Ambitious Everton show hand
LIVERPOOL, England (AP):
Wayne Rooney's sentimental return to Everton after 13 years away fits the image of a club often criticised for living in the past amid the fast-evolving world of English football.
The past 18 months have shown, however, that something exciting is brewing in the blue half of Merseyside: A newfound ambition and a determination to make up for lost time after falling behind the Premier League's elite.
There's a new 300-million-pound ($385-million) stadium on the horizon on the Mersey waterfront, replacing the atmospheric but cramped Goodison Park. There's a wealthy majority shareholder in place in Farhad Moshiri, an Iranian-British businessman who sold his share in Arsenal to get a stake in Everton in early 2016.
There's a highly regarded manager in Ronald Koeman, who holds a fine global reputation from his time as a player with Barcelona and the Netherlands, and a director of football in Steve Walsh, a super scout who was one of the unheralded architects behind Leicester's improbable Premier League title triumph in 2015-16.
And - arguably most important to Everton's success-starved fans - there's a team filled with a growing number of bright, bold and talented youngsters from England and abroad.
The arrival of Rooney is the signature moment of a busy summer at Everton, a fact underscored by the lines outside the gates of Goodison Park on Monday to welcome home the club's so-called 'prodigal son'. But he's a blast from the past at a club looking forward, with momentum on the field and in the boardroom.