Apr 122014

It was delivered with barely a hint of malice and complete with his trademark smile, but it still didn’t take the sting out of Roberto Martinez’s words.

Asked what he made of the criticism from Arsene Wenger about Everton FC’s use of the loan market, and the ensuing analysis of the same issue by a respected national newspaper writer, the Catalan said: “To criticise that would be ridiculous.”

Bear in mind, that is positively vitriolic compared to the Blues boss’ usual diplomatic retorts.

“You accept everyone’s opinion. Obviously, the loan system is something that has to be part of the game,” he said. “People will be against the idea of a club having a player who isn’t their property, but that player can be developed and their value increased. It’s a system that has its pros and cons.

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Everton FC open training session at Goodison Park

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“Clearly from our point of view, the loan system was vital.”

Wenger’s gripes can be bracketed as the frustrations of a beaten man, but the insistence from the Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel that Everton are somehow debasing the game by taking top players, such as Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu, for a season when they could probably not afford to buy them permanently, and then having the cheek to use them to beat clubs like, for example, Chelsea, who could sign anyone they want is harder to stomach.

That argument forgets that it is because of oligarch or state-owned clubs with endless billions that players like Lukaku and Barry are available for loan in the first place.

Chelsea and Manchester City simply sign so many footballers that they have oodles of talent to spare.

Martinez has just played the system cleverly – and forgive me if nobody shares Samuel’s concern for the way Everton avoid Financial Fair Play regulations by not forking out truck-loads of cash for these stars. That’s something the Toffees have never had as an option, and the only way to be an ambitious club without the mega-money is to adapt and survive.

Ambitious is the key word there. Everton have dragged themselves onto the fringes of the top four, and the established order could well be broken up in May for the first time since David Moyes did it in 2005.

And that’s the main reason why some are suddenly crying foul over how the Blues have built part of their success this season on temporary players. Because they’ve become a threat.

Martinez would much rather be able to sign anyone he wants and not have to worry about the possible dilemma of maintaining momentum next year without any of his loan trio.

But he took a calculated risk that having them for a season would be better than not at all.

If Everton get fourth he will be proved right once again.

And he won’t care a jot what the green-eyed moaners say.

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Open training with Everton FC at Goodison Park

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Duo go back to school to help inspire youngsters

Joel Robles and Gerard Deulofeu paid a visit to a local school to inspire a class of budding linguists.

The young pair dropped by a primary school in Liverpool city centre to join a class of 6-7 year-olds for a special celebration of all things Spanish.

The class took part in a dance class and food tasting session before having the chance to make their very own Spanish dish.

Robles and Deulofeu rolled up their sleeves and helped the children to make ‘Tarta de la abuela’ – a chocolate and biscuit cake that is nicknamed Grandma’s Cake.

The special day was organised to help students understand how learning a second language can improve their future prospects.

Spanish teacher Kathryn Morton said: “The children and staff were absolutely thrilled with our special guests! This has definitely been a memorable experience for the children and I guess it will be the topic of conversation for quite a while!

“Joel and Gerard certainly made a few more fans and the session really helped with getting the children on board with languages through their love of football. The students now all want to learn to speak Spanish ‘like Joel and Gerry’ – what a motivation!”

All welcome at Goodison Park

Everton has extended an invitation to any Liverpool fans unable to obtain tickets (Click to find tickets) for the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield next week.

The Blues will be screening the service ‘live’ in its entirety at Goodison next Tuesday and the invitation to attend is open to fans of both clubs.

5 May: The Kop thanks Everton for their solidarity over Hillsborough before the 0-0 draw at Anfield 5 May: The Kop thanks Everton for their solidarity over Hillsborough before the 0-0 draw at Anfield  

Everton legend Graeme Sharp said: “Fans of both teams have stood shoulder to shoulder on this issue from day one and any Liverpool supporters unable to get to Anfield will, of course, be made more than welcome at Goodison. As long as the fight for justice goes on, every Evertonian will be right beside our friends from across Stanley Park and it will be a pleasure to welcome Liverpool supporters to our home next week on what will be a very difficult day for them.”

Tickets for the Goodison service are available from Everton stores at the stadium, the city centre, the TicketQuarter in Queens Square and club Box Office.

Sheedy’s insight into glory days of the 1980s

Think you knowing everything about Everton’s mid-Eighties glory days?

Think again – unless you’ve already got your hands on a copy of Kevin Sheedy’s fantastic new book ‘So Good I Did It Twice’.

Not many Blues bios can boast a tale of being “kicked in the face” by Martin Keown, hiding in car boots to escape the media and being part of that 1985 dream team.

You can join Sheedy at an exclusive dinner in the Alex Young Suite at Goodison this Thursday evening. Author John Keith will host a special talk and Q&A with Kevin, with profits shared between Kevin’s chosen charity Beating Bowel Cancer and the EFC Heritage Society. Tickets are £50 including a three-course dinner and the new book. To purchase email paulwhartonefc@

btinternet.com visit merseyshop.com or call 0845 143 0001.

The next day Howard Kendall is the special guest at the Bullring Bar in Pembroke Place for another special evening also featuring John Bailey.

Tickets cost £10, including a hot pot supper and there will be a signed Everton shirt raffled. Call 07870-856946.

Good night with Joe and Sammy

You can enjoy an evening with Joe Royle and Sammy Lee on Good Friday (April 18) at the Taxi Club in Walton.

Doors open at 7.30pm and there will be a three-course meal.

All proceeds go to SAMM (Support After Manslaughter or Murder). Tickets cost £25. Call 0151 474 0333 or Craig 07927755363.

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