Post Soapbox: McFadden must keep to high road.
AFTER Everton's youngsters dismantled FC Gamlitz quicker than a bunch of hooded ASBO kids with a Nissan Micra, the Blues face a slightly sterner test tomorrow when they visit Motherwell. For James McFadden it's an opportunity to revisit the ground where he is considered almost a living legend; the one where he built the glittering reputation that earned him his move to Everton. Motherwell fans, who have fond memories of growing rat-tails at the back of their hair in honour of the Scottish international, are often mystified when, in response to their queries about their former idol's form, they get a lukewarm response from Evertonians.
Most of them genuinely expected him to take the English Premiership by storm, but sadly that hasn't been the case.
And while the rumours about McFadden being loaned out or partexchanged, can probably be dismissed, the coming season represents make or break in terms of his Goodison career. Another player who has had less time to make an impact, but whose price tag means he will be under even more scrutiny is James Beattie. In TV montages of Premiership goals he features regularly in a Southampton shirt, smashing home all manner of screamers, but it's difficult to reconcile the free-scoring forward in those clips with the dejected looking figure who has struggled so markedly since his pounds 6million move.
He has insisted that a lack of games and match fitness due to injury is to blame for his below-par performances, and David Moyes has agreed, but with a full pre-season under his belt he will have no excuses. Hopefully he will hit the ground running and start scoring goals, otherwise the doubts that were bubbling under at the end of last season will start to surface again.
Every season is tough for Everton it seems, whether they're battling away at the top or the bottom, but with the added pressure of the European games, of which we hope there are many, there are going to be even greater demands than ever on the squad. Therefore a winger with magical skills and the ability to unlock stubborn defences would be invaluable, as would a 20goal-a-season centreforward for that matter. So, with new signings seemingly proving difficult to come by, it would be nice for us to discover that we already have both on our books
Make or break for James McFadden