It has been interesting to note how the focus of debate amongst Evertonians shifts over time. Generally, the topic of the moment tends to reflect which aspect of our club is causing most anxiety at any particular time. I remember that earlier this year, the team?s style of play was the main point of debate, particularly following the home defeat to Tottenham. Gradually, the criticism died down as it became apparent that European qualification would be secured and we could reflect on what was a reasonably successful season.
The early part of the summer saw the stadium debate coming to the forefront of discussions and I fully appreciate the importance of this debate, as the club is about to make momentous decisions that will shape its future for some time to come.
However, the realisation that our relative inactivity in the transfer market seems to be continuing appears to have shifted the discussion to this aspect of the club. Personally, of the above, I think the only issue that we can have any serious influence over is the stadium debate. Team performance and transfer activity are basically entrusted to the guardians of our club (the Chairman, the Chief Executive and the Manager) and, as supporters, we can only voice our opinions on these matters. Having said that, the range of viewpoints is amazing and it is always good to read the contributions of the fans, even if some differ markedly from my own.
Of course, that doesn?t stop me having my own view of the playing squad and transfer activity. I have to be honest and say that I am relatively calm about the situation. While it?s true a few more new faces wouldn?t go amiss, we should consider our position relative to the clubs we are competing against. What has struck me most is that the majority of the big spending is being done by clubs which are going through major upheaval. Consider the number of clubs in the Premier League who have changed their manager in the past 12 months. The new managers at these clubs are now having their first real opportunity to mould their squads as they would like them to be. To do this, they need to spend and (this summer, at least) spend big. Look at some of the clubs we are supposedly competing with (discounting the Top 4 for the moment):
Newcastle, Fulham, Wigan, Manchester City ? new managers who are effectively overhauling the squad after very poor seasons
Aston Villa, West Ham, Middlesbrough - relatively new managers who are still undertaking major squad re-building exercises
Add in the three promoted clubs that will need to spend to survive (in terms of top quality players, they are probably starting from a low base) and you have half of the teams in the division that are trying to make major corrections to playing squads. However, just because they are spending a lot on individual players, there is no guarantee that when they are thrown together, they make a team.
Then take a look at some of the teams who have been less than active in the market: Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Reading. Generally, this is because they have settled squads that have done well in recent seasons. They also have fairly well established management structures (Bolton have changed their manager, but have promoted from within). That leaves two more teams. Tottenham are probably one side that buck this trend in that they have a stable, successful side and management, but have splashed out this summer. Tottenham are also the side that Everton can most compare to at the moment, in terms of past tradition, current performance level and future aspiration. So, in this case, it is understandable that some of our fans believe that we are being left behind. In Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth have a manager who has always tended to indulge in the ?revolving door? style of transfer dealing. Again though, in terms of the quality of the playing squad, I think Portsmouth are starting from a lower base point than Everton.
So what about Everton?s lack of activity in the transfer market? I get the impression that David Moyes is relatively happy with the make-up of his squad (as he should be, because it is definitely ?his? squad now). He probably realises that major surgery is not necessary and that we are not desperate for a particular type of player and certainly not at the prices being quoted. He is probably at the stage where he will bring players in if he believes that they will add to the squad in terms of both depth and quality. He is not in the position, like some other managers, of having to bring in players for the sake of it.
Some of our manager?s transfer dealings may be questionable, but the more recent dealings probably fall into the ?successful? category. Last summer, he appeared to have identified where the obvious shortcomings of the squad lay. Once it became clear that Nigel Martyn?s career was coming to an end, he moved to secure a very good goalkeeper. An ageing pool of centre-backs was supplemented by an excellent addition from the Championship. Finally, although most of us had been aware of the problem for some time, the lack of a goal-scoring forward with pace was addressed when he bought Andrew Johnson. Incidentally, if, as has been suggested, last summer?s transfer money was ?borrowed? from this year?s TV money, this now looks a decent strategy, given some of the transfer fees this summer.
This summer, the deficiencies are probably still evident but maybe less critical. Decent creative midfield players are difficult to come by, but this is probably an area of the team you have to get right rather than settling for second best. A good wide man is obviously also needed, but it is debatable how desperately the team needs this.
The argument about player valuations is also an interesting one. Clubs competing to buy players will value them differently, based on how much money they have available to spend and based either on how desperately they need to fill the particular position in which the player operates or on how much the player represents an improvement on the existing squad. So Wigan were prepared to pay £5.3M for Jason Koumas and Everton (reportedly) were not; Portsmouth were prepared to pay £6M for David Nugent and Everton (reportedly, again) were not. It is for the manager to make this judgment and, if he was actually interested, Moyes clearly felt the valuation of these two players was too high, given the requirements of the squad and the funds available. Had Moyes not signed Andrew Johnson last summer or if he faced the prospect of not having Johnson available this season through injury, he may well have been prepared to pay the asking price for Nugent. As fans, we can then agree or disagree with his assessment, although actually I think the majority of opinion amongst Evertonians probably sides with the manger in the two cases mentioned. Should Richardson move to Sunderland for £5.5M, I suspect that he will fall into the same category.
The lack of numbers in the squad is clearly a worry, particularly with a Uefa Cup campaign on the horizon. It?s also clear that there is not a great deal of money available to boost the numbers. Faced with this equation, a manager can take two courses of action. He can go for more players at the cheaper end of the market, meaning that the team will probably finish in relative safety, but won?t progress much. Or, he can concentrate the available cash on better quality players, in the hope that he will be lucky with injuries and suspensions. In the latter case, if he is unlucky, he can jeopardise the status of the club, but if he is lucky, he can move the team forward. It?s simply a matter of risk versus reward. Particularly in the last couple of years, Moyes appears to have followed the approach of spreading the money across fewer, but better quality players, with the result that, overall, the team has probably moved forward. Significantly though, he has also increasingly tended to draft in players who can, if required, fill more than one position. We now seem to have quite a few who can fit this category (Lescott, Cahill, Neville, Jagielka?maybe even McFadden!). While these players have varying levels of adaptability when they move from their favoured positions, this approach has the advantage of lowering the overall wage bill from what it might be. It also potentially means that these players are match fit when they are drafted into their ?new? position rather than arriving from a spell on the bench. On the flip side, of course, the disadvantages are that the team can become over-reliant on these players and their potential absence can be critical.
One final point on the playing staff? I don?t think we should underestimate the contribution that the team spirit of a close-knit squad can have on its ability to perform. Ours is a young squad that seems to contain relatively level-headed individuals. It is also, hopefully, a squad that will be allowed to grow and develop together, particularly if we can achieve some success before the ?Big 4? vultures begin to circle.
I know things are not perfect and we quite rightly won?t be happy until there is silverware back in trophy room and we are competing with the top European teams year-in-year-out. However, overall, on the playing side at least, the club seems to be moving generally in the right direction. I know it can be frustrating when we pick up the papers and see players moving to other clubs for massive transfer fees. However, sometimes it is worth taking a step back, putting things in perspective and looking at where our team is compared to others. Given the option, with how many teams would we swap our current situation?
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1 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:13:42
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. Patience is the key, let DM develop and build his squad and we will have long term success. Buy it and we will collapse.
2 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:22:51
We should also not underestimate the impact of the many young players waiting in the wings..cant wait for the season to start!
3 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:47:24
4 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:56:02
I’m concerned...very concerned...
5 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:50:00
6 Posted 17/07/2007 at 07:50:51
7 Posted 17/07/2007 at 08:04:53
The key thing for Everton was keeping the squad together. Had Arteta gone (for example) Moyes would have a very different job to do this summer. Things are looking good up there and some clever signings might yet happen.
Also - While spurs seem to be an exception because of the big fees involved - we have only signed three new players so far, and one is only a back up central defender.
8 Posted 17/07/2007 at 09:17:43
9 Posted 17/07/2007 at 08:34:33
It’s not about what other clubs are doing it is about EFC striving to improve on the previous season, something that every business and individual should always be trying to do.
10 Posted 17/07/2007 at 09:18:03
One other point which I beleive critical is relative to wages - you cannot think about signings just on the basis of transfer fees; but also on the impact on the overall wage bill and player moral by bringing in a signing on wages which destablise team spirit.
Finally, Our sucess will be measured by finishing 5th or 6th in the next season, and making a creditable campaign in the UEFA cup. That should make us proud! We cannot compete with the big-4 end of story; We need to outperfom our ’real’ rivals - Spurs, Newcastle, Villa, Bolton etc. and I am confident we will in 07-08 season.
11 Posted 17/07/2007 at 08:49:37
Nugent, Richardson and Koumas are not good enough for the price, end-of-story. Anything in the region of £5-6M needs to be an improvement on the 1st XI. Those players are not.
It is sure that we need 2 more players as an absolute, bare, hope-to-christ-that-we-don’t-get-injuries minimum.
I’d honestly be happy to bring in 3 promising youngsters at 1-2M and give it a go. Rather than bring in a 1-in-3 Championship striker, an average Premiership winger and a 27-year-old Championship veteran for more than £5M a pop.
I am sure that Moyes is doing his utmost with what he has to improve the team. And I for one see the non-signings of Nugent, Richardson and Koumas as an extremely positive thing. With limited funds comes a responsibility to spend wisely and Mr Moyes, in my humble opinion, is improving all the time in this respect.
12 Posted 17/07/2007 at 09:33:13
Come on Blue fans Get behind not stab the club/chairman/manager/players in the back.
13 Posted 17/07/2007 at 09:55:24
We already did it once and we weren’t THAT far behind Arsenal last season. I can agree that it is unlikely that we’ll cause them major problems, I’m not daft.
But statements like that are of no use to any true supporter or club. We have to be aiming to be in the top-4, year after year, or why turn up?
You can be bloody well sure that right now DM and the squad will be aiming for the top-4 this season and rightly so.
Last season, we got 4 points off the scum and Arsenal, they both got 1 off us. We also came close to getting points off United at home (I know, I know!) and we managed a draw with Chelsea. A little more consistency against lower teams and we’d have been right up there. How different is that to what we were used to not so long ago?
To say we can’t compete with the top-4 is nothing but excuses and the attitude of losers. It will be extremely difficult, but we can do it.
14 Posted 17/07/2007 at 10:00:03
15 Posted 17/07/2007 at 10:30:57
16 Posted 17/07/2007 at 11:01:52
17 Posted 17/07/2007 at 10:58:43
It is simply not true that we don’t attract players: at least Smith, Koumas and Nugetn stated they would love to play for Everton, but when their clubs didn’t accept our bids, there was little they could do.
18 Posted 17/07/2007 at 11:41:54
19 Posted 17/07/2007 at 11:17:23
Nugent would have been nice to have too given his passion for the club and the fact he can play a bit but there was a marked lack of interest from other leading clubs which worried me slightly. Koumas was the best player on the park by a mile at the playoff final and I think I would have risked £5m on him.
Either way, I do think we need a few more key players for the squad and I am concerned. I just hope DM has something up his sleeve in the next few weeks so I can go on holiday without worrying too much!
20 Posted 17/07/2007 at 11:39:07
It is frustrating, and the Stadium thing may have some money earmarked for it, but I know we will buy a couple more at least before long. I would like to see Fernandes plus 2 ’squad’ players to bolster the squad for Europe. That, with Jagielka, would represent a good close season for me, but if it’s not possible it’s not possible and we do seem good at finding young players don’t we.
One final point - for all those who call Moyes cautious. You could argue that his recent strategy of shrinking the squad in numbers, but raising its quality is extremely risky if we have a bad year with injuries. But better quality players is the only way we will ever win anything again. As someone who witnessed the gradual replacement of quality with mediocrity post 1987 I fully support Moyes’ strategy.It’s risky, but the rewards are greater... as pointed out in David’s article.
21 Posted 17/07/2007 at 12:38:56
Our squad is in a much healthier state than all the other teams outside the big 4 (bar Spurs) so what we want, as was rightly stated in the article, is quality over quantity.Would we not rather take the risk than remain a mediocre, mid-table club?
A little faith in Moyes would do no harm at all.COYB
22 Posted 17/07/2007 at 13:46:37
23 Posted 17/07/2007 at 15:27:26
24 Posted 17/07/2007 at 16:06:31
The problem I have though is the reason why such a risk appears to have been taken. I can accept money being put aside for a stadium. I can happily accept a glut of extra cash being used to clear debts quicker than budgeted for. The risk being taken because we are skint would worry me alot.
Still though, Jagielka is a very useful addition. Vogel could be a very useful signing if signed. One or two more of these types of players in, without having lost any of the quality already there, and maybe we could have a good season.
25 Posted 17/07/2007 at 16:14:21
The stadium debate has overshadowed things up until now where it has become panicky.
I would like to believe that we have enough depth in the squad but if we get a few injuries we may be shafted.
I have a sneaky feeling that Van der Meyde for one, is going to "come good", don’t ask me why!!
26 Posted 17/07/2007 at 17:06:46
27 Posted 17/07/2007 at 17:40:44
or we be up that creek with out a
paddle please splash the cash on
28 Posted 17/07/2007 at 22:14:25
29 Posted 17/07/2007 at 22:37:14
30 Posted 18/07/2007 at 01:39:31
Ray you have a very short memory.
We used to moan about poverty & relegation, now we moan about a new world class stadium, and whether we can add more class to our squad for European Football!
Can someone add a bit more flavour to this Riquelme rumour, as I have heard nor seen nothing yet.
Riquelme would do for us what Cantona did for Man Utd & Leeds.
He is still, without a doubt one of the best players in the world.
31 Posted 18/07/2007 at 12:38:08
32 Posted 18/07/2007 at 13:02:35
But i do agree, being an Everton follower over recent years has been frustrating.(i started in 1968)
i do wonder sometime at the ambition and drive of the Board at our great club.
33 Posted 18/07/2007 at 17:04:57
The first time I?ve read an article on here I agree with fully.
Well done for bringing some balance.
For the rest, theres always Newcastle.
34 Posted 19/07/2007 at 10:36:41
35 Posted 19/07/2007 at 16:45:36
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