higher quality than the strikers currently at the club. However, as much as Everton need an injection of quality into their forward line, an injection of quantity is a close second. Jermaine Beckford, Victor Anichebe and Louis Saha are the only senior strikers on the Blues’ books, assuming Yakubu moves on, and with Beckford the owner of only a season of Premier League experience, Anichebe an inconsistent and frustrating presence and Saha frail as ever, the ranks are a little thin. Replicating last summer’s gamble on Beckford with a move for Bothroyd would have at least given Moyes another option for little financial risk. Beckford eventually adapted to the top flight and Bothroyd has many years of Championship football behind him, which Beckford did not, but it appears Everton’s search for a striker will run almost as long as the stories linking Moyes to Villa.