With Yannick Bolasie nearing his return from a long-term knee injury, Everton legend Peter Reid tells Adam Bate what it was like to manage the winger at Plymouth Argyle and why his old club needs him to return to full fitness as soon as possible.
Peter Reid is worried. The former midfielder, who won two league titles with Everton in the 1980s, believes his old club are at risk of being relegated for the first time in 67 years. “I do fear for them because they have been hopeless and they are still in trouble,” he tells Sky Sports. The good news is that he also knows all about the man who is coming back to help.
Yannick Bolasie is better known now as the £25m winger who joined Everton from Crystal Palace last year only to suffer a cruciate ligament injury midway through his first season at his new club. Reid remembers him as the young hopeful looking to carve out a career in the professional game amid the chaos that had engulfed Plymouth Argyle.
It is fair to say that Reid’s memories of his 15 months in charge at Home Park are mixed. Argyle suffered relegation in his first season after being hit with two winding-up orders by HMRC before going into administration and having 10 points deducted. He departed with all of his best players sold and the team bottom of the Football League the following season.
So was it tough? “It bloody was,” Reid laughs. “The main thing was just keeping it going. I paid the heating bill and some of the lads’ wages. I sold my FA Cup runners-up medal at auction, although, to be fair to the FA, they ended up replacing it, which was nice of them. But the big thing I remember is that there were a lot of talented lads there at the time.
“As well as Bolasie, there was Ashley Barnes and Joe Mason too. Jack Stephens was just a schoolboy when I gave him his debut at 16. It was difficult for those lads with wages going unpaid and them not able to pay the rent on their lodgings. But it gave them a grounding and Bolasie, in particular, has just kicked on from there. I am made up for them all.”
Having had a spell playing for Hillingdon Borough in the Southern Football League, Bolasie arrived at Argyle in 2008 following a season spent in Malta with Floriana, but most of his game time had come on loan at Barnet prior to Reid’s arrival in the summer of 2010. “He had come from non-league and he was raw,” recalls Reid.
“But he had the natural ingredients with his technique because he could control it and he could run with the ball at pace. Pace and ability to beat people. That is what excites crowds. He has always had that in his locker. I am not the greatest lover of academies, I think kids should be brought up to enjoy playing football and he is certainly someone who does that.”
It is easy to assume that Bolasie is a care-free individual given the playground flicks and tricks that decorate his game, but the truth is rather different. His agent tells tales of him arriving for meetings armed with spreadsheets and the player keeps a notebook with him constantly – monitoring his sleep patterns as well as his food intake.
It was his old Palace boss Tony Pulis who told him not to worry so much. He has needed that advice, as well as the personal physio he has employed since those Palace days, in the months following the injury that he suffered against Manchester United last December. Two operations were required – one to repair his meniscus, another on his cruciate ligament.
Almost one year on from the original injury, Bolasie is back in training and involved with Everton’s U23s. But it is the senior side that needs his help and the player himself appears confident that he can come back a better player even at 28, insisting that he has lost none of his speed. That will be welcome news for supporters and club legends alike.
“He has got pace and I don’t think there is enough pace in the Everton side,” adds Reid. “Sometimes when you lose a player through injury, as has happened to Everton with Bolasie and Ross Barkley, you only really realise what you are missing when they are out. There is no doubt that Everton need that pace. They need a result.” Bolasie could help with both.
So’ton vs Everton
November 26, 2017, 12:30pm
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