On Friday, Everton announced 23-year-old defender Matthew Pennington had signed a three-year deal for the club, extending his contract until June 2021.
The defender had spent the season on loan at Leeds United but had failed to seriously impress at Elland Road, leading many to question the seemingly nonsensical contract extension.
Pennington has shown very little to suggest he can play at the Premier League level, let alone excel in the Championship, leaving Leeds and Everton supporters alike shaking their heads at the news.
The centre-back moved to Everton as an 11-year-old, progressing through the academy until making his first-team debut in a 2015 League Cup tie.
Subsequent loans to Tranmere, Coventry City, and Walsall followed before Pennington played his first Premier League match in April 2016.
An injury suffered in preseason kept the Englishman out until the spring of 2017 when Pennington famously scored an equaliser in his Merseyside derby debut.
Yet, that moment has marked the high point of the defender’s Everton career.
At the start of the 2017/18 season, Pennington was deemed surplus to requirements at Goodison Park and was sent on loan to Leeds in search of first-team action.
The loanee notched 15 starts and nine substitute appearances for the Championship side, as Leeds finished a disappointing 13th in the league.
In all of Pennington’s starts, United kept a clean sheet in just one match: October’s 3-0 win over Bristol City.
Leeds went on to concede 64 goals in the league this season; only nine Championship sides let in more goals all year.
In all, the fact that Pennington failed to establish himself as a consistent starter on a middling second-division club points to a loan spell that was mediocre at best.
Everton’s decision to hand the defender a renewed contract looks to be an odd reward for a player who has yet to prove himself at either the Championship or top-flight level.
These concerns were also shared by Leeds United fans, who expressed their bemusement on Twitter after hearing news of Pennington’s deal.
Worst defender i've ever seen at Leeds, What are Everton thinking
— Danny Robinson (@danny_robinson2) May 11, 2018
Not really excelled at #lufc, very error prone. (Tbh that applies to the whole squad)
— Dirty Leeds Scum (@DirtyLeedsFC) May 11, 2018
I’m glad, think Leeds have dodged a bullet with this one woeful every time I’ve seen him this season.
— Ross Connolly (@RossConnolly79) May 11, 2018
I’m surprised , I expected good things from him this season but he was at best average and his passing is shocking ( saying that our team has been shocking), but don’t think he’s premier league quality , can’t see him breaking into your first team anytime soon
— Lee Scott (@LeeScott321) May 11, 2018
Everton fans also joined in, similarly confused as to why the youngster had been handed a lengthy contract.
Nowhere near good enough. Shows how poor we are really!
— Andrew Pickering (@ajpickering80) May 11, 2018
What's the point? He won't sniff the first team and if he does Everton are in even more trouble than before. He will most likely go on loan. Pretty pointless to resign him imo.
— Daylights (@DaylightsTV) May 11, 2018
Straight into the U23
— TheEvertonGamer (@Rdjnewton85) May 11, 2018
It will be fascinating to see what the future holds for Matthew Pennington, as the defender will be determined to prove his doubters wrong and excel at Everton.
Everton round-up: Lookman battle, Veloso wanted and Richarlison disappointment
A selection of the latest news and gossip from Everton.
Everton are still fighting to keep hold of Ademola Lookman this month. Ot has been reported that a new big money bid has been made for the England youngster from German side RB Leipzig.
The Toffees talent thrived on loan in the Bundesliga last season and is therefore on the radar again.
However, according to The Times, Everton remain determined to keep him.
Marco Silva sees him as a hot prospect and is also aware that Yannick Bolasie is likely to leave before the end of the month.
Everton are reportedly looking at the potential signature of Miguel Veloso. The Portugal international is a free agent having left Genoa this summer.
According to TEAMtalk, the Toffees are said to be interested in signing him, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 56-cap midfielder would add excellent strength in depth to the midfield at Goodison Park.
Richarlison has admitted he is disappointed not to have received a call-up to the latest Brazil squad.
The Everton newbie has enjoyed a fantastic start to life at Goodison Park and was being tipped to receive a call-up.
However, the 23-year-old has been left out of Tite’s squad for upcoming games with the USA and El Salvador.
Richarlison admitted to UOL Esporte that he was looking forward to a call-up and was disappointed it never came.
Everton loan watch: Garbutt woes continue, Onyekuru scores, Martina must wait
Everton saw Henry Onyekuru net his first goal of a loan spell at Galatasaray this weekend.
Luke Garbutt – Oxford United
The left-back’s poor form continued this week. He was hauled off after 62 minutes as Oxford United lost their third game in a row in League One, 4-1 to Portsmouth.
He might find himself out of the team for the midweek clash with Accrington Stanley.
Henry Onyekuru – Galatasaray
A day to remember for the Nigerian forward. He scored his first goal for his new club. It also proved to be the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Goztepe.
Shani Tarashaj – Grasshoppers
Was not in the matchday squad as Grasshoppers changed things up for a Swiss Challenge Cup match v lower league opposition SC Buochs.
Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina – Stoke City
The Potters are still looking for their first win of the season. They fought to a 2-2 draw with Preston North End this weekend.
Martina was not in the squad. However, Williams started and finished the game.
Antonee Robinson and Callum Connolly – Wigan Athletic
Wigan drew 2-2 with Nottingham Forest this weekend. Both men featured. Robinson played the full 90 minutes, whilst Connolly came on for the final 15.
Nikola Vlasic – CSKA Moscow
The young Croatian played 80 minutes on his debut for the Russian side. CSKA defeated Arsenal Tula 3-0.
Kevin Mirallas – Fiorentina
La Viola’s opening game of the season at Sampdoria was postponed following the tragic Genoa bridge collapse. Genoa’s game with AC Milan was also postponed following a state of emergency being called for the city.
Cenk Tosun is an excellent leaving gift for Everton from Sam Allardyce
The Turkish striker has been in fine form for Everton.
Everton have enjoyed a decent start to the new season. The Toffees have a draw and a win from their opening two games. However, it is the style of football and the positive attitude that has Everton fans enjoying watching their side once again after a dire 2017-18.
Ronald Koeman clearly lost the dressing room and his replacement Sam Allardyce lost the fanbase. The latter may have kept Everton in the Premier League, but no Evertonian was disappointed to see ‘Big Sam’ get the boot.
However, he has left Everton with a player who is quickly winning fans over at Goodison Park. In January, Allardyce pushed for a new striker and got his man with the £27 million signing of Cenk Tosun from Besiktas.
After a slow start, the Turkish star came into his own last season and, despite being goalless this term, has been excellent.
It is no coincidence that Everton’s other two attackers, Richarlison and Theo Walcott have been in such impressive form so far. Tosun’s link-up play and hard work have allowed them to thrive and that has helped him swiftly become a firm fan favourite among the Everton fans.
Now, if Tosun can start scoring some more regular goals, he could be a fantastic leaving present from Allardyce.
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