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Why the race for the top four will be tighter than ever

by   |   09/07/2014  Comments (82)  jump

At the end of the 2013-14 Premier League season, 14 points separated seventh placed Manchester United from Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, who eventually overcame Everton to take the final Champions League slot.

This season, some interesting managerial changes, and some shrewd player trading could make this the tightest battle for the top four since the Premier League began.

The Certainties

Reigning Premier League title holders Manchester City are a short price 1.04 with Betfair to reach the top four at the end of 2014-15 and as favourites to retain their title, it’s impossible to see Manuel Pellegrini’s side dropping out of the Champions League slots.

The same could be said for Chelsea who, as their own manager said, were a team without a striker last season. Despite that considerable handicap, Jose Mourinho’s men finished in third place and the acquisition of Diego Costa should make the London club the main challengers to Manchester City’s crown.

Two teams may therefore be guaranteed a top four place, but that leaves two further slots available with at least five clubs hunting them down.

The men in possession

When you make it into the Champions League, it’s much easier to stay there simply because the world’s best players are attracted by the prospect of playing in Europe’s elite competition. Would Alexis Sanchez have been quite as tempted by Arsenal’s overtures if he had to play in the far flung depths of the continent on a Thursday night?

Many would consider that Arsenal aren’t vulnerable but Sanchez’s potential signing won’t help address the Gunners’ main problem from last season. In six games against the top three sides, their defence went AWOL, particularly away from home where they conceded 17 times in three heavy defeats.

Elsewhere, Liverpool’s hopes of retaining top four status are likely to depend on how they replace Luis Suarez. Fans might like to play down his potential absence from the side but the Uruguayan’s potential move to Barcelona would take 30 league goals a season away with him.

The Challengers

Tottenham’s players always claim they have top four aspirations but so far they have only delivered once on their promises. The appointment of Mauricio Pochettino may have been a shrewd one but after Gareth Bale’s departure led to an influx or largely ineffective players last summer, this looks like being another transitional campaign for the North London side.

Having finished a seemingly disastrous seventh in 2013-2014, Manchester United have changed their manager and invested heavily in their squad for next season. You can be sure that there will be further arrivals to complement Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera while the absence of European Football will surely benefit United – as it did Liverpool in the previous campaign.

So that just leaves Everton: While Blues fans would have been pleased to see Gareth Barry sign up on a permanent basis, what does Roberto Martinez need to do to sustain a top four challenge next season?

With just Arouna Kone and Steven Naismith as recognised strikers on the books, clearly a striker is paramount and with the possibility of Romelu Lukaku returning to Goodison, there are many who feel that the manager has to stop relying on loan players to fill a permanent void. For every Lukaku giving 100% and making a positive impact on a club’s season, there is a Lacina Traore at the other end of the scale.

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia is one candidate for Martinez to consider after a prolific start to 2014 culminated in three group goals in three group games at the World Cup. A striker is one solution but does Martinez need to address other areas of the squad if Everton are to hold on to a top four place once its destiny is in their hands?

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Reader Comments (82)

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Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 09/07/2014 at 20:36:36
Providing real money is spent before the transfer deadline on replacing those who have left, and the need to bolster the squad, Everton should be able to compete for a Champions League place but will need a great deal of luck and cannot afford to slip up too often, especially away from home and against the so-called lesser teams. Newcastle Utd and Aston Villa cannot be ruled out and we may well see a far more competitive Premier League this coming season which will make it hard for all the teams.

But if we get off to a poor start, we do have an incentive to make a push for the Europa League trophy – a trophy which, if you win it, gains entry into the Champions League... but I'm still not sure that is guaranteed due to a variety of caveats regarding league placing and Champions League winners etc.

Roberto should be targeting a trophy – any trophy – to end this drought which has gone on for far too long. It would give the club and it's fans a major boost – so qualifying for Champions League is the target but a European place won by lifting a trophy is far more important than gaining a Europa League place via the Premier League position.

Kunal Desai
2 Posted 09/07/2014 at 20:45:26
Personally I think the chance of getting into the top 4 was missed over the last few seasons. Arsenal will be much stronger this season and I think Man Utd will be back amongst the top 4 with Van Gaal in charge next season. Of course it's not impossible but for us to finish 4th; the only way it will happen is if the Board spend heavily, by bringing in 2-3 top class players and around 3-4 squad players.

With Europa League commitments, it's hard to see how this current threadbare squad can compete in all competitions. Another Europa League spot is the most likely once again, unless we recruit heavily, which I feel is highly unlikely going on previous seasons.

Mike Oates
4 Posted 09/07/2014 at 21:33:38
We have such a tough start this season with the first 7 games including games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool. Unless we get the squad together before the season, including the "quality" signings, then I feel that we will struggle against the above.

We can't afford to wait until 11pm Aug 31st to get the quality in – it's just too late. We need at least 3 quality signings in and another 3-4 squad lads ASAP!

Patrick Murphy
5 Posted 09/07/2014 at 21:50:03
Mike - the last day of the window is Monday September 1st because the 31st Aug is a Sunday — an extra day of worry and angst we could do without.
Trevor Lynes
6 Posted 09/07/2014 at 22:05:48
Patrick, the season starts on the 16th August and we cannot wait to the last minute to bed in the new comers. Other prospective contenders have all made Â’meaningfulÂ’ signings and I do not count Barry amongst them.

We really need to BUY two top class players, one a striker and one a play maker. Plus we need another three or four top quality loans and I do not include Rodwell amongst them.

Robbie Muldoon
7 Posted 10/07/2014 at 00:05:19
He wants to buy Lukaku... that bit of business is dictating the transfer window for us.
Raymond Fox
8 Posted 10/07/2014 at 00:07:02
There's still almost 2 months left for transfers, and I'm hoping that we sign Lukaku. I have to agree that signing players late is not a good idea, but sometimes it takes longer to agree on a deal, with agents, parent club etc involved.

As for a top 4 place, Power's odds are 9/2 which seems skinny to me. We are 80/1 to win the Prem which again flatters us. 7/4 to finish in top 6, could be worth a bet.

They're making six teams – Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham – favourites to finish in front of us!

We'll be competitive again this season, but I'm afraid that a top 6 place is the best we can expect.

Dennis Ng
9 Posted 10/07/2014 at 00:31:01
Crap! 9/1? 1 extra day for me to panic!

We have always been outsiders to top 4 due to our spending. I worry more about having enough quality players to help sustain our league position and wait for one of those 4 to implode permanently.

I look forward to see how youth players might factor into the games next season. That seems to be our biggest ticket to the top 4 in the future.

Like Patrick said, any trophy. A top 4 finish will always be awesome but any trophy would make that slow journey back to the top more bearable.

Karl Masters
10 Posted 10/07/2014 at 01:00:14
I would take a cup over 4th this time around.

Paul Andrews
11 Posted 10/07/2014 at 06:09:51
Goalscorers make the difference to any team.

We are in with a chance of signing a player who is a proven 1-in-2 Premier League goalscorer and some are crabbing that player.

Brian Hill
12 Posted 10/07/2014 at 06:46:33
I would like to see McCarthy given a little more freedom to go forward next season. He surprised many of us who were somewhat underwhelmed at his signing. There is a lot more to come from this guy – I reckon he has the potential to become as dominant and imposing a player as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.

Apart from that, Lukaku doesn't seem to know what he wants, almost every comment he makes contradicting the last one. He wants to stay at Chelsea, no he doesn't, he'll only sign for a Champions League Club, he might sign for Everton.

If we had a competent, professional Board, the Lukaku issue could be sorted very quickly. Kenwright or Elstone simply has to pick up the telephone, call Abramovich or one of his lackeys, offer 㿀M and take it from there. Instead, this situation will drag on and on as does everything else in Kenwright's "Everton Way".

Matt Traynor
13 Posted 10/07/2014 at 07:23:45
I don't think we'll be in the mix. Last season, we dropped 6 points from three opening, arguably winnable fixtures, before a flurry of transfer activity on deadline day as per usual.

This season, our opening three fixtures are much more difficult on paper, and unless we have players signed up soon, with time to assimilate into the squad, we may start slowly which means we're forever playing catch-up.

It's been said before, but this is how it will be as long as we're owned by BK and Co. Forget expecting Green et al to put money in, they're only interested in making money off their share investment when the club is sold. Kenwright is also – can't blame him, it would be a fortune for him and he's probably sore it hasn't already happened so he could've sailed into the sunset years ago. Er... I mean, had someone take over better able to take the club forward.

Oh, and Tottenham finished 4th twice recently. Sad for them that the season they did, 6th place Chelsea won the Champions League and took their spot.

Kieran Fitzgerald
14 Posted 10/07/2014 at 08:35:45
Can't see us doing it this season. There's not a hope in hell of Man Utd and Arsenal both being as poor again as they were last season. That is what allowed us the chance last season.

The RS, even without Rat Boy, and Spurs both appear to have as much strength in depth as us, if not more. Both teams also have a lot more spending power.

A top six finish and young players getting established is the best I think we can hope for.

Slow and steady is the way forward for us. I think that something not getting a lot of attention is the fact that our financial revenues will increase due to the Europa League. I know it's a pain in many ways but the extra gate receipts at home and the TV coverage it gives you will give us extra cash. Add to that the fact that more of our league games will be on a Sunday means that there is more chance of us getting televised, which again means cash. While this in itself will not win us trophies, it does give us more options to progress. Another top six finish will mean more Europa League football the following season which will give us more cash again.

A continued positive cycle like this over a number of seasons seems the best way for us to generate the cash we need to develop the squad and improve our stadium, be it Goodison or somewhere else. We can't compete with other clubs financially so this may be the way to go.

Andrew Ellams
15 Posted 10/07/2014 at 08:58:46
Kieran,

I think we will be in a battle with Arsenal, Spurs and the RS for that 4th place. I don't expect Spurs to be all that great and they could well be the team in 7th; RS will not cope with the loss of Suarez and playing in the CL; and Arsenal seem to think they have some sort of divine right to win the league now they have won the cup.

Sam Hoare
16 Posted 10/07/2014 at 09:11:06
The glass ceiling is still there and arguably it will be tougher than ever to get top 4 with 6 teams having so much more spending power than us. On our day we can beat any of them but, over the season, squad depth will show and this is where we fall down.
Paul Mackie
17 Posted 10/07/2014 at 09:25:45
Sadly, I think our best shot at getting into the Champions League will be through winning the Europa League trophy. Qualifying for that each season should therefore be the bare minimum each season.
Mike Allison
18 Posted 10/07/2014 at 09:14:31
I agree, we are extremely unlikely to make 4th place, and I would much rather win any one of the three cup competitions we'll be in (yes, even the League Cup). I don't really care about the arguments and the money and so on, I just want to win a trophy.

Man Utd will be the most interesting factor here, and think Liverpool will drop down out of the top four, and will be around 5th/6th. But United have gone from a terrible season, where they were effectively found out to have got by on average talent but some kind of 'aura' about them and their manager, to signing one of the world's best and most charismatic managers and spending big money.

Received wisdom seems to be that their problems are now over, but I'm not so sure. They still lack an awful lot, especially in terms of big players and characters throughout the team. The new players may be talented, but they're not proven big name match and trophy winners. As it stands, their central defenders are Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, none of whom have ever convinced at United. (I believe Phil Jones will convince if given a run at centre-back, by the way, but I'm not sure it will happen).

The Van Gaal effect will be crucial in their season, and it may be a case of persuading the players to believe in themselves rather than just signing new ones.

Liverpool I think over-achieved last season. They got on a run, built momentum, played with confidence and Suarez scored shed-loads. I'm not convinced it is repeatable. Player for player, they are not special; Gerrard is another year older and may feel the effects of a poor World Cup (on the other hand, he may retire from international football and feel the benefit) and their style of play, which took teams by surprise last season, is now well established and the rest of the league will be working on how to cope with it.

Arsenal just constantly buy similar players and never change anything, so I can't see them doing anything different to what they've done for the last 10 years or so. They need Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams, but will sign more like Ozil, Cazorla and Walcott.

Tottenham, if they stop buying players and start turning the ones they've got into a team, could be the ones to worry about. Our great strength is always consistency and team spirit, and if Tottenham can develop that under a tactically astute manager they should be much improved.

As for us, it's very hard to know what we'll do next season. The optimist in me says last season was just the start, and we will develop even further from here, but we're Everton, and getting your hopes up rarely ends well. Even with Barry signed we need at least five new players, and most of them need to be of the kind of quality that can win matches. For us to really do well, I think Lukaku is an absolute must.

Jim Lloyd
19 Posted 10/07/2014 at 09:31:06
It's stating the obvious, I know but our ability to be able to challenge for a top four place is weakened because of lack of money. I think this year, we would do really well to finish in the top six.

There are great signs that we are becoming a club to fear and respect again; I put this down to the effect that our manager is having on the greater part of our club. I can see our youngsters blossoming and I think we will attract more kids to want to play for us.

I see a great opportunity for us in America now and hope to God we grasp it. We've already got great fans from the other side of the Pond and it would be brilliant for us, both in terms of players who'd want to come to Everton and an increase in the numbers of fans. That would mean more coverage in America and more merchandise being sold.

Someone has already that they believe it will be a slow rise to get on anything like equal terms with the clubs around who have so much more cash than us. We've already gained a reputation for playing fast, exciting football and I have no doubts about Robbie bringing more players in who will help us to become even more so.

Where we could begin to achieve more success regularly, is in the cup competitions, including the Europa League. The devil worshippers over the park have for many years, when they were not successful in becoming League Champions, either got to Wembley and won, or at least got there, or managed to get into Europe by getting themselves into the top six.

The more we can get on the telly, get into the semis (at least) for a trip to Wembley and Europe, the more success we will have in attracting more players to want to come to us and draw also more budding Evertonians.

I think we will do well to finish in the top six but, if we can, doing well in the cups or even winning trophies, then we'll be well on our way to mixing it with the rich clubs.

And as BB is bound to find us a buyer(!!!) and a new stadium is on the way, then we're going to be fine – but it's going to take time.

Phil Walling
20 Posted 10/07/2014 at 10:34:56
New season, new start. I stopped posting last term as my brand of 'Seventhish Everton' was swept away by Martinez Magic.

Our 5th place was well deserved and set a new bar which will be extremely difficult to raise. There can be few who would back the players currently on the books to make it into the top four so everything will depend on who Roberto brings in.

The increased broadcasting revenues should make the transfer pot more fulsome than previously although it may result in fees – both for purchases and loans – becoming more expensive.

Our near neighbours' generosity to Southampton over their acquisition of some very average performers may well have sparked this inflation and, indirectly, meant that the likes of Lukaku are already out of our price range.

There is also some evidence that wage demands have escalated and that some of our competitors for top spots have given already contracted players 'sweeteners' to keep them loyal.

Surprise, surprise then, that after factoring in all these considerations, it's SEVENTH place I'm predicting!

But it's good to be back!

Mark Pierpoint
21 Posted 10/07/2014 at 11:53:58
It is like Robbie says, the Lukaku thing is dictating the whole pre-season for us.

I think that Martinez has to box clever here. I would advocate a time limit on the whole thing, I don't like all of this 'we are prepared to wait' on Lukaku, especially since it is unlikely that we can win the war on two fronts, namely convincing Lukaku to forgo Champions League football and convincing Chelsea to sell at a reasonable price.

If we can get another striker in, I feel that we have a good chance at 5th or 6th. Europe doesn't worry me too much as we always were quite consistent in the past. Hopefully the group games will not be too taxing. Having Hibbert still here will help as will having Oviedo back fit as these are the positions where rotation will be key. We obviously still need a rotation option in the middle of the park though (this Galloway lad?) and up front.

I do fancy Man Utd to come back strong into the top 4, and with Liverpool it will all come down to how Suarez is replaced. I don't see them as a contender for the title again though.

Tottenham still don't worry me too much. The total mess they made of spending the Bale money will take 3 or 4 transfer windows to sort out IMO. Even they can't absorb the sort of losses they will make on some of these players so I expect them to be middling spender this year.

Arsenal – top four as per... Nothing more though. I don't really think Sanchez is what they need myself, but I like him as a player. Debuchy is not a replacement for Sagna either.

Kevin Tully
22 Posted 10/07/2014 at 12:39:54
Phil, please don't bore the kecks off us all with your 'seventhish' all season as you did last year. We know your prediction now - no need to repeat ad nauseam for the next nine months. Apart from that, good to have you back.
Geoffrey Caveney
23 Posted 10/07/2014 at 13:06:27
I would much rather Phil predict seventh and we finish higher, than the other way around.
Ciaran Duff
24 Posted 10/07/2014 at 13:27:19
Overall, I agree with your summary – it will be tough, very tough. It will also be interesting to see how RM handles the second season. In a way, that might be harder than the first, as his first season had the "feelgood" factor and expectations were not that high.

At the start of last season, most people were saying a top 10 finish would be acceptable as long as we play decent football and Roberto is settling in, building the squad etc.

Now the expectations are much higher. Having said that, you can never predict how seasons will go. All I will say, is that if I were another EPL team, I would not be looking forward to playing Everton, particularly at Goodison.

Allez Les Blues.

Jim Potter
25 Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:32:31
With Tetanus Teeth gone, I fancy us to finish above the RS this season. Without him, theyÂ’re just above average.

IÂ’m backing Bobby to buy brilliantly (alliteration or what?) and pull off a trophy this season.

Someone has to be an optimist.

Gareth Fieldstead
26 Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:39:06
Sorry if this has already been mentioned but I notice the ever so loyal Echo are already wording their articles that money could be tight and we may not be able to afford Lukaku.

This board need shooting, yet again our manager isn't even allowed the funds to spend what he has raised from transfer sales, yet Goodison is getting a new lick of paint for ٠ million and the Echo just lap it up. Just scum.

Ernie Baywood
27 Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:36:49
Matching us up against our competition I'd fancy us to be solid at the back, probably the best of the 5 teams in with a shout.

Centre of midfield will be strong again and matches any of the other 4 in terms of solidity.

The weakness is simple. Goals and squad depth. A few signings, with at least one capable of 15 league goals and we'll have a very good chance.

Jim Potter
28 Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:44:42
Ernie - welcome to the Optimist Club!
Trevor Lynes
29 Posted 10/07/2014 at 14:38:52
Talk of all the time it takes to buy players is put into perspective by the time it takes other clubs. We continually watch player after player signed by all the other top contenders whilst we take an age.

Either we are naïve as a board or just tight-fisted!!We have had lots of promises and supposedly last minute changes due to work permits and injuries showing up etc etc.

But we are continually dragging our heels. Surely Roberto has identified players he wants and our board have not moved at all during RobertoÂ’s absence. So long as fans continue to give this inept board excuses we will always struggle to keep up.

I am afraid that Martinez will not have the patience of DM and will move on if he is not backed. He is already admired and I am sure coveted by other top teams.

Phil Roberts
30 Posted 10/07/2014 at 15:26:41
Europa League Winners - you are having a laugh.

Winners of the Europa League are always a team which got knocked out of the group stages of the Champions League.

More money for TV appearances and gates. Chicken Feed. 40,000 x 㿏 = ٟ.4M. So a full house on a European night gets you... nobody. It takes almost a full season to pay for Lukaku.

This league is for playboys with lots of money and Woods and Earl haven't got it, or don't want to spend it.

We can keep dreaming and hoping but the last 11 years has been more enjoyable than the previous 11 of the Premier League and maybe we will not have to go through the tensions of Wimbledon and Coventry again but dreaming of titles and European trophies, it is what it will be.

Sorry to be a realist

John Crawley
31 Posted 10/07/2014 at 16:15:57
Phil 30 - the Europa League winners aren't always teams that have dropped out of the Champions League. Since that system was introduced in 96-97 there have been 6 winners out of the last 18 years. That isn't always in my book!

If we want some inspiration look at Atlético Madrid – they had a team that cost buttons (11 players against Chelsea in the semi-final only cost 㿊 million) and won the Spanish league and lost in the Champions League Final.

Iain Love
32 Posted 10/07/2014 at 16:57:03
Man City and Chelsea are definites; the rest aren't. Man Utd were poor and need many new players who will take time to bed in. Liverpool losing Suarez and competing in the Champions League will hurt their chances. Arsenal will still be a force and won't have the injuries they had last season.

We need three major signings: Bony and Remy are two, and I think if we could get Xavi (who might be on the way out), we could then challenge the above teams.

Unlikely, I know... but I can still dream.

Kieran Fitzgerald
33 Posted 10/07/2014 at 17:14:01
Phil, it may be only ٟ.5m, but multiply that by five or six, if we get to the quarter-final or semi-final and suddenly you're talking an extra ٦-9m. That's ٦-9m extra in gate receipts alone coming into the coffers that we didn't have in previous seasons. To Man City or Chelsea, that figure isn't worth their while. To us, it makes a difference.

If you add in people buying merchandise, TV money and everything else associated with matchday, I do think that the Europa League will more than pay its way financially. There is also the added bonus of giving younger players and squad players valuable experience.

Robert Collins
35 Posted 10/07/2014 at 19:20:08
The Europa League will drain any chances of the top 4, we can’t sustain the Premier League and this competition without another 7 players at least.
Darren Hind
36 Posted 10/07/2014 at 19:57:03
Interesting thread...

Frank Crewe
37 Posted 10/07/2014 at 19:59:05
I would have to agree with Phil on this one. We don't have any chance of making it into the top 4. Personally I think we'll be lucky to make the top 6.

Now I know there are those who appear to think we have untold millions burning a whole in our bank account; we do not. We simply do not have the revenue streams to bring in the cash required to buy the players needed to mount a serious push for a top 4 place.

Now I don't want to see Everton do a Leeds or Portsmouth and start spending money we don't have. I drive a 7-year old Golf. I'd like to have a brand new Beamer but I don't intend to take out a giant loan to get one because I can't afford it. Neither can Everton.

Leeds and Portsmouths supporters were loving it when they were forking out sqillions on players they really couldn't afford. They weren't so happy when the financial chickens came home to roost. Until we get some dumb billionaire who wants to piss away his cash on overpriced and overpaid players, we have to live within our means. If this means no top 4 and no CL then so be it. Better to be viable in the PL than bankrupt in the Third Division.

Jim Knightley
38 Posted 10/07/2014 at 19:32:46
We will not make top four. Let's be realistic: Man City, and Chelski are shoe-ins for the top four. Arsenal, who suffered the worst injury luck of the top five last season, are bringing in a world class Sanchez, followed swiftly by Debuchy (an acceptable Sagna replacement). Remy is likely to follow, as well as a potential DM improvement in Khedira/Bender or Schneiderlin. A midfield contingent of Arteta, Flamini, Oxlade, Rosicky, Diaby, Walcott, Podolski, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil and Sanchez (the last three are all world class or thereabouts), not to mention the aforementioned likely arrival of a DM, will give them the best midfield in the Prem League. They will likely challenge for the title and I see no realistic prospects of them dropping out of the top four.

Liverpool are most vulnerable, because of the departing Suarez. However, their squad is still strong, their summer arrivals will add depth and quality, and their spending power is considerable. European football will sap them more than last season, whilst Sturridge will be overburdened (depending on the quality of the Suarez replacement); however, I cannot see us overtaking them.

Manchester United have brought in Shaw and Herrera, who will undoubtedly add quality and address a central problem: the age of the squad. The reconstitution necessitated by Ferguson's poor squad policy in his final years means that they will be vulnerable for a while yet, but the likes of Rooney, RvP and Mata are certainly top four material. I think that their success will depend on who they manage to bring to the club. Vidal has been strongly linked, but I very much doubt that he would come to a non-Champions League club, given his obvious world class ability and the potential for a move to one of the big three (Bayern/Real/Barca) in the future (possibly the only midfielder in the world who is equally brilliant at attacking and defending?). Hummels has only been linked along with Di Maria, but again, why would they come? Hummels could play for any team in the world, and Di Maria is exceptional. However, if they managed to pull off a couple of signings in this kind of class range, we are fucked imo.

I look at our squad and worry. We have three CB's, one of whom is turning 37 before the year is out. Stones is undoubtedly talented, and has the world at his feet, but he is also too error prone and will have poor spells during the season. We lack cover in defensive midfield too, whilst there is no significant competition for an inconsistent Barkley whose lack of creativity will inevitability lead to frustrating moments against teams which sit back next season.

We have no top striker, with only an injury-prone and aging Koné, and a hard working but limited Naismith, offering centre forward options (aside from Mirallas). The departing Deulofeu has cut down our options out wide, with the ageing Pienaar and McGeady clearly a cut below Mirallas in terms of an ability to score and create imo.

I think we have some real class players in our team, and players with potential. McCarthy was great last season, and can get better still. Baines and Coleman are the best full back pairing in the league, whilst Stones, Barkley and Oviedo are very good players with significant potential. But we are far too far away at the moment, and I see us competing with Spurs for 6th next season.

We must bring in a top striker, and probably another back up. We need another exciting wide player, and an AMC/CF who can put pressure on Barkley (other than Naismith). Ideally, at least one of those players should be primarily creative as our squad is lacking that at the moment. A central defender is also a must. Ideally I think we need to add six players to the squad following the arrival of Barry, as the Europa League will sap us.

I'm sure Martinez will fill some of those positions with loans, but I'd like to see real money directed at a striker, a top wide player/AMC, and a talented central defender. I'm a massive fan of Lukaku and Hernandez, and would love Ba on loan (providing he is not our main striker). Okazaki, Roberto Firmino and Perisic all look very interesting whilst the Dutch pairing of Vlaar and De Vrij have demonstrated that they can play for better clubs. This summer is going to be massive in terms of our transfer dealings. Kenwright must give us the 㿊-40M we deserve and Martinez must spend it wisely.

Jay Harris
39 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:06:00
The teams with firepower rise to the top. Dzeko, Aguerro, Negredo, Jovetic
Suarez, Sturrridge, Sterling
Podolski, Giroud, Ramsey, Walcott
Hazard, Ba, Eto, Torres.

Our priority should be finding a top class goalscorer and a goalscoring MF player.

Our contribution from MF without Fellaini was pitiful last season.

With the current squad and playing in the Europa League, I think we will be lucky to make 7th.

Frank Crewe
40 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:29:52
@Jim Knightley

So BK must "give" us 㿊-40 million? Where exactly is he getting that money from? Does he have a money tree growing in his back garden? Even if he did have it, why should he blow it on a football team. Would you?

Isn't it great to be free and easy with other people's money. Spend millions just to make people you have never met happy for 5 minutes until they start complaining again for more money for another cup-shaped fix.

Colin Glassar
41 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:34:38
I expect the title race to be between Man City, Chelsea and, believe it or not, Arsenal. Man Utd will need a season to adapt to LVG. The RS without rat boy, and CL football, will struggle to maintain the form of last season. Spurs will be Spurs and blow hot and cold and spend a fortune in the meantime.

So that leaves us. If we can tie down Lukaku or another top striker, I honestly believe we can crack that top 4 this season. I know it's a cliche but if we can keep the likes of Gibson, Kone, Pienaar and Oviedo fit we will (with a few additions) have a very, very good squad able to compete.

Kevin Tully
42 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:24:50
Frank Crewe - Really? Are we STILL going to quote Leeds and Portsmouth every time someone mentions we should be able to back an Everton manager in the transfer market? How about using Liverpool, or Arsenal as a benchmark?

You cannot take the lowest common denominator and then measure Everton FC against it. We are unable to provide Martinez with a decent kitty because of one simple reason – the board of Everton FC have let the club stagnate over the past 15 years. When everyone around us has signed record commercial deals, we still have another 5 years of the worst commercial decision made in the history of the club - Kitbag.

There is no new ground in the offing, just more talk and the blind hope a cash-strapped council, and a supermarket will make these multi-millionaires a little bit richer by gifting a new stadium!

Even the fools who said we couldn't sell more boxes or hospitality are being proven wrong on a daily basis. The most expensive suite Everton have to offer was sold out weeks ago, along with other lounges either sold out, or near to capacity.

We have the potential to grow right around the globe - yet people excuse these carpetbaggers because Portsmouth went bust. Just incredible. Forget about Kenwright, he's a puppet for bigger players such as Earl & Green, but he's got us into this mess.

Everton FC were one of the five original clubs to vote for the formation of the Premier League – then we stood there like stunned idiots while every other club built their grounds, and grew their popularity around the world. The man who was chairman in those days still has a voice at Everton despite mucking up the biggest opportunity in world sport. That's how far we have moved on.

Phil Walling
43 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:39:31
Absolutely, Jay! Forget defenders and midfield dynamos, unless we have a 20-goals man up front, any dreams of top four are just that... dreams.

I'm not even sure that re-signing Lukaku will be enough. If he is to come back we will still need to find 15-20 more goals than last season to close the gap on the moneybags teams.

But we are what we are and come 31st August, we shall all be tuned into Sky's Deadline Day shenanigans. That's when we do business. Hope springs eternal.

Wayne Smyth
44 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:23:46
I have to admit that defeatist talk drives me up the wall. I'd hope we left that behind when you-know-who left.

We've yet to kick a ball and people are saying we have 'no chance' of beating teams we finished ahead of last season? And 'no chance' of finishing 4th?

Last season Spurs spent 𧴜M on talent. We finished ahead of them.

We managed to soundly beat Arsenal in the league playing some of the best football I've witnessed, shitting all over Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade Chamberlain, Flamini, Cazorla in the process. Even with the 'ageing' Naismith and McGeady playing for us.

We finished well ahead of champions Man Utd after they spent the first month of the season tapping up our best players and spending 㿲M+.

Managing to do all of that, and narrowly miss out on 4th having had a brand new manager in his first season and probably the worst injury crisis I can recall, doesn't seem bad going. Let's not forget, we struggled in the first few games with the players getting up to speed with Roberto's style of play too and missed out on easy points.

So, when people say we have 'no chance', I say bollocks. What chance did we have the season Rooney left with Marcus Bent playing as our striker? What chance did Costa Rica have of getting anything from England, Italy and Uruguay? What chance did Greece have in Euro 2004? Denmark Euro 92?

Don't get me wrong; the deck is certainly stacked against us. But we've every chance of going one better than last season, especially if we have a positive mindset.

What you come to realise is that all that money, pressure, massive squads and lack of stability on the managerial front often has a negative impact on the pitch. It's an equaliser and if we're well led and have a bit of luck we can do it.

Darren Hind
45 Posted 10/07/2014 at 21:05:12
Frank #40

Where exactly is Kenwright getting the money? How about the extra Sky money everyone else is spending?

Nobody is expecting a Man City style war chest, but Martinez spent around 㾻M less than Kenwright pulled in last season.

If the Everton manager is not given the 㿊-40M Jim Knightley speaks about, we may as well all pack it in.

It's one thing to ask our manager to perform at a disadvantage. It's another to ask him to work miracles.

Kevin Tully
46 Posted 10/07/2014 at 21:31:30
Darren - I think all Evertonians should get used to the fact we are primarily ran by the Spurs supporting owner of Arcadia Group. Common knowledge for many years, but Kenwright makes himself an easy target with his bullshit, and willingness to put himself in front of a camera.

"The Times says Wyness had become increasingly concerned by Green's input at Everton. Financial information about the club was regularly passed to the billionaire, who has no official role at Goodison, and club officials have been summoned to conferences with Green at the headquarters of Bhs, which Green owns, in London to discuss strategy."

Jay Harris
47 Posted 10/07/2014 at 21:58:16
Kevin,
Anyone that has failed to connect Green, Earl and the BVI together with the sudden jump in "other operating costs" from ٟ million to 㿃 million must be extremely naïve.

Is it any wonder we have no money when we have sold or mortgaged all our assets under Kenwright at a time when the Premier League is awash with money.

Never mind the KD fiasco – what about selling Finch Farm for a couple of million and leasing it back for 50 years at ٟ million a year.

There are far too many unanswered questions under this board.

Sorry, you've got me off on my hobby horse again and totally off topic.

Chris McDonagh
48 Posted 10/07/2014 at 22:17:18
Thanks, Wayne 44
I was thinking of jacking it all in reading this. This is essentially the same squad as last year (minus Lukaku) who achieved a record points haul since 'proper football' began. I think, with belief, we can smash the ceiling next year. Roberto makes me believe so I guess it should rub off on the players.

I managed to get back to the old lady for the first time since the early eighties for Man City last season. Dragged the family along as well. Already looking for a game next season!

Believe! Some people do. Some don't. This is our time.

Geoffrey Caveney
49 Posted 10/07/2014 at 23:20:47
Thank you Colin 41, Wayne 44, and Chris 48 for your optimism. Sure we could finish 7th, but we could also finish 3rd. And if we do slip to 6th or 7th this season, we could bounce back to 3rd or 4th in 2015-16. In most sports leagues, most teams bounce up and down from year to year instead of moving in the same direction. Regression to the mean, I think they call it. It's normal, it doesn't mean we're failing if we slide back a place or two.

Aside from signings and loans, the other key aspect is the club's player development system. This is one of Roberto's strengths I understand, no? And he has only had one year to put his system in place. In a couple more years we will be able to reap more of its fruits. Being outspent by the Big Money 6, it is critical to make up the gap by beating them in player development.

Maybe the question we should be asking is not will we finish in the top 4 this year, but how many times will we finish in the top 4 in the next five years? Let me guess, Phil predicts 2015-16 seventh, 2016-17 seventh, 2017-18 seventh, and 2018-19 seventh.

Jim Knightley
50 Posted 11/07/2014 at 00:23:48
Frank...if you have any knowledge about football, you would know that we have benefited from an extra 㿊M in television money this season because of the new deal. This is already illustrated by the overspending on Premier League transactions thus far (Lallana and Shaw are prime examples).

If you had any knowledge of Everton transfer's dealings, you would have seen that we have made significant net profits from a variety of sales (Fellaini, Anichebe, Jelavic etc). Similarly, we've got rid of several high earning players, and cut our manager's wages.

And, if I wanted to make money, I wouldn't have brought a football club.

Your comments are inane.

James Stewart
51 Posted 11/07/2014 at 02:06:07
I hate to say it but we won't get a better chance of top 4 than last season. Man Utd and Spurs were a mess and Arsenal were there for the taking and we choked.

It will be very different next season. Sanchez is an incredible signing for Arsenal. Amazing player... Barça are stupid to let him go; he's every bit as good as Suarez.

It really highlights the gulf when they can just drop 㿏M on a world class player and we can't even scrape together enough to purchase our loan players.

Darren Hind
52 Posted 11/07/2014 at 06:56:45
You're right, of course, KT

When portraying himself as decision maker, Kenwright offers the retail sales boys a cozy anonymity. He'll always be the fall guy.

Wayne Smith — courage.... conviction. I like it.

Eric Myles
53 Posted 11/07/2014 at 08:16:48
Problem is Darren #45, Kenwright has become accustomed to our manager performing miracles with a negative nett spend.
Ray Roche
54 Posted 11/07/2014 at 09:28:50
Wayne Smith@44

You say " Let's not forget, we struggled in the first few games with the players getting up to speed with Roberto's style of play too and missed out on easy points"

One reason people say we have "no chance" is linked to your statement above. The reason we DID struggle is because we have the same idiot in charge of affairs that we had last season, the man who wouldn't back his manager with funds until the sands were running out of the hour glass on deadline day. It wasn't so much a case of players struggling to get up to speed with Roberto's style, it was the players who made a difference, Lukaku, Barry and McCarthy, arriving after we'd blown points away against Norwich, West Brom and Cardiff.

And I can see the same thing happening again. We should have the largest transfer kitty in our history with last years sales profit, extra Sky money etc., yet Martinez is still talking about more effin' loans. I have said before that if we were to loan Lukaku again on last years terms then we will have spent 㾶m on loaning a player. Not buying, LOANING. That's ٠m less than Bony cost....And if we carry on loaning, we are just giving money away for someone we will not be able to afford to buy.

Jim Knightley
55 Posted 11/07/2014 at 12:08:16
I'd love to share your optimism guys, but football has changed, and we now have the effects of Europa league to contend with. Getting fourth is not about several games (as was the case with Costa Rica in very specific weather conditions) but about a whole season. This is not the European Championships, or a few games at the World Cup, it's a 38 game league season. I believe we can beat anyone in this league, but I do not believe we can do enough over a whole season to finish above all but three clubs in this league. We will suffer worse than the majority of teams in this league because of Europa League football: not just because of tiredness, but because training cannot be catered towards a weekend match, when there is a Thursday match. People rightly argued that Liverpool mounted a title challenge last season because of the absence of Europa League or Champions League football; Well we mounted a challenge for fourth, eventually finishing 7 points behind Arsenal without European commitments. That you decide to concentrate Wayne on the game where we destroyed Arsenal, rather than the 7 point gap which separated us, illustrates the point I'm trying to make about the difference between a match, or a set of matches, and a league season. The Europa League, more than any competition, puts pressure on the squad. Arsenal will have the likes of Wilshere, Podolski, Oxlade Chamberlain and perhaps even Walcott on the bench, and who will we have? Gibson, McGeady, Osman, Traore?

I admire the optimism, and wished I shared it. I think that, if we buy perfectly, we can challenge for fourth. But I'm a realist, and I honestly do not believe we will get closer than 7-10 points off fourth place by the end of the season. I genuinely believe getting Champions League football via a Europa Cup win is more realistic. I would love nothing more than to be completely wrong with the above pessimistic prediction, but I really do not think I will be. And it is not meant to be a reflection on Martinez, but simply on the financial constraints which make it near impossible to properly challenge rivals who spend 20-50mil more on players than us a season, and have double/triple our wage bill.

Frank Crewe
56 Posted 11/07/2014 at 14:23:33
@ Kevin

Of course I use Leeds and Portsmouth as examples because they got relegated and have never recovered from their spendthrift ways even though they got relegated 10 years ago.

Liverpool and Arsenal have years of CL football and the money it brings behind them. Arsenal have a 60,000 seat cutting edge stadium right in the middle of London.

Everton may have been one of the original 12 but only 4 of those clubs are actually in the PL and those have no more money to spend than we do. I don't see buyers falling over themselves to get their hands on Villa. A club comparable in size, history and potential to ourselves.

@Wayne.

Spurs certainly did spend 100 million on players. A 100 million they got from selling Bale. So they weren't spending money they didn't have. And, as you pointed out, all that spending turned out to be a complete flop. I doubt they'll be spending like drunken sailors again anytime soon. It's the players you buy not how much they cost that decides if you will be successful or not. So buying one player for 20 million isn't going to suddenly turn us into top 4 contenders.

And for those who appear to think 30 million from Sky will solve everything. It Won't. Everton have an old ground in a poor run down city. Our revenue streams are tiny compared to the monied clubs and our world wide profile the same. Big name players don't sign for middling clubs in provincial cities. They want big money wages, CL football and nightlife. None of which we can offer.

My comments are not inane they are realistic. I don't fret about what Liverpool. Utd. Chelsea, etc are doing or who they are buying because we simply cannot afford those players and in our current position never will and all the complaining about who's stabbing us in the back won't change it.

Eric Myles
57 Posted 11/07/2014 at 15:23:51
Jim #55, as somone has previously pointed out, that 7 point gap could have been a lot smaller had we brought in Lukaku, Barry and Delefeou earlier in the summer to play in the first 3 games rather than on deadline day when those potentially winable games were already drawn.
Kevin Tully
58 Posted 11/07/2014 at 15:14:00
Frank - Of course Leeds and Portsmouth are not the model we want to follow. However, we cannot constantly use the abject failure of other clubs and 'be careful what you wish for' argument when making comparisons.

Can you imagine the CEO of HSBC in a meeting ; "We might be doing rubbish, our share price has hit the floor, but look at RBS, they went under and had to be bailed out by the UK government."

We have to hold our board to account. Please don't forget we are playing in dilapidated stadium, complete with the lowest net spend in the Premier League. All assets are sold or mortgaged for years to come. Next year will be the 20th anniversary since we last won any silverware.

If the only argument we can come up with to defend the board, and their disastrous ownership is "Look at Leeds or Portsmouth" then the multi-millionaires who own the club, (without investing a penny) will have a free ride for the duration of their tenure. We can do a whole lot better Frank, and we should never forget that.

Frank Crewe
59 Posted 11/07/2014 at 17:18:30
Kevin. How many boards back would you like to go? Who was chairman when we sold Lineker ? Or what about Keown? We wouldn't have a stand behind the goal if we hadn't sold him. Who was Chairman when we bought Dacourt and Materazzi? And then sold them after one season to avoid bankruptcy. Who milked the club to prop up Tranmere Rovers? Yet they were all slapping the same guy on the back before the 95 cup final. Who was Chairman when Walker was manager and almost got us relegated.

Bill Kenwright had nothing to do with any of this yet he gets pilloried because he tries to keep the club away from relegation and financial ruin.

As I have already pointed out. Villa are up for sale. A PL club with a support and history comparable to Everton's. Good stadium and right in the middle of the country yet there are so far no takers. Selling football clubs to billionaires isn't as easy as it sounds. There are only so many suckers with more money than sense and it looks like we've missed the boat.

Paul Andrews
60 Posted 11/07/2014 at 18:00:21
Frank,

As in any transaction,the asking price will dictate the length of the queue of buyers.

Darren Hind
61 Posted 11/07/2014 at 19:40:49
Frank your going around in circles Mate. In defence of Kenwright you point to Arsenal having the advantage of a 60,000 seat cutting edge stadium in the middle of London.

Do you really need reminding why we don't have our own income generating super stadium ?
Eric Myles
62 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:05:35
Frank #59, having takwn the Club from a positive nett asset position to a negative nett asset position while chairman, it is Kenwright that has lead us to financial ruin rather than saving us from it.
Paul Andrews
63 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:12:55
Can't look at the Kings Dock site without thinking what could have been.
Not many chairmen could fail to deliver a world class stadium,on an iconic waterfront site,because of the lack of 㿊 million.
Unfortunately we have one who managed it
Patrick Murphy
64 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:08:46
It's strange that another club just across the park who also reside in an old ground - albeit better than Goodison mainly due to our board's failure to spend any significant cash on our stadium in the previous 20 years - in a poor run down city, but they seem to manage reasonably well, so I ain't buying that players don't want to move to the City of Liverpool, what they do want is sky-high wages and inducements which Everton FC cannot afford to pay or perhaps would want to pay even if they could afford it, why else would a self-respecting footballer rather play for PSG or Shaktar Donesk than ply his trade in the 'better' leagues?

If the only thing that keeps BK from serious questioning about his tenure is the fact that "at least he ain't Peter Johnson' then no wonder he has had such an easy ride for being the least successful owner/Chairman in the club's history - unless of course you subscribe to the belief that Everton being in the top 10 of the PL is a worthy reason to celebrate.

Kevin Tully
65 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:20:39
Frank, Bill Kenwright could be the nicest man in world football.(stop sniggering at the back) He may also be the biggest and bestest Evertonian on the planet. He may want what is best for this club and everyone is wrong about him holding out for fortunes for his shares.

The fact is, he has neither the leadership qualities, or long term vision that's required for Everton FC at this moment in time. He belongs in the 70's with all the other sheepskin wearing chairman of the day.

There is no need to list his failures, he just isn't the man to take us where we deserve to be. Guess who said he needed to sell Everton, because he wasn't the man to take the club forward? So why on earth anyone would argue differently always astonishes me.

Dennis Ng
66 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:33:08
What bothers me most of the time is this.

I am very excited about the team, the manager, the direction of the team. Even if we're not spending money, we seem to have a plan with loans, free transfers and youth.

But this does not seem always in sync with the financial view of the club which continues to hamstring us. I don't have much complaints about BK, he's got right manager for the past 10 odd years. But when we consistently run out of steam near the end of the race, "so close yet so far", that is really frustrating.

I can only hope there is more clarity on the "transfer" situation. IMO, a youth graduating into the first team as good as a transfer, not necessarily that we need to buy like the others, but until we see more of those coming through, the anxiety will be there.

Tom R Owen
67 Posted 11/07/2014 at 20:59:43
Patrick 64, Let us not forget our chairman is a liar.

Frank 59, Pull your head from the sand. Kenwright and his cronies are a disgrace. Who was chairman during the NTL, Fortress Sports Fund, Kings Dock?

Gavin Ramejkis
68 Posted 11/07/2014 at 21:07:30
Frank, as you asked how many boards you want to go back, let's just try 1989.

BK has been a board member since 1989 – that's pre Sky's reinvention of football, since the top flight became awash with money, on the Peter Johnson's board with a chairman who spent money, built a new stand and sold the club in the black.

BK has been chairman for far too long with an almost conveyor belt of missed opportunities, poor if any business acumen, no investment beyond his own shareholding into the club or its infrastructure. He and his board have sold or hocked anything that wasn't nailed down just to cover operating costs. The club slid into a cash-only credit rating on his clock.

We have seen multiple seasons where Everton were the only club in the entire football league not to have bought a player, the only club not to have invested a penny in its own infrastructure when even lower league sides have invested in their grounds.

There have been year-in, year-out lies, fabrications and embellishments from this carpetbagger and his friends. I've read all of the nonsense comparing us to Portsmouth, Leeds etc, heard the xenophobic claptrap about he's not some dodgy foreigner, heard the side splitting "He's an Evertonian" – as if that's a guarantee of an ability to run a multi-million-pound business when his entire Chairmanship clearly shows he isn't.

I've heard the "Where do you expect him to find the money he hasn't got?" – when you ignore the fact the board is made up of multi-millionaires who haven't spent a single penny and ride freebies and hospitality on the back of Everton. If they don't want to spend their own, fair play... but use their position and circles to look for someone who will; the caveat being that anyone willing to spend millions will want millions plus interest or control back and not some BK fairy tales.

If any of the board had invested their own hard earned into say a new stand, I would bear no grudge whatsoever of them looking for a clear profit on ticket sales etc to pay it back. But all we've had is a closed shop who spend nothing, hanging on for a massive pay day which is never coming as they've ruined the business.

Paul Andrews
69 Posted 11/07/2014 at 21:32:10
Apart from that, Gavin, he is a corker.
Jay Harris
71 Posted 11/07/2014 at 21:17:30
Frank,

I think you've got the chairmen the wrong way round it was Johnson who was pilloried despite building the Park End, bringing us our only trophy in the last 25 years and putting his personal money into the club (something Kenwright and his billionaire buddies have never done) and for selling up to Kenwright for only 㿀 million when he could have asked far more.

There is also a school of thought that the money Kenwright used to buy Johnson out came from the club as the club was asset rich and making money under Johnson which turned 180 degrees under Kenwright to continuous losses and massive debt with the unexplained 㿀 million increase in debt being incurred the same year Kenwright took over despite receipts from player sales.

Add that to the catalogue of calamities and failures under Kenwright and the man should have resigned years ago if he had any integrity.

Mike Gwyer
72 Posted 11/07/2014 at 21:13:59

Frank Crewe.

Bit lost as too how you see who pays the transfer fee's.

BK didn't buy Fellaini, Everton football club provided the cash and then paid his wages every month thereafter. BK has spent fuckall squared since he became chairman and will continue to do so till the day he leaves. However, he will continue to sell our top players, take the cash from the 38 thousand who fill the seats and bank all the Sky money. Year on year our transfer policy has seen this great club sitting around the bottom of the premier league spenders. So, for instance, 㿔 million came in last year, 㾹 million went out so I'm looking at almost 㿇 million of transfer funds BK banked last year (let's not even look at previous years).

That 㿇 million is not BK's Frank, that 㿇 million belongs to Everton and if Everton Football Club requires major improvement on the playing field then surely Everton has the right to buy. Let's not forget, BK sold all our main strikers last year so FFS can we please let Everton have a voice instead of listening to how "poor" you feel BK is.

Andy Finigan
73 Posted 11/07/2014 at 22:08:18
I have always held Blue Bill with the same high regard as Frank Crewe, but later comments seem to have a fair point.

It got me wondering: if Bill decided to read this, just what would you like to ask him politely?

Some seem very bitter... so what do you really want from a future chairman. (No "Where has all the money gone?" questions, please!)

And if we find a new owner with no money to spend, what would you suggest to move our club forward?

Jim Knightley
74 Posted 12/07/2014 at 11:11:24
Frank, I was not claiming 30mil would solve everything. Who was? I was responding to the hostile stupidity of your previous post, which I have copied for ease of perusal:

'So BK must "give" us 㿊-40 million? Where exactly is he getting that money from? Does he have a money tree growing in his back garden? Even if he did have it, why should he blow it on a football team. Would you?

Isn't it great to be free and easy with other people's money. Spend millions just to make people you have never met happy for 5 minutes until they start complaining again for more money for another cup-shaped fix.'

The 30-40mil transfer kitty is a realistic number based on our increased revenue from television, the loss of some big earners, and considerable profits from player sales. Ignoring ambiguities over any loan fees paid, we made 12.5mil on player sales in the 11/12 season, broke even in 12/13 and made 16.5mil last season. Comparing our revenue streams to the big clubs is irrelevant, because our transfer desires, in view of the television revenue increases and transfer profits, are not unrealistic for a top half non-Champions league side. 30-40mil is not going to bring about a Leeds situation: If you think it will for our club, then you have no understanding of finances. I still believe that we will spend between those figures, and that the Lukaku situation is curtailing our transfer efforts at the moment because he will account for a significant amount of our summer spend.

Your 'acceptance' of our noncompetitive transfer budget typifies a segment of support which partly enables the continuation of BK's reign. Since 2003, we have made a profit of player transfers. Does that sound right to you? The villa you refer to have spent 10mil net a season. Spurs, Stoke and Sunderland have managed 7mil per season. It perhaps goes without saying that Liverpool, Manchester United, City and Chelski have completed outstripped us. We cannot compete with them, but we should be able to compete with the likes of Villa, Stoke and Sunderland. If we are not, where should the blame like in your eyes, given your staunch defense of BK? Should BK not take some blame for our revenue levels, and our failure to be competitive in the transfer market? Should Everton fans not expect, at the very least, that profits are put into the team ahead of a European football campaign?

Tom Bowers
75 Posted 12/07/2014 at 11:53:35
It's easy for most of us to say the usual suspects will rule the roost yet again and obviously the key is money. With Everton, we have to ask: Is the pot half-full or half-empty? Whilst last season was very refreshing, the question is: Can we improve to a level that gets us a trophy or manages to push one of the usual suspects out of a Champions League place?

Without knowing what new faces may arrive, one cannot be sure but we do know we have a manager whose astuteness is as good as any and the prognosis is better than good to achieve better things.

The big question is offence and like most teams seems to be the emphasis were new signings are concerned. Everton's strikers are not yet world class and lack speed, unless you include Mirallas who sometimes struggles with ball control when trying to go past a defender.

Naismith is a hard worker but the jury is still out with the likes of Kone and possibly Traore. I'm thinking we are all a bit pessimistic about our offensive capabilities at this stage and can only hope RM has some real enquiries in the offing.

David Ellis
76 Posted 12/07/2014 at 12:58:18
Every year, we hear that "the coming season will be tighter than ever" or "harder than ever" etc etc. Who knows how it will turn out.

Liverpool hardly look stronger now that they have lost Dracula – it does not matter how many players they buy with the money, they can only have 11 on the pitch at any one time and Lambert and Lallana are decent players but not sure they would get into our side.

Tottenham - another transition season – just like every season for them

Arsenal – had a great start last year and still went off course, despite shelling out 40m on one player.

Man City – Aguero looks to be struggling. Negredo wants to be off. Will be strong but not necessarily any stronger

Man Utd – should improve but will be a transitional season as they dismantle Fergie's side. If they have a bad start it may not be such fun for Van Gaal

Chelsea - again don't look any stronger than last season. Lets see if Costa can perform.

Everton - lord knows but I think we are likely to improve, if only because every addition is another "Martinez" signing and should help us pay his way. Europa League campaign may slow us down, but it depends how we build out the squad,

Jay Harris
77 Posted 12/07/2014 at 17:35:04
David, that's a very optimistic view. Let me give you an alternative view.

Man City are the reigning Champions with goals all over the team and if any player is not performing or injured they have the strongest reserve team in the league and money to burn in any transfer window.

Chelsea will strengthen their goalscoring department and Mourinho will build a team of his choosing. IMO they will be much stronger this season.

Liverpool may have lost Suarez but they will undoubtedly build a sounder defence and have other top class players throughout their squad. They will also use the Suarez windfall to buy proven top-class players – something we struggle to do every year.

Arsenal are looking to build up their already impressive squad with more goalscoring strength and will have Ramsey back (like a new signing!! LOL)

Without a significant amount of luck and an early exit from the Europa League, logic tell me we will not be in a position to challenge these 4.

I agree the Van Gaal effect on Man Utd is unknown but it is not likely to be worse than Moyes and the club has got over the clique of old players undermining the manager.

Spurs as always are an enigma and IMO this will be a big test for Pochettino but they only finished 3 points behind us despite their "disastrous" season so again I feel they will be stronger this season.

I think Villa, Newcastle and Southampton will be too inconsistent to throw in a challenge so it will be the same old faces except at this moment in time we are weakened by the loss of Deulofeu, Lukaku and Traore and the ageing of Jags and the seemingly timeless Distin.

Peter Jamieson
78 Posted 13/07/2014 at 09:07:34
"Lambert wouldn't get into our side"???

Unless we start buying some players, I could stick a No 9 shirt on and get into our side.

Top 6 will a stretch for us this year, let alone being anywhere the top 4.

We need some quality players over the next two months.

Mike Allison
79 Posted 13/07/2014 at 09:59:16
David, I have to disagree with you about Tottenham. Maybe this will change but they have signed no-one at all. In my view, this is the best possible thing that they could do. They were totally unsettled and (as you say) transitional last season because they had signed so many new men. If they simply let the talent they have settle in and get used to each other, then they could be much more of a force.

Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea will be too strong for us over 38 games no matter what happens. The only chinks of light are if it somehow doesn't work out for Van Gaal (can't see that happening) and if Man City do what they did last time they won the league (basically decide they can't be arsed). I think Chelsea will be better, this is Mourinho and it's his second season, check his record.

Arsenal have spent 㿏M on a wonderful player; however, he plays in the same position as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and is a creative midfielder in the same way as Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey and some of their promising youngsters already are. He isn't what they needed. Arsenal need Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry; until they get them, they're going to be vulnerable in exactly the same way every season.

There are people worried about our lack of activity compared to other clubs, but honestly, not much is going on. Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea shop in different markets to us anyway, Liverpool have lost their best player and so are uncertain at the moment.

As for our challengers from below, Southampton have lost three of their best players (Lambert, Lallana and Shaw) and are fighting to keep a fourth (Lovren) whilst a fifth (Schneiderlin) continues to be linked with moves away, and Newcastle have signed two good players in positions they already seemed to have pretty well covered.

July 13th is not the time to be worried about transfers; I'd say initially 9th August (I'd want them in a week early), then September 1st are the only times worth passing comment on, if we still haven't signed anyone else by then, let the moaning commence.

Mal Christopher
81 Posted 13/07/2014 at 21:51:53
This is Ossie's quotation from the Echo, seems fair enough for me:

"There are two charities who are involved with my testimonial year," he added. "They are Make A Wish – which provides a wish for terminally ill children and their families – and Claire House, which is an important local charity.

"They are charities I am well aware of and have been connected to during my life, so to be able to help them and give a little back is something I'm pleased about."

David Ellis
82 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:01:46
My point is/was that every year everyone looks stronger than the year before - but it simply does not turn out that way. Some will improve (and yes Mike A you have a point (as ever) about Spurs), but others will not. I'm not saying that all the other teams will have a bad season or even that we will finish top 4. I just don't think it will be any harder next season than it was last season (yes it will be hard and we failed last season, but not harder).

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