4 Things Chelsea, Man City and Man United Could Learn from Everton
If you are the Premier League champions like Manchester City, reigning European champions like Chelsea or one of the world's richest and most storied clubs like Manchester United, you can argue that there isn't really much you need to learn from anyone.
But Everton's strong start to the season on their relatively meagre budget could give the aforementioned teams some food for thought.
The Goodison Park club have managed to punch well above their weight for a long time now. Despite a couple of scrapes with relegation, they have never dropped out of the Premier League and habitually finish in the top 10 above many richer clubs.
Here are four lessons a look at the Toffees could teach some of the biggest clubs in England.
Keep Faith in the Manager
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This is not something which United have to concern themselves with, as Alex Ferguson is closing in on three decades in the Old Trafford dugout.
But the recent histories of both City and Chelsea have seen managers come and go with great regularity. Roberto Mancini is City's fourth boss in the last five years while Roberto Di Matteo is the ninth man to be at the Chelsea helm since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
Compare that to Everton, where David Moyes is in his 10th season in charge. Like his fellow Scot, Ferguson, Moyes has come to personify the club. Clearly, he has had to do a good job in order to last that long, but his retention in the role represents stability at Everton that Chelsea and City should be aiming for in spite of their success.
Have an Eye for a Bargain
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Of the Everton starting XI which beat Manchester United in their opening game of the season, only four players cost more than £5 million: Nikica Jelavic (£5.5 million), Sylvain Distin (£5.5 million), Leighton Baines (£6 million) and Marouane Fellaini (a club-record £15 million).
The United team which lost 1-0 at Goodison that day had six players in the starting lineup who each cost more than £10 million.
Most of Everton's key players were signed for a song, while the likes of United, City and Chelsea have players bought for big bucks sitting on the bench hardly getting a game.
In an era in which UEFA's financial fair play are set to bite down on big-spending clubs in the near future, Everton's often thrifty recruitment model is exemplary.
Know Your Best Team
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Ask most football followers to name Everton's best XI off the top of their heads and the answers from all of them would be pretty much the same. That is partly to do with the Toffees not having a huge squad heaving with talent, but also because Moyes knows his best team and sticks to it.
Can the same be said of Ferguson, Mancini and Di Matteo?
Ferguson has not fielded a regularly settled midfield lineup for a long time now. The glut of deadline-day signings at City mean Mancini is spending time rotating his team as he accommodates each of his recent recruits. Di Matteo has led Chelsea to the top of the table at this stage of the season, but for how long can he keep all of the attacking midfielders at his disposal happy?
Don't Be Afraid to Sell If the Price Is Right
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This is another factor which will become much more important as financial fair play comes into full effect.
All too often, big clubs are unable to offload big-money signings they have made in the past who have become surplus to requirements because they are on huge contracts with massive release clauses. With a handful of exceptions, these players will usually leave for far less than they are worth or even for free just so clubs can cut their losses.
For Everton, the £12 million sale last summer of Jack Rodwell to City was another example of the club selling a talented player for a good price only when they were sure they could do without them.
When they sold Wayne Rooney to United in 2004 for £25 million, Everton finished that season in fourth place, qualifying for the Champions League playoffs.
The sale of Joleon Lescott to City for £22 million in 2009 happened too late in the transfer window for Everton to find an adequate replacement, but they still recovered in the second half of the season to finish eighth in the table despite their poor start.
There is a difference between simply being a "selling club" and knowing when the time is right to cash in on an asset, and Everton are a good example of a club which does the latter.