It started with the billing by some as the most important transfer window for Everton in many years. It ended, like the Sky-hyped transfer deadline day itself, as something of a damp squib in terms of the high expectations of serious transfer business being done that greeted the turn of the year. By and large, however, there seems to be acceptance among supporters that the club have done fairly well out of January, a historically difficult month, despite only bringing in two players.
Certainly, the wailing for a complete squad overhaul following the defeat at Watford feels like it a distant memory, as does Ronald Koeman’s frustrated reaction to the FA Cup defeat to Leicester just three-and-a-half weeks ago where he appealed to the hierarchy to accelerate the recruitment process in short order.
The acquisition of Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United a few days later seemed to represent the beginning of a shopping spree that would transform the squad. In the final reckoning the Frenchman was the second and last signing of the month after Everton got cold feet over the Ishak Belfodil deal and, presumably, Koeman and Walsh’s other top targets proved to be out of reach for the time being.
Of course, that the previous urgency has dissipated is due almost entirely to Everton’s run of form in the Premier League since the turn of the year. Three successive wins, three clean sheets and the fact that Koeman seems to have finally found a reliable combination of personnel and formation have certainly lessened the perceived need for reinforcements.
They are still badly needed in certain positions, that hasn’t changed, even if there isn’t a broad consensus over which positions are in need of attention first. Some Evertonians have pined for a new goalkeeper or a top-class centre-half as a long-term replacement for Phil Jagielka, others are focused on the more attacking areas of the team where, inconceivably, there is just one reliable goalscoring centre-forward on the books.
The collapse of Arouna Kone’s move to Crystal Palace yesterday ensures that he will be on the books until the summer but is unlikely to be called upon at all unless something goes seriously awry on the injury front. Enner Valencia, meanwhile, was highlighted by Koeman on Monday as being the nominated backup to Romelu Lukaku, even if no one’s really under any illusions that he could adequately replace the club’s top scorer.
It means that Everton will muddle through another half season hoping that Lukaku stays fit and the manager presumably comfortable enough with the fact that between Valencia, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (when fit, perhaps by the end of the month) and even Ademola Lookman, there are enough forward options in the side to cover the Belgian.
It’s hard not to feel disappointed that the club couldn’t land an attacking player of genuine quality capable of slotting into the side straight away though — someone capable of unlocking defences, creating goals and scoring them to take that burden off Lukaku. The last few games (the cup debacle aside) may have created a false sense of security in the squad that is available and it won’t take too many poor results before the voices of dissent start moaning about the missed opportunity of the window just gone to strengthen the side for a tilt at the top six or higher.
The club’s recruitment team should be commended though for resisting any temptation to panic buy in the closing days of January and consigning the policy of adding filler to the squad to the past. It wasn’t that long ago that fans were recoiling at the thought of Everton shelling out £30m on Moussa Sissoko whose experience at Tottenham is panning out exactly as many thought it would. By the same token, the move for Belfodil just didn’t feel right and the collapse of the deal was met with a collective shrug.
Indeed, this was a transfer window very much aimed at clearing the decks to make way for the next phase of rebuilding in the summer, even if it leaves the squad a little thin in places and three of the departures could be back in the summer once their loan periods end.
Bryan Oviedo was a reluctant sale on Koeman’s part but it makes finding a better long-term back-up and eventual successor to Leighton Baines all the easier; jettisoning Darron Gibson feels like the casting off of dead weight; while Kone will be off at the end of the season anyway once his contract expires. Oumar Niasse and Tom Cleverley have made good first impressions at Hull and Watford respectively, raising hopes that those two clubs will take up their options to buy in the summer (there have been rumours the Hornets are obligated to buy for £8m if they stay up), and if Gerard Deulofeu is the only one of the three to return, then there will be plenty of Blues eager to welcome him back to see if he there is a player there who can be developed.
Yes, there is a case of arguing that targeted additions this month could have strengthened the push for Europe and made the club that much more attractive for prospective players when the the next transfer window rolls around but if, as we must assume, the players simply weren’t available then there was nothing to be done.
With the club’s powder staying dry until July, it certainly sets up a summer of real progress on the transfer front, one where Koeman and Walsh can take the team to another level in terms of quality and ability to compete for the top four. The market should be much more favourable then, with players more open to making moves and their clubs far more willing to do business.
There is a nagging feeling that Everton can do better than seventh this season and that an injection of quality in January could have made the difference but some luck with injuries and a continuation of their 2017 form to date could seem them upset the top-six applecart regardless. If not, Koeman had always planned for a marathon, not a sprint and his three-year plan is still very much on track.
Reader Comments (42)
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1 Posted 01/02/2017 at 07:22:59
I think it should be remembered that we are also trying to cultivate options from within. Calvert-Lewin is going to get game time and he may show himself to be a decent addition. With Tyias Browning getting a full game for Preston last night, having just moved on loan, it looks like he may get a decent run of games there and he may be a solid option for us come the summer. Holgate and Davies are going to get a run of games between now and the end of the season. All four players may proof to be a big plus come the summer so why spend money on if we are developing the squad this way.
It should also be remembered that Koeman was at the Under-23 game against Man Utd during the week. This may mean nothing but given it was coming to the end of the transfer window. But, given that there were plans to move players on, Koeman may be planning to step up some of Under-23 players to the senior squad sooner rather than later. From reading the match report, Sambou looked like a player who may just have what it takes. He certainly seemed to have played well enough in front of a watching Koeman to stake a claim.
With allocated funds possibly still left unspent added to wages saved on players going out, perhaps we will be able to play a stronger hand in the summer transfer market.
2 Posted 01/02/2017 at 07:52:38
We clearly had targets that were felt would improve the starting 11. They weren't available, so we will sensibly wait until the summer. What would be the point of buying someone who isn't better than what we already have?
Koeman said that he would rather promote youth than simply fill the squad, so let's see if anyone else is ready to step up.Most players leaving their respective clubs in January are looking to get more playing time.
The fact that only the clubs striving to beat relegation were busy, shows that it isn't a window where the best players are available. The majority of players moved on were those struggling for game time. I think we have used this window to prepare for a busy summer. We shall see...
3 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:27:43
Probably a calculated risk.
4 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:38:56
5 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:48:19
6 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:22:57
Two transfer windows down and we still have a net spend similar to the last few years, it doesn't appear any different to me, ie, we are still selling to enable us to buy. No real new money is being laid out. It looks as though we have brought in roughly £55/56m and spent around £62/63m. I really don't see a change in how we are operating.
7 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:23:17
Add in the fact that Koeman, as you point out, is clearing the decks to make way for the next phase of rebuilding and you have at long last a club that is moving in the right direction.
"Koeman had always planned for a marathon not a sprint and his three-year plan is still very much on track." The only way to achieve sustainable progress is by having the very plan you talk about.
The vast majority of fans are backing the manager. As he moves the club to were we want it to be, the remainder will no doubt jump aboard the wagon.
8 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:37:22
I'd rather have our U23s, who are top of their league, filling the gaps in our squad than nomadic journeymen from around the world for the rest of the season. This I assume would make us more appealing to young players which in turn could lead us to having not to compete with richer clubs than ourselves for players with Champions League aspirations without us being in that league.
9 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:39:19
The Koeman/Walsh/Moshiri era now has to deliver in the summer If they fail and it becomes more about the new stadium than what happens on the pitch then things could go wrong and players Lukaku, Barkley or even Coleman could be tempted away. If Moshiri has made Koeman big promises about transfer funds and fails to deliver, then Koeman is the sort to walk away. The summer could be fun.
10 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:55:55
"Three successive wins, three clean sheets and the fact that Koeman seems to have finally found a reliable combination of personnel and formation have certainly lessened the perceived need for reinforcements."
"...it won't take too many poor results before the voices of dissent start moaning about the missed opportunity of the window."
11 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:05:40
Seventh may get us into Europe and personally, no matter the infamous impact of Thursday night football on a squad I can't see how that isn't progress. It's worth holding onto seventh just for that let alone the simple comfort of finishing much better than the last couple of years.
As you will have gleaned from my very minor Koeman-like transfer ranting I think we have again failed to deliver in the window, not quite as poor as the summer, but simply too cautious and it's left the squad exposed. I wouldn't change my mind on that even if we finished very well,and shocked us and a few others besides. We have momentum for the second time around this campaign. Losing it and falling away because Rom and Baines get injured and the kids have an understandable dip in their excellent progress, that would be more than a shame, it will make life much harder in the summer. Quality players want to compete in Europe whether we think that's reasonable or not. We can of course continue to improve without it but it's a mark of tangible progress that I feel was worth more than a punt.
Back to that "wailing"! We watched three plus months of dire football, terrible results, calamitous defending and a lack of creativity that was scary. The manager did little to instil confidence he knew how to change things. His post match pressers were at times awful and reminiscent of the Martinez era. Players looked exhausted, dispirited and we were six points off the relegation spots. We needed to wail and wail loudly and frankly I think it was less of a wail and more of a collective "ffs we've been patient for ever, £6m a year gets you better than this rubbish, sort it out". So there!
12 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:18:09
We've improved a lot since Nov and results have gone our way. Davies, Mirallas and Lookman have raised our hopes yet if ROM gets injured we could finish 10th or below.
We're in a period of transition and we gotta be patient and hope we get European football as we change. 7th might be good enough if Man Utd and a top 6 club win the cups.
13 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:22:31
14 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:22:56
Premier League clubs overall made a profit on transfers completed in January, which would seem to indicate there is a major shift in how clubs are tending to their business.
The winds of economic change are on the horizon, with the Brexit and US election, being major catalysts for uncertainty in the coming months and years. Money doesn't grow on trees and even if Everton did have a pot of gold to splurge on players, you can't purchase what's not for sale.
I'm also quite sure that any movement on the stadium front will require quite a lot of cash in order to get it up and running and that will be the priority of those in charge at Goodison.
I'm not totally enamoured with the obvious gaps in the make-up of the current squad, but I hope that some of these gaps will be filled in the summer, meanwhile there are big opportunities for some of the younger members of the squad to nail down a first team place in the coming months and if they do, that will save the club money to use on higher quality players should they become available.
As ever, much of what happens in the summer will be dependent on what happens out on the pitch in the remaining part of the season, we will see what effect the window has had, tonight at Stoke and in our remaining fixtures.
15 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:37:41
Fortunately, as I've been banging on like a broken drum playing on a broken record playing on a broken radio, we have some highly promising youngsters who appear to have the winning mentality. If refusing to buy for the sake of it results in the best kids getting a break, I am all for it.
Let's see where we are in the summer. In the meantime, the mini-clearout is paving the way for some reserves to step up and I hope they do.
16 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:41:00
The trouble is, players who can make a difference are few and far between unless you pick up an unknown gem from somewhere. It's easy for fans to say what we need, but in reality, it means nothing. I think this is the first window I can remember that all the top clubs have gone with what they have, a definite change in philosophy from past transfer windows.
Personally, I'm happy with our business. it showed a definite strategy something sadly lacking for many, many years.
If anyone wants to shout about the lack of signings, please name the player we should or could have signed, plus the fact you know they were available. Otherwise, it's all a bit 'football manager' and to be honest, uninformed rubbish.
17 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:49:25
Because the players that would improve teams vying for Champions League places and titles were not available. These are the types of players we want and need. Absolutely no point in buying players that won't take us to the next level, when we have a group of youngsters who may be able to do the job and are chomping at the bit to take their chance.
18 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:02:22
We've signed one experienced midfield player (biggest fee for January) and one attacking forward, albeit young, who looks very promising.
The wage bill has possibly been reduced, meaning the saved funds for the remainder of the season will help with FFP rules and possibly allow a larger margin in the summer for negotiating wages with summer targets.
A hidden benefit could also be that a smaller squad is easier to manage and creates better morale and team spirit.
Opportunities may become available for a certain Liam Walsh (or other youth players).
I feel altogether better after this window feels like we've had a spring clean (in winter). I would have liked us to add players in certain positions, but it is obvious (due to a lack of movement by other big clubs) quality players were not available.
19 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:24:55
All the other activity, involving getting rid of players we no longer need, is to me relatively down the list of importance, mainly 'tidying up'. Important, yes, but not the main thing.
Imo, we have a very good nucleus of a squad, to be improved all in good time. I think there's perhaps too much hype surrounding these transfer windows. Who we might or might not have got in, or who we shipped out, is not the main picture.
It's notable that the Man City and Palace games produced more positivity, certainly on TW. The team that started the City game had only one Koeman recruit. I believe this reflects the quality we already had, and the quality of the set-up with our younger players. Unsy had emphasised that players in the under-23 squad are fitted for 1st team duty. In this respect there is cover for Lukaku, despite folks worrying what could happen if he gets injured. We could even play Barkley in that role, and there are other options.
All-in-all, I believe we have enough quality in the squad to realistically get in the top-6 by the end of the season, and a top-4 placing would not surprise me.
20 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:47:23
Just 7 short months into his tenure and Koeman is already forcing major changes on the pitch,on the training ground, fitness,player attitude and the best bit-telling the owners how it is and what he expects from them. This is just the start of a gradual improvement in everything Everton-and long overdue.
I haven't seen anything that I didn't expect to see from Koeman,you get what you see and no bullshit! Clear instruction to players of what he expects,or your gone,end of.
His work with Barkley is great-just the right amount of carrot and stick,and he's got the boy fit! I don't doubt he will perform the same trick with other players and improve them.
Football is a simple game, made difficult by coaches who dream bullshit and ruin talented players.
Koeman is nothing like that and Everton have at last acquired the services of an astute football man who see's the game for what it is-the harder you work,the better you get,the simpler the game becomes,you become more successful and enjoy it more.
Just what EFC need in these changing times.
21 Posted 01/02/2017 at 12:45:31
I agree things were not looking good. After Koeman was quoted saying Rom would waste his career staying at Everton, coupled with the dire football on show, many wanted him gone. However I think he has finally gotten through to certain players.
It looks like this set up brings the best out of Barkley. We have a midfield packed full of good players, some great. We do have cover in Holgate and Barry for full back positions for now.
It's a blessing in disguise to stick with what we have so we don't interrupt the development of Davies and Holgate and integrating any more new players would be risky. I'm more than happy with Joel. Pleased with the newly found effort of Mirallas. We've had enough changes in the last year.
Next summer a top class forward or two. A top class centre-back. Confidence gets you places and the squad have that now in each other and it seems the manager. We are looking up not down. We've actually not spent a great deal but have managed to improve our squad a lot. That's good management. It's great to see.
Looking forward to the rest of the season. Looking forward to the summer signings. It's Refreshing. Here's hoping we don't get thumped tonight.
22 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:10:20
Let's see how the rest of the season works out for us; if the players carry on like they have performed in the last two games there will not be much to cry over and most of us could be pleasantly surprised.
23 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:15:40
24 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:43:42
Of the top 6 clubs, only Arsenal made an incoming transfer and even that hardly counts an unknown from Hednesford Town for £40k. Chelsea recalled an on-loan player from Bournemouth. That's it.
The same top 6 clubs trimmed the fat and 22 players left, either permanently or on loan.
Everton's 3 incomings, by comparison, is almost heady whilst the outgoings loans or permanent in the main are accepted by the majority.
Most transfer in activity came at the sharp end amongst the teams in the relegation zone, which could be expected.
Like a few others, I'm concerned that in attack in particular we are very thinly covered. Any injury to Lukaku in particular could stall the recovery of recent weeks.
But the overall impression is Koeman is now very much the captain steering the boat. The squad increasingly has more of his stamp on it than the one he inherited.
25 Posted 01/02/2017 at 14:43:49
I don't think adding individual players is what has the greatest impact on a team's change in form. Team's form often changes regardless of personnel changes (look at our January for example compared to December). It's more to do with confidence or the team just clicking or even listening to a manager that's better than others
26 Posted 01/02/2017 at 15:33:15
Look back to where we were at the beginning of December, with Ronald Koeman's comments about the youngsters not being ready for the pressure of the Premier League and the worry of the gap Gana would leave when at the AFCON. We were all hoping for some strong incoming transfers in the window, that would improve the side and help us push on.
Roll on 8 weeks and we have added 3 solid first teamers in Schneiderlin, Holgate and Davies to the team that was starting back in early December. We have also blooded Calvert-Lewin, a lad with great potential and certainly an upgrade on Kone and Niasse. We have let a few go, permanently or on loan, who would struggle to get into our first 11, Niasse, Cleverley, Gibson, Oviedo. We have loaned out Deulofeu and replaced him with the promising Lookman. Ross Barkley is in a 'phenomenal moment' of form, boosted perhaps with the mantle/pressure of the 'youngster' of the team finally removed from his shoulders.
We have also loaned out Connolly and Browning to get experience. We have Donkor and Sambou looking good as attacking alternatives in the U-23s as well as Dowell, Walsh, Kenny and Pennington, plus Galloway to return.
Players like the £30m Sissoko or £24m (now £15m) Gabbiadini, who we very nearly brought in last August, would have blocked the progress of our young players and eaten up a fair slice of our transfer and wage budgets.
I am happy this has been a good window, when combined with the opportunities given and taken during the month. There is an excellent piece by Darren Griffiths on Everton TV and in the Everton magazine on the three amigos, Tom, Mason and Dominic. It looks like they are great pals off the field and evidence that there is a strong team ethic emerging.
We have a lot of options in midfield now but would love to see Liam Walsh get some first team minutes. His pass to Courtney Duffus for the first goal in the U23s game v Man Utd on Monday night was spectacular and well worth another watch. Link
Overall, I am feeling a lot more positive and pleased with how things are now progressing in our 'marathon' rebuilding program.
27 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:01:38
While I hope we can push on this season, I do see 7th as the highest position we're likely to finish and, unless I'm mistaken, that might be enough to land us a Europa League spot if the cup winners qualify for Europe through their league placings.
I hoped we'd bring in some top players with a view to getting them bedded in for next season. Hopefully we won't be signing players late in the summer and using 'time to gel' as an excuse for a poor start in 17-18.
28 Posted 01/02/2017 at 19:15:36
29 Posted 01/02/2017 at 20:07:00
This aside though, I am generally happy with the moves we made. I just hope nothing happens to Lukaku between now and May...
30 Posted 01/02/2017 at 21:53:19
We also need cover for Lukaku obviously. I reckon Koeman will give a few of the kids ago and both full backs need to have cover, whether the kids can save us money is a matter of conjecture but any more diamonds like Davies need to be found in the last 16 games.
Things are defo on the up though.
31 Posted 02/02/2017 at 07:20:26
32 Posted 02/02/2017 at 07:24:04
True. Money, or I should say, currency, grows in IMF computers and similar.
33 Posted 02/02/2017 at 11:41:09
34 Posted 02/02/2017 at 15:57:17
I think Koeman has properly bought into the project here. They have brought a few faces in to ensure mid table obscurity with a forward looking plan for next season. There is no way, given his character, that if there wasn't a plan Koeman would keep quiet. He openly said he left Southampton because they wouldn't back up what they had said re transfers.
I would think that there will be a quality player or two in early in the summer window to show our ambition to Lukaku et al. If there is a stadium announcement in April also this could be the most exciting summer we have had. In the meantime there will be some dross to watch form us as well as the odd good performance. We have just got to be patient...
35 Posted 02/02/2017 at 16:07:41
The answer has to be a definite Yes; I've got to hold my hands up and say "Well done" to all concerned.
36 Posted 03/02/2017 at 06:35:07
I fear that the club is prioritising the new stadium and that is where the finances will be focused.
37 Posted 03/02/2017 at 10:08:28
38 Posted 04/02/2017 at 10:53:04
That looks pretty decent to me when he should recoup a good £20m plus once he can get fees in for on loan Cleverley, Deulofeu, and Niasse, plus clear the wages of Kone, and maybe McGeady (although he is contracted till 2018).
I would expect a further clear out in the summer. Jags has been a loyal servant but I don't see a way back. I don't think he's/any of us are convinced by Funes Mori (hence Michael Keane public play), plus further question marks over Lennon, Besic or McCarthy, and probable release of Valencia.
So a bit of fun, but what do we still need:-
A keeper despite the improvement from Robles (young Pickford?).
A left back (I wouldn't rule out another united reject in Luke Shaw).
2 centre backs (Michael Keane plus ideally Van Dijk but that aint going to happen).
A right winger I would go in for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he's a good player not getting enough games at Arsenal.
A playmaker (haven't a clue on that one, but it will someone we have never heard of to push Ross).
2 strikers assuming Lukaku will sign a new deal. Llorente from Swansea (Common loves a big target man), plus either a left winger or striker depending on where Lookman ends up.
I couldn't see what Koeman was looking to achieve earlier, but I think it's becoming clearer now. He looks for pace, tempo, fitness and is not afraid of the long ball - all this is just the complete opposite of the last 2 years.
39 Posted 04/02/2017 at 11:19:21
Even better. His net spend is £17.5 million.
To transform the squad for that amount is fantastic.
40 Posted 06/02/2017 at 21:14:24
Yes, we do have a lot of areas that need upgrading but overall we are now looking stronger than at any point in a lot of years. The increased fitness and the younger age of the squad that you can now see at the end of games will really begin to give us an advantage going into these last 15 games. Only good things and onward and upward Blues.
41 Posted 08/02/2017 at 13:01:52
42 Posted 12/02/2017 at 14:45:17
Howard's team also took time to get the right players in. Unlike the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City, we can't just go out and buy new squads we have to build, and build slowly but steadily.
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