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Gibson's new lease of life

JUST a few short months ago, it was difficult to describe Darron Gibson as anything other than a feather-bedded young professional earning plenty of money but not playing much football.

His move to Everton, however, has provided a revelation for sceptical observers and a revolution in his own mindset.

Gone is the slightly surly and slightly arrogant character who adored his status as a Manchester United player and believed he had a future at Old Trafford.

Instead, David Moyes has found a midfield leader. The Everton boss shrewdly bought into a young man with a sense of personal disappointment caused by his inability to make the cut, and what is emerging is a singular determination to prove Alex Ferguson wrong.

In fact, the Darron Gibson playing for Everton right now would have a much better chance of convincing Ferguson that he is a real player.

Maybe he could only shrug aside the shadow he had pulled around himself at Old Trafford by leaving.

It is hard to make a link between the ineffectual and almost shy presence Gibson generated when he wore red for the tireless midfield worker and prompter Moyes paid just £1million for. The add-ons will kick in the more Gibson plays and Everton will be happy to pay.

Dividend

The dividend for Everton has been quick and obvious. Moyes has yet to see his team lose with Gibson on the pitch (10 games to date), and his performance against West Brom at the weekend was his best yet.

But it is premature to say that Giovanni Trapattoni will also reap rewards from Gibson's change of scenery.

The Ireland boss was perplexed at the reaction to his comments about Gibson 18 months ago, when he publicly questioned his ambition and mental toughness.

Nobody ever suggested that Trapattoni was wrong in his assessment. It was the foghorn nature of the message delivery which rankled and probably still does with Gibson.

But there was an inherent truth in Trapattoni's belief that Gibson would only make progress if he was out of Old Trafford and standing on his own feet in a less privileged atmosphere than that which exists in Carrington.

For the player, there was no debate and if Gibson wanted to use John O'Shea as his nearest comparison, he must have found it easy to justify his willingness to stick it out even though he spent most of his time training with no real purpose.

O'Shea defied advice from all quarters to break free from Old Trafford and find a club where he would be first choice come what may. He stayed and carved his own niche in the history of that great stadium.

But it is interesting to note that O'Shea is playing some of the best football of his career at the Stadium of Light at the moment, and that Martin O'Neill has singled him out as one of the principle reasons for Sunderland's rejuvenation.

O'Neill highlighted the fact one of O'Shea's greatest challenges was to leave a club where he expected to win every game for another where the success rate was less impressive.

Such a move brought an extra pressure to a thorough professional like O'Shea, and clearly one he is responding to well.

Those who were sceptical about Gibson's chances of achieving something similar believed he had left it too late, and certainly did not think he was capable of meeting the challenge of less salubrious circumstances in the same was O'Shea has done.

Replacement

But the signs are good and, in Moyes, Gibson has found a manager who has a degree in extracting gold from unpromising ore; in fact, the ideal replacement for father-figure Ferguson.

Moyes still sees weaknesses in his game and one particular comment after the win over West Brom stood out.

"I think there is more to come. I think there will be a better player with regular games and I think he probably needs a wee bit of 'the treatment' as well.

When asked what he meant by 'the treatment', he said: "Well, he will need to get whipped a couple of times."


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