Someone old, someone new but both Blue
Pienaar and Jelavic are glad to be at Everton. For one it's a warm return, for the other just another club
Friday 03 February 2012
The transfer window has a frantic chemistry all of its own – a fact perfectly demonstrated by the two men who for a variety of reasons have suddenly found themselves Everton players.
On the Tuesday night that David Moyes' side once more showed their psychological hold over Manchester City, Nikica Jelavic was paraded around Goodison Park.
There was no desire burning in the Croatian's heart to leave Glasgow Rangers for Merseyside. He confessed to knowing little of Everton, save for the fact it was "a good Premier League club always in the middle of the table".
However, Rangers are teetering on the financial brink, Jelavic was Ibrox's most readily saleable asset and it did not matter whether he went to Goodison or West Ham so long as he went. Everton, for once, had some cash. Jelavic said the deal was agreed with his agent "in about 10 minutes".
At the same time, Steven Pienaar was at White Hart Lane, watching from the substitutes' bench as Tottenham swept Wigan aside. He knew everything about Everton, having spent four years at the club. He knew, too, that he needed to get away from the Seven Sisters Road and start playing football again.
After the match, still wearing his tracksuit, Pienaar plucked up the courage to see Harry Redknapp in his office. He asked to go out on loan but the Tottenham manager refused, saying he was needed as back-up. "It was," said the South African midfielder, "the most stressful moment."
What Pienaar and perhaps Redknapp did not know at the time was that, elsewhere in London, the two clubs' respective chairmen, Daniel Levy and Bill Kenwright, were negotiating the transfer of Louis Saha, which would be smoothed by Pienaar's return to Merseyside on loan.
"I went away for a few minutes to think about it and my heart just told me to go back," Pienaar said. "He said no again but, eventually, he understood my situation. When he said yes, all I could think of was rushing to the secretary's office to sign the papers." The deal was completed with 10 minutes of the transfer window remaining.
As a Christian, Pienaar would understand the parable of the prodigal son. Deep down, he knew the move to Spurs, a club that can field Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon in the kinds of position he occupied at Everton, was a mistake.
"You do get to the limits of your patience," he said. "I had waited two months to play and you can only take so much. That's why I had to speak to the manager. Everton wasn't a difficult decision. If you leave in January to go on loan, it is not easy and you have to get used to your surroundings quickly. I know my way around here.
"I know how the fans might feel about me. You play for a club and everyone supports you, then you leave and it is like walking out of your child's life. You have to work to get acceptance back."
That Jelavic knows little about Everton should be no hindrance. Joe Cole could reel off club history when he went to Anfield and could barely speak a word of French, yet he has succeeded at Lille in a way he did not at Liverpool.
The 26-year-old Jelavic has demanded transfers before, notably when he refused to play for Rapid Vienna unless they let him leave. Here, he was emphatic he had been pushed rather than jumped. "I have never met [Rangers chairman] Craig Whyte, never spoken with him. Why am I the bad guy?" he said. "I have done my job for Rangers, I think. It was a beautiful 18 months."
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