The story continues.
To see part 1 click here. The summer transfer window opened and after an all clear from the medical team and an agreement on personal terms (which in reality had been agreed well before the end of the previous season) Steve McClaren finally got his man and Yak got his dream move to a ‘bigger’ club.
Unlike his Pompey bow Yak failed to make an immediate impact at Boro. In fact it took until his fourth game, an impressive 2-1 victory over Arsenal for him to break his duck. After the game he admitted that his failure to find the target in previous matches had played on his mind but now he had scored he was ready to show his true worth and vowed to keep the goals coming.
And come they did. Another three in the next five games saw Yak back to his goal scoring best. He even came back to haunt Pompey in the October when in a late Saturday kick-off at the Riverside, he cancelled out Gary O’Neil’s opener by heading home Rochemback’s corner with relative ease to earn Boro a 1-1 draw.
By February Yak had netted fifteen times and in what was to be one of his most memorable matches since joining the Riversiders, scored again as a rampant Boro inflicted a second defeat of the season on the Premiership’s leaders Chelsea.
Two in the FA Cup at Deepdale and another in the UEFA at home to Roma took Yaks seasons tally to nineteen by early March. All was going well, Yak was happy, the goals were flowing and he had firmly established himself as the fans favourite, but as we have come to learn over the years there is always a twist around the corner with Yakubu
Out of the blue, Yaks representative Barry Silkman claimed that his player was not ready to turn his back on Middlesbrough and join the likes of Arsenal or Manchester United. The press suggested that Silkman had said, that although Yak was happy at the Riverside, a source had tipped him off that ‘bigger clubs’ would make moves for Yak in the summer. Here we go again! We thought.
What affect this had on Yakubu we can only speculate on, but the Yak didn’t score again for the rest of the season ?Sixteen games!
Yakubu’s second season was generally ‘media circus’ free and again everything seemed Honky Dory – sixteen goals in thirty three appearances up until mid February ensured that his form was as good as it was when he was at Pompey. Then, once again, he dried up
For the final twelve games of the season Yakubu’s form began to dip and as he started to display a general attitude of not being interested it fuelled debate that he could be on his way out of Boro? Pompey fans had obviously seen it all before and as far as we were concerned (which wasn’t that much); the writing was on the wall.
The Transfer Window opened and as expected Yak was linked to ‘bigger clubs’ West Ham, Pompey (we were now considered a bigger club!), Manchester City and Aston Villa were all interested but duly informed that Yakubu would ‘not come cheap’ or so we were told by Mr Silkman.
Everton then entered the fray and the newspaper reports suggested that they had tabled a £10million offer and in response Yakubu had requested a transfer from the Riverside. Of course Middlesboro denied any of this and Chief Executive Keith Lamb went on record to say that Yakubu would not be leaving and that Boro manager Gareth Southgate had reassured him of his future.
Although Yakubu started the season as a Boro’ player, albeit in the same lethargic manner he had finished the last, the speculation didn’t go away. Boro eventually caved in and granted his wish. The Yak left the Riverside having scored 35 goals in 103 outings for the Teesiders in all competitions, but having failed to score in his final 14 games.
So, Everton smashed their transfer record of £8.6m paid to Crystal Palace for Andrew Johnson and shelled out £11.25m. But no sooner had Yakubu left the Riverside car park than Boro Chairman Steve Gibson broke ranks and publicly slated Yak stating that together with Mark Viduka, Boro were well shot of the pair. In fairness Gibson’s main gripe was about Viduka’s wage demands but he was also quoted as saying that he believed Middlesbrough had done the right thing in selling Yakubu claiming the Nigerian had switched off halfway through the previous season and they still did not know why.
Personally, none of it surprised anybody in Pompey so we sat back and waited for the problems to unfold, but this time at Everton.
Upon joining The Toffees, Yak provided the standard ‘I’m pleased to be here, it is a massive club’ speech and mentioned that he chose Everton as he had always wanted to play for a club that were in Europe and that had ambition to move forward.
Yakubu made his debut in the 2-1 win against Bolton Wanderers, at the Reebok Stadium on 1st September. He scored within ten minutes! ? But then failed to score another league goal for seven games.
Now David Moyes is no fool, and Yak was dropped to the bench and although he managed to score in a Carling Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday Moyes still claimed that Yakubu looked anxious and was making some poor decisions with his shooting.
By the end of September the Goodison media team were already talking about ‘every player playing the game as if it was their last’ and ‘pulling out all the stops in every game’. It was all too familiar, a team message aimed straight at Yakubu.
Two months into his Everton career and with only one league goal under his belt the argument with Boro Chairman Steve Gibson reignited. This time Yakubu hit back.
He was quoted as saying that he was very disappointed by Gibson’s comment that he had ‘switched off towards the end of his time at Boro’ and claimed he would never do such a thing! In fact Yak somehow managed to bring Pompey into the debate by claiming that “They never said I switched off when I left Portsmouth. They all loved me”
Whether Mr Gibson believed Yakubu’s words or whether he had just had enough we cannot be sure but Yak’s retort seem to nail the argument (and his relationship with Boro) and allowed him to concentrate on his Everton career.
Four goals in November ensured Yak settled at Goodison and although he failed to score as Everton fought out a goalless draw at Fratton in early December, Pompey Manager Harry Redknapp went on record stating that he was at a loss as to why Portsmouth sold Yakubu to Middlesbrough when they did and acknowledged that Yak had done an unbelievable job for Portsmouth during his first spell.
Harry had obviously missed the motivational lecture that Messer’s Zajec and Perrin attended and for the first time in over three years Yakubu responded to a Pompey Managers comments and bagged a second half hat-trick in his next game to become the first Everton player to score three since Kevin Campbell put four past West Ham during Walter Smiths reign.
A goal in each of the next two games took Yak’s seasons tally to nine goals in eleven Premier League games, but pre-empting that Yak was about to switch-off David Moyes issued a warning stating that although he had been delighted with the Nigerian’s form he was anxious for the 25-year-old to maintain his standards.
Everything, seemed to be going well with Yak at Goodison, until that was, he ‘went’ but did not ‘return’ from the African Cup of Nations. Now Pompey supporters all know that Kanu did not exactly rush home after the tournament but at least he had an excuse (no matter how tame it was) Yakubu on the other hand just went AWOL for five days.
Moyes was tight-lipped about the situation and when asked whether Everton’s record signing would feature in the forthcoming fixture with Reading, just replied: “No.”
A few days after his late return Yakubu revealed the extent of David Moyes’ anger, apologised for his actions and thanked his team mates for their support, and although he didn’t feature in the match at Reading he did play a part in the away fixture at SK Bran a week or so later.
However, it was to be the return leg of the SK Bran tie last Thursday (21st Feb) that would signal a return to form for Yakubu. Yak got his second hat-trick of the season to become the first Everton player to score a hat-trick in Europe for 23 years and the first Everton player since Tony Cottee to score three, more than once as they brushed the Norwegian champions aside 6-1 to secure a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup against Fiorentina.
When I started this article on Monday evening Yakubu had just bagged another to secure a vital away victory for the Toffees against Manchester City, but no sooner had my research ended then the latest twist in the Yakubu saga was about to unfold?
Yakubu is now at the centre of a disagreement between his country’s FA and his club boss David Moyes!
As reported on this very website by Storagematt, Moyes made a throwaway comment about Yakubu’s age being potentially questionable due to Nigeria’s lack of proper registration procedures for births, and the Nigerian FA have not been slow in coming forward with a response to rebuff the ‘allegations’ Moyes ‘apparently’ made. All a bit over sensitive if you ask me!
Whatever you think of Yakubu and the problems he brings it’s hard to ignore the fact that as a striker he has a hit rate that is virtually unrivalled in the Premiership, especially given that Thierry Henry now longer plies his trade in our top flight. Yak managed 43 goals in 84 Pompey starts, 35 in 88 for Boro and has already bagged 16 in 23 for Everton. His is clearly a player with an eye for goal and one that most would want in their team.
‘When’ not ‘if’ his next move will come we can only guess, but many believe that if his form continues in the same way, the most Everton will see is two seasons then he’ll down tools and look for a ‘bigger club’. In the meantime however, if David Moyes continues to feed the Yak – the highest scoring African player in Premier League history will score.
Written by Chix.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.