The Chickens Come Home to Roost

The profligacy of the Moshiri years has slammed into the harsh realities of an imposed financial straitjacket from the outside and the need to fund a new stadium, resulting in a summer of unusually strict austerity

Lyndon Lloyd 01/09/2021 158comments  |  Jump to last

It seems almost unfathomable in the era of Farhad Moshiri’s ownership that Everton have ended the summer transfer window, one that was pregnant with need in key areas of the team, with a net spend of just £1m. It evokes painful memories of the club’s age of austerity between 2009 and 2012 when the most expensive player bought in a 2½-year span was Magaye Gueye for £900,000 and the prospect of a billionaire owner seemed fanciful at best.

It’s jarring given the massive sums that Moshiri has sanctioned for transfers and thrown at a series of managers in the five years since he first bought into the club and, on the face of it, incongruous with his pledge at an AGM a few years back that as long as he was in charge, Everton would never want for money.

Of course, while that grandiose promise struck all the right cords with a fanbase that had long yearned for its white knight to come riding in and furnish the Blues with a war chest capable of rivalling their former peers in the English game, things are rarely that simple. And Moshiri’s profligacy has slammed into the harsh realities of a European and domestic financial straitjacket designed to protect the hegemony of the game’s richest clubs and the need to fund a new stadium, Everton’s ambitious pitch to try and gatecrash the elite before it’s too late.

It may already be and this summer’s ridiculous transfer activity illustrated perhaps that ominously impending reality perfectly. Manchester City spent £100m to poach Aston Villa’s greatest homegrown talent in a generation and were fully prepared to splash out even more on Harry Kane from Tottenham had Daniel Levy been prepared to play ball.

Manchester United, who are already paying Edinson Cavani in excess of £15m a year, will reportedly pad 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo’s burgeoning coffers to the tune of £20m+ a year after spending tens of millions on Jadon Sancho, while Chelsea followed up a £250m spending spree last year by lashing out almost £100m on Romelu Lukaku. Meanwhile, Real Madrid, whose president, Florentino Perez, was bleating a few months ago about how the likes of his club and Barcelona were about to go under because football is “broken” and therefore needed the Super League, offered close to £200m for Kylian Mbappé. Paris Saint Germain are backed so heavily by the state of Qatar that they were able to ignore Madrid's phone calls, pass up that eye-watering sum and risk losing the French star for nothing next year.

And yet Everton, with multi-billionaire owner Moshiri and his even richer business partner, Alisher Usmanov, exerting untold influence in the background went into the final 24 hours of the window scrambling to find a buyer for James Rodriguez and doing football’s equivalent of ferreting down the back of the sofa cushions for loose change by counting loan fees from Juventus for Moise Kean and an unexpected sell-on bonus from Nikola Vlasic’s transfer from CSKA Moscow to West Ham. All, it seems, to ensure that the club remained within the bounds of the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability limits, rules that didn’t exist while some of those rich clubs were amassing their wealth, strength and status.

It wasn’t enough and the only player who arrived before the proverbial window “slammed” shut was 31-year-old striker Salomon Rondon on a free transfer. The only outlay the club managed in the entire close season was £1.7m on Demarai Gray, the consequence of a need to stringently reduce spending to avoid going over the imposed debt limit over a three-year period.

Glaring holes in the squad like the right-back position that has remained unaddressed for years, a sudden lack of cover at left-back, the need for another dominant centre-half, a genuine playmaker in midfield and more pace, power and goals on the right wing all went unresolved and it brings into sharp focus the challenges that lie ahead for Rafael Benitez should, as so often happens, the winter months with their crowded schedules bring about an injury crisis afflicting those deficient areas of the squad.

Both Lucas Digne and 33-year-old Seamus Coleman missed matches last season through injury and suspension and while Jonjoe Kenny is a capable if limited deputy and the likes of Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, Jarrad Branthwaite and — God forbid — Fabian Delph can all provide emergency cover at fullback, it’s hardly ideal for a club with designs on qualifying for Europe to put it mildly.

In midfield, there isn’t much depth behind Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré given the uncertainty over Jean-Philippe Gbamin’s ability to stay fit while the likes of Tom Davies and André Gomes have fallen short in terms of convincing anyone that they are a long-term and consistent answer in that part of the pitch.

Moshiri’s commitment to fund the first phase of construction of Bramley-Moore Dock will almost certainly have placed a ceiling on what Everton would have been able to spend this summer even without the curbs on debt put in place by Uefa and the Premier League. The days of the Blues shelling out £80m on players in a transfer window might be over for a while unless they cash in one of their hugely valuable assets like Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin or manage to gatecrash the Champions League.

It’s hard to envision a scenario, however, where the British-Iranian businessman would have put a moratorium on all net expenditure this summer. The tight restrictions appear to be those imposed by football’s governing bodies and in that sense, the chickens of Everton’s wasteful few years since 2016 are coming home to roost.

Over half a billion pounds spent on transfer fees, together with an ever-increasing wage bill and a slew of compensation payments to failed managerial appointments has failed to progress the club an inch since Moshiri took over. False dawn after false dawn as good money was thrown after bad has brought the club to the end of its fiscal road in the context of Financial Fair Play rules.

The gamble, of course, as it has been almost every year under Moshiri, was that the incoming signings — or, as was the case last summer, acquisitions in combination with a highly-decorated but expensive head coach — would deliver on the promise of Europe and eventually see Everton fall on the right side of those FFP and P&S constraints with all that new-found revenue.

Everton lost the gamble and are now having to work through a painful readjustment and tightening of the belt. It’s a process exemplified by Director of Football, Marcel Brands’s ongoing attempts to trim the squad and its associated salary burden and, now, the signing of Gray, Asmir Begovic, Andros Townsend and Rondon for next to nothing.

Years of ill-advised spending are still weighing the team down with assets that no longer serve its needs but are almost impossible to offload given their wages. Gylfi Sigurdsson, at £45m and at least £100k-a-week in wages, the poster child for Everton’s recklessness; André Gomes, a £25m acquisition and another six-figures-a-week millstone around Everton’s neck while he is not consistently starting; Delph, superficially a shrewd budget signing to add experience on the field and leadership in the dressing room, is another drawing a big salary while hardly playing; Alex Iwobi could end up costing £35m but never justifying his price tag (although there are glimmers of hope now that he might); and the reality of James’s “free transfer” from Real Madrid appears to have now been exposed with reports he is on a hefty £200,000 a week at Goodison Park. So much for the suggestions last year that he was taking a pay-cut to join Ancelotti on Merseyside.

If Moshiri could be forgiven for delegating to his early hires like Steve Walsh, his first director of football, and Ronald Koeman, who oversaw an unprecedented period of waste that saw Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin, Yannick Bolasie, and Davy Klassen arrive for a combined £115m, there was questionable wisdom in handing a short-term hire like Sam Allardyce another £47m to sign the serially under-achieving Theo Walcott and the epitome of mediocrity that is Cenk Tosun.

Nevertheless, Everton’s owner has been dealt some cruel cards in his time at the helm. Tosun has twice been sent out on loan to clubs intent on assessing him for a permanent move and on both occasions he has sustained a serious knee injury. Gomes suffered a horrific double leg fracture and ankle dislocation and hasn’t been the same player since. Gbamin has lost two years of his young career to an almost comical succession of injuries and may take another season to fully get back “up to speed”. Kean was an ambitious, forward-thinking signing that didn’t work out but, like Rodriguez, proved hard to shift when immediate funds were desperately needed. His second "Hollywood" managerial appointment left him in the lurch in May. And one of his potentially saleable assets is currently suspended for an indefinite period pending a police investigation.

In the context of all of that, a reset and a readjustment of Everton’s transfer policy was necessary and, under Brands, who has overseen the departure of a couple of dozen first-team players in the past three years, that process has been underway for a while. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and the tangle the Blues have made of their team-building project in recent times will take a long time yet to unpick. The potentially punitive and unfairly restrictive limits posed by the Premier League come at a hugely inopportune time, though, and it means that Benitez’s first season in charge will be one of consolidation and wringing everything he can out of the resources available to him.

The Spaniard will need to draw on all of his experience while also praying for luck on the injury front and it may yet turn out that far from the more laissez faire Ancelotti, in Benitez Moshiri well have selected the best manager for a difficult moment. Time will tell...

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Bobby Mallon
1 Posted 01/09/2021 at 06:47:59
We as fans all know that football and it’s governing bodies are corrupt. You only have to look at the punishment ( says with a tongue-in-cheek) the European super league participants received, erm they didn’t. We as Evertonians know they should have all been docked points and not allowed to play in this yrs European tournaments, but that’s never going to happen. If we where allowed to spend we would have. For years we have been asking for our under 23s to be used more. Well now we will know if our youngsters are good enough, as you rightly say, injuries are going to raise their ugly head.
Andrew Ellams
2 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:01:40
It's really tough to stay interested in the rest of this season. The squad we now have is nowhere near enough to sustain a full PL season and mid table is the best we will be able to look for.

Worst case scenario is that we are a bad run of injuries away from really struggling.

Kunal Desai
3 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:19:58
There isn't really any excuse for not be able to bring in a right back as sufficient cover over the last 18 months. That is just pure incompetence from Brands, unless ofcourse he and the club see differently that there has never been a need for cover in that position.

As for the reset button, what exactly are we resetting? A few years ago it was about qualifying for top four, then resets for Europa League, now another reset for a top 10 finish? To me it seems the targets are lowering on every reset.

New stadium in a few years time, the key is probably going to be stability with minimal outlay in the transfer market until we play in BMD.

Adam McCulloch
4 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:19:59
Excellent but sobering read Lyndon. The only positive to take is that maybe this reset will mean less of the overpaid and underwhelming signings that continue to leave us hamstrung.

The one to watch will be James. Can he and Benitez find some way to make it work? A front four of Richarlison on one side - James as a no. 10 - Gray on the opposite flank - Dom up to gives us another option to the 4-4-2 and if he’s motivated and fit enough to prove the doubters (and pointedly his manager) wrong, we might have a fun farewell. The more likely scenario is we rip up his contract as Spurs did with Serge Aurier last night.

Either way, next year we can trim the last remaining bloat from the Koeman/Fat Sam days and hopefully be in a better position to add real quality in the areas we lack. The signing of Gray and Townsend (although it’s early days) show that shopping in the reduced section isn’t always the worst thing in the world. If the likes of Iwobi can be improved, along with Gomes, Gbamin, Davies, Kenny and others, we might actually turn some of our duds into diamonds. Well, at least pop them in the shop window.

Onwards and upwards!

John Audsley
5 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:26:33
Superb article and I agree with it completely. Let's hope in the near future rules may change but until Moshiri is able to spend his own money we will be in this position for some considerable time sadly.
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:45:21
I felt similar emotions last night Lyndon, so I decided to get away from Everton, and continue watching “The Godfather of Harlem” and In one episode, Malcolm X describing the death of Kennedy, as “the chickens coming home to roost”

Who knows what the future holds with regards our owners? I could probably do a list of one to ten different scenarios right now, although it wouldn’t do much for my schizophrenia.. But if the chickens are coming home to roost, I personally hope it’s because Rafa Benitez, is slowly going to make us a lot more professional, and also has assurances that if/once he helps sort the mess out, then nothing but the best is going to become our motto, once again!

Tom Richards
7 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:52:32
Great article Lyndon.

The frustrations of being an Evertonian summed up perfectly.

Dave McDowell
8 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:53:21
Pray that we have the mother of all injury free seasons.

We now have a first team squad of 27 but in reality (and Huddersfield as some proof) we can expect limited use/performances from Delph, Sigurdsson, Kenny, Branthwaite, Gbamin, Lonergan & Tosun plus hope Gordon can jump to the next level.

The use of James going forward will be the most interesting factor of this under cooked transfer window.

History suggests if Rafa wants to make use of James he has to do it in the next two months before James begins his customary hibernation in the winter period & his likely acrimonious departure in January.

Our solid start suggests (injury allowing) that our limited squad will be of sufficient quality to get results at the normal Premier League “also rans” and target topping the “mini league” of ourselves, West Ham, Villa and Leicester.

Nicholas Ryan
9 Posted 01/09/2021 at 07:58:20
True, Rome wasn't built in a day... but what a city it was when it was finished!!
Benjamin Dyke
10 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:00:20
Andrew #2 have you actually noticed that we played well, ae unbeaten, won 2 and drew 1 PL game in the first 3? You're being pretty pessimistic!
We actually bought some good players last summer that form the basis of our new midfield, Godfrey came in to improve the defence, Pickford got a new brain and now we've added a backup striker and 2 decent PL outside midfielders in Gray and Townsend that have started well, DCL had his best ever season, the team spirit looks really good under Rafa...I could go on! Pushing top 4 will be a tough ask but nothing to stop us being in top 7. My glass is half full here!
Ian Hollingworth
11 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:01:35
Tony @6 Godfather of Harlem, I am just watching that myself and quite enjoying it.

On the footy front the transfer window is a joke with everyone scrambling around. I am convinced it is a sky imposed thing on the clubs.
You cannot tell me that Everton could not have done the Rondon deal earlier than 11pm last night?

As for Everton's right back search over the last few years, it is comical.
We never seem to have a plan which brings in to question the role of Brands.
I accept that the continuing change of manager must make that difficult as he probably never knows what he should be planning for.

Buckle up its going to be a bumpy ride.

Tony Gavin
12 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:02:21
Unfortunately we have been let down by directors of football shelling out 100's of millions on average players. Brands picked up where Walsh left - selling Vlasic to be replaced with Iwobid should be a sackable offence. In the 2 years since both deals, Iwobi has scored 2 and assisted 3. Vlasic scored 22 and assisted 33. Different leagues but the stats tell you everything we need to know. Never mind players taking money for nothing, Brands is equally as bad. Going after another Arsenal reject yesterday (luckily we never got) sums him up perfectly.
Sam Bowen
13 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:02:31
Great article as per usual.

I’m going to stay positive and live in hope that this is the summer where the big reset was actually needed and that we just get that massive bit of luck that is needed to keep our important players fit enough until January.
A real shame that mainland-Niles wasn’t doable as he would have provided cover in both full back positions and midfield when required. Obviously negligent not to have had a back up option and to have put all of our eggs in that basket but maybe they were shafted by Arsenal at the last minute, who knows. I’ll watch on with interest to see how much game time he does get between now and January as I rate him and think he’d have been a fine addition.

Big challenge for Mr Benitez now to utilise James and for the player himself to do his best to contribute whilst he’s here. I’m sure he’ll want to get back in the national squad so let’s see. I’m glad that I may get to see him at Goodson at least.

My biggest regret is that Everton always and I mean always, never seem to capitalise at the right time. After this positive start it would have been bloody brilliant to get in a couple more, especially Diaz just to give everyone that little boost and more optimism.

Still, onwards we March.

Paul Rimmer
14 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:02:33
Whilst we are still recovering from Koeman and Allardyce, we have made mistakes since. We've been unfortunate with injuries and the recent suspension too. In order to get to the top, we've had to pay top fees and wages to attract big name players and seen that this policy is flawed. We need to be buying young talent who have resale value and produce more from the academy to improve the incoming money from sales. I'm not saying we become a Southampton but sell the odd player like we did with Stones to balance the books. The players are out there in the championship, we need to look harder.
Alan McGuffog
15 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:04:13
Disappointing. Was really hoping we could have off loaded those who earn mega bucks and don't seem to do much. Starting with Brands.
Jay Evans
16 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:08:37
Kenny is (unfortunately) no type of deputy for Coleman so not to sign a decent RB is criminal and this is firmly on Brands make no mistake.

As for our current manager making the most of what he’s got, could someone please explain to me how naming 2 keepers on the bench last weekend helps matters.

Jerome Shields
17 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:12:05
All Lyndon says is true and the main culprits are still in place though now being bypassed. One of the main culprit that has left and is wreaking Barcelona now. Benitez is doing all he can do, bringing in loyal leadership into the dressing room to counter the threat of a Finch Farm who can down tools. He has already turned the corner with Fan support and us building a competent team on the pitch.

With James having no choice but to play he will have a very effective attack. the midfield is more determined, pacer , with better interchanging movement and not as walk through. The defence did improve last season and should this season.

Squad depth, in that players have played in different positions, is just about adequate with a bit of luck and hopefully a extended early run. The beginning of next year will be critical and I expect transfers still to be worked on for the January window. The end of season run in will need to be determined and based on effort and hard work.

I expect Everton to do well this season. Every squad player knows they will get game time and are a integrated part of this seasons effort. Benitez maybe Everton's most powerful Manager at the end of this season, who will ask questions. This Everton can progress further as accountablity wealds its force.

Mike Jones
18 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:17:35
Excellent piece, but you'd need to be delusional if you hadn't forseen where our profligacy since appointing Koeman was leading unless we were at least a Europa league regular.

Sacking Martinez - Compensation paid
Poaching Koeman - Compensation paid
Sacking Koeman - Compensation paid
Sacking Allardyce - Compensation paid
Hiring Silva - Compensating Watford even though they fired him!
Sacking Silva - Compensation paid.

Bolasie - write off
Klassen - lost 50% in months
Rooney - write off
Williams - write off
Sigurdsson - not sure we are entitled to even a minimal insurance pay-out in the worst-case scenario . Write off.
Walcott - Nominal fee
Tosun - write off

When our Chairman told the AGM other boards around the league are envious, and often ask themselves: "What would Everton do?“ it's surely to confirm they are not doing exactly the same.

We are a complete shambles. The big reset isn't the summer just gone, it will be next summer. Out of contract players alone are sucking half a million a week out of the club. If we were to sell one of Richarlison/Digne/Calvert Lewin/Godfrey we will be a little healthier, but still a long way from a well run club.

Luckily, our current manager is quite adept at getting the most out of the players available to him. He's probably disappointed with the summer window but he'll crack on and see if anyone is available in January.

Dean Johnson
19 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:18:19
Anyone know how much we can claim back on insurance?

As in when a player is crocked, how much can be claimed from insurance? Or how about the amount we can claim when a player has been suspended?

Honestly what a cluster-fuck

Danny Broderick
20 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:18:35
We’re obviously tightening our belt after years of financial mismanagement and the failure of the much vaunted Director of Football model.

Two people who are absolutely blameless in all of this are Moshiri and Rafa. Moshiri has put his money where his mouth is. And Rafa has accepted the job with all of these constraints imposed on him.

Bizarrely, I don’t think the squad is as bad as Lyndon suggests.

In goal, Begovic has come in as back up to Pickford.

In defence, I don’t think we need a centre half - not while we have Mina, Godfrey, Keane, Holgate and Branthwaite on the books. At right back it would be easy to bring in someone like Aurier on a free and pay him £70k a week - but that’s what got us in this mess in the first place. I’d rather have JJK. At left back, Delph can fill in when not injured(!) Godfrey also played there at times last season.

On the wings, we’ve swapped Bernard for Gray and Townsend, with Iwobi as deputy. In midfield, we have Davies and Gomes as understudies to Allan and Doucoure.

Up front, we’ve kept Richarlison and DCL, with Rodriguez and Rondon in reserve.

I think we have probably got another 12 months of trying to shift the likes of Tosun and Sigurdsson. Rodriguez and Gomes will probably go also. But hopefully we have learnt some lessons from paying top dollar for shit players on massive wages that we can’t get rid of. Hopefully our Director of Football will not commit the same mistakes that both he and Steve Walsh made in the past.

Joe McMahon
21 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:19:36
It's a long shot (I know). But are there any Gems from the (expensive to run) Academy going to be able to manage PL games for Everton this season? Yes it's desperation.

Its all Frustrating as I feel Rafa could be very positive for Everton, but he does need a capable squad with cover in all positions.

Mark Dunford
22 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:22:58
An excellent summary of the situation we are in. Back to the age of austerity where the key is hanging on to the saleable assets so we can see out the season while letting the contracts for Delphers run down and hoping that the youngsters come through to first team. We all know where the weaknesses are and the dangers lie. They’re mostly set out in this article. Next summer may be different when contracts expire and growing ambitions might need to be fulfilled, but the die has been cast for this year
Jacques Sandtonian
23 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:25:44
Well put, Lyndon. I personally recalibrated my expectations for this club at some point towards the end of last season. The FFP constraints were already long known and this summer transfer situation was predictable.

In the short term I think that this could be beneficial to us as a club. In a way we perform better when we’re not suffering delusions of grandeur. We should all accept and embrace a dogs-of-war mentality until the books are better balanced and the stadium project is complete.

That may mean accepting mid-table finishes and losing frustrated superstar players along the way. The stadium revenue will at least allow for a wage bill closer to what the big boys are running.

I do feel, in this sense, that Benitez is the best man for the job insofar as he has vast experience (like Ancelotti) but is highly motivated to keep his job at Everton because of his roots in the region (unlike Ancelotti).

What I fear, and what every other supporter of a non-big-six club must be fearing, is this consolidation of the hegemony. For all the good that financial sustainability regulations might bring for the long-term survival of football clubs, I’ve never heard any suggestion of how a club outside the big six are supposed to break into that club.

As you pointed out, Lyndon, the big revenue boost is in Champions League football, though the super league clubs find it inadequate (and inconvenient that it requires qualification).

This leaves the rest of the league (and lower leagues too) with only one strategy for revenue generation: developing academy players for sale. £100m from selling Grealish has given Villa an opportunity to take a step up. Of course the self-evident irony is that it hands Manchester City another superb talent with which to consolidate their power.

Personally I’m disappointed with the Everton academy. Not only are we not producing talent capable of challenging for the many open positions in our first team but we’re not producing any sellable assets either.

Brands was touted as the man who brought through superb talent at PSV. Now it seems that his focus is more on shifting out dead wood than unearthing gems to develop into first team players (Nkounkou, perhaps, the exception).

Kevin Prytherch
24 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:27:55
The glaring weakness in the squad is genuine left back cover, everything else isn’t bad.

We have a couple of keepers, a capable back up right back, 4 centre backs, 5 centre mids, 5 players who can fill the 3 in a 4-2-3-1 and a couple of strikers. We’re in a far better position now than at the start of the window with players who look like they actually want to play for their money. I’d rather be optimistic at the moment.

I am yet to be sold on Brands though. He doesn’t shift the ‘deadwood’, he generally doesn’t unearth any gems and a lot of signings seem to be at a managers request. He’s done well with a couple, but needs to show more.

Andrew Ellams
25 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:33:58
Danny @ 20, how can Moshiri be blameless in any of this? He's made one poor decision after another in employing the people that have created the mess that we are in right now.

He clearly has no knowledge of football at all but has repeatedly insisted on bringing in his choice of manager and DoF. Anyone who's first choice picks were Koeman, Allardyce, Silva and Walsh is very much to blame for what has happened in the past 5 years.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:34:39
Hopefully this stays as sensible a thread as it has began, and whilst we all want to see Everton spend money, I think we only have to look at the previous 5 seasons league tables, to realize, but only if the right man is doing the spending!

My Arsenal mate, texted me last night after I asked him if it’s time to give Arteta, a little bit of time. We have just spent £160 million, and you could argue we haven’t improved the first eleven.

He went on to say that in ten of the seasons Arsenal, finished in the top 4 under Wenger, the club was 18th or lower in their net spend!

I only want Everton to spend again once we’ve got stability, and the players coming in are part of a plan to improve the existing team, even if this doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed that we never signed another top class central defender, last night!

Joe McMahon
27 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:38:16
Kevin, it begs the question why we let the left back cover (who is good) go out on loan. West Ham are the latest outsiders to watch, their tails are up. Vlasic and Lookman both back in PL but not good enough for a mid table PL team. We really do (often) shift the wrong players never giving them a chance in the first place.
Barry Rathbone
28 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:39:32
We won’t ever spend like Utd, Chelsea and city regardless of ffp. Innovation and courage to make things happen is the order of the day traits absent from this organisation. Trophyless obscurity is where we are and where we will remain. The financial millstone of BMD is as likely to see us relegated as improve matters
Kevin Prytherch
29 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:47:15
Joe - that one really does baffle me. As good as Godfrey was last season, he’s not like for like cover and we lose a lot going forward. Maybe there’s a free transfer somewhere we can get for a year or there’s someone decent in the reserves I don’t know about.
Chris Williams
30 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:49:13
I hope this is evidence of a more disciplined approach to transfers, and evidence of less interference and fanciful pursuit of the likes of Zaha for £70M for example.

We’ve let 17 players go since the end of last season, some on loan, some released, some bringing in fees. Most if not all of them were on our wage bill up to the end of last season. Still a few still to go. There always is. But at least a decent start has been made, part of an ongoing effort.

While there are still gaps in the squad, I struggle with the idea that somehow the squad is weaker than last season. Every player signed ticks a box. We needed pace out wide, where we had none last season. We signed 2 wingers, one of whom can play through the centre. They can both provide some goal threat by the look of it. We needed another one but failed, but we’ve still got 2 more than last season. We needed experienced back up to Dominic, we had none last season. We signed a centre forward. And we needed experienced goalkeeping backup. We didn’t sign a right back, but we tried hard by the look of it.

As a couple of people have said, the interesting one might be James. Fit, firing and committed, he might feel he has a point to prove, to the fans, to Benitez, to Colombia and to those teams who didn’t think he was worth signing in this window. I hope so, because we need goals and assists from him.

The most important signing might prove to be Rafa Benitez. Experienced and obsessive, he has taken on quite a challenge, hopefully with his eyes wide open.

The initial signs are encouraging, with pace out wide, energy and positive intent. More direct football with minimal fannying around at the back with futile possession. Goals being spread around, and the bare minimum being absolute maximum effort for 95 minutes,, so maybe improved fitness. We’re winning games with a lot less possession as well, unsurprisingly.

Nothing has personified this approach than the roles and contributions of Doucouré and Allan. Encouraged to support the attackers, they are showing a lot more than last season. I hope it continues. Iwobi showing the odd glimpse too.

So here we are, at the start of a challenging new season, the likes of Villa, WHU and Leicester all looking stronger. Is it the start of something positive, or something negative?

Interesting times.

Ben King
31 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:51:55
Superb article, as usual, Lyndon

I think I can detect a tinge of disappointment that we’re all feeling: whilst this new avenue may be necessary and perhaps even sensible….we don’t watch football to be sensible

We watch because we want our team to win and to compete across the season. We want to entertained. We want to achieve and finish in high positions and hopefully win things/qualify for Europe

We don’t support Everton because we like the way they run the books so it’s galling that it’s something non football that’s left us bereft on the playing side

Kunal #3 is right - every reset seems to be reduce our ambitions and that’s a disappointment

Your article was very balanced Lyndon: we seem to have had such awful luck. On this score I do feel for Moshiri. I do however also think he’s mismanaged us to a degree: the DoF doesn’t appear to have a clear or specific remit. Instead he blows in the wind towards whatever the new manager wants

Additionally we just don’t produce good youngsters: see the Reds: Trent Alexander, Harvey Elliot, Nathanial Philips…..they have more

Is our youth scouting system poor or is it our coaching? Can we expect Ellis Simms and/or Lewis Dobbin to get decent game time this season? What about Branthwaite and Gordon?

I think this is my issue with the club: I don’t know what the long term plan is. I know the long term goal is Europe and success - but what’s the plan??

- Is it emphasis on youth development? No

- is it emphasis on youth scouting (find uncut gems, develop and sell for profit)? No

- is it buy proven players for a quick fix (by proven I don’t mean Iwobi, Tosun, Bolaise etc)? No

What is our actual plan because it feels like it’s been a mix of the above (ie no plan) and therefore we are exactly where one would expect if they unemotionally analysed our activities over the last 5-6 years. It’s been crap

Hopefully Rafa INSTILLS a plan and the other numpties listen to him because frankly I don’t think he can do any worse than they have

It’s been a total mismanagement

Paul Birmingham
32 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:54:03
This is a very, very slim line tonic to take into the season, but this has been coming.

I’m thinking now if the loan deal for Niels, cover at RB, for Seamus and LB, Digne, and CB.

What’s the long term plan, albeit for the deadwood players to see out their contracts, and a fresh start next summer?

In the mean time unless Everton break on through and achieve success on the park, unless there’s some commercial windfalls and profitability is boosted, this season, will Everton be in a better position this time next season, on the basis the wage bill will be trimmed significant with players out of contract ?

It seems that FFP, looks at a clubs 3 year cycle of operating profit and loss, and not the net financial trading performance of a club.

So yet the likes of Real, could consider going for Mbappe at Monopoly money, considering their so called financial predicament, makes this look like a rigged industry, but I’m no finance expert or economist.

There’s no simple game of football any more.

Time to get on and knuckle down, and let’s hope Everton can keep the good start going v Burnley after the internationals.

Shane Corcoran
33 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:56:55
Sobering read but I'm happy that we're at least not making the issue worse by wasting more money.

We've made a good start to the season albeit against teams unlikely to threaten the top third of the table.

Injuries will kick in but on the other hand we've not had Godfrey, Gomes, Gbamin or James to call on and we now have Rondon.

Also, I'm probably over-conscious of the conspiracy theory element of this site, and whilst I'm not saying that football is a level playing field, the comparisons with Chelsea, Man Utd, PSG and Real Madrid are pointless as we're likely dwarfed by both their prize money and commercial incomings.

So for me it's a case of back to plucky little Everton. A team we can trust to give it all on the pitch with steady progress over the next couple of seasons.

Then we can see if we might be more careful with our (Moshiri's) cash.

Oh and if we're really paying Sigurdsson at least £100k per week then we're surely screwed.

Robert Tressell
34 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:58:28
A few things that have really hit home from this window:

- Net spend and sell on value are critically important. Our long term transfer strategy needs to revolve around this.

- Our short term transfer strategy is to find players to fill positions who are not just good value but also cheap. We probably can't switch strategy until we sell one or both of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

That said, I think Everton have done remarkably well to bring in 4 players of adequate quality for just £1M net. In previous seasons we'd have spent much more on the same sort of quality.

The crushing blow is that because of really serious mismanagement at all levels of the club, we remain miles off being competitive despite spending more than Champions League giants in recent years.

We may pick up, say, Aurier on a free to tide us over. That would help because though he's not stellar he is experienced and athletic.

Circumstance may also be the making of Branthwaite and Gordon – they both have quality.

But big picture it doesn't really change things. We have a largely mediocre squad which is very light in a few areas. A quality right-back would help but it's hardly the final piece of the jigsaw.

Look at the first 11 player for player and we're well off the pace. Look at the second 11 and it becomes really stark.

We have a mid-table squad which will finish 6th to 12th. Probably should finish 8th or 9th. If we go higher it will be down to underperformance of better teams and good management by Benitez.

Graham Holliday
35 Posted 01/09/2021 at 08:58:31
Whilst it's not ideal, Coleman as a first choice right-back with Kenny as back-up isn't as disastrous as some are making out. At least in the context of our financial restrictions.

It seems likely from reports (although the only people that really know are those involved behind the scenes) that our first choice was Dumfries and that we had moves for second and third choice options (Patterson, Maitland-Niles) fail too.

The reasons for those transfers not happening are completely unknown – but I do know I'd rather the club take a long-term approach to recruitment.

If that means a season with Coleman and Kenny as the right-back options and getting a quality first choice in a future window, then I'm fine with it.

The club should be learning its lessons from giving high-value contracts to players that don't materially improve the squad and that are then difficult to move on through the term of the contract.

Christopher Timmins
36 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:01:14
Our business or lack of same during the window obviously influenced the decision earlier in the summer to go with Rafa.

We have to make do with what we have got and get behind the manager and the team.

The sins of the past have come back to bite us this summer and nobody wants our deadwood, not even on loan. The only players we were able to move out were ones who have potential in the long term. No takers at the end of the day for James or Gomes or any other members of the deadwood club.

A big season for some of the younger members of the squad who were loaned out last season, hopefully, they can make an impact and we find ourselves in a better place at the end of this season.

Walsh and Keoman have departed but Brands remains and so has a chance to make amends in the years ahead.

Eddie Dunn
37 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:02:13
Jerome,

Good point regarding Benitez getting in his own men. Elements of this squad have lost interest in previous regimes.

Let's hope this new manager can continue on the good start he has made. The work ethic of Townsend was good to see, and Rondon is another hard worker. The team looks to have good morale... onwards and upwards.

Martin Nicholls
38 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:02:55
Surely someone on the Board was/is tasked with understanding and keeping watch on FFP and Profit & Sustainability rules? If beggars belief that we have reached the situation we are in and no-one (unless Ryazantsev?) has been held accountable.

It comes to something when a fan such as Paul the Esk has a greater awareness of Premier League and Uefa financial rules than any one of our Board of Directors seemingly does.

Andrew Ellams
39 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:05:19
The disappointment isn't really so much about yesterday, it's about how we got into that position.

5 years ago we were all convinced we had this new rich owner with his mega-wealthy contacts and we were going places. Since then we've had one disastrous crack at Europe, not one Top 6 finish, and one domestic cup semi-final.

The Moshiri era has not been what it should have and I can't help feeling that a lot of those still pointing the finger of blame at Bill Kenwright are the ones most struggling to accept that.

Danny Broderick
40 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:08:02
Andrew (25),

Moshiri clearly knows little about football. This is why he appointed Directors of Football. Not just any Directors of Football, he went out and got 2 of the best out there. One who was credited with unearthing Vardy and Kante for Leicester, the genius behind their recruitment as they won the league. He could not have known how badly Walsh would then spend his money, surely you agree with that?

So he then brought in Brands - a respected DOF from PSV. He oversaw their recruitment that saw them win the title for the first time in many years. Overhauled the youth system. Well we are still waiting for Brands to properly deliver. For every Lucas Digne, there’s been a Gomes and a Delph. For every Godfrey, there’s been a Bernard and an Iwobi. But Moshiri has clearly backed him!

Aside from the DOF model, if Moshiri is guilty of anything, it is the appointments of Marco Silva and Sam Allardyce. But can you really blame him for appointing Koeman, Ancelotti or Rafa? One is managing Real Madrid, one is managing Barcelona and even Rafa has won the Champions League in the past.

In my book, if Moshiri is guilty of anything, it’s of backing very well qualified football people who have failed him to the tune of £500 million.

Martin Mason
41 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:13:08
For me, our transfer window was a very welcome return to professionalism after the, at times, hilarious and total incompetence of recent years. We've spent little money, jettisoned some dross players, bought a small number of higher value rather than high-cost players, and yet seem to have improved significantly. Rafa could be our best acquisition of all of them but time will tell.

We will have a time now of relative austerity while we build a new stadium and unravel the catastrophic damage done by recent player purchases. If we finish in the Top 6 for several years now, it would be a major achievement but our future can't be based on trying to improve by buying expensive flops and has been players.

We don't have the income for FFP purposes to compete with the top 4 who seem to operate under different rules but we can still do well by being the best of the rest using homegrown and value buys. Leicester showed what is possible and that needs to be our model, exceptional close season and transfer window for me.

Niall McIlhone
42 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:15:58
I really enjoyed your article, Lyndon, as I have the sentiments expressed by posts on this thread.

The key thing for me is that the performances have so far been very good. The team look fit and very motivated. The challenge will come when we get the (inevitable) raft of injuries and the odd suspension. The manager is not given to hyperbole, he is interested only in whether those selected do their job properly, and that is the way it needs to be.

I really don't think it here is any merit in going down the “woe is me” channel as regards he impact of FFP on Everton. This is clearly a season of consolidation, and it is next season that we will see the loss of several high earners, and that will go some way to allowing the manager scope to sign his own players, and our job as fans is to get behind the team and the manager, as we were left with a bit of a hot mess by Ancelotti.

My only bugbear is this business of two substitute ‘keepers on the bench. Daft.

John Pickles
43 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:20:15
This mess is all down to the fact that Moshiri didn't build his empire from the top down. If you know nothing about a subject, you get in specialists to advise you who do.

With the exception of Ancelotti, not one of Moshiri's managers was regarded as 'the right man for the job' by supporters on this site.

Again, with the exception of last summer's window, Allan, James and Doucouré, few thought we did well in any window since Martinez's summer of Lukaku and Deulofeu. In fact, the vast majority of the fanbase were absolutely horrified at the end of the infamous '4 Number 10s' summer window.

If it is that obvious to the average fan, it should of been obvious to people competent in Moshiri camp, only he never appointed anyone.

Andrew Ellams
44 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:22:41
Danny, really? Since when was it the not the fault of the person making the decisions and pulling the strings?

Moshiri has messed up badly as far as the output on the pitch is concerned which is of course the actual end product of the business that he is running.

Mike Allison
45 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:25:36
A few points, some I made yesterday:

1. Can we stop talking about right-back ‘cover' please? We've got loads of right-back ‘cover'. Coleman, Kenny, Holgate, Godfrey and even John. What we needed wasn't ‘cover' but a high quality, long-term committed successor to Coleman. We tried for Patterson but Rangers wouldn't sell, I believe Dumfries wanted Inter anyway.

2. In defence of Brands. I don't blame him at all. We clearly haven't followed Brands's strategy in player acquisition, instead allowing about 7 different people to decide who to buy. Ancelotti bought his own players. Brands wouldn't have signed James or Allan as he sees his job as bringing in 19- to 24-year-olds who will improve and increase in value. He's not been allowed to pursue this strategy. Far from getting rid of Brands, the hierarchy need to get out of his way and let him do his thing. This is, of course, in partnership with Benitez.

To criticise Brands for not shifting ‘deadwood' is unfair. He wasn't hired to do that and why would he be any good at it? He's never had to do it before.

3. We suddenly lack ‘cover' at left-back. Beyond Digne, only Delph and Godfrey have ever played there. One is never fit, the other is a right-footed centre-back. I wonder if Branthwaite and Townsend will be options.

4. We have players who've under-performed last season but can be expected to improve this season. Iwobi and Andre Gomes top this list but you could include Richarlison and Holgate. Ancelotti seemed to indulge his players where Benitez will demand standards. Gbamin and Delph are potentially very good players, no-one has any idea what they will or won't contribute. I have high hopes for Gbamin although he'll need time and support.

5. The squad is still big. With the exception of left-back, we have two players for every position, more in some. However, we suddenly seem to be short on promising youngsters, only Simms and Onyango seem to be anywhere near the first team and I'd be surprised if Benitez put his faith in either.

6. We still have James Rodriguez. We've started talking about him as of he's some kind of millstone weighing us down. He's actually one of the most talented players in the league. If handled correctly he can still be a huge asset.

7. Four big contracts are up next summer. Sigurdsson, Rodriguez, Delph and Tosun will be off the wage bill. This, combined with the frugal summer we've just had, will leave us in a strong position, hopefully having learned from past mistakes.

So, as so often, the wailing and gnashing of teeth is misplaced. We'd all like to be better, but we have a top keeper, strong defenders, a variety of midfielders with different strengths and forwards who can create and score goals. Those are the things that matter, not net-spend. The players we've got are a lot better than they showed under Ancelotti, so if Benitez gets some positive momentum going, we have cause for optimism.

Michael Lynch
46 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:36:46
It's a threadbare squad for sure, but we probably have the right manager in place to get the best out of it. If this was Carlo's squad, I'd be worried, but Rafa is a very strong, hands-on manager and should be able to push this lot to a solid top-half finish.

As others have said, we get some expensive players off the books next summer and can start building again, so really anything we achieve this season is a bonus.

But still having no successor for Seamus is very poor. Even the players that we didn't get – a raw youngster from Rangers, and a wannabe central midfielder from Arsenal – weren't exactly ideal.

Danny Broderick
47 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:42:04
Andrew,

Moshiri appointed people to manage the football club for him. Surely you can see that. He identified Walsh and Brands as the men to take us forward. Very respected people in the game. Save your anger for them. They are the people who failed us, not Moshiri.

Alan McGuffog
48 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:45:47
Mike, you make some valid points. I don't agree about Brands but you are right about James Rodriguez. Maybe it's time to be "glass half-full" about him: he's not a bad talent and, unless Rafa has told him that he has no part to play, we have a superb player in the squad. He's getting a handsome wedge so let him earn it.
Steavey Buckley
49 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:50:02
Everton are very fortunate to have recruited Benitez as manager especially during this period of FFP when Everton had previously overspent without an adequate income to cover the overspends.

Benitez has been forced to look for bargain basement prices and loan deals that did not come off, because Arsenal and Man Utd did want Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Donny van de Beek to go out on loan.

So was it a good transfer window? Not when there are restrictions placed on the club because of spending rules, which may affect the whole season.

Dale Rose
50 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:51:01
Very good article. My own view is we will do alright this year. I don't think we will get into Europe, but we have a good enough squad to get in the top half.

Phil Wood
51 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:51:32
We are lucky that Rafa is our Manager. He has shown in a short period of time that he can improve players or bring the best out of them.

This is the sort of management that this club needs. He is focused, intelligent, inspirational, hard-working and hard-headed. We have lacked this sort of direction for years.

Now the belt strings have been tightened, he has shown he is a shrewd operator in the transfer market. With limited resources, I believe he will deliver more than most could.

I think we should back him to the hilt as the Board's hands are tied (self-inflicted). Onwards and upwards. COYB.

Paul McCoy
52 Posted 01/09/2021 at 09:51:39
The rules need reworking so that, if clubs have a rich owner, they can spend whatever they want. That's what's happened in the past and it's unfair to impose limits on other clubs in the future.

I'm not sure about the practicalities of that though. Maybe some kind of rule where an owner can pay out of pocket and 'gift' a player to a club so that the club doesn't become laden down with debt?

Brian Williams
53 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:10:23
The piece sums up our situation quite clearly.

We now have a choice as supporters. We can, as the majority of Premier League teams' supporters do, accept where we are (hopefully in the short-term) and get on with it and support the team.

Or we can do what a good number did on the transfer day live section and bleat like spoilt kids who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas.

At some point, you just have to get on with goin' the game, shoutin' for the team, celebratin' the wins, and bemoanin' the losses.

But the constant and over-the-top self-pity is nauseating.

COYB!

Tony Everan
54 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:10:26
An excellent article, Lyndon, the chickens have come home to roost and we have been left with egg on our face. One word describes the past five years...

Profligacy: ‘reckless extravagance or wastefulness in the use of resources.'

Our belt has not just been tightened we have got the screwdriver out and had to make another hole.

Everton are a bizarro club though where nothing is normal. It is the ultimate irony that this summer we have spent zero and reduced the wage bill and yet we now look like more of a team than at almost any stage during the £500M splurge.

The addition of Gray is inspired, I would be made up if we'd signed a £30M player and he was playing like that, Townsend a good professional with the right attitude and a solid squad signing, and another squad signing, Rondon, will give us solid back up for Calvert-Lewin and allow us, to an extent, to keep our drilled shape and system when Dom is injured or needs a rest. Begovic too is good back-up on a free.

We've kept Richarlison who is still improving, Calvert-Lewin is also still on his upward trajectory. I think we will see more goals from both this season.

The manager and his staff are organising the team behind the scenes, making them understand their roles, position and shape. They are instilling focus, desire and professionalism. So far it's working.

However, It's a big disappointment that the right-back position was not sorted out. Dumfries, Patterson, Maitland-Niles all slipped through the net. Dumfries would have given us a real boost, Patterson would have enthused the fan base and have been well supported and loved here. He sounds like he could have been a natural successor to Seamus, he must have immense potential.

So all is not lost and there a some reasons for positivity. Optimism though, for me, is tempered. The squad is short in depth in crucial areas.

We needed Diaz or similar to provide more strength in depth from wide attacking positions. We really needed a right back. Cover for Digne is an odd one too, with Small gone and Nkounkou on loan, it falls to Godfrey. I don't want to even contemplate Delph playing there.

A fig leaf is that we can mange until January, then get one or two reinforcements in, probably on loan, maybe even just until the summer. Then next summer, more players are out of contract and there will be some serious adjustments to the first team.

So it is right to expect that this season is one of consolidation, and hopefully a great cup run. Next season, with expected summer ‘22 investment, there will be another opportunity to kick on to the next level.

That's if lessons have been learned; I'm not counting my chickens just yet.


Kevin Molloy
55 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:16:13
Fantastic in-depth article on how we got here. Just thank god we brought in Benitez. Anything is possible when you have a top manager. I actually think he's improved the squad more with £1M this summer than Brands did with £100M in 2019.

Weird that no team would take a chance on Rodriguez. We'd have probably paid half his wages, so to pick up someone like him for £100k a week, if you wanted to get in a game-changing signing, it's a no-brainer.

Hopefully we reap the benefit. Only problem is, I think there is genuine coldness between him and the manager. Still, not uncommon in football. Got a feeling Rondon is going to be liked by the fans as well.

Chris Williams
56 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:19:06
The problem at Everton is not FFP. That is a symptom. Any business in any sector, whose Profit & Loss Statement looks like Everton's is in trouble. It is simply unsustainable, and down to lousy management, and FFP, ostensibly at least, is there to prevent continued mismanagement leading to clubs going bust.

The fact that these days the rules seem to favour the few not the many, does not really deny the correctness of the principle of FFP, just its application.

The notion that organisations or people should be allowed unlimited expenditure is a gross distortion of what sport is about, ie, a competition with a level playing field. We're a long way from that these days but I don't think any of us like it so much.

Gary Edwards
57 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:20:23
Mike #45, points 2 & 5 are contradictory. You are correct when you say that we are short on young talent. I believe that it would be easy to make the case that we are in a far worse position now re: young talent than we were pre-Brands.

If the expectation (of the DoF) is to recruit players that you develop into first team players and / or sell for a considerable sum, then Brands has performed poorly when compared to his counterparts at Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, Leicester etc.

Mark Andrews
58 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:20:35
I'm afraid this is the way it's going to be for the next few years. Benitez has been brought in to deliver a holding pattern for the club until we'll after the stadium is completed.

FFP has hamstrung the progression and development of many clubs, including our own, favouring the top clubs who continue to spend money like its going out of fashion, despite crushing debts. On this backdrop, Benitez is looking like a shrewd move.

Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:23:48
Well Lyndon, you almost deflated me after my weekend trip to Brighton!

We've spent terribly over the past few years. It's not what you spend, it's how you spend it is what I keep saying.

I have no idea whether Moshiri has had his fingers burned and is waiting to see if he can trust the current manager or we are genuinely in danger of breaching the rules. I don't claim to know or understand them to be honest. But it seems odd that the elites can seemingly flirt with and circumnavigate them even though they are burdened with apparent huge debts. But I guess they point to revenue and income from their global brand and European football. Something many Evertonians view as an inconvenience rather than progression.

I guess gatecrashing the Champion's League it is then!

Robert Tressell
60 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:32:43
Mike #45,

I agree with all of that apart from the comment that net spend does not matter. You're right that quality on the pitch is what ultimately matters. But net spend and resale value is what allows any club to reinvest money into the squad quality and improve.

We won't improve if we're shopping for free transfers every summer. It's been very astute business this time around but you wouldn't want to have this sort of budget every summer.

Dave Lynch
61 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:36:11
We only have to get through to January and another window opens.

I'm sure there will be work going on behind the scenes to earmark ins and outs.

Rafa is a shrewd man and will be planning his next move.

Barry Hesketh
62 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:41:39
Various outlets, including this site, all continue to cite Financial Fair Play rules as the reason for the club's lack of spending during this window, but how true is this? I haven't read any official source, saying that Everton FC has been sanctioned or was under threat by any sanctions, but obviously, there must have been some official warning in place.

However, I believe that Moshiri wasn't going to throw more money at the club, with or without FFP, his priority is to get that stadium built, and by funding the first phase of the project, he has made his priorities abundantly clear.

What this summer has shown, is that trying to get into the elusive Champions League places, is as difficult now as it was back in 2004, in fact, it's probably harder due to the richer clubs tightening their own expenditure and thereby depriving clubs such as Everton of picking up bargains or benefitting from player sales.

One good aspect of the window this summer, is that we have managed to keep Dominic and Richarlison in the squad but we are bound to lose one if not both in the next summer window, which means we'll have to find equal talent for less than we recoup for them.

A reliable right-back is still required and has been for three years, other players will have to be moved on too and replacements found, which will mean another transitional season.

Unless the manager hits on a miraculous way to get Everton into Europe during his tenure, the club will never be able to truly compete at the top end of the league and that is the most frustrating thing to us as fans. We've been down this road so many times, and the place we'd like the club to be remains as far away as ever.

One game at a time, sweet Jesus!

Derek Taylor
63 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:43:43
Even after a virtually 'closed' window at this time, I am still confident of a top-half place come next May. Before anyone criticises my lack of ambition, please factor in the financial drain which will be BMD and rejoice that our Russian benefactor did not demand that the likes of Richarlison, Pickford and Calvert-Lewin be sold to address the muddle that is FFP.

Candidly, I see little chance of this season proving more rewarding than last and, as per usual, the shit will hit the proverbial as soon as we lose a couple on the trot. Never thought I would say it but the redeeming feature which will keep Everton out of a relegation battle is our manager. No fool is he – and the idiot brigade who make up the Board had better believe it!

Ernie Baywood
64 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:44:23
The argument that Brands isn't to blame because Koeman and the like were allowed to bring in their own players is no argument at all.

Managers come and go. Benitez will go at some point. They shouldn't be making decisions that affect anything but the short-term.

Brands should have been stronger. If managers convinced him to buy these players then he should have been stronger. If he was overruled from above then he should have been stronger. He was the guy that was tasked with overseeing football operations and he failed.

If I was Moshiri, I'd reflect on that appointment and vow to do better. Sack him.

The problem isn't that we're out of money. That's the outcome. The problem is that we blew what he had on poor recruitment.

Danny O’Neill
65 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:49:21
If I was Brands, Ernie, I'd have walked.

If you're going to have a DoF model then implement it.

It almost becomes irrelevant then who the manager is because they can come and go. You would be hiring head coaches, not managers.

I get your point about him being stronger but, like many English clubs, we've taken a half-arsed approach to the DoF model as I understand it.

Maybe I understand it wrong.

Tom Bowers
66 Posted 01/09/2021 at 10:49:48
The squad, whilst not looking like Man City's, Chelsea's or Man Utd's for obvious reasons, does appear to have a better attitude than in previous seasons. That fact alone may not win you the trophies just yet but is something to build upon under the right manager.

The jury may still be out on Rafa and his hands may be tied somewhat regarding funding for players but Leicester proved some years back you can make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

There is undoubted quality in the squad and, if he can get the likes of Rodriguez back onside again, then he could have this team in a good position soon. As someone mentioned, maybe more money will be freed up for January if needed.

Denis Richardson
67 Posted 01/09/2021 at 11:10:32
Benitez was our most important signing of the summer. A manager who can bring stability and realism to the club. Keep everyone's feet on the ground as well as get the players working hard and playing in some recognised style, which has been a feature not seen regularly for a few years. The manager is the most important person – not any of the players.

Righ-back is obviously a gap in the squad but hopefully Coleman plus one or two of the centre-backs can cover until January, when we'll eventually succeed in getting Patterson or someone else in.

To get Gray, Townsend, Begovic and Rondon for £1.7m is quite incredible. If we'd paid £10M for Gray I don't think anyone would be complaining in this market. Keeping Richarlision was also very important. Bernard was on £90k a week and barely contributing so good to get him off the wage bill.

Overall, not pulled up any trees this window but has been a very satisfying one to rebalance the squad, bring pace in and get some deadwood out. Just James's massive wages still here the only downside but the club tried hard to shift him but just couldn't find anyone that interested.

We've made a very decent start to the season and don't have any major injury worries going into the first international break. Fingers crossed we can continue with a win against Burnley next. I feel we're heading in the right direction with a balanced hardworking team that also now has pace on both sides. As long as we can remain free of any major injuries, we'll do just fine I think.

Things looking good for now – Rafa just needs to figure out how best to use James. Too slow for our normal game but I can't see Burnley attacking much next up so maybe he can start in these types of games.

Simon Harris
68 Posted 01/09/2021 at 11:34:30
Great read.

What's the U23s stock looking like? Are there any gems coming through who have the potential to fill in?

Centre-midfield cover is my concern; Gbamin is clearly not right with Davies and Gomes not having the legs or bite to dominate in midfield.

Mike Allison
69 Posted 01/09/2021 at 11:39:16
Hi Gary, my point at 2 is that Brands hasn’t been allowed to do his job, which is why I don’t blame him. The money has been splurged on ‘Hollywood’ managers and high wage players when Brands’ stated MO is to avoid this. He would have been picking up more Nkounkou’s.

At 5, I’m more alluding to a generation of young players who’ve moved on without making it. I don’t think Brands is to blame for this either. There was a time we looked at Kenny, Connolly, Dowell and some others as future first teamers. Davies and Calvert-Lewin did make it. Having lost Thierry Small there aren’t many others who look anywhere near ready, Onyango may be an exception.

I therefore don’t see them as contradictory. I contend that if Brands had been allowed to do his job we’d have recruited better, including at youth level.

Edit: I’ve just seen Ernie’s comment that Brands should have been stronger. This may be so, but as we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes it’s impossible to know. Ultimately, Moshiri has to sign off on the decisions, and Brands can’t be ‘strong’ with him other than walking out. Optimistically we can say that we’ve learnt some harsh lessons and are now in a position to put them into practice in the future. For me, that means backing the Brands model and stop recruiting high wage cast-offs.

Billy Fisher
70 Posted 01/09/2021 at 11:50:51
Adam @4 I couldn't agree more
Brian Williams
71 Posted 01/09/2021 at 11:57:01
Another thought. Maybe Moshiri has learned his lesson in instantly backing new managers only to see his money squandered, and has given the job to Benitez with the proviso: Show me what you can do while balancing incoming/outgoing cash and then we'll see about backing you further.
Andrew Keatley
73 Posted 01/09/2021 at 12:31:31
Brian (72) - There is no more money available. Not because Moshiri doesn't have it - or want to provide it - but because we are in danger of running foul of the FFP rules. And as far as I can tell it is likely to be that way for at least a year because of the 3-year accounting nature of FFP - and perhaps a lot longer depending on the extent that Covid has affected our turnover. The only way Rafa will have money to spend is if we were to sell our best on-pitch assets - DCL and/or Richarlison - and even if we did then not all of that money would be reinvested.

I am very pleased with the players we have brought into the club this window; I think they have improved the squad and given us a new dynamic that will serve us well. Obviously there are areas we needed to strengthen - and missing out on targets is always disappointing - but I think Rafa has done very well with the adjustments to the squad that he has made, especially given the financial restrictions, and I am genuinely feeling more positive about where we currently are than I thought I would be. But then again, I'm a pragmatist.

Brendan O’Neill
74 Posted 01/09/2021 at 12:56:14
Tend to agree with many of the posts here regarding right back cover. We all wanted a Dumfries or similar who can take over from Seamus but it hasn’t happened.

However as cover JJK is fine and under Rafa who is a hands on coach he will improve and get better, I’ve got no doubts about that. He’s an under 20 World Cup winner who has a great attitude and is a terrific lad so I’ve heard, he’s also a blue through and through so let’s give him some backing.

The right back ‘can will need to be kicked down the road’ and at some point we will need a replacement for Seamus.

The left back issue is more of a concern for me for the reasons stated by others. I think we may need to look at out of contract options to fill a gap for 12 months - there must be some options in Europe

I can’t remember his name but there was a left back that I saw who was in the Swiss squad at The Euros who’s been released by Bordeaux I think. I’m not saying he’s fantastic as I’ve never seen him but there must be out of contract options like him out there to fill out this space in the squad

Brendan O’Neill
75 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:13:25
With regard to my last post and out of contract left backs. Neil Taylor is without a club. I know there’s baggage here as he was the player who broke Seamus’s leg.

But he is experienced and has played in the Premier League quite a lot. He’s showing as out of contract on Transfermarkt - don’t know whether this is right. Give him a 12 month contract and there’s your cover for Digne

Christine Foster
76 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:15:25
Lyndon, a good and reasonable take of where we are and how we got there, but sadly predictable given the dreadful Russian roulette of so called experienced managers who chose quick fix, expensive and so called experienced players. The truth is none of them fashioned a team. The truth is each manager bought expensive cogs in a broken wheel. The buck stopped with Benitez who is fashioning a team whereby their collective impact with be far greater than their individual ability. We are where we are not because of Moshiri, Brands or James, but on the backing of several bad management appointments where the heart has ruled the head. Do we castigate Moshiri because he backed quality managers that failed him and the club so badly, at least he backed the. But ultimately Lyndon, the chickens have come home to roost, irrespective of FFP it could not continue. Ancelotti badly let the club and personally Moshiri, down. I doubt he will be forgotten and whilst James is a round peg trying to get out of a square hole, used well he could still be of great value. No blame frankly can realistically be aimed at the players for accepting the contracts and rewards, nor that a new manager no longer see fit to use or decide they are not for him. All we can ask is that players brought in do what they were brought in for. It's now up to Benitez to fashion this squad into an effective team. I said it before, he will, with or without the quality.

P'S. The only area that should have been addressed and wasn't is centre back. It's a serious error in my opinion with any one of the three incumbents weak in positional sense, aerial superiority or communication.

Cathal Naughton
77 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:15:50
Just been on transfer market website.
According to their numbers Everton have 5th biggest net spend in the prem over the last 5 years trailing City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Net spend of 221 million. Interestingly after this windows transactions a number of teams are on their coat tails in no particular order Villa, Brighton, Spurs, Wolves and west ham.
In the last 10 years Everton are 7th for net spend but barely.
Given the amount of success on the field of play, it would have to be said things have been managed very badly.
If you take transfer outlay in isolation Chelsea and Liverpool have done infinitely better in the transfer market than Everton.
Given the contrasting success, it is depressing.

Christy Ring
78 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:28:59
Danny #40 Good point. I still can't fathom why we let Nkounkou go on loan especially as he's our only other left back, I won't waste my breath with Delph, injured again after playing only seven minutes this season. As for the FFP, next summer Siggy, Delph, James and Tosun's contracts are finished thankfully, which will be over £20m off our wage bill, huge money for little service.
John Keating
79 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:50:43
Is it really as bad as some posters seem to think?
Moshiri has given a number of managers good amounts if money and have we really improved?
Some posters have been saying for quite a while that we have decent enough players and that we have to get someone to sort them and the tactics out
I have no doubt Benitez was told exactly what was available to him before he signed on
He took the job now he has to make the best of it
Maybe Benitez can sort these wasters out, who knows?
He has what he has and has to use them as he sees fit
We are left with some players he and many of us didn’t want so he has to utilise everyone, including James
No good moaning about what we should have done, we are where we are
Good luck to Benitez, he’ll need it!
Maybe, hopefully, he’ll surprise us all!
Bill Watson
80 Posted 01/09/2021 at 13:52:20
I think we have a stronger squad than 12 months ago with cover in most positions apart from, maybe, left back. The loaning out of Nkounkou makes no difference, at all. He may show pace and athleticism going forward and looks an exciting prospect but a competent full back he isn't, at least at the moment. That's why he's gone out on loan.

Gbamin could be like a new signing, Gomes looks revitlised and fit and Iwobi (and this surprises me) is starting to show he does actually have ability. If Benitez can harness the skills of James that will be another plus.

Brands has cleared out around 20 players this summer including high earners like Walcott, Bernard and Kean, plus Bolasie and Besic are also off the books. The Under 23s have been culled of players who were never going to make it opening up a pathway for younger Academy players.

On the playing side I've been to all our games and the players look much fitter and pass the ball forwards instead of sideways or backwards.There is also much more movement off the ball which is often impossible to spot on TV.

Maybe the delay in announcing funding for BMD and Moshiri personally funding the enabling work is due to our ongoing losses frightening off potential lenders. This is now being addressed and not before time. Would you lend money to someone constantly spending more than their income?

All in all I'm reasonably satisfied with the current squad and, given reasonable luck with injuries, feel we're quite capable of achieving top six or better.

Robert Tressell
81 Posted 01/09/2021 at 14:13:14
When Benitez was appointed I was disappointed. Since learning of the financial situation, I think he's behaved very honourably and professionally. He obviously took on a poison chalice knowing the money had been switched off. He's since gone about his business very well. Dare I say it, it feels like Moyes era Everton all over again. Not a bad place to be while the stadium is being built.

Derek Moore
82 Posted 01/09/2021 at 14:21:22
Half a billion quid up the spout, and with virtually nothing to show for it, not even a domestic semi final.

Back to scouring the free transfers and footballs equivalent of Poundland for signings - and some of our supporters think this is great?

Most jarring of all, the simple realization of how incompetent, amateur hour and utterly pathetic the so called brains trust is at Everton. Moshiri spent like a drunken sailor on shore leave to - I hope I have this right - get us into Europe, increase the revenues and then sort of retroactively justify the spending?
If so, the tame collapse to miss Europe at the end of last season must be all the more galling.
I'm more offended by the total lack of a backup plan or alternative approach - which is why we find ourselves having the window we've just "enjoyed".

The "plan" was simply Europe or bust huh? Well, we went bust. Ding dong.

I wouldn't trust these fools to run a bath if I turned both taps on and put the plug in for them. Give me a shout when we have some competent people running the club again. Until then this forever cycle of hopeless and clueless mediocrity is all we'll get.

Colin Malone
83 Posted 01/09/2021 at 14:33:19
Citeh and WestHam stadiums are getting paid by the tax payer for as long as they remain a football club, so they have that advantage in the transfer market. Definitely corrupt rules.
John Keating
84 Posted 01/09/2021 at 14:35:39
Derek
I don’t think there is one supporter of our Club that is happy with where we find ourselves or think it’s “great”
We have wasted vast amounts on players and managers and there are those still at the Club who are culpable.

Sometimes we just have to stop and accept and then get on with things
I think we are there just now

Benitez knew/knows the situation and will, hopefully, try and work around it until better days come

Right now, and you are right that it’s a basket case, it’s pointless moaning
This is where we are

Jamie Crowley
85 Posted 01/09/2021 at 14:39:25
Robert @ 81 -

It does feel a bit Moysie. And I couldn't agree more with your overall assessment.

Rafa has done well thus far. He's brought in improvements for dimes.

The one thing I'd say, being an anti-Rafa signing fan, where I'm really pleasantly surprised, is the football is good so far. It's not keep it tight and nick one. We're looking to get the ball forward very quickly and take our chances. I've enjoyed watching - and I can't say that's been the case since Carlo's first days in charge, as the tail end of Carlo's tenure was boring as hell.

So I'd say our "brand" of football isn't Moyes-like at all, but your point and the similarities are absolutely spot on.

And it all, for me and my limited 14 year experience, feels very "Everton" and I'm happy with that.

The squad isn't overpaid shite, they appear to be triers, and we're playing to our strengths looking to counter in the main.

We'll see if the parallels with Moyes continue when we actually play a real team starting in October. Knife to gunfight, or do we have a go?

Alan McMillan
86 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:22:37
I really enjoyed reading that Lyndon, your articles are always very well written and fluid, kudos!

I'd rather we buy rough diamonds who end up being gems instead of austentaciuos trophy players who are left to tarnish on the shelf. The sad reality is, these trophy players who choose us are, in my opinion, coming for the money and the lower expectations that seems to radiate from the club.

Yes our squad is thin but the performances this season have shown a determination to do better, rather than the empty "must do better" and "absolutely gutted" soundbites of recent seasons.

We may be only a few injuries away from throwing on some U18 players in some areas but the team looks a lot fitter, more clued in, slicker and quicker than it has done in quite some time. I'm hoping this level of fitness, combined with a change in fortunes (we've been chronically unlucky with injuries for the last 5 seasons), will see a sustained run of encouraging results which, under Rafa's management, will see a change of mindset compared to recent years.

Jim Burns
87 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:23:50
There are interesting parallels with clubs like West Ham and Villa at the moment in terms of their careful use of transfer funds and maintaining the balance between sensible player purchases and wages as opposed to the our reckless activity since Moshiri has come in.
The excitement of 'coming into the money ' as we did - coupled with a longstanding and intense hunger for the club to rejoin the top table clearly drove a spending spree and wage structure that wasn't clever to say the least.
But we weren't the first and we won't be the last - Citeh in the early days of Abu Dhabi wealth ( ignoring the Thai debacle prior to that) and more recently Spurs squandering the Bale money ( how lucky are they to have had Kane and Song to soften the damage? ).
Contrast that with Villa's shrewd use of the Grealish money and Moyes' careful aquisitions since his second coming at West Ham - always his forte, whatever else some may think of him.
It's worth reminding ourselves as well, how close both of those clubs were to imploding a short time ago.
I now believe lessons have been learnt and the Benitez' appointment seems clear evidence of a more pragmatic approach, a reflection of where we are - and more to the point what is now required ie the careful care of a massive hangover following a party we would all rather wish we could forget.
The aim now has to be to get rid of the James; Delph and Tosun wages in January and consolidate again with further sensible team players - no more marquee nonsense.
I hope we have the right managerial hand on the tiller now to settle us down until next season - the early signs are certainly heartening.
Ernie Baywood
88 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:27:21
Danny #65 and Mike #69, completely agree that this has been a balls up. Let's assume that Everton had a strategy and that was being implemented through a DoF model. That's what it looked like they were at least trying to do.

Brands is still a huge part of this dysfunction. People look at the DoF role like he's pulling rabbits out of hats and spotting players that no-one else saw that somehow magically fit a position and style we're playing. I'm sure that's not the case - that's what his scouting team is resourced to do. A DoF is like any other director. He aligns the organisation behind a strategy and makes sure the operations reflect that strategy. Everything from scouting through to coaching and from the boardroom to the dugout.

He hasn't done that. Probably with excuses, and plenty of blame at Moshiri's door, as that's the only way he could possibly still have a job.

But he's still not done what you'd expect of someone at that level. He's the football director at this club and he's failed.

Mal van Schaick
89 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:30:32
A good analysis of where we have been under Moshiri and where we are now

There have been blunders by appointing and sacking a few managers, who have been ill advised in the transfer market and we have paid the price on both counts.

We we have what looks like a squad that will not relegate us, neither will it win the league, but we are where we are, with a sub standard bench and one or two problematic positions. We have an academy and other age related squads,
Promote from within for the full back role.

There are at least three players who should of been moved on but because of contract/fee problems they are are to shift, what I don’t want to see is sulking players putting in twenty minutes and looking disinterested. Suspend and fine them heavily of that happens.

We have a new stadium to look forward to, so reign in the purse strings for a year or two, get back within our financial parameters and build a squad befitting of the new stadium.

Jay Harris
90 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:31:03
Lyndon, great article as always but rather than "Chickens coming home to roost" I prefer to use the title of a recent article called "Green shoots".

Although very concerned about the lack of quality RB and CF cover I still feel this situation has forced a reset at the club and may well harmonize the squad who may now feel they have more to contribute rather than throw the towel in because they were only earning 50k a week as opposed to 150k a week.

Out of adversity comes hope and determination and IMO most of our problems have been in the boardroom rather than on the pitch.
How can you have harmony when the directors are arguing over which manager or player we should bring in and then wasting millions correcting a poor decision.

I didn't want Rafa but I'm now convinced he was the right man at the right time and will actually not be afraid to tell Bill and Mosh what he thinks.

I don't think we will be pulling up trees in the short term but solid togetherness and giving the young players more opportunity can only be good for a productive future.

Paul Smith
91 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:51:50
The Echo has piece by Palace’s former Chairman saying Everton are a shambles having spunked all that Dollar and are not a well run club. He’s right of course but I feel easy about it - new ground and Usmanov. A walk in the park.
James Flynn
92 Posted 01/09/2021 at 15:57:12
Andrew (25) - Agreed.

Moshiri getting off easy on these poor/disaster signings. I've come to the conclusion that it was him personally doing the wheeling-dealing that got us where we are.

No, not Blue Bill. He didn't run anything when he was "In charge". He left all footballing matters to Moyes or Roberto. And, as we know, had no control over the money.

Not Koeman, who's on record stating, "As soon as they start talking money, I leave the room."

And Walsh's comments on having the Maguire/Roberton and Haaland deals agreed (including the dirt-cheap cost)? No one way he states that for the record if it's a lie. The only one with the power to reject those deals was the guy who hired him; Moshiri.

Nope, I've come to believe that old Mosh figured he made his money navigating the perilous waters of Russian business. How hard could this football lark be?

Surprise, surprise.

Glenn Williams
93 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:13:45
Lyndon, great opinion piece but can you provide any insight for US readers on why Mendy had not been suspended and was eligible to play since November of 2020 when a formal complaint against him was made while our player was immediately suspended?

For avoidance of doubt I strongly support the immediate suspension of the player but question why such a big difference with Mendy particularly in light of the gravity of the complaint against Mendy. I'm not interested in discussing facts of either case or any opinion about guilt or innocence, just what under British law could be the justification for the apparent difference in treatment.
Mike Gaynes
94 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:20:35
Lyndon: "...it’s hardly ideal for a club with designs on qualifying for Europe to put it mildly."

I believe we have no such designs. The short-term plan appears to be muddle along and collect the big TV checks until the new stadium opens.

Also, like you I've seen the widespread media reports that James is on £200,000 a week, but I've never seen an iota of supporting evidence. Spotrac, the most reliable source I've ever found for this information, says £90,000. Two other online sources say £140,000. He was on £100,000/week at Bayern, and I very much doubt that Carlo doubled his salary to bring him in.

Chris #30, Ben #31, Jim #87, top posts.

Tom Richards
95 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:29:59
Lyndon,

Read your article again.
It was even better second time.

Just reading the amounts Koeman and Silva spent.
£400 million between them.
Frightening.

Mike Gaynes
96 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:30:25
Glenn #93, both players were immediately suspended by their clubs when they were arrested and charged.

I have seen no reports that a formal complaint was made against Mendy in 2020. One of the assaults he is now charged with was allegedly committed in October 2020, but as you know complaints about rape are often not filed immediately after the offense.

Chris Corn
97 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:34:51
Glenn Williams, quite simply there won't be a difference under British law regarding a decision to suspend the players.

Man City were clearly just better at keeping Mendy's arrest and investigation under wraps. It was clearly going on for some time as he was charged with breach of his bail conditions and that will be one reason why he remains in custody. They appear to have chosen to let him play on until he was charged and then the decision was made.

The decision to suspend the Everton player will be the clubs and the club alone.

Iakovos Iasonidis
99 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:39:50
How we still haven't signed aurier for free...
Don Alexander
100 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:40:30
I would hope that if Brands has been the most culpable board member for the expensive debacle of the last five years he'd have been sacked.

The fact that he's still there makes it clear to me that Moshiri knows who's been responsible - and not for a second do I believe it's Ryzantsev.

Tony Abrahams
101 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:43:03
Does this man work for talk-sport, and share a studio with Moshiri’s friend, Jim White, Paul?

Jim Harrison
102 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:44:13
Back to a period of pragmatism?

Is that such a bad thing? Moneyball approach.

7 goals in 3 pl games. 7 points from 3. Beat the teams you would expect to beat and drew at a tricky Leeds team away. I as good a set of results as most would have expected.

I also think there is a benefit of Rafa getting in players with, what seems so far, to be the right attitude. Townsend is a good example. Grateful to be given an opportunity, seems to understand that he will be in and out of the team.
Begovic knows he is there to be a back up, but won’t be content to sit back and take the money. He will want to get in the team if he can. Gray, a player who has excelled so far, being given a big chance to prove himself.
James, a superstar who wants to be the main man doesn’t fit into that category. Neither did Kean, who never seemed to grasp that he had to work to get the n the team.

Been doing some reading on Google and their performance management. They reckon that it’s not so much about who is in a working team so much as how they work with each other. Or to put it another way, an effective team can be greater than the sum of its cumulative value as long as everyone puts in the required effort. No room for prima donnas.

Anyway, few beers in, I reckon Everton will surprise plenty this season.

Chris Corn
103 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:48:14
Iakovos at 99, probably might be because we actually have specific cover at RB in JJK. It's just that many don't rate him.

We also have cover in all defensive positions, again, just not those that the punters want. Same with the midfield and forwards. Plenty of options, just not the right ones dependent on opinion.

I agree with Mke and Lyndon. Benitez is here because of the hedonistic waste of the last five odd years. After the Ancellotti fiasco, the owners/financiers have said no more and want to kick the brakes on until BMD and want someone who will stand up to the pressure.

Alan J Thompson
104 Posted 01/09/2021 at 16:49:39
Well, that's yesterday dealt with.

We've been blessed with easier early fixtures than they could have been which may have allowed the Manager more time to assess who and how he might play where against whoever is next. If the luck holds then we might escape serious injury for more than a while and if results favour us then there might be little movement in the next transfer window either, all of which might provide a lot more wriggle room on all fronts next season.

All said and done, the on-field "project" remains the same, if we don't win anything then we must at least qualify for some sort of money spinning competition but it does leave you a little despondent that you can't see yourself actually challenging on all fronts.

Bill Gall
105 Posted 01/09/2021 at 17:02:32
First thing although not overly happy with the transfer window a couple of things made me laugh, as a couple of premier managers blocked 1 of their players coming to Everton, and that made me think they didn't want us to improve the team.
The transfer window was not exiting as most supporters understood the restrictions we were under.
This season we have nearly every player we had last season when near the end of the season,only for a complete lack of form, or bad management, . Take your pick, we were close to 5th in the league.
This season we appointed another new manager who came with mixed reactions, and I admit I was not happy with his appointment, not because of his association with the other lot but what had been said about his style of play. But to give credit to the man as he stated, he was a professional manager and will do his best to improve Everton.
He must have studied a number of videos as his first three signings improved a couple of positions we were weak in. His preparation of games and tactics seem different from the style of play he was supposed to play and the players seem to show more intensity in the game. We seem to have less of the passing around at the back, and I think that has changed from before, as players seem to move around more to find space, and it is a quicker pass and move game.
It is early days yet with just 4 games played but I think there is more positives than negatives for the season, and with injured players getting back to full fitness there can still be more improvements.
We have tried buying the overpriced players, were the other players have to conform to their style and failed, at the same time we have a squad of proven international players who given the correct coaching can improve.
Benitez and his staff appear to be the right coaches to improve the squad and give the club time to overcome this financial problem we seem to have.
I don't agree with the statement :. it took more than a day to build Rome... I believe in you have to have a solid base to build on, and that is based on the strongest buildings made, the pyramids, who have a strong base so you can climb to the top.
Everton had a strong base with Moyes but were financially strained that limited their climb to the top. Everton no longer are financially strained but through chopping and changing managers, buying expensive flops, we have had no base to build on.
Hopefully we have now got a manager and staff that can build the solid base to be able to use the financial part of the club to climb to the top.
End of rant, tin hat on.
Bill Hawker
106 Posted 01/09/2021 at 17:49:22
One thing I think needs to be said. No more "Big Six" rejects. Not one has really panned out (Neville is arguable) and we've paid big money and big wages for them. If they aren't good enough for them, they aren't good enough for us. Delph, Iwobi, Schneiderlin, Cleverley, the list goes on and on.

Give me a Tim Cahill any day of the week over some left over like Lingard or Martial. Scouting and player development is more important now than ever before.

James Flynn
107 Posted 01/09/2021 at 18:23:50
Bill (106) - "Not one has really panned out (Neville is arguable)"

Gareth Barry was a great signing and gave us 4 first-rate seasons.

No quarrel from me in general with your post. We need more good players.

Jim Burns
108 Posted 01/09/2021 at 19:02:18
Jim @ 102 - no beers just yet but I have a sneaky feeling you might be right about us suprising a few this season.

You are also spot on with reference to the sum of the parts. On paper ( I know, I know - the game's played on grass etc...), don't tell me our current squad,thin though it is - doesn't at the very least, match up with Villa, Leicester, West Ham etc.

As many have said on this thread, it's now about managing attitude, confidence and effort as well as a shape that doesn't sit 10 yards too deep as soon as it loses possession.
( Doucoure and Allan may as well be new signings on the evidence so far this season).

Benitez will have a zero tolerance of over blown egos and distorted self opinions of how important certain players think they are. that much is evident already.

I've been heartened by every one of his interviews and have happily swallowed - as I suspect many on here have - my instinctive and emotional responses to the news that he was appointed.

Bringing him in at this particular point in our history could be the most clear headed, pragmatic decision the club has made for some considerable time - and in the face of such a mixed reaction - one taken with confidence and clearly with a safe and steady climb over the next 3/4 years to BMD and beyond very much in mind.

Forget challenging City, Chelsea, Utd and the RS in the short term - but there is no reason why - with some luck - we can't now establish ourselves consistently amongst the chasing pack of 4 or 5 teams - especially with the arse falling out of Arsenal.

I'm looking forward to this season now in a way I never imagined only a few weeks ago and the crowd getting behind the team - while we have some limited momentum - could be as crucial as any other factor in this equation.

Christy Ring
109 Posted 01/09/2021 at 19:22:18
I've just seen a report where Benitez told Delph he was free to leave before the window shut but he insisted he was staying. I suppose if your earning £80k+ a week until next summer wit out breaking sweat, why would you leave.
Kieran Kinsella
111 Posted 01/09/2021 at 19:51:06
Glenn 93

English Law had no impact on the suspension or non-suspension of the players. Everton chose to suspend him, City, and previously Sunderland with Adam Johnson did not.

Chris Williams
112 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:10:09
Christy,

The report I read said Delph was told he could go, but because of his professionalism and behaviour, he impressed Benítez, who is happy for him to stay, and has said he will select him.

This is probably borne out by Benítez calling Delph one of his leaders in the squad, in the last week.

If he can stay fit, he can be a valuable squad member, and for example has England caps at left back I think. Either way, he’s here to stay, at least for the time being.

Ian Burns
113 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:18:21
I have just sat and read every post – great article Lyndon but one poster suggested Green Routes might have been better utilised in the headline, with which I have to agree.

Bill Gall's excellent post at 105 (or rant as he called it), was right on the money.

Well balanced thread, enjoyed it.

Bill Watson
114 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:38:08
I think it's important to emphasise that the suspended Everton player hasn't yet been charged with any offence.
Jay Harris
115 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:42:12
Delph, Rodrigues, Tosun etc. They may well put the effort in this season to try to impress possible suitors for when their ludicrous and lucrative contracts come to and end next June.

That's the best we can hope for.

Andrew Keatley
116 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:49:26
Mike (94) - Spotrac is often a good resource, but not always. Calvert-Lewin signed a contract extension 18 months ago; do you still think he's being paid £20,000 a week? He's been on roughly £75,000 a week since March 2020.

For what it's worth, and I don't know the ins and outs of it by any means, I believe that James Rodriguez is comfortably on the biggest salary at Everton – perhaps even slightly upwards of £200,000 a week. That sort of discrepancy can be uncomfortable for a football club to manage, as it breeds a certain distance between the players – especially when the high earner is contributing very little and seems to receive preferential treatment.

I think the desire to move him on derived from a combination of those two factors: financial drain, and the knock-on effect of having someone collecting that sort of money while his team-mates do all the work.

David Pearl
117 Posted 01/09/2021 at 20:50:05
Delph did not make the decision to stay by himself, that would be ridiculous. Benitez was impressed with him in training. If he stays fit he isn't a bad player... he's just not had any momentum.

James Rodrigues. Watch his YouTube highlights to remind yourself just how good he is.

We have a stronger bench this season. I'm looking forward to us proving a lot of people wrong.

Brendan McLaughlin
118 Posted 01/09/2021 at 21:03:37
David #117,

I got the impression that it was Delph's decision to stay... don't know why that seems ridiculous to you?

Paul Hewitt
119 Posted 01/09/2021 at 21:51:21
Brendan @118,

It's true Benitez did say he was ready to let Delph leave. But was so impressed with him in training he decided not to let him go. Crazy, I know.

Oliver Molloy
120 Posted 01/09/2021 at 21:56:42
I wonder was Benitez made aware that there be next to nothing to spend on players when interviewed, if he did more power to him for taking the job.

Didn't want him as manager, but the Evertonian in me is telling me that this appointment might just be the right one to get us going!

Steavey Buckley
121 Posted 01/09/2021 at 22:04:01
"Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has claimed Everton are 'all over the place' as a club.

Jordan, who is now a pundit on talkSPORT, has criticsed the financial position the Blues find themselves in and described Everton as a 'struggling' club.

Discussing the Blues on talkSPORT, he said: “I think they're all over the place and this is a club that are struggling.

“When you lose £139million in the year ending 19/20 before you even post the figures for 20/21 you can't put forward the argument that you're a well-run club.

“You're going to be in the Financial Fair Play territory, that explains the reason why they're not buying players and if you look at their signings they're not the greatest.”

Brendan McLaughlin
122 Posted 01/09/2021 at 22:09:37
Paul #119,

The reports I read paint a slightly different picture. Delph was told he could go but insisted he was staying and Rafa subsequently changed his mind and belatedly admitted Delph could play a part going forward.

Maybe I'm getting cynical... but leaving one highly paid player (James) on the sidelines may raise a few eyebrows... but two? Smacks of shooting yourself in both feet!

Matt Byrne
123 Posted 01/09/2021 at 22:25:21
It would be interesting to know if there are any young U23 players who can genuinely come through. In the last 20 years, Rooney, Barkley and Osman have played for England but very few others make it.

Years ago, young players were given a chance. Look at the Everton team around 1982. Young men like Ratcliffe, Sharp, Richardson, Stevens, and McMahon were all given game time and became tremendous players.

We should be very grateful to have Benitez and his mate Paco. In no time, we look fitter, stronger, quicker, better organised, more united and fighting together as a unit. A manager on the touchline constantly talking his players through the game. So much more inspiring than the waxwork dummies we have had stood staring into space for several years.

It is early days but the players brought in have done exceptionally well. The likes of Iwobi look improved. It was only a 15-minute cameo but even Gomes looked fitter and quicker, managing 2 strikes on goal!

Let's hope we have better luck with injuries and that we can have a decent run to January when further recruits may come in.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

124 Posted 01/09/2021 at 22:48:07
HA! Simon Jordan? Crystal Palace?

He does seem to have a fixation with Everton. Earlier in the summer, he advised Rafa not to taken the manager's job, as well as criticize Moshiri for decisions taken.

This is a man and a club that allowed the bulk of their first-team squad to all be out of contract this summer. 15 of them, no less, at a time their long-standing manager was leaving. His replacement? A complete managerial novice to the Premier League, Patrick Viera, whose managerial experience extends to a couple of seasons in the US in the MSL and a couple of seasons with Nice, who dismissed him in December last year.

Mocking Everton's losses when his own club returned losses of £61 million and whose income is heavily dependent on TV monies and Premier League survival.

Mocking our signings when their own extends to three punts on lower league English players, a hit-and-miss striker from the Scottish Premiership plus 2 Chelsea U-23 players who have played the grand total of 5 Premier League games between them.

Simon Jordan of Crystal Palace, casting judgement on Everton?

I'm quaking. With laughter, not fear.

Christy Ring
125 Posted 01/09/2021 at 23:16:33
Brendan #122,

That's the article I saw.

David @117,

You say he hasn't had any momentum; that's because he was injury-prone when we bought him. He's played a handful of matches in 2 years and played seven minutes this season.

Andy Crooks
126 Posted 01/09/2021 at 23:28:46
One of the constant themes during Ancelotti's reign was the idea that he needed another window, perhaps two, to fine tune his flagging squad. Thank God he didn't have the backbone to stay because we now have a manager who has it in abundance.

I have a hunch that Benitez will do well. Can you imagine the bewildered Carlo after this, for him, make-or-break window? He just might have relegated us. His departure was the first major slice of luck we have had in a long time.

I predict that Rondon will be a huge success, Edouard won't, and Vierra will be first manager sacked. Allardyce will arrive and Palace will still be relegated.

Then enjoy what the ludicrous Jordan spouts after that.

Don Alexander
127 Posted 01/09/2021 at 23:29:18
Jay (#124), Simon Jordan sold Palace 11 years ago.

That aside, you hit the nail on the side.

Simon Dalzell
128 Posted 01/09/2021 at 23:38:05
A perfect and most eloquent description of a complete balls up painfully drawn out over several years. An incredible opportunity so far squandered to a gut-wrenching degree. I think Mr Benitez is at least a good fit for our current predicament.
Frank Thomas
129 Posted 01/09/2021 at 00:24:41
The role of the DoF is to assess players and give suggestions to the manager :"I need a right back." Okay buy Patterson from rangers.
However the implementation of the DoF role has clearly failed how else do you explain, having identified Jebbison, Haaland and Vlasic at early ages and not realising and capitalising on their potential?

The solution is in 3 parts. Firstly to have two DoFs pay them a £1M each if need be because they would be cheaper than buying and financing players such as Tosun. Each would look at the same player and decide independently yes or no to suggest buying them.

Secondly they would write down why they made their decision giving ideal positions including a SWOT analysis and stats. Imagine what the report on a player would read say for example Iwobi, best position, cost of a player scoring 3 goals a season with 1 assist etc. Certainly not £35M.

This information would be vitally important for a manager to see. Final decision on buying would still be the managers.

Thirdly, the two DoFs would need to talk on a very regular basis with the manager to find his positional requirements and why? Maybe even his preferred player or type.

With this system in place we would make far less errors in purchasing players.

I worked in a British software company that created Realtime Operating Systems staffed by over 30 PhD software engineers and they used two engineers to write the software modules together and they never produce a single error. Other companies we visited in safety systems start to follow the same system. If they disagreed a third person (the manager) would rule who was correct and why.

The other 2 minor reasons we had no money this transfer window is the overly generous pay off of managers such as Martinez he gets another job within months of his payoff and we get no refund!!! The Sigurdsson situation has also cost us £11.5M (his transfer value).

Andy Crooks
130 Posted 02/09/2021 at 08:20:07
Frank, no team on earth would pay £11 million for Sigurdsson. Well, perhaps Everton, say next season after we had let him go for nothing!
Tony Abrahams
131 Posted 02/09/2021 at 08:48:12
What will they do if the two Directors of Football can't agree on anything Frank? Employ a third maybe, so two can outvote the other one!

Being serious, I think you need stability inside the club first, let people build up working relationships, and then you need the person in the role to be strong and have his own mind, and then hope that he's good at his job.

The only reason I wanted Benitez, is because I think he's a very belligerent professional, and this club has been ran by Evertonians for way too long.

Don't get me wrong, because I absolutely love Evertonians, but only if they can adhere to our once famous motto, and not go round talking absolute pony, telling us a man, who has been average at best, is an Evertonian, whilst wondering if anyone else can see this irony.

Jim Harrison
132 Posted 02/09/2021 at 09:10:41
Add Howard to a “reject” who turned out ok. Neville too. Saha in patches, Barry without a doubt, Lukaku was too.

It's not where they have come from but how good they are! Lingard would be a good signing.

Danny Broderick
133 Posted 02/09/2021 at 09:13:59
Tony,

I desperately hope that, after Brands, we will see the end of this Director of Football experiment. It's been an unmitigated disaster for us.

Pick any handful of people on this thread, and I'm convinced we would have spent £500 million far more wisely than Walsh and Brands and all the various scouts and managers etc involved in our recruitment.

I've just read that we had a Deadline Day loan move for Man Utd's Donny van de Beek rejected at the final hour. After previously seeing deadline day bids for Man Utd's reserve goalkeeper (Romero) and centre-half (Rojo), I have to ask what is the remit of having a DoF at our club?

Because we are not unearthing much young up and coming talent!! Romero, Rojo and now Van de Beek from Man Utd on Deadline Day? My 10-year-old son could have come up with better than that!! No wonder we are fucked.

Tony Abrahams
134 Posted 02/09/2021 at 09:34:29
Sorry, Frank, I started reading your post and got distracted which meant I never read it all properly, mate. Your suggestion might actually work but, as ever, it always depends on the personnel, and so finding the right people to do the job right is the most important thing imo.
Danny O’Neill
135 Posted 02/09/2021 at 09:41:06
I'm indifferent to the Director of Football model. It can work if you implement it properly, but it's a bit of a leap of faith for English football, which prefer's it's traditional "Mike Bassett" manager model.

That's harsh and meant light hearted, but with a DoF, you can't go in half arsed or you end up doing what we've done. It probably explains the incoherent transfer approach of recent years.

John Raftery
136 Posted 02/09/2021 at 10:40:09
Danny (133),

I have read that we made no such Deadline Day bid for Van de Beek.

As regards the Director of Football experiment, many clubs have someone in that role, sometimes with a different title, such as Sporting Director. The problem at our club in terms of transfer dealings is the way we have used the role and the confusion over who makes the decisions.

Going back to 2016, when Walsh arrived, the window that summer could be claimed as a partial success. For minimal outlay, Gana Gueye strengthened the midfield, Stekelenburg was a competent stop-gap keeper, and Calvert-Lewin was one for the future.

Yet perhaps the root cause of subsequent problems could be identified in those signings. Walsh claimed credit for Gana Gueye, Stekelenburg was clearly a Koeman preference, while David Unsworth sponsored Calvert-Lewin's signing having previously identified his potential at Sheffield United.

The following year was an absolute disaster with Koeman's fingerprints on signings such as Schneiderlin, Martina and Klaassen, Walsh pushing for younger English international players Keane and Pickford, and the Chairman promoting the return of Rooney. All this was happening while allowing Lukaku to leave with no guaranteed replacement lined up and throwing away £45M on a one-paced set-piece specialist.

To operate successfully, there must be clarity in the decision making. It seems to me there are two ways. The first is the Brentford way in which the head coach has no say whatsoever in transfer dealings. His job is to coach the players delivered to him. That has certainly worked for them over a period of 6 years.

The other way is for the team manager to identify realistic transfer targets within the available budget, leaving the Director of Football responsible for signing those players. Possibly that is what is now belatedly happening at our club.

Danny O’Neill
137 Posted 02/09/2021 at 10:46:56
John Raferty,

Your Brentford example is my understanding of how you apply and execute the DoF model.

But their Head Coach (that's the key - not Manager), is Danish and will be familiar operating under it.

We're employing traditional managers alongside a DoF combined with an interfering Owner & Chairman. The result = confusion and incoherence.

One of the first principles of leadership: delegation.

Andrew Ellams
138 Posted 02/09/2021 at 11:15:46
Danny @ 133, it now seems Everton had a late deal scuppered for a 18-year-old Dutch player from AZ Alkmaar because he didn't qualify for a work permit.

Post-Brexit immigration rule changes are going to make unearthing those younger, unknown gems much more difficult going forwards.

Danny Broderick
139 Posted 02/09/2021 at 11:35:56
I take your points Danny, John and Andrew. However it is meant to be implemented, we have completely ballsed it up, like Arsenal are doing currently!

Andrew, I'd have liked to see us have a crack at some South Americans, for example. There is always a lot of talent in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay etc. I'm sure there are gems to be found outside the EU, if our DoFs were looking in the right places?

Robert Tressell
140 Posted 02/09/2021 at 11:51:58
Andrew # 138, I had similar thoughts. Another reason to consider investing in an EU based feeder club or affiliate club perhaps.

The market for talented UK youth could intensify massively if clubs can't bring in youth talent from the EU like Pogba, Pique and Fabregas.

Not sure what the situation is for non-EU youth.

Dave Richman
141 Posted 02/09/2021 at 12:25:36
Simon Jordan did indeed say exactly what was written in the posts above; however, if you watch the whole clip on TalkSport, immediately before Jordan spoke, Trevor Sinclair was very complimentary about Everton and Rafa etc. It wasn't a 'Talksport having a pop at Everton' situation and it was quite a balanced segment.
Danny O’Neill
142 Posted 02/09/2021 at 12:29:37
I think your technical term for how we have failed on the DoF model Danny B is pretty much on the money!

I'm not as sceptical about the EU thing. We are more closely aligned to the EU than we are to South America. But that said, I've long advocated up-rooting our grass roots (excuse the double use) and almost forcing clubs to invest locally by putting local restrictions on the academies. Literally in terms of miles; an exclusion zone, so to speak.

But I don't want to rule out international talent. I think it has brought so much to our game and our young players can benefit from experiences abroad. But let's put an age limit on it and encourage clubs to develop the talent on their doorstep. Whether that ends up being an end product for themselves or they are able to provide a youngster with a path to a career.

Christy Ring
143 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:13:55
I always thought the manager of a club was in charge, and he decided the transfers in and out and gave his list to the DoF to negotiate deals and contracts,. Isn't that what Fergie did at Man Utd.

Look at Moyes's recruitment at West Ham, has he even got a DoF?

Mick Roberts
144 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:16:37
The person we need to move on is Brands – a total waste of time and the main reason we are still stuck where we are, due to his abject transfer dealings.
Andrew Ellams
146 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:19:58
Danny and Robert, immigration rules are about to change for all regions globally so I would presume the same rules will apply to all countries equally now.
Jim Lloyd
147 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:41:33
John Raftery (#136),

That's a good post regarding our transfer activities over the last 5 years. The problems caused in the past (especially with Koeman as manager) still haunt us now.

I think Walsh was second choice DoF and I don't think he'd had enough experience in that role for what our club wanted him for. Made worse with a manager who just wanted to splash oodles of cash on players he fancied. Especially the last one you mentioned. Sigurdsson was (and is?) a Rolls-Royce luxury player when we had a Morris Minor of a team.

I think Walsh had a confusing role. He was definitely a spotter of talent and the players he bought for Leicester proved it. So he got a lot of the blame that belongs elsewhere. He was putting forward that we get for £11 million, the now, £60 million Man Utd and England centre_half and the current Liverpool (how much did it cost Liverpool) left-back and Scottish International.

If we are going to have a DoF, then it makes sense to use him to sign up and complete the contract side of the players picked by the manager and scouting teams.

"Clarity of Decision Making." Your last two paragraphs point the way forward – if only the club would operate it!

Alan J Thompson
148 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:53:16
And while we are at it, have we signed any of the Afghan sheilas who were gotten out for the Ladies team, having lost one of our internationals to Man City?
Danny O’Neill
149 Posted 02/09/2021 at 13:56:17
It's a cultural thing Christy. We do managers, certain parts of the continent are more familiar with the DoF model. Go one way or the other, but don't sit on the fence. That's what we've been doing and we've been in no-man's land. I personally don't care which way we turn, but make a decision and go with it as both will work as long as you commit to them.

Andrew, I'm probably just of that age where I'm long in the tooth. Since I've been alive, we've been in the EEC, the EU and out of it. I've travelled to 30 of the US states and the Middle East as well as Australia and New Zealand. I've worked abroad and the simple fact is, I've never had any problems other than a bit of additional paperwork.

Contrary to the BBC and Liberal Party, international travel and work is, and always has been, pretty easy to achieve regardless of a bureaucracy that only officially came into being in 1993.

A bit like life, travel, work and football. All existed before the EU, the Premier League & the early 90s.

Ian Burns
150 Posted 02/09/2021 at 14:40:56
Danny 142 - I take your point about creating some form of academy restrictions such as zone, age etc but we are talking now of teams who are loaded with players from all over the world.

We need to be taking the best available talent under our wings no matter where they come from (as well as local talent of course) - a la Barcelona.

My problem with limiting the academy is what if the local talent is not up to snuff?

It would be interesting to take a quick snapshot of scousers playing at the highest level?

Jay Harris
151 Posted 02/09/2021 at 14:46:38
I have never seen the logic of a DoF.

To me, it's like asking the HR department to recruit all your staff for you and being told you have to work with them instead of interviewing and deciding on your own staff.

Danny O’Neill
152 Posted 02/09/2021 at 15:36:13
They kind of do that anyway, Jay. You write a job description and tell HR or Talent Acquisition to go out and find suitable candidates. You don't do it yourself, you state what you want. They find it and do the filtering, you get involved in the interview process and make the final decision, but the filtering of candidates has been done way before it gets to that.

I could talk all day about the local talent and our grass roots, Ian, but I think everyone is bored of me!

The Barcelona mention is interesting. I'm big on not taking kids out of their natural environment too early. So satellite sponsored academies in different regions or countries rather than pulling young lads away from family and friends at 11 years old could be a better approach? It leans into the partner club model. So Everton could partner with a club in Belgium or Holland for example.

Bill Watson
153 Posted 02/09/2021 at 15:53:37
Danny #149

Are you trying to tell us football was around before 1992? Sorry, mate, but I'm not having that.

Mike Gaynes
154 Posted 02/09/2021 at 16:14:32
Danny #152... or... as I have been advocating for years... the United States of America.

US academies have lately become an incubator for rising young talent that is showing up in starting lineups all over Europe.

Michael Kenrick
155 Posted 02/09/2021 at 20:46:18
Danny @142,

I thought I read some existing language restricting the catchment area of the Academies to miles or hours journey time, pretty much as you describe. I think this applies to Schoolboys and Scholarships, certainly by age.

Danny O’Neill
156 Posted 03/09/2021 at 07:38:30
I absolutely concur with that, Mike Gaynes. The US is a pool of talent that English clubs should absolutely be tapping into. We speak the same language for goodness sake. Well sort of – I work for a US company so I'm qualified to comment on the linguistics!!!!

German clubs have been doing better but I don't think even they've properly embraced as well as they could. And Barcelona have an academy out there right? Hoppe, who plays for Schalke and the US national team, and a player who we were tentatively linked with in the summer, was part of that for a period in his development. And we've spoken previously about Weston McKennie, another player I was impressed with at Schalke, now playing for Juventus.

Yes, Michael, there are already guidelines on distance / time in relation to home location. A good friend of mine was able to circumnavigate them pretty easily when his lad was at Villa. Their training ground is in Leicestershire, we were stationed in Haverfordwest at the time.

I suppose like schools, you can get around things with a postcode. Or just move to chase the dream. I suppose I'm admittedly following an ideology where clubs are encouraged to focus on their own locality and better support the grassroots.

I know where I'm thinking on this, but I don't think I've got the answers other than it needs a complete overhaul of the grassroots. So the system feeding the academies, not just the academies themselves. It goes back to my (admittedly) romantic view of the German football system I experienced as a youngster.

Robert Tressell
157 Posted 03/09/2021 at 08:51:56
Danny # 152. Since whatever we've been doing for the last 30 years clearly hasn't worked - it does seem sensible for the club to innovate.

As we've seen this summer, average / adequate players needn't cost the earth. If you accept that principle it frees up capital to do other things - which might include affiliations in the US or elsewhere. Creates an additional supply of players and commercial interest too.

Playing in the MLS might also be a better experience for our top U23 players - and young foreign players we're looking to develop.

City, Leipzig and others are doing it already. It is a way to control a supply chain - to help avoid the expensive and hit & miss transfer market. In other walks of life it's called vertical integration and is quite a routine business model.

There will be lots of reasons why we cannot. But unless we find a way to do this (or find some other way to improve the playing squad at much lower cost) our outlook looks very bleak - trying to buy players we can't afford, who aren't good enough to match our ambitions.

Tony Everan
158 Posted 04/09/2021 at 09:46:11
Only slightly related, but I'm really surprised no Premier League team has taken a punt on Daryl Dike, who is now back in the US playing for Orlando FC, I think.

He wouldn't have cost the earth and he seems like a player who could make a difference, initially to a lower mid-table Premier League side. Successful progression would have seen bigger clubs circling across Europe. It would be no shock to see him back over here sooner rather than later.

David Chait
159 Posted 04/09/2021 at 22:11:51
Benitez not having a lot of gold to spend can be reframed as a blessing.

It forces the manager to do a couple things:

Coach what we have spent a fortune on to actually improve and play to their apparent potential. We might actually start to get what we paid for.

Give youth a chance (Gordon at least still around);

Really assess the talent in the side and who can improve and who has to go.

Resetting this season is fine. Think if anyone can get the best out of them, it's Benitez. This team wasn't far off last season and are better than they have been allowed to show.

Don Alexander
160 Posted 04/09/2021 at 23:40:53
Just had a read of the latest posts and I'm reminded of what I saw of schoolboy football in Arizona in the 90's.

Those mere boys were coached within an inch of their lives to conform to the coach's diktat, or else. Freedom of expression or off-the-cuff initiative was verboten. It made me feel uncomfortable and most of the boys, cheered on by families who from their shouts knew little about football, didn't seem to be enjoying the game.

However, the USA of today is seemingly now producing enticing professional players. To me Brian McBride epitomised the basic qualities of the USA player. Total effort, never, ever, take a step back, and respect your team.

They're qualities that've been sadly lacking in our set-up, for yonks.

And Tony (#158), DeeKay looks very promising from the Youtube hi-lites. Well spotted!


Mike Gaynes
161 Posted 05/09/2021 at 03:01:49
Tony #158, me too. I expected Dike to be back in England by now. But Orlando City wanted $20 million for him last spring, and presumably even more after his July performances in the Gold Cup. My guess is nobody wanted to gamble that much on an inexperienced player.

Orlando is certainly happy to have him back. He scored an absolutely explosive goal today, bulldozing one defender and blowing past another before roofing a rocket. It's his third goal in six games since returning.

He's still at the top of my wish list.

Danny O’Neill
162 Posted 05/09/2021 at 06:19:34
Robert, I keep threatening to write a white paper on restructuring youth football, but I'd probably spend a lot of time on something no-one would listen to!!

I've just commented on the women's team thread and have mentioned elsewhere (probably here but I haven't looked back-up). I've worked for a Texas based company since I left the military a few years ago. I've spent a lot of time in San Antonio and have always been impressed by the local football set up and standard down there.

I know the club has started on the marketing side, but we really should be making more of an effort on the playing side to identify the talent that is out there. Satellite club? Barcelona style pseudo academy based in the US?


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