Before Everton’s future is discussed, a brief mention of the past. When Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal in the fading seconds of the transfer window, there was a collective hush around many flustered Evertonians. A sense of what next began to permeate supporters everywhere.
Since his inaugural season, Arteta has been a leader at Everton. A fulcrum for creativity, a match winner, and a player the entire squad has idolised and respected, on the pitch, and as a man.
The response from Everton players on Twitter at the time reflects this sentiment. Some players, including Sylvain Distin,
"Feeling confused right now...."
and Louis Saha,
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaah. What is going on???"
showed emotional outbursts at the time his move was announced. Both demonstrate the high esteem all Everton's players held him in. A healthy sign, in an era where money dominates so much in football.
Arteta should not take any bad words from Everton fans. He loved the club, as his genuine and heartfelt farewell interview depicts. When fit, he gave his all and has been pivotal in several memorable wins for the Toffees. He could have moved on several times, for hugely inflated wages, yet he remained loyal. He was also integral in enticing other big names to Everton, and how the squad compares now to the Champions League qualifying squad of 2005.
Eventually, Arteta has chosen to take a stab at Champions League football, something Evertonians should not begrudge him. He has given a cash-strapped side £10 million for a 29-year-old, a 29-year-old who has delivered seven years of service, and originally cost just £2 million. Arsenal came in late, there was no concrete interest in him before the final few days, and Arteta even took a pay cut at the Gunners, highlighting how his move truly was based on footballing terms.
Of course there will be a minority who cannot fathom why anyone would want to ply their trade away from Everton. Some will lash out wildly, looking for someone to blame, but hopefully the majority will thank Arteta for his contributions and recognise what a fantastic deal it represented for Everton.
Now it is time for Everton to move on. They must realise their predicament is not as bad as what is currently being construed in the media. In Royston Drenthe and Denis Stracqualursi, David Moyes has made two astute signings that both have the capacity to become major coups.
Who knew Steven Pienaar or Tim Cahill when they first rocked up at Everton? And don’t forget a certain nomadic Spaniard, who was supposedly on his last legs when he washed up at Goodison Park. That journeyman found a home, starred for seven years, and has just left Everton with £10 million and endless happy memories.