James McCarthy back in the big time - but you’d hardly know it
But new Everton midfielder admits transfer deadline day a real ordeal before sealing dream move
Marco Tardelli says there is something a little different about James McCarthy since he became an Everton player:
“Something changed in his mood,” said the Republic of Ireland assistant manager yesterday, although there was little outward sign of a personality shift as the Ireland squad continued their countdown to tomorrow’s night’s game against Sweden in Malahide yesterday morning.
He has not become, as Graham Rix once memorably put it, a Charlie Big Potatoes.
Getting back to the Premier League was clearly important to the 22 year-old midfielder but there was certainly no newly acquired arrogance about him as he discussed hanging about his house on Monday, constantly checking his phone and being too nervous to turn the television on, waiting for his deadline day turn to come.
When Trapattoni repeatedly cites the player’s shyness as a problem, he means in a footballing sense, with the Italian suggesting he could not only be more vocal on the pitch but more adventurous in his play.
Off the field, though, the description seems apt too, with McCarthy yesterday looking a little uncomfortable as he discussed his €15 million move to Goodison Park, repeatedly falling back on the same few one-liners about being delighted, excited and the like in the face of persistent efforts to gain some sort of insight into how his world might have changed this week and how he feels about it.
The day, we know at least, was an anxious one.
“You’re hearing different things throughout the day,” he says. “It’s the Premier League and you want to get back there as soon as possible.
“I’m no different to any other player. Everyone will tell you the Premier League is the place to be. When I heard Everton were interested I was delighted to go there and sign.
“At times I was wondering if it was going to happen. It was a long day. I’d been up early in the morning and just waiting after that, a bit nervous at times, looking at the phone constantly to see what was happening. (No TV, though), I had enough emotions without watching Sky Sports News.”
His agent – as anxious, no doubt, as the player himself – was there with him and as time moved on and the 11pm deadline approached they were obliged to hit the road for Liverpool to ensure they would actually be able to get there if, as it did, the call came late.
“I think about 10 to 11,” he says, “I was on my way to the training ground at that stage. We had 10 minutes to get the paperwork done and it was a relief, to be honest. It was a long, long day.”
It ended with Roberto Martinez having a quick chat and McCarthy being warned, he says, he cannot take playing for granted, he must work hard.
It is hard, though, to imagine him not being a regular for a manager who knows him so well and at a club that does not chuck that sort of money around lightly.
Still, the manager is bound to tell him to knuckle down. It was somewhat more unexpected when Jonathan Walters told him the same thing. He, it turns out, is an Everton fan.
Tardelli believes the move can be the making of McCarthy, with the midfielder swapping a club that had always been destined to struggle at the highest level for one where they can aspire to win things.
It’s funny, though, that the Ireland international takes a cup winner’s medal with him to Everton while the club’s most coveted existing player, Leighton Baines, hasn’t been a part of a team that actually won anything since 2003, when he finished top of the old second division . . .with Wigan.
With the transfer drama now done and dusted, McCarthy, it seems, is on course to resume his international partnership with Glenn Whelan tomorrow.
Walters, meanwhile, should be on the right wing, leaving the left flank to be decided on.
“I don’t know who we’ll play against Sweden,” said Ireland’s assistant manager, “but Simon Cox, for me, is a very good player. He can play left, right, striker and maybe also midfield. A professional player who has played in the Premier League must be able to play anywhere.”
Set to start
Marc Wilson, who sort of fits that bill, returned to training yesterday and looks set to start, while Pilkington skipped much of yesterday’s group session, although Tardelli maintains it aws because he is following a programme laid out for him by his club.
Richard Dunne, meanwhile, looked comfortably yesterday and, like David Forde, has only one last session to get through it seems, before his return to the Ireland starting 11 is confirmed.