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What does success look like to you?

By Steven Scaffardi :  30/06/2011 :  Comments (18) :
First off, may I just say how much I love this site. I think it is great to have a place online where you can come and pretty much have the same sort of discussions that you would down the pub.

So for what it's worth, here is my thoughts on our current situation, or plight, however you want to look at it.

What does success look like to an Evertonian these days? I started supporting Everton in the late 80s, although I was probably too young to really appreciate that golden era. In fact, the day I knew I was a True Blue was when I bawled my eyes out after the FA Cup Final defeat in 1989. Everton was now in my blood, but unfortunately what followed throughout the 90s was excoriating at times, to say the least.

But, and I think this is a big but, at least back in those days you actually went into a season believing that this could be your year, rather than the probably somewhat deluded belief that, in our current state, we have the potential to be a top four team.

I can still remember the likes of Crystal Palace being promoted and finishing in the dizzy heights of third, and the likes of Norwich challenging for the league title. Football was a much simpler place back then ? everyone started each season on a much more level playing field.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and the injection of the Sky money, and we now have a very different landscape as we all know. So I ask again ? what does success look like to an Evertonian in the modern game?

It saddens me to read through some of the comments on this site sometimes, because I can tell that each and every one of you are just as passionate about this club as the next man. But I also think that sometimes that can cloud your judgement on footballing matters relating to our beloved club.

As much as it pains me, fighting for a Europa League spot is what success looks like to me. Having a decent cup run is what success looks like to me. Beating a couple of the top four teams along the way is what success looks like to me.

It sickens me to my stomach to even write that down, but the truth is, without that investment that we all know we desperately need, that is success for Everton FC in the modern game. We are not alone ? everyone outside the billionaires boys club is in the same boat.

If that hasn?t made you irate enough, then maybe this will. Transfers. For argument's sake, the players we know that are going ? Yobu and Yak ? get sold. At most, David Moyes has £10m to spend. Then money bags City come along and ? if you believe everything you read ? they offer us a deal worth £20m for Baines plus a player from the likes of Bellamy, SWP, or Bridge... Take it.

Why? Because if Baines is as good as we all think he is then he will probably go sooner or later. We can?t offer him Champions League football and we can?t compete with the top clubs on wages. Take the money, take two or three players as part of the deal, re-invest into the squad, and start building again. It is what Sir Alex Ferguson has done at Manchester United for years (granted on a much bigger and grander scale!).

Now let me really annoy people by saying why don?t we ask for all three of the players mentioned above plus cash? We would have a left-back replacement for Baines in Bridge, plus we would have two attack-minded players with pace and a bit of flair ? something we desperately need. One player gone and three new squad players in ? our first XI is weakened somewhat, but our squad is stronger. And we all know we have suffered from having a small squad over the last couple of seasons.

Ok, so I know I am living in a bit of a Football Manager wonderland here, but the point I am trying to make is this: We are not in a position to turn our noses up at players who are decent Premier League and international footballers. Need I remind anyone that last year we were reduced to signing a League One player on a free transfer as our answer to our striker crisis?

Nor are we in a position to keep the likes of Baines and Fellaini happy forever. Whether it is ambition or greed, they will have their heads turned by one of the two, if not both, at some point.

This is the sad state of affairs we are in, and until we have investment ? whether it be a Russian billionaire, or even someone who can just put us on par with the spending power of Wolves and Stoke ? we might have to keep our eyes on the short-term options before we can ever consider the long-term option.

Now I throw myself to the wolves?

Reader Comments

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Chris Bannantyne
1   Posted 30/06/2011 at 15:10:40

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I hear what you're saying mate, and I guess I agree. Sucks though.
Chris Keightley
2   Posted 30/06/2011 at 16:38:12

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Was I dreaming or did Wolfsburg win the league a few years back in Germany? If you get the tactics right on the pitch and play everyone in their preferred positions, you have that level playing field that everyone craves.

I managed a youth team in Colchester that had just formed with seven never having played competitively; they finished mid-table first season, winners the following year, in a league with far better squads than our own. Team spirit and players knowing what their role was in the team was the formula. Everton have one out of two!

Michael Byrne
3   Posted 30/06/2011 at 16:55:24

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I have to agree with you, don't like it, not many will, but you're right!
Michael Evans
4   Posted 30/06/2011 at 16:36:10

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To me, success looked like the Everton "Galacticos" of Reid, Steven, Sheedy and Sharp etc walking around Goodison taking the warm applause after winning the championship in the mid-80's.

Therein lies the problem with Everton. If you're old enough you can get by (just) on the fantastic memories of better days.

Will future generations accept that 7th or 8th is good enough? That that will constitute success with the occasional good result against a BIGGER team thrown in for good measure?

"Accept our fate," say many, "and make the best of it..." with "realism" as their buzzword.... maybe they're right.

However, for me football is all about winning. So I shall ignore the calls to be "realistic" and expect the highly paid manager to put 11 players onto the pitch who are prepared to give everything for the Everton cause.

Ray Said
5   Posted 30/06/2011 at 17:04:10

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Well said Michael (4). Success is a comparative concept ? Chelsea sack managers for finishing second, we reward a manager for finishing 5, 6 or 7th. It all depends on aspirations and that is where the board have failed us time and time again.

The aspirations bar has been lowered over the years ? as evidenced by the state of the stadium, the marketing, the recruitment policy etc ? and this has fed through to a lot of the fans. Thanks to ToffeeWeb and a lot of the contributors for trying to keep the aspirations up.

Mark Wayman
6   Posted 30/06/2011 at 17:26:18

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I agree with the majority of the column, I remember bragging to Liverpool fans that Everton were the league winners when I was very young, but since the 90s we have been a mid-table team at best. The 1995 FA Cup win and the top six finishes have been 'what success looks like to me'. Unfortunately Everton being top of the tree only really exists to me through video, I'm sad to say.

As for taking in Man City's 'rejects', I will say this ? each one of the players mentioned earns at least double per week than Baines does. That money has to come from somewhere, then if you pay anywhere near what they are earning now, I expect current players would start knocking on the door wanting parity. I honestly don't see us taking in any of City's players.
Andy Crooks
7   Posted 30/06/2011 at 17:41:50

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The squad that we have under achieved last season. There were some utterly abysmal performances that cannot be explained by lack of funds. There are few on this site who will defend Kenwright but he's here to stay.

What I ask is, considering our position on and off the pitch, are we doing the best posible? No.

Mike Allison
8   Posted 30/06/2011 at 17:40:43

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Chris I'd say the French and German leagues are importantly different to the Premier League. I'm not an expert but basically, apart from a Lyon dynasty, many clubs in France are of similar size, and all find and produce good quality players. In Germany, you have one dominant club in Bayern Munich, and if they have a bad season then someone else can win, as the financial disparity is not as great between the rest.

In England, the cartel of the Sky4 has dominated the last ten years, and the Champions League has increased the financial disparity in a way it hasn't in other leagues where different clubs have been able to qualify for it.

You are of course generally right though when you say "get the tactics right on the pitch and play everyone in their preferred positions, you have that level playing field that everyone craves." but what if we are doing that on our budget, and six teams are doing the same on budgets ranging from double to ten times ours? We don't have much chance do we? Especially as those other clubs can afford to employ the cream of the coaching crop as well as the playing crop.

The key difference between now and the 90s, and this is something I wish could be addressed through rules or contract clauses, is the number of players the bigger clubs have. They don't even use them, but they deny other clubs the chance to have them. If you take an average Premier League weekend, I reckon there are far better 'teams' or groups of eleven players not playing due to being on the bench or left out altogether than there are on the pitch. Sturridge is a prime example, barely even on the bench at Chelsea, then hottest property in the league after going on loan to Bolton. I can't see how it'll happen, but the league will become stronger and more entertaining, and fairer, if we can find a way to get the talent on the pitch, rather than sitting out picking up the cheque.
Stephen Kenny
9   Posted 30/06/2011 at 18:05:34

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It looks silver and shiny to me.

Would people accept a focus moving towards cups from the league.

IMO we have a decent chance of winning a cup every season, we have no chance of winning the league and we have no chance of getting in the top 4 barring a crazy run of luck with injuries to one of the richest 4 and an equally crazy run of good luck with our own threadbare squad.
Rory Slingo
10   Posted 30/06/2011 at 17:57:11

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#8 Mike Allison, the IMWT brigade will remind us that Moyes has consistently finished above or around teams that spend double to ten times our budget. And this is despite the team never hitting full stride until after Christmas. This is what builds our hopes up at the start of every season. Imagining where we could end up if we came out the gates producing top form for the entire season. Unfortunately the team has never lived up to its full potential. We see what they're capable of in brief, magnificent spells before it all turns to shit again and again.

So if Moyes can get us between 4th and 8th with no budget and an underperforming team, then I don't buy this lack of investment argument. Until I see the whole team put in their 100% best each and every game for an entire season and if we still can't crack the Top 4 then, I'll concede that we need investment to progress. Otherwise, the minimum I want to see is players who want to play for each other and the fans, players who want to go on and win things and achieve greatness. That is what the 80s team had. The will, passion and desire. And you can't buy that. This is what our current team lacks, not investment.
Phil Bellis
11   Posted 30/06/2011 at 18:59:27

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Steven, How would we pay their wages? How much of the £20 Million do you think Bill will give to Moyesey? And to answer your question...

i) going to the match 66-70 in the sure and certain knowledge that, even if Everton didn't win, you'll have seen some great football and performances;
ii) 84-87; walking on air after watching a great team in every sense of the phrase, full of guts, effort and skill.

Andy Crooks
12   Posted 30/06/2011 at 19:07:45

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Rory, I agree. At present we are nice. Admired by all, hated by no one . Nice.
Trevor Mackie
13   Posted 30/06/2011 at 18:51:03

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Steven it makes stark reading for me I'll never think of us as anything but champions in waiting - but I'm over 50.

I still believe someone, somewhere will come and magically turn things around....simply because we're Everton.

Of course every rational bone in my body says the realists are right, but it's like talking about a different club. The idea of success being the odd victory against a "big team" and Prem survival leaves me cold, I see acceptance as the start of oblivion.

2 sides of the same coin Steven.
Brian Waring
14   Posted 30/06/2011 at 21:37:50

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" However, for me football is all about winning. So I shall ignore the calls to be ' Realistic ' and expect the highly paid manager to put 11 players onto the pitch who are prepared to give everything for the Everton cause "

Amen to that Michael.
Phil Martin
15   Posted 30/06/2011 at 22:17:02

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Andy, Rory,

Do you perhaps think we can't manage a full season of excellent consistency, because we don't have the strength in depth? Perhaps the fact teams like Chelsea and ManU tend to win the League regularly is because they have the best and biggest squads.

2011 is not 1981. You can't win anything substantial today with just 11 players and some team spirit. You need 4-5 great players on top of 10-15 very good players and and possibly more. This doesn't come cheap, and it to suggest a good team talk and tactics sessions will solve all is credible in the world of Football Manager only.

Who cares if other fans admire our self-deprecating mediocrity? I'd rather EFC beat all who in their path and collect trophies by any means necessary.
Will Leaf
16   Posted 30/06/2011 at 22:44:50

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I think if all the stars align it is still possible for Everton to invade the Top 4 cartel, even win the bloody thing.

Stars aligning would consist of a potpourri of indifferent results from the main powers (like the 2010 season, those same teams going deep into the Champions/Europa Leagues, early cup exits by Everton, and (errr okay, suspend disbelief) our small squad remaining relatively healthy.

The last season is all the more frustrating when you fiddle with the form tables. From Valentine's Day on we finished 2nd in the league, 3 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand on them.

If every league game was approached as do-or-die, who knows what we could achieve. I was a little miffed finding that our Home results vs Top Half teams would have seen us finish 2nd in the league... our Home results vs Bottom Half teams a derisory 17th.

Sounds a motivational problem there.

If we did actually get to the group stages of the Champions League... likely mid-table league finish that year.

ps: IMHO, the best thing to happen to Everton, and for Premier League competitiveness in general, perversely, was the maximum tax rate ballooning to 50%, vs 25% in Spain. Now all the Ronaldos and Fabregases can fuck off to Spain!
Jamie Sweet
17   Posted 30/06/2011 at 23:43:06

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I really can't support the idea to offload Baines. He is the one member of our current squad that I see as being irreplaceable.

I can't see the swap deal mentioned ever happening though, and I wouldn't want it to either. None of the players mentioned are what we need for our long term future.

I would rather we made them cough up £25million (at the very least) and give Moyes £18million of that to buy a few hungry young players (on lower wages).

I'd still rather see the back of any other player in our squad than Bainsey though.
Dennis Stevens
18   Posted 30/06/2011 at 23:50:18

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Success = winning nice bits of shiny.
Mediocrity = survival in the top flight.
Failure = relegation from the top flight.

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