Penniless Everton look set to scan the lower leagues for cheap, unproven alternatives to big money foreign imports. Two of the names currently being bandied about are ex-Cardiff striker, Jay Bothroyd, and soon to be ex-Peterborough frontman, Craig Mackail- Smith.
With Bothroyd scoring 20 goals last year at a ratio of nearly one every two games and Mackail-Smith scoring 35 in 55, the pair clearly have an eye for goal suggesting they at least deserve a chance with a better team. Their assist totals (Bothroyd 8, Mackail-Smith 12) demonstrate their all-round contributions.
But would they make the grade at Goodison? The most logical place to start is to compare them with Blues striker Jermaine Beckford who has just completed his first year after signing from then League One side Leeds United for free. At the same level, Mackail-Smith outscored him 35 goals to 31, creating six more goals than him. So he would surely be able to at least match the Beckford’s decent enough return of 10 goals and two assists in his debut season at Everton.
Bothroyd has been scored or created 55 goals in the last two years and was recently capped by England. Having come through the ranks at Arsenal and appearing finally to have matured and developed his game, Bothroyd, it is fair to say, has served his time out of the limelight. He too deserves a chance to prove himself. The point should also be made that the Championship is an excellent league and to be a stand-out player is no mean feat.
But would Everton be good for them? Many players are plucked from the lower leagues only to see their careers dwindle before them (Rob Earnshaw, Andy Reid, Giles Barnes, Matthew Kilgallon). But seemingly not at Goodison Park. In recent years, Everton spent a combined sum of £10.5m on Phil Jagielka, Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Beckford. Jagielka and Cahill are lynchpins of the Everton team and have become invaluable. Jagielka made his England debut on the back of his Everton form, as did Lescott prior to his big-money move to Manchester City where he is now a regular. As for Beckford, he will surely push on and establish himself next year.
Aside from Ferguson and Wenger, it can be well argued that Moyes is the best nurturer of talent in the Premiership, so both Bothroyd and Mackail-Smith could do no better than come to Everton. It will both give them the platform to show their abilities whilst still developing as players.
From Everton’s point of view, it presents the club with the chance of either unearthing another Cahill or selling on for some sort of profit, and given the financial restrictions at Goodison, surely it is the most beneficial thing to do.