Moyes hails signing, Jelavic talks targets
Transfer-deadline day was one Everton supporters certainly enjoyed. They witnessed January signings Landon Donovan and Darron Gibson star in a surprise 1-0 victory at home to Premier League leaders Manchester City, during which Nikica Jelavic was presented as the club’s latest recruit following one of the biggest transfers of the day in Europe. And there was more good news to come for the Toffees: on the cusp of the 11pm cut-off point, they sealed the on-loan arrival of Steven Pienaar, who thrived in their blue jersey for four years until joining Tottenham Hotspur 12 months ago.
Of the four deals, it was Jelavic who created the most significant buzz. Heading into last night’s game, only one team had scored fewer goals than mid-table Everton, who have averaged just one per game, in the English top flight – rock-bottom Bolton Wanderers. That statistic made apparent their Achilles heel, and manager David Moyes is optimistic the 26-year-old Croatian can solve their scoring problems.
"It is great news for us,” the Everton manager said of Jelavic, who hit 36 goals in 55 games for Rangers and cost a reported £5.5m. “We have been looking for a centre-forward for a while. We just hope now he can help us score some goals and we can build on the performance. Denis [Stracqualursi] has done great [tonight], and with Jelavic coming in hopefully it bodes well for the coming months. I think he would have seen the hard work that the players put in.
"He is coming from a great football club, but I think he is coming to another great football club. He really wants to play in the Premier League and he really wants to play for Everton. That goes a long way. He will also want to play for Croatia in the European Championship, so hopefully that will keep his form good, keep him hungry to score and play well."
Jelavic, who moved to Ibrox after scoring 40 times in 93 appearances for Rapid Vienna, added: "It is a big thing for me and it is a new step in my career - a step forward. I am very pleased and very excited, it is a new challenge for me.
“The Scottish Premier League is not as high a level as here in England, but I think it will help a lot as it is not so much a big difference. I think I can bring some good football, and score many goals and try to win some trophies."
Jelavic will be at the disposal of Moyes, who loaned French striker Louis Saha to Tottenham yesterday, for the trip to Wigan Athletic on Saturday. However, the Scot must decide whether to hand the former Hajduk Split and Zulte Waregem man a start at the expense of either terrace idol Tim Cahill or Stracqualursi, the 24-year-old Argentinian who was on target in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the FA Cup last Friday and was given a standing ovation when substituted late in the defeat of Manchester City.
Everton also have Premier League dates at home to Chelsea and at arch-rivals Liverpool in February, in between which they will welcome Sheffield Wednesday or Blackpool to Goodison Park in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Toffees have been English champions on nine occasions – a total surpassed by only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. They won their fifth and last FA Cup in 1995, when a Paul Rideout header proved enough to sink the Red Devils at Wembley.