Walsh confident of attaining top-four goal

Wednesday 1 March 2017  44 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Steve Walsh has talked of his role at Everton and how he and Ronald Koeman are working together to assemble a team built to take the club back to the top.

The former head of recruitment at Leicester City was lured away from the Champions last summer by Farhad Moshiri and the new project on offer with the Blues.

He was one of a number of club figures interviewed by Adam Leventhal during Sky Sports News's behind the scenes coverage from USM Finch Farm yesterday and he explained his ethos and working relationship with Koeman.

"You're always planning and looking at good players, trying to make your team better.

“The fundamental question you have always got to ask is: does that player fit into what we are trying to do? If that's the case then we try to take that forward.

“It's not just position specific - it's about trying to find out about as much as you can about that player such as his personality, has he got drive, does he want to do what we want as a football club?

"You can only do that with time. But we are certainly better than the team that started from the summer, and I think the fact we have bought people like Schneiderlin shows we have got better and will get better.

"The first thing I did [when I arrived] was I sat down with Ronald and looked at how he wanted to play. There's no point me bringing in players that don't fit with how he plays. We talked about systems and structures, and built on that.

"The most important thing is the recruitment of players for the first team, but I'm also conscious of the fact we have a good academy and good young players coming through.

"Doing that is the hallmark of a successful club. We will build on what we've got and take the club forward.

“We want to be successful, we want to get into the top four and you only do that over a period of time. Given time, we are going to get there. There's no doubt about that.”  

Reader Comments (44)

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Dermot Byrne
1 Posted 01/03/2017 at 08:29:24
The messages coming from the club are confident and that is a huge change in itself. Of course you can mumble about the barren years, Kings Dock and whatever else gives you a chance to be a misery but, to me, this sounds different. I must be so naive.
Jim Bennings
2 Posted 01/03/2017 at 08:41:36
Let's hope for a positive summer in the transfer window. I still think the striker situations need careful attention.

If Lukaku goes we need two top class forwards and if he stays we still need to bring in a far better back-up than what we have at present, Kone is as good as gone and not good enough, Valencia works hard but he's not good enough to take us where we want to be and while Lookman is full of promise he's not going to be relied upon on a weekly basis yet.

If Lukaku did get injured I think we'd see a dramatic decline in positive results and that would be negligible on the overall hard work the team has put in recently.

Brian Furey
3 Posted 01/03/2017 at 11:39:38
I think we HAVE to aim for the top 4 and of course it is possible but I do think it is much harder now than it was back when we did it back in 2005. Z

Man City and Spurs were not the same force as they are now and so being realistic there are at least 5 or 6 clubs who are now richer than us, have newer/bigger stadiums and better sources of income than us, are constantly in Europe (especially the Champions League) and are able to offer their players higher wages than us.

We have just started to play catch up since Moshiri's arrival and it seems to me his main efforts are being focused on the new stadium and leave the football stuff to Koeman and Walsh.

It has taken Spurs and Man City quite a while to build their squad and get the right manager to make them a top 4 team and it's no surprise that both have top quality strikers in Aguero and Kane.

I think we have to be very patient and believe we are finally moving in the right direction again but it is unlikely we will become a top 4 team next season or the season after.

Replacing Rom (or even finding him a partner) will be a big task. In my eyes he has been loyal to us (despite his agent and dad) and I think he has heeded advice from Martinez and Koeman that he's still young and he will benefit more long term by staying at a club where he will play regularly than moving too soon to the big Champions League clubs and only being a bit part player. He knows he has a better chance of becoming a better player with Everton rather than moving to Spain or Italy and being under massive pressure to perform week after week.

I reckon we will get bring in a good striker next summer and it has to be one of the main goals of Walsh and Koeman. In a way it was pleasing they didn't just rush out and buy any old striker in January and that they decided against the Belfodil guy.

Valencia and Kone will be gone this summer and maybe Rooney and AN Other will come in. The day that Rom leaves though will be tough and it will be very hard to replace him as we've been used to playing with him the last 4 years.

Kevin O'Regan
4 Posted 01/03/2017 at 11:46:48
Dermot – yes it's a bit of a culture shock for some to be positive – but that doesn't mean you're necessarily naive.

It's about time we think big and bold, whilst also being realistic and patient. And of course to keep the soul of the club intact while making those strides forward. One could get stuck in the nostalgia all day long of heroes from the glory days, and while that's wonderful and an important vein of the club, we still need to be ready to embrace change.

Society has changed and football has changed a lot since the 80s, whether we like it or not. So get busy living (to positively affect the changes) or get busy dying (and moaning). I for one am looking forward to a positive change.

Minik Hansen
5 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:01:06
Kevin, good shout. Confidence lifts. Continued great run and proper summer transfer window activity gets us closest we can to the top 4 looking at the last 7 seasons more or less.
Alexander Murphy
6 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:15:08
"If Lukaku did get injured I think we'd see a dramatic decline in positive results".

Dead right Jim. Nothing to add to a perfect comment.

Tony Cunningham
7 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:38:16
I agree with much that Brian (#3) says about it taking Spurs and City a while to build their squads and how it is difficult to do so. But we must remember that whilst they have been developing those squads they have already been challenging the top 4 for a number of years (Spurs have been in the top 5 for 6 of the last 7 seasons as my Spurs supporting friend always points out).

However I do not think it is any harder now to qualify for Champions League than back in 2005. Spurs and Man City being added to the mix is true but that means more teams able to defeat Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd. Also are Man Utd and Liverpool the same as they were in the early 2000's? I'd say we'd be less shocked if next season we finished above Liverpool and Man Utd than we would have been 10 years ago.

There is still a massive financial gap (and growing) but remember our income will be increasing massively this season (prize money going from 㿾 million last season to maybe 𧵄 million this year). If wise heads prevail, a few good signing are made (and Lukaku signs a new contract) then we can make the top four next season.

Mark Morrissey
8 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:39:53
Don't worry, Jim, we're bringing back the prodigal son. He's better than Lukaku, isn't he?
John G Davies
9 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:46:11
That will do me.
A perfect summation of where we stand as a club.

"We will get there but it takes time"
Bang on the money.

"We are certainly better than the team in the summer."
Yes Steve you most certainly are.

Anyone who cant see the improvement is not looking.

Terry Underwood
10 Posted 01/03/2017 at 12:55:52
We should NOT be aiming for the top 4 We should be aiming for the top 1, then a near miss might get us into top 4
Jay Harris
12 Posted 01/03/2017 at 14:34:01
Rather than bringing Rooney back, I would love to tempt Aguerro.
Ben Howard
13 Posted 01/03/2017 at 14:44:25
The thought of competing without Lukaku is one that fills me with dread. We are overly reliant on his goals at present and I'd hope Koeman is working on a Plan B to get more goals out of our midfield, even if only as an alternative way to play.

That said it does make me further realise how important Rom is to us and, for a big man bashed about by rock hard defenders all season, he has a remarkable time injury record. I'd say that probably adds 10-20% to his value when you consider the consistency it adds to a team.

Stan Schofield
15 Posted 01/03/2017 at 16:14:16
If Lukaku gets injured, chances are things won't be 'dreadful', they seldom are. Not as good probably, but not dreadful. A good manager, with the squad we have, should be able to ring changes to accommodate.

You can be overly positive, overly negative, or just say we don't actually know what the outcome will be other than it's unlikely to be disastrous.

Paul Burns
16 Posted 01/03/2017 at 16:27:18
Do they want to take us back to the top or the top four because the two things are not the same in a million years.

The top is first and everywhere else is nowhere and if the aim is not to finish first then there is no use trying and the club had better change its motto and no amount of psychobabble by people over-analysing the situation will convince me otherwise.

We've had too many decades of promises, cheap talk and pleas for patience from the fans already, time to put up or shut up.

Brian Furey
17 Posted 01/03/2017 at 17:32:30
Have I gone nuts or has everyone else?

Of course it's no harm being positive but there's Martinez's unrealistic positive spin and then there is telling it as it is.

Do you think Leicester won the league last year because they decided to aim for 1st place rather than top 4. I think their initial plan was 40 points and to stay up but then their goals changed as they did better than they thought.

People talking about signing players like Aguero! Do you really think we would continue doing well and scoring goals if Lukaku was out of the team? What is that based on as I can't see where the goals would come from? Barkley is on 5, Coleman 4, Mirallas 3, Baines & Barry 2. Do you suddenly think Valencia would step into Rom's shoes and start scoring? I doubt it.

On a serious note and reply to Tony(7). Before 2010 Man City and Spurs were often out of the top 6 and so you had Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd but then there were lesser teams fighting for 4th & 5th and so not the same competition for us.

However, Spurs and Man City got their acts together and have not been out of the top 6 since 2010. Our 5th position finish in 2014 was very impressive with 72 points which would have been enough last year for us to finish 2nd.

So, whilst of course it is possible to finish 4th next season, I'm just saying it appears to be a lot harder in recent years with 6 so-called big teams to compete with rather than just 3 or 4, 10 years ago.

Mike Allen
18 Posted 01/03/2017 at 20:27:55
Everything upbeat at the moment and we have got to be thankful for that but I just wish people would talk about being winners, not top four. Yes, you don't turn your nose up at the revenue it projects...

I just get the feeling players and managers alike think the job's done by getting into the top four and winning is just a bonus. Yes, finishing 4th is better than finishing 5th but nothing beats finishing 1st!!

Lev Vellene
19 Posted 01/03/2017 at 20:52:26
Mike (#18),

We all think about the previously unthinkable! So 4th is goal for today. Even if some among us say we should dream 'higher', we'll go from where we started at 11th two years in a row...

So yes, I want us to win (like the even more unlikely Leicester!), but I won't hold my breath while I wait for better days! I trust we'll get there in our own time! Hopefully next year...

Stan Schofield
20 Posted 01/03/2017 at 21:44:06
All this stuff about aiming for top 4, or goals to be the elite, are just dreaming and talk. Real goals are to do with winning each game as it comes, regardless of the opposition.

Having a squad strong enough to provide adaptation for different opponents, towards the single goal of winning the game. The devil is in that detail. Tackle that, and everything else, whether finishing in the top 4, winning the Premier League, or winning the Champions League, follows in terms of maximising the chances of achieving the bigger so-called goals.

So the change in the club, if it exists, is to mentally prepare to win each game as it comes, nothing else.

Lev Vellene
21 Posted 01/03/2017 at 22:40:59
Stan (#20),

To do a Leicester FC of 2015-16 we only need a good XI + subs. And some luck, I'd think! And then some anti-gravity gear to avoid getting relegated after losing our star player(s) the following season...

To be able to not fail as per your vision we'd either need extreme luck with avoiding injuries to key players, OR have a bigger squad that can cover the inevitable injuries that occur during each season...

But yes, when we have that covered I WILL be dreaming of a Top 4 placing every season! We'll be one of 4-7 teams aiming for the 4 top spots, but I'll believe we are one of the serious contenders every year from then (now...) on! If we can expand our squad in the right ways!

John Raftery
22 Posted 01/03/2017 at 23:22:09
There are question marks about several of the current top six clubs which may suggest we have an opportunity to get nearer to the top places, if not this season then most certainly in 2017-18.

Spurs have looked strong over the past two years but have yet to win anything and will spend the next two seasons away from White Hart Lane. What effect will playing at Wembley have on their form and will they remain competitive in the transfer market while funding their new stadium? Possibly, but their form in Europe this season suggests the next two seasons may be very challenging for them.

Man City have a huge rebuilding job with their defence while Guardiola struggles to come to terms with the demands of the Premier League. Will they come good next season? Possibly, but I will not be running to the betting shop to put money on it.

Arsenal face a regime change for the first time in over 20 years. Will the transition be seamless? Possibly, but, after so many years of stability under Wenger, it would not be a surprise to see the club struggle to adapt to changes in playing style as well as personnel.

The RS look far from a safe bet to progress under a manager who currently appears to be a one-trick pony with a defence which looks in need of a major overhaul.

As we all know form is temporary and there always is a risk of attaching too much significance to recent results. We also know we will need to improve our squad to compete for the top places next season. It seems clear though that the clubs mentioned above face similar if not greater challenges in moving forward. Where we have an advantage over some of them, notably Arsenal and the RS, is that we appear to have a clear sense of direction under a manager who now appears to have a grip on the job in hand.

Stan Schofield
23 Posted 01/03/2017 at 23:22:51
Lev, sounds like a lot of dreaming going on there, mate.

In my 'vision', you need attention to detail, to develop a 'winning mentality', which means practical preparation, both physical (like getting increased fitness) and mental (like getting increased determination never to give in regardless of the score). This is what Koeman is here for, this practical task, aided by signings as needed towards a stronger squad.

It's this practicality that achieves success, not dreaming of top-4 finishes or winning the league.

Bob Parrington
24 Posted 01/03/2017 at 23:45:11
I like the content of what Steve Walsh is reported to have said. Makes perfect sense and has me wondering why so many "others" have not either understood or have declined to take into account such things as player character, personality, drive etc and "fitting into" what we want to build.
Good to have you on board Steve Walsh.
Barry Williams
25 Posted 02/03/2017 at 03:39:02
Whatever the targets, we will realistically know where we are in the mix at the end of the season and Koeman/Walsh will act accordingly I am sure! We are going in the right direction on a number of fronts it seems. Like a lot of Evertonian's I am cautiously optimistic.

New grounds and new targets are still abstract, but the tangibles are definitely on an upwards spiral. We have had more media exposure and our profile seems to be on the rise, commercially we seem to be in a much stronger position, games are sold out every week and on the field we have improved too.

The squad has changed quite considerably in a short space of time in terms of recruitment and the trimming of players deemed not necessary. All-in-all, we are progressing.

Gareth Clark
26 Posted 02/03/2017 at 07:53:52
A few signings and I think we are there!

GK: Schmeichel / Pickford / Butland

LB: Shaw / Bertrand

CB: Keane & Blind

Attacker: Sigurdsson / Rooney

ST: Perez / Iheanacho / Janssen

Stan Schofield
27 Posted 02/03/2017 at 09:03:18
Although I gave my opinion that attention to detail, rather than dreaming, is the key to success, of course it's natural to dream, we wouldn't be Evertonians if we didn't.

That said, putting dreaming to one side and looking at facts, if our final 12 games mirror our form taken over the last 26 games, we could reasonably expect (rather than dream) of finishing on about 65 points. However, if our final 12 games mirrors our more recent form, we could reasonably expect to finish on about 70 points.

So our 'reasonable expectations' (not dreaming), based on what we are seeing, correspond to tangible progress. For me, that's a more compelling way to be talking about what we might achieve and improve on.

Brian Furey
28 Posted 02/03/2017 at 10:33:07
I see Geri made the Serie A team of the week out on the left wing. I read on one of their forums that they can't understand why the Everton fans says he never tracks back or can't play for more than 60 mins as he's been playing very well for them and is working hard.
Guy Hastings
29 Posted 02/03/2017 at 13:52:49
I am convinced that Champions League qualification by season's end is a nailed-down, cast iron riveted certainty for the sole reason that I've put a tenner on it at 40-1. And I've lost my betting slip.
Steve Ferns
30 Posted 02/03/2017 at 14:05:31
I think the way to push for the top 4 is by keeping the same side and changing slowly each year. I would purchase just one player in the summer, depending on Lukaku.

If Lukaku stays, then I would look to find someone to back him up. I would look for someone who could be a Plan B off the bench, someone a bit different to him, to give us another option.

If he goes, then I would look at signing two strikers, one to replace him and another to be the Plan B / backup.

I would be looking long term for a left back to replace Baines and a left winger. This left winger would need to be someone comfortable playing "outside" in a 4-2-3-1 as well as more central in the 3-4-3 formation where Lookman and Mirallas have played as more of an inside left.

Centre back is a problem area. I consider Jagielka to be backup now, and to effectively never to return as a first team regular. Sadly his time is at an end. Williams has only just come, so should have a few years left yet. I hope that Holgate can push on, that Funes Mori can iron out some of the flaws in his game, that Pennington can breakthrough, and so that we do not need to splash 㿊m on Keane or Gibson who both looked to be worth anything but that amount when we played them last.

One big signing a window, and some young ones like Holgate and Calvert-Lewin when we spot them, would suffice for me.

Martin Mason
31 Posted 02/03/2017 at 16:47:47
Again I feel nothing but positivity about the way the club is going.

Yes, we should think big and with the aim of achieving our potential and the wishes of all stakeholders, although wishes are just that. Our potential will primarily be based on our revenues, converting that to good players that fit a good system and lots of very hard work by all concerned at the club.

Perhaps we won't reach the very top because the strength at the top of the Premier League is massive now and there are clubs who can outspend us. We should hope but not ridiculously expect this. We also need to put systems in place that are sustainable and not dependent on the luck of temporary participation of a sugar daddy.

Tony Cunningham
32 Posted 02/03/2017 at 19:07:32
Martin (#31),

I agree that we have to be realistic and times have changed but also remember football history is a long game.

Take the Rule of 24. Every 24 years from 1891 Everton won the league... until 2011 when the cycle was broken (I did bet on us to win that year just in case!). Whilst sometimes we did win other titles in between, there were also periods such as 1891-1915 and 1939 -1963 when we didn't win the league for 24 years.

What I mean is long League title barren spells have happened before, and I'm sure then fans probably thought we may never win again (relegation even happened back then!) but we do always bounce back. As you say, plan sustainably and sensibly and we'll always be up there and there abouts.

Dermot Byrne
33 Posted 02/03/2017 at 19:22:56
Perspective, Tony C: great to see!
Phil Walling
34 Posted 02/03/2017 at 19:25:53
What we need is half a dozen superstars starting with Rooney and a new ground by Christmas. That's what billionaire owners are for, isn't it ?
Mike Gaynes
35 Posted 02/03/2017 at 19:32:03
Stan (#27), our "recent form" didn't include away fixtures at Spurs, Anfield, Old Trafford and Arsenal.

I think you're being just a tad optimistic at 70 points.

Stan Schofield
37 Posted 02/03/2017 at 19:52:52
Mike, yes, you're right, but it did include home fixtures against Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City, and Liverpool, from which we got 7 points, scoring 7 and conceding 4. These decent results against top-6 sides were not exactly expected, especially judging by comments on TW prior to these games.

Now, although those games you mention are away games, Arsenal and Liverpool are hardly in sparkling form, which could to some extent offset the fact that they're away fixtures.

But, yes, 70 points might be a tad optimistic, but not a wild expectation by any means, in the sense that it wouldn't come as a great surprise. I think that's the difference, our expectations are being gradually shifted upwards based on recent form.

Martin Mason
38 Posted 02/03/2017 at 20:06:39
Tony @32, well put. I only hope that expectation doesn't become irrational and that we give the club and team the support needed at this critical time.
Alexander Murphy
39 Posted 02/03/2017 at 20:08:07
Really enjoying this very well balanced debate.

I'm feeling that the club are seriously progressing on various fronts in ways that haven't truly happened for decades. Repairing our decay will take years, but unless it's addressed then we can shake hands with Leeds, Sheff Wed, Forest and Derby. Forgotten heroes from yesteryear.

The clubs ahead of us this season are ALL currently better equipped to remain and sustain their positions. But we NEED to make life awkward for them and far better for ourselves. The more that we challenge the more that we disrupt their comfort zone in favour of our own interests. Indeed, we CAN cause them discomfort, which could lead to dismissals, sales and dressing room unrest. For THEM!

I'm fascinated that Sky are so interested in us. Never have been before. Moshiri? Perhaps it's a one off, but I don't think so.

Don't be afraid that Big Rom is so important.
Sanchez at Arsenal.
Kane at Spurs.
Ibrahimovic at United.
Costa at Chelsea.
Same picture, different kit.

We NEED to stop thinking of ourselves as hanging onto their coat-tails, lesser cousins or "plucky little Everton".

We are every bit entitled to elbow them out of the way, tugging our forelock in their presence is a disgrace and an insult to our magnificent club.

Phil Walling
40 Posted 02/03/2017 at 20:58:23
This thread is a carbon copy of so many during Roberto's first season. Beware the Ides of March!
Dermot Byrne
41 Posted 02/03/2017 at 21:15:48
Perhaps Rooney could join us as player-manager?
Alexander Murphy
42 Posted 03/03/2017 at 07:38:51
Phil (#40), there is truth in what you allude to, and a devil inside my head also reminds me.

However, unless Evertonians adopt the positive mindset from our more glorious eras to both encourage and demand ever better, then we are surely guilty of accepting and encouraging regression?

How does being positive harm our cause? It's patently obvious where negative thinking leads. Should intentions and promises be unfulfilled, then we have the right, the need and the duty to cry foul!

We should also do so at the earliest available opportunity. Such as, "Where is the news on the new stadium? Were we not told to anticipate some definite progress by now?"

James Hughes
43 Posted 03/03/2017 at 07:53:14
Our next three away games are going to be really challenging and if we can keep our unbeaten run going, we will be right in the mix. A massive 'if' but we have to be positive.
Ernie Baywood
44 Posted 03/03/2017 at 08:07:23
Challenging but potentially massive.

I can really see us getting something at Spurs. They smash dysfunctional teams but we're no pushover – Rom to take them on the break if they're missing any of their regular defence.

Then two easyish home games. Shouldn't fail?

If we take 9 from 3 leading into the derby then that is suddenly one of the biggest games for a long time. I hope so, I feel starved of really significant matches.

Martin Mason
45 Posted 03/03/2017 at 08:45:34

The difference between then and now is that we have firm finance now and none then. Without it, you have little hope... but with it, you have a real chance.

James Marshall
47 Posted 03/03/2017 at 11:42:11
Given that Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea are 3 of the biggest spending clubs with the most spending power in the entire world, breaking into the top 4 is going to be extremely difficult in the short term.

Those 3 can attract pretty much any player in world football, and we're nowhere near that level.

Martin Mason
48 Posted 03/03/2017 at 20:01:26
Correct, James, and it reduces our potential compared to the top 3.

The outcomes that would make me ecstatic would be to replace Liverpool as the best club in the City, to win at Anfield and to get a top 4 Premier League position within 4 years. Champions League football could give us the attractive powers for better players and put us on the path to a higher potential.

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