RR: We’ve already spoken to Blackpool and Hearts fans to find out what they think about Ellis Simms, and it’s all been very positive. What do Everton supporters think of him?
RBM: In truth, most Everton supporters have been crying out to see some game time for him but he has simply not been afforded it. When we had to rely on Salomon Rondon who has clearly seen better days, there was quite a clamour for him to play. People who follow the Under 21s like I have for years have always spoken highly of him. He’s a goalscorer for sure, he’s just not had the chance in the first team at Everton.
RR: Has he made any sort of impression on the first team at all in his early career? Do we know what Lampard thinks of him?
RBM: Again, whilst he has been regularly seen training with the first team he does not appear to have created a sufficiently good impression to merit a chance. Lampard has rarely mentioned him, more as just part of the younger player set up. In fairness last season Lampard was relying heavily on experienced professionals to get us out of a dire situation which is one reason he didn’t get a look in.
RR: The Premier League is incredibly competitive and at the level Everton are at, there’s an expectation that you’ll spend big on top quality players. What sort of pathway is there for players like Simms and, to an extent, Nathan Broadhead?
RBM: In fairness to both players there have been precious few strikers that have come through the ranks and made the grade at Everton since Wayne Rooney. James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe threatened to make the breakthrough without ever nailing down a place.
Whether that’s because we have gone out to buy big name strikers or simply because the quality was not good enough is open to debate. What I would definitely say is that as a striker it’s possibly the hardest position to make the breakthrough at a club like the Blues.
RR: Ellis is only 21 years old. Does he have a future at Everton?
RBM: I think on loan he will have to excel at Sunderland to stand a chance of creating an opportunity at Goodison. I look at other players before him who have been quite promising and drifted away.
He does have age on his side for sure and he is not the finished article as a centre forward. You’d be forgiven for thinking being a striker your main job was to score goals something he can undoubtedly do and has done at all levels through the Everton ranks.
I think it’s the other parts of his game that are the areas for improvement. His hold up play has improved a lot in the last 18 months but he undoubtedly looks most comfortable bearing down on goal. We had earlier seen Romelu Lukaku develop from simply a goalscorer to a great all-round centre forward under the tutelage of Duncan Ferguson.
RR: He’s only joined Sunderland on loan for a year - how do you see that playing out, given he’s got stiff competition in the side from Ross Stewart, who is our established line-leader up front?
RBM: I see it as being a 12 months loan only. The club will want to see how he fares in a stronger league than the Scottish Premiership or League One where he had shown a lot of promise. I don’t know much about Ross Stewart but I would expect Simms not to care too much about that competition. Not that he’s arrogant but he will score goals in any company so does have a certain amount of self-belief.
RR: He apparently had a number of other suitors at this level. Try and put yourself in his shoes, and in the shoes of Everton - why do you think they decided that Sunderland was the best fit for him?
RBM: Sunderland are “on the up”. You have a great fan base which is supportive and passionate like Goodison is so there is a kind of similar atmosphere in which he might flourish and it would help our club assess how he can do if in the blue of Everton.
I think to have gone back to Blackpool even though they are in the Championship would have been a mistake on our part.
A new and different test will help with Everton’s assessment as to what future he has.
RR: How has Ellis performed for Everton at youth level?
RBM: One word, phenomenal. From the first time I saw him when he scored a ridiculous 46 times in a single season he clearly stood out. He simply scores goals, a lot of tap ins (but always in the right place) and a lot of goals where he hangs on the shoulder of the last defender and uses strength and pace to get through on goal.
He rarely blazes the ball over or blasts it to be fair, most of his shots are on target.
RR: What would you say to anyone who isn’t sure of this signing?
RBM: Be patient with him. He will probably start as a substitute which is no bad thing. He doesn’t take long to get into the stride of a game.
He is not always that easy on the eye or graceful, he won’t go on mazy dribbles and he can appear a little almost disinterested at times but he does come alive when he sees a chance, a defender mistake or a through ball.
Think of Gary Lineker for those readers who remember him as a player not a pundit. He scored goals for fun at senior level but was not a great footballer, you don’t have to be.
Give me 30 goals a season over fancy flicks and dribbles any day. With development and patience Simms can score a bagful of goals in the Championship!