Everton are not short of quality at the heart of their defense, David Moyes has a knack of identifying top central defenders and his current first choice partnership of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin has performed well.
This however has infuriated Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga and he has not been shy in coming forward and displaying his displeasure.
Heitinga is now spending more time on the bench than on the field, today’s papers bring us reams of quotes from the player expressing his frustration and suggesting that he could request a transfer this Summer, claiming he should be playing Champions League football next season.
Heitinga joined the Ajax youth academy at just 7 and he made his debut for the first team during the 01-02 season, and he went on to play for the side for 7 seasons before he secured a move to Atletico Madrid, after just one full season in La Liga, the Dutchman moved to Everton costing the Merseyside team £6.2million.
He became a regular for the side right away and appeared in 31 games last term in the absence of Joleon Lescott who had departed for Manchester City. This season appearances have been slightly more limited and he has started just 17 games so far, which to be fair isn’t that bad but the player is clearly getting riled with lack of opportunities.
It is the Sunday Mirror that today gives us reams of quotes from the irritated international, the defender who reached the World Cup Final in South Africa certainly holds himself in high regard:
“I have certainly not come here to sit on the bench. Together with Phil Neville, I have more experience than all the others. I have played in four major national team tournaments and I have played the World Cup final….I belong to the 22 best players in the world and I belong to the four best central defenders in the world. Ok, I won’t exaggerate now! But make it ten best central defenders in the world. That should be enough confirmation.”.
Heitinga is clearly full of confidence, but I personally am not convinced that he is quite as good as he thinks he is. In my mind players should be picked on performance and not reputation and it seems to me lately Jagielka and Distin have not put a foot wrong so why should Heitinga be brought back into the team for the sake of it. Premier League football is all about rotation and the Dutch stopper is still notching up plenty of appearances.
Heitinga to be fair certainly wants to be part of the Everton set up, he says in the same interview:
“I don’t want to moan. At the end of the day it is all down to me. Apart from not playing sometimes, I love it here in England. I am still aiming for big success here in England. Well, I have played 65 games in the Premier League in two seasons. That is a start….I hope being out is a temporary thing. I will decide in the summer what I will do.”.
Hopefully for Everton fans he will decide that he is at a great club and that he should knuckle down and stick to his game and know that opportunities will come, it does seem a knee jerk reaction to suddenly be getting frustrated with his lot, the length of time out of the team is not that huge and I am not sure how well he comes across with these comments. To make his return to training even more frosty he has criticised David Moyes for keeping players in the dark over team selection:
“I could understand it if the manager leaves me out of the team when I make big mistakes. But right now I can’t get over the last few weeks….The manager is not a big talker. Never has been. He does not explain his decisions to others either. He just says everybody will get playing time.”.
I personally would never criticise a player for getting frustrated about a lack of opportunities, but I feel there are ways to go about it. Channelling that frustration into working harder on the training pitch is the ideal way, but running your mouth to the newspapers after only a couple of months in and out of the team is pretty poor in my mind, Everton fans deserve better and hopefully Heitinga who is clearly a talented defender will knuckle down and continue to fight for a starting place at Goodison Park beyond this Summer!
For more of my thoughts, and the latest transfer rumours, follow me on twitter @soccercityjoe!
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