His time on the South Coast, and to a degree with Everton, was all too short, but Manuel Fernandes did leave something of an imprint on both clubs…
The ‘played for them too’ series usually focuses on players long since gone, but every now and again we look at some of those more recently connected to both clubs, as proves the case here. So with Everton’s trip to Pompey coming up this weekend, with thoughts as to maybe how he could have helped their champions league push and of course aid our relegation battle I decided to look at one Manuel Fernandes.
Pompey and Everton have several players with connections to each other, Brett Angell for example – who we had as a nipper, along with his brother – who would go on to reject a move to us in order to join Everton later in his career, arguable not a wise move, that said we went on to get Gerry Craney instead, so we got the better end of the bargain. Angell did of course return to Fratton in a coaching capacity a couple of years back… Of course there are also more recognisable figures of Mike Trebilcock (here), ‘feed the Yak and he will score’ Yakubu (here) and Preki (here) to name but a few, but the player with the ‘strangest history’ with both clubs has to be the young Portuguese star, right?
Pompey’s ‘strange’ transfer dealings…
We have had our fair share of bizarre transfer dealings in the past, such as the Diomansy Kamara ‘deal’, one where he was unveiled as a club record signing one summer, only for us to find out a year later it had only been a 1-year loan when he briefly returned to Italy before joining West Brom. But in Fernandes we had another of these – quite probably the most bizarre of all! The then Portuguese u21 international appeared to have the world at his feet, those of us that had not seen him in all his glory soon would on YouTube and what a talent he looked…
The problem with his protracted transfer throughout the summer of 2006 always came back to the Benfica asking price, on top of concerns over a groin problem – a £10m asking fee was first spoken of, a fee that was streets ahead of anything we had ever paid at that time, or reportedly paid. As that summer went on this price fluctuated, dropping as low as a reported £3m, with it eventually believed that a fee of around £7m had been agreed and would be paid so long as he could prove his fitness over a loan period, which having previously failed a couple of medicals meaning ‘deals could not go through earlier’ was easier said than done, not to mention ‘issues’ with fees and who got what.
Will he, wont he… Yes he will!
Finally at the end of July, or maybe even the start of August, 2006 I think it was announced that we had signed him ‘on loan with the view to a permanent transfer’ after he was spotted in the crowd at Fratton (along with Sol Campbell?) at a pre-season friendly, with Porto I think? The proposed ‘would be’ fee was still unclear, but could have been anywhere between £5m and £10m, but that was for another day, the main thing was we had at least signed him on loan!
Instant impact, to then fade away…
The midfielder announced himself to the travelling Pompey fans in style with a 20-yard blockbuster against Mansfield in the league cup within minutes of his debut! Ding, dong, we are onto a winner with this guy… or so we thought, but most of the performances that followed, which were few and far between, we not always what we had hoped for, or even expected from a player with such a bounty on his head.
The sporadic nature of his performances over the months, and the inconsistency of them, were put down to ‘minor injuries’ hampering him, but his influence on games was not what we would have expected regardless – there was also a common theme with these appearances. He would play a couple of games on the trot a few times, but this third consecutive start would never follow no matter how well he had played in the second successive game, something was not quite right with this deal…
Rumours, denial – then confession of ‘a clause’
Rumours started flying around in the national press, Pompey had a deal in place that would see his automatic transfer for a pre-arranged fee – around £7m – if he played three games running?
Pompey refuted this ridiculous rumour, and remained quiet on it, even if it would not go away before eventually coming clean… Towards the end of 2006 we confirmed that a clause written into his contract meant that if Fernandes played three successive games we were automatically obliged to pay Benfica £12m! This was never going to happen, and Benfica were told if the asking price, or the deal was not restructured at least, then there would be nothing doing.
There was no backing down and he returned to Benfica in January 2007.
Back to Benfica (briefly) then back to England with Everton
It was not long before Fernandes was back in England though, as Everton, who like so many had started sniffing around when hearing about the situation, took him to Goodison on loan for the remainder of the 06/07 season.
Again a ‘view to signing him’ was taken by the Evertonians. However his signing of a new long-term contract with Benfica upon his return before coming back to England with Everton, not to mention concerns over his ‘third party ownership’, issues that also contributed to Pompey being seen off, complicated this.
Fernandes enjoyed a successful time with Everton, becoming something of a crowd favourite among the Toffees fans. The highlight of this loan spell would be a fantastic goal against Manyoo at Goodison – on what I believe was the first game played at Goodison since the untimely death of the legendary Alan Ball – as Everton threatened to derail Manyoo’s title charge, but a 2-0 lead was lost as Everton were eventually beaten.
No deal, back to Benfica (again) briefly (again)…
Rather than securing a permanent switch to Everton in the summer of 2007, with David Moyes not happy with the asking price – that same £12m that frightened off Pompey – Fernandes returned to Benfica.
Moyes continued his efforts to sign him over that summer, and another ‘on again off again move’, ‘will he wont he’ situation developed. Eventually it looked like a deal would be completed in August 2007, after Everton had alledgedly firsly failed with a £6m offer, but eventually agreed to a £12m ‘complete ownership’ of him deal. His ‘third party’ owners were demanding 50%, so Valencia wanted that £6m to keep for themselves, but this again fell through, with these ownership issues killing the deal – after so much controversy around the Carlos Tevez affair with West Ham a deal would apparently not be sanctioned by the FA, which did not please Everton according to reports.
Nearing the end of the summer transfer window Fernandes finally did get his move – but this move was to Spain with Valencia after a £12m deal, on a 6-year contract, was agreed with the Spanish giants.
Returning to Everton!
Fernandes would return to Everton again however during the 07/08 season, when he switched to the club on loan from Valencia in the January 2008 transfer window after struggling to make an impression in Spain – this loan again came with the option to buy.
After this second loan spell, and almost coming close to finally signing him permanently in the summer of 2007, it was expected that he would finally became a permanent fixture at Everton. With ownership issues seemingly no longer an issue with Valencia taking care of that when they signed him all seemed good, but again a deal could not be agreed and he returned to Valencia, where he has since become a regular under new management.
Continued links with Everton (yet again) and Pompey…
Pompey were again linked with a move for Fernandes in January 2009, and some sources believed that a loan with the option to finally securing him at Fratton for good in the summer would be confirmed – some feel that his loan signing, along with that of Edu, were close but a change of heart at Valencia saw this deal cancelled?
Since then he had been linked with both Everton and Pompey this summer, but has stressed his desire to stay where he is – this might be out of his hands though as dire financial problems with the La Liga club leave them looking like they will have to sell several players in the summer, and Fernandes could be one of them. A return to Pompey would appear much less likely, unless we come across some money, or are under new ownership, but a return to the premier league with someone is not something I would bet against…
Great player? I wish he were here though!
Manuel Fernandes will be remembered by both clubs, quite how remains to be known and is basically down to a matter of opinion… I doubt he will want to be remembered as ‘the one that had the bizarre transfer dealing’, and more so for the ‘he scored a cracker for us’ as far as his Pompey times goes, although I suspect it is the former to be honest. Again, with Everton it would be more likely that he is remembered for ‘that goal’ against Manyoo than his ‘on again off again’ transfer, not that I doubt he is too bothered personally how he is remembered!
I do wonder though if Fernandes could become one in a long, long line of players to have had fantastic potential as a youngster that does not quite fulfil this as a senior player? To be fair Valencia are no slouch, so to force his way into their side regularly he has been doing something right, but even they are not quite the team they were.
Whatever though, what this future will bring for him and how good he will be and however he is thought of at both clubs I would rather have him playing for us than against us! Do not get me wrong, we need grafters and hard workers at the moment in time, but for me we are now possibly playing it ‘too safe’ and sacrificing some of the craft and flair that we do have for this graft?
Fernandes could probably have offered us both, so I would have been pretty happy to see him pulling on the blue of Pompey this weekend against Everton that much is for sure!
PLAY UP POMPEY!