The inside story of how Everton are planning to crack the top four

Friday 31 March 2017  11 Comments  [Jump to last]

Chris Bascombe interviews Blues CEO Robert Elstone who provides plenty of optimistic and well-thought-out comments about the club's progress and hopes of bridging the gap to qualifying for the Champions League:

“Stadium plans have gathered pace and this is significant... Delivering the stadium would be an important step towards the top four.

“Also, perhaps an ingredient less tangible, there's a widening belief that it's not just about money. As the club has proven many times in the past, it is possible to outperform budget. “The signs are very positive. Young players are pushing for places, results are good and confidence is running high - and the manager is at the heart of that. His steely determination, his burning ambition and his calm and understated approach are very Everton. And, as he would say himself, it is ultimately about actions, not words.

“We can only convince by results and we relish that challenge.”

» Read the full article at The Telegraph

Reader Comments (11)

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Craig Walker
1 Posted 31/03/2017 at 13:43:32
A good article in the Torygraph. Elstone speaks a lot of sense in this article. Things do seem positive at the moment. Let's hope we can get a win tomorrow.
Paul Kossoff
3 Posted 04/04/2017 at 00:38:43
We didn't, we won't, they don't, and I don't, not with this team.

The squad needs millions spent on quality players, not has-beens, free transfers, and other sides' cast-offs.

Give Koeman the large transfer fund he needs; then maybe we can achieve all the things we want.

Eugene Ruane
4 Posted 04/04/2017 at 02:16:16
Currently my expectations for future seasons (nb: based on recent seasons and this one) are as follows..

Not to be relegated anytime soon (although aware it's not an impossibility).

To win (or not lose) the majority of our home games.

To pick up the occasional away win but probably lose more away than we win.

To finish our seasons on between 50 and 65 points.

And..that's it really.

The reason for this (I suppose) 'conservative' outlook is because I see us on a loop.

No (apparent) long-term plan (or suggestion of a long-term plan) just a continuing'thing' that often seems (to me) a matter of 'we've trained all week, let's hope we get the rub of the green.'

Sometimes we do (3 points) sometimes we come close (1 point) sometimes we get beat (fuck-all)

We might go into a some seasons with a different manager and/or different players, but we still appear to be just doing more of the same.

"Play 3 at the back" "Play 4-4-2" "Play him instead of him" isn't what I mean (and is just more guesswork).

'So what should we do, what plan are you suggesting?'

Well actually I don't know - if I did, I'd be a dead succesful manager.

But I believe we need to break the pattern, to do something that you can see is new, something that no one else is doing, something that confuses.

Every team in the division is fit, the margins between winning and losing aren't big, we need some fucking imagination to break the cycle.

If that doesn't happen (and I don't see it happening anytime soon) it'll simply be more and more and more of the same.


"We really want to progress for the supporters"

"Blues raring to go says blah-de-blah"

"Everton linked with Tommy Titsling"

"Sponky McPhereson hasn't signed new contact"

"There's a real sense Everton are on the up says Baines"

"Defeat to Utd a blow to blues"

"We owe the fans a performance says Koeman"

"Toffees put four past Palace"

"Blues sell McPhereson for £45m"

"Titsling says he feels at home already"

And on and on and on and on to 7th..or 6th..or 9th...or..

As for anything 'Everton CEO Robert Elstone said..' see The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Ian Hollingworth
5 Posted 05/04/2017 at 12:24:08
Eugene, that sums it up for me and unfortunately is exactly where we are at.

We need to see some ambition from the club.

Bob Parrington
7 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:29:14
OMG Eugene, you appear somewhat introspective today. I can understand the view, agreed also by Ian. But my view is that it's taken us a long time to get to this lowly point and, usually this means it's goin' to take a while to get to the better point we want to reach. Minimum 3 years is what I've found through life but ya need to plan and make a start! There are positives in the mix already, what with a couple of the signings, introduction of youth and moves towards Bramley Moor Dock.

Anybody got a magic wand?

Dan Egerton
8 Posted 08/04/2017 at 12:46:51
I like how things look to be on the up. And in the same week that Liverpool were handed a ban on signing academy players after being proved in court they try to stitch up a Stoke youth player. LOL – priceless.
Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 08/04/2017 at 12:55:37
Dan (#8) – and it looks like the young lad they tapped up could be joining Everton, according to The Daily Mail.
Colin Glassar
10 Posted 08/04/2017 at 13:32:44
We will only become a top team when we stop looking to 1-2 players to score the goals for us (look at the Spurs lads, they all have a go). Oh, and start shooting from outside the bleeding box ffs. Not every goal has to be a tap-in.
Chris James
11 Posted 09/04/2017 at 08:38:47
Whilst I respect all Blues supporters and those on TW especially, I do think it's fair to say that there's a tendency towards pessimism and negativity. I think there's also (perhaps inevitably) a general naivety or oversimplification in the wishes of fans – and I do take particular issue with remarks like 'we need a long-term plan'.

For starters, what exactly would that 'long-term plan' consist of? To some fans it seems it'd be something like... "Buy all the best players in the world. Win all the matches home and away. Get into the Champions League. Win that. Repeat!"

Turning off Football Manager and back to the real world though, when it comes to planning for me it seems relatively clear that the ultimate quality, value and performance of the players on the pitch is most likely the result of many layers of infrastructure, key staff and overall investment behind it.

Ever since the Premier League was founded (and for some years before) Everton have for years been running on a combination of club spirit/identity (which is great), sizeable debt (not great) and Bill Kenwright's promises, hopes and dreams (admirable to a point, but less useful in practise). We've been having to try and compete in a very uneven league without the financial backing, with an ageing stadium or indeed the key staff who genuinely have the skills, experience and belief of winners.

In order to step up, my argument is that a 'plan' requires several things:

i) Solid base + potential new streams of investment;

ii) A growing commercial revenue base, through a large stadium and commercial nous;

iii) A robust scouting / evaluation / recruitment team;

iv) A clever, winning manager;

v) A core of genuine quality players with a will to win (and a steady stream of new prospects and stars) which necessarily includes a solid defensive base, energetic defensive midfield, creative flair in attacking midfield and flanks plus a 20-goals a season striker;

vi) A solid home record as a platform to build from;

vii) A regular European berth to keep us on the global stage – for cash + player recruitment (preferably Champions League – which means success in a cup and/or top 6 finish each year)

You can obviously add to this a line about a strong, consistent way of playing (although to be fair not all teams that have succeeded have revolved around a particular tactical ideology the way Barcelona for instance do or Utd claimed to, modern-day teams tend to be more pragmatic and adaptable, it's harder to pinpoint Chelsea or Spurs 'style' for instance).

Anyway. IF you believe that my hierarchical structure above is in anyway correct, then I do struggle to see how you can argue against the case of Everton making genuine strides forward this year on most if not all these fronts.

i) Financial base - we may not have oil barons, but we have an effective owner who is richer and better connected to further investment potential than the previous one.

ii) New revenue – obviously its dangerous to get carried away with new stadium talk after previous false dawns, but there's something about the steady progress of this that makes me genuinely believe it's going to happen. Likewise, I sense a little more activity on the commercial front. We're not at Man Utd levels yet, but making progress.

iii) Scouting – I think we've always done well in finding youth talent and Unsworth & Co are doing a cracking job with the academy who are on the virge of being Premier League 2 Champions. The progress of Davies, Pennington and co (and Calvert-Lewin and Lookman signings) is also very positive, but the signing of Steve Walsh was a real statement of intent in this area and it's in this next window that we'll hopefully see the fruits of his labours.

iv) Koeman isn't perfect and we're all going to disagree with managers from time-to-time, but he is a proven winner through his career with a decent track record and a name that resonates in the game. He's shown he can be ruthless and also pragmatic/flexible and definitely feels a step up in terms of quality and ambition.

v) When it comes to the core of quality players, I think this is where we're still a work in progress, especially if we lose a few in the summer.

Goalkeeper -– Robles has to be fair had a pretty decent season and Stekelenburg was fine earlier on (till the whole team dropped off the pace), but we need a new number one – Pickford or Butland will be on many shopping lists this summer.

Defensively it felt like we had an embarrassment of riches but age + injury has chipped away. Baines and Coleman remain class (I hope he can recover), Jagielka was great but has shown his age and Williams and Funes Mori are okay. We need 1-2 decent signings here (right-back and centre-back).

Midfield – Defensively we're sound Gueye, Schneiderlin, McCarthy, Besic, Davies? It's the attacking mid link player where we need back up, Barkley has the toolset but can't seem to bring it together consistently, Delu ofeudidn't make it, so we need our own version of Mahrez, Payet, Silva, Hazard, Ozil, etc.

Lukaku is a proven 20 goals a season striker - but obv we need to keep him.

All in all I can see a lot of changes over the summer and it's the level of signing and speed that will really indicate the ambition and potential for 2017-18 and beyond.

I think we made some very good signings this season (Gueye, Schneiderlin, Williams and Bolasie) but to go up a level we need to make a few great ones. However the two most positive signs of progress for me were the willingness to spend decent money on exciting youth prospects like Lookman and the ruthlessness of clearing out deadwood or those not likely to play.

vi) No team wins anything with a patchy home record, I think ours is amongst the best in the league now and certainly since January.

vii) Assuming we can maintain half-decent form over the last 8 (e.g. win at least 3 of the last 6 games) we should qualify for the Europa League next season (admittedly yes in the qualifying rounds) but again it's a step in the right direction.

Ultimately I'm as wary of false dawns and Everton's ability to kindle then crush hopes as much as anyone, but I do feel that we're heading towards the close season in much better shape than 12 months previous and am hopeful we can take the next step in really challenging for top 4 (and a cup!!) in 2017-18.

Peter Murray
12 Posted 16/04/2017 at 09:51:51
One of the most detailed, informative articles I have read about Everton and the future. There is an air of realistic optimism running throughout the club. Elstone talks with confidence and authority.

After the filth we have endured over the last week, this excellent piece of writing begins to restore faith in balanced journalism.

Mark Stone
13 Posted 17/04/2017 at 14:09:19
Colin (#10), don't we have more different goal scorers than any other club in the Premier League this season?

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