Tuesday 14 July ~
There has been much deliberation about the "spirit of the game" over the past couple of days. The game in question being cricket, with England's time-wasting tactics during their draw with Australia having prompted a barrage of criticism. There has also been some support for the rather desperate ploys carried out by Andrew Strauss's team including the suggestion that Australians, the pioneers of sledging and not averse to slow play themselves, are not best placed to pose as upholders of the game's "spirit". Essentially no-one has the right to take the moral high ground because they'd all do the same thing given the chance. Which brings on to the issue that flares up every year around this time – supposedly underhand tactics in the football transfer market.
A couple of today's papers suggest that Everton have been left "fuming" by Spurs' attempt to hijack a deal to sign full-back Kyle Naughton from Sheffield United. Naughton had apparently agreed terms with Everton but now Sheffield United have been offered more money by Spurs who also want another of their full-backs, Kyle Walker, and send him back to Bramall Lane on loan for this season. Understandably Sheffield United favour the Spurs approach.
In part this is simply a case of Spurs' current manager following a recent club tradition in stockpiling players so that he has plenty of options for who to drop after an embarrassing thumping away from home. If Kyle Naughton does indeed prefer to go to White Hart Lane then like the majority of young players signed by Spurs he will probably do OK in his intermittent first team appearances before moving on, most likely to West Ham or Fulham, in a couple of years. If he goes to Everton where tighter finances mean a smaller squad, he will be on less money but will play a lot more and might further his chances of an England call-up (Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines having joined Joleon Lescott in the England squad during 2008-09).
Today's reports have David Moyes "seething at developments" but it's not clear who he is supposed to be vexed with – Sheffield United who will want an arrangement where they receive more money and get a player back on loan, or Spurs who have supposedly muscled in on an almost done deal. Proof that this sort of thing if rife is provided by a report in today's Daily Mail who claim that Marseille's Albanian midfielder Lorik Cana has held off on signing for Hamburg, whom he was to join at the weekend, because he is anticipating a better offer from... Everton. If Hamburg officials are left looking for someone to fume at, their Everton counterparts should pass them directly on to Harry Redknapp on the basis that he drove them to it. Rob Weston