By Dave Downie
As many Evertonians sharpened their pitchforks in anticipation of some post-deadline-day fume following the club’s failure to sign a much needed striker last night, the award for stealing the show amidst the yellow-tie infested circus must surely go to Ross Barkley.
Injured, out in the cold and presumably without a suitor willing to stump up the cash for his services, Ross emerged like a phoenix from the flames to drop an incredible bombshell – walking out of his medical with Chelsea and returning to Everton.
Some might say it’s typical of the lad often lambasted for his indecisiveness on the pitch whereas others were understandably outraged with his last-minute change of heart with what you’d presume would be everything he wanted following his refusal to sign a new contract at Goodison.
Wherever you stand, it’s yet another complicated chapter in what should have been an incredibly simple story for Ross Barkley at Everton.
A young lad from a working class family growing up to play for his boyhood team – what could be more poetic for a football club whose fans swoon on every whiff of sentiment that filters from the old lady’s terraces?
But the romanticism of a narrative that used to be common place on Merseyside regarding local talent has almost always been tainted by divided opinion on Barkley – initially as player and latterly as a person.
His journey from a school boy to Everton’s first team has never been smooth, either. Whether it be the horrendous leg break or unwavering mis-management from men charged with overseeing his progression, it’s always been far from simple for the 23-year old.
Messrs Moyes, Warnock, Hodgson and Martinez have all been guilty of playing detrimental roles of varying degree in Barkley’s stunted growth.
A shame then, that a manager who you’d think would have the experience and knowhow of nurturing a sensitive young player, appears to have arrived on the scene after the horse has bolted.
Ronald Koeman’s approach with Barkley had all the hallmarks of the simplicity his career has always craved; if he was good enough, he played; if he wasn’t, he didn’t and was told as much. No nonsense.
But perhaps baring all of the scars left on him by his previous managers and despite his most successful spell of consistency in an Everton shirt, Barkley rejected a man who would surely have given him the mentoring that’s been desperately sparse since he first kicked a football as a professional.
However, as his current manager would say, Barkley must also take responsibility for himself and has reached a point in his career and life where there are few excuses and sadly, almost certainly, no way back for him at Everton.
Whilst maintaining a calm & professional tone, Mr Moshiri’s comments on Barkley’s latest exploits were emphatic. When asked about the possibility of Ross Barkley as an Everton player, he responded by saying “It is a big surprise but that is football…..technically he is still with us.
“The number 10 position is very congested as we have Gylfi, Davy and Wayne.”
Whilst the romantic notion of Barkley returning to finch farm with flowers and chocolates by way of apology would be hailed by many, surely the distance between him and a long-term future at Everton has become almost unbridgeable.
The fact Moshiri revealed that Barkley would reconsider his options in January has also gone overlooked. If there was even a hint of him wanting to prolong his Everton career, then why would he not be reconsidering immediately?
The answer is, he’s reconsidering where he goes next – not reconsidering staying at Everton.
Furthermore, Barkley’s dramatic u-turn also cost the club a substantial amount of money. £35 million was the fee agreed with Chelsea. Therefore, short of him signing a new contract, Everton stand to receive a relative pittance for a 24-year old England international.
From his own point of view, Barkley now holds all the aces. He’s free to decide his own future with Everton set to lose out.
There’s an argument to suggest that, for this reason alone, the club will do their utmost to persuade him to stay in order to prevent an asset walking away for a nominal fee, but the player himself has made it abundantly clear he does not want to be at the football club – this coupled with Moshiri’s comments regarding the near £100 million worth of talent standing in his way positionally, surely means there is no way back for Ross Barkley.
A very sad conclusion to an overly complicated player.