Do We Really Want European Football in 2021-22?

Phil Roberts 14/05/2021 66comments  |  Jump to last

Am I the only one to miss the change for next season? Remember those heady days when we started our season on 27 July against Ruzomberok of Slovakia before being dumped out by Lyon and Atalanta in the group stages of the Uefa Cup? Well, it could be back...

In their infinite wisdom, Uefa have decided to have a third-tier European Competition.

It will now be:


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1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th go into the Champions League. If a team in the top 4 wins the Champions League, tough. No extra place, just the top 4. If the Champions League winners are outside the top 4, then it is the top 4 plus the Champions League Winners who qualify.

5th place and the winner of the FA Cup go into the Europa League (what used to be called the Uu=efa Cup).

The team who wins the Carabao Cup (can we not just call it the League Cup?) then go into the new exciting competition called the Europa Conference League.

You can feel my excitement as I write...

But what happens if the winner of the FA Cup or League Cup are already in the Champions League or Europa League? Then those places are taken by the team in 6th (if only one of the cups has been won by a team in the Top 5) or 7th place (if both domestic cups are won by teams in the Top 5). Should we only finish 7th, what delights do we have?

First off, a minimum of six nights of Thursday night football and so a number of Premier League matches on a Sunday. Second, all the matches are on BT Sport.

Thirdly, the English team will go in at the Non-Champions Playoff Round. Yes, there is the split in the Europa Conference League so that Champions from the smaller leagues who have been knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League, will be guaranteed 5 places in the new competiton. The draw for this (and the Europa League) is on 2 August with the first match on 19 August and the second on 26 August.

Will we finish 5th or 6th? Or 7th? All matches for both Europa League and Europa Conference League are on the same night. If we end up 7th, then it is the Europa Conference League. Win the group of 4 teams and we go into the knock-out portion of the competition. Finish 2nd and you have two extra matches against a team which finished 3rd in a Europa League Group. The 8 group winners and 8 playoff winners (last 16) then go into a 2-leg knockout competition with a final in Albania on 25 May 2022. Getting to the final will be 15 extra games but, if we only finish 2nd in the group, then that would be 17 extra games.

If we end up 5th or 6th in the Premier League, we are in the usual pain of the Europa League which has the clubs finishing 3rd in the Champions League groups (the likes of Man United and Ajax Amsterdam) joining after we have played 6 group games. The winners go into the last 16; the runners-up have a playoff against a 3rd-placed Champions League team to go into the last 16. Getting to the Europa League final will be 13 extra games but, if we only finish 2nd in the group, then that would be 15 extra games. There are two less games as we would go straight into the group stages of the Europa League whereas we would have a playoff game in the Europa Conference League. First group game is 16 September.

Not easy to get your head around, is it!

The clubs relegated to the Europa Conference League for the last 16 are those who finished 3rd in the Europa League groups. Back in 2017-18, we would be one of those teams, having been drawn in the group of death with Lyon and Atalanta. And remember we drew at home with the team from Cyprus and won away with a bunch of kids. So much as the Europa Conference League is on the surface a “Micky Mouse” competition, we would be in there with Real Sociedad, Leverkusen, Lazio, Marseilles and Braga based on current league position. Teams dropping in from the Europa League this year would be nothing to fear and I think we could win this.

So, do we want to finish 7th and have a decent crack at a Mickey Mouse European Trophy, finish 6th and get knocked out in March (probably), or finish 8th and have 15 fewer games to play?

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Reader Comments (66)

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John Keating
1 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:20:16

I went to Rotterdam and the previous away legs and it was great. Then we had a great team and confidence was extremely high in both supporters and players.

Prior to this period, I can recall Panathanaikos in 1971. Again, we had a great team full of confidence. Unfortunately that finished similarly to all our later ....

John Keating
2 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:25:57
Strange? ... anyway, to continue!
The 1971 adventure finished up the same as our later European adventures.

Personally I would hate us to qualify for this joke of a European competition. With this squad, it would be an embarrassment. Fair enough going out against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich but the thought of getting hammered by FC Crap of Lithuania would be too much to handle.

For me, it's Champions League or nothing. I've done all the European games and experienced the great atmospheres but going and losing in the Faroe Islands holds nothing but dread.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:32:06
Good one, Phil. I planted my flag on this question last fall, and I recognize it's an unpopular sentiment, but from the start I've been rather hoping for (and predicting) no European qualification this season.

Everywhere but the backline, our club remains pathetically thin in talented depth. We simply don't have enough good players to compete successfully in the league and on the Continent -- hell, we couldn't even put together any serious domestic Cup challenges, and even then had a bunch of injured and knackered players before the winter was over. All those extra European games would put our Premier League season in serious jeopardy.

We need at least five more really good players -- a striker, two speedy wingers, a playmaking midfielder and a right back -- before we are deep enough to take on European competition. Carlo and Marcel have a busy, critical summer ahead of them.

Will Mabon
4 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:32:32

Thanks for your sterling work in deciphering all that to a digestible point of reference. Personally, I sadly now feel any of it would be a burden we cannot shoulder next season, much as I've loved it years back, travelling to many of the games.

And yes, your excitement came shining through.

Jay Wood

5 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:44:12
Yes. Next season and every season.
Dave Williams
7 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:49:27
Well done, Phil!

I agree that we don't have the squad for Europe yet and, even with a good summer window, we would be better to focus on a Champions League place rather than a crappy Europa Conference League.

Our time will hopefully come... but first, we need a squad capable of fielding two decent teams – and that is a fair way off.

Barry Rathbone
8 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:50:57
I can't stand any tournament that tempts managers to play silly buggers with team selection – the resting of players disrupts impetus and cheats fans this competition will do exactly that.

Moyes had the makings of a cracking side with Jelavic, Mirallas etc then arsed around with team selection against lower division Leeds and predictably got turned over. We were never the same again.

It's a no from my underpants.

Martin Mason
9 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:58:36
Yes, we want European football. It forces us to buy good players and develop our own to form a good squad structure.
Tony Everan
10 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:03:36
Yes, I enjoy watching Everton play in Europe, it's something to look forward to in the miserable, wet, cold and dark days of winter. There's no doubt we will need more depth to the squad to manage the increase in games.

I'd like to see the best of our youngsters retained and not sent on loan if we qualify. Give them more game time and experience. Give the European games to Olsen or whoever No 2 is. Get Branthwaite, Gordon, Nkounkou on the pitch, I want to see them play, maybe blood one or two younger lads: Onyango, Broadhead, the keeper Leban looks very promising, give him reserve duties.

Okay, it could well lead to a couple of embarrassing results, but on the other side of the coin it could really bring on some fringe and young players. The trips can also create a bit of camaraderie and togetherness in a squad.

We need to use this European competition to suit us and to be advantageous to us and not the other way round.

Dale Self
11 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:13:14
Qualifying for Europe now will surely compromise our ability to give the Top 4 a run. Liverpool will need a rebuild; Leicester are contestable and Chelsea are capable of a slip from how they are playing now.

With an open transfer market, we could pick up four or five that would make for a decent squad capable of the European burden.

Andy Crooks
12 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:27:19
I welcome European football. I have read many wonderful stories from Rob and others talking about great European nights. The notion that Europa League compromises our chances of Champions League baffles me. When have we last looked remotely like getting a Top 4 place?

We need to give experience to younger players, we need to offer European football. I support this club for us to win every game, not to worry about what problems winning might bring.

Rob Halligan
13 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:31:24
Of course we need Europe. As a minimum, we should expect this club to be in Europe every season. What do we do? Plod along merrily every season, hoping to just survive in the Premier League, with the occasional good cup run, but heaven forbid, don't win a cup as that means we qualify for Europe.

I've read recently on various threads, that some don't think the club, board level, manager, players etc don't want to qualify for Europe. Well, Fuck me, it seems that there are fans who are of the same attitude, who lack ambition, who don't want to qualify for Europe because the squad is not strong enough.

How do you know? How do you know the squad won't be strong enough for the following season, and for an assault on Europe? How do you know who we will be signing in the summer transfer window? Easy answer is you don't.

As I said at the start, the minimum this club should be aiming for every season is to finish in a European place. We might well get knocked out early doors but, for fuck's sake, at least we should qualify for a bloody European competition!!

Brian Harrison
14 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:31:44
I guess Uefa came up with this new European Conference League to give all the shit sides in Europe a competition to play in. So managers, when they say at the start of a season we want to qualify for Europe, now have 3 targets instead of 2.

I don't know if they have printed out what money these clubs will be playing for, obviously it will be even less than for the pittance you get for the group stages of the Europa League.

I think it's the intention of UEFA for our leagues to be reduced to say 16 clubs so there is enough time for their competitions. I read Gundogan from Man City complaining about the effect adding another 4 clubs to the Champions League will make, and when are players supposed to get any rest periods. Clubs are struggling with injuries already, so to expect these players to play even more games in Europe is madness.

Dale Self
15 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:44:35
Ouch Rob, you're right, I was being too fucking logical. Yes, damnit yes, we want it. And that was how the title is phrased innit?

Okay, I'm switching belief and expectations back on.

Mike Doyle
16 Posted 14/05/2021 at 20:43:56
Rob 13. Well said. Back in the 80s The Cup Winners Cup was regarded as the poor relation to the European Cup and the Uefa Cup. But it delivered a trophy and the best Goodison match atmosphere I've ever experienced.

My concern, looking at the games that we and those around us have left, is that we'll just miss out. Hope I'm wrong though.

Dave Abrahams
17 Posted 14/05/2021 at 21:06:26
The Europa League might be one to play in but not with the present squad. It would be a handicap to anything we could achieve in the Premier League,

This European Conference League seems to be on a par with the ill-fated and laughable Zenith Data Cup we got to the final in at Wembley and lost 4-1 against Crystal Palace – a cup I wasn't remotely interested in from start to finish.

I'd have the same interest in this European Conference League, but one man's meat is another man's poison.

Phillip Warrington
18 Posted 14/05/2021 at 21:25:02
If we don't want to qualify and gain experience of playing other European teams and attract the interest of players outside of England, what's the point?

We are not a club that anybody fears in Europe. To make that happen, we have to win these so-called lesser competitions that give you direct access to the Champions League if you're successful; they also condition you for when you do break into the Champions League.

Paul Birmingham
19 Posted 14/05/2021 at 21:34:35
For me, getting into a European competition, will aide Everton's chances of getting some decent new players. There's no guarantee though. But this squad is in need of some quality in the close season, without which I reckon it will be another closed-loop of inconsistency..

But the great 'if': would Everton's home form this season have taken Everton to comfortable qualification by having solid home form, aside to the excellent away form, with fans in the ground?

We will never know. European away trips are generally always a good crack but you need a solid squad with strength in depth.

I can see and respect both sides of the debate: getting hammered in Europe and facing drab Sunday matches does not help the spirit. To achieve consistency in two campaigns, during a season, requires very good management a very good quality squad.

But this is Everton, and life is generally a bumpy road at the best of times. Hope eternal.

Kevin Molloy
20 Posted 14/05/2021 at 21:39:14
We bought three players, James, Doucouré and Allan, for an immediate uplift in form, with not much thought given to 3 years from now, in the hope that the uplift right now would justify the expenditure. You would have to say, as the season draws to a close, that the new signings have not succeeded in giving that uplift.

We are better, but we could quite easily have achieved the same level of performance with younger players who would be a much better bet in the years ahead. None of our new boys now are getting better, save for Godfrey. Which is pretty shit, all things considered.

I think overall, the thing that has screwed us the most has been Richarlison's dreadful form. Carlo must be tearing his hair out! If this lad had been on it, we'd have got Top 4 this year despite our wayward form and dull displays.

Billy Dawber
21 Posted 14/05/2021 at 22:00:37
Simple answer really: No, nowhere near good enough with this squad of players. And Yes, it would be an embarrassment going out in the early stages. Those who think otherwise are maybe living in hope as to what may happen but, in reality, just look at our set-up regarding the squad. Just not enough strength in depth in all positions.

I have never wanted us in Europe for a long time simply because we haven't been good enough. A bitter pill to swallow for a lot of Evertonians... but sometimes we are a bit delusional, to say the least.

Henrik Lyngsie
22 Posted 14/05/2021 at 22:34:02
I am really surprised that anyone would argue against playing in Europe. For me to play European is the only way to further develop the team and the club.

We should aim at being one of the best teams in Europe Leauge as the first milestone. This will improve our finances, attract better players and prepare us for the next step.

And don't forget all the European tournaments got seedings. In order to get a proper seeding, we will need to improve our European ranking.

I don't buy the argument that the squad is not got enough. We would probably have to add a few players to the squad. But you would also play Bernard, King, Nkounkou, Davies, Delph etc more than you do today.

Don Alexander
23 Posted 14/05/2021 at 22:52:06
There's comment above on the crucial need for us to sign three, four, five dynamic, skilled players this summer and, if we could sign five, even I might just allow a little hope to enter my Everton-hammered soul.

But, if we don't sign those players, who in their right mind thinks our current squad could handle an additional 15 games at best to win a cup nobody gives a toss about whilst still making meaningful progress towards a Top 4 finish.

That's the Top 4 finish that our Lord Charles of an owner stated was his ambition within 3 years... 5 years ago!

(If anyone doesn't know who Lord Charles is, he's the delusional one in the middle thinking he's in full control – especially whilst controlling little Marcel on the left of the screen – whilst the twat who seemingly doesn't want to appear to be still in control still runs the entire gaff from the right.)

David Pearl
24 Posted 14/05/2021 at 23:41:21
Ventriloquism got a whole lot easier during Covid.

Last time we made Europe, we didn't have the money to improve the squad. This time, we would. No argument.

Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 14/05/2021 at 23:48:35
Rob my friend #13, I assumed you'd argue passionately in the opposite direction from me on this issue, because so much of your life has been spent in those exotic locales. And I certainly don't mean we shouldn't go for Cups because it would put us in Europe. Of course we should go as hard as we can for every piece of silverware that's available to us. I'm just saying that if 7th this season puts us on the plane and 8th leaves us home, I'm not agonizing about 8th.

But you're right that the summer transfer window is the great unknown at this point, and who knows but we might have a strong enough unit to compete at least in the Europa Conference League. Maybe I need more of your optimism, mate!

Barry #8, the words "cracking side" and the names Jelavic and Mirallas do not belong in the same sentence. Or even the same web page.

Derek Thomas
26 Posted 15/05/2021 at 00:20:43
Do we need it now? No, 1 year too early... now to read why I'm wrong.

Mike @25, Jelavic and Super Kev were good early on... not so much later.

Also, I hear plenty of players say they want to play in the Champions League... many just mean they want more money. The odd time we were in Europe, if we did sign somebody, they never said it was their ambition to play in the Thursday Cup (Mo money, Mo money, Mo money) and no player in the world will sign just to play in the 2nd grade Thursday Cup.

Paul Birmingham
27 Posted 15/05/2021 at 01:02:52
Get there, and adapt, improvise and maintain...

Sadly, and rarely achieved at EFC, but we live in hope eternal.

I walk the walks, and I do see the echos and actions of the past across the pages of TW, from our TW Family, which is one of the greatest gifts of being an

“Whats Our Name?”

James Flynn
28 Posted 15/05/2021 at 01:26:59
The answer is Yes.

A number of ToffeeWebbers need to pull their tails out from between their legs.

Kieran Kinsella
29 Posted 15/05/2021 at 01:37:56
A third of the teams in the Premier League qualify for Europe every year. It's not an exclusive group – it's one third! It's embarrassing enough not to be competing for top spot, much less to be worse than 1 in 3 clubs in the division. So, on that basis alone yes we need Europe.
Alan J Thompson
30 Posted 15/05/2021 at 03:42:29
Provided that there is no chance of losing any money on these ventures, then I don't think we are so good or so poor as to spurn any opportunity. 15 -17 games does sound a lot and I'm not particularly enthusiastic about clubs getting into a competition by virtue of being knocked out of another one and would much prefer a knockout competition on the basis of home and away legs. But, if we are to improve the squad and/or give some young players a chance, then this might be one of the reasons why.
Jay Wood

31 Posted 15/05/2021 at 05:11:12
Pleased to report that, whilst Richarlison has been selected for Brazil in the upcoming World Cup qualifying games – a squad that will in all likelihood be retained for next month's Copa Americana, Latin America's equivalent to the European Championships – he is not included in the provisional Brazilian squad for the Olympics.

Common-sense prevailing. He will get a summer break before next season.

Paul Smith
32 Posted 15/05/2021 at 07:16:15
Good news about Richarlison. I had the honour of attending the fans' end-of-season awards on Zoom: Godfrey and Calvert-Lewin were as you expect, open and confident, but I was struck by how humble and reserved Richarlison was, he really comes across as a big-hearted guy without pretence.
Eddie Dunn
33 Posted 15/05/2021 at 07:38:16
Paul, is that simply because he doesn't speak much English?

Rob, you are a veteran of many great European trips and obviously have enjoyed them. I only got to Rotterdam, never been to any others, but what a 24 hours that was!

Mike G, I'm with you all the way. Unless we see four marvellous powerhouses in the summer, just imagine our patched-up bunch of sicknotes, old stagers and all with another 17 games under their belts. If we think the bench looks thin now, just imagine what it would be like next season. Any progress would impact on our League position and our ability to progress in our domestic cups.

The opportunity for those away days will surely be curtailed by Covid for at least another season or two, so sorry Rob, no European fun away in Tirana for you.

The thing that pisses me off is the hype given to qualifying and the likes of old Lukaku forever going on about playing in the Champions League and then you see him on the bench for Man Utd (after leaving us) and his manager plays a second string, which is so often the case in the group stage.

So, I want us to finish as high as possible but, if we do qualify, I would be happy to do a "Leicester" and bomb out early, playing the kids. As I recall, last season, their form tailed off after an exhausting campaign and they slipped out of the Top 4 after being up there most of the season. This time, their early exit has resulted in a sustained attempt at Top 4 and they will achieve it.

So at least they get some experience, and concentrate on getting Top 4.

There is no way we will get Top 6 next term with all of those extra games.

Barry Rathbone
34 Posted 15/05/2021 at 07:46:54
Mike Gaynes @25,

I defer to nobody in my criticism of Moyes but that ensemble pre-Leeds not only played good footy and scored at will but got results if that isn't the makings of a cracking side, I don't know what is.

For a period, Mirallas was unplayable and an absolute joy to watch whilst Jelavic only had to sneeze to score. You are wrong on a galactic scale.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
35 Posted 15/05/2021 at 09:25:55
Jay - how bad is it where you are? Where does Richarlison's parents live? Is there even the remote possibility that over the last 12 months he has been worried about his friends and relatives back home and that has had an impact on his state of mind and his ability to hit the back of the net as often as previous?

And after 4 years living in England, not sure we can expect his English to be limited, no matter how much he has kept to a Portuguese speaking group of friends. Probably just a shy guy and a maybe a worried guy.

Rob Halligan
36 Posted 15/05/2021 at 09:27:18
If we are good enough to slog it out in the premier league, the toughest league in the world, over 38 games, and finish in a European place, then it proves we are good enough to play in Europe the following season. We won’t be playing games of such high intensity every other week, like we do in the premier league. I agree with people saying the squad is not strong enough to play an additional seventeen or eighteen games, the amount of games required to reach the final, but with a good summer in the transfer window and an additional four or five quality signings, what’s wrong with playing an additional ten or twelve games in Europe? Nothing wrong with getting knocked out in the last sixteen of a European competition. We need to get our feet back on the European ladder and build up our co-efficient.
Tony Everan
37 Posted 15/05/2021 at 09:44:32
Jay 31 , Pleased to hear that, Richie will be buzzing about it. Also I read yesterday that the BBC a has struck a deal to show all the Copa games, so I’ll be tuning in to watch our boys in action.
Gary Willock
38 Posted 15/05/2021 at 09:53:23
Tony@10 hits the nail on the head: it’s a GREAT chance to retain and attract good youngsters on the fringe of the team.

If it’s proper Uefa spot, then take it seriously and play the fringe players in league and FA cups. First team players want to play in Europe and an extended run would build our profile. If it’s this new “Rumbelows” 3rd tier nonsense, then treat it like an u23 tournament. Great experience, nothing to lose.

Above anything else, singing on the train out to Nuremberg, and rocking that bus on the final stop to Wolfsburg were two of the greatest days I’ve ever had. THAT is what this is all about. Trophy or not, the tribal support is what we are. Coyb.

Rob Halligan
39 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:00:13
Good news about Richarlison, Jay. As much as I’m sure he would love to have played in the Olympics for Brazil, he would have faced total burnout if he had. He played in the Copa America two years ago, going all the way and winning the competition, and last summers break was almost non existent for all players, so he would have been facing two years without a decent break, which could easily have been three years by the summer of 2022. Also with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being held in November/ December god knows what kind of break players will get, especially with a World Cup being played bang in the middle of the domestic season?
Brian Murray
40 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:06:46
I'm more interested in being a Chelsea fan until they secure top 4, and or Leicester.
Brian Williams
41 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:12:32
Phil you may have touched on something there.
The lad's a shadow of his former playing self.
I'm not one of those who slags him every other game and says he's shit, because he isn't he's a very gifted player, but he just hasn't been himself and is missing that "spark."
Having watched loads of games this season on TV I'd liken his performances to Sterling of Man City who seems to be suffering a similar run of form to Richi in that the things he usually does without thinking are no longer happening for him.
He'll come good again.
Rob Halligan
42 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:17:12
Brian # 40, I assume you are referring to stopping the RS getting top four. For that to happen, Chelsea need to beat Leicester then Villa, then Leicester need to thump Spurs. Goal difference could have a major say in who gets top four, and with the RS having West Brom, Burnley and Palace left to play, you can see them getting top four. That defeat for Chelsea by Arsenal was a real kick in the town halls, and could ultimately cost them a top four finish. If they are pinning all their hopes on winning the CL then it could really back fire on them.
Derek Wadeson
43 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:26:43
Maybe stopping so many players going out on loan would be the answer to the squad being too small to play in Europe as well.
Gary Willock
44 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:29:07
If Fat Sam stops them getting 4th, I hear by swear to never mention his time with us again.
Kevin Prytherch
45 Posted 15/05/2021 at 10:36:26
For any European competition, we need a minimum of 2 players in every position.

At the start of the season it looked like we had this, unfortunately Carlo didn’t trust a lot of the players in the squad, so we’ve ended up with a threadbare squad.

Thinking back to the start of the year
Gk - Pickford and Olsen
RB - Coleman and Kenny
LB - Digne and Nkounkou
CB - Keane, Mina, Godfrey, Holgate
CM - Allan, Doucoure, Gomes, Davies, Sigurdsson, Delph, Gbamin
Wide - Rodriguez, Bernard, Gordon
CF - DCL, Richarlison, Tosun, Kean

24 man squad in theory, but 4 have been sent out on loan, 1 has never returned from injury and 1 will not feature (Nkounkou), leaving us with the piss poor 18 man squad we have.

Dave Abrahams
46 Posted 15/05/2021 at 11:06:01
Brian (41), yes I’ve noticed Sterling has had a bad run playing for City, nothing seems to come off for him, last night v Newcastle plenty of City moves stopped at Sterling for one reason or another.

Richarlison has been inconsistent in every season since he came to England, he is a player with limited ability who hasn’t improved at all since he came to England, he’s going on twenty five, I can’t see see him getting any better.

Having said that, the circumstances in Brazil could be having an affect on his form this season because with Jay’s ( Brazil) account of the terrible way the virus has taken over that country it could be having an affect on Charlie’s form this season.

Barry Hesketh
47 Posted 15/05/2021 at 11:07:03
I've no argument with the author of this piece, nor with any of the respondents, but why do we as Evertonians constantly have this type of debate ?

Do Leicester City's fans have this argument? What would they prefer an FA Cup victory today or a top four place? Well they should want both, in fact fans of any club should want to see their teams finish as high as possible in their domestic league and play on the European stage.

I imagine that Moshiri hired Ancelotti for his european experience as much as anything else and he hoped that Everton would benefit from that experience on the European stage.

If it's not possible for Everton to compete in Europe without it having a negative impact on league performances then something is dreadfully wrong and perhaps the small club tag that some use to mock us, is merited.

Football success for the fans shouldn't be an either/or choice, it should be an unlimited dream - until it's proven otherwise. Any failure of the nearest rivals is understandably welcome, but it doesn't put food on the Everton table so to speak or trophies in our cabinet.

Brian Harrison
48 Posted 15/05/2021 at 11:11:40
I think what we really should be asking ourselves is not should we be pleased to qualify for EUFAs 3rd tier competition, but why arent we able to compete for the Champions league or at worst the Europa league. I look at Leicester won the Premier league in 2016 then a year later sacked their manager, then appointed Puel who seemed to fallout with most of the first team. In the process they sold Kante, Maharez and Drinkwater from their title winning team, then sold Mcguire and Chilwell. Then add to that their Chairman was killed in the helicopter crash, but here they are in the FA Cup final and still competing for a Champions league place. Plus they have done it without spending the fortune Everton have spent to consolidate another mid table finish.
Jay Wood

49 Posted 15/05/2021 at 11:33:20
Phil @ 35. Good questions and observations Phil.

It's bad everywhere in Brazil, no matter where you are. Outside of India it remains the world's hottest CV-19 hotspot.

It's an absolute certainty, not a remote possibility, that Richy will personally know people the virus has directly impacted on.

He is of extremely humble origins, a small town in the interior of one of Brazil's smallest states, Espirito Santo. It is his demographic - black, impoverished, socially marginalized - which has suffered most.

For this reason 100s of families benefit from receiving weekly food parcels funded by Richy. It's needed.

A recent survey revealed that nationally 6 out of 10 Brazilian households face 'food insecurity' on a daily basis. That is, not knowing if they will have food to serve their family any given day.

You may have heard of a severe oxygen shortage for hospitals in Manaus some months ago. Richy paid for a cargo of cylinders to be flown to the remote Amazonian city.

Back in November a fire in the state of Macapa, as if things weren't already bad under the pandemic, left the entire state without power for more than a week.

Richy scored a goal for Brazil at the time, post-match dedicated it to the people of Macapa and subsequently sent food parcels there also.

For all this and many more acts of charity and generosity Richy is adored by Brazilians. Many, many, many identity with him.

Now I know from interviews here with Brazilian players overseas - especially young unmarried lads - that they typically have mature family members living with them.

Match goers like Rob can probably confirm I think I'm right in saying that the families of Richy and Bernard share an executive box at Goodison, so he has family with him in Liverpool.

And family is hugely important for Brazilians. It's my belief - with no scientific basis whatsoever - that Brazil's culture is helping to prolong the pandemic here.

Why? Because they are the polar opposite of reserved Brits. You hug, embrace, kiss, walk hand in hand, arm around shoulders, with everybody.

Each morning on waking whatever the age children young and old will give and receive 'blessings' to parents and other family members, each kissing the back of the other's hand.

My conscientious and disciplined nursing wife for the first time ever in her life has for the past year not greeted or hugged her 90+ parents as a means to help protect them.

It breaks her heart.

Most Brazilians have neither her discipline nor more importantly the conditions to do that, with 3 generations of 6-10 people all living together in squat 1-2 bedrooms.

Fans see what they consider to be 'Richy, The Incredible Sulk.'

What I see and know based on interviews and pieces in his native tongue is that he is a hugely dedicated and serious athlete. His game face is a manifestation of his intensity and desire to win.

He IS a shy and humble guy as you speculate Phil. He is most comfortable in his football environment, especially in the company of Portuguese speakers. Then, he is playful and constantly taking the piss.

I would also hazard a guess that like so many Brazilians he wouldn't have completed his middle school education, never mind high school, which further limits his capacity to learn another language.

No question, he has had a poor season. But you are totally justified Phil to speculate just how much the pandemic has impacted not just on Richy, but on all

Thomas Richards
50 Posted 15/05/2021 at 12:16:54
Fantastic to hear a footballer behaving in this manner. A testament to his upbringing I would suggest.

It is nearly always the footballers who have come from working class backgrounds who respond in this way. They have seen it, done it and know they can alleviate similar to impoverished people. A credit to his family, his state and his country.

Kevin Prytherch
51 Posted 15/05/2021 at 12:46:59
I feel that Richy has suffered recently because of the position he is playing.

When he plays wide left he is invaluable, his work rate and energy means that we can transform from defence to attack and vice versa in an instant. He very quickly moves from being a wide midfielder in defence to a wide forward in attack. His defensive contributions are up there with the best forwards and the speed in which he breaks forward stretches defences.

Unfortunately, despite what he might want, he is not a centre forward. Playing him as a centre forward negates his defensive contributions and turns him from an invaluable asset to merely a decent striker.

Jerome Shields
52 Posted 15/05/2021 at 15:16:55
Yes to European competition. It would change the club's perspective and 15 extra games would give better preparation for future competitions. To play in the Champions League, a club has to be able to play in multiple competitions. I also think that, with an experienced European competition manager, playing in Europe will have a significant impact on the organisation of Everton.

Jay Wood

53 Posted 15/05/2021 at 15:27:56
Kevin, I agree with that.

I don't recall it getting much airing on TW last month, but an interview Richarlison gave to ESPN Brazil confirmed his position has been tweaked at his request by Carlo. Personally, I don't think it has benefitted either the player or the team.

Speaking to Carlo with Mina

This has a similar echo to Carlo saying that if Iwobi says to him he wants to play the Number 10 role, he will try it.

Good on one hand that Carlo is open and will listen to players' ideas. A bit surprising he is seemingly readily accommodating because a player doesn't always know what's best for himself or the team. Or maybe Carlo tries it, it fails and he can then justify to the player that "it hasn't worked; we'll do it my way."

I appreciate two forwards operating close to each other as a tactic but, like you, Kevin, I think Richarlison's best work is playing wider and attacking from there. I often see posts stating he plays Number 9 for Brazil. He doesn't. Firminho does, or Gabriel Jesus. Richarlison started one game there for Brazil, was very poor, and it was changed at half-time.

Will Mabon
54 Posted 15/05/2021 at 15:30:59
The club showed film of Richarlison's fitness test when he was coming in. I noticed at the time he seemed very calm and professional, and made a point to approach other staff/players and clasp hands with them as he encountered them. Comfortable and relaxed in this environment but the life and culture itself must seem many worlds away. Been in the country some time now though.
Billy Bradshaw
55 Posted 15/05/2021 at 16:04:53
Jay Wood @ 49, brilliant post, mate.
Nick Page
56 Posted 15/05/2021 at 16:09:35
European football? With Leeds drubbing Burnley earlier today, 10th place is now firmly in sight. And with Chelsea having to play Leicester on Tuesday, the horrors will likely fluke a Champions League spot to run another bucket-load of salt into the festering wound of mediocrity.

Roll on summer, so we can get this abysmal, tiresome squad sorted out. It was always too soon for Europe.

Barry Hesketh
57 Posted 15/05/2021 at 16:31:11
Nick @56,

If Carlo can't manage to get his team to beat either Sheffield United or Wolves (in front of supporters) at Goodison, then he will come under even greater scrutiny, I expect Everton to finish higher in the table than the newly crowned 'people's favourites' of Leeds United.

Ray Said
58 Posted 15/05/2021 at 16:53:45
Jay (49), a fantastic and informative post – thanks!
Brent Stephens
59 Posted 15/05/2021 at 17:01:58
Jay #49, a really informative post. That Richarliosn is a good man.
Jerome Shields
60 Posted 15/05/2021 at 22:40:04
When a player plays in a midtable team, he is dependent on maybe not the best players in the positions around him. The other problem is that this may enable opposition teams to target that player, particularly if he is seen as a threat. In the Premier League, all teams are very much on the ball as regards this.

Richarlison has been targeted for some rough treatment and extra marking. Some say "Bring on King, " but King is never going to be an international player, whilst Richarlison is, because the above attention is not so easy at International level. He would absolutely revel in European Competition.

He has improved a lot on positioning, laying off the ball has improved, and he attempts percentage passes. He also tries to shoot with his left foot, though accuracy could improve. and his final-third passing could improve.

Maybe Ancelotti does allow him selection leeway. He has said that Richarlison does want to score more goals, but that he does tremendous defensive work. Richarlison is young and does work hard. I laugh when it is suggested he should be dropped – no chance. He is doing great work in Brazil.

Billy Dawber
61 Posted 16/05/2021 at 02:42:34
Nice to see Leicester City winning the FA Cup instead of Chelsea. I haven't seen the game but it sounds like a cracking goal settled it.

I just wish we had the players who shoot from outside the box regularly instead of what we are seeing, week-in & week-out. When was the last time we scored some decent goals from outside the box? I haven't seen many shots that are even on target.

We can only hope all this is addressed sooner rather than later and give the fans something worth paying for when they are eventually let back in the stadium. NSNO.

Danny O’Neill
62 Posted 16/05/2021 at 07:52:43
In response to the title of the thread. Yes.
Mike Allison
63 Posted 16/05/2021 at 08:47:07
Yes, of course we really want European Football next season. If we say we don't, then what's the point of supporting the team?

Some seem to fear that we don't have a big enough squad, whilst at the same time we have the problem as a club of having too big a squad. I'm a little confused by this.

I would suggest that playing in Europe, especially if it was one of the weaker competitions, is an opportunity to start 22 different players in a week. This would give game time to players who currently don't get enough, meaning that they would either develop (if young), avoid stagnation, or increase their market value (if ‘fringe').

This season has seen us loan out or freeze out several players, whilst then only being able to select a reduced ‘bench'. We also seem to have had an unusually high number of short-term injuries.

If we were to imagine starting next season with our current squad and everyone fit, we could do something like this:

Weekend game: Pickford; Kenny, Godfrey, Mina, Digne; Allan, Gomes; Iwobi, James, Gordon; Calvert-Lewin

Mid-week: Olsen; Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Nkounkou; Gbamin, Doucoure; Bernard, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Kean

That's 22 decent players before we even start recruiting with Branthwaite, Davies, Delph, King, Tosun and all the promising youngsters left out. The inevitable injuries wouldn't necessarily weaken a side too much as the replacements would be the 'first choice' player, match fit, from the other line-up. Players could be intelligently managed and rested, and crucially, everyone would be getting regular game time and the chance to compete against the other player in their position. This would avoid the common problem of overloading some players whilst others deteriorate through lack of playing.

In short, if managed correctly, being in Europe should help us be better, not hinder us or be a burden.

Dave Abrahams
64 Posted 16/05/2021 at 09:04:15
Mike (63),

Well, out of the 22 you have selected, Kenny I like, but Carlo doesn't seem to. Bernard, King, Olsen, and Kean look likely to be gone; Iwobi will still be here but not rated by a majority of fans. Gomes is in the same category as Iwobi.

Gbamin is a case of "Will he ever be fit?" I hope he will. One of the centre-backs seems likely to be sold, so that takes 8 of your selection out of the picture, if I'm correct?

Tosun is not in the picture, I think, but some of the younger players like Gordon and Branthwaite are, along with Tom Davies, who should be well in line to be played.

So that will get the squad down, leaving room for 3 or 4 new good players to come in. I doubt it will be enough but it will certainly help.

Off to church now to pray for those new players to come in and dramatically improve our team.

Danny O’Neill
65 Posted 16/05/2021 at 09:28:03
I have both my Rosary Beads in hands with you Dave. One from the Vatican, one from Bethlehem.

Mike, what you touch on is what a lot of us get distracted from. We are not starting next season with the squad. We get too focussed on the starting 11 as though it is going to start every game.

We need depth of squad because through injury, rotation or necessity, in the modern game you need to rotate players. We haven't had the squad this season. Always my concern at the beginning of the season.

Only teams like our cousins over the previous 2 seasons get a freak where they have all their best players available all of the time. Look how a lack of depth has impacted them this season (in comparative context obviously).

It's about building a squad, not just a team.

Thomas Richards
66 Posted 16/05/2021 at 09:28:30
Mike 63,

I would hope that 8 possibly 9 of the players in your 22 are not here over the next two seasons. We need quality.

Mike Allison
67 Posted 16/05/2021 at 16:53:24

Bernard will probably be gone, so we need to sign someone there.
King isn’t in my 22.
Olsen is available and inexpensive.
Kean may be gone but for a high fee, allowing recruitment of a replacement.
Iwobi and Gomes are better than many fans allow and will improve through playing more regularly.
Gbamin, who knows, but neither Davies nor Delph were in the 22. Maybe we need another DM, maybe not.
I’m not sure why you say a centre back is likely to be sold. If one is it’ll be because we’re signing another.
I agree that Kenny is better than Carlo seems to think, but we seem to be recruiting a right back either way.
Tosun isn’t in my 22.

I don’t know if you thought I was saying that our squad is already good enough? I definitely wasn’t, I was saying that being in Europe helps you run a better, deeper squad because more players get games, which is good for them (or their transfer value).

We need 3-5 quality players I’d say.

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