There is no way of ever truly knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of Everton Football Club. Understandably, this is because we as fans are not supposed to know every detail.
Yet there is a well-known sense of secrecy that appears to prevent the board from addressing serious matters. We are kept in the dark a great deal of the time – perhaps more so than is fair.
The John Stones Affair: Why it’s pivotal for Everton not to sell
As the club’s only real spokesperson, Roberto Martinez is stranded in his interviews, torn between his media duties and loyalties to the board. He cannot say too little or too much – and even so, the waves of rumours from newspapers and journalists are always going to drown out his voice.
Recently, the Spaniard attempted to repel Chelsea’s interest in John Stones by stating “we are not a selling club,” yet a swarm of articles have appeared of late which contradict him entirely.
Both The Independent and the London Evening Standard among others are reporting how Stones does indeed wish to move to Chelsea (their headlines read ‘Everton defender wants Chelsea transfer’ and ‘John Stones hopes to seal Blues move’ respectively). Yet the Standard, who claim to know Chelsea have “grown in confidence” that the centre-back wishes to join them, have not quoted a source – and The Independent have simply written an article which refers to this.
Bleacher Report on the other hand are quoting a source which states that Stones is “definitely interested” in the possible move to join Mourinho’s squad. Naturally, BR are therefore using the headline ‘John Stones reportedly wants move,’ however, being ‘interested’ in the transfer and ‘wanting’ to move are rather different – and let’s be honest, what young footballer wouldn’t be “interested” in playing for the English champions?
This ‘style’ of reporting is exactly what contributes to the nerves and sense of unknowing which is unsettling Evertonians – in addition to the silence from the board.
Stones is a player no Blue wants to see leave. He is by far the most promising young player to have worn royal blue since a certain Wayne Rooney, and will undoubtedly one day be captain (if he stays, that is).
As a result of this, we find ourselves in a situation which is all too familiar – because the general perception of Everton is a club that is not good enough to keep hold of its best players.
Anybody who keeps an eye on the Everton related articles littering social media will know that Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, McCarthy, Barkley and Mirallas have all been sold off numerous times before to so-called bigger clubs by certain news outlets.
Everton’s trophy drought and inability to qualify for the Champions League are the primary factors which contribute to the club being viewed in such a negative way.
And it is therefore integral that Martinez clings on to Stones for as long as he can – for after his disastrous second season in charge, the Spaniard has to deal with the confidence issues which have plagued his squad over the last 12 months.
Selling John Stones will not help patch up the psychological damage the players have suffered. And it is clear that even £30m+ will not replace the youngster from Barnsley, especially considering how it would be uncertain whether Martinez would even be able to spend it on replacements.
The Blues have to break out of the band of “smaller other clubs” (to quote Mourinho). It has never been more important for the club to keep Stones, make up for the lost time of the 2014/15 campaign, and break down the perception that the Blues are nothing more than an average club.
Martinez has a hugely talented squad in his possession. Significantly, many of them are relatively young and incredibly talented: Lukaku, Barkley, McCarthy, Stones and Deulofeu among others all have incredibly bright futures ahead of them.
If Martinez does not replicate and improve upon his first season in charge then these young players, like Stones, will begin to have their heads turned. This current pool of talent is the best the club has had for an extremely long time – which results in this being Everton’s best chance in years to break into the Champions League or win a domestic trophy and stamp out the belief that the Blues are nothing special.
Winning the League or F.A. Cup, or finishing in the top four, would send a powerful message to other clubs, potential investors, and other players.
Furthermore, it would encourage the young players like John Stones to stick with a club that is moving forward.
Selling Stones would do exactly the opposite and begin a domino effect. It would confirm that Everton are simply a ‘selling club.’ It would suggest that Martinez has little control over whether players stay or are sold on and it would encourage other young players to move on as well.
The club’s chances of future success would suffer drastically.
The upcoming season is one of the most pivotal there has been in recent years for the Blues. Martinez has to win the fans over once again and he has to prove that Everton are a real competitive force.
Pivotally, chairman Bill Kenwright must not exchange the huge amount of money that Chelsea are dangling in front of him for England’s best young defender in a generation.
Everton have to re-assert themselves as a top club once again.
And this all begins with retaining John Stones.