Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The curious tale of Steven Pienaar's year at Spurs: why Moore isn't always merrier

THE Steven Pienaar story is a curious one, and close to my heart. When confirmation dropped that South Africa’s only current world-class player had gone on loan back to his old stomping ground at Goodison Park, I leapt in the air.
The deal to move “Schilla” from Spurs to Everton for the rest of the season was officially confirmed at 11.47pm South African time, nearly 10pm at the FA’s headquarters in London.
His excited twittering since backs up all that we felt about the lad from Westbury’s troubled time in North London, where he found himself in a Spurs squad with his path to glory blocked by a certain Gareth Bale.
And there he was, as the transfer window slowly shut, watching that Welsh wizard Bale thump home two more goals in a record-breaking season against Wigan. Where was South Africa’s international captain? Where he’s been all season – on the bench.
Apparently before kick-off, boss Harry Redknapp had insisted Pienaar had to be part of the squad, despite frantic negotiations with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright. He said he needed the 29-year-old in case of injury.
But what few people knew when the match kicked off was that Harry wanted Everton’s former Manchester United striker Louis Saha at White Hart Lane. And as a consequence, Kenwright had a little leverage in his bid to get Pienaar back to the club where he was the supporters’ player of the year in 2009.
When QPR’s new boss Mark Hughes made an approach a fortnight ago, Redknapp assured us: “I have no intention of selling Pienaar. Why should I? I wouldn't want to let him go. He is a good player. I don't need to weaken the squad. He could play a part in the run-in."
After a day in court defending himself over tax evasion charges and a welcome 3-0 triumph over Wigan, ‘Arry proved to be less determined as the midnight deadline loomed.
Thank God. A major mistake may just have been rectified. Expect a permanent deal at the end of the season - with little mention of the cut-price R30m Spurs paid for their man.
A year ago, when it became clear Pienaar was being set up for that cut-price move – he refused to sign a new contract despite repeated urging from David Moyes – I said on SuperSport that his agent David Moore was stupid to move him from Goodison, where he had made a name for himself.
I said it was like Paul Stretford demanding a move from Manchester United for Wayne Rooney, which he had done, but had rapidly rethought his strategy.
As an automatic pick at Everton, what was the point of going to Spurs, where Bale had just begun to emerge with that now-legendary Champions League hat-trick at the San Siro? Moore called me on the mobile from Barcelona, screaming at me, telling me I knew nothing.
He said he had nothing to do with Pienaar’s move, that Schilla himself was eager to go, because he wanted Champions League football and a club with more ambition.
When I quoted him, Moore insisted I send an apology to Kenwright. I did. I still have the email.
But ultimately, with Pienaar back at Everton after a late-night exchange between Redknapp and Kenwright on Wednesday night, I guess we all know now that Pienaar’s move to Spurs was all wrong.
I’ll say now what I said a year ago: sometimes a player just belongs. He doesn’t need to move in his late 20s. Moore can deny it all he want, but anyone who’s been in football long enough knows the agents are the ones behind the risky, big-money moves late in a career.
Without a move, where does the last big pay-day come from if, like Moore, your players are declining with the speed of Benni McCarthy, who was at West Ham at the time?
It looked okay at first. Pienaar cracked the starting line-up. But after a run of games, injury struck. The close season saw both Pienaar and compatriot Bongani Khumalo come over for the Vodacom Challenge with Spurs. But that was as good as it got. And if you examine you’ll find Pienaar's been “sick” and “in bed” three times since Christmas this year. He blames flu and tonsilitis as the stress of being unable to break in to Tottenham’s high-flying starting eleven began to tell.
A few brief cameos – including 10 minutes against Everton - are all he’s managed in the Premier League. And a couple of starts in Tottenham’s disastrous Europa League journey.
But the minute confirmation of his return to Everton emerged, his old pal Phil Neville was telling the BBC: “There’s nobody else I’d rather we signed.”
On the Everton FC facebook page, a simple message atop hundreds of happy messagers: "Welcome home Steven Pienaar."
These are Stevie’s tweets since: “Soon up the road to Liverpool. Familiar journey! Looking forward.
“And looking forward to running rings around @fizzer19 (Neville) in training again. “Very thankful that Spurs management allowed me to go on loan and I’m very happy it could be to Everton, a club close to my heart.
“Manager needs to make choices, I understand. But I love playing and just can’t sit so much on the bench. It was killing my spirit.
“Mixed emotions to leave Spurs. Disappointed I couldn’t get in a playing groove on a regular basis and show the fans the real me.
“Happy days. We just beat the clock on Transfer Deadline Day. Holding thumbs.”
Aren’t we all Stevie? South Africa needs you playing again. And the same could be said for compatriot Bongani Khumalo, back at Spurs after his disastrous loan spell at Championship club Reading.
Sometimes agents don’t know best.
Now what happened to QPR wanting Katlego “Killer” Mphela?

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  1. FYI its Rob Moore, not David Moore.

    I don't fault Pienaar for moving to Spurs.
    Sometimes its good to step out of your comfort zone and see what you are capable of.
    Pienaar's move might have been motivated by cash but it also showed ambition (league position wise).

    To be honest, Rob seems like a nice guy.
    He's an agent, not a second 'mum'.
    If his client says they want to move, then its his job to facilitate it.

    But, at least he tries and gets deals for his players.
    Can't say the same for Jazzman.
    How he can't flog Shabba is miracle, when agents like Walter Mokoena can get Euro deals for unknown players.

    Old article, but why was Rob blacklisted?

  2. Neal: It is a complete waste of time trying to inform you about anything, to be honest. There's none so deaf as those who will not hear.......

    Some corrections to your story:

    1. Saha deal was completed before Pienaar and the two were not linked in any way. Saha was a replacement for Pavlyuchenko.
    2. Pienaar only eventually got his way because he insisted with Redknapp that he wanted to go on loan and Redknapp had a change of heart at the last minute because he could see that Pienaar really wanted out - at 22:35 on 31 January Spurs had no intention of letting him go.
    3. Pienaar wanted to leave Everton to move to a club that had a chance to compete for trophies on a regular basis and play European football. Period. It had nothing to do with him not liking Everton, it's fans or management (in fact, all three were fantastic to him).

    But he wanted to try somewhere else.

    Anything wrong with having ambition? Motivated by money - absolutely not. His deal at Spurs was marginally better than what Everton offered him and significantly less than what he was offered by Chelsea. Yet HE chose Spurs.
    Our company agency fee - the same at Spurs as what Everton offered for his contract renewal ........and less than what Chelsea offered. FACT. Greedy agents needing to have one last big move to earn money from their client.....wrong again, sorry to disappoint you.

    4. "Being set up for a cut price move..." - again, wrong. Everton were informed in May 2010 that Pienaar would not renew. Everton then chose not to sell him in the summer of 2010 and to hold onto him. No problem, that was their choice and they were entitled to do that. But the result ended up being that they were then forced to sell him for a "cut-price" fee when he had only 5 months left on his contract, rather than lose him for nothing. Pienaar's fault? No. Agent's fault? No.

    When the Player made the decision to leave Everton, his Agent's job was to then find him the options - we delivered Spurs and Chelsea and the Player made the choice. Simple.

    Fast forward one year:

    Yes, Pienaar has failed to break into an excellent Spurs team, after a reasonable start. Yes, he had incredible bad luck with injuries but you seem to believe that that does not matter.
    Is there any disgrace in failing to win down a regular starting line-up place when up against Bale, Moderic and an improved Lennon? Any disgrace in having the courage to move out of his comfort zone in order to try himself at the Spurs level? Or should he have stayed where he was and then always wondered what "might have been....".

    I don't believe so.

    When Harry Redknapp asked Pienaar at 22:45 UK time on 31 January where he wanted to go - there were three options on the table. And surprise, surprise Pienaar, NOT his Agent, answered "Everton".......just like 12 months before that when Pienaar said "Spurs" (not Everton or Chelsea).

    Neal, just because I don't take your phone calls - and journalism like this is an example why - stop trying to grind an axe when you really are not sufficiently informed about the situation that you are trying to deliver "expert" opinion on.

    Rob Moore

  3. Top comment Mr Moore

    Thanks for setting the record straight.

  4. That was brilliant.

  5. Rob and I had a long chat last night. You'll see Sunday's story I wrote for Scoop! here

    Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar nearly ended up at Stoke City when the transfer window slammed shut last week.

    Today, Scoop can reveal how the 29-year-old found himself back at Everton just a year after his disastrous R30m move to Tottenham in a tale of intrigue and desperation which involved Stoke City and newly promoted QPR.

    Pienaar’s agent Rob Moore, the man I advised 12 months ago NOT to sell Pienaar to Spurs, spoke on South African football’s biggest show – Discovery Sports Centre on MetroFM – admitting: “We had actually agreed a fee for Steven to move to QPR with their new boss Mark Hughes.

    “But then they bought Gibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora and the deal was off.”

    Speaking from Barcelona, Moore told Robert Marawa and me in the SABC studios: “Spurs boss Harry Redknapp (who had been in court all day attending his tax evasion trial) then insisted Stevie should stay.

    “He put him on the bench for the game against Wigan. Steve and I talked, and he was desperate to leave. At his age, he needs to play football. So when the game finished, we went to see the chairman Daniel Levy.

    “I had a call from Stoke wanting him on loan, but then Bill Kenwright, the Everton chairman, was speaking to the chairman.

    “He said he wanted Pienaar back – and Steve explained to the chairman how much he wanted to be out there playing.

    “And the deal was done at 11.47pm – 10 minutes before the window closed.”

    A relieved Pienaar, limited to substitute appearances in the Premier League for Spurs this ­season, said: “In a way it does feel like home. When I came back the lads welcomed me with open arms. It’s a good feeling and like coming back home.

    “To get the acceptance back you have to work and show that you do deserve to be forgiven.”

  6. Djibril, not Gibril above. Sorry.