The semi-final is being billed as a David versus Goliath contest, the sorcerer against the sorcerer's apprentice, fashionable against unfashionable, two Clubs steeped in history and tradition but at opposite ends of the financial spectrum. Add into the mix an Everton side stripped through injury to it's threadbare bones, a United side boasting an Everton academy product in the form of the loathsome Wayne Rooney, and two Glaswegian Managers renowned for their motivational methods, then the tie has all of the ingredients of being a classic Cup encounter.
However, the purpose of this piece is not to analyze how Everton may plot to bring about Manchester United's downfall but to question how Everton may reach the top table of European football in the form of the Champions League.
Real Madrid's recent capitulation is symbolic of how the mighty have fallen; 9 times previous winners but a team devoid of all character and headed up by a second rate coach. The Galactico's may have gone but Madrid are clearly in danger of being seriously upstaged this season by the less fashionable Villarreal. Such a scenario smacks of comparison with the tale of the emperor's new clothes.
The strength of the English Premier League cannot be questioned by Europe's elite; five out of the last European finalists have been English teams and with the match-fixing scandal in Italy, the lack of appetite for club football in France, and the apparent financial crisis of clubs in La Liga have only served to promote the status of the Premier League.
With such a scenario, the Sky 4 are likely to continue to prosper and breaking into this cartel will therefore become harder given the current status quo. David Moyes's most recent comments would reiterate this notion, a notion that one would have to argue is impenetrable without a seriously wealthy benefactor greasing the wheels. Manchester City may undoubtedly have a cash cow but they have all the footballing charisma and credentials of a second-rate and spivvery-ridden phoney used-car salesman.
Bill Kenwright is clearly enjoying his day in the sun in respect of the FA Cup semi-final and who could blame him? Combine the Cup anticipation and Everton's current form, the attitude of the manager and the unity and spirit shown by the players, then the good times that we have savoured in recent seasons feel like they could become permanent.
Speaking personally, it would be great to progress to the next phase of our development in the same methodical manner of recent seasons under the stewardship of David Moyes. Moyes has clearly now served his apprenticeship and, given a little more power with the chequebook, would continue to work wonders with Everton. The progress we have made is remarkable, done the Everton way with class and dignity, hard-work and endeavour, the lows will always be low but the high's are always so much better.
I'm not looking for a Russian ogilarch, sheikh billionaire or American tycoon, given his 24/7 search for investment is Bill Kenwright also waiting for that special, if not mythical investor who bleeds blue blood?
This season, we have shown that we can overcome the odds, that Everton are once again great and our pride has been restored. As always there is room for improvement, we are 2-3 player's short of being Champions League contenders. The next step up is how do we achieve this without sacrificing our principles?
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1 Posted 12/03/2009 at 09:13:21
The rich get richer, and everyone else can fight for the scraps. Occassionally, teams like us or Villa may make a decent attempt to crack it but it would take getting to the group stage of the CL at least three years running to may a stable impact on resources.
I pray that there is a blue-blooded billionaire out there somewhere, but I can?t see it. So thus we go...
2 Posted 12/03/2009 at 09:48:30
In the summer we will more than likely lose Castillo, Jo, Jacobsen, Valente and Van der Meyde. If Irving can make another step up that will save us having to source a new RB. With two players able to cover Baines at LB, I can?t see there being any great need to replace Valente, so that leaves us with the three positions I mentioned.
I guess what it comes down to is how much money Moyes gets to spend. I really think that if we can secure enough investment for these three signings in the summer it will give us the platform we need to make a sustained challenge at the next level.
3 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:21:38
We are naggingly, constantly told we have no cash, despite increased league position and Sky money, so, wthout regular, unborrowed funds. (Where did the Fellaini £4-6m down-payment come from?)
Our hope appears to lie in Moyes getting transfers spot-on and youngsters either coming through our academy or being identified and brought in from others. NSNOers regret this is what we?ve come to but more regrettable is the apparent, current acceptance of buying players to maintain and, thereafter, hope they somehow improve the team.
4 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:38:19
5 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:47:07
6 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:51:57
I think Tony Marsh got it right this time. The FA Cup is more worthwhile, or it is because we’re still in it?
7 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:45:54
So, a pacy winger (Joaquin, Valencia) £8million; versatile creative midfielder to take pressure off Arteta (Krancjar, Portsmouth) £8 million; and he needs to find another promising young English player from the Championship (£4-6 million) and a loan deal for a talented but out-of-favour player at a big club (Van der Vaar, Real Madrid?).
8 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:13:53
What Bill craves and spends every hour searching for is a fellow investor to share his burden. Everton do not need a oligarch or a sheik ? just a rich man to put the icing on the cake with those two or three players we need.
Let?s hope BB?s prayers are answered soon.
9 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:04:41
If you compare this season's likely FA Cup Semi-Final line up to last year's, we can see that the Sky 4 have taken the competition very seriously, even the RS played their best players against us in the replay. The reason is the cash it generates from TV etc.
The last 5 years has seen a chasm open up between the elite PL clubs and most of the other European clubs. Attempting to break the CL monopoly from within the PL is far more difficult than it is for say a team like Villarreal in Spain.
Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Gerrard, Torres, Anelka, Lampard, Drogba, Fabregas, Van Persie et al are all players that could earn a living in any part of the world. When you look outside the gang of 4 in England, how many truly world class players are there in the remaining teams?
Everton have some good / very good professional players but we don?t have any individual that would walk into those teams at the top end of the league. Without major investment it is unlikely that we can seriously challenge and improve on what we have done or likely to do this season. Even with investment as Man City are finding out, it is difficult to prise the best players away from those elite clubs.
If City or anyone else are to replace one of the Sky 4 they will have to buy the top players from those clubs in order to compete with them. At the moment only Arsenal of the Sky 4 are likely to sell any of their major assets.
Everton can build slowly and surely but every passing season sees our better players a year older Cahill, Neville and they too will need to be replaced. Playing catch up in this League is almost impossible, unless of course we find a few more outstanding teenagers who can form the backbone of a future Everton team.
Nothing is impossible in football but attempting to build a team capable of challenging the status quo at the top of the league is probably beyond the capabilities of most clubs with or without money.
10 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:32:25
Do you agree Bill should hand over any ring-fenced cash he might be saving for some other purpose (whatever that might be) to further team building in the summer?
11 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:12:53
I think Lori?s comments are particularly insightful. We really shouldn?t be starting from here if we are truly interested in the game and in competition. The current model with Sky and the "Champions League" is self-perpetuating and, whilst it may serve to massage the egos of those that enjoy its riches, it is damaging to the game as a whole. Pity, the bigger picture has rarely been of such small relevance.
Let?s start with the so-called Champions League. It is neither solely for champions nor is it a league. What it does is extend its reach just far enough to sufficiently devalue Europe?s 2nd competition (UEFA/Europa). It plays into the hands of the big clubs by giving them oodles of games which are often meaningless, as a pre-cursor to the games that really count.
I?m afraid I don?t see the point in the Sky 4 playing Brondby, or Rosenborg, or Besiktas etc. They?d all get a more difficult game from Everton. And allowing 4 teams to enter the CL from the league is almost abscene. In the "old days" the top competition was for winners, not for teams who finished 20 points behind them in 4th place but who somehow manage to play better in Europe. The fact that the UEFA/Europa has teams that finish no higher than 5th in the EPL is one of the most stupid facets of this. The only thing more stupid is allowing a team in the CL who finished 3rd in the group stages to re-enter European competition at an advanced stage of the UEFA/Europa. How much more stupid, insulting or devaluing can it get.
Jason Lam has missed the point with his comment. What is wrong is the model and if it doesn?t change it will eventually destroy the whole essence of the game, i.e. true competition. Michel Platini recently proposed that we have 3 CL places from the league, and that 1 is transferred to our national cup competition. True to form, what seemed (to me) like sound logic aimed at broadening the competition and opportunity is shot down by Scudamore and his EPL accolytes who see only the down side for 1 of their favourite teams.
Peter is right to mention Villarreal. Ever since we played them I have developed a soft spot for them. They showed class on & off the pitch against us. They are a good club and a nice club. Pellegrini is a bit of a genius, something akin to a more urbane version of David Moyes. So sure, occasionally it can be done as Villarreal and (please God) Hoffenheim are showing. But again many people have the box the wrong way up. To me, it is sad to think that the only way we might realistically compete at Europe?s top table again is via the injection of zillions from a sugar daddy.
Surely the better, more sustainable and fairer model is to reduce the number of CL places available and get it closer to the concept of champions, than of a European league by stealth. Then also have the FA cup winners qualify for the CL. Then stop the nonsense of CL teams who finish 3rd "dropping" into the UEFA/Europa. Then implement Platini?s plans for all clubs (that play in European competition) adhering to a model whereby they have to be live within their means. A bizarre commercial concept I know, especially in football, but a far more noble one than the idea that Chelsea can exist with £750m of debt due to a favour.
Even in the USA, land of the free and the most money-focused society on earth, they recognise that sport is different. If you don?t have competition in sport then, ultimately, you don?t have sport. It?s that simple.
I say screw the billionaires, Peter. We?ll get there eventually. What?s the point in buying success, do you think it tastes the same? Time for the tail to wag the dog, because the dog is sick.
12 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:46:02
I think in all honesty we do have players that would get into the Sky-4 teams.
Yakubu, for one, is good enough for the RS and Arsenal and possibly Chelsea. Lescott and Jagielka are also good enough for a start in those 3 teams. Arteta and Cahill wouldn’t be too far off a place in the 18-man squads of those 3 either.
Tim Howard, for my money is on a par with Given and really only behind Cech and van der Sar in the top Premier League keepers.
I think we have the basis of an excellent team, but keeping them all fit has been our problem. This is the big challenge, the teams above us, Villa excepted, have 20 top-class players to make a starting 11 from. We have about 4 or 5 top-class players and 5 or 6 very good players.
3 new signings would give us a top-class starting 11 in my book. But to be able to compete in the league, cups and Europe, we’d need another 6 or 7 top players at least.
Having said all that, even after our horrific start and despite all the injuries we’ve had, we’re still in with an outside chance of 4th (very outside, but still....)
13 Posted 12/03/2009 at 13:56:36
What?s obvious, I think even to UEFA, is that the current model doesn?t work ? for the second season running, all 4 english clubs are through to the quarters, and it looks increasingly likely that we will have english representation in the final, for the 5th consecutive year.
Personally, I can see the CL evolving into a European Super League in time, where participants do not take part in their domestic league, but I think the best thing to do would be to go back to where we started ? the European Cup for LEAGUE champions, the ECWC for CUP winners, and a UEFA Cup for the rest ? there?d be enough big names in all competitions to generate the money necessary.
14 Posted 12/03/2009 at 17:33:39
15 Posted 12/03/2009 at 17:41:17
The current money boom in football WILL end eventually. Nothing ever stays the same. Well run, solid and well suppoted clubs will come back into fashion.
I can only imagine where we will be once Roman has got bored, Ferguson has left Utd, the red shite have gone bust and Arsenal have to start playing some British players.
Maybe the likes of us, Villa, Forest, Sheffield Wed etc will have some good days again, and British football will return to normal.
16 Posted 12/03/2009 at 19:04:35
17 Posted 12/03/2009 at 20:35:40
18 Posted 12/03/2009 at 22:21:01
In my view, the imbalance in revenue between the paying spectators in the grounds and the paying spectators watching on their TV screens is the main cause of this problem. Nothing will change on this. The cow has been bought and now she will be milked.
UEFA are no longer in control. The rich clubs can dictate the format in order to maximise revenue from TV rights, particularly in America and Asia.
Platini is only tinkering at the edges, trying to get more representation in smaller countries by reducing the number of qualifying clubs from successful leagues (England, Spain, Italy). The proposal to have a limit on foreign players may benefit national teams but it doesn?t stop the rich clubs outbidding for all the available talent. Every time a good player or manager appears on the scene the imbalance is reinforced with all the media clamouring for the rich clubs to buy them up.
At the back of this process is the threat of breakaway from G17 or its enlarged version. There is no outside body looking at this process and saying stop! its unsustainable; you are killing the game at the grassroots. Only the fans of the ever more impoverished wannabees like Everton are likely to complain.
Let's face it, if we had done things properly and stayed at the top in the late 80s, we would be one of the rich clubs saying hands off. Unfortunately, the only answer for Everton is a billionaire. Otherwise, as soon as we get players good enough to challenge, the big clubs will make them an offer they cannot refuse. That is the flaw in David Moyes?s plan to build a team capable of challenging and I think he will be the first to jump ship if the opportunity arose.
So, if you can?t beat em, join em... but don?t hold your breath.
19 Posted 13/03/2009 at 00:14:11
Maybe our best chance of getting into the Champions League is to win the Uefa Cup.
20 Posted 13/03/2009 at 03:15:38
21 Posted 13/03/2009 at 11:09:51
22 Posted 14/03/2009 at 10:40:11
23 Posted 14/03/2009 at 16:46:59
I was just saying, ir’s a few more years before we are ready to challenge for the league and sign quality players like Walcott.
24 Posted 14/03/2009 at 19:59:01
25 Posted 14/03/2009 at 21:12:56