Hardman's Thoughts

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Ramble #16

The Derby

I wonder what it must be like to wake up on derby day morning and actually feel like your team has a chance of winning?

Everton have not won one since 2010, we’ve only won four in this millennium and the last victory at Anfield saw Francis Jeffers sent off. Our last three performances at Anfield are amongst the worst I’ve ever watched (Jagielka’s last minute leveller two years ago was brilliant but lucky). 

So I’m not excited for today. I’m not even expecting a draw. We will lose, there’s no doubt about that. Especially without Seamus Coleman and Morgan Schneiderlin. 

But BBC Breakfast’s coverage has annoyed me. They started the segment on the derby by talking about how Liverpool have lost two key players, therefore making today harder for them. But they didn’t mention in the same breath how Everton have also lost two key players (and, for the record, Funes Mori and James McCarthy as well). 

They ended it by finally talking about Coleman, except they even got that wrong. They said Koeman had an argument with Martin O’Neill over the Irish managers treatment of Seamus. I mean, did the writers ever stop to ask themselves if that made sense? The argument was about the Irish treatment of James McCarthy who they selected even though he wasn’t 100% fit. For all of O’Neill’s faults, he couldn’t predict Coleman’s leg break! 

I don’t mind that we’ll lose the derby, I’m honestly used to that. I mind when the coverage is biased and wrong. Both clubs have pretty big histories, both clubs are in the top half of the biggest league in the country. Neither have ever won the Premier League, so give both the same level of detail and fairness to your coverage. 

If organisations like BBC can’t give fair coverage, then we have to get all our news about our club from local sources and the club itself, which is far from ideal.


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Three sports, three players, three hundred words

Romelu Lukaku has now scored more league goals than any other Everton player in the history of the Premier League. People are, ridiculously, making a big deal about it. Let’s put this into some perspective. He’s scored 61 goals, one more than Dixie Dean scored in the 1927-28 season (yes, football existed before 1992). Everton have been in the top flight since the PL was created, along with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham. Their top goal scorers have 175, 180, 128, 147 and 97 goals respectively. Yes, Lukaku breaking Ferguson’s record is a little bit of history but that doesn’t mean we should be celebrating it.

Eoin Morgan scored another one-day century this week. Only seven players (four from South Africa) have scored more runs than him in the format this year, and only one from the same amount of innings. Our captain is fourth on the all-time list for English players, while the century in the first match against West Indies pulled him level with Kevin Pietersen. It means only Marcus Trescothick has hit more tons. Trescothick’s 12 centuries is well within reach, as is Ian Bell’s record of 5400 runs (Morgan is about 900 behind). England’s greatest? Possibly, at least until Joe Root catches up!

Andy Murray has remained at number one for the 18th week in a row. That makes it sound defensive, the truth is he’s comfortable there – at least until the French Open! Djokovic has points galore to defend at the next two tournaments – Indian Wells and Miami, where Andy lost in the third round at both last year. Andy won in Dubai last week as Djokovic lost to Kyrgios in Mexico. Djokovic will almost certainly still finish the year top of the pile, but March is a great chance for Murray to continue cementing his place in tennis history.


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Joel Robles

Whisper it quietly, but Everton have been performing quite well recently. We sit pretty atop of the form table over the last five games and fourth in the table concerning the last ten.

There’s a mixture of reasons for the fact we’ve only lost one game in those ten. Firstly, our central midfield has become a pillar of strength, with Koeman spoiled for choice amongst new signing Morgan Schneiderlin, young star Tom Davies, the ever-consistent Idrissa Gana Gueye, improving Ross Barkley, livewire James McCarthy and the experienced Gareth Barry. We found success while Gueye was on international duty using a 5-3-2 system, but the Senegalese rock’s return has seen an indifferent return to the 4-3-3 with Barkley on the wings rather than in the centre. Hopefully the, by all accounts, lacklustre draw away at Boro is the end of that.

Secondly, and what I want to focus this blog on is the improvement at the back. Mason Holgate and Ramiro Funes Mori have come in to replace Phil Jagielka, and Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman appear more at home as wing-backs rather than full-backs but neither of those changes have made the biggest difference.

That, instead, lies with the goalkeeper. First choice at the start of the season, Marteen Steklenburg got injured in the Merseyside Derby, and was replaced by Joel Robles. Many Everton fans, myself included, as harsh as this sounds, were relieved because, quite frankly, Stek is a liability and Robles is something of a rock.

In his ten matches this season, nine in this current run, one against West Ham earlier, Joel has kept six clean sheets. He’s conceded seven goals. Ok, so seven goals in four games isn’t a great record but looking individually at the goals it’s hard to pinpoint any of the blame on Joel.

In 16 matches earlier this year, Stekenlenberg conceded 20 goals and only kept two clean sheets. He became a little bit of a hero against Manchester City with two penalty saves, but that was more of the exception than the rule.

With Joel between the sticks, our defenders look much more solid. And that allows our attacks to be more fluid. Which, unsurprisingly, has led to better results. Joel makes an average of 3 saves per match, Steklenberg only 2.1. Joel’s seven goals conceded in ten matches is the fewest of any goalkeeper to have reached double figures for appearances this season. There’s no question that Joel deserves to be, and should be for a very long time, Everton’s number one.

Personally, I’m a massive fan of the Spaniard. When Everton were collapsing last term, he was conceding three or four goals every time we played away. And yet he was consistently our best player. Without him, our goal difference last season would have been negatively astronomical. That went unnoticed by most, so I’m glad he’s now starting to prove himself with a decent defence who actually want to play for the manager.

And just to top it all off, his celebrations are boss.


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The Return of Jose Baxter

If you gave me a million years to think of things that could happen to Everton in this transfer window, I would never even have considered the possibility of a return for Jose Baxter.

Yet that is what is being claimed in many newspapers this morning. That the 24-year-old will, at the end of the year, receive a 12-month contract with the Blues. It’s a genuine report, as the articles contain quotes from U23 manager David Unsworth, the man behind the deal.

The deal isn’t, according to Unsworth, a first team contract – Baxter will link up with the U23s, and is free to move to a league club during or following the contract. It follows a stint where the young striker has been working with our charity, Everton in the Community. Baxter’s career highlights include becoming the youngest player to ever play for Everton, fading into obscurity with Oldham and later Sheffield United (interestingly, signed by Unsworth there too) before two drug bans have left him outside of football.

It’s fair to say that the twitter reaction to the news hasn’t been 100% positive. I’ve seen a few people following my stance, but most people are claiming that this is a bad deal for Everton. I don’t see why.

They say that he’ll hold back the development of a proper prospect, yet I doubt that’s the case. Unsworth’s U23 are doing incredibly well and we’re talking about a man who in the one game he managed with Everton’s first team started Pennington, Dowell and Davies and brought Kenny off the bench. I think it’s incredibly harsh to accuse Unsworth of potentially holding players back – after all, he’s the one actively pushing for further opportunities for his squad.

Secondly, they say it’ll block first team players getting back to fitness with the U23s (due to the quotas on the number of players over 23 allowed to play). That would be the case if there was a limit on the number allowed in the squad, rather than on matchdays. It’s simple, if we have a rare time where more than 3 over 23-year-olds are unfit, then Baxter won’t be involved. That’s a non-issue.

The benefits of those are both for the club and the player himself, admittedly mainly the latter. But what I find most amusing is that the fans who are moaning the loudest tend to be the same fans who berate clubs for not showing loyalty to fans, managers and players.

This is a fine example of loyalty. Here is a player who has become lost, returning home to regain fitness, get regular playing time and have an opportunity to decide what he wants to do with his life. Let’s be clear here: there’s no future for Baxter in Everton’s first team. I see this deal as a free pass, the perfect chance for Jose to reboot his career, or change it completely.

There are many rumors flying around, one suggests he has been studying accountancy. If that’s true, is this not then going to give him the financial support he needs to complete that and find a job elsewhere? If that doesn’t go well, this will allow him to get a more permanent contract with lower league clubs. I severely doubt Unsworth will allow him to rot in the U23s for much longer than a year.

But above all that, this deal is exactly what I want Everton to be doing. Looking after their own, helping young people who have strayed from where they should be and offering a comfortable and familiar surrounding for rehabilitation and reignition.

It was strange news to wake up to, but I see it as a positive step and I’m fairly proud of my club for doing it.


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Ramble #14

Why Koeman was wrong

Rather surprisingly, I wasn’t that upset by Monday’s predictable loss to Liverpool. From the moment the second half started, we looked devoid of energy, dropped back and welcomed pressure on. Holding out until the 95th minute was impressive.

Honestly, I thought Mane had a great game and thoroughly deserved to score the winner. Does that make it any easier? Of course not! 

I don’t buy into the blame culture. A loss is a loss at the end of the day, and a loss in the Premier League only means you don’t gain any points but have opportunities to do so pretty soon after. We build football up to the point where every moment seems to somehow matter when, in reality, very little of it counts. A 95th-minute winner in a World Cup Final matters, in a league Merseyside derby? Not so much! 

However, I think the finger of blame has to point squarely at Ronald Koeman for Monday’s defeat. 

When we beat Arsenal last Tuesday, Gareth Barry required a rest and Koeman placed Gueye and McCarthy together. It worked a treat. McCarthy’s energy allowed Gueye to clean up at the back while the Irishman bombed up and down the middle. Gueye is a holding midfielder (and a very good one at that), McCarthy is box-to-box, which allows him to link up with Barkley, Lukaku and our wingers. It’s no surprise that, against Arsenal, Barkley and Valencia had their best games this season.

And for the first half against Liverpool, it was working again. Barkley wasn’t as good as he was before, but McCarthy was better. And then he got injured. Barry replaced him at half-time, and as Barry is also a holding player, it was why we dropped back. It’s a shame because Gareth Barry has been a wonderful player for us, but he can no longer play with Gueye – the space between the midfield and the front four becomes too large. 

Quite reasonably, you’re probably thinking: “it’s not Koeman’s fault that McCarthy got injured”. Yes, you’re right. It’s not. But it is his fault for putting Barry on the bench and not Tom Davies, or not having both there. Tom Davies isn’t as energetic as McCarthy, but is more so than Barry. Davies, for those who don’t know him, is a young centre-midfielder who has made a handful of appearances over the past six months and has excelled in all of them. He’s composed on the ball, he doesn’t look lost on the field or with the pace of play and can pick a pass better than most. Before he made his Everton debut, Roy Hodgson invited him to train with the England senior side. It baffled me at the time, but I completely understand now. I’d be very surprised if Davies doesn’t become a regular England international in the next five years. 

Koeman seems reluctant to use our young players. We have a particularly good crop of them at the moment. Davies is alongside Keiran Dowell, Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Brendon Galloway (on loan at WBA), Callum Connoly, Matthew Pennington and Jonjoe Kenny as academy players who have made their Premier League debuts in 2016. We finished third in the U21 league last season, but are leading the U23 one this. This crop of youngsters should all have Premier League careers.

And the fans have been restless about their lack of game time. So Koeman responds by bringing DCL on against Arsenal. The tall striker did well on the wing and had a decent opportunity to score. It worked once, so Koeman tried it again against Liverpool. Except, it was clearly the wrong tactic.

DCL did ok. His heading ability is clear, he batted away a corner with more authority than either of Williams or Funes Mori had all night. But apart from that, he can’t defend, and yet was utilised on the wing. Which seemed odd given that Kevin Mirallas was on the bench. 

Koeman got it badly wrong. When he could have had fresh legs and someone who ran at the opposition, he instead prioritised a long ball strategy which only invited pressure. And, this is very cynical of me, but it smacks of a manager trying to prove to his fans that the youngsters aren’t ready yet. 

Given what I’ve seen of our current crop, I really hope I’m wrong. His use of Davies, DCL, and the rest over the next few months is going to be very interesting.


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Should sports stars be judged purely on their sporting prowess or is the media right to expose their failings?

On the 28th November 2009, Tiger Woods crashed his car outside his house in Florida (BBC, 2009). Questions surrounding the incident focused on the golfer’s personal life with wife, Elin Nordegren, and allegations of infidelity were rife. The number one golfer asked for press to leave his family alone, calling it a “private matter” (USA Today, 2009). However, by the time he admitted infidelity, the press had done everything except leave him alone. The matter highlighted the question, should sports stars be judged solely on their sporting prowess or does the press have a right to expose their personal failings?

It is a generally accepted view that, as public figures, sports stars should expect their lives to be strewn across both sides of the newspapers. As a general rule, the greater the sporting prowess, the greater the scandal and the more coverage it demands. However, it could be argued that their private lives are their own business and it is unfair to those close to them to expose it to the general public. A further point for consideration is the difference between affairs, harmful to only those directly involved, and views that could hurt a much wider range of people. The latter would appear to warrant a much greater public interest discussion.

In 2009, Tiger Woods was the best golfer in the world, even if it was his first major-less year since 2004. The following years were expected to be the ones where he overtook Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major tournaments (Corrigan, 2009), rather they have turned into a sad decline of a former great, which began with the allegations of infidelity. At the time of the car crash, Tiger Woods was the first billionaire in sport, with his money through sponsorship and tournament money only rising (Corrigan, 2009).

Although Woods said: “I am dealing with my behaviour and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone” and later added: “personal sins should not require press releases” (Reuters, 2009), there was almost no scenario in which the press wouldn’t get involved with this story. It took two weeks for Woods to admit infidelity, mainly as a result of the 24-hour press coverage, which included many tales from women who claimed to have affairs with Woods (Dahlberg, 2009 (1) Associated Press, cited in Fox News). Woods’ ordeal highlights the view that the greater the sports star, the greater the coverage.

Journalist Tim Dahlberg said: “He could have tested positive for steroids and life would have gone on … begin having questions raised about your moral behaviour, though, and things change.” Dahlberg argues that the press response to the Woods scandal was a direct result of his image as a “good family man and father” (Dahlberg, 2009 (2) Associated Press, cited in Yahoo). Even if affairs are personal issues that deserve to be dealt with behind closed doors, the collapse of an image used partly to gain money through sponsorship is certainly worth exposing.

Adultery committed by sports stars is not a problem limited to America. In Britain, the two highest profile cases both involve footballers at the very top of the sport. Ryan Giggs won more club trophies than any other player in history and further collected many personal achievements, including Sports Personality of the Year in 2009 and an OBE for services to football in 2007. In May 2011, a case appeared before the High Court in London, entitled CTB v News Group Newspapers concerning the reveal of a sexual relationship between model Imogen Thomas and an un-named footballer (CTB v News Group Newspapers Ltd, 2011).

During the case, Mr Justice Eady said: “It will rarely be the case that the privacy rights of an individual or of his family will have to yield in priority to another’s right to publish” (CTB v News Group Newspapers Ltd, 2011, para 33), implying he holds the view that sports stars should be judged on sporting prowess alone, or at least not on their personal lives. However, Justice Eady’s view didn’t stop Giggs’ identity being revealed.

It could be argued that the media storm that followed would be harsh on Giggs, however this wasn’t the first time he had been involved in infidelity allegations. Between 2003 and 2011, he was involved in a relationship with his brother’s wife, Natasha, including after Giggs’ wedding in 2007 (Curtis, 2015). While there is an argument to make that both bear little news values, there is another which says Ryan Giggs is in a position of power, thus should be held to certain values. As Danny Wilson, Giggs’ Dad, said: “I don’t see how the players can trust him after what he did to his brother” (Akerman, 2014). There is a valid argument to allowing sport stars to be judged on their personal lives if their failings can affect their work life.

In addition, John Terry was England captain when a super-injunction was lifted which accused him of having an extra marital affair with teammate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, Vanessa Perroncel (BBC, 2010). Ms Perroncel has denied the allegations (Davies, 2010), however that hasn’t stopped people speculating and judging Terry based on the story.

There is a view that people such as Terry, Giggs and Woods are role models and hence should be held to a certain standard. But it is also assumed that the average person is unlikely to commit adultery because Terry, Giggs and Woods did it. While Woods shouldn’t present himself as a family man if he isn’t, neither Giggs nor Terry has actively done that in their career and thus there is less of an element of need for their personal lives to be exposed. As we’ve seen, Giggs’ trustworthiness is worthy of consideration, however are there enough failings to judge the man? Infidelity shouldn’t happen, and should never be encouraged or swept under the carpet yet there needs to be a consideration of the merits of keeping personal lives personal.

John Terry’s failings have been in the news regularly during his career. From taunting American tourists following 9/11 (Clegg and Orwall, 2010) to allegations of accepting bribes to give known ticket-touts tours of Chelsea’s training complex (Fifield, 2009), Terry’s misdemeanours have never been far from the front pages. John Terry is at the top of the football hierarchy in England so it makes sense that his life is under more scrutiny than someone playing in a lower league. Thus, it would appear logical that his name appears connected to more news stories however it still seems like he is at the heart of more scandals than most. Wherever you stand on this debate, it would appear wise to let the media expose John Terry’s failings.

That is especially true when they could potentially harm a wide range of people. Terry was cleared of racially abusing fellow professional Anton Ferdinand on the 13th July 2012 (BBC, 2012 (1)) however he has been brandished a racist ever since. While the media was initially correct in exposing the story, it could be argued that they haven’t done enough since to quash the generally held belief about Terry.

Contrastingly, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry’s defensive partner for a long time with England, although one who appears in the front of a newspaper less frequently, didn’t face a media hounding for a potentially racist tweet. Indeed, he was allowed the chance to explain it rather than be judged for it (Kelly, 2012), although this may be because Ashley Cole, the subject of the tweet, refused to take any action against it. Whether that is the reason or not, the press has a clear duty to avoid favouritism. Failures are failures, no matter their sporting prowess and no matter their relationship with Fleet Street.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle in our society. However, it has always been limited to avoiding hatred or persecution. That limits what can be said between people out of the public eye but should, and indeed does, limit what people who are role models for young children say. There are two ways to stop the spread of discrimination, better education and better role models. Applying that logic, anything offensive said by a sports star has to be equally and universally condemned by all the media.

“There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia.” Those are the words of heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury (Kervin, 2015), and they are quite clearly offensive. He is comparing homosexuality to paedophiles, and saying it shouldn’t be legal. As Paul Hayward wrote for the Telegraph: “To argue for homosexuality to be illegal is not an “opinion”. It is a call for persecution” (Hayward, 2015).

Persecuting a wide range of people is not something that should be tolerated in life, especially not by someone who has the potential to influence how others think. It’s not like this was the first time Fury had aired inflammatory comments. He once said about his wife “sometimes she needs an upper cut” (Rayner, 2015). Fury, in arguing against homosexuality and seemingly in favour of domestic violence, is spreading hate and thus should be condemned for it. These are failures that need to be exposed, despite his prowess.

Despite this, a petition to get him removed from BBC sports personality of the year (Rayner, 2015) failed to work and BBC gave him the chance to speak at the event, the opposite of condemnation. There are those that say the BBC were right to do this. One blog compared it to Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, saying that not being allowed to speak “would just have given him a martyr status” (jmsblogs, 2015). In the media, Julia Hartley-Brewer of the Telegraph wrote that: “just because Fury is an eminent sportsperson, it doesn’t mean that he is required to conform to a particular set of socially accepted views” (Hartley-Brewer, 2015). Both of these views are hinting that the media should judge sports stars purely on their sporting prowess.

While there is an inclination towards that view with extra-marital affairs, there is less of one when considering offensive views. Comparing sports to politics is commonplace nowadays, however far wing politicians are expected to have derogatory views of people, whereas sports stars aren’t. Hartley-Brewer also said that last time she checked: “boxers weren’t making our laws or teaching our children … so who cares what he thinks about anything other than boxing?” (Hartley-Brewer, 2015). While she isn’t wrong in theory, in practice children are more likely to listen to Fury than a teacher or a politician so the media has more of a duty to condemn failings that could hurt vulnerable individuals.

In this discussion so far, the sports stars talked about have all been at the top of their sports. That makes sense, as the higher the profile, the more interested the media are in their stories. However, sports stars failing are not limited to the elite few, shown by one of the biggest sports stars controversy in recent years.

Ched Evans was forging a decent, if unspectacular, career with Sheffield United when he was convicted of raping a drunken 19-year-old on the 20th April 2012 (BBC, 2012 (2)). He served his sentence, but hasn’t been able to return to football. Sheffield United honoured Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill by naming a stand after her, one that she threatened to remove if the club ever signed Evans again (BBC, 2014). Oldham Athletic then looked into signing him, at least until a petition with over 30,000 signatures was signed blocking the move (BBC, 2015) and he is still without a club.

Evans has always protested his innocence, and even if he is not, he served his time. The media have exposed his failings, but maybe because of it people are now refusing to let him get on with his career. While there are many sides to this story, it is a point for consideration, although it is hard to disagree with the initial media storm against the footballer. To understand whether the media blocked his future career, more case studies are needed.

Contrastingly, Luke McCormick (BBC, 2013) and Lee Hughes (BBC, 2007) both found clubs following prison sentences for death by dangerous driving. Interestingly, Hughes signed for Oldham, with the club asking: “supporters and the general public not to pass moral judgement” (BBC, 2007), although that question was not obviously posed concerning the Evans signing. Furthermore, Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Amir has returned to domestic cricket after serving time and a ban for spot fixing in 2010, with Pakistan saying he has been made available for international selection (ESPNCricinfo, 2015).

In all three cases, the media exposed and exploited each of the individuals before, during and a little after the jail sentences. This would appear to highlight the Ched Evans case as fundamentally different. His lack of a job would then mean that it’s down to the public reaction to the nature of the crime rather than the media’s role.

In the on-going debate between failings and sporting prowess, attention must be drawn to talented players who always had a darker side, players such as Paolo Di Canio, Eric Cantona and Duncan Ferguson. Ferguson was the first British football player to go to jail for an offence committed on the pitch, after he head-butted Raith Rovers’ Jock McStay in 1994 (Pattullo, 2014, 30). He was also one of the most talented Scottish strikers of his generation, even if that talent wasn’t always on show. Inconsistent in the extreme, the head-butt and strangling of Leicester’s Steffen Freund meant he featured in the front pages of the papers a lot. Clearly the media were right to expose his failings.

On the other hand, Ferguson had a reputation with those that knew him as being a quiet and shy but polite individual (Pattullo, 2014). Thus, should the media report on the other side in order to keep coverage fair? While Cantona and Di Canio are perhaps more positively remembered, outside of Goodison Park, Ferguson is not. Prowess took precedence for some, failings for others.

That lack of consistency can be explained in Ferguson’s case. He never helped himself on the pitch and, by refusing to talk to the press for the majority of his career, did little to pamper journalists. Alan Pattullo wrote in his book In Search of Duncan Ferguson, “It is easy to form the impression that Ferguson loved no one – except perhaps Everton fans” (Pattullo, 2014, 32). If the media has a right to expose failings, they should also perhaps have an obligation to paint a fair picture, as the Ferguson example proves. For players such as Luis Suarez, Britain’s media has failed to present even a slightly softer side.

Sports stars have always spent their working lives in the public eye, but nowadays, with 24-hour news and instant communication, their personal ones are scrutinised too. Every opinion, tweet or encounter is documented and reported, with the higher up you are, the more in-depth the coverage. The result of that is that people are closer than ever to sports stars, yet it has also meant more scandals and failings on their behalf. No longer are sports stars judged purely on their sporting prowess.

On the main, that’s been a good thing. Sports stars, as has been touched upon, are easier to listen to than teachers or parents, for children they are role models and thus any failings need to be exploited, so they aren’t put on a pedestal. In terms of extra-marital affairs, the press will only report on them if they involve a high-profile sports star. Although this is mainly down to profits and readership, it is also a reflection of how people in power need to be held to certain values. If you can’t trust your captain, it’s a fair argument to say the public need to know about that.

Although it could be argued that infidelity is trivial, harmful views such as homophobia, racism or misogyny certainly aren’t. If a sports star expresses such views in public it is the duty of the press to expose them, not simply a right. In such a case, the press should be used as a place to present the arguments as to why such views are harmful, wrong and out-dated.

Furthermore, the media is right to expose sports stars failings, like they are right to exploit anyone’s failures. Sports stars have the same failures that any normal person does, and if a person commits a crime they will be uncovered and shamed in the same way. On the occasions where a sports star has been arrested, the press has behaved in the way expected from them. Upon release, the majority of prisoners have found employment again, although there is an exception in the on going Ched Evans case. To repeat, the media is right to expose failings as long as they are consistent and fair while doing it.

To conclude, Tiger Woods, Ryan Giggs, John Terry are all examples of sports stars whose failings have been exposed by the media. For those three, it was mainly cases of adultery, and the media was right to expose them as they were in positions of power and trust. The media is just as right to uncover views that could harm people, any criminal activity or aggression on the pitch. Sporting prowess is only half of what a sports star brings to their sport. They also have a responsibility to be a moral, law-abiding citizen who does not seek to hurt people through words or actions, just like any other member of our society. As figures that people look up to, it is arguable that this responsibility is heightened. It is for these reasons that sports stars shouldn’t be judged purely on their sporting prowess. A free media gives the right for anyone’s failings to be fairly exploited.

Reference List:

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Corrigan, J. (2009) Tiger injured in late-night car accident. The Independent, 28th November. Available from http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/tiger-injured-in-late-night-car-accident-1830059.html [accessed 28 December 2015]

Reuters (2009) UPDATE 4-Tiger Woods admits ‘transgressions,’ apologizes. Florida: Reuters. Available from http://www.reuters.com/article/golf-woods-idUSGEE5B11VL20091202 [accessed 28 December 2015]

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Curtis, J. (2015) Ryan Giggs invites brother Rhodri to New Year’s party after four years of not speaking. Daily Mail, 27th December. Available from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3375213/Ryan-Giggs-invites-brother-Rhodri-New-Year-s-party-four-years-not-speaking-Man-United-legend-s-affair-sibling-s-wife.html [accessed 28 December 2015]

Akerman, N. (2014) Ryan Giggs’ Dad, Danny Wilson, Slams and Ridicules Manchester United Boss. Bleacher Report, 28th April. Available from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2043910-ryan-giggs-dad-danny-wilson-slams-and-ridicules-manchester-united-boss [accessed 28 December 2015]

BBC (2010) John Terry gagging order lifted by High Court. London: BBC. Available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8488232.stm [accessed 28 December 2015]

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5 Best, 5 Worst: Everton Deadline Day Acquisitions

Another deadline day is upon us. As we await news on who Everton will bring in (and lose), I cast my eye upon years past to pick out the great signings from the mediocre and, in some cases, downright awful ones.

Below are details on the striker who scored with his first touch, the defender who didn’t play, the fox in the box who wasn’t a fox and the expensive flop.

Everton transfer deadline days are never dull.

BEST:
Mikel Arteta (loan – February 2005)

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At the halfway stage, the 2004/05 season had been surprisingly successful. Despite losing the likes of Wayne Rooney, David Unsworth and Thomas Radzinski, Everton sat third as the second window commenced. James Beattie joined to boost the attack, and Everton looked set to kick on. But what followed was the sale of another key player – this time Thomas Gravesen, to Real Madrid.

Everton needed another lift, as their season threatened to unravel. On deadline day, Moyes swooped for out of favour Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Arteta. An initial loan deal allowed Everton to qualify for the Champions League, and over the next 7 seasons, the Spaniard would go on to become a fans favourite.

WORST:
Francis Jeffers (loan – September 2003)

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Francis Jeffers had burst onto the scene at Everton, looking good with his strike partner Kevin Campbell. He left for Arsenal in 2001, labelled as a “fox in the box” by Arsene Wenger. However, in truth, his time with the Gunners was awful – he only scored 4 goals in 22 appearances. A change of scene was needed, and Everton seemed the most logical solution.

Unfortunately, however, Everton wasn’t the best fit. A loan deal meant there was no risk, however 2 goals in 22 appearances and an argument with David Moyes underlined the old adage that you should never go back.

BEST:
Marouane Fellaini (September 2008)

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Notice the lack of ‘fro when he signed … (Picture link)

At the time, the £15million pounds spent to land the Belgian was a record both for his country and the club. After one season, it was labelled as a panic buy, and was called one of the worst deals of the year (yet he was still good enough to win Everton’s young player of the year). Fellaini took time to properly adjust to English football, but once he did he became feared all over the country (disclaimer: this may be an exaggeration).

At his best, he would change any game from any position. Moyes could play him up front, behind the striker or deeper, and he would have the same devastating effect. Great with his feet and useful in the air, he added the ability to mix up our attacks, and it was no surprise Moyes took him to United with him.

WORST:
Andy van der Meyde (August 2005)

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I have a lot of sympathy for Shandy, but his time on Merseyside has to be the worst any player has ever had at Goodison. And it wasn’t just limited to his poor on-field performances. He was never truly fit, so it may be a little harsh to judge the time he did spend on the pitch. And, even then, he ended on a positive note – setting up Dan Gosling for that derby winner.

However, what happened to him off the pitch was just typical for a man who never settles. He suffered breathing problems, had multiple break ins (including one while playing in which his dog was taken) and then his daughter suffered an illness from birth meaning she had to spend the majority of the beginning of her life in hospital. His career never recovered from his English hell.

BEST:
Nikica Jelavic (January 2012)

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Signing from Rangers, Croat Jelavic scored 9 goals in his first 13 appearances, propelling Everton to half way to an FA Cup final in the process. With a likeable personality and a ruthless nature in front of goal, he gained a reputation for scoring with his first touch.

Admittedly, it did go downhill and Jelavic isn’t remembered favourably by all corners of Goodison Park however he arrived after an awful first half of the season and drastically changed the mood around the club.

WORST:
Anthony Gardner (Loan – January 2008)

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Gardner is the guy on the left, playing for Tottenham here (picture link)

I don’t really have much to say for this one. Signing on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season in January 2008, the Englishman didn’t make a single appearance for Everton.

BEST:
John Stones (January 2013)

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David Moyes’ last signing as Everton manager was arguably his best. Initially, it was met by a lot of anger from Everton fans who wanted a marquee player to spur the team up the league, not a young right back from Barnsley. He didn’t play at all under Moyes, but became a key player with Roberto Martinez.

Last summer, Everton rejected the advances from Chelsea for the now-capped centre-back, however they were unable to do the same as Manchester City and Pep Guardiola came calling in 2016. If he can reach his potential, he will go down as one of the greatest English defenders of all time.

WORST:
Oumar Niasse (February 2016)

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Realistically his best action in a blue shirt (link)

Everton’s third highest signing played just 152 competitive minutes for Everton. Oumar Niasse cost Roberto Martinez £13.5 million, which resulted in a staggering £88 grand per minute played. Ronald Koeman didn’t give the Senegalese striker a squad number, and that was that (although he’s yet to officially leave – watch out for that today).

BEST:
Romelu Lukaku (Loan – September 2013)

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Everton’s most expensive signing initially joined on loan on deadline day of the summer 2013 window. It was a wonderful day for Everton fans, losing Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini but replacing both immediately with James McCarthy, Gareth Barry (both who just missed out on this list) and Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku’s first season brought 15 goals, his second 10 and his third 18. He’s Everton’s highest scorer in European competitions and scored more goals than any other Everton striker in a single Premier League season in 2015-16. Whatever happens in the next windows, he’s made a huge impact in an Everton shirt.

WORST:
Royston Drenthe (Loan – August 2011)

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And he certainly wasn’t … (picture link)

The worst aspect of the Drenthe signing was the disappointment of it. On loan from Real Madrid, hours after we had let Arteta go to Arsenal, he was meant to be the man to inspire Everton to a half-decent season. And his first appearances were promising, prompting talk of a permanent deal at the end of the season.

Sadly, it all went downhill – with missed training sessions, reports of a fall-out with Moyes and being told to stay away from the club. Steven Pienaar re-joined in January in his position, and Magaye Gueye started the FA Cup semi-final ahead of Drenthe. By the time he left, we were begging him to go.