Belfast Telegraph

Bookies back Moyes to be first in sack race

It is nearly three months since Everton's captain, Phil Neville, said it would be "a major disaster" if Everton did not spend heavily this summer on the kind of players the Premier League's top-four clubs aspire to buy.

There are two weeks to go before Blackburn Rovers arrive at Goodison Park for the start of the season and Everton are one of only two Premier League sides yet to makea purchase in the transfer window. The other is Manchester United whose need, as Neville would attest, is not quite so great.

The mood around Goodison – in a week when the chief executive, Keith Wyness, left the club, the Joao Moutinho transfer deal has not progressed and David Moyes has still not signed a new contract – was not helped by the fact that Coral stopped taking bets yesterday on Moyes winning the 2008-09 Premier League sack race. This was not a result of any inside knowledge – it was just the product of a run of money overnight on Moyes which was prompted by the gloomy prognosis he had delivered during the club's ill-fated tour of America.

Coral had Moyes at 14-1 – middle-ranked among the Premier League managers – but other bookies fancied his chances less, with 7-2 odds quoted.

Though Moyes' declaration after a 2-0 defeat by Chicago Fire that the club were "a long way away from where we think we are going to be", was about transfers rather than the club's general position, there appear to be tensions at Goodison about the financial situation.

Uncertainty over whether the Government Office for the North West will approve ground relocation plans is not helping – a public inquiry would have serious financial ramifications – is not helping. Neither has the delay to Andrew Johnson's departure triggered by an old injury. That may reduce the amount Fulham are willing to pay up front for the striker.

Sources in Portugal indicated yesterday that Sporting Lisbon were no nearer a deal with Everton on what would be a record outlay on Moutinho, the Portugal midfielder.

Joleon Lescott echoed his manager's words yesterday when he said the club were not prepared for the new season. "The squad is not as big as we'd like and with just two weeks to go we need to start focusing on the job in hand," he said."Time is running out before the start of the season and we're running out of excuses, so we need to get down to the nitty gritty."

Belfast Telegraph


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