The phoney war is over. Manchester City's pursuit of Joleon Lescott has tested Everton manager David Moyes' patience to the extreme in recent weeks yet apart from one sound-bite labelling Mark Hughes' attempts at landing the defender as "disrespectful", he has kept a relatively quiet counsel on the matter.
Until now that is. Hughes' comments on Thursday regarding Lescott and the fact he has not given up on his plans to bring him to the City of Manchester Stadium have proved to be the final straw for Moyes.
Hughes stated that the two clubs are still involved in discussions to see if a deal can be reached, before adding that he remains hopeful that it can, after seeing two initial bids – at £15m and £18 – rejected by the Merseyside club.
However, Moyes extinguished that optimism yesterday in a 17-minute and 51-second briefing to the press at the club's Finch Farm training complex that was nothing short of extraordinary for a manager not renowned for airing his grievances in public. He rubbished Hughes' claims that City are still involved in talks with Everton about the possibility of a deal, before refusing to rule out the idea that the matter could take an ugly diversion towards the Law Courts if necessary.
As far as Moyes is concerned, Lescott is under contract at Everton, Everton want him to stay and that is that. He is now hoping those sentiments are finally listened to 40 or so miles away.
"The dialogue has not taken place between Manchester City and Everton the way it is getting said to be," Moyes said, as he answered questions in a very controlled, but clearly incensed, manner.
"There has been no bid above the £18m. There has been no bid and we don't want another bid. There has been no follow-up because they know there is not an offer we are accepting.
"I am the person here who makes decisions," he added, "and I am in control of Everton Football Club and from that point of view there has been nothing at all.
"It's disappointing because we have a player we really value, he can play two positions for us yet he is being continually being put in a situation like he is at the present time. His head has been twisted in all of this.
"I cannot say the way things has been done is right, it is not how we would do things at our club."
City have clearly tested Moyes' tolerance to the limit and then beyond in their refusal to take no for an answer over Lescott and the fact they have aired their desires for the player in public.
Although the inside of a courtroom is about as far removed as any football man wants to be from his place of work, Moyes' response to the issue of whether the club would call in the lawyers was illuminating. "I think that would be a decision the club would have to come to. Possibly."
Moyes' disenchantment with City's conduct in the matter continued to spill forth. He went on to accuse them of destabilising Everton as a result of their quest and he also criticised the fact City have left their bids relatively late in the transfer window, pointing to Real Madrid's swift acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of last season as the more acceptable method of business.
He added: "You would think maybe that they would see a situation where they would respect that we had said no to it. And if they were going to come back in with an offer, they would do that privately and not through the media and the routes they have gone and done.
"I think football clubs shouldn't talk about other club's players in the media because you are only destabilising the player and that club. I mentioned Real Madrid, they made the signing of Ronaldo I think the week after the end of the season, they paid what Manchester United saw was the right price and did it at the right time.
"It gave them [United] an opportunity to spend the money and certainly do what they wanted to do with the finances. That is certainly not the way this has happened.Reuse content