They say that in football you should never go back. The successes and achievements of a bygone era rarely return and are often tainted by revisiting the club where things were once so great.
But if your first spell wasn’t so triumphant, there is nothing to taint. And if you’re about to enter the fourth decade of your life, you just want to play football.
The constant flirting involving Everton’s Joleon Lescott and Manchester City looks set to end in a rendezvous. Lescott had previously asked Everton for a transfer which was flatly refused by manager David Moyes, but in the wake of the club’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of Arsenal, it seems Lescott’s heart is already at Eastlands.
Meanwhile, Richard Dunne waits for his inevitable departure from City. The Republic of Ireland international doesn’t look to be part of Mark Hughes’ new-look, cosmopolitan squad, crammed to the brim with pacey, cultured and dynamic footballers. His future lays elsewhere. Perhaps in his past?
Dunne began his career at Everton, where he burst onto the scene as a teenager. But his time at Goodison wasn’t particularly successful—he was considered as too lumbering and nicknamed "The Honey Monster" for his awkward and clumsy style.
He signed for Manchester City nine years ago for a bargain fee of £3million. Despite being primarily considered as a centre half today, Dunne actually signed for City as a potential candidate for the right back position.
Dunne’s first few years at Maine Road were not the easiest. After manager Joe Royle’s departure in 2003, Kevin Keegan was appointed to replace him. Keegan didn’t fancy Dunne at first, not selecting him for the first team.
He was soon overcome with frustration and resignation. Dunne lost all match fitness, and with it the pace and power that had made his defensive style so recognized. This, coupled with disciplinary troubles at the club, meant that it looked like Dunne’s City career was done.
But as it looked like Dunne had hit the point of no return, Keegan gave him a chance to redeem himself. After placing him on a strict fitness regime, Dunne’s form soon began to pick up.
Over the next few seasons, the Ireland international was a transformed man. He became one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League. His solid partnership with the likes of Sylvain Distin was the foundation for City to establish themselves in the highest tier of English football.
Manchester City struggled to pick up any silverware but Dunne was no stranger to personal awards—he was named players’ player of the year for four seasons in a row between 2005 and 2008. Only Stephen Ireland’s blockbuster performances last season prevented Dunne from making it five in a row.
Some players rate him even higher than might be expected. City teammate Micah Richards has compared Richard Dunne to England untouchables John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in terms of ability. And while some may consider that comparison to be hyperbolic, Dunne’s capability to play at the highest level can’t be denied.
Which is why Everton should not hesitate to accept Dunne as a replacement for Lescott. He hits the age of 30 later this month, but that is the age where some defenders can still perform at their peak. He may not be at the standard of a Terry or a Ferdinand, but there are distinctly few quality defenders available at the moment.
Just look at Liverpool. With their current defensive crisis, Rafa Benitez is considering a swoop for Hull’s Michael Turner. After one half decent season in the Premier League, is Turner really worth the money? It can’t be forgotten that Hull conceded more than both Newcastle and Middlesbrough last season. With Benitez hesitant to match Hull’s £10million asking price, Richard Dunne would surely be a more economical and sound purchase.
Everton won’t be the only interested party though. Arsenal are close to securing the signature of Fulham’s Brede Hangeland, which will force Roy Hodgson to find a replacement. Hodgson is an intelligent man and is crafting an impressive outfit in the capital. His targets so far, Damien Duff for one, have been very wise. It wouldn’t surprise me if he would signal an interest in Dunne.
As an outside bet, Aston Villa might consider signing him. The promising Curtis Davies has struggled to settle into the Premier League, and his pace could complement Dunne’s game. In exchange, Dunne could provide the mature head and wisdom to help Davies develop and fulfill his undoubted national team potential.
After an unsuccessful spell at Everton all those years ago, surely Dunne would jump at the chance to go back to Goodison and show how much of a different player he is now.
He’s a better option than Senderos anyway.