On Trial…With No Case For Defense

@Markthablue trawls the depths of his memory to recall a time full of Everton trials and mostly tribulations

Bellefield the home of Everton Trials

On Trial…With No Case For Defense

Silly season has arrived but growing up as an 80s and 90s kid, I think its fair to say it used to be a lot funnier than today; with regular trials given to players who must have thought Christmas had come early.

Many trialists have come to Everton in the hope of earning a contract and while a lot of these have slipped my attention, these are my recollections of the players who have stuck out in my mind.

I realise they were simply here to be looked at and our managers at the time can be forgiven for the quality of these players but some were so bad I thought they were worthy of normal criticism usually reserved for bad signings.

Trials for the first team are rare these days and while they do still happen (Edson Buddle etc) we seemed to go down the trial route in a bid to strengthen the squad a lot more back in the day.

My focus seems to entirely shift to Howard Kendall’s less successful second and third spells at Everton. This is no slight on the great man who will forever be a hero to me but more a reflection on the state our great club was in at the time.

To see our great club emerging once more under the god-like Martinez was worth all the mediocrity we had to witness beforehand.

When I was growing up pre-season lineups were littered with players we were unfamiliar with. And littered is the right word for some of the garbage that turned out in a blue shirt.

Some players made good impressions, some players refused to even train (Cyril Chapuis) and some may as well have stayed in bed. Patricio Pascuzzi anyone?

Pre-season game coverage has changed dramatically now as fans pay so much more attention to them in this era compared to the 90s. This is massively boosted by social media which has made fans including myself bloodthirsty in the quest for news regarding our great club.

Minute by minute updates are available for pre-season games and it’s a long way away from refreshing teletext long into the night. In some instances having to wait for the next day to find out how Everton had got on against the likes of FC Stade Lausanne.

Players to have graced Everton in the summer months include Shaun Brooks, a Journeyman midfielder at the prime age of 30 on a free from Bournemouth.

Kendall took Brooks to Switzerland with the squad with a view to adding craft to the midfield. Unable to teach a limited old dog new tricks, Brooks lasted a few weeks before being told ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

Stefan Rehn part II had been avoided.

Miklos Molnar is another player that stands out. This despite only making 2 trail appearances in August 1993.

Looking for reinforcements upfront and with lesser budget than the Cratchit household at Christmas, Kendall looked to the Danish international for some much-needed fresh firepower.

Molnar failed to make an impact and rejoined St Etienne who presumably were more easily impressed than the Everton coaches.

I realise we have trialed a lot more players and while nearly all of them have gone onto fail, the period before the 1992-93 season seemed more comical than usual.

Howard Kendall was on his knees – for once not alcohol related – for a striker. We tried to sign everyone that summer with Kendall eventually failing to land Brian Deane from Sheffield United. Yes Brian Deane.

To the younger generation of blues enjoying the Martinez revolution, appreciate the targets he is going after this pre-season. Believe me, it has been much, much worse.

Kendall was rejected in his attempts to bring in future Goodison idol Duncan Ferguson from Dundee United. Then we failed to land Niall Quinn after a £2m bid was rejected by Man City.

Kendall was desperate and desperate times called for Alan McInally.

The big Scot, at the age of 30 and injury riddled from his Bayern Munich days, arrived on trial. In no time, he was on his way out with Kendall deciding the aggressive Scot was nowhere near fit enough. You didn’t need Colombo for this one.

I’m not sure if Kendall was trying to improve our squad or get on UK Gold.

It was a traumatic time to be following the blues; seeing the club in this state. However, it is pure comedy value recollecting how we were on the floor. Highlighted perfectly by the relegation fight at the end of the season with Kendall resigning midway through. As the board failed to sanction a move for Man Utd’s Dion Dublin.

Howard Kendall just wanted a striker; any striker by the looks. Howard Kendall

I do believe however that Dublin’s arrival would have saved us the humiliation of Mike Walker. The biggest comedy act of the lot.

Other trialists that stand out as being particularly desperate, came in Kendall’s third spell. Everton invited unfit veterans, Franz Carr and Dalian Atkinson to join in with group training at Bellefield.

Erratic at best in terms of quality, even in their heyday, Carr and Atkinson may have been seasoned professionals with lots of Premier League experience but both were well past it.

Despite both playing in a 4-1 reserve win at Sheffield Wednesday –  the day after Everton’s infamous 4-1 defeat at Coventry and Kendall’s On field meltdown – Carr was sent back to Italy while Atkinson survived another week; playing in the mini-derby in a 4-3 win before being told he was no longer needed.

Previously that summer Kendall had offered trials to Mauro Espostio of Pescara and Luigi Riccio of Perugia along with Thomas Rytter, a Danish right back valued at £1.5m by relegated Sevilla who failed miserably in Dave Watson’s testimonial against Rangers and was sent packing .

I think it would have saved the club a fortune on telephone bills if they would have the told the taxi bringing these trialists in to simply wait five minutes. Rarely did they last longer.

Walter Smith in his first season trialed ex Barca and Southampton midfielder Ronnie Ekelund.

I was made up when we got him in and thought he was a great player. Tailor-made for us, with Premier League experience. But Smith wasn’t impressed and despite Ekelund scoring against Tranmere in Johnny Morrissey’s testimonial the Dane joined the likes of Samuel Ipoua on the way out. In fairness Ipoua, despite scoring at Yeovil, looked dreadful.

One trialist who actually done well – rarer than bus driver happiness – was Daniel Prodan. Impressing Smith with a view to partnering new signing Alan Stubbs, we couldn’t agree terms over clauses to do with his medical history. Classic Everton and Daniel Prodan was a distant memory.

I’m not going to cover every single trialist but from memory David Moyes had a few disasters too.

Who? Collin Samuel
Who? Collin Samuel

Omar Daley had a great name and not much else. Collin Samuel and Lee Miller came on loan from Dundee with nothing coming of it. By the law of averages you would have thought maybe one would have made it.

It seems trials and Everton just don’t get on.

Moyes saw fit to trial keeper Petr Brezovan from Swindon when Everton desperately needed midfielders. This trial I remember annoyed everyone as there seemed little point to it. Especially as Swindon wanted £2m. Money we simply didn’t have to waste on a position we were covered in.

As expected it turned out to be a total waste of time with Brezovan returning to Swindon before playing out his days at Brighton. Just what was Moyes thinking?

Yes, silly season has well and truly arrived and for us it means watching the media make yet another gargantuan attempt to move our best players elsewhere. This is why it’s important we show intent right from the word go. We can’t make last season seem flukey based on our loan signings in the eyes of the media. We have to be as ferocious as we have ever been this summer, it’s simply our moment. Do not let us down Bill.

As we enter into this critical time it is crucial we get our targets in and that Roberto is happy. I think we could be in for an exciting summer although 14 years of this board says different There is no question the time to be excited is here.

Lets hope we enter next season stronger as a squad. Everton FC under Roberto is on the verge of something massive and the message is simple; the board have to deliver and show ambition. The rewards will be lifelong memories for the best fans in world football, Evertonians.

“Getting the record points total gives us something to try to beat next year. We should be even stronger because we know what to expect from the manager and his staff and he knows what to expect from us.

“I think it is going to be really exciting moving into next season.” Phil Jagielka.

Comedy trials over and done with.

The Fun under Roberto is only just beginning

Sin Miedo

Mark Ellis

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Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter



Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.

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