Everton FC: 10 Things the Club Must Do to Bring Back the Glory Years
Many Evertonians growing up through periods of contrasting fortunes at the club would probably rank a return to glory quite differently. Recent fans would have seen David Moyes lead his side to a fourth-placed finish in 2005, breaking up the previous monotony of teams qualifying for the Champions League.
For at least two of the next four seasons Everton flirted with the top four again, finishing in the top six, three out of the following four campaigns. Just a couple years down the line and those exciting seasons already seem long gone. Any repeat assault on the top four would surely please a large quantity of those fans.
Prior to that, despite enduring some lousy early Premier League years, fans familiar with the 1990s will have seen the last Toffees side to lift a trophy. Joe Royal’s 1995 side defeated Manchester United at Wembley to hoist the FA Cup, something no Everton side has since been able to replicate. For those of a slightly older generation, ending the current 16-year run without silverware would surely qualify for a return to glory.
Delving further through the Everton archives, fans spoilt on the success of the 1980s may have more lofty ambitions when assessing what this title would include. Back then, the Toffees continually captured titles, won the 1985 European Cup Winners Cup and were at one point (before the Heysel ban) considered one of the best teams in Europe. Going before that, the 1960s were even more laden with glory.
Overall, Everton lie seventh out of all English sides when listing total honours won. When it comes to league titles, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more than the Toffees. So how can this current side, plagued by such poverty, ever recapture past glories in such a money oriented landscape?
Here are 10 steps that would quicken the process.
1: Find Investment (obviously)
No genius is required to work out that Everton are in dire need of investment. The club have been up for sale for many seasons with rumours of immanent takeovers continually appearing, although none have ever committed so far.
Spending has become impossible for the current impoverished board. In the last two years, only Newcastle (boosted by Andy Carroll's £35 million sale) have had a lower net spend than Everton. In fact, the Toffees have only recorded a profit once in the past eight years, and that was due to Wayne Rooney’s lucrative transfer to Manchester United.
As The Swiss Ramble states, since Rooney’s departure, the club’s debt has increased by over £30 million, despite the club maintaining the eighth-best turnover in the league. Each season, the board have still tried to acquire whatever they can to strengthen the team, using money that the club simply does not possess.
Although the Toffees' predicament and actual debt is not so daunting compared to many, the feeble business model used where the club was continually run at a loss each year has now become impossible to sustain. Banks are simply refusing to lend further assets whilst wanting to bring down a considerable debt. Everton have no room left to manoeuvre.
Lagging so far behind the top teams as well as most rivals targeting the Europa League, it is hard to envisage a return to any form of glory coming without investment. So many rivals are blessed with chairmen simply able to cover their heavy expenditure.
Were some Manchester City-style takeover to ever happen at Everton, then of course the chances of a return to glory would be greatly increased, without it, the path looks a lot tougher.
2: Find a New Stadium
A huge stumbling block in any potential takeover deal has always been Everton’s stadium. As striking and historic as the old fashioned Goodison Park is, it is severely restricting the forward progress of the club. The ground falls so far behind the Toffees’ adversaries in numerous categories and presently there seems no obvious solution to counter this.
For a Premier League game, Everton expect to take home more that £700,000. A decent tally, however, it is way behind many of the Toffees' rivals. When one considers how Aston Villa and Newcastle collect over £1 million a game and Tottenham and Liverpool take home double as much, it shows just how much of a chasm is growing each week Everton play at Goodison Park.
A couple of seasons ago, Everton and Tottenham were considered the most likely teams to break into the top four. Tottenham actually have 4,000 less seats than the Toffees at their ground, but in four home games they will be making around £3 million more than David Moyes’ side. Imagine how much more they make over a season.
Armed with substantially healthier finances, it is no wonder Spurs recently made that leap, qualifying for last year's Champions League. Everton have seemingly regressed since being seen as outside contenders. Tottenham also look a strong bet to finish in the top four this season.
The only deal to near an agreement was the Kirkby deal. It was on the table for so long and was probably the most financially sensible project the Toffees will ever find in an extortionate market; as Tescos we're due to pay considerable amounts of the deal.
The concept of a move divided fans, uneasy about it being situated marginally outside of official Everton borders. With no further progress made since the deal collapsed, the Toffees are only slipping further behind their rivals as the search goes on.
3: Focus on Youth
Now to some more realistic, practical options for this moment in time concerning the current set up at Everton.
Focusing on youth is a policy the Toffees' hierarchy have obviously deliberately aimed for. Large proportions of the scraps Everton put towards new talent goes on players ineligible for professional contracts at the time they sign.
Frequently out-muscled in the senior game, Everton’s academy is considered one of the very elite in England. It currently boasts the Premier League champions of last season.
Many talented youngsters note this and are swayed towards the Toffees’ youth team set-up, enthused about the club's credentials as well as the greater potential of future first team chances. Everton must continue this trend and continue to keep their wage bill down by blooding more youngsters which itself will keep enticing the country’s best prospects.
Bradford's exciting 15-year-old, George Green, is the latest recruit to sign for Everton’s academy. Sold by a future at Goodison Park, he rejected substantially greater privileges from Tottenham and other clubs he turned down such as Arsenal.
4: Target the Europa League
Everton finished last season in seventh, but due to Stoke City’s FA Cup final appearance, failed to qualify for the Europa League. Although rarely taken seriously by teams, the Toffees should seriously target qualification each year.
More often than not, seventh will secure this, and with the top six seemingly adrift from the rest, there is no reason why Everton should not back themselves to reach this. Despite this early season slump, man for man—not many other teams in the Premier League can better the Toffees' line-up.
Whilst David Moyes would not be keen sending his first choice 11 traipsing around Europe, this competition, at least in its infant stages, could be a useful breeding ground for fringe players and youngsters.
Despite Everton’s wafer thin squad, their bench has been fairly competitive to get on to this season. The likes of Phil Neville or Tony Hibbert have always around it, as have Johnny Heitinga and Tim Cahill.
Had Everton qualified this season, those experience heads could be getting useful game time, pushing for their own Premier League selection, as well as be spearheading a team with the likes of Apostolos Vellios, Denis Stracqualursi, Magaye Gueye, Ross Barkley, Jose Baxter and a few others who are yet to be given continual runs in the first team.
With Everton needing to look to youth more and more, this extra competition, especially in the group stages, could be a perfect way to further hone the skills of young protegees in the same way Tottenham Hotspur have been doing so far this season. It is also, of course, a way to attract extra revenue and potential silverware.
5: Get Marouane Fellaini to Sign a New Contract
Arguably Everton’s most expensive asset, Marouane Fellaini has merely 18 months left to run on his contract. Add to that the fact he cost the club a record £15 million and it becomes clear how crucial it could be that he signs.
If he does not want to, and wants out, then he must go in January. His contract cannot be gradually wound down the same way Steven Pienaar’s was due to his lofty transfer fee.
There have been several rumblings that a deal may be immanent, but Everton will have to work fast before January rumour merchants can start to turn the Belgian's head.
If he does sign, Everton should then promptly look to...
6: Sell Marouane Fellaini!
OK, perhaps not what was expected after the last slide, and surely a ploy that would irate many, but Everton have prospered before, after selling an elite player—it would help soothe relations with bank managers—and would loosen up some transfer kitty.
When Wayne Rooney left, David Moyes used the money to construct a group of players that still form the core of the squad.
He quickly bought Tim Cahill, and over time used the money on Mikel Arteta, Andy Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Tim Howard and Phil Neville. There are surely few Evertonians that would give back the contributions of most of those players now.
The same tactic was implemented when Joleon Lescott left, only with less success. Lescott’s poorly-timed transfer request caught the board off guard and the quick purchases of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Johnny Heitinga and Sylvain Distin have proved to be less successful.
If Fellaini does sign his contract, Everton will have time to plot the right moment to listen to offers and sell him, before again carefully addressing a number of pressing needs. Most of the money gained from players leaving in the summer will be needed to suppress the Toffees’ overdraft, but should Fellaini go, David Moyes would no doubt see a substantial portion of money at his disposal. This must mostly go on a striker's.
Whilst it is easier and cheaper to build a team in the Premier League with strong defenders and midfielders, something Everton have done, finding strikers is the toughest and most expensive assignment of all, therefore one the Toffees obviously struggle at. Few can argue David Moyes' defence and midfield is not competitive compared to most Premier League outfits, however when it comes to forward options, Everton look exposed.
If the Toffees are to ever have a chance of regaining past glories, they first need to catch up with some of their rivals, who generally boast some lethal finishers. Too many times this season, Everton have created more chances than their opponents, without being clinical enough to finish with what they deserve. Goals are the most important factor in a football match, and Everton must spend on players who will bring in more.
7: Keep Ross Barkley for a Good Few Years
Some may argue this ruthless ousting of Marouane Fellaini could equally work with Ross Barkley being sacrificed instead. After all, Fellaini is far more integral now and Barkley leaving would change few current first team dynamics.
This is all true, and again a feasible solution, but selling Ross Barkley any time in the next three years could be a costly mistake.
Barkley is undoubtedly the brightest talent to emerge from Goodison Park since Rooney, and although his talent is undeniable he is still very raw. He needs time to slowly integrate into the Everton first team and gradually become a central cog before any talk of him leaving his brought up.
Whilst Fellaini and Rodwell have began laying the foundations of a solid connection in central midfield, it still looks pretty conservative, with not much creativity. In a few years time, on paper, a pairing of Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley covers defensive, creative and attacking needs and even has the potential to become a future England partnership.
As Barkley begins to feature more prominently, his value will only rise further. Think how much more Fulham could have made on Chris Smalling had he stayed on just one more year.
By keeping Barkley for a few years Everton will be increasing his value and also be sending a crucial message to their youth team products. He needs to have a chance to succeed at his club, the club that have been nurturing his talent through the academy.
8: Target a Cup More Seriously
Everton have an appalling record in domestic cup competitions. In David Moyes' tenure, his side have reached the League Cup semi-final once and the FA Cup final once. Great runs in isolation, but that is it.
Apart from that, amazingly, they have never made the quarter finals in 17 other attempts!
For a side that has been in the top eight five years straight, and has had three of the past seven years in the top five, going a decade only reaching the last eight in cup competitions twice is simply unforgivable.
True, there have been some tough draws recently. Several Champions League teams have sent the Toffees packing, but similarly, many top contenders have been eliminated by Everton. There have been far too many minnows thwarting David Moyes' men, with defeats to Brentford, Reading, Oldham and Birmingham looking particularly poor.
This season, Everton's League Cup exit looked valiant enough, going down to a strong Chelsea side deep in extra time, but the inclusion of several fringe players was hard to grasp. Jan Mucha, Tim Howard's rarely used understudy, pretty much handed Chelsea their first goal and the Toffees should look back on the match as a huge opportunity missed.
Cups provide huge feel good factors to fans, not to mention the extra income a strong cup runs brings in. There is of course European qualification at the end and surely David Moyes does not want to go much longer than a decade without securing a trophy at Everton.
9: Everton Board and Fans Must Build Bridges
As more and more transfer windows have begun to pass with little or no activity from Everton, many fans have gradually become resentful towards the Toffees' board.
The Blue Union has formed, with a clear aim of repelling the perceived stagnation of the club, turfing out Everton's board and installing new owners. Some are even becoming tired of having David Moyes at the helm.
Whilst each fan is entitled to form their own opinion on their club, the airing of these harboured feelings are clouding the club in gloom. Another protest is planned before Everton's next home game.
These acts only exaggerate negative moments around the club and clearly aggravate other fans. At times this season, Evertonians have become embroiled in a fierce war of words with one another, as forums bulge with supporters questioning each others morals. It is a far ideal look for the club.
This all stems from the board who have become painfully poor at communicating with their fans, and seem to become further detached over time. Transfer-hungry fans scoured media for traces of gossip all summer long, but David Moyes barely seemed to give an interview in the off-season. Information is filtered down so slowly that it is easy to understand some of the animosity towards the powers that be.
Obviously a simply message of 'unite' is ridiculous, but if the board could become slightly more transparent, and perhaps some fans could show less hostility towards them, it would make for a healthier environment to be part of.
The only way to make all Evertonians harmonious with their board once more is if the club start winning again, and some investment could be found, fast.
10: Do Not Lose Faith in David Moyes
David Moyes' expression has slowly hardened over time, as he continues to navigate the Toffees over unforgiving terrain with an increasingly furrowed brow.
Everton's league finishes with Moyes in charge have been continually impressive. With a net spend so low, he continually motives and has brought out the best of so many players that were previously unheralded.
Who had heard of Mikel Arteta or Steven Pienaar before they became household names at Everton. Similarly, he has ignited the careers of so many, Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Joleon Lescott, to name but a few. His record with his players is exemplary.
The two most common criticisms thrown at Moyes are his conservativeness and his rigid philosophy of playing 4-5-1. Firstly, the formation issue is the most tedious argument to comprehend.
Formations are so fluid these days, most teams including Everton, use a five man midfield when not in possession, throwing an extra man forward in attack. Often Moyes does not have a genuine second striker at his disposal, something that is not really his fault. Bodies are still thrown into attacking zones, but he can only work with what he has got.
Had Moyes more money, then he could deploy a more formidable unit. He certainly does have defensive tendencies, but it is crucial to remember that his accomplishments at the club (with those tactics) are the reason for heightened expectations. Only finishing in the top half of a league where everyone spends substantially more than Everton is now deemed failure, despite the fact the Toffees were staving off relegation when Moyes arrived.
Liverpool’s new owners spent £7.5 million for each Premier League point gained between last October and the end of last season, according to figures. Incredibly, Everton have spent just £48,193 per point between Kenwright buying the club in 2004, and the end of last term.
Moyes continues to work wonders with his arms firmly tied behind his back, winning the most points with the least money spent. He is the best value manager.
Moyes is also as devoted to the cause as any of his contemporaries, continually seen in the stands scouting players and opponents. Without him, there is huge potential for things to unravel, let alone any prospects of past glory being revisited.
Everton could have been in unimaginable perilous positions in any of the past eight seasons. It is thanks to Moyes that optimism and hope—dangerous things in football—still surround the Toffees at the start of each season, despite being a club currently down to the bare bones in resources.
For Everton to achieve glory, moving away from Moyes could prove disastrous.
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