DAVID MOYES insists it was solely his decision to sell Mikel Arteta – but admits he has taken a gamble with the signings he managed to draft into Everton before the transfer window closed.
The Everton boss says he felt obliged to allow the Spaniard to join Arsenal in a last-ditch £10m move on July 31, after turning down the chance to sell him last summer.
And Moyes, who is expected to play Tim Cahill in attack against Aston Villa today as injury bites deeply into his already sparse striking options, feels the game could come too early for new-boys Denis Stracqualursi and Royston Drenthe.
The Blues boss, who will at least have fit-again Seamus Coleman, Magaye Gueye, and Leighton Baines available, said: “Let’s be clear about losing the important player (Arteta). I make the decisions here, so it was my decision that the player went.
“It wasn’t the chairman telling me I have to sell the player or anything like that. I have always said that I would make the decisions and I am in a very fortunate position to be able to do that.
“Mikel wanted to go and we had turned down a chance to sell him last year. I had said to him that I thought we could get a team to compete for the top four and I didn’t in the end.
“I owed it to him to give him the opportunity to play in the Champions League.
“I have to do what is right for the club as well, but don’t anybody think that it was down to the chairman about selling Mikel Arteta. If I had said to the chairman ‘no’, the chairman would have been more than happy to say, ‘no’ too.
“But I felt the money we were getting and the time Mikel had been here, it was right to take the money. It would help the club obviously and the only down-side of it was the lateness of how it all came about.
“If we had got it earlier and we had done something with some of the cash, then people might have said, ‘Yes, I can understand that’. I think because of the lateness of the deal what do you do? But if I had said no to Mikel, and said you are staying on again, I think that would have destroyed him.”
Moyes accepts that the £10m he recouped for Arteta will not help him in the short term.
“It won’t help me just now because we have lost an outstanding player,” he said. “Would I rather have him, of course, but Mikel wanted to go.
“If I hadn’t sold him and was playing him, I might be wondering how was he going to be.
“It also helps the club financially and money was needed to get back in, so from that point of view it was the right decision all round.
“Now it might not help me on the field, but I hoped that we can find ways around it.
“Look, we could have done with the cash if we could have got it, but I didn’t do it for that reason. I thought it was right for the boy and right for the club, and it was probably the right time for Mikel to go to pastures new.
“I agonised about it but in the end I had a very small timescale. They came in at 3pm and then up until 8pm it was all off. When I heard it might have been on, I tried to see if I could find anything out there at the last minute, but then the deal went off and when it came back on most things were well down the line.”
With Victor Anichebe out until Christmas with a groin injury, and Louis Saha once again a major fitness doubt, Moyes knows his new Argentine hit-man Stracqualursi is an unknown quantity.
He said: “We had Stracqualursi watched in Argentina last year and he was valued a lot more than we got him for – we took him for nothing.
“There weren’t an awful lot of centre-forwards out there we could get. In the end, it was nearly worth the gamble to see how he does. We’ve done it before with loan signings; some have worked and some haven’t.
“He has a good goalscoring record in Argentina but I’m not sure yet, we’ll find out in time.
“But I do expect to play Cahill up front. He played up front against QPR so we will use him there.
Like Stracqualursi, Drenthe is well short of match practice, but could feature among the substitutes for today’s game.
Tickets are still available for today’s game. Prices start from £30 for adults, £15 for juniors and £19.50 for OAPs. Call 0871 663 1878 or drop into the box office at Goodison.