Some would argue that ?moving to the next level? actually means a sustained period of European competition, namely, in the Uefa Cup. In order to achieve this, successive top six finishes would be required, something that hasn?t been done since the 1980s, when title challenges were more likely than a satisfactory European place.
Another definition of ?moving to the next level? could be drawn from the team?s recent exploits in the Carling Cup. Although the fact that we only defeated Sheffield Wednesday, Luton and West Ham on our way to the semi-final has been focused on since the defeat to Chelsea, reaching this stage of a major cup competition for the first time in over 12 years should not be overlooked. It could therefore be said that winning silverware in the form of a domestic cup would see a move onto another, altogether higher level.
The other, and most demanding view would seem to be that the only acceptable way of ?moving to the next level? is to break into the top four on a consistent basis. Although we achieved this in the 2004-05 season, we finished the following season in a very disappointing 11th place, failing to capitalise on the previous season which had promised so much.
So which of these three views is the correct one? Unfortunately there isn?t a right answer. There will always be dispute when it comes to a question like this, everyone has an opinion and who?s is right will always be open to interpretation.
Since the 2-1 win over Wigan which pushed us into the fourth Champions League spot, the national press and surprisingly even David Moyes himself, has edged towards breaking the top four as the next step for the club to aim for. Although this should be a goal for the future, financial restrictions when compared to Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool should really make this a ridiculous idea. Where the likes of United can go out and spend £60 million on players come the summer, Moyes will be lucky to have £20 million to spend. It is when you look at the difference in spending power, the fact we came fourth a few seasons ago and are even contemplating another fourth place finish this season seems so absurd.
Despite all this, most of us are probably relishing the chance to fight for fourth place, something which is testament to the amazing job Moyes has done and continues to do on what is essentially a shoestring budget when compared to the top four. Realistically we need another two summer?s worth of transfer dealings (without losing any of our top players) to create a side capable of challenging for a top four place on a regular basis. Moyes simply does not have the money to go and buy five world class players come this summer, at best we can hope to secure Fernandes, Pienaar and one other major signing.
There is no doubt that coming fourth or higher is achievable, possibly even this season, but in order for it to happen regularly Moyes needs to buy and sell shrewdly over the next couple of years. Where the top four are capable of buying a new team come every transfer window, Moyes must use the next couple of seasons to add to the current squad to turn it?s fantastic potential into something of substance. Breaking into and continuing to finish in the top four would be a huge step in restoring the club to where it once was but for this moment in time, it remains more of a fantasy than a reality.
I?m sure the hysteria of the recent Carling Cup run has caused many a fan to reminisce about the '95 FA Cup, the demolition of Spurs, Rideout?s header and all that. Being only seven at the time, my memories of the cup run and the final itself are restricted to DVD highlights and stories from my Dad. It was therefore particularly exciting as we progressed through to the Carling Cup semi-final recently, only to be beaten by Chelsea over two legs. Most fans, myself included, would have seen the winning of the cup as an undoubted sign of progress, combined with our generally improved league standings of the last five years.
One frame of mind, different from the fourth place finish one mentioned above, is that the return of silverware to Goodison Park would be the perfect definition of ?moving to the next level?. I completely understand this view but as we saw with Millwall a few seasons ago, a series of generous draws can result in a fairly easy passage to a cup final. Lifting the FA, Carling or even UEFA Cup in the next two seasons would be a fantastic achievement but, despite being a sign of progress, it should not define ?moving to the next level?. If we were however to achieve cup wins or final appearances in two or three consecutive seasons this would, to me at least, be a move onto a new level, a sign of consistency and quality ? something which has been lacking for a long time.
In my opinion, the most accurate view of the three was the first that I mentioned, a sustained period of European competition, more to the point, reaching the Uefa Cup via league placing year in year out. Since Moyes took charge we have narrowly missed out on a Uefa Cup spot, come fourth in the league and had a solid sixth placed finish giving us the European adventure we are currently experiencing this season.
Generally speaking, a top six finish in the Premier Leaguesis normally good enough for a Uefa cup spot. Could we really be disappointed with say three top six finishes and then three decent runs in the Uefa Cup? To me, this would be a definite sign of ?moving to the next level?. It may not suit those who are unhappy with our decline since the late 80s but the fact is, we are in the middle of a rebuilding programme. We seem to be heading in the right direction, looking on track for another European place at the end of this season. A bit of consistency plus regular European football and a chance for Moyes to build the squad to push towards Champions League qualification? Sounds like a plan to me?
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1 Posted 29/01/2008 at 05:33:03
For me....."the next level" would be consistently performing at the level we’re at now. No, I don’t mean losing to Chelsea.....I mean consistently competing in Europe by finishing in the top six at least. Competing in domestic cups (prefably the FA Cup)....getting to the SF’s on a regular basis. This will in turn generate more money, entice players etc. If we can throw into that a year or two of The Champions League then all the better...all the more money etc.
There is no doubt that Moyes has done a fantastic job (go on ... admit it!). In this present day climate where the availability of big money for the Top 3 (and others...ie Spurs) makes so much difference.....Moyes has done an incredible job under the circumstances.
He himself will admit that unless we actually win a trophy then we’ve done nothing......that’s true enough but he’s building a team to get there, no doubt about it.
Just imagine what he could do if he did have the money!
As I’ve said in another post.........I actually think we could go all the way in the UEFA Cup....with all our players available over two legs plus the final, yes we can do it!
Please remember.....if we get to the final....no balloons around Howards goalmouth!!!
2 Posted 29/01/2008 at 06:24:13
I can see the RS dropping points at West Ham which will turn the screw on them and our other rivals. Other than Man City and Liverpool, the 6 pointers we have are at GP, so we should treat all 15 remaining games like cup finals. We are capable of getting 10 wins (or say 8 wins and 3 draws) which should guarantee 4th place and a launch pad to even better things next year. COYB!
3 Posted 29/01/2008 at 07:10:03
Ok, I did a little research, and according to this uefa-coefficients-site (http://www.xs4all.nl/~kassiesa/bert/uefa/data/method3/trank2008.html) we currently have 35.686 points for the coming season. Of course we can add to this by defeating Brann and possibly other teams after that.
Last year, the separation-mark where teams had a ’protected’ status in the CL draw was around 38.5 so we should be looking on getting above 39 or maybe even 40 points to be sure to avoid a team like Villareal this time. And last year, to get into ’Pot 3’ for the CL-groups, which means you have two ’stronger’ and one ’weaker’ team, you had to have approx. 51 points or more. To get into ’Pot 2’ which gives you two ’weaker’ teams and so a good chance to reach the final 16 in the CL, you needed approx 63.7 points or more. I guess that even if we win the Uefa we’ll neve reach 63.7 points, although the system is not really crystal-clear to me. I personally think that to reach the 51-mark to get into pot 3 will be almost impossible, but perhaps if we literally win every match in the Uefa we’ll get there.
Long story short: I really hope we live at least another two rounds in the Uefa, so IF we finish 4th in the league, we avoid another Villareal-drama. I would hate it if we finish 4th but threw away the money and glamour of the CL just because we lost to Brann...
4 Posted 29/01/2008 at 13:47:48
Next time we qualify fourth it will deprive the RS of a place, and the revenues it brings. Watching the markets the last few weeks, we all know what a fragile thing financial confidence is. Given the increasingly desperate rummaging down the side of the sofa taking place at Anfield right now, missing a year?s CL revenues (and no evidence when they might return) could be the start of a downward spiral of loss of confidence.
By qualifying we actually start to change the financial dynamics of the big four. (Even if we blow it ourselves). Such is the zero sum nature of the system they have created.
How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time...
5 Posted 29/01/2008 at 13:58:44
6 Posted 29/01/2008 at 14:37:19
Oh and another scenario of course is them winning the CL which under the new rules means we lose our CL-spot and they get to play in anyway. Now that wouldn’t do my blood pressure much good...
7 Posted 29/01/2008 at 17:26:10
However it isnt a realistic target with our current financial restrictions. Chelsea’s reserves cost treble our first team.
Moyes has done fantastic in taking this club from the absolute pits to 4th place while only spending midtable amounts of money.
He’s built the best squad for 20 years and everyone (bar Lescott) is tied down on long contracts. However we need that £15m ball winning, box-to-box midfielder, or that £8m pacey attacking right back, or that £15m explosive wide player with a great cross. Arse, Chelski and ManU all have them and we are almost there. However its the CL money which helps clubs afford these players year after year. Everton dont have a rich chairman like Newcastle, City or Spurs so we cant afford these players.
So we have to rely on Moyes signing young players with potential or rough diamonds and turning them into top class.
Unless Moyes can find 3 or 4 players in our 5-10M budget who can become real top class. How realistic is this?
Then targeting the top 6 and maybe a domestic final is about the limits we can achieve. Barring an extreme turn of events.
I’m not putting a dampener on things but if RS get rid of that fat spanish prick and get Mourinho in - then they will take that 4th spot for good.
I love the fact that we have beaten the RS to 4th a few years ago and that we sit there now- but in all seriousness we cant expect Moyes to maintain this year after year without the funding to match the teams above us.
Chelsea signed £15M Anelka based on being short of strikers during the African Cup. Man U bought two teenagers to sit on the bench priced at £17M a piece.
Going back to the question -next level in my view means being where the big 3 are now. However that isnt realistic. Not in this era of football -without adequate funding.
We really are only 3 or 4 players off being a side who can challenge for everything. But its those 3 or 4 players which will cost us the most money and without will prevent us from reaching the next level.
8 Posted 29/01/2008 at 19:07:34
9 Posted 29/01/2008 at 19:58:49
10 Posted 29/01/2008 at 19:43:20
To win the premier league is out of the question at the moment as the gulf is increasing between the top 3 and the ’also rans’ each year, however we can certainly challenge for the 4th spot with a fully fit squad. The problem is that since the 2004 - 2005 season when we reached those dizzy heights before, Aston Villa, Man city, Portsmouth, Spurs (yo yoing I know) and to an extent West Ham have caught us up and the slow but steady progress might become something of a standstill in the next couple of seasons unless we can increase playing staff so that if we have injuries or suspensions to key players we will cope enough to get results.
11 Posted 29/01/2008 at 23:52:02
12 Posted 30/01/2008 at 05:51:10
So, based on that, we can safely define our current level in domestic cups. One semi final and one 3rd round loss. That would suggest to me that there is still a certain degree of inconsistency.
Based on our last 3 league finishes (4th, 11th, 6th), I would say that we are a top 6 or 7 side, and it looks as though we may consolidate that this season.
As for Europe, we are going nicely this time around, but our last 2 campaigns (Champions league then Uefa cup) were both abject failures. This would lend credence to the inconsistency in the cups theory.
So, if our current level is a top 6 team who may or may not go on a decent cup run, "the next level" could be defined as breaking into the top 4 and/or reaching the later stages of the cups on a regular basis.
Talk of challenging for the league or even the top 3 is premature and is a couple of levels above where we are at the moment.
If we finish 4th this year, I would see that as progress, which could be interpreted as moving to the next level
13 Posted 30/01/2008 at 13:30:35
14 Posted 30/01/2008 at 22:03:02
Moving to the next level for me is definitely breaking into the top 4. We are already one of if not the best team outside of the top four. To be honest i would say that regularly competing for a top four place would be a major step forward and if we could get there or there abouts a few times (and get a decent run in the CL) this would both help us financailly and in our status around europe so helping us improve the squad and bring in some quality players, but it would also be detrimental to our friends across stanley park (being our most likely rivals for 4th place)
A cupwin would be amazing but it does not represent a step forward. Look at liverpool they won the CL but they still cant progress in the league. If we want to improve it must come from constant progression in the league and not just consistantly being top of the 2nd league of teams in the prem.
15 Posted 01/02/2008 at 06:45:17
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