The Top-6 Finish

by   |   10/04/2019  24 Comments  [Jump to last]

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

Club Avg Pos Winner Runner-up
Man City 2.2 2 1
Tottenham 3.8 0 1
Chelsea 4 2 0
Arsenal 4 0 1
Man United 4.8 0 1
Liverpool 4.8 0 1

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 Points

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.

2018: 9pts

2017: 8pts

2016: 1pt (Leicester 1st, Southampton 6th making a “Top 8,” 8th to 9th difference was 9pts)

2015: 2pts

2014: 5pts (Everton 5th, “Top 7,” 7th to 8th difference was 8pts)

The Finance

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).

The Reality

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.

The Solution

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.

My Conclusion

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.

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Reader Comments (24)

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Dick Fearon
1 Posted 11/04/2019 at 01:10:36
I have just viewed a boring United vs Barca and its slowness of pace had me struggling to keep my eyes open.
If that is the type of football that floats your boat you are easily pleased.
For the most part I witnessed two mobs of mega rich actors going through the motions with the least sign of passion or win at all costs snuffed out by a card waving Ref.

I'd rather watch the Thud and Blunder of a typical PL game.

Drew O'Neall
2 Posted 11/04/2019 at 08:47:06
Interesting analysis but the conclusion seems to be ‘knife to a gun fight’.

If your assertion is that we should aim to consistently finish 7th and await a failure by a ‘T6’ team (Chelsea?) then similar analysis of 7th-X would be more useful to understand what’s required to do just that.

Leicester’s championship season tells us that the analysis and the stats don’t mean a thing except to understand the past and while you can create a business model which forecasts a 7th place finish each season it is more dynamic than that.

It’s possible with the right ideas, the right attitude and with a bit of luck, to do anything in football. Each game is a cup final which either team can win, particularly in the Premier League.

Fran Mitchell
3 Posted 11/04/2019 at 10:21:40
The 'best of the rest' position, also known as the 'everton' position we already hold. Not that we have finished consistently 7th recently - but we are the benchmark - we are alwats there.

The likes of West Ham and our other 'competitors' change from season to season - wolves and watford this season, last season was Burnley who this year are on the cusp of relegation.

Everton have largely been poor for the last 2 seasons, and yet top-8 finish was atrained last year, and is likely this year.

Wolves are Media Darlings, apparently brilliant. Everton have been 'largely awful', and just 4 points separate us.

So herr is why 'top-6' is our target. Because if we treat our 'problems', then we should be attaining 10+ por points per season.

We are best of the rest already.

Drew O'Neall
4 Posted 11/04/2019 at 10:27:32
If Everton finished 7th for the next 3 (insert your own metric to represent consistency) seasons, would the media start talking about a ‘Big 7’ or would we be the ‘best of the rest’?
Derek Thomas
5 Posted 11/04/2019 at 10:54:40
All the above not withstanding, we a good way...I know we all love Goodison under lights and beer ups to foreign parts, not to not play in the Europa Cup especially next season and throw as much as we can at first, the top 6...which I realise will get you into the back into the distraction of the Thursday League and those beer ups

To sum up:

Get into the top 6, stay in it...make somebody else The Best of the Rest, then on to The Top 4.

Over to the 3 M's...when you're ready lads, in your own time.

Fran Mitchell
6 Posted 11/04/2019 at 11:30:41
Drew, if we finished 7th every season but didn't infiltrate anynof the top6 positions, then yes, we'd be 'best of the rest'.

The top 6 are real, the top.six positions interchange between the same six teams, but no teams stays in one position, and all 6 'target' winning the league every season.

We will be part of the "top-7" when we are interchanging positions with other teams in the top-7, not necesserily finishing 7th each season.

Brian Harrison
7 Posted 11/04/2019 at 11:54:30
I think without doubt the Premier league is the hardest to win, in most European leagues the title is between 2 or 3 teams, were here any of 6 can win it. How do you break into the top 6 to start with, which we did a few times under David Moyes. For me the most important person is the manager, you can assemble a group of very good players but unless they are managed well they will never break into the top 6. The other criteria very often is the money spent on players, although Spurs have slightly bucked that trend, as did Leicester when they won the league.

As happened when Leicester won the league some of the top sides for one reason or another didnt perform, but they couldn't follow up that win the following season. One of the reasons was that they didnt have the squad to compete in the Champions league as well as the Premier league, and the same applies to teams who qualify for the Europa League, trying to do both is beyond clubs outside the top 6. No Surprise that the last 2 Premier league winners of the Europa league is Chelsea and Man Utd both usually top 6 clubs.

While Everton or any other club not regularly in the top 6 will also find it difficult to hold on to their better players, again yet another problem for clubs like us, whereas regular top 6 clubs will tend to only lose players to Real Madrid or Barcelona. So they are less likely to lose many were clubs in Evertons position could lose 2 or 3 in one season.

Yes top 6 will get you a Europa league spot but the top players don't go to clubs who attain Europa league spots they go to clubs with Champions league pedigree. So therein lies the problem, we will only attract players of a certain level, were the top 6 clubs will always be able to attract better players. I know it reads as if we have no chance of getting top 6, but we will need things to go our way to acheive it. I think not being in the Europa league next season gives us a chance, we will need to keep all the players we have now and add a striker at least. Leicester proved without any outside distractions they won the league but were unable to maintain that level, even though they didnt lose to many players from that winning squad.

Eric Myles
8 Posted 11/04/2019 at 12:41:00
I remember a few years ago when we WERE among the "Top 6" regularly finishing 5th or 6th and one time even 4th.

But in those days it was called The Top 4, and only became the T6 because of our neighbours fall from the CL positions.

Fran Mitchell
9 Posted 11/04/2019 at 12:48:21
Disagree Eric. It became a top 6 when City and Spurs entered. One vi investment, the other via good management.

As the OP states, the average league position of the top 6 clubs is between 2-5.

Our average position in the same time is what? 8th? And other teams? 9th? 10th?

It is a dramatic difference and justifies the label 'top-6'

Thomas Lennon
10 Posted 11/04/2019 at 12:50:33
We are best of the rest when we are the top of a group of teams who are on a substantially lower points total than the top 6 - the gap is currently 14 points.

The top half of the PL is currently made up of 3 mini -leagues. Top 2, then a gap of 14 points and 30 - odd goal difference to the ' still got Champions League to play for' group of 4, then another 14 point gap to the 'still got the Europa Cup to play for' group.

Everton need to be seeing out the busy Christmas period a lot better, coping with 2 games a week AND scoring at least 14 more points compared with this year to join the 'Top 7'.

Dermot Byrne
11 Posted 11/04/2019 at 13:48:04
Strikes me the whole T7, T6 or T4 is just a media creation and helps fans with clubs who have no chance in modern game feel as if they have won something.

Europa League?

Hate it. Too many games that ruin the chances in domestic league or cups. In the end, ya win or don't.

I will laugh at myself if I start celebrating 7th!

David Pearl
12 Posted 11/04/2019 at 14:07:06
Well 5th and 6th are also Europa League places, and its easy to forget this because there is this top 6 sky are always talking about. Leicester broke the mould of course with a team that was immediately broken up with them losing Kante (and remember Danny Drinklager).

We are not too far away... definately not as far as the media think. We have, for the most part a young team with scope for vast improvement. The most important person for me is Brands. He has to free up some wages while bringing in just 2 or 3 top quality young ish players to add to what we have.

Spurs are in a fantastic postition at the moment and also have a group of young and improving players that they will need to add to now they have that stadium built. We have to build with the young players we have and use our youth system to greater effect while our own Bramley is built.

As long as Silva can keep this current momentum and can learn how to change shape during a game when things arent going well, we have a lot to look forward to. We can look up! Leicester and West Ham also have some good players though and could also improve. We are in for some changes I think in the next year or two with some suprizes. Chelsea could sell Hazzard, Arsenal are a mixed bag, City are aging... Utd bubble will burst and Ole will last till next Xmas! The shite will be relegated (we live in hope).

Jay Wood

13 Posted 11/04/2019 at 14:08:19
Like it or not, the top four which has now extended to the top six is not a myth. Year on year, it is the same top six (with the occasional aberration, corrected the following year) that occupy those places and secure European football.

It's their year-on-year involvement and exposure in the European competitions that helps fill their coffers and gives them a higher perceived profile. This is turn attracts higher quality players. It's a virtuous circle.

All six have achieved it (as Fran says @ 9) by lucking out on heavy duty investment or by good management. Something Everton has distinctly lacked during the PL era.

Possibly, just possibly, that is changing under Moshiri's stewardship. Against that, you have to say a very, VERY sizeable wedge has already been spunked away without radically improving the team's or club's fortunes.

I've always maintained if we want to break into this elite clique, the minimum we should expect each season is European qualification.

I never get the arguments offered that qualifying for Europe puts too great a strain on our resources. That we should aim for CL football, or nothing.

Not even the existing top 6 can cherry pick the European competition they qualify for each season. We are far from being able to do so.

It is part of the custodians' responsibility, therefore, to secure the finances that can afford a quality squad that can handle a dual domestic and European campaign.

Until we embrace and affect such a policy, we are not going to make any sort of immediate or permanent dent on the top six any time soon.

Stan Schofield
14 Posted 11/04/2019 at 14:23:05
The only target we should have is to win as many matches as possible. The rest will take care of itself.

Of course, having as much money as possible will help achieve that target.

Paul Birmingham
15 Posted 11/04/2019 at 21:52:42
I hope we get in to Europe, as I believe MB and MS, would embrace the challenges and opportunities it presents for the squad and the business side of the game.

To be consistent and consistent year on year is only acheived by the afore mentioned so called top 6, whom on merit basis on league position are th3 top six.

Let’s hope that the good form continues this Saturday and through to the end of this season. If we get into Europe then the likes of Zouma and Gomes would have more reasons to stay?

The momentum could help us deliver a good preseason.

We live in hope eternal.

Dave Ganley
16 Posted 11/04/2019 at 21:55:30
Well it's a good job that football is not played based on stats really.

Jay Wood has pretty much nailed it with his post. Good management. As it stands, the title race is being decided by money bags Citeh and RS who, like it or not, is up there by good management. Yes the RS have spent in VVD and Allison but the rest of their team has not been purchased with exhorbitant fees. They both play good football but as to the rest of the so called top 6, well their positions can be attained by us with good management. We have a good core of players who are now starting to show their worth. We need a proper goalscorer that much is obvious but if we can start to show consistency then there is no reason why we can't start to challenge united, the chavs, arsenal and spurs.

I think that there were very few of us who had faith in Silva 6 weeks ago, maybe apart from Steve Ferns, however, he appears to actually be learning from his mistakes and I also feel he now realises the size of the job he took on. As has been stated, it's only 4 years ago that we were an established top 6 side. Bad management and decisions have left us flailing somewhat but, and I say this cautiously, there are seeds of life that next season could be very good if we can get a couple of significant signings.

European competition, again as Jay said, is crucial. We have to be challenging for European places every season. It's not a curse, it's a learning experience of how to cope with the demands of European football. If we always shun the Europa league then how on earth will we ever compete in the CL if we were ever to get there? Let's not forget that the EL winners gain a CL place too. If you're good enough then you'll cope, if not then you build again, enough to be able to cope.

I always believe that we will come again, although at times that seems just fantasy, however, the last few games have shown what can be done. I get the argument that we are now turning up with nothing to play for but nobody really saw this resurgence coming maybe Silva can be the man to lead us into that so called top 6. We have built nicely for the last few games and against arsenal was the best I've seen us play for a long time. It was a 1 0 massacre. It wasn't tippy happy crap, it was thoughtful fast attacking football allied with aggressive defending from the front. How long have we waited for that?

The 64thouasand dollar question is if we can replicate that next season. If we can then there is no reason why we can't compete with and break into that so called top 6 and challenge for trophies.

Drew O'Neall
17 Posted 11/04/2019 at 23:08:59
Keita £48m
Steve Ferns
18 Posted 12/04/2019 at 01:10:49
Where does the big 6 come from? Do we all forget? There was the big 4 first of all. This was the usual 4 who got the CL positions and so had the most money and no one was able to challenge their monopoly. They were Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then along came the Man City revolution and they spent their way into the top 4, and so the media made a big 5. Next Spurs broke into the Top 5 monopoly. Rather than keep this big 5, they media extended it to the Top 6 / Big 6. The only way this becomes a big 7 is if we oust one of them from the Top 6, then the media extend it to keep their favourites in contention, unless it's Spurs, who I think the media would consider as ousted.

The way to break into it, is as I have said many times. Copy the Spurs blueprint and coach your way in. I have always believed Silva as being capable of this, but if he isn't, then we need someone in the same vein, someone who can do it. None of this going from one extreme to the other, Bobby Bullshitter to The Man of Truth, from going down to can't be relegated, from dull football to attacking football. We can't go from attacking football to defensive football next. We need to enforce a similar style. We need to stop looking for short cuts and instant success and to roll our sleeves up and work hard.

Don Alexander
19 Posted 12/04/2019 at 01:11:46
Jay and Dave Ganley make good points but looking at our squad I just don't see the quality, heart or steel to sustain a Europa Cup season on top of domestic demands. That said, Leicester's team of journeymen, with three stars in Kante, Mahrez and Vardy, showed just what might be attainable with the right mental attitude.

Have we seen the nascence of the right mental attitude in the past month I wonder?

Derek Thomas
20 Posted 12/04/2019 at 01:28:33
Drew @ 17; no offence mate, but that statement does does 2 contradictory things. Sets the price for Gueye and, this being Everton, tells us how much we won't get.

In context of the thread, not too slow and steady should win the race...if the race is for 6th, or even and remember your place plebs, the heady regions of seems the millstone we hung around Moyeses neck, while damning him with the faint praise of 'only the 7th-ish trophy' was a long time ago...If they do t move the goalposts again.

Sorry to be so up beat, but its being so cheerful as keeps me going.

Drew O'Neall
21 Posted 12/04/2019 at 08:45:50
Steve and Fran

The T6 all regularly qualify for Champions League, which is the holy grail and only competition which qualifies you for elite status.

Without qualifying for CL I don’t think we would be accepted as part of the English elite except by virtual of etymology of this ‘Top 6’ which would become a misnomer if not replaced - knowing Everton and the media, I expect they would rebadge it faster than a Mini Metro!

Peter Warren
22 Posted 15/04/2019 at 09:23:53
Very well thought out article. I believe if we joined the six it word be a top 7 and rightly so in a way as the top 6 regularly qualify for champions league.

However, I don’t think it’s right to target top 6 or top 4. We should aim to finish top I really not bothered about finishing 4th. We did it once in PL and no big deal.

Manager should try and make us better, philosophy of building a club and team is right, we will need to sell good players but we just need to sell them and buy more players in. I’ve never bought into director of football thing but hope it’s right as that the model Moshiri has chosen and to be fair Brands does seem a good choice for it.

Danny Broderick
23 Posted 17/04/2019 at 08:18:21
We do seem to all be moving in the same direction and I'm optimistic for next season. The fans have found their voice again at Goodison, Brands is on a mission to get rid of some of our deadwood this summer, and the team seems to have settled down. If we can bring in a top striker, we might be able to have a crack at the top 6...
Steve Ferns
24 Posted 24/04/2019 at 13:10:54
This is an interesting Article that is worth re-visiting. One of the things that it mentions is what I will call “The Gap”. Simon focuses on the top 6 and the gap to the rest. Perhaps, it’s harder to see the gap when we focus on such literal terms, if we are a bit more flexible, and change the parameters due to other factors then we can see the extent of the gap in other seasons and going even further back.

City’s new regime remove Mark Hughes and appoint Mancini mid-season and they begin the challenge the established order, but only finish 5th that season. There is a clear gap that season. We are on the coat tails of a top 8, with 61 points in 8th, whilst Birmingham city are 9th and on 50
The Gap: 11 points. 8th to 9th.

The Gap is not to easy to see this season. However, it is there. The Gap is obscured by a drop off from 4th to 5th to 6th to 7th to 8th. So whilst we are only 5 points above Fulham, there’s 9 points to 6th, and 13 to 5th.
The Gap: 9 points. 6th to 8th.

This season saw Newcastle breach the top 6, and get 5th (thanks to Pardew!). Chelsea won the Champions League despite finishing 6th in a chaotic season. We finished above Liverpool and claimed 7th. There is a major gap here but it’s more from 6th (64 points) to 10th (47 points). That’s a massive 17 points and far bigger than you would expect for just four places. There is another gap and that’s 6th (64) to 7th (56)
The Gap: 8 points. 6th to 7th.

Everton again finish above Liverpool. Newcastle crash and burn and struggle to avoid the drop. Martinez wins the cup but takes Wigan down. Steve Clarke’s West Brom claim 8th on 49 points. Liverpool are under Rogers for the first time and are 7th on 61.
The Gap: 12 points. 7th to 8th.

The Martinez season. Everton claim 5th with 72 points. Rogers almost wins the League but for Slippy G. As alluded to above there gap is a bit harder to see. Pochettino’s Southampton have a good season and get 56 points. If you forget them, then there is a big gap.
The Gap: 14 points. 6th to 8th.

There’s no real gap. Just as above, the gap is 2 points. However, look a little closer. The Big 6 do their usual and all get over 62 points. Koeman’s Southampton have 60 points, Swansea have 56, and Stoke 54.
The Gap: 8 points. 6th to 8th.

The Leicester season. It was bonkers this year with Champions Chelsea imploding and coming 10th, we were 11th. Koeman was 6th with Southampton and Bilic took West Ham to 7th and 62 points. As above, the gap was there, but it was 8th to 9th.
The Gap: 9 points. 8th to 9th.

Normal service resumed. This is the table most people expect. 2 teams run away with it. Tight battle for 4th. One of the big 6 off the pace a little in 6th. The Rest miles behind on 8th and Everton in no-mans land between.
The Gap: 23 points from 6th to 8th. 8 points 6th to 7th. 15 points 7th to 8th.

This follows the pattern of the previous season. 2 out front. Tight battle for 4th. 6th off the pace. 8th miles back, one side in 7th in no-man’s land. Only that side was Burnley.
The Gap: 21 points from 5th to 8th. 9 points from 6th to 7th. 5 points from 7th to 8th.

City have only joined the big 6 more recently than you may remember, certainly only in the last 10 years. Over the last 10 years it’s Liverpool who have fallen short more than anyone else, and whilst it seems like Pochettino has worked wonders at Spurs, we have to go back to 2008-9 to see a season where Tottenham are outside the top 6. It’s a good 15 years since they were at our level, despite what our memories may recall.

The league table now seems to have a clutch of teams who get no more than 50 or 52 points at the most. Top of these will usually be around 8th or 9th. The top 6 all tend to get over 65 points. Some teams may over perform and get past the 60 points barrier and upset the natural order. One or two sides tend to be somewhere between 65 and 50 points and caught in a no-man’s land. Those teams never repeat the performance and usually drop right down the table the next season. Usually, in the case of Southampton, because they end up losing all their best players.

We should be in a different situation because of our finances. We should be able to resist many sides from poaching our best players. There are others in a similar position. Like it or not, Leicester and Wolves are backed with similar financial muscle. Leicester are going about things in a similar way to Everton with an eye on youth now. Rogers isn’t a bad manager and you can expect them to be top 10 for sure next season and to be north of 50 points again. Wolves will show a lot by what happens with Neves. If he stays, then they are going places. If Never leaves and Nuno leaves, then they will drop.

We want to be top 6. We need to focus on surpassing 60 points and be ready in case any of the top 6 implodes. Man Utd may struggle next season as well. Chelsea are set for a tough year. But, less so if they keep Sarri and let him get on with it. The other four should be comfortable in the top 4.

You get nothing for 5th or 6th. It means nothing. We need top 4 for Champions League, for the money, the prestige, and the exposure. You now need around 72 points for 4th. That’s something to aim for incrementally. 55 was my target before the season began. I’ll settle for 60 next season, 65 the season after and 70 the season after that. Baby steps. Until we finish top 4, I don’t really care about league placings. It’ll be nice to get 7th this season. But until then it’s about bridging the gap. I believe we can do it. We just need more of what we’ve seen lately.

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