Delay to European tour should be a blessing in disguise

A seventh-place finish looks beyond us this season but while we all agree the Toffees belong in Europe, there’s a case to made that, in the context of their longer-term goals, missing out this time might not be a bad thing.

Lyndon Lloyd 01/05/2019 100comments  |  Jump to last

Ask Evertonians of a certain vintage to recall some of their most visceral memories of supporting the club and many will invoke stories of the Toffees’ exploits in Europe.

That Bayern Munich semi-final that paved the way for Everton’s first and, to date, only European trophy remains perhaps the most dramatic night in Goodison Park history. More recently, the ultimately ill-fated and heart-breaking match against Fiorentina lives on in large part because of a stirring performance but the atmosphere generated by the Grand Old Lady is what stands out.

Then there have been some truly memorable European away days — the final in Rotterdam is obvious but trips from near and far to Alkmaar, Nuremberg and Kharkiv have left indelible imprints on the collective psyche of those who travelled and provided pockets of illumination during what have been three mostly bleak decades since the glory days of the mid to late 1980s.

There is, of course, a lot of pain and frustration associated with European football that stretches back to the stumble against Panathinaikos in 1970 that ended one title-winning Everton side’s tilt at European Cup glory, the Pierluigi Collina controversy that denied David Moyes’s team a crack at the group stages of the Champions League in 2005 and, of course, the grand injustice of them all: the Heysel Ban that denied arguably the best team on the Continent at the time a deserved chance to lift Europe’s biggest prize in 1986.

The Premier League may, commercially speaking, be the most sought-after league in the world but it is rapidly becoming a closed shop to those clubs locked out of the “big six” by an ever-widening financial gap. As it did for teams under Moyes and Roberto Martinez, European competition has provided an alternative route to glory — now, of course, the Europa League offers a back door into the Champions League — and added another dimension to otherwise almost futile domestic campaigns for those English sides fortunate enough to gain qualification.

Despite all the reservations over the notion of the word “champions” has been corrupted by Uefa’s flagship competition and how the imbalance in the financial rewards has made the Europa League by far the poor relation, playing in Europe remains enormously attractive and should be the goal for all clubs of Everton’s size and aspiration.

After all, who among us Blues didn’t watch Tottenham’s drama-infused conquest of Manchester City the other week without a desperate yearning to be in their place to go along with our gnawing anguish over the lasting effects of Heysel and our own failure to match Spurs’s ascent from Premier League also-rans to Champions League semi-finalists and bona fide members of the “big six”.

Mixing it up with such exalted company as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus remains a long way away but there was, until this past weekend perhaps, the glimmer of hope that qualification for the Europa League remained open to Everton this season. It was always dependent on Manchester City beating Watford in the FA Cup Final, of course, but the Blues’ draw at Crystal Palace coupled with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ win over the Hornets has probably ruled out a seventh-place finish for Marco Silva’s side this season.

It’s disappointing on one hand because in addition to providing the opportunity for more great memories being in Europe can enhance the club’s standing on the Continent, improve its Uefa coefficient (a key metric when it comes to seeding), and offer a fourth trophy to aim for. There is no question that a club of Everton’s stature belongs in European competition but, on the other hand, there’s a case to made that, in the context of their longer-term goals and in view of the instability that has plagued the club for the past three years, the focus this summer should really be on targeted recruitment, a proper pre-season and progress in the Premier League next season.

For too many teams out side of the “big six”, Europa League campaigns — those that begin in late July in particular — have proved to be mixed blessings and in some cases not much of a blessing at all given their impact on the team’s domestic form. West Ham, Burnley and Everton have all had to forego coherent pre-season preparations to begin their seasons in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League and none of them were the better for it. Ironically, Everton under David Moyes proved to be a rare exception to this prevailing rule in 2008 when they managed to finish fifth in the Premier League despite making it as far as the round of 16 of the Uefa Cup that season but on the whole it’s hard for most clubs to balance the extra commitments.

Silva and Marcel Brands will have their shopping list ready for the close season and the manager has already expressed his belief that money will be made available for signings this summer but it’s not clear at this point just how large the budget will be.

Much could depend on which players leave and for how much. Maarten Stekelenburg and Ashley Williams will be leaving as free agents taking their respective salaries off the wage bill but there is a sizeable contingent who spent this season out on loan who will be returning to Everton, almost all of whom won’t have a future with the club. Kevin Mirallas, Yannick Bolasie and Sandro Ramirez are the three big earners whom the management will be looking to offload to make room for new salaries but while the Belgian could be let go for a nominal fee given that he only has one more year on his contract, the other two might be harder to shift.

And a portion of the funds available could already have been allocated to signing André Gomes and Kurt Zouma on permanent deals which could cost north of £40m. Based on rumours on Merseyside surrounding the Portuguese and the fact that Chelsea’s transfer ban could well be ratified in the coming weeks, the Gomes would appear to be the more likely of the two to stay but whether it’s the French defender or someone else, Everton will need to spend a significant sum on another centre half and a top quality striker at least. That likely won’t leave much left to pad the squad out to the size it would need to be to provide sufficient depth to wage campaigns on four different fronts next season.

So while the romance of Europe and the desire to be in the mix with some of the Continent’s top clubs is strong, Evertonians probably shouldn’t feel too disheartened that seventh place is probably beyond their grasp this season. Not having that extra distraction will allow Silva to focus his efforts on making strong cup runs at home while also making a run at disrupting a top six that, on recent evidence at least, looks like it could be a lot less impregnable next season. Unai Emery has his challenges at Arsenal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken of the massive rebuilding job required at Old Trafford and Chelsea could well be bedding in yet another new manager.

Everton, meanwhile, can only benefit from the stability of going into Marco’s Silva’s second season with what is now a more settled squad, a recognisable ethos and style of play. A year on, there will be significantly more and genuine depth to the squad in order to deal with the rigours of a European campaign — the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman (if he stays) will be a year older and the new signings planned for the coming close season will also have had a year with the club.

If by some twist in the final two games, the Blues end up in seventh and City win the FA Cup then we will, of course, embrace Europe and prepare as best we can for an early start at the end of July. Otherwise, there’s no harm in setting our sights on being where want to be this time next year with greater numbers, a stronger team and a realistic shot of taking the Europa League by storm in 2020-21!

Reader Comments (100)

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Steve Carse
1 Posted 01/05/2019 at 19:06:48
I recognise the reservations, but there's no reason why if we were somehow to qualify participation in the tournament couldn't be deployed in a way that complements other objectives. In particular it could be used to give the younger players invaluable experience. It would also mean some playing time for more senior squad members who otherwise spend most of the season clicking their heels on the subs bench and becoming more and more disheartened with their lot -- bear in mind that this season we will have played only 41 competitive matches, simply not enough to keep all squad players match fit, involved and contented.
Jake Lucas
2 Posted 01/05/2019 at 19:19:58
Big big summer, players on loan that I expect we will be off loading this summer:

Players we think might move on in the summer currently in the squad?
Is it also potentially the end of Tosun?

Then there are question marks around players like

And if we do find homes for these players how much will be available to reinvest? Moshiri has deep pockets but he's not a charity, the money we make is simply giving him his money back without change for the woeful transfer recruitment over the last 3 years. We need a top striker and a CB, if we can keep Gomez and Zouma I'll be chuffed. I trust Brands and hope they have a plan for the summer.

Don Alexander
3 Posted 01/05/2019 at 19:54:07
Well said, Lyndon. As a minimum, we need a solid, enterprising season next time before we contemplate Europe. The list of players posted by Jake depresses the hell out of me and given the costs involved in acquiring and paying them it's crucial to be rid of so many of them, but who in their right minds is going to what we did/do?

To me M&M would have to be alchemists rather than coaches if they get the current crop to deliver anything other than further embarrassment in the poxy Europa League.

Brian Williams
4 Posted 01/05/2019 at 19:56:26
Was listening to Talkshite this morning and one if the co-presenters was highlighting both Arsenal's and Chelsea's Premier League results following their Europa League games.

He had quite clear evidence their Premier League results DID suffer.

John Raftery
5 Posted 01/05/2019 at 23:28:59
The best way to handle a Thursday - Sunday - Thursday - Sunday routine is to field a ‘midweek team’ in Europe in much the same way that touring rugby teams used to do. That can be done if the squad is big enough and done successfully if there is sufficient quality among the second string. We are not at that point yet.

We will have had only forty two games this season, hardly enough to keep even our severely trimmed squad sufficiently active. I would have welcomed European football as an opportunity to give more games to players on the periphery of the squad. Without that opportunity it seems pointless, and possibly counterproductive, to increase the size of the current squad. Hence new recruits will need to be matched by those exiting.

Bill Watson
6 Posted 02/05/2019 at 00:21:45
We have a large squad but it's short on quality. Hopefully, Brands will, at least in part, address this in the summer window but I'd like a settled side have a clear run at the Premier League and the two cups.

Once past the preliminary Europa rounds the reality is, that as we progress, the strongest side will be chosen. Just as in the Premier League the fringe players will stay just that; fringe players.

Mark Andersson
7 Posted 02/05/2019 at 00:52:42
Same old story same old comments mean while the RS go from strength to strength...

Its a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll... we traded our dancing shoes in for slippers after the European ban...

30 years and still counting Marco will be under the microscope next season... no excuses he needs to get off to a flying start and stay there other wise its another manager and the merry go round keeps spining...

Simon Smith
8 Posted 02/05/2019 at 01:33:32
For me, missing Europe isn't a positive at all... in fact, it is at the detriment of our young talented U23 players.

Imo, we do the Europa League all wrong: we need to use the competition to blood youngsters, play experienced pros who aren't currently in the first team, and leave every Premier League first-team player at home.

Players like Holgate, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Kenny, Davies, Dowell and Joao Virginia would all have had a better first half to the season had they played 6 or 8 Europa League games.

Also, players like McCarthy, Schneiderlin, Jagielka, Baines and Tosun would have been fitter and sharper when required during the gruelling Christmas period.

If we was to gain Europa League next season our starting 11 could have been;
Jonjoe, Holgate (Feeney), Jagielka (Mina), Baines.
McCarthy, Davies
Lookman, Oneykuru, Dowell
Sambou, Simms or even Calvert-Lewin (if we buy a striker who starts before him).

For me, this team could gain invaluable experience from playing in front of big Goodison crowds, as well as away, experiencing different leagues and cultures.

Even if we didn't qualify for the later rounds, this could push certain players on into Silva's plans for the 2nd half of the season.

If we did go through we could reevaluate and see what competitions suited the first team, before maybe sending a few of the lads out on loan, or moving them on permanently.

Anyways, if we're honest we are a much better side than both Wolves and Watford, the fact they beat us to top 7 shows exactly how our season has panned out.

We go again next season, hopefully with a revamped squad, many of the current squad players moved out and try to become more consistent.

First-team players mentioned in comment 2 by Jake all need moving on, freeing up wages for new players.

My count is easily at double figures out, with at least 5 players who are already at the club ready to step up to a better level.

Tosun and Niasse out, signing needed.
Walcott, Mirallas and Bolasie out, Dowell, Oneykuru and Vlasic in.
Williams and Martina out, don't need replacing as Holgate and Kenny better.
Besic, Schneiderlin and McCarthy all out, Davies and hopefully Gomes as replacements.
Stekelenburg out, Virginia up to Number 2.
Tarashaj, Garbutt and Sandro again don't even need replacing as they aren't even in the squad.

Si Cooper
9 Posted 02/05/2019 at 02:05:55
There are various intangibles that make it difficult to know what to wish for in the remaining fixtures.

Can Silva / Brands attract or retain the players they want without the lure of European football? Some of that is no doubt predicated on whether the credibility of ‘the project' has survived Marco's stuttering first season.

If we do end up with the opportunity to be fighting on two fronts next season and make some decent progress in the transfer market without quite attaining the necessary squad depth to be likely to be successful in both, is it possible to make a sensible choice of which of the two competitions it is better to fail in? Would it be okay to take a small tumble down the Premier League if we had a genuine chance of winning the Europa League (or at least improving our coefficient) and could then readjust our focus to the Premier League the season after that?

It would be nice to be able to come out of the close season as a fully equipped Top Four side, or at least capable of doing a Leicester, but as that seems very remote, I'd be happy for a tilt at the Europa League and the accompanying dip in Premier League form (I personally think we are quite a few seasons away from worrying about relegation, especially if Brands has the lure of some higher profile games) rather than potentially stagnating as some other second-tier sides build on their achievements this season.
Jay Wood

10 Posted 02/05/2019 at 02:41:57
Sorry Lyndon, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this piece.

To me, it echoes similar postings by those who convince themselves we are ill-prepared to compete on two fronts simultaneously - domestic and European - preferring instead that we prepare some mystical groundwork which would place us in ideal conditions to meet the dual workload.

Like those earlier posts, your piece is full of supposition and conditionals as to why missing out on Europe this season would not necessarily be a bad thing, as we could possibly take advantage of transitional periods for 2-3 of the current top six sides.

This hypothetical cherry picking of when it would be most 'convenient' for us to enter European competition simply doesn't work as neatly as that. For one, we are not dependent on our own success only, but also on the 'failure' of others.

You correctly acknowledge that "Europe remains enormously attractive and should be the goal for all clubs of Everton's size and aspiration."

You also reference the need for Everton to start ramping up points in UEFA's coefficient ranking which would, with enough points, help exempt us from earlier starts in Europe and give us a more favourable draw in the pots.

You even reference Spurs - a team who in recent years was behind us in league finishing positions - and our own "failure to match their ascent from Premier League also-rans to Champions League semi-finalists and bona fide members of the 'big six'."

So given all that... why wait? Why not get into Europe NOW and then deal with the consequences, the REALITY of playing alternate domestic and European games?

The Big Six are the Big Six because they have had lots of practice in handling the workload, backed by their respective boards and their recruitment to make it all possible.

You hypothesize that a Europe-free season next time out will give Everton a better shot at not only an improved Premier League position, but also a good run in the domestic cups. Why? That hasn't been the case for years – decades even. That is just wishful thinking, or worse, just repeating the failed model of recent years on a wing and a prayer.

Being in Europe, on the other hand, presuming you get to the group stages (which we should), guarantees a minimum of 6 games (not even including pre-qualifying rounds) for a third of the season. Good for our exposure, pleasing for existing (and would be) sponsors, interesting for players who want to play European football.

To presume we don't have the squad to handle this double workload is wrong. If anything, we have too bloated a squad. You will get no argument from me the overall quality needs to be raised to seriously compete on both the domestic and European front but, managed properly, even now there is enough quality in the squad to get results in earlier rounds and progress further in the competition.

In short, we need to be in Europe every season as a bare minimum. After all, that's what 'big' clubs with genuine ambition strive for and achieve every season. We need 'practice' in handling this increased workload to the point that it doesn't impact on our domestic results, as is the case with those teams that have dominated the Premier League since its formation.

Thereafter, it befalls to the owner and management to make this not merely possible or plausible, but inevitable.

Believing we can cherry pick the moment to embrace European competition when are stars are somehow perfectly aligned is not an option. We need to seize on any and every opportunity to qualify for Europe, and never ever let go of it again, once secured.

That's what truly ambitious – and ruthless – 'Big Teams' do, isn't it?

Kieran Kinsella
11 Posted 02/05/2019 at 03:35:26

Have to disagree. Under Moyes with a much smaller squad we managed to do okay in the Premier League while playing in the Europa League. For all the talk of Arsenal's and Chelsea's woes, one or both will be in the Champions League next season despite the burden of going the distance on Thursday nights this season.

I don't think we will qualify this season so it's a moot point but I am not buying the spin that missing out is good.

Alan J Thompson
12 Posted 02/05/2019 at 05:10:15
For heaven's sake, let's not start winning or qualifying for things or the whole attitude of the club may have to change and then we'll have another generation of supporters who'll demand it every year not to mention having to raise the money for all those better players who'll be knocking on our door or regretting not having built a bigger new stadium, I mean, is this what we are here for???

And I once had the temerity to call out a fellow Blue as accepting mediocrity for saying Everton should aim to finish 10th! What was that expression concerning the kitchen and the heat?

Mike Gaynes
13 Posted 02/05/2019 at 06:40:37
I'm with the majority on this one, Lyndon. I know some people take it as a given that EL participation inevitably damages a club's league campaign, but I find the supporting evidence woefully insufficient. To me, missing out is missing out.

We'll never know, of course -- because we're missing out.

Lyndon Lloyd
14 Posted 02/05/2019 at 06:50:15
To clarify in response to some of the comments above, I'm not saying that no good could come from us being in Europe (I acknowledged the positives in the article). Nor am I arguing that we shouldn't still aim to finish seventh while it's still mathematically possible. I'm saying that given that it's unlikely we'll qualify for the Europa League, we shouldn't be too disheartened about it.

And it's certainly not because of a lack of ambition as Alan (12) intimates but all to do with the impact a European campaign – and specifically one that starts in late July – could have on our ability to compete on the domestic front next season.

Yes, Kieran, under Moyes we did okay but as I say in the piece, that was an exception to an otherwise well-established trend for teams like us outside of the top six (they have more quality in depth. The game has changed since; our game has changed, with much more emphasis on pressing and (therefore) fitness. I think one of our biggest issues between December and February was fatigue from Silva's more demanding methods and unless we were to play the kids in Europe, that would be the case again with the extra games.

Finally, yes, Jay, we have a bloated squad but not as much as before and what bloat remains after transfer deadline day will probably be loaned out again as they were this season. I expect we will have a larger and better core squad but I do feel that being able to focus our efforts on the Premier League and have a crack at the wider goal of getting into the top six (and, perhaps, the top four) is not the worst thing in the world.

And the fact that we haven't made a decent go of the domestic cups has often been down to poor management. If we're being managed properly this time and the club takes the League Cup seriously for once, then we should stand a much better chance.

So, again, I agree we should be there and I'm not saying we need to cherry-pick the moment we qualify for Europe but if we miss out this time, it won't be the end of the world and it could work in our favour.

John Hall
15 Posted 02/05/2019 at 07:40:40
What may surрrise you guys is that the OS (and ToffeeWeb) has not been uрdated according to Stekelenburg – he signed a new two-year contract last July, so we have him for another year. Check this out –
John Hall
16 Posted 02/05/2019 at 08:10:06
To add to my рrevious comment here is the toffeeweb article confirming the 2-year deal of Stek. Does anyone think this is a good idea? Do you think Virginia should be number 2 or go out on loan?
Rob Dolby
17 Posted 02/05/2019 at 08:29:25
Why be bothered with the Europa League when we don't try and progress in the domestic cups?

The Premier League and FA Cup should be a priority. Every season, we play weakened teams in the League Cup which frustrates the life out of me.

FA Cup runs are morale-boosting for everyone though we don't seem that bothered about that either.

I get the feeling that a lot of people at the club are going through the motions whilst taking the TV money. Safety first under Moyes has become our standard.

Geoff Lambert
18 Posted 02/05/2019 at 08:35:00
Let's just finish mid-table every season. And try to get knocked out of the domestic cups as early as we can. That will give us a great chance of mid-table again next season.

Happy days... no worries about our poor lads having to jump on an Easyjet flight and wait in the airport departure lounge for hours on end, then pile on a coach with drunken yobs and screaming kids. Poor little things... I do hope they can cope.

We need to go as far as possible in every cup competition we can and use the full squad of players at our disposal, that's why we have a squad of players, is it not?

David Midgley
19 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:07:42
Can you imagine saying to Adolf in 1939:

"Can you hang on for another year? We're not ready."

Up and at' em, lads!

Thomas Lennon
20 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:14:47
We have to perform the very difficult task of closing the financial gap between us and the top 6 – a feat that will require doubling our income as a minimum start . For some perspective we were being out-earned by Spurs as far back as 15 years ago. Without that income we cannot compete squad for - squad, we might compete first team against first team but that is not the game at Champions League or top 6 Premier League level.

We might say that catching up is mostly dependant on the development of Bramley-Moore and I would mostly agree so what to do until then?

The reason that this is so important is that even if we were to qualify for Champions League over the next few years, we would not earn massive amounts of money from the gate and sponsors do not pay big money unless you are going to be associated with truly competing year on year. We might call this a chicken and egg conundrum.

USM and others might help this summer but of course, their shareholders do not want their name all over an old stadium either - hence the backing of our more modern facilities.

Spurs have worked out an answer but they are ten years ahead of us - even WHL was a lot more profitable than Goodison Park.

We have a Director of footy who has stated several times we will buy young, develop and sell on as profit. That makes business sense but I don't think I am alone when I foresee a lot of heartbreak ahead as business needs will see a series of good players leave at the peak of their powers, each time weakening a burgeoning side.

However, just as Ajax have always done the trick is to have young replacements developed and ready, to play in a system they already know well – we can see that emerging already but we are nowhere near ready yet (eg I don't think we have a young replacement for Gueye at the moment).

One caveat is - Ajax play in a weaker league where the loss of a few places may well not be as financially crippling as it is in the Premier League.

Profits will no longer go on paying debts, they will go on building the club to higher heights, steadily boosting squad quality and improving the 'product' we sell to sponsors & commercial.

As Liverpool found out last night special players are often needed to actually win things and following the process outlined above surely we will always sell and never buy those players, consequently, when will we win things? My answer is that we will start by pushing up the league, winning minor honours but, as we close the gap, and develop the squad we will be competing on ever more equal terms. There will come a point when the squad is good enough to support an exceptional player to stay, income will not demand sales, commercial & sponsorship will rise as we can genuinely compete.

We are probably 10 years away from Champions League finals, Premier League titles but we need to stay on the path now to achieve that. Next season is but a step, European footy less important this year but very important next. If we qualify this year it will be an opportunity to develop the squad slightly faster than if we don't, no more or less.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:18:05
I'm with you, Lyndon, 100%. I understand the arguments for and against. What a lot of us against the Europa League were arguing was for one year, not forever. And one final point: fans were saying the seventeen days Silva had in mid season to prepare the squad without any interruption certainly helped him to improve the performances that we have seen lately.

So no travelling and playing midweek should further enhance the performances next season, and it is only for one season, then the Europa League has fewer games to play in and we could possibly be in the better European competition, or is that too ambitious!!!

Sam Hoare
22 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:28:06
David@19, that's pretty much what happened in 1938 though!

I think what Lyndon is getting at here is some silver lining thinking. A lot of us would like to be in Europe but if it is not to be then there may well be benefits to that.

I'm very excited and curious to see how this next transfer window plays out. It's not often that I'm almost as excited to see which players leave as which come in!

I have a lot of faith in Brands and Silva after the last window but I don't think Moshiri is able to keep spending at the rate he has been. There will be a bit more wheeling dealing and I think the many on here hoping for 'a top-class striker' will be disappointed, there aren't a lot of them available out there and those that are will cost the world.

I hope we have a good pre-season sorted, I quite like those tournaments with other decent teams as it seems to get the players into the competitive spirit. If we can carry on our performance levels from the last month or so into the start of next season with a few well-chosen additions then I think we could have the best season we've had in a long while.

David Midgley
23 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:28:32
TL (#20).

Yes. However, if Everton did make decent progress in the Europa League, I feel sure that our present sponsors wouldn't care whether thousands of potential customers saw their name/logo on The Old Lady or Wembley. Publicity is publicity.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:30:43
The pros and cons usually create arguments but, for a manager who was being questioned by everyone only a couple of months ago, then getting rid of more deadwood and replacing it with enough quality to really compete, doesn't seem like cherry picking to me.

We need a good pre-season, hopefully with a few more additions, and we need to get in really good shape before the start of next season imo.

Moyes always did well (honestly) but he had no real pressure to succeed (one final) and because of this lack of real pressure, he was allowed time which created stability.

Silva is hopefully managing a different Everton now, an owner who wants success, and also demands results, so if the first year is free, I hope he takes full advantage, because I don't think he will stay in his job long if Everton don't start qualifying for Europe on a regular basis in the future, now the manager knows the club.

Stan Schofield
25 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:38:34
It's obviously not disastrous if we fail to get into the Europa League this time but, at the same time, we want to see more consistent repeats of our really good performances this season. If we get that, it would indicate sufficient strength in depth to handle a lot of games, and thereby indicate we can handle Europe.

There seems little point in being in Europe if we're like we were last season, because it was a shambles. But if we're genuinely and consistently improving, then we should be trying to win everything rather than going through the motions.

For me, I'm happy if we don't get 7th this season so long as we progress as above into next season and really compete and try to get into the Champions League.

We have to have such signs of progress in order to be happy missing out on 7th. Otherwise, it's always going to be jam tomorrow rather than improvements now.

Steve Hogan
26 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:46:05
Talking about outgoing players in the summer, sadly, I believe Lookman will be sacrificed to raise some much-needed funds. A pity really as I believe he has not really been given sufficient game time to prove he has a future here.

When I think of how the manager has persevered with Walcott over a long period of time, Lookman is one of the few real assets we have to sell this summer and, given his success in Germany, he'll be off pretty quick, probably to Europe.

Danny Baily
27 Posted 02/05/2019 at 09:47:23
Let's treat the League Cup with respect. Like it or not, along with the FA Cup that's our Champions League.

Thomas @ 20, if you think we're '10 years away from Champions League finals, Premier League titles' then you're very, very likely to be disappointed. There's nothing currently in place or in the pipeline to suggest that. Nothing.

John Pickles
28 Posted 02/05/2019 at 10:00:27
The way you improve as a club is you bring in quality personnel. You attract quality personnel by offering European football. I am concerned though, that that there may be some of the idiots responsible for recommending players during the disastrous Koeman/Walsh time still at the club.

We are a long way behind the top 6, so 7th and a July start to the season is always going to be on the cards anyway. If we finish poorly, we tend to start poorly and vice versa, so now, finishing with a bit of form, would have been a good time to qualify.

Dan Hollingworth
29 Posted 02/05/2019 at 10:04:06
For me, I can take or leave Europe.

Yes, you want to be in it. It's another competition to win. On paper, it does allow you to attract better players. I also look at some of the teams in the latter stages – Villarreal 14th in La Liga, Frankfurt and not to mention Chelsea and Arsenal who we have beaten recently – Suggestion would be we could give it a good go. My Dad regularly bangs on about Rotterdam and I do want some of that. It would be our greatest chance of playing in the Champions League.

But ultimately, given where we are at and as Lyndon says, looking at the longer term situation it's probably best we leave it alone next season. I read somewhere that on average a team playing in the Europa League finishes on average 2.2 positions lower the year after. You only have to look at 2017/2018 for us and Burnley this season to see the impact these early season starts and extra games has on a squad. Let's get the squad sorted, we are only 4-5 players (and a goal scorer short) of being a very good side. Let's hit the ground running in the Premier League next season, with no extra distractions.

David Pearl
30 Posted 02/05/2019 at 10:25:09
Yes it ‘could' be a blessing in disguise.

I can see Tosun going and maybe Lookman. Along with Niasse, and we hope Sandro, Mirallas and Bolasie, Besic and probably McCarthy.

Onyekuru and Vlasic back to look at them in pre-season. The signings of Zouma and Gomes. After that a couple top quality forwards. I doubt Schneiderlin and Walcott will move on, they still have much to offer to squad. I'd expect Dowell to move on also, along with a few other youngsters. We need to sell senior players and not loan them out.

Once our fate is decided, we have to embrace it and focus on our goals for next season. It's come to a point every year for the last 3 or 4 that we all start looking to the next one months before the season's end. Enough of that, Blues.

I'm looking forward to next time already. We finally have the heart of our team somewhat settled and ready to build on.

Sam Hoare
31 Posted 02/05/2019 at 10:33:31
Every weekend that we do well and Chelsea struggle is another nail in the coffin of Zouma's move to us.

Already their transfer ban makes it look highly unlikely.

Zouma has been better this season than probably both Luiz and Rudiger and if they can offer him first team football then neither will they want to sell him nor will he want to leave.

Right now, I'd rate his chances of a permanent Everton move around 15%. That will rise if their transfer ban is lifted but even then it may not even be 50/50 as other clubs will be in the market and his cost and ambition may become prohibitive.

Kevin Prytherch
32 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:02:58
I can see the benefits of both; however, I reckon that Europe next year would be more beneficial to our young players on the fringe of the squad, and could help shape them for the future.

Without Europe, I can only imagine that the likes of Holgate, Williams, Dowell, Connolly and even Lookman, Davies and Kenny might find game time extremely limited. We would be aiming to have a settled first XI, with little room for including any promising young talent as we would want to finish as high as possible.

In Europe, some of these might get quite a bit more game time and could turn into a gem or two for the club. I fear that, without these opportunities, many of these players will simply drift to the sidelines, skulk off on loan again, and ultimately leave the club without ever knowing if they could have done something.

They're all at the age now where they need some first-team games, otherwise they lose a crucial time in their development and may never recover.

On the flip side, I do think we'd do better next season without Europe, but I think we could potentially be better long term with Europe.

Derek Taylor
33 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:13:18
Premier League midtable is seen as a right by many ToffeeWebbers when, in reality, there have been times in both this and last season when we have been nearer top than bottom.

What is it that takes League success (7th or 8th!) for granted when whether we are in Europe or not, that is the limit of the Club's ambition? Certainly not having this diversion makes the landmark less of a challenge but it's a quarter of a century now since we managed ANY cup success — let alone the European variety.

Until the new stadium is built and financed, it's likely that only a better brand of football (thankfully) will see the difference between this season and last repeated.

Tony Everan
34 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:28:01
I want us in Europe next season.

We have some fantastically talented U23s that can step in for any first-team position if that professional has a niggle or needs some recuperation.

What a glorious chance it is for those lads, and others on the fringe of the first team, to say ''Marco! Have a look at me, I can do the business for you!''

Brian Williams
35 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:32:41
Never mind Europe, if you want an away trip, get yerselves to the Kariabangi Sharks game and enjoy the sunshine while yer there, maybe a safari?
Erik Dols
36 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:52:11
David Midgley #19,

And if you know your history...

The Wehrmacht generals told Hitler almost literally at every single battle that they needed more time and that continuing forward with the plans would be a gamble they were not willing to take. They sure did back in 1939 and the invasion of Poland got pushed back in time more than once – even as late as 25 August, the Germans delayed the invasion due to start at August 26, 04.00!

So not entirely sure what your point exactly is. Yes, people told Hitler just that in 1939 and he actually listened on several occasions. But I doubt if Hitler's European campaign is the one Everton should be aiming at. Starting with some big victories but getting beaten in the Eastern European winter? Actually sounds like a typical Everton campaign to me…

Craig Walker
37 Posted 02/05/2019 at 12:58:53
I want to see us competing in Europe but only when it doesn't affect our domestic form. For the last few Europa League adventures, we have been woeful in the Premier League. I really don't like the Thursday/Sunday game times. It nearly always affects Premier League form — just look at Burnley this season compared to last. Only the bigger teams cope due to their squad depth.
Simon Jones
38 Posted 02/05/2019 at 13:00:02
Arsenal & Man Utd may well have "transition" seasons, but we have to be in position to take advantage. That doesn't mean finishing 7th with 58 points, it means aiming for 70 points, 21 wins, 7 draws and only 10 losses. That would also mean a big transitional season for us!
Kieran Kinsella
39 Posted 02/05/2019 at 13:16:54
Erik Dols

Hahaha — classic ToffeeWeb analysis!

Tom Bowers
40 Posted 02/05/2019 at 13:20:56
Europe is nice but the domestic scene is priority and Everton need to be top six material which is not yet in evidence. They can build on what they have but need the consistency so sadly lacking for many months of this season.

Silva has to prove he has what it takes to provide the intensity and impetus in the squad to really take games to the opposition from the kick-off, much like RS have done this season (I hate to say).

Yes, I know it's Silva's early days and I think we all have given him a season to assess what he has but next season may be different if he has to replace the likes of Zouma, Gomes and Gana.

I like Tom Davies and am glad he has signed on and one hopes one or two more youngsters step up and stake a real claim.

Obviously the top six will lay claim to the players who are the cream of the crop available in the close season but Wolves, Leicester and Watford have proved that there are many class players available without breaking the bank.

Thomas Lennon
41 Posted 02/05/2019 at 13:21:30
Dave #23 - competing in Champions League finals means final rounds (final/semi/quarters), so knock-out stages and top 4 in Premier League in 10 years. I think that is realistic if we keep progressing and have a settled management team.
Jay Wood

42 Posted 02/05/2019 at 13:35:58
Lyndon @ 14.

Speaking for myself as you reference me, I acknowledged in my post your own comments about the positives you listed with regard to qualifying for Europe.

I didn't read your piece as 'anti-Europe', but for what it was: a shrug of the shoulders, that we "shouldn't be too disheartened" about not qualifying, justifying your opinion for all the reasons you repeat in your follow up post:

* How "the impact of a European campaign, specifically one that starts in late July, could have on our ability to compete on the domestic front next season"

* That we are better served next season in "focusing our efforts on the Premier League and have a crack at the wider goal of getting into the top six (and, perhaps, the top four)"

* That it gives us a "better chance" to succeed in the domestic cups

Lyndon, we need to do all of the above each and every season whether we are in Europe or not. We are currently ill-prepared to do so because unlike the current top six we are NOT in Europe every season.

We haven't qualified anywhere near regularly enough to 'practice' what it takes to handle a dual domestic and European campaign that it becomes natural, a habit. Only by actually competing in Europe can we 'learn' what it takes. Only by being in Europe can the ownership and management know what is needed to ensure success. It then befalls to them to provide the necessary.

Of course you and others can quote the likes of ourselves, Burnley, Southampton, WHU, etc, etc, as having a 'negative' impact on the clubs as the following season their league position worsened as a consequence of having to play in Europe also.

But they are the outriders. The once in 5-10 years qualifiers who, like ourselves, are not habituated to combining the two. That is not who Moshiri-Silva-Brands Everton should be trying to emulate: we should be striving to elbow aside one of the recognized top six who year on year DO qualify for Europe, and compete until the final rounds whilst maintaining a lofty league position to ensure...yup! That they qualify for European competition again the following season.

For me, the suggestion that we could benefit from not being in Europe, that it somehow gives us time to better prepare for a joint domestic and European campaign, is fundamentally flawed. It does strike me as 'cherry picking', having the belief that we can somehow choose the ideal moment when to do so.

Life simply doesn't work like that. Sometimes you have to grab what you can and run with it, because the window of opportunity is brief and fleeting before it slams shut again.

Every year we are outside of Europe whilst the top six we are trying to crack qualify for it is another year wasted, potentially putting us increasingly even further behind the very clubs we want to supplant.

Sometimes in life you have to apply the Nike tagline: 'Just Do It!'

Personally, I prefer the words of the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti with regards to taking action.

"Dive...and know the depth. Eat...and know the taste."

Don't fear European competition. Embrace it. Year on year on year.

David Midgley
43 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:04:19
Erik #39.

Kamerad, I surrender. Lighten up.

The point I was making was, if you're in a situation, just face up to it. If we are in the Europa League, let's get on with it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Andrew Clare
44 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:06:47
The longer a club is out of Europe, the further it falls behind. If we are in Europe every season, we become known throughout the football world and foreign players become familiar with our name. Then they have less hesitation about joining us. So it's good for the club.

I want to be in Europe and win European trophies. If Seville can do it, why can't we? I bet their team cost less than half of ours and their squad is probably no bigger.

It has been another dead loss season as we are unlikely to make 7th spot. Hopefully next season we can start with more purpose — I have said the same words for 30 years.

Kieran Kinsella
45 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:19:39

Fair enough on the general trend with July starts although Fulham 2010 got to the final and finished (for them) a respectable 12th in the Premier League.

Erik Dols
46 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:24:50
Kieran Kinsella #39,

To be honest, a bit disappointing that no-one has said, "Don't mention the War" yet, that would be a real classic. Perhaps I am getting too old.

Erik Dols
47 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:26:55
David Midgley #43

"Lighten up."

I hoped that the comparison with an Everton European campaign made clear that I was talking tongue in cheek anyway. But rest assured – I didn't take it all too seriously!

Alan J Thompson
48 Posted 02/05/2019 at 14:42:13
Lyndon, my apologies if you think my post (#12) was aimed at you; it wasn't.

It's this view that we'll somehow be better if we don't qualify which to me reads "Don't try". Similarly, I get almost annoyed at this "loan young players out" – as though playing at a lesser level rather than receiving top class coaching will see them return ready and chomping for 1st team action. Also, that we should build a stadium with a capacity that will cope with an increase on Goodison's capacity – not what we may attract.

These sort of attitudes seem to have been plaguing our club for far too long and it needs to stop somewhere and as soon as possible. We may play in the top league but we are nowhere near the top of it. However, with new management and ownership, the time is now.

Kieran Kinsella
49 Posted 02/05/2019 at 15:02:59
I remember when Roma had a pretty good team in the First Century under Caligula. They had a long European campaign and an away fixture in England but the players refused to play and they lost by default. Beginning of the end for Caligula. They rebounded under Claudius but Bruce Grobelaar stopped their third campaign in '84.
Mike Gaynes
50 Posted 02/05/2019 at 15:39:33
Lyndon, thanks for the clarification at #14. I'm not too disheartened by our missing out, but it is a bit hard to see the upside that you do.

Erik #36, nice bit of tongue-in-cheek in response to David #19's slightly jarring metaphor. I like your satirical turn of mind very much.

Sam #31, I'd say even your 15% figure is too optimistic now. Rudiger just had knee surgery and may not be ready for the start of next season. Cahill is 33, injured and out of contract next month. Luiz is out of contract as well, and if he departs, Sarri is down to Christensen and U-23s. His only option with the transfer ban is to bring back a loaned-out CB, and Zouma will certainly be first choice ahead of clunkers like Kalas and Miazga. I think he's gone for sure.

Michael Williams
51 Posted 02/05/2019 at 15:48:27
Although I'm not happy about the team missing out on European football, I believe it will benefit us in the long run.

This Team is really in its first year and I would prefer it to develop the strongest base of stability possible. This means a full interrupted summer of training with all our players and our new ones as well. I want Marco to have another summer to develop his style of play.

Europa League next season would mean very little time for training because they would be preparing to play games in Europe.

As someone else said, we have a large squad but lack quality. We are not a top six team nor close to it. We cannot handle Europe like they can. Let's get another season under our belt where we can bed in new players, hopefully develop young ones, and focus on the Premier League and domestic cups. A focused year of football with a strong summer of preparation is what this team needs.

Jay Harris
52 Posted 02/05/2019 at 16:15:05
I think it is debatable whether we are better off in the Europa next season or not but for me the main consideration has to be a plan to be ranked alongside the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Man U in terms of quality.

This season we have shown flashes of that especially lately but we need to be consistently on a better level than the likes of Wolves, Leicester, Watford etc. To do that we need more better quality players.

Whether the Europa will make us more attractive to quality players rather than a nice contract, a good club environment and regular game time really depends on the player.

Most top class players will want CL so we have to look for unproven talent that can become top level. This is the challenge for M&M and next season will be a watershed in our clubs desire to get back to the top.

Just remember its a marathon not a sprint and will require patience and support from the terraces.

Brian Williams
53 Posted 02/05/2019 at 16:30:49
From today's

Chelsea (who tend to qualify for Europe, year-in & year-out) have drawn two and lost three of the games they have played in total directly after their Europa League appearances, having been dumped out of the FA Cup and lost the Carabao Cup final after each of their last-32 round games against Malmo.

The Blues' form after the Europa League in 2019 has had a significant effect on their push to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Stephen Meighan
54 Posted 02/05/2019 at 16:57:24
Not really bothered about playing in the Europa League as it fucks up my weekend going the game. Much prefer playing on a Saturday afternoon then going on the ale with the lads. I hate Thursday night and Sunday football, it's so inconvenient...

Haha – only joking! I would welcome it every season but I think we need a better quality of squad at this moment in time. Maybe next season might be a bit too soon but recent results look like we're going in the right direction... here's hoping!

Kieran Kinsella
55 Posted 02/05/2019 at 17:30:53
Brian 53

The stats are a bit misleading. One game they lost was vs Man City in a cup final. Everyone expected them to lose, Europa or not, cause Man City are better.

Man Utd are about the same level as Chelsea and beat them in a cup game during Ole's 8-game golden start. So these games aren't representative of the campaign as a whole.

Also, they are on course right now for a top 4 finish AND have the possibility of winning the Europa League. So all's well that ends well.

Mike Allison
56 Posted 02/05/2019 at 18:53:35
It’s very rare that I disagree with Lyndon, but this time I do. I’ve gone into my reasons on others threads so don’t want to be too repetitive, but essentially my point is that we already have a big enough squad to start 22 different players in the two games a week. Our only worry is the quality of the second XI within that 22, but if the worst that can happen is that they lose the European games they would otherwise not even be in, then I think it’s worth the risk.

If we signed nobody at all I’d still think that, and if we can retain Gomes and Zouma (or reasonable replacements) and add some quality, especially up front, then I’d be optimistic of winning two games a week not just playing in them.

What I’d say we definitely don’t need is a ‘padded out’ squad. We’ve got one of the most padded out squads I’ve ever seen, and surely the biggest Everton have ever had. We need to sign one or two high quality match winners, to retain the best players we’ve got (including the loanees), and to give opportunities to our young players who’ve not had game time (at least at Everton) this season.

Being in Europe will help attract and retain the quality players, and it will help develop the younger ones. It’s just a shame that it looks like it won’t happen anyway now.

Gerard McKean
57 Posted 02/05/2019 at 18:58:53
The obvious question: have we done enough over the season actually to deserve Europa League qualification?

The less obvious question: is everybody at the club unequivocally hoping for or demanding this qualification?

Terry White
58 Posted 02/05/2019 at 19:30:26
Sounds like Gerard (#57) is gearing himself up for yet another attack on club management.
Dave Abrahams
59 Posted 02/05/2019 at 20:19:12
Terry (58), if he is I hope he posts it soon, he always makes sense to me, especially in conversation when I’ve met him a couple of times.
Bobby Mallon
60 Posted 02/05/2019 at 20:57:48
Honestly, do supporters of this club really think the owner of our club sits down in the closed season and says to his minions, "This season, we will finish 8th — that's our objective." Because I keep reading posts saying the club's ambition is to do just that. What a crock of doo doo. They want to win things — the problem is, we don't have the players for that yet.
Gerard McKean
61 Posted 02/05/2019 at 20:58:15
Sounds like Terry is gearing up to answer the questions. Let me guess: yes and yes. Terry I bow to your objectivity.
Raymond Fox
62 Posted 02/05/2019 at 21:05:23
The notion that if we were to qualify for the Europa League, we could pick all the players who can't get into the first team is clutching at straws, it just wouldn't happen.

What's the point of getting mullered most games, that's not going to win us friends anywhere? Logic dictates at least in my head if you are travelling to, often the back of beyond midweek, it is going to affect negatively on your Premier League performances, and that's disregarding injuries that's likely to occur.

We are still some way off the top 6 clubs and that's with two loan players that have performed with great credit.

There is a great deal to play for domestically next season without the hindrance of the Europa League.

Mike Gaynes
63 Posted 02/05/2019 at 21:06:20
So Dave, you share Gerard's acidic view of DBB?
Paul Birmingham
64 Posted 02/05/2019 at 21:07:21
Time to gauge the facts of where Everton is but, if we did qualify, it would be a tough but possible task to build a squad rotation plan, and I'd be including fringe players to blood them. Would it get us through to qualify, and will we progress through the first group stage?

Bearing the bags of dead wood now stacked up outside Finch Farm, it would suggest that the squad is now threadbare on the basis, the priority is to get rid. But we may not get rid of many of these players?

If these players on big wads can't be off loaded, which in some cases may be down to offsetting losses, all free transfers, it may not be realistic, as they'd still be on the books under contract and eligible to play.

Assuming Marcel Brands has some hidden nuggets ready to sign in pre-season and hopefully very early, the transition time could take ages or could be easy.

Rarely though is transition that simple and easy, but great players are footballers who have the attributes to play in any football ground.

So, for me, the potential of being in Europe every season is a dream that would be great. Next season, I hope so, but whether it happens, remains to be seen, but there's a few players with experience of the Klogg Trip last time out.

That experience could help us this time, if we get in.

Dave Abrahams
65 Posted 02/05/2019 at 21:33:17
Mike (63) I listen to Gerard, a man who worked along side her, and take on board what he says, he knows her and how she operates.

Maybe you know her, Mike, and have a different view point. If you do, I'd listen to you too.

Terry White
66 Posted 02/05/2019 at 21:56:07
Mike (#63), be ready for battle when Gerard fires the first arrow.

Dave (#59 and #65) and, of course, Gerard (#57 and #61- I thought you had decided not to post any more on TW?).

Of course I respect the right of anyone to say or write whatever they like as long as it is not slanderous or libelous. Perhaps the point is contained in that. Gerard can talk to you, Dave, and say many things, perhaps based upon experience. But he has not shared these thoughts with us on ToffeeWeb, maybe because they are libelous or slanderous? To the best of my knowledge, Gerard has not shared any evidence of reasons for his evident distaste of our CEO who has clearly offended Gerard. But why? Let us all in the secret so we can further form our own opinions.

My own opinions are formed by what I read and see, not necessarily the best choices I agree, but also from other people who also know DBB and who speak most highly of her, her qualifications that Gerard questions, and her capabilities. They might also have some insight into the reasons behind Gerard's personal attacks, were I to ask them, but I have chosen not to.

This started out as a nice discussion as to whether we will be better off or not playing in the Europa League. Then Gerard dropped in his not-so-subtle introduction to "let's question the Board again". Thank you, Bobby (#60) for your sensible comment on this.

Personally, I would be delighted to meet Gerard and Dave et al face-to-face and buy you an appropriate beverage as Mike G. has recently done. We are all long-term supporters of our beloved club who share different views. Trying to argue in print is usually a futile thing to do as nuances are lost. Again, I support every individual's right to express their view. It is unsupported personal attacks for which I have no time.

Dave Abrahams
67 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:06:53
Terry (66) Gerard hasn't said anything to me that he hasn't said on here, so if the things he has said on here are libellous, I doubt if there has been any reaction from them. I don't know of the reasons why Gerard has a dislike for her, maybe Terry you should ask your friends, they could possibly tell you.
Geoff Lambert
69 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:10:44
On the subject of Zouma and Gomes, it's looking like we will be trying to sign Gomes on a permanent deal, which he seems happy with, but looking to loan Zouma for a further season; this is to further evaluate his knee injury.

As for new signings, we need to offload the deadwood or next season the FFP rules will cripple us.

Tony Abrahams
70 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:22:21
Nuances are lost? Especially considering Gerard hadn’t mentioned DBB, during this thread.

Maybe he was going to, or maybe people’s assumptions are wrong, or maybe the arrow might be on fire?

Ernie Baywood
71 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:25:19
I just can't not want us to get there.

And this is with the full knowledge that, despite many saying we should just use it for experience or rotate for midweek, when the games roll around, we'll be critical of weakened teams.

We have to be a European Competition team. And when we get there, we will have to change the squad to reflect the increased workload. There'll never be a good time.

Just win the last three and I'll be happy.

Mike Gaynes
72 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:26:34
Nope, Dave #65, I don't know her and don't have a particular view of her. I've just always been struck by how lengthy, intense and personal Gerard's criticisms of her have been. At one point Lyndon redacted some he feared might be considered legally libelous. So I'm naturally curious, although I know you and other TW mates have conversed with Gerard personally and, as you say, taken his views on board.

Tony, I'm the one who brought up DBB, not Gerard -- again, just curious to know what Dave's views are, given his expressed respect for Gerard's.

Tony Abrahams
73 Posted 02/05/2019 at 22:52:33
I know who brought DBB up Mike, but I don’t know why, just like I don’t really know Dave’s views on this lady.

If I was to guess she seemed like a Kenwright production, but I’m not really bothered so much by this, because it just seems that it would have been better to ask Gerard his views, rather than assume/dismiss that he was just out to attack DBB, again?

I know you asked the question direct to Dave, Mike, but I think it might have been more interesting to see where Gerard, was really going with this first.

Maybe Gerard was going to go over old ground, but maybe there is also a chance that he might not have been.

Mike Gaynes
74 Posted 03/05/2019 at 00:16:17
Again, Tony, I wasn't asking or assuming anything about what Gerard intended to say. I was just asking Dave's opinion. I do that a lot.

Don Alexander
75 Posted 03/05/2019 at 01:17:06
Jay Wood, on the surface your opinion seems laudable, truly, but the issue me and others have is perhaps best illustrated by using a boxing analogy.

We, Everton, have fought in the top rings, but years and years ago. We aspire to those rings again but those now at the top rightly fear our full resurgence.

That puts pressure on us next time we're in a top ring to punch the crap out of our opponents, and not dance around the ring failing to land anything of note before taking one on the chin from some upstart club nobody's ever heard of, to the huge additional cost to our, Everton's, reputation as a viable football club attractive to players with the skill and desire to actually consistently win.

That's why I think deferring a year is more pragmatic. Best wishes.

Darren Hind
76 Posted 03/05/2019 at 04:30:33
They have a race up in Redcar every year. The "Northumberland plate". They call it the Pitman's derby (work it out). It's a decent event, but the prize money and the horses involved are strictly second class. If it was a football competition, it would be the Thursday Cup.

I had some of my greatest moments on European tours, They often had nothing to do with football. I have made many friends for life. People who were already friends would act completely out of character. We had laughs we still talk about today. Then there was of course, the footy.

There's no way on this earth I would want to deny the younger fans the chance to experience all of that... But let's not kid ourselves that this is some sort of a stepping stone, a crucial stage in our development as a club. Competing in the Pitman's derby will never pass for preparation for Epsom.

If we want to be involved in a competition where we dramatically increase the risk of injury, one which will take us to the point of exhaustion, an attritional test of resources, where we'd have to get over dozens of obstacles just to be involved in the interesting bit... Why not save on the airfares and just enter the Grand National?

I'm all for it, but play the kids... and don't expect to dislodge Eggheads, Pointless or the Chase from the top three of the early evening viewing figures.

Darren Hind
77 Posted 03/05/2019 at 04:55:05
If memory serves me right; There were a number of posters appealing to Gerard to reconsider his decision not to post any more on TW. I'm delighted to see he has done so.

He knows more than most about the inner machinations of the club and whether you buy all he says or not (he doesn't hold a gun to your head), he is one of the most interesting posters on this site.

Eric Myles
78 Posted 03/05/2019 at 05:43:18
Brian #53, how is it that playing in the EL has supposedly affected Chelsea's league form but all those previous years of CL games didn't??
Geoff Lambert
79 Posted 03/05/2019 at 06:27:31
It looks like both Chelsea and Arsenal could be in the final of the donkey derby. Both sets of supporters looked so bored last night home and away, just like they will in the final even when one of them lifts the cup. What a shit night.

And the stepping stone for lifting the cup? Yep, you guessed it, they get to run with the big boys at Aintree.

The other one will most likely have to do it all again... what a shame.

Kevin Prytherch
80 Posted 03/05/2019 at 06:49:11
Chelsea results after Europa League:
Won 4
Drew 5
Lost 3

Chelsea results after group stages of Europa League:
Won 4
Drew 2
Lost 0

Geoff Lambert
81 Posted 03/05/2019 at 07:05:22
P.S. The last four winners of the Donkey derby A Madrid. Man Utd, Chelsea. Sevilla. "Eeyore eeyore"
Jerome Shields
83 Posted 03/05/2019 at 08:57:53
Totally agree Lyndon.
Brian Williams
84 Posted 03/05/2019 at 10:02:39
Eric #78, Kevin #80.

I must admit, I cut and pasted the results I posted from an article I read. I was in a hurry and didn't delve too far. What I will say though is, Kevin, the results I gave were for games "immediately" following their Europa League games, not two or three games later. Don't know if your figures represent the same.

Anyway, my opinion with regard to yes or no to Europa League qualification is based on whether I feel we're good enough to be competitive in the competition and maybe win it. I don't believe we are.

If we were 7th and pushing at 6th, a couple of points behind maybe, and had enjoyed a mostly consistent season, then I'd be looking forward to the Europa League.
But personally I feel the "green shoots of revival" are too fragile this season to overstretch us and I'd personally prefer to wait until we have a better squad than we have at the moment as I think we'd struggle.

There's still a BIG gap in points between us and the top six and I think we need to close that gap and be realistically competitive in the Premier League. The 5th and 6th placed teams are still much better than us (the league doesn't lie) despite the fact we beat three of the top six recently.

I'd just HATE to see our improvement halted and confidence shot to bits and would personally prefer to continue the rebuild during the summer and start the new Premier League season with the confidence and squad to concentrate on closing that gap and maybe even overtaking one or two (or more) of those "better" teams.

That's just how I feel about it. A pragmatic approach if you like. Some will say a defeatist approach but hey, we're all allowed our opinion! :-)

Tony Abrahams
85 Posted 03/05/2019 at 11:56:01
Great article in the echo by Tony Scott, talking about Goodson Park, and hopefully the old lady might even see Champions League football before the bulldozers move in, and the only thing left will be memories.
Steve Carse
86 Posted 03/05/2019 at 17:56:12
I wonder if some of the anti-Europa Cup views expressed on here might be somewhat diluted if early next year we see Wolves v Real Madrid as one of its knock out stage fixtures, and we've already witnessed the traditional early League Cup exit and an early FAC exit.
Andy Crooks
87 Posted 03/05/2019 at 20:19:44
Terry and Mike, I was fortunnate enough to meet and talk to Gerard. He struck me as a level headed, pretty laid back guy; someone whose views I would certainly not dismiss out of hand.
Terry White
88 Posted 03/05/2019 at 21:05:08
Andy (#87) I have no doubt Mr. McKean is a very intelligent man and good company. I would just like him to explain what he hates Professor Barrett-Baxendale so much.
Kevin Prytherch
89 Posted 04/05/2019 at 07:26:45
Brian 84 - mine were for the games after europa league all season. I didn’t look to see if there was a break, just looked at the next game...

Anyway - Chelsea’s seemed to cope with the group stages, then coped less when the knockout phase started.

Like someone else said, it doesn’t take into account the opposition who were a lot more difficult after the group stages.

Drew O'Neall
90 Posted 04/05/2019 at 08:33:10
Give me a July start in the Europa League over a July start against the Kariobangi Sharks any day!

The argument about fixture congestion with Europa League is a cop out. Our squad is massive and the opposition is poor.

Given our recent attempts at pre-season, I’m much happier for UEFA to schedule our warm-up matches than the club.

I appreciate Lyndon’s words of consolation which, I think were meant to be reflective of and contributory to, the overall positive feelings towards the performance of the management and the team in the closing stages of the season but we must qualify for Europe at every opportunity now that we have the resources to react positively to the challenge.

Drew O'Neall
91 Posted 04/05/2019 at 08:34:25
Nice photo too btw.
Stan Schofield
92 Posted 04/05/2019 at 13:21:57
Terry@88: I don't think the term 'hate' is appropriate from the articles and comments that I've read on here by Gerard McKean. I'm sure he can speak for himself, but I'd say his articles and comments have been food for thought, apparently based on information not otherwise widely known. I've certainly seen no evidence of 'hatred' as such, merely criticism and scepticism based on the details set forth.
Terry White
93 Posted 04/05/2019 at 22:26:53
Would "extreme dislike" of the CEO of Everton Football Club work better for you, Stan (#92).

I agree with you - Mr. McKean's comments about her are "apparently based on information not otherwise widely known". My question is, why he can make such criticism/scepticism/assertions which evidence his "extreme dislike" about her and not share with us the "information not otherwise widely known"?

Tony Abrahams
94 Posted 04/05/2019 at 22:54:22
Did DBB, appoint herself? Gerard comes across as not liking her, but maybe his real disdain is for the person/people who appointed her, is how I’ve personally read what he’s said on these pages in the past.
Terry White
95 Posted 04/05/2019 at 23:20:50
Not the way I have read it, Tony (#94). Has always read as very personal to me as if there is some history here we do not know about.
Mark Wilson
96 Posted 05/05/2019 at 01:03:24
Simon #8,

Early on in this thread you reference the positives of being able to use younger squad players and non first 17 or do first team picks in Europa League games. That's been one of my strongest arguments too, but I'm now not sure that playing the equivalent of an U23 squad every euro game will be allowed by UEFA or have the rules on this been relaxed ?

I have an advantage over many tonight in that we know we haven't made it after Wolves win over Fulham. I'm totally gutted. Had we finished 7th and had Man City beaten Watford I feel it would have been a small consolation for a terrible season. I know this sounds strange as to read some supporters comments recently you'd think we had just missed out on being Champions, rather then beaten a few top six teams and kept clean sheets.

We've done better since stopping the shite scoring at Goodison. I've enjoyed the last few weeks. But even in that run we've produced a shamefully poor performance at Fulham and yes tho we played ok we still couldn't convert one of many chances against Palace. Just one win from two would have seen us with a brilliant chance of 7th, and six points would have done it.

There are fair and reasonable aspects of not making it into Europa League by the back door. But for me it's simple, it would have been a little bit of progress after so much utter crap this year. We need the momentum of Europe, we need to be there, anyway possible and even with the July start. We need to take the League Cup seriously.

We need to do a lot of things but I'm worried that some very easily pleased fans with very short memories are in for a shock. This transfer window could be impossibly tough for our club. Cannot see Zouma or Gomes staying and if they do, well, it's great but a huge part of our surprisingly limited transfer budget or what I think will be a limited budget. We have only been “better” for a few weeks. The rest of the season was dire. Even against Burnley we lost the plot for 50 minutes.

I know it's harsh to dismiss those good wins recently but if Zouma and Gomes go, how difficult will it be to replace them? We will need x 2 CB's, one striker and maybe two? I'm not going into the DCL row but frankly the Burnley game just continued to reinforce why he's not a first-choice No 9.

Should be an interesting and now very restful summer !

Stan Schofield
97 Posted 05/05/2019 at 10:45:25
Terry@93: No, that wouldn't do for me either.

The simple point I'm making is that I cannot see any evidence of personal dislike on Gerard's part. What I can see is criticism of DBB's appointment based on some observations he's presented. They might be personally motivated or they might not, but I cannot see any evidence that they are.

I raised the issue of you using the term 'hate' because on social media that term seems to be too readily used towards commentators who are raising apparently substantial issues that others don't agree with, and instead of sticking to the substance the debate gets personal.

Tony Abrahams
98 Posted 05/05/2019 at 10:46:35
Fair enough Terry, maybe it’s just the way I think or read things, but considering she never appointed herself, then surely it can’t just be about one person.
Gerard McKean
99 Posted 05/05/2019 at 12:32:16
Just back on TW and surprised to see my post being analysed so much. Much ado about nothing?

In an earlier article a while back, I described how I'd been in a meeting at EFC when a view was expressed (and not by the current CEO) that the optimum end-of-season position was for the team to finish one place below qualification for Europe as this maximises staff bonuses and minimises extra effort for the following season. When I took issue, I was told inevitably that it been said in jest. What's the old saying?

Terry, and others, I do not hate anyone. I love Everton and I hope they get the right team on and off the pitch to give every Evertonian under the age of about 50 the great joy we older ones have experienced.

Tony Abrahams
100 Posted 05/05/2019 at 12:54:13
It really is that simple Gerard, we just want Everton to be the best once again!

This won’t happen whilst the jesters are around though, it makes perfect sense to me.

Jerome Shields
101 Posted 07/05/2019 at 09:02:01
Zouma or his replacement is going to be the main question. Mina is a concern. You would have expected him to be fully fit at this stage.

Gueye is vital to Everton; I can't see him being allowed to leave, but expect speculation regarding his future to be rife all Summer.

In my opinion, Everton will be targeting two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards. They will prioritize according to money received for deadwood and progress of younger players.

As has been said by some ToffeeWeb posters, anyone brought in will be expected to bed into Silva's system first and continuously develop in their preferred position in the context of overall team objectives. No Saviour Striker.

Jim Potter
102 Posted 08/05/2019 at 10:21:30
I wanted Europe but am also a realist. At this early stage of our journey with Silva we don't have a squad containing enough quality to compete on all those fronts successfully.

If the Europa Cup was a knockout tournament, which I believe it should be, then I would have bitten your hand off to get in it. But the format as it stands just drains a team like us and leaves us struggling in our Premiership games.

Let's go all out for a top six position next year and look to win a cup.

The higher we are, and the more silverware we fight for, will only enhance our chances of attracting the higher standard of player we will need to do well in Europe.

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