The thought that Royston Drenthe might be afflicted by bouts of anxiety seems faintly ridiculous. As the nephew of Edgar Davids he was born into the aristocracy of Dutch football; he threatened strike action unless Feyenoord sold him to Real Madrid after his triumph in the 2007 European Under-21 Championship.
In the Spanish capital he made rap records, drove through red lights at 100mph and became involved with Playboy models, although significantly he did not play much football. After being booed at the Bernabeu, he asked his then manager, Juande Ramos, to leave him out completely.
"I didn't know that story," said David Moyes after a comfortable FA Cup victory over Blackpool inspired by the young Dutchman. "But I can see that in him now you mention it. There is a bit of him that could need a bit of confidence, a bit of loving really. He is still a young boy trying to find his way. He has had some big moves and sometimes you are put in there and expected to swim and then you start drowning because you need help around you."
Since his loan move from Madrid to Merseyside, Drenthe has made an impact in the dressing room – Tim Howard described him as "up there with any eccentric I have ever worked with".
Thus far, his impact on the pitch has been more questionable, confined to explosive displays off the bench. However, the Everton manager thought it might not be a coincidence that the24-year-old's recent upswing in form, epitomised by a wonderfully taken goal after 49 seconds against Blackpool,coincided with the return of Steven Pienaar to Goodison.
"He has seen the club bring back someone whom everybody really wants and it makes it difficult for him to get into the side," Moyes said. "So Roy really has to step up to that level. Roy will say himself that there are things he needs to do better. There are a few things off the pitch – he needs to look after himself better. He needs to show me how much he wants it but when he shows this sort of form he is a real threat."
Drenthe was one of a host of young Dutchmen who were chewed up and spat out by Real Madrid – the others include Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart. Away from the Bernabeu, Drenthe has done less well than any of them. There has been a loan move to Alicante to play for Hercules, who promptly ran out of money, and now another to Everton, who are not awash with cash.
Drenthe's contract at Madrid expires in June and Moyes was non-committal when asked if he might be interested in making the move permanent.
Feyenoord have cautiously expressed a hope he might return, while emphasising their restricted finances. They would welcome back the prodigal without reaching for the fatted calf.
Everton: HOWARD 7/10; HIBBERT 6; HEITINGA 6; DISTIN 7; BAINES 6; DRENTHE 8; GIBSON 6; NEVILLE 6; GUEYE 6; STRACQUALURSI 6; FELLAINI 7
Blackpool: GILKS 6; WILSON 7; HARRIS 7; CATHCART 7; BAPTISTE 6; INCE 6; MARTINEZ 5; SYLVESTRE 5; BASHAM 6; K PHILLIPS 6; TAYLOR-FLETCHER 5;
Scorers: Everton Drenthe 1, Stracqualursi 6.
Substitutes: Everton Coleman 5 (Gueye, 60), Barkley (Gibson, 82), Vellios (Stracqualursi, 88). Blackpool Bednar 6 (Taylor-Fletcher, 22), Dicko (Ince, 72), LuaLua (Angel, 72).
Booked: Blackpool Baptiste.
Man of the match Drenthe. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Everton 52% Blackpool 48%.
Attempts on target: Everton 8 Blackpool 6.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).
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