What Should We Expect?

Sam Hoare 12/08/2019 54comments  |  Jump to last

"Remove expectations from people and you'll remove their power to hurt your feelings."

Lord knows we have all been hurt by Everton in the past. And likely will again in the near and distant future. But what expectations should we have for the club this season? I see a lot of angry posters on here who rage against those (including the club possibly) who expectations may be more modest. 'Seventh-ish', a term I believe was initially coined by the missing Phil Walling, became a tentpole for the disparity between our club motto and many fans seemingly more mediocre standards and hopes. Should a club with a history as rich as ours ever be content to top the also-rans?

There's a broader discussion to be had here perhaps about the general nature of expectation. Is it a positive thing to believe the stars will be reached or will it just imbue the hoper with a lifetime of heartache. I myself went to a rather famous public school which hammered into every boy there the belief that we would be the leaders of our various industries and that our expectations should be nothing short of leading society (which ironically one of the least capable of us is now doing).

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I myself am very far from leading in my industry and have spent the best parts of the last decade trying to rid myself of expectations which are increasingly way beyond my reach. Do high expectations drive you to be your very best? Or do they just grind you into the ground when you continually fail to achieve them?

It's not impossible that I might get my 'big break' and be catapulted into the upper echelons as my schooling had convinced me was my destiny but every frustrating day of neck-ache from looking at those echelons from far less lofty positions has persuaded me that actually acceptance may be a considerably healthier buzzword than aspiration.

That is not to say that I don't still have dreams. I still hope that things may turn around for me. But I do not beat myself up every day that they don't. In my professional life, I am still hopeful, I do still crave more but, for the large part, I have allowed myself to begin enjoying 'seventh-ish'. And I think I feel similarly about Everton.

History is a marvellous thing. And it cannot be taken away. But I do not believe it gives you a right to anything. There are many clubs with a similar history to us who have suffered far more degradation. And in fact, focussing too much on history may detract from your ability to enjoy the present and shape the future. Just like going to my school gave me no inherent claim to be the top of my industry, so Everton's glorious history gives us no innate right to expect 3 points at Crystal Palace or anywhere else.

Generally speaking, I think wage bill is a better indication of club resources than net spend or anything and last season we were in 7th spot. Not that far behind Tottenham but a long way behind the other Top 5. The likes of Leicester, West Ham, Palace etc are a bit below us but catching up I believe.

Of course, we should; such figures should not be constraining and Leicester (once) and Spurs (sustainedly) have shown that the order can be upset. Spurs to me are an especially inspiring model and show the wisdom of buying young talented players with resale value and then keeping together that talented young squad under an excellent coach/manager; this is the model I believe Brands now has set out for us. I hope in the future we may develop such young players as Kean, Richarlison, Mina, Pickford, Gbamin etc into a really cohesive and dynamic team. Though patience is required.

Currently, however, I believe there are holes. I believe those who expect us to win every game against 'relegation fodder' are going to get very angry. I believe that hopes of Top 4 are premature. Here is my Top 8 for the coming season:

1. Manchester City: Hopefully. A wonderful squad under the best manager in the world. My one worry is that they miss Kompany and, if Laporte were to get injured, I think they lack a defender of his calibre. But they keep the ball so well maybe they don't need defenders.

2. Liverpool: They've not strengthened much but annoyingly they didn't need to. A major injury to Van Dijk or Salah or Mane could derail them but them and City are in a different game currently.

3. Tottenham Hotspur: Much could depend on the future of Eriksen and how quickly the likes of Ndombele and Lo Celso settle but they still look a cut above the other 3rd place challengers.

4. Arsenal: Here is where it gets less clear. I think Emery is an excellent coach and in Tierney, Pepe and Ceballos they have bought well. I'm not convinced of Luiz and their defence is certainly penetrable but they have a lot of options in their squad and in Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe they have the most potent attack in the league potentially.

5. Chelsea: It didn't start well this weekend but I do think they have some very decent players. Zouma (once he settles) and Rudiger should be a formidable partnership. Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek are excellent midfielders. They have pace and trickery up-front though like us may lack that clinical striker. The question mark is over Lampard and whether he can get them into a system that works. Some more defeats like Sunday may help undermine him.

6. Manchester United: A good start for Ole but they got a bit lucky at times. A lot of pressure on Rashford to produce upfront and on an unhappy Pogba to keep the team ticking in the middle. I think Maguire and Wan-Bissaka will prove very useful (if overpriced) additions and sadly I just about see more options and goals in their squad than ours currently; though it could be close.

7. Everton: If we had got Zouma and Zaha, I think we could have pushed for 6th/5th and maybe even 4th. But I worry about a serious lack of depth at centre-back (I like Holgate but do not entirely trust him) and still a lack of goals and creativity. I think Iwobi will help with the latter and Kean might help with the former but the lad is only 19 and I think to expect him to come in and score 15+ is optimistic. We continue to look a bit one-dimensional in attack (relying on Digne and/or counter-attacks) and Gueye will be sorely missed until Gbamin gets to grips with this league.

8. Leicester City: Leicester may well have been my tip for 7 if they had not lost Maguire but have an excellent young team, though I wonder how long Vardy's pace will hold up.

In truth, there will be a lot of other good teams fighting with us: Wolves will be good again. West Ham are buying much better these last two years. Bournemouth are settled and one of the new teams may well surprise (think Norwich personally).

So there it is. Seventh-ish. It's not inspiring and no doubt many would not be satisfied but, for me, this remains a long-term project. I'd hope we can stay in the mix for 5th/6th for as long as possible but I would be content this season if we came 7th with between 5-12 more points than last season. I'd hope we buy one or two more players in January (Kean or Gbamin level) to continue building a young, exciting squad that can challenge more seriously on the Top 4 next year.

Oh and how about throwing in the FA cup as well!

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Reader Comments (54)

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Jamie Crowley
1 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:14:34
What should we aim for? 5th. If Silva can coach what we have, and some of these young kids (Kean, Gbamin) turn out to be as good as many think they are?

Despite yesterday's tilt, Chelsea and Man U are in for tough seasons in my opinion. Man U looked good yesterday, but I'd argue it's also down to Chelsea's defending being absolutely abysmal.

Where will we finish? 9th. And this is my pending frustration with this Club and Marco Silva. There's this acceptance at Everton that draws on the road to relegation teams are acceptable. Sam even mentions it as such in this article, and rightly points out people who expect to win against shite teams on the road will be disappointed and angry.

Yup.

Marco Silva, to me, seemingly has fallen into this mindset, underachieving trap. As example, Gilfy had a horrific game on the weekend, and he will still get picked this weekend. Shite performances mean you should be out of the lineup the following game, and you need to regain your place in the squad. That's what the very best coaches do. Competition for places creates a well-oiled, honed machine. Marco continually misses this.

So until we have a coach whom at least attempts to live up to our motto, and a Club who's culture is one of - losing to inferior opposition is abjectly unacceptable - this will be our finish:
1. Man City
2. rs
3. Spurs
4. Arsenal
5. Man U
6. Chelsea
7. Leicester
8. Wolves
9. Everton.

Great reading, that. I feel like I'm turning into Phil Walling! Where's the eternal American optimist gone to? Everton just beats the fuck out of you.

They really do.

I do think Marco will learn and get better. He's a good coach. But for whatever reason he just misses opportunities to send a message to his players. Nothing but the best will do.

It's like Fergie used to say. The easiest job he has was picking the players. The players pick themselves.

Marco, until he takes that final leap in his approach, won't reach the promised land. I think he'll eventually figure it out. But I feel like he thinks he doesn't quite yet have the squad he wants, so we're in for marching out a pretty consistent 11, with no consequences for shite performances.

That means 9th for me.

Annika Herbert
2 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:19:50
Excellent article, Sam, and hits all the right notes for me. I agree with all your assessments and do believe we will improve gradually. I also think we might just beat Man Utd to sixth spot.

Whether all our fans will be as willing to accept a gradual improvement is open to question though!

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:39:26
I enjoyed your article, Sam, and agreed with a lot of it and although I'm ready to wait and see with Marco I think if he had a bit more hard nosed way about his nature, like our mate Jamie (1) from the States, then he might get our club nearer to the elite quicker than it looks like at the moment.

I'm going for fifth or sixth for us, nothing runs smooth the way it should do and we'll surprise a few people this season, once we get a settled team and Silva puts his hard-nosed Yankee face on.

Ian Bennett
4 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:41:44
Making progress is getting harder and harder.

There seems to be so much money flying about, with teams not needing to sell. Keeping key players and recruiting players for the gaps is going to be a real problem for a club like ours.

I look at our squad and we needed Gueye, Zouma, Zaha and arguably another striker to seriously compete against the top 6. Boil football down, and it's about clean sheets and scoring goals. Scoring goals looks a big issue to me, whilst a lack of pace at the back makes us vulnerable.

Brands has impressed me mind. He's turned over a lot of deadwood, and is getting a more sensible sized squad that'll contribute on a Saturday. He probably will target another 3-4 players next summer to fill the gaps, but will be fighting a rear guard action over Richarlison, Keen etc if they continue to impress.

It's still a rebuilding year. 7th, a good cup run, and a couple of good punches on the nose of the top 6 is as far as it goes.

Jim Bailey
5 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:58:50
Jeez.
Jay Harris
6 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:08:00
I believe we are now competitive with United and Chelsea and can dominate games but until we get more goalscorers in the team we will fail to win enough games.

The only goalscorers we have in the team at the moment are Siggy and Richy. Sad to say but Bernard and Calvert-Lewin, both fine footballers, couldn't hit the net if they were standing inside it.

That means we are overreliant on Kean to score and it will take him a while to get up to speed. IMO we should have gone for someone who can consistently add 10 goals a season instead of Iwobi, fine footballer that he is too.

The difference between the RS, City and the rest is they score goals for fun and they come from all over the team. Goals win games that you might otherwise lose or draw and that is our achilles heel.

Joe McMahon
7 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:16:37
Sam, it will be 7th to 9th I feel. There are just more goals in the teams you mention plus wolves. It's between us and Leicester for the amazing 8th. We needed Zaha, lot of pressure on Kean. Spurs have the likes of Kane, and we have Calvert-Lewin and Tosun. It's gonna take some more transfer windows.
Kieran Kinsella
8 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:20:14
I think Man Utd are essentially a slightly above-average team and no more. We saw the likes of us, Wolves, Watford, Leicester batter some teams last season but it wasn't an every week thing. I suspect it will be the same with United.

Chelsea to me have problems. They don't have a goalscorer. This Hudson-Udoi is much hyped but has barely player yet. He could be the next Sancho or he could be the next Lookman. So to my mind, there is no reason for Everton to be feeling inferior about those two.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

9 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:34:15
A good piece, Sam.

There has been a flurry of articles and posts since our opening game and IMO too many are leaning towards the despondent and pessimistic too prematurely.

On the one hand I am in the Jamie C. camp that wants to see us winning away with greater frequency teams such as CP. On the other hand I acknowledge it's been a fragmented pre-season with little or no time for a settled XI to bond or the new boys to be fully integrated.

That was part of the mitigating circumstances on Saturday, as were the windy conditions and Schneiderlin's red card.

What I want to see and hear from the coach is how he intends to best utilise his squad to eke out 3 points rather than one in games of this nature more frequently, because it is a key determiner which WILL see us climb the table.

Nor do I want to hear limp wrist excuses that were offered by some such as "well, it was London. We never get results in London."

It wasn't Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal. It was CP who had one of the worst home records in the PL last season. Everton draw or lose games due to poor team selection or tactics, NOT because of some pseudoscience extended Feng Shui 'bad vibes' influence in the capital city (or elsewhere).

Nor do I agree that we need to introduce Moise Kean gradually. OK, get him match fit so he is sharp and can endure a game.

But we are talking about a Rooney-like talent here, NOT an Everton academy just sent out on loan. And at a full year younger Rooney had wowed the PL, been the star at the Euros, got a transfer to United and scored a hat trick on his European debut.

Moise may be new to the PL. Like Rooney, he has already considerable top grade Serie A and CL experience for his tender years.

See this video.

Link

This is Kean playing on loan for Verona (aged 17-18) TWO seasons ago, against the likes of the Milan giants, Roma, Florentino and Sampdoria.

To put this into context, Verona finished 19th out of 20 and were relegated. Kean made 19 appearances for them. It would have been more but he suffered a season ending injury in March. He scored FOUR of their meager 30 league goals that season. They finished with a minus goal difference of 40-odd.

And none of this takes into account what he did last season back at Juventus and the Italian national team.

OK. Manage his minutes. Monitor him. But keep him only trading on the gallops before giving him a run out in a selling plate at Great Yarmouth?!

NAH! He's a thoroughbred. Put him in a Group One race in the PL and let him off the leash.

John Pierce
10 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:35:30
Sam, nice article. I think my worry about not expecting Everton to progress more quickly than they might is the players, the good ones I mean.

We have 3/4 very good players who will develop quickly than the club. The result they will leave. Another season of seventh Richarlison and Digne will undoubtably be our best players who will find it tricky to wait for the rest to catch up.

That’s why I demand a more short term outlook. We cannot progress incrementally, it’s akin to standing still.

Your assessments of the teams above us is very sound, three of them are catchable, but only this year. Taking our own sweet time won’t cut it. We need to over achieve and lowering expectations I feel won’t help.

Tony Everan
11 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:41:36
Thanks, Sam, I enjoyed reading your article.

Top 3 places are already booked, Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham

Then a gap to 4th 5th and 6th and 7th which will be a battle between Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Everton.

Arsenal will win out for fourth because of their firepower. They will sneak wins all season in tight games because they have goalscorers who will poach a goal out of nothing to get the three points.

Man Utd 5th Chelsea 6th then Everton in 7th [ish]. That's the logical take.

But you never know do you, we could be lucky with injuries at CB, Moise Kean could be something really special and rip up defences like Watford. Iwobi could be a revelation, Bernard could be switched to a No 10 creator role and move us up a level. Everything could click into place with a run and some confidence snowballing, starting with a good win on Saturday.

Dare to dream, stranger things have happened. If a club Leicester can win the league , then it's unlikely but not too unreasonable to hope a club like Everton can achieve 4th this year.

To get to the top 4 we are 14/1 average with the bookies. Leicester were 5000/1 when they won it.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 12/08/2019 at 17:16:27
A more realistic assessment of expectations, not based on top this or that. It will take time for the team to gel and recover from the loss of players who were important last season.

You would hope that Brands and Silva have bought in players, which are a better fit for their plans. They have also moved out deadwood.

I would be more optimistic with a challenge for a fifth spot. I think Man Utd and Chelsea will struggle under there respective Managers. Both Clubs have problems off the field, not unlike Everton. Everton are further down the road so!ving them though. I would expect a better run in the League Cup and FA Cup. This is part, I think, of Brands and Silva's plan this season.

Good article, Sam.

Sam Hoare
13 Posted 12/08/2019 at 17:21:21
Thanks all.

Jamie@1 what do you mean by underachieving? Some may see 7th as underachieving even when that's where we are in the wages table. Even 8th/9th would only be relative underachievement in relation to wages.

Jay@9 I'm all for starting Kean but I do think we must be cautious in our expectations of him. I don't think he's at Rooney levels but I'm excited to see him progress. I expect him to amaze and frustrate in equal amounts this season.

Raymond Fox
14 Posted 12/08/2019 at 18:27:14
Excellent piece Sam.

Ambition is good, it makes you try harder, but, in the cold light of day, you have to have realistic goals. We all need hope; without it, you're screwed, to put it bluntly.

Is it really realistic for us to finish 4th this season? I'd like to say Yes but I can't convince myself that it is, 5th and 6th don't do a lot for me. I think the Europa League is a hindrance, that's controversial I know so beg to differ on that.

John @10, mentions we have to make the jump to 4th very quickly, we can't take our time. I'm sure he's right because every time we discover a special player the 'top clubs' tempt them away and we are back to square one. I half expected serious interest for Digne and Richarlison pre-season, maybe there has been.

To make the jump from 7th-ish to 4th, realistically it's going to take a lot of money — much more than we currently spend.

Jamie Crowley
15 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:34:15
Sam @ 13 -

Underachieving is definitely a subjective term.

What I mean when I say Everton are underachieving, is the passive acceptance of situations and results that are not in keeping with Everton's history as a "Big Club".

Finishing anywhere 7th through 9th I'd argue is underachieving. Even if the year that occurs in, is a "reasonable" finish, when you factor in the opposition, current landscape, and economic realities.

I'll put it this way. When I first started supporting Everton, we'd finish 5th / 6th. Generally that is. Now, we say finishing 7th is acceptable. Again, generally I'd argue most fans would say that'd be a decent finish this season as long as we show "improvement".

Here's the thing, and I've clearly been possessed by a Walling Devil this season.

Our bar has been lowered. By any metric, the bar has decreased. Why is it acceptable to finish below any of Leicester, Wolves, or two outfits clearly in transition and flux as Chelsea and Man U are / will be?

We marvel and applaud Spurs. When I started watching the Premier League about 12 years ago, Spurs were a laughing stock. It's not acceptable to watch them get their house in order, and become a perennial top 4 Club, while we slide further into the abyss saying 7th would be a good year. It's that placid acceptance of this dynamic that, for me, is just killing us.

Please read on, this will get better.. . .

We are, for me, moving in the right direction. It's not all shite / doom and gloom. I like Moshri. He's doing everything he can to improve our Club and restore it to former glories. BMD, buying the Liver building, injecting some of his hard earned into the Club, etc.

Marcel Brands is, for me again, just stupendous. I love the man and trust his judgement implicitly. I was pissed we didn't sign Zaha. In the end, I thought if that's what Brands wants, it's good enough for me. He's that good. He's worked wonders.

Silva is a good coach. I like him. I think his last step for him to become really stupendous, is to demand, from the players, results. This is where I bring up the Sigurdsson example time and again. He didn't perform last week, he should be out of the lineup this week, and Silva needs to tweek his approach with a different lineup that does not include a player who was entirely substandard last week. I'm betting Silva will not have the fortitude to sit Gilfy. That one move is a perfect example of us, as a Club, team, fanbase, and entity, of accepting mediocrity.

The culture has to change. The reason I'm trumpeting that so loudly recently, is because I believe in my heart we now have the owner, management team, coach, and players to change that culture and our results. We should demand more from this group because they are capable of it. And if we do, we can possibly end this underperforming, 7th place is ok, go through the motions attitude.

That's bombastic and simplistic. But if you simply take it at face value, and don't knit-pick the above argument, I think most would agree?

Then again, I may be a lone voice in the wilderness.

Fuck, that was a long post. If you've come to the end of it and actually read it all, I tip my cap to you.

Martin Mason
16 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:41:13
Football fans are in many ways irrational in that they do things like demand success based on history, accuse others of accepting mediocrity, and castigate the club for not doing consistently better than their resources or having an exceptional coach (as Tottenham have) would dictate that they should be able.

The reality is that, as fans, we can do nothing to actually improve the team other than by giving it our support in various ways. That some fans "accept mediocrity" and yet some don't is hilarious. I

'd say that we're hovering around our best realistic position of just above mid table and there is no driver to move us upward from this position such as a top class coach, buys that gel or an increase in income relative to others.

I think that this year will be a test for the fans in that we may be no better than last year or even worse. What matters to me is that the club is being run professionally and we're doing our best to compete within the limits of our resources. There can be no other way of running the club.

Jamie Crowley
17 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:49:54
Martin -

I could not disagree more.

Remember Gillette and Hicks? Your lovable neighbors absolutely ran them out of town. Why? Because they were not producing!

In comes John Henry and Co., and I told everyone how fantastic they were as owners, and Liverpool's days of finishing 8th were in the rear view.

Fans should not accept shite. And they can affect change. Look at our fans with Allardyce. I've never been so proud of our fanbase. They unequivocally let ownership know our manager wasn't good enough. It affected change.

You come from a city, by that by all accounts from my research, is replete with a ton of human beings who simply won't take getting fucked around lying down. There's an entire history of it with your own government!

Channel your Scouse man! Demand more, and don't put up with a 9th place finish. It's in your DNA, brother!

I was born in Boston. It's a ridiculously proud area, that will call out bullshit immediately when they see it, and demand change. Everything from the Catholic Church (I'm NOT touching that subject, only using it as an example of people standing up for themselves for something they believe in) to the Boston Tea Party. I have similar-ish DNA.

It astounds me to hear someone tell me, "that's not a reasonable expectation". Utter bullshit Martin! Yes it is. We have a great lineup, a great owner, a god-like DOF, and a damn good young coach. It's time the fans send the message they need to step it up.

I'm sorry, I can't concur with your assessment.

Tony Abrahams
18 Posted 12/08/2019 at 20:02:55
Second to last paragraph is good Jamie@17, because I feel that enough people can’t see that we have a v.good squad.

A little short? Maybe, but nothing that defiance and belief can’t get over, but too many Evertonians get angry, at a time when we really need to pull together, and with silverware so important then I wish for Sam’s last line over anything else this season!

Pull together Everton, because when we do, it’s not often we lose, but when we don’t, it must be fucking murder for the players.

Iakovos Iasonidis
19 Posted 12/08/2019 at 20:56:00
I have to say I always enjoy your articles. A top 10 finish is realistic this year. Finishing 8th again is what I except. I wish I had optimism for higher but time is needed and more than £28M net spend. A good run in either cup would be highly appreciated though.

The problem with Everton in my eyes is that we are always a step behind. Missed the opportunity for various reasons to be one of the big boys at the start of the Premier League, missed the opportunity under Moyes to break the top 4 or at least make it top 5 because we were skint. Missed the opportunity to take advantage of the huge transfer funds made available by Moshiri because of brainless transfer policy under Koeman and Walsh and silly inflation of the market prices.

I could easily characterize us as the most unlucky team of the last 30 years in the Premier League and when luck does not interfere we are just incompetent. Being generally unlucky and incompetent is a deadly combination. We seem to learn from our mistakes but it takes time and more patience is needed again. I consider Everton fans little heroes.

Stan Schofield
20 Posted 12/08/2019 at 21:10:57
I can't say what I should expect, but I know what I do expect. I expect us to try to win every game. I expect us to be a top team, not a midtable team. I expect us to win trophies, and to do so in style. I am very unhappy with Everton of the last 30 years.

But my expectations were set in stone by the fact that from ages 7 to 16 (in the 60s) I got used to great Everton teams and wonderful football, to having some of the world's best players playing for Everton. Anything less than that is not acceptable.

I believe we have enough quality in depth NOW to start competing within the top-6, and that if the last two summer windows are repeated in the next summer window then we could really be cooking on gas. But if this doesn't happen, it'll just be a case yet again of Everton letting me down. I can't really accuse Everton of letting me down, but if I'm honest that what it feels like precisely because of the very high expectations I have based on the glory days.

We're not Leicester, or Wolves, or indeed Spurs. We're better than that, we're Everton. We're football aristocrats fallen on hard financial times, and the sooner we have the wealth and quality to again Lord it over everyone else, the better.

Paul Tran
21 Posted 12/08/2019 at 21:15:45
Cracking piece, Sam. I also think we'll finish 7th.

We have a very good squad. For all the talk of tactics and formation, the big issue for me is mindset. How often do these players 'go missing'? How often do we seem hesitant when teams are for the taking.

I remember after Germany beat England in that breathless semi at Euro 96, Klinsmann was interviewed. He said that despite the mad atmosphere, the first minute goal and other things against them, the Germans looked at the English players and realised that they didn't believe they could win. That's what kept them going. I've never been to a game where I've seen such a dogged, tough mindset - took me a while to realise that, mind!

I think there are vulnerable teams in the top six. I think we've got the squad that can overhaul at least one of them. Do the players believe that? Does Silva?

Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 12/08/2019 at 21:17:58
Jamie #17, pot is not yet fully legal in Florida, so be careful how you indulge.

No, we do not have a "great lineup." We have a pretty good one, but nobody great. Nobody in our lineup is anywhere close to being the best in the Prem at their position except Digne. Nobody in our lineup would crack the Top 6 gameday lineups except Digne, Richarlison and Pickford.

We're the 7-8-9th best team because we have the 7-8-9th best talent. Yes, if our new recruits come together and Chelsea or MU go sour, we could hop into 6th, but we could also be outstripped by Wolves and/or Leicester.

By all means, be ambitious. But be realistic. We are rising. But we're not great yet. Or anywhere close.

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 12/08/2019 at 21:59:03
Pot isn’t legal in Florida, but the conditions in which to grow the stuff must be perfect!

Realism is great Mike, but Jamie is correct, Evertonians need to turn their frustrations into defiance, because it’s a thing that has always stood our club in great stead.

Jamie Crowley
24 Posted 12/08/2019 at 22:02:51
Mike, taking your point, with a response.

Should we have taken all three points at Palace? I'm going to assume your answer is yes.

Did players underperform? I'm going to assume your answer is yes.

Did Chelsea and Man U play a bunch of kids, the likes many of our players are equal to or better than? My answer is an unabashedly yes, your mileage may differ. Rich, Bernard, Mina, Keane, Seamus, Digne, Pickford - all could easily start for Chelsea / Man U counterparts - for me. I don't see them as inferior players to what Chelsea or Man U can offer. Throw in Kean, who's purportedly the bomb when you listen to just about any pundit, how are we inferior to those we wish to overturn?

Math(s) tell me that if we're 7th best, but do the business against the teams we should - which points directly at attitude and approach and mindset - that's 13 teams below us.

Thirteen multiplied by 6 points, home and away, is 78 points.

The above is simplistic, and I think you know I will never, ever "talk down" to you. That'd be stupid on my part as you're immensely more knowledgable than I on all things soccer. That's NOT my intention.

BUT!

If we expect to win, accept nothing less, and execute that mindset from the very top to the very bottom of Everton, I can't see finishing in 7th as acceptable, never mind 8th or 9th.

I'm just hellbent on Everton improving, as I think we do indeed have the squad to do it this season.

And as Sir John Pierce points out, NOW is the time to do it. Two of the "bigger" clubs are in for rocky seasons. Strike while the iron is hot and all that.

And that means, by default, drawing away at Palace, and starting Gilfy this weekend, are sending a message of acceptance of mediocrity and complacency.

I can't see, for the life of me, where 5th / 6th is not a realistic expectation. It's entirely attainable and should be our goal. Anything less isn't good enough.

We are rising, we are not great yet. You are correct. And we're moving in the right direction, as I said. But knocking off Man U or Chelsea in the table, and beating the "lesser / smaller" clubs around us who aspire to join us near the top, isn't an unrealistic expectation. If you think it is, I just disagree.

Cheers friend.

Sam Hoare
25 Posted 12/08/2019 at 22:06:12
Jamie@15, I got to the end!

You ask why it would be acceptable to finish below two clubs in flux like Man U and Chelsea. I'll give you two reasons:

1. Because they have (marginally) better, larger squads with a wage bill almost twice our own.
2. Because we are also in flux!

That is not to say that I will be happy to finish below them. But more that I don't think I would be unhappy!

For me history does not really come into it. Otherwise why are the likes of Villa and Nottingham Forest where they are.

We have a good and improving squad. And I certainly don't think its impossible we should finish in the top 6 (or higher even) I would never place any limit on hope and ambition. But equally I believe realism and acceptance have a place; and realistically to my eyes we are around the 7th best team in the league.

Jamie Crowley
26 Posted 12/08/2019 at 22:16:19
Sam -

Here's where we differ.

1. I don't care about wage bills. I care about the talent on the field. I watched the Chelsea / Man U game carefully, and didn't see anything in the least that scared me. I don't care what they pay their players, or how big their squads are, I think we're better. they both looked awful at times. Chelsea was putrid at the back, and Man U, despite the final score, didn't impress me in the least.

2. We are in flux. But if this makes any sense, we're in flux on the way up. And this is where I'm entirely positive about Everton. We should be on the ascendency. Both those Clubs have very inexperienced, suspect managers and are definably recovering / on their way down. I like Silva more than Olie and Frank. IF he starts to demand more from his players (see Siggy comments) and himself (Gbamin sub, leaving subs late, switching things up when we can't get that all-elusive goal, instilling the mindset that we simply must win the games we should or there will be consequences).

I think it's all there for the taking. And I think a lot of that ability to attain what I see as an acceptable finish, is between the ears of the players and Marco.

The door's open. We need to be brave enough and believe enough in our talent to walk through the damn thing.

David Pearl
27 Posted 12/08/2019 at 22:20:04
I think Silva is an okay coach, not a great one. He finds something that works eventually though. Although he can't think on his his feet he seems to get there in the end.

Our season depends on how quickly he gets us to gel and find consistency while utilising the squad better than he has. He can now rotate Sigurdsson, or will be able to in the next month with Iwobi and Bernard, Richarlison, Kean and Walcott all able to play in various positions if Silva is brave enough to work it all out on the training ground and try it.

Ian Pilkington
28 Posted 12/08/2019 at 00:25:07
The jury is still out on Marco's overall competence but how many would rather have Lampard or Solksjaer?

Chelsea and Manchester United may have better squads on paper but I think they have made amazingly inept managerial choices and we can take a golden opportunity to finish higher than both of them this season.

Fifth place is definitely achievable, but I agree with Sam on the top four.

Mike Gaynes
29 Posted 13/08/2019 at 00:27:17
Jamie, my friend, I don't believe for one second I know more about footy than you. No way. And I know a lot less about Everton than you do, especially the history.

But to answer your questions, yes, we should have won yesterday, but we weren't good enough. No, we did not have more talent on the pitch yesterday than MU and Chelsea, and no, Bernard-Mina-Keane-Seamus could not easily start for them. For us to finish above them would require poor play on their part, which is certainly possible.

On our part, however, it would require our players to show levels of achievement and consistency they have not previously shown. "Doing the business against the teams we should" requires, in particular, a consistency of quality and performance that many of our players simply don't have in them. Not saying that improvement won't happen -- in fact I expect it with Richarlison and Mina and DCL and the other younger guys -- but you cannot count on veteran players significantly improving any more than you can count on a 19-year-old newcomer to the Prem to lead us in scoring.

As for Gylfi, he is a good player who had a bad game. He almost always follows those with good games. I don't sit him because of one stinker, not after his consistent performance last season. Besides, who would you replace him with? Please don't say Bernard or Iwobi or somebody else who has never played central midfield but "seems to have the skill set", as one poster here put it. When he plays well, we win, and I would definitely put him out there every game until somebody better comes along.

Like you, I'm "hellbent on Everton improving", and I think we will. But remember, improvement is not necessarily reflected in the standings. We improved our goal differential by +22 last season, played much more entertaining football, and finished in the same 8th position.

I would be absolutely delighted with 6th, and if that makes me someone with insufficient ambition, well, it won't be the first time I've been accused of it!

Jay Harris
30 Posted 13/08/2019 at 00:45:48
I totally agree with Jamie.

We need a Goodison army and armchair support united in the belief that we will overcome.

Thats what the RS fans do. They have belief and feel entitled to win things not humble or excuse me, after you because you have more money.

The last 25% of last season I believe our form was certainly top 4 form beating Man U 4-0, beating Chelsea and Arsenal and drawing with Liverpool and Spurs (unlucky not to win).

So why can't we expect more of that with a more settled squad and some quality additions.

Si Cooper
31 Posted 13/08/2019 at 04:59:25
I never quite understand the obsession with trying to predict the outcome of a whole season when hardly a game has been played because there are just too many variables / intangibles.

I think we potentially have a better first-choice eleven but that is dependent on Mina, Gbamin and Kean really producing the goods, and banishing the spectres of Zouma, Gana and Lukaku. I also think Iwobi, Sidibé, Baines and Delph could be significant contributors in a successful season (up to 5th or 6th is possible). We need some luck (especially avoiding any more injuries) and a decent positive start to bring the players together.

Wage totals and individual player profiles will give you a basis for expectations but ultimately it is a team game where the total can exceed the sum of the parts (or weak links can undermine a great deal of good work). We won't have any real idea until this squad has been given probably half-a-dozen proper competitive games. Some teams just thrive when they are really challenged whereas very similar assemblies just can't come together when it counts.

One thing that will make a big difference is converting more of our draws to victories but it isn't as simple as expecting 6 points from the teams we should finish higher than. The Premier League just isn't that predictable. It has been shown to work enough times that, if a team shuts up shop and relies on getting lucky on the break, we will probably get a few results where we don't really get what we deserve.

If we can minimise those occasions, avoid a run of poor performances like we had last season and get decent luck with injuries then I think we have sufficient quality to finish above Leicester and West Ham. I think Wolves will be a harder nut to crack as I personally don't think they will get second season syndrome.

If we are above those three at Christmas I think we will be putting enough pressure on the likes of Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal to see at least one of them crack in the second half of the season.

Darren Hind
32 Posted 13/08/2019 at 05:21:28
Good Article ,Sam.

I don't think we can affect what happens at other clubs. Every one of the top six clubs are richer. Unfortunately they can almost guarantee European football which means they can always attract better players.

Silva (or anybody else leading Everton) is at a huge disadvantage from the get-go. While Moshiri's wealth has certainly changed the club's mindset, it isn't enough to cause a stir at the elite table.

I don't subscribe to the idea that a member or members of the current top six are ready to surrender their place among the elite. They simply can't afford to. There will be no invites. Anyone wishing to dine at the top table will have to elbow their way in.

So What should we expect? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know what we are entitled to expect...

We are entitled to expect improvement.

We are entitled to expect a bigger points haul.

We are entitled to expect our goalie and defenders to have learned something from all those howlers they committed throughout first 20-odd games last season.

We are entitled to expect Gomes and Bernard to be better having had a season to acclimatize to the Premier League.

We are entitled to expect natural improvement from the likes of Davies.

We are entitled to expect Richarlison to concentrate on showing the world his talent rather than continuing to make a complete Cheshire cat of himself by rolling around in agony whenever somebody breathes on him.

We are entitled to expect Bernard to realise he won't win the lottery unless he buys a ticket.

We are entitled to expect Calvert-Lewin to understand he is no longer "The boy who fills in", That he has to get in there and weigh in with goals - he only got eight last season, despite having benefited from his first prolonged spell at centre-forward. I think it is reasonable to expect around 15 this time around.

We are entitled to expect out new signings to bring something new to the table – they cost enough!

We are entitled to expect... no, demand a decent run in the cups, to erase all those painful embarrassing moments we've had to endure in recent seasons. I don't care who or where we are drawn to play. I believe we are entitled to see our players and manager either win a cup, or die trying.

We are entitled to expect the sort of passion drive and desire which saw us blow away several of the so-called top six in the second half of last season — we're entitled to be unforgiving if that commitment drops.

We are entitled to expect more. Let's get that sorted and see where it takes us.

Annika Herbert
34 Posted 13/08/2019 at 06:16:19
Mike @29, in actual fact, Iwobi has played centrally for Arsenal, so he is not a player who has never played there. I have also read stories suggesting he moved to Everton because he hoped to play centrally as it is his favoured position.

With regards to Sigurdsson, you already know my feelings on him, but I believe it would be wrong to keep picking him after he has poor games. Would that not send out the signal that he is un-droppable? He was also poor in the pre-season so it's not like his form has suddenly dropped off.

Peter Warren
35 Posted 13/08/2019 at 07:26:37
The jury is still out on Silva. Anybody can finish 7th ish with this squad. If he is a top coach, he will finish higher. That's what top coaches do. He is up against Ole, Frank, Brendan, Pellegrini – is he better? Are people going to use his age as an excuse (I remember Moyes, Kendall, Mourinho being young managers – they all overachieved with their players).

To me, the Wolves manager seems the best outside the top 4 who gets his players outperforming the talent in his squad.

Let's see what happens.

Sam Hoare
36 Posted 13/08/2019 at 09:21:19
Jamie @26, I think it's very easy to be fooled by 'talent on the field'; it's hard to judge. Fans may tend to be biased either towards or indeed against their team. Wage bills offer a slightly more objective guide as to the quality and depth of a squad I think. Of course there are anomalies and of course a good/great manager who gets the players working as a team and to the best of their abilities (or the inverse) but, for the most part over the last 10 years, teams have performed roughly in line with their wage bills. We are 7th.

Darren @32 I agree with most of that. "We are entitled to expect improvement" – I totally agree and yet it's an interesting one, as I think that is one that nearly every football fan in the country (bar Bolton ones) might posit. And yet around 50% of them will be disappointed as logic requires. Is it therefore a reasonable expectation?

James Marshall
37 Posted 13/08/2019 at 09:34:57
These are clearly transitional seasons for a number of clubs, and the previous 'natural order' of things could be shaken up in the next few seasons.

Everton need to ride the gravy train this time, and not fuck it up like we did when the Premier League started.

This is our opportunity. We have to think big, buy big, invest, maybe even get a new stadium...

Martin Mason
38 Posted 13/08/2019 at 09:52:24
Sorry, I didn't mean that we can't influence things at the club – only that we can't really influence how the team plays once it's out on the pitch.

Are we really 'entitled' to anything? We can have expectations hopes and wishes for sure but 'entitled' implies that we have rights and I don't believe that we do.

I was amazed at what Graham Potter has done with the Brighton team with the same stodgy players playing sweet simple football. I don't believe that our coach is creative or flexible enough to react to changing situations but I live in hope.

Conor McCourt
39 Posted 13/08/2019 at 10:32:22
At the close of this window I was being accused of being negative but it was down to the frustration that we didn't really kick on.

We have spent (although it must be said wisely) £14 million net and we look on paper to be much worse defensively yet more potent in attack than the previous season.

For me, success or failure should be about progress and not about league position.

The example of Tottenham must be the template: continual marginal gains. Do I say this because I accept mediocrity? Not on your life. But I want sustainable success.

Leicester win the league in the best ever performance of a Premier League club and they will always have that. But in the next 2 years they spend the majority of the time in the bottom half of the table.

Under Martinez, we had a season where we maximise every players potential and so the next season we fall flat on our face with the same squad trying to overachieve in the league again but trying to cope with the demands of Europe at the same time.

Thankfully now we have under Brands returned to the policy of trying to buy and produce some of the best talent around and with Moshiris backing we can do this on a global scale.

Many have expressed concerns but what if he lose Richarlison. Well you look at the Red Shite: they lost their best player and it was the best thing that happened to them and you use the sale to make yourself stronger.

I want to see improvent, I want to see more solutions in the squad, I want to see more goals and ultimately a better points tally at the end of the season.

Some of the above posters believe that Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea are there for the taking. I don't know how they see that.

For me, Man Utd were vulnerable last year when the players downed tools on a manager who they didn't want success for. They look sharper, fitter and happier now and have addressed their key deficiency with two brilliant signings who will alone will improve their points total radically despite the lack of protection in midfield.

Arsenal have had the best window imo. Pepe is a class act and the marquee signing I wanted as opposed to Zaha. He is a complete goal machine. In addition, they have signed a left back who will be challenging Digne and Robertson next season as the best left backs. While Luiz won't sort out their leaky defence like Maguire but he will provide character, experience and leadership and help improve it a lot.

Chelsea are the vulnerable team from a points perspective as they have lost a top manager and their talisman. However, their squad is still brimming with depth and quality and the fact that we have lost a top performer who is now their weakest link tells you all you need to know. We aren't even close yet.

I can imagine Jamie will be tearing his hair out at this post but I would ask him does he really not see the difference in quality. He uses Sigurdsson for example of Silva's mentality. Against Palace should he have replaced him?

From my perspective before the game I felt we needed to take our few chances I felt we would have. Sigurdsson and Coleman didn't take them. This was half the battle against a well-drilled team who survive on frustration. Would replacing Sigurdsson with Walcott and bringing Bernard centrally help us break them down? Certainly he would have brought energy, pace and allowed us to play slightly better but ultimately our chances as Mike points out of getting the winner would have greatly diminished.

The simple reality is that the bigger teams have much greater options that can turn these types of matches around, like Eriksen against Villa. This was all about ability, he walks onto the pitch and the game was transformed. Unfortunately, we don't have that.

Jim Harrison
40 Posted 13/08/2019 at 14:35:32
Expect and hope for are not the same! I am with Sam. It’s reasonable to expect a 7th placed finish looking objectively at the squads and as he points out wages, but that doesn’t mean it’s all he hopes for!!

There is as good a chance as there has been in recent seasons of a better league place, but it can’t be judged on a first day away draw. If I remember rightly Bobbys big points haul started with 3 draws on the bounce against what could be deemed potential relegation candidates.

If things click, players can remain fit and available and very importantly at home games the crowd can get behind the team even when it’s not going great there is every chance that top 6 is attainable, and an outside punt at top 4. But it would be unexpected by all but Everton fans!

I don’t like the idea of transition seasons, particularly as Everton seem to be perpetually in them. I think clubs outside the top tier are in a state of constant transition, trying to do their best and retain the best of their players whilst also balancing the fact that selling a star can generate more income than finishing further up the table. Only City and Liverpool this season haven’t had to worry about their brightest leaving. Spurs could lose Erickson on a free, Utd most expensive player ever is only still there because Madrid and Juve has other priorities this year, Arsenal’s two top forwards won’t be happy outside of champions league football for too long. So most teams are not immune to the threat of having an outstanding performer do one if the club don’t reach the champions league or Europa places at least

Instead of viewing it as transitional, I would say it’s just another approach at attempting to better the performance of the team. If it doesn’t work, something else will be tried, be it new manager or new signings, until something works or, more likely, the world ends in fiery apocalypse without any major shift in the end result!!

Anyway, ramble over. Going to eat more Maryland cookies and wonder how long until the Hong Kong protesters get close enough to my house to be of direct concern

Jamie Crowley
41 Posted 13/08/2019 at 14:38:00
Conor,

In answer to your question, I do see a difference in quality with Arsenal. I don't think we'll catch them, barring some anomaly this season.

I don't see any real difference in quality between us, Chelsea, or Man U.

And I honestly don't see a ton of difference in quality between us, Wolves, or Leicester. We just have to keep them below us, and not let the dreamers dream. ;0)

Daniel A Johnson
42 Posted 13/08/2019 at 15:28:06
We are going to finish 9th this season.

The fact we got our signings in late especially Kean and Gbamin and some players are injured Gomes /Delph then we may blow this good set of fixtures due to an unsettled team and lack of prem experience. That will put us on the back foot heading into a tough Xmas/new year.

We had a decent end to the season but that doesn't erase the memory of the post Xmas slump where we were the worst team in England for form. I can see Leicester and Wolves ahead of us if Kean doesn't start scoring goals soon.

Arsenal had a poor match against Newcastle but their one chance fell to a world class striker (Aubameyang) who tucked it away. Goals are out Achilles heel we just cant buy one at the moment.

Steve Ferns
43 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:42:40
Nice article Sam. I had penned something similar, but a lot longer, and I couldn't be bothered shortening it so I deleted it! I had the top 4 the same, but United 5th. I disagree with you on Chelsea.

I think the Chelsea Zouma is very poor, he looked it on Sunday and he was like that for Stoke and he was like that previously for Chelsea. Is it not possible that he is a player who needs detailed instruction, that he got detailed instruction from a detailed coach, and now he's with a novice coach he lacks the know-how and wants him to think for himself? I expect Zouma to be on the bench in a couple of weeks. I think Christiansen is also quite poor. Rudiger is excellent but he cannot do it all on his own and he is not infallible himself. Their fullbacks are big names, literally in the case of Cesar! But cesar and Alonso seem a shadow of the players who won the league and so I query their hunger. I would say our back five is stronger than Chelsea's, and we have more strength in depth at fullback.

Chelsea's midfield is very poor. Kante aside, anyway. Jorginho was amazing in Italy, but he needs a minder in England and so that makes them have one less attacker. Kovacic, Loftus-cheek and Barkley are not as good as Gomes. Their wingers are poor, particularly the faded Willian, Hudson-Odoi is all flash and no substance, though he is very young and could develop rapidly with games. Up front, Abrahams is inferior to Calvert-Lewin in every way, Giroud is a great sub but struggles from the start, and never scores. Batshuyai is a long way off Kean.

Chelsea have a novice manager, a big name with no noted coaching acumen. They rely heavily on Jody Morris. He is a coach of repute, but he is a youth coach, and that's why they have relied heavily on promoting youth. Who knows whether Morris can make the step up to coaching a first team.

They did well at Derby, I am told. Did they? They got just one more point than the season before. They spent a lot of money. They also called in a lot of favours to get players from Chelsea that their rivals could not get. I think they under achieved at Derby. They had a much smaller budget than most of their main rivals.

There is a real opportunity to get past Chelsea this season. I think if we can get 3 points each off Watford and Wolves, the first two home games, and 4 points from the away games against Villa and Bournemouth, to take us to 11 points from 15, then we will be sat well above Frank Lampard's Chelsea, and with a few more winnable games to come before the Derby starts a run of 3 difficult matches.

The biggest worry about beating Chelsea to 6th is that their fans will be patient because it is Frank Lampard, and they will not go for him in the same way they hounded Sarri. This season we can get 6th and we need to show that by stuffing the snake wavers on Saturday.

Peter Warren
44 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:56:16
Agree that Chelsea look most vulnerable with youth manager, coach and players and having lost Hazard. I also think Luiz a big loss for them and big gain for Arsenal, although appreciate others don’t rate him that high.
Tony Abrahams
45 Posted 13/08/2019 at 20:10:32
You would expect Chelsea fans to be patient with Lampard, but whether they have it in them If things go wrong, is a completely different matter imo, Steve.

5th/6th/7th, they are all the same, except for a bit more prize money, so I will judge progress by performance, and would take the bottom half of the table now, just so long as we won one of the cups.

Looking back in time, we always used to be one of the real big-guns when it came to the FA Cup, but then we became known as “plucky little Everton” and even started losing quarterfinals at home to Wigan, so let's go back to the future and start taking the cup competitions really serious again.

If Usmanov isn't already involved, let him see how Evertonians can really celebrate when they win, and let's kick-start our resurgence with a cup!

Amit Vithlani
46 Posted 14/08/2019 at 07:30:35
Sam, in answer to your question, how about a win in the derby and a win against the top 6 for starters?
Steve Hewitt
47 Posted 14/08/2019 at 11:07:48
What I am liking is the subtle move away from last season's comments. They were all about needing to change the turgid crap Sam served up. People were saying they will be happy with top ten and better football.

The football is better. This season, we are more focussed on position finish. That is a good mindset change.

Steve Ferns
48 Posted 14/08/2019 at 11:24:43
Steve, this is what we were trying to say last season. Everton are in a period of transition. People hated that word. every time a new manager came in, he needed to change things. Of course, a period of change is a period of transition.

We are still in transition. It is the process of changing into the team we want to be. The difference is that the most drastic changes are made. The main transition is behind us. This period of transition is about seeing us become the side we hope to be. It will mean that we should appear to be the side we want, but be lack the consistency and some of the players will not quite be the requisite quality. We will need to add a few more next summer before having a proper tilt at the Champions League places.

Transition may be a dirty word on here, but it is the reality with any new manager. Silva has been here 12 months now and so it is now more about progression heading towards consistency.

Tony Everan
49 Posted 14/08/2019 at 15:14:42
The transition was in full flow the last 12 games of last season. I think it is a transition of instilling ideas with communication and understanding as well as player recruitment.

Harmonisation in play from what the manager wanted and trained for in the week coming to fruition on the match day. The new players are undoubtedly good buys but they too will need to adapt to the system and expectations of them. That will take a good few games, but then I think we will resume where we left off at the end of last season and challenge for a top 6 place. Especially as Mina looked good last Saturday. A lot is down to whether the injury gods are smiling on our 2 CBs.

David Chait
50 Posted 14/08/2019 at 15:45:58
I went into the first game very happy we bought a potentially world class striker but the window ended up feeling a little flat or at least a wait and see scenario.

I fear that the team have hardly had games together (attackers more so) and will take games to hit their stride. Hopefully other teams are in the same boat, but we can't keep missing clear goal-scoring chances. A win this weekend and I'll begin to have a little more optimism again.

I don't buy this bedding in period as much as it is bandied about. The likes of Kean just have to start and ASAP. End of.

Sam Hoare
51 Posted 14/08/2019 at 15:49:44
Steve @43, I disagree with you on the players. I think Zouma will prove okay once settled and form a good partnership with Rudiger. I would also probably take Kovacic or maybe even Barkley over Gomes personally for reasons we have discussed before.

I do agree about the coach(es) though. Lampard is very much an untested entity and if it starts to go downhill for them I wonder how much the players will trust in the words of such an inexperienced manager? I hope that is what comes to pass but I thought Chelsea looked pretty decent before the United goal and I do think their squad is still better and deeper than ours.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 14/08/2019 at 16:37:40
Sam, I'm with you on Kovacic over Gomes -- he really showed his potential brilliance in the Europa final -- but maybe not on Zouma.

Call it a hunch, but I think by the end of the year it will be Christensen, not Zouma, partnering Rudiger at the back. Zouma will certainly get games, but I just don't think he'll be the starter.

No question, however... if we're going to pass a Top 6 team, it'll be Chelsea.

Jamie Crowley
53 Posted 14/08/2019 at 16:42:45
Steve @ 43 -

That young kid, Mason Mount I think it is from Derby, looked awfully good to me. I think he'll help Chelsea's midfield a hell of a lot going forward. He's young, and made more than a few mistakes, but he's the business.

Tony @ 45 -

I disagree slightly about the 5th through 7th place finishes being the same.

If we finish 5th, I'd just about guarantee the narrative will be Everton, can they assault the Top 4? New stadium, bright young coach, great DOF, and an owner willing to see them to the next level.

If we finish 7th, the narrative will be Everton, look at the money and investment they've spent and had, and they're no better off.

One has us signing top players looking to attain their own version of accomplishment and glory.

One has us losing Digne, Richarlison, etc., to the top Clubs and wallowing away.

We'll see.

Trevor Peers
54 Posted 14/08/2019 at 16:46:09
Not Barkley, Sam, please no! Even the Chelsea fans have nicknamed him 'Dross Barkley'.

I think I'd give up watching the Blues if I ever had to watch his awful efforts again in an Everton shirt.

Tony Abrahams
55 Posted 14/08/2019 at 17:13:43
Understood, Jamie, but the only narrative that should be really important, is how confident the players in the changing room are feeling, because you don't win nothing because of expectations.

You only win when you've got a squad of players who believe in the manager and also believe in each other.

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