The 7th-best team finish 7th

by   |   08/05/2017  70 Comments  [Jump to last]

I just watched Chelsea beat Middlesbrough 3-0 tonight. How many of our team would get in theirs? Maybe Lukaku who would be surrounded by better players... maybe not. In fact, I doubt that any of our team would get into any of the sides above us. We do not have good enough players; we do not pay the wages required, and do not pay the money to buy them.

Whether or not Koeman gets the best from what we have is open to debate but, it seems to me that we are where we should be. Our lack of real quality means that we have a negative mindset – protecting the back four, going away to nick a goal, and lacking belief. On another thread, Darren Hind suggested that the tide was turning (against Ronald Koeman, I presume) but he has finished 7th with a squad that, in my view, are well short of doing any better. He has adapted the tactics with what he has.

I doubt we will spend big in the summer and I see the way forward as hoping a couple of young lads will make it big, plus unearthing a gem in the transfer market. I believe that our expectations are higher than that of our new owner. I think that Koeman will keep us ticking over until we get a new ground. To get beyond that, we need luck with injuries, luck in the transfer window, and the spirit that Leicester had. Other than that, we need money... a lot of money.

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Kevin Tully
1 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:14:19
There is no doubt about it, Andy. I was chatting with a few Blues at the weekend, and we all agreed that as fans, we overrate our own players. Look at the number 10s of the teams above us, all miles ahead of what we have.

Sell Lukaku and Barkley, then build from there. Hope that Walsh can find a couple of gems, and let's get a proven midfield goal scorer. Mirallas and Barkley are not the answer to top 4 ambitions and never will be.

We haven't signed a real top-class player for 30 years and that's the truth. Don't give me Arteta or Cahill, I'm talking about players like Aguero, Suarez, or Hazard. Take your pick of Arsenal players over the years, too long to list.

Our recruitment policy has been parochial and short-sighted for the whole of the Premier League era. Let's hope Koeman and Walsh are casting their net far and wide, surely we can find these players? Even West Ham and Leicester have managed to find world-class talent in recent years. Sick of looking on enviously at other clubs.

Kieran Fitzgerald
2 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:21:30
It's our attitude, for me, Andy. A poor end to the season on the pitch when we actually still had something to play for. Awful against a poor and injury stricken West Ham, absolutely nothing against albeit a good Chelsea team and woeful against a poor Swansea team.

A win against West Ham would have set us up to put pressure on very poor Man Utd and Arsenal teams. Same again against Swansea yet nothing. The Arsenal game at the end of the season could have had huge potential.

We have players who have been at this club for years. We have players who have spent years under Moyes and then Martinez, two average-to-poor managers who don't have a winners attitude. The chairman during this time has been Kenwright, a self serving Mr Nice Guy.

Until we get winners as manager and chairman the attitude and culture of the club will never be that of a winner. We will always be 6th or 7th and will, until something changes, be nearly men.

A consequence is that we will see Gueye, Lukaku and Barkley poached or go in the summer. Top players will only stay at a club if there is potential for medals. Without the winners culture and attitude at the club, we will never keep our better players for long enough to have real momentum.

Jim Bennings
3 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:25:52

Have Leicester and West Ham really recruited "world class talent " in recent years??

I'm assuming your talking of Dmitri Payet and Riyad Mahrez? Both very gifted players but I'm not sure they fall into the world class category for me, I think that phrase is used far too easily these days by football fan's and yes, that includes us Evertonians.

I agree that we haven't signed a true genuine outstanding player for many a year and Lukaku probably falls into that category at present but maybe not so much when we initially bought him – he was mere potential back then.

The last player that genuinely excited me when we bought him and really lived up to his hype, albeit for one season, was Andrea Kanchelskis.

16 goals for a winger, devastating pace, one of the most direct attacking players I've ever seen in Everton colours and one of the hardest shots.

There was no messing around with Kanchelskis, you knew when he picked that ball up he was heading in only one direction and it usually ended with at very least nearly dismantling the opposition goalkeepers hands.

Oh for an attacking player of that ilk now.

Kevin Tully
4 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:32:13
Actually, Jim, I was thinking about Mascherano and Tevez for West Ham and more recently, Kante and yes, Mahrez at Leicester. Look at Spurs also, Modric, Van der Vaart.

One player in 30 years we did manage to find, Rooney, was sold before his 20th birthday!

Ian Hollingworth
5 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:33:53
Andy, nail on head, spot on and could not agree more.

For me we only have Schneiderlin who is maybe good enough for the top 4 teams. Lukaku for his goals maybe but I do not believe he would feature week-in, week-out for ones of the top 4.

All 6 teams above us will spend more money than us this summer and they will all buy better quality players than we do. The club needs to adopt a ruthless and ambitious policy regarding the squad. but like you I fear we will all be disappointed again.

I believe that our 'billionaire owner' is facilitating business deals, especially the new ground, and not pumping the millions in for players that we would all like. Don't get me wrong what he is doing is much better than what we had before but it is not what we all hoped as regards where the team may go. Maybe longer term but not short term.

Jim Bennings
6 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:38:46
Tevez and Mascherano weren't established as world class when they signed for West Ham though, Kevin, and little was known of Kante.

We ourselves over the years have pulled out players who have gone on to bigger things. I agree though our scouting system particularly in South America has been shite.

Going back to the point of the article, we are 7th because we aren't good enough to finish 6th and we have finished the best of a pretty bad bunch below us, the fact West Brom are 8th tells everything.

It's better than last season but nothing to get excited about finishing above that lot!

Kevin Tully
7 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:45:32
There has been one common denominator over the past 20 years regarding our recruitment, and he is still present in the boardroom: "The Transfer Conductor."

Just to be clear, Jim. I wasn't referring to 'established' top-class players. I would hope we could find at least one or two because we are still a big club who whose record is shocking really. I know people will point to our lack of success, but that shouldn't have stopped us finding some greats out of literally hundreds of signings.

Darryl Ritchie
8 Posted 09/05/2017 at 07:47:02
I keep reading we've been linked with literally dozens of players. Names are flying around like confetti. I'll admit that this is nothing new. I seem to remember something about a "𧴜 million kitty" last year. It was going to buy the players to vault us up the table. It wasn't there. It was never there. It was pure speculation.

I believe Andy has got it right. We won't spend big. We will bring 3 or 4 good players to shore up a few obvious weaknesses, hope that the kids mature in a timely manner and hope the old guys don't lose it too quickly.

A lot will depend on who leaves; and who stays; and I don't mean Cleverley and Niasse.

It's early days. A lot to get sorted before next season. It could be a totally different squad... or maybe not. At this point nobody – not Koeman, not Walsh – knows what the summer will bring. Especially us, the fans. As always, we're just along for the ride. Hopefully, it won't be too bumpy.

Eddie Dunn
9 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:21:45
The league is dominated by players with lots of pace, and this favours guys that are the right side of 30. The other ingredient to climb the table is skill. Technically, the better teams have players who don't waste the ball, who pass accurately.

We see our most gifted player, Barkley, make wrong choices and poor passes. Our two centre halves (and Funes Mori ) are responsible for giving the ball back to the opposition with their terrible punts upfield.

Our problems this season stem from depending on a veteran midfielder (Barry), who is no longer capable of 90 minutes at this level. His replacement (Schneiderlin) has struggled with the demands of regular football since his period of inactivity at Man Utd.

We have also lost McCarthy for long periods and have missed the contribution from Bolasie as well as allowing Deulofeu to leave on loan.

Losing Coleman restricted our threat down the right, and I recall that Lukaku (who favours his left foot) had many assists from Deulofeu last season and, without Seamus's crosses, our striker has looked more predictable.

Koeman has obviously made some puzzling selection and subs this season but, considering what he has to work with, 7th is a fantastic result.

I would argue that with 5 new faces, of reasonable quality (ie, Vardy, Schmiechel, Dembele, Sinclair, Keane) with the return of Bolasie and the improvement of our youngsters, we have every chance of competing for the top six next season.

Steve Carter
10 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:31:45
Well, Kevin Tully, I do give you Tim Cahill. It's all subjective, I know, but the experts called upon to do so put him in the top 50 Uefa players for the Balloon D'Or in 2006.

True, he didn't make the top 25. But neither did the likes of Ballack, Essien, Makelele, Malouda, Fabregas, or Robben also found in the "bottom 25".

Michael Lynch
11 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:33:51
Very well put, Andy. It's also striking that very few of our players have gone on to be recruited by and have successful careers at Top 6 teams. In fact, Wayne Rooney is probably an exception, despite us liking to think we have a "production line" of young talent coming through.

While it would be great if Tom Davies went on to become an Everton captain and hero, the depressing thing is that, if we genuinely aspire to winning titles, we have to spend title-winning money. Leicester's win was a one-off, I think we're all hoping for a more long term goal of consistently competing with the Manchester and London clubs.

Phil Walling
12 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:41:58
Early days, Darryl @8? Maybe for you but for a great number of us, it's already too late! 30 years of nothing is stretching patience a bit far don't you think?

After the euphoria of Roberto's sacking, the introduction of Moshiri and his appointment of Koeman, the reality has set in that the new manager is no more than a slight variation on what came before him. Tactics dumb, ambition to be elsewhere and ability to inspire players (and supporters!) non existent.

I've been saying it for years: Everton will never be better than a 'seventhish' club because that's what it's set up to be!

Andrew Ellams
13 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:42:40
I've found myself doing the Football Manager thing recently but without going into fantasy world regarding who might come in and I find myself coming up with 15/16 names that could conceivably come in or out and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

To me, the main reason some of our players wouldn't get into top level teams is more to do with poor mental strength rather than lack of ability. The biggest culprits there are Barkley and Lukaku, two players who Martinez brought into the team as teenagers.

Rob Dolby
14 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:46:07
We have generally bought safety first players with British football experience, eliminating a lot of risk whilst also eliminating the potential X-Factor as we already know a fair bit about the players. On paper the transfer policy has worked as we don't seem to lose out too much financially on players.

For us to make the next step we have to find a different way of playing; Lukaku's goals are papering over the cracks too much. The midfield is key to this; we haven't had a balanced midfield since Pienaar left, currently Calvert-Lewin is playing as a winger and obviously isn't suited to it.

Barkley chips in with less than expected goals for a number 10 in general – we don't pose a threat on goal from the midfield; things have to change to make the step up.

Tony Hill
15 Posted 09/05/2017 at 08:58:11
I agree very much with Kieran (#2).

Jim Crowley, the champion jockey, was interviewed at the weekend and said that if fear of failure is the dominant factor in your thinking, then you will fail.

That's how it has been, and remains, with us. We are terrified of failing, of taking risks and so, inevitably, we end up being terrified of winning or of taking the steps necessary to win.

I don't agree that we have had a mediocre team in recent history. We have had a team which routinely loses its nerve when, with boldness, we may very well have achieved a lot more (and I include this season in that).

Sam Hoare
16 Posted 09/05/2017 at 09:16:41
Good piece, Andy. I'm always amazed at how often certain posters spend telling us how crap our players are and then follow that up with their incredulity that we are not beating or competing with everyone and ensconced in the top 4!

I think we probably have 5 or so players who would be in or around the top 4 or so teams – Lukaku, Schneiderlin, Barkley, Coleman and Gueye. Probably a few teams would be happy to have Tom Davies in their squads. For the most part though these players would not be first names on the teamsheet and the rest of our first XI would not threaten their squads.

We are not a top 4 team.

Our only hope is either to find a miraculous chemistry/energy combined with a touch of luck in the way Leicester did or, more sensibly in my opinion, try to replicate the Monaco, Dortmund, Spurs model where you go after some of the best young talent; quick, strong, technically gifted players in need of first team minutes to hone their skills and you hope you have a manager who can blend them into a cohesive team.

We already have some very exciting youngsters chomping at the bit after their Premier League 2 triumph though in reality only a handful will make the transition (a shame that Kenny is going to the U20 World Cup as he certainly deserves his first start).

Other than that, I hope we might see realistic approaches made for the likes of Tielemans, Dolberg, Romagnoli, Butland etc or whoever Walsh has identified as the next big talent. It's not going to happen over night and expect next season to be one of transition if we see the sort of overhaul that we need this Summer.

Stan Schofield
17 Posted 09/05/2017 at 09:34:01
Andy, I believe that Seamus Coleman would easily get into any of the top-6 sides.

When we play well, we just need a few additions to strengthen the squad. Lukaku is a beast, and Barkley is a diamond... Well, according to many posts on TW.

When we play badly, we need a clear out of the squad, Lukaku is a lazy gobshite, and Barkley is destined for West Brom... Well, according to many posts on TW.

It's a kind of football bi-polar disease, flitting between elation and despair.

The reality is, we need Lukaku at the moment, and we need to strengthen a depleted squad. And Barkley is probably going nowhere.

And the statement that the 7th best team finish 7th looks rather circular.

Derek Thomas
18 Posted 09/05/2017 at 09:59:23
Which is why Steve Walsh has been hired – to spot gold medal winners at bronze medal prices / top 4 players at 7th-place prices.
David Harrison
19 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:04:46
When Arsenal were wobbling a few weeks ago, my mate (a Villa fan) said Everton are as good as them. My reply was, "Yea but if we were playing a semi final against them tomorrow, who would you back?"

A spot-on assessment Andy. We are where we are.

Ian Bennett
20 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:28:53
Agreed; bar your Leicester, the top 6 are so far away in wages and players it makes it hellish hard to crack the top 4 and trophies. It needs a brilliant recruitment drive, and persuading them to stay when the sharks do come circling.

I'm not sure selling Lukaku or Barkley makes sense. In terms of quality it takes us down rather than up. Every transfer is a gamble, so we are hoping that the 2 coming in are equal or better, and that doesn't even take us forward.

Sell to buy sounds great, but Stones was sold and invested in Bolasie and Williams. Not sure that looks great progress this season or the next 5...

Clive Rogers
21 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:31:31
This is really the first summer that Koeman knows his squad, knows who he wants to stay, who to go and who he wants to bring in. It is the time to spend big and I for one believe they will.

Koeman is an ambitious manager who was head hunted by an ambitious chairman and must have had guarantees about money available. If the money isn't stumped up, he is the kind of manager who would walk.

Perhaps we won't be able to attract the top names who want Champions League football, but I am confident we will make at least five good signings from among the many touted in the press.

Paul Tran
22 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:49:39
On the pitch, we need players who are physically and more importantly, mentally stronger. We need players comfortable running towards the goal, shooting and scoring. Players who can do this now, not just 'promising' youngsters who may be good enough at some point. We need a manager who trusts them to do what they were bought for.

Off the pitch, we need some savvy negotiation, we need to remind targets about Sissoko and Perez, that a game with us is better than the bench elsewhere, that they could be part of something big, etc. And we probably need to overpay for most, with the odd Gana-esque bargain. Brace yourselves for more 'How much?' conversations

Got to start this summer, otherwise Darren's tide will quickly become a tsunami!

Colin Glassar
23 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:55:24
Good article, Andy, but correct me if I'm wrong – I believe we pay higher wages than Spurs. Dele Alli is on 㿣k p/w according to most reports and they are offering him a 㿲k p/w contract.
Ian McDowell
24 Posted 09/05/2017 at 10:55:51
Koeman and Walsh realise the squad needs a major overhual. Hopefully they will get the financial backing to oversee this. Finishing in the top 6 and having a good run in the Europa League should be the aim.

I believe the loss of Bolasie this season has been a huge blow to the way Koeman wants us to play.

Liam Reilly
27 Posted 09/05/2017 at 12:05:06
I suspect Season 1 of Koeman's directive from Moshiri was to get the club top half and into Europe. Result: Achieved.

Season 2 and a Summer transfer window behind him, I suspect is break the top 6 and Season 3, the top 4.

Koeman didn't exactly inherit a bunch of winners and I expect a firesale of deadwood in the summer, so this window is key to his project.

Let's refrain from judgement until we see what he can do.

Patrick Murphy
28 Posted 09/05/2017 at 12:22:58
I'll be honest I'm not sure where we are as a team, my optimistic side believes there are individuals within the squad that can turn a fairly decent squad into a better more competitive team. Unfortunately only in relatively short bursts do we see a 'team' out on the pitch.

When they are at their maximum they can match most of our adversaries, but that doesn't happen often enough and certainly with little or no consistency even during any 90-minute period and certainly not for a run of matches. Of course there are some mitigating circumstances: re-building, injuries, suspensions etc... but in general there still remains a sense of defeatism surrounding the team, when it comes to trying to break into the top six.

I was hoping that Koeman would change the 'losers' mentality that has swamped the club for more than a decade, but it seems that he doesn't have the answers – yet!.

Evertonians will put up with most things but laziness and dull football are not tolerated and neither should they be. We mostly want a team that goes onto the pitch, at least believing they can win and at least giving their utmost to achieve that aim. I really can't remember when we last had an Everton side that was capable of doing that, game-in & game-out for any sustained period.

I know that all the footballing experts on here and elsewhere will say it is all about tactics and dominating particular areas of the pitch etc – but it really isn't, it's about having the drive and desire to put the ball into your opponents net more often than they put it into yours. If you don't set out to score, you won't win football matches and, too often, Everton, particularly away from home, look rudderless and with an ambition to do little more than to 'stay in the game'.

On Saturday I got so frustrated with our feeble attempts that after an hour I switched the TV over to watch Hartlepool v Doncaster, think about that – an Evertonian of nearly half-a-century – ditching watching his team to watch a second or third tier game of footy.

That may say more about me than it does about the team but it is an example of how this current lot have let us down time and time again, particularly away from home.

Until these 'blips' in form, attitude, desire etc are ironed out and replaced with a 'can do' attitude from everybody at the club, including the manager and his team, Everton Football Club will continue, at best, to hover in and around 7th position in the table no matter how much they spend on wages and transfers.

Everton cannot and probably never have been able to buy a squad full of star players; for this reason it is imperative that every member of the squad is schooled into putting maximum effort into their endeavours no matter who the opposition, no matter the venue.

As has been mentioned earlier, the patience shown by Blues over the years, has been admirable and remarkable, particularly by those who have followed the team on their travels around the country. That patience needs to be rewarded, if not by silverware or Champions League football, then at least by having a side that truly reflects their loyalty and has the same desire and ambitions as those fans.

This season has been okay and has had a couple of highlights with the emergence of a few bright young players of potential, but that could be said of many Everton seasons of the last decade or so. I'm not expecting miracles from Moshiri, Koeman et al but I do hope that I don't have to switch over to watch Hartlepool or anybody else when Everton are playing away from home in front of the cameras ever again.

Ciaran O'Brien
29 Posted 09/05/2017 at 13:43:45
We have to get a few signings in early. I don't want to see us start spending after selling big again. Get the Sandro deal over the line before the Spuds hijack it. With a Keeper and creative midfielder early as well.

We have to aim for top four next year, not Europa league. I'm sick of not being in the Champions League and having Barca, Real, Bayern and Juve at Goodison under the lights. Leicester and the Spuds did it so why can't we?

We also need silverware so we have to do better in the League Cup and FA Cup.

Jim Harrison
30 Posted 09/05/2017 at 14:14:13
And this revelation has just sprung on you? You hit the nail bang on.

It always baffles me when posters cry out in disgust when we go to teams like Man Utd and win handsomely, teaching them a football lesson on the way. They have better players and probably managers (last part yet to be seen). They have spent more money to achieve this.

After this summer is done we will have a better idea of how much Mosh is willing to pump in. If it is less than those who currently sit above us the odds are that we finish 7th or around again. Unless of course Ron and Walsh manage to get quality in at better prices, and then of course get the matchday tactics right.

Dean Adams
31 Posted 09/05/2017 at 14:43:32
No fear Patrick, non-league teams rarely get on the TV so you won't be watching Hartlepool!!

I have to say, having been at the Liberty on Saturday that the second half was far better than the first, but I would not waste time watching it again if given the chance! As you know, it was the first defeat I have witnessed live having watched us just a few times a year for about 20 years.

The lack of effort was really infuriating, as was the lack of width, even when Valencia was brought on and the obvious move of him on one flank and Mirallas the other never materialised.

The players looked totally unable to raise their game and for me that was unacceptable.

Peter Gorman
32 Posted 09/05/2017 at 14:54:50
So Kevin, you are insisting that Kanchelskis was not world class then. Or even that Jim can equate to him being a Hazard of his day.

Fancy enlightening me as to which player we signed that you think was world class? I mean it is all subjective but 30 years seems a bit generous, why not make it 40?

Don Alexander
33 Posted 09/05/2017 at 14:59:01
Well said, Patrick Murphy. It depresses me that some seem to accept that some of our players are unable or unwilling to tackle, or compete in an aerial duel, pass or cross a ball accurately, or be unable to shoot. These failings are like a chef demanding top bucks despite being unable to roast, boil or fry food.

It's nonsense, and any self-respecting professional footballer should be ashamed to be useless in any of those areas. I've no idea what ball skills are practised at USMFF but passing, tackling, heading, crossing and shooting are skills that improve with practice – FACT.

The most skilful player I've ever seen play was Besty and he outlined that to become what many thought was naturally two-footed he had had to spend his early teens relentlessly using his swinger left foot until it became the wand it did.

The young Alan Ball, nothing like as skilful a player, still developed himself to greatness on training pitches too, often on his jack according to him and his dad. Shame on the current crop that are so lazy and uncaring as not to bother.

Kevin Tully
34 Posted 09/05/2017 at 15:59:52
Peter (#32) – Kanchelskis had one fantastic season when he scored 16 goals. Do you remember how poor he was the second season he was here?

All alehouse talk of course, but the last truly great signings were all made in the 80s, with the best being Neville Southall. Any opinions are all subjective as you say, but consistency has to be part of any great players game.

Even without a huge amount of money, or success, surely we have failed in our scouting of players for a club of our size? We haven't signed anyone in 30 years who could be compared to the Everton greats.

Do you think we have? The RS have snapped up world-class players on our doorstep who were boyhood Evertonians FFS. It's not like we had to travel far, is it?

Brian Harrison
35 Posted 09/05/2017 at 16:33:07
Andy, I hope you are wrong in believing we wont spend a lot in the coming transfer window. This is the window that tells us everything about Moshiri and his intentions.

We need to spend 𧴜 million without the Lukaku or Barkley money if they are sold. Why 𧴜 million? Because thats the figure that Benitez is reportedly asking for to be spent by Newcastle.

I said on another thread if both Lukaku and Barkley go in the summer we will need 7 first teamers and 5 squad players. We will be playing twice a week from early on in the new season and neither Bolasie or Coleman will be anywhere near ready till around November or December.

Koeman has already said that Kone will be going and West Ham might recall Valencia. Barca may recall Deulofeu or we will sell him to AC Milan.

So new players are essential and not just average squad players. The current top 6 will I believe will all spend big, so to close the gap or to replace these clubs in the top 6 we will have to spend big.

Otherwise, with the extra European games, we may find holding on to a top half place may be beyond us.

Chris Williams
36 Posted 09/05/2017 at 16:42:50
Kevin, you're quite right about Kanchelskis in his second season. I seem to remember him being hauled off in the cup game with Hull when he just stopped playing. Looking for a transfer and rumours of dodgy associates.

He was sublime in his first season though and for that time he was world class. He was the difference between finishing 6th and finishing fighting relegation.

Ken Buckley
37 Posted 09/05/2017 at 17:02:01
As far as transfers are concerned Bill Kenwright said he is in for a very busy summer with his football team.

I hope it is busy but more importantly a successful one.

John G Davies
38 Posted 09/05/2017 at 17:16:54

I like your posts mate, always with respect, thought and courtesy. I disagree on what we will spend though. I reckon we will spend massively this summer. Time will tell.

Garry Corgan
40 Posted 09/05/2017 at 17:23:54
We do have a tendency to overthink and overanalyse things when it comes to our own club.

I agree with the OP that we have the 7th best squad in the Premier League. While I'm still not fully convinced by Koeman, he's got the squad finishing 7th and with quite a big gap too. We haven't had enough to challenge the top six but neither have any of the teams provided much of a challenge to us over the course of the season.

With that in mind, we need to sign a few players this summer. These need to be players that could get into an Arsenal or Liverpool side and allow us to go toe-to-toe with those kinds of teams. I'm sick of us being the underdog.

John Pierce
41 Posted 09/05/2017 at 18:24:27
Our squad is in 7th place based on our financials, sadly that is the case. I wrote something very similar on the Swansea thread.

So surely the point of Koeman was to bridge that gap in terms of improving the players at his disposal and adept tactical advantages? We cannot in the short term catch up financially to those above us so we invest in a manager who can over-achieve.

To date Koeman has shown no signs of improvement in the squads ability and simply furnished his own bank balance.

So let's be optimistic and say we get 5 genuinely good players that fit our financials, Koeman will still have to find a tactical advantage somewhere.

No evidence of that other than he believes his tactics will be best served with better players. I'm afraid the real crux is the manager: patchy records at other clubs, Valencia, a comparable club to ourselves, an unmitigated disaster in the league and Champions League.

If Everton are to bridge that gap we may need to spend big yes, but probably on a manager whose record shows they can finish in the top 4 of a major European league.

Kunal Desai
42 Posted 09/05/2017 at 18:44:36
Still the deadwood remains at the club. Until Kenwright and Woods relinquish there shareholding, I will never be satisfied that this club will have that full control and power to move ahead.

Let's see what happens by the end of August in terms of player recruitment. That will probably give us some indication of where this club is heading and will set the benchmark for possibly the next decade. This summer is defining in the club's Premier League era.

Ross Edwards
43 Posted 09/05/2017 at 19:05:01
They say the table never lies, but I personally think we should be either in the top 4 or above Man Utd at the very least.

If you think about that spell we had from the middle of September until December when we only won 2 in 12 Premier League games, that really killed off any hopes we had of top 4, we were playing catch-up from that period on.

Then of course there's our away form which has been unacceptable. Had Koeman been more adventurous against teams we've dropped points against like Burnley, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham and Swansea, we'd probably be right in the mix now.

Overall, though, it's been a decent enough first season for him with plenty of positives to build on. With a few decent signings, more creativity, and a much improved away record, I'm confident we can push on next season.

Steve Hogan
44 Posted 09/05/2017 at 19:19:03
Andy, I read with interest your comments, which I found a little gloomy if I'm honest. Were still very early into the Moshiri - Koeman regime, and I believe we have to give them more time to see if they can turn things around?

After decades of neglect, on and off the field, we really don't know what Koeman is capable of if given ample resources.

I do agree though, that this coming transfer window is probably the most important for the last 30 years.

Don't let's jump to conclusions just yet.

Martin Mason
45 Posted 09/05/2017 at 19:22:12
The real problem now isn't money; on that basis alone, we could possibly improve our squad strength in the summer. The real problem now is getting players to join Everton given the shortage of good players available and the sheer volume of money chasing the decent few.

EFC isn't the magnet that the top 6 are and possibly won't be until we can establish ourselves as a club that is on display in Europe every season. We have no problem in staying in the Premier League now, and no problem in being the best of the rest, but we have a real mountain to climb getting into the top 6.

Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 09/05/2017 at 19:46:30
Patrick (#28), my view is a bit more optimistic than yours...

I can recall more than "short bursts" of team play, and in fact we did have an extended run of success after the first of the year.

But you are absolutely right that we will never have the wherewithal to buy a Championship team as Chelsea and City have done in shopping among the world's most expensive players in recent years. Our emphasis has to be on bringing in quality players who are also ferocious competitors and committed to the team.

I believe Koeman has already brought in three such players in Gueye, Schneiderlin and Bolasie (yeah, yeah, I know, Bolasie's quality can be inconsistent but his effort is relentless). And Williams, while his quality has turned out to be lacking, certainly has every ounce of the attitude we admire. So it appears to me that Koeman is ticking the right boxes on acquisitions.

Incidentally, there's an interesting article on Royal Blue Mersey in which Adam Braun argues – persuasively in my opinion – that Schneiderlin has so quickly became a mainstay for us that his absence is significantly responsible for our dropoff in form. The difference in our record with and without him is striking.

Darren Hind
47 Posted 09/05/2017 at 19:57:30
Et tu, Andy ?

I've read your posts for years on this site, admired your refusal to accept mediocrity, and it worries me that someone like you is coming across as so resigned to our fete.

You are making the premiership sound like a Royal dinner party – Everything and everyone in its place and a place for everything.

Thankfully the beautiful game isn't like that, its about dreams, aspirations the desire to fly, entertainment... upsetting the odds.

It's dreams and aspirations which have put Eddie Howe's team ten places above where they belong, its that same desire to climb the mountain that has seen Burnley defy all odds and finish 4-5 places above where they belong... If it really is solely down to resources why are Spurs so far ahead of Man Utd, City and Arsenal? How come Leicester ran away with the whole thing last year?

It's far too simplistic to say we are where we should be. We are most definitely not. Ask any City, Arsenal or United fan how their season has gone and they will tell you it has been a complete disaster ...

If we as Evertonians don't expect our team to go past these "big clubs" when they are having such awful seasons, we may as well all fuck off home. In fact the whole of football can start looking for something else to do on Saturdays.

if we are going to accept the size of a clubs bank balance will determine where they finish, lets just publish the table in August and have done with it.

Wealth is a very definite advantage, but it shouldn't be an excuse for surrender, for anybody not to aspire to overcome the disadvantage. Isn't that what sport is about?

I get really annoyed when people come out with daft statement like "What do people expect? They spit the dummy if we don't get top four."

To be honest, the only people I remember talking about top four are those who thought Koeman could deliver it after a few extremely flattering home wins against lower opposition, it was always pie in the sky.

I don't think there will be many Evertonians who expected top four, but they are entitled to believe we could have been more ambitious, that we could have been braver, that we could have produced substantially more than a few attempts at goal on our travels, that the players we have (who may not be out of the very top draw) are capable of so much more than the ugly disjointed excuse for football we have had to endure for far too much of the season.

John Keating
48 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:04:02
Sorry but I think too many are being too optimistic for next season.

We will lose a few and we will recruit a few but in my opinion we can spend whatever on the few we bring in but the longer we go in the Europa League the more difficult it will be to get anywhere near 6th place.

I just want to see an improvement on this season both in quality of players and quality of play. Doesn't matter how much we spend – I am sure those above us at present will spend as much if not more.

Had we only had the league to contend with then possibly a crack at top 5 but I feel the Europa League, unless we go out early doors, will be our undoing.

Graham Darlington
49 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:08:24
I've been viewing ToffeeWeb for years but I don't post very often. Just like to say what an excellent thread this is – really well reasoned points of view, clearly thought out and well expressed. Really impressed by all the contributions and it's got me thinking about quite a lot.

Sometimes this site gets my down, but this has reminded me why I keep coming back to it. Cheers.

Joe McMahon
50 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:13:02
Not just our squad, look at our stadium compared to the others. Yes we are going to the docks... but exactly how many years before we are in it?

At this rate it may not be for another 5 years, if at all. But, then again, Bill's a blue, so that's okay.

Joe McMahon
51 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:38:41
Patrick Murphy - don't worry about watching Hartlepool United; I also switched over in the first half, I was convinced we wouldn't even score after under 25 mins into the match.

I really do feel for the fans that follow Everton up and down the country, as this club in the Premier league era apart for 18 months with Joe Royle has been a fucking disgrace, a complete shambles from the top.

How on earth could Moyes last 11 years at a Premier League club??? – 11 years and won nowt. It's unheard of, apart from Everton, the People's Club.

Ciarán McGlone
52 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:46:42
Simply analysing the finishing position doesn't give you any indication of how Ronald's performed.

Personally I think he's under-performed with what he has. His selections and tactics have been littered with mistakes, too many to mention and routinely outlined on the various matchday threads.

We need a lot of investment to challenge for the league (and I doubt that will happen any time soon), but I'm unconvinced that Koeman has made the most of what he's got.

Patrick Murphy nails it for me above. Our position is about right, but the manner in which we've attained that position does not fill me with confidence for next season.

I'm not in Darren Hind's camp yet, but I'm filling out the application forms...

Jay Harris
53 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:52:23
I think this season has been an eye opener for Koeman.

He has seen for himself the inconsistency and lack of mental strength in certain players and will now oversee a process of deconstruction and reconstruction of the squad.

Despite all the doom and gloom on here, I for one feel that we have made good progress this season.

The squad that Koeman inherited was aging, disjointed and badly coached for 2½ years. Players who were at their prime when Moyes was here are still here and Roberto's buys (including Lukaku) were not top 4 standard.

We really need at least 2 top class players that would walk into a top 4 team and we need the best goalkeeper we can get.

I would also point out that Manchester United got Mourhino and spent hundreds of millions and I would still put our current best 11 above theirs.

Shane Corcoran
54 Posted 09/05/2017 at 20:58:09
I'm not sure what I think of Koeman yet which means, I guess, that I'm not fully convinced. In many ways I'm surprised we've finished as high as seventh.

My recollection of the season was a very lucky start where we accumulated more points than we deserved. Then followed a reality check for all of us, Koeman included, which covered the period up to the derby defeat at Goodison and the cup exit.

We then went on one of our "hammer all the weak teams at home" runs which got us thinking (in the absence of any hope of a cup run) that we might push the Top 4/5/6.

Defeats at Liverpool and Spurs have shown how far behind we are.

Two things worry me about next season: the number of acquisitions needed across all positions and the hindrance (which I otherwise welcome) of European football.

I think we'll finish lower than 7th next year and that our best chance at success (whatever that is any more) is one of the cups.

Stan Schofield
55 Posted 09/05/2017 at 21:19:12
Shane, I'm also not convinced by Koeman yet, although our home form over the season, and overall form in 2017, is top-4. I'm not too pessimistic about next season, and recall many of the comments on TW (after the pre-season games) dreading what might happen this season.

Obviously we need new signings to bolster the squad, especially with the injuries, but at least we know that we're better than the team's below us (just look at the table for goal difference, for example), and I believe we're not far removed from Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool.

If we at least consolidated progress next season, we'd be competing for a higher league position, especially if Koeman could sort out the away form, which is actually worse than last season.

There is still an issue with mental toughness, in that we still haven't got a winning mentality where we should go out to win each game, particularly away. That's the main thing Koeman needs to sort, in addition to a more attacking approach away from home.

Shane Corcoran
56 Posted 09/05/2017 at 22:01:05
Stan, I fear that due to the potentially high number of incoming players, that the team might take time to gel.

When you add European football to this I fear for a frustrating season.

Peter Warren
58 Posted 10/05/2017 at 07:09:34
Heading sums it up and I expect a positive pre-planned summer with loads of new signings which will leave Koeman with the task of finishing higher than he has this season and challenging for trophies.
John G Davies
59 Posted 10/05/2017 at 14:49:39
Shane (#56),

The turnaround in players means the team won't gel as quickly as we would all like. It could indeed be frustrating at times. One thing guaranteed, it would be more frustrating if we don't make the changes.

I look at it as a more mid to long term thing. We need to build from the foundations to have any chance of winning trophies. In my opinion, Koeman has done the groundwork this season, European football a bonus.

Stark reality is we have not won a trophy for 22 years.

How anyone can use the "We should be winning trophies" argument in Koeman's first season is laughable.

Andy Crooks
60 Posted 10/05/2017 at 18:19:51
Darren (#47),

I still will not accept mediocrity. Nor am I happy at a lot of what we have seen this season. Where we differ is in timescale. I think a coach deserves more time than Koeman has had.

You believe that we have seen enough to make improvement unlikely. I believe he needs another transfer window. I hope for much better things, at least in our style of play.

Also, I disagree with your points about Bournemouth and Burnley. In my view, outside the top six it is much easier to improve league position. Most of those teams, with TV money, are equal. Coaching and spirit make a difference.

We are top of that league by some distance. It seems to me, though, that with the magnificent exception of Leicester, all the spirit and coaching in the world will struggle against the money thrown about by the rest.

It can be done, and I have as much aspiration as anyone. Come November I hope to see signs of it. I won't accept mediocrity after that.

Tony Abrahams
61 Posted 10/05/2017 at 18:47:04
I'm not in Darren's camp, but I couldn't argue with most of what he says. Jay Harris, amongst others, has it right to me, because this squad definitely lacks mental toughness, and although I can blame Koeman, for some of the awful football, I've witnessed this season, the man only signed a three-year contract, so I'm not sure he's really got any time for the players he just doesn't rate?

Next season is massive, and although as I said it hasn't been great to watch, I do believe that if he can sign the right players, especially in attack, then the defensive side of the game is something this manager really understands, so things might just go a lot quicker for us than we hope?

I'm hoping, I know, but let's not kid ourselves, because the Premier League is not exactly littered with great teams, and anyone who tells us differently must definitely work for Sky TV!

Darren Hind
62 Posted 10/05/2017 at 19:22:58
Andy & Tony.

It would be nice to think there will be an improvement in style but I fear you are in for a big disappointment. Koeman defends at the expense of attacking. He can't seem to get past his obsession with defensive midfield players who offer jack shit going forward.

Take our current situation, we can't go up and we can't go down, what an opportunity to experiment, but he insists on playing Barry... Why? Is this not the perfect time to see how the youngsters cope with the Premier League? What was he going to learn about Barry that he didn't already know?

If there is an Evertonian out there who claims we should be winning trophies, I haven't met him... or even heard of him, so I assume you guys are basing your optimism on seeing us attack a lot more, having a proper go at the grounds of the bigger clubs, and playing with a lot more panache.

If it's entertainment you are thirsting for, I'm convinced you have nailed your colours to a rotten mast; but let's hope and pray you are right, because I don't think I could bear to watch another season of nothingness.

John G Davies
63 Posted 10/05/2017 at 20:54:54
Since the Premier League started 25 years ago, we have, with two games remaining, currently matched our 2nd best ever total of goals scored in a season.

If we score 4 more in the remaining 2 games, we reach our best ever total since the Premier League started.

Hardly defending at the expense of attacking.

Andy Crooks
64 Posted 10/05/2017 at 23:40:20
Darren, I think Koeman has given youngsters a chance, wrongly, in my view, with Pennington who was really thrown in at the deep end. I would like to see Kenny and Holgate start for the remaining games.

I must agree with you about Barry. His selection was baffling despite Koeman's explanation. I would hate to see a young lad have his confidence shattered as in the derby but our remaining games are not at that level and if Kenny does not start I will be disappointed.

Dan Davies
65 Posted 11/05/2017 at 01:02:28
Moshiri has only just come through the door, let's give him some time to get things going. The stadium seems to be going in the right direction...

Koeman, European football in his first season. Like him or not, like his tactics or substitutions or not – that is what was stated would be a realistic target by himself when he was first appointed.

Right direction? Yes or no?

I always thought Martinez's third season would be the true indicator of his Everton career, first season honeymoon, second season syndrome, third season – reality.

Hopefully we will get in some quality players to improve us for next season but, with all due respect to others' opinions, I think Koeman's third season will be the telling one.

Not that some want him here that long by the sounds!

Darren Hind
66 Posted 11/05/2017 at 06:31:18

I cant agree that Koeman has given the youngsters a chance. He has used them as utility players. The three who got in due to injuries have all been regularly played out of position – that is disgraceful. I feel sick when people attack Calvert-Lewin for being "crap", Davis for being "headless" or Holgate for not being able to "cross water". They are good players being ruined.

I think 14 goals in our late 16 away games (without troubling the goalkeeper in seven of them ) represents irrefutable proof that we are defending at the expense of attacking. For most observers, late flurries at home against lower league opposition wont mask that.

John G Davies
67 Posted 11/05/2017 at 12:06:19
But not for all. :-)

We have scored a lot of goals at home and been rewarded with European football. That'll do me.

Andy Crooks
68 Posted 11/05/2017 at 14:25:13
Darren, I think we most definitely are defending at the expense of attacking. I believe it is because Koeman has no confidence in the defence.

The sale of Stones was, in my view, a major loss. I would expect a top class centre back to be signed and I will expect different tactics after that.

Like you, I am disappointed at young players being played out of position. However, for now, I am prepared to believe that the coach knows what he is doing. That playing Calvert-Lewin wide is a thought-out plan to help him and that playing the admirable Holgate wide is part of the same idea. Koeman knows more than you or me and I believe it will fall into place.

You gave Moyes and Martinez more time. I think you have turned against the coach too soon and I think he can and will give us what we want. We will soon know.

John G Davies
69 Posted 11/05/2017 at 15:20:20
Andy (#68),

"Koeman knows better than you and me"?

All due respect mate, he doesn't know better than me. I'll have you know I once coached my team to joint 3rd in The Liverpool Sunday league 5th division. 😀

Tony Abrahams
70 Posted 11/05/2017 at 18:13:16
If you don't think he trusts his defenders, Andy, I would also say that he doesn't really trust his attackers. We play with such little width and very little movement; I think Man Utd away is the perfect example that our forward players, are not quite good enough?

I know Lukaku, scores goals but, even if he had great movement (which he doesn't), we very rarely get many players into the oppositions box.

The football's not great but we are scoring goals, well at home anyway, so is it another contradiction, but are the defensive seeds being sown for better attacking players to hopefully sign for Everton?

Brian Furey
71 Posted 15/05/2017 at 16:18:30
The 7th-best team finish 7th is the title and I think most of us realists have been expecting 7th now for a number of months.

Some would say we've got the 7th biggest budget to spend and we have the 7th highest wage structure with Spurs ahead of us by almost 㿔M. Our manager is the 6th highest paid just above Spurs though he'll probably get a new deal now having done so well to finish 2nd.

Personally, I think Koeman has done a reasonable job in his first year in that he's picked out a lot of deadwood and he's managed to get an ageing defence to tighten up (with the help of 2 defensive midfielders) and concede less goals whilst also seemingly get more goals out of Lukaku.

I'm pleased we've qualified for Europa despite not doing well in any of the cups or coming 5th or 6th. We still have a hell of a lot of work today though with so many of the first team needing replacing either soon or in the next 2 years.

I am expecting Rom to finally leave this summer but I am hoping we use most of the money to buy big on a striker and not settle for mediocre strikers.

With us losing Coleman, Bolasie and Lukaku I think next season could be even tougher than this season. I seriously cannot see us passing out any of the top 6 as 3 of them will feel they underachieved and will spend big. I am thinking this 7th place that we find ourselves in financially in several ways will continue for the foreseeable future.

Moshiri's money will help stabilise us and make sure that teams like West Ham, Southampton, Leicester and West Brom don't pass us out. I see this as a slow process of us catching up with the big boys but as we watch Spurs come 2nd this year it is achievable.

I'd be happy with 7th again next year if we can get a good run in the cups. Man Utd won the League Cup and are in the final of the Europa League and I think we could achieve something like that in the next few years.

Chris Williams
72 Posted 15/05/2017 at 16:45:54
According to the Echo, our new sponsorship deal with Sportpesa is the seventh highest in the Premier League. So all nice and neat then!

It is 3 times the size of the deal with Chang though.

Grant Rorrison
73 Posted 15/05/2017 at 17:47:40
4 or 5 results better than last season (ignoring the cup farces). Not a lot to show for £6 million a year in wages and 10's of millions spent on players. Especially when you consider that Leicester have nearly half the points they finished last season with and West Ham and Southampton have both dropped like a stone, having lost their best player and manager, respectively.

The only teams below us last season that have improved a bit are West Brom (43 pts last season, currently 45) and Bournemouth (42 pts last season, currently 45)

Outside of the top six teams the league has been so poor this year that last season's total of 47 pts might well have got us 7th (this season) also!

Michael McGrath
74 Posted 27/05/2017 at 21:06:31
Everton need to keep Lukaku and we need to sign Sigurdsson from Swansea. And I have a feeling that even Niasse will have something to contribute as backup in the Europa. He's better than some from watching him at Hull.

We also need to sign a top goalie and a couple of backs and keep everybody else that we have – as utility men will be essential for the Europa League plod from week to week on a Thursday.

We don't want to spend most of our money on Van Dijk. We also need to avoid wasting money on Klaassen – even Cleverley is better!

We will need everybody and to bring on the youngsters for the Europa League too. And try to hold on to Barkley for European duty as well.

Now, if we could land somebody of the massive European experience of Rooney to captain and lead Everton, we could damn well win the Europa League!

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