I often read calls for Everton FC to set themselves a target of finishing in the “Top Six” (T6). So I thought it would be interesting to see if that is possible by looking at the seasons since 2013-14.
The League Positions
The T6 teams are, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. In the last 5 seasons the league has been won four times by one of these teams and every team except Chelsea has been runner up in the last five years. The 2015-16 season saw Leicester City win the most open Premier League championship of recent years.
Taking an average of league positions since 2013-14, the clubs have finished in the order
At the time of writing, taking the current positions into account; and assuming Arsenal win their game in hand, making them third after 32 games, the positions remain similar with Arsenal moving ahead of Chelsea in my T6 rankings.
If you imagine that between 2013-14 and 2017-18 season there are thirty T6 positions available (5 seasons x 6 positions = 30 places), only Leicester City, Southampton & Everton have taken one of these positions just once each, meaning the T6 have 27 out of 30 between them.
The sixth place club has on average, required 65 points to achieve this result. The lowest since 2013-14 was 62 points, the highest 69 points. To finish top of the second tier in the Premier League, (i.e. usually 7th) is, on average 5 points behind the T6, therefore you’d require 60 points, but as the difference is usually 7 points when you take into account the “anomaly” seasons in brackets, then the goal would be to achieve 58 points.
The difference in points between 6th and 7th finish.
2016: 1pt (Leicester 1st, Southampton 6th making a “Top 8,” 8th to 9th difference was 9pts)
2014: 5pts (Everton 5th, “Top 7,” 7th to 8th difference was 8pts)
Source – The Guardian
I’m not an expert on any of this and better informed fans regularly discuss club finances, however this article shows what happened during 2016-17 season. I won’t regurgitate it, safe to say that the top six positions for club turnover and player wages were all occupied by T6 clubs. Leicester had the seventh highest turnover and wages, Everton were tenth (turnover) and ninth (wages).
I want us to win the Premier League, don’t get me wrong, but to do so requires major change both on and off the pitch. Until we can re-establish ourselves into “Best of the Rest” then we will only stand by and watch other teams finish above us.
To be “Best of the Rest” means finishing higher than the teams able to compete on our level, such as Leicester City, West Ham United, Newcastle United, and lately Wolverhampton Wanderers. You can make a case, for example, that Newcastle’s off the field problems would likely count against them finishing seventh or higher, but they do retain that potential.
Consistently being “Best of the Rest” means being in position to take a T6 place should one of those clubs have a poor season. When Leicester City won the league, we were still unable to take advantage of Chelsea’s poor season, finishing eleventh behind their tenth! The other club breaking that stranglehold was Southampton.
OFF THE PITCH we require a greater cash turnover as a club. Greater income / turnover means we can pay higher wages and attract better players (a horrible sentence to write, but unfortunately true in the modern game). Even if we can’t break into the T6 turnover echelons, we need to be closer.
ON THE PITCH in short, not only do we need to win more games, we need to lose fewer games. “Best of the Rest” requires 58 to 60 points, for example, winning 15 games, drawing 13 and losing only 10 achieves 58 points. Then bridging the gap to finish sixth requires something like 19 wins, 10 draws, 9 losses (67 points). Our fifth place finish in 2013-14 saw us win 21 games, draw 9 and lose only 8, giving us a total of 72 points. Spurs were sixth on 69 points.
If we cannot achieve either then I’m sorry to say, the only way we will win the league, or possibly finish fourth, is with a freak season like 2015-16, when more than one of the T6 teams struggled.
Saying we need more money, win more games and lose less often is stating the obvious.
I cannot see us breaking the T6 stranglehold without first re-establishing ourselves as top of the second tier of the Premier League. We were in that position more times than we were not under David Moyes so I believe it is possible to repeat that. A new stadium will help us keep pace in the income race, but going beyond that will require a sustained input far beyond anything I can see at this moment.
It is my opinion that to finish in the T6 will require us to punch above our financial weight and if a T6 team has a poor season we need to be in position to take advantage.