Everton Club Focus – Fellaini signs new deal ahead of Wolves game in shadow of Blue Union protest

Marouane Fellaini this week signed a new five-year contract at Everton, making him the club’s highest-paid player and putting to bed rumours that have persistently linked the Belgium international with a move away from Goodison Park. The announcement comes as a second protest march is reportedly planned ahead of the Toffees’ Premier League meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

The Fellaini news, while welcomed by everyone of an Evertonian bent, is unlikely to assuage the protesters fully. They will no doubt point to the similar deal signed by Mikel Arteta in 2010 – again for five years and again making him the highest-paid player at the club – and the deadline day move to Arsenal that rendered it meaningless. Unfortunately that is the reality of contracts in football today, and Fellaini’s extended deal – the previous one was due to expire in 2013 – at least ensures that if a wealthier club does come calling, Everton will receive top dollar for the 23-year-old. The most effective way to prevent that from happening, however, is for the club to progress in order to match Fellaini’s ambition, and it is that which is at the heart of the Blue Union’s latest protest.

The Blue Union feel Everton is stagnating under Bill Kenwright and the current board. When the club’s recent league finishes are examined – 6th in 2006-07, 5th in 2007-08 and 2008-09, 8th in 2009-10 and 7th in 2010-11 – there is some uniformity, but whether that constitutes consistency or stagnation is largely in the eye of the beholder. It is nevertheless hard to deny that every year is getting more difficult for David Moyes to match the previous year’s achievements as his hands are bound tighter by costs that rise faster than income. If Everton are to break what the fans’ group clearly feels is stagnation, it will require a two-pronged approach – off-the-field, outside investment in the form of new ownership that enables the manager to add to his squad, and maintaining a competitive team on-the-field until that moment arrives. The signature of Fellaini helps towards this latter goal.

Three points against Wolves would also help a great deal. Everton have not beaten the Midlands side at Goodison since 2003-04, recording two 1-1 draws at home since Wolves returned to the top flight in 2009-10. On the back of a run of five defeats in six Premier League games, this home tie against a team largely expected to be amongst the relegation battlers takes on even greater significance. The last time the Blue Union protested before a match, Everton made a promising start to the game against Aston Villa and looked to be putting in one of their better performances. In the end, they still only managed a 2-2 draw, after two lapses in concentration allowed Villa to regain parity. Wolves have shown this season and in past appearances on the blue half of Merseyside they are equally capable of capitalising on such errors, but Everton need to use the Fellaini news and the fans’ discontent as spur to a much-required victory.

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