Early summer 2016 saw the 21st anniversary of the last piece of silverware to grace the dust-gathering trophy cabinet at Goodison. 21 years without a trophy for a club of the size and stature of the Blues is totally unacceptable.
A whole generation of blues have been brought up on the concept that maintaining our Premier League position, with perhaps a periodic European foray and the odd cup run thrown in, is relative success. I'm not having that, never have, never will.
Ultimately, that lack of success can be attributed to missed opportunities off the field and to the unwillingness/inability of the Board to a invest. Qualification for the Champions League in 2005, courtesy of a 4th place Premier League finish, never released the financial shackles and we went into that season (and the Villarreal game) with a few additions to the squad, but nothing that made anything like a big enough difference to our overall squad quality.
Whenever we have made transfers in the past, they always seem to be last-minute deals, leaving Blues sweating right up until the last seconds of transfer deadline day. Those players that did arrive never seemed ready for first-team action straight away and were always given time to a acclimatise, meaning we often seemed to start the season some way down the gears.
I don’t know the intricacies of transfer deals, but it’s probably safe to say that they are nearly always never as straight-forward as the fan in the stands assumes them to be. That said, Everton fan forums are awash with theories of Boardroom and club Management incompetence, so who knows what the real reasons for our torpor in the transfer market are – incompetence or external influences?
The arrival of the fabulously wealthy Farhad Moshiri as new majority shareholder, midway through the 2015-16 season, has given us all a real foundation for hope. Not that we needed it, because I probably speak for most Blues when I say that it's the hope that's kept us going through what's been a pretty grim couple of decades. Now, for the first time in as long as this near half-centenarian can remember, there is real belief that we can challenge again, both in terms of attracting top players and competing for silverware.
A real statement of intent was made by Moshiri when the affable but ultimately incompetent Roberto Martinez was given his cards early in the summer and, after a short chase, the highly-rated Ronald Koeman was appointed in mid-June.
Early summer transfer activity was even quieter than normal due to the disastrous Euro 2016 (I was watching through England goggles) and any resolution regarding the futures of our two 'want-aways', Lukaku and Stones, was understandably left until the end of their extended breaks. Regardless of that, I was confident that work would be underway behind the scenes to strengthen the squad in the most obviously pressing areas of need, goalkeeper, centre-half and centre-forward, with other improvements (centre-midfield and full-back) being made as and when.
To coin one of my late Nan’s phrases, ‘Even a blind man on a galloping horse’ could see what those immediately pressing areas were and most Blues would agree on them. It is understandable that Koeman would want to see what he had to work with first-hand, but conversations with anyone at the club, whether they be the cook, the cleaner or any of the remaining coaching staff, would have reaffirmed the fans' views of the most pressing areas for improvement.
At the time of penning this (from my holiday sun lounger, with a permanent refresh of my Twitter feed to check for incoming transfers) a total of £552 million has been spent in the Premier League close-season and we’ve spent somewhere in the region of 2 % of that total on Idrissa Gueye and Maarten Stekelenburg. (Surely that latter can’t be our intended first-choice keeper?!) A protracted negotiation with Swansea over Ashley Williams is seemingly underway but, with only nine days to go until the start of the new Premier League season, it is fair say that our squad is in a far poorer state than it was on the final day of last season, when we saw off the hapless Norwich City. Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar have all been put out to grass and Tim Howard has gone to make mistakes elsewhere (fabulous servants one and all, by the way). Although none were first-teamers by the end of the season (and some hadn’t been for quite a while), a squad that was never big by most definitions is four players short of where it was.
So why is that? Perhaps Steve Walsh’s arrival has slowed things initially – after all, it’s only right that as Director of Football, he has an input on incoming transfers (as he’d did with Gueye), but notwithstanding that, unless there’s a glut of incomings over the next nine days, we’re still weaker than we were three months ago, but with the benefit of a far more tactically astute coaching set-up.
At the start of this week, Erwin Koeman was quoted as saying it would be a busy week with transfers, and that may yet turn out to be the case, but one thing’s for sure: unless we move quickly, it seems that age-old Everton habit of a last-minute deadline-day dash will be the order of the day, leaving us starting a season, which had been the basis for so much hope, on our heels. Rumours of interest in Fraser Forster, Amir Begovic and Axel Witsel continue and only time will tell if there’s any truth in any of those, but with the future of Lukaku up in the air and no sign of an able replacement, the thought of starting the season with Aroune Kone as our main striker is a very real and very worrying one.
We need numbers and we need quality and we need them soon. We just never do things the easy way, but maybe there will be some Everton rabbits pulled from hats before too long. I hope so, because we're a hopeful bunch, us Evertonians.
Reader Comments (32)
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1 Posted 04/08/2016 at 15:36:00
2 Posted 04/08/2016 at 15:36:00
3 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:04:33
4 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:25:11
After the Kenwright/Martinez experiment I am delighted to have Moshiri/Koeman and Walsh running the show.
More professional setup. training and organisation will make a huge difference.
I do feel however that goalscoring and holding the ball up front is a weakness that needs addressing urgently.
Whether Lukaku stays or goes is not relevant to the fact Naismith has gone, Kone has never really been here and Niasse aquisition is a total embarassment.
Gerri is too erratic and inconsistent to be considered part of the solution. We really need a goalscoring MF player and a top drawer number 10. Ross also looks as if he needs a good shake.
5 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:37:19
6 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:44:15
People from previous seasons like Barkley and Deulofeu have not cemented their places in my opinion and therefore opportunities are there for new faces such as Tom Davies and Mason Holgate. I thought both showed real confidence in the game yesterday albeit a testimonial but one could see they want to play regular.
Those who didn't figure Browning, Galloway and Dowell etc are also ready to play a part.
Whilst it seems certain Koeman will start the same eleven and formation as yesterday against Spurs, I have no doubt he will ring the changes thereafter if there are any slackers in that game.
7 Posted 04/08/2016 at 17:52:33
Based on what we have seen so far, Koeman is sorting out the Martinez inspired 'leaky rear' but I don't think he can be expected to teach so-called forwards like Kone to find the goal with any regularity.
My fear is that we shall get to the end of the window with a better trained defence and a veritable army of midfielders/wingers, none of whom can shoot straight.
Eighth at best is my prediction.
8 Posted 04/08/2016 at 18:01:45
One agent acting for a player recently approached by Everton told Squawka: “There has been a major change at the club. It is clear.
“Everton are competing in the market for players previously out of their reach financially. There is an attractive project there. There is ambition. “Partly this is the new reality of the money in the Premier League at the moment, but there is also a funding commitment there from the ownership that many other clubs cannot match.
9 Posted 04/08/2016 at 22:52:49
10 Posted 04/08/2016 at 22:58:47
12 Posted 04/08/2016 at 23:19:12
Wednesday's game at United has convinced me we are in fact better off than last season, if only for fitness and organisation. The new keeper is a definite upgrade on Howard and Robles.
The glaring weakness we have is obviously up front. Lukaku has been on holiday for what feels like all summer, and his back up consists of Niasse and Koné. I'm hopeful we will bring in at least 1 striker, hopefully a bit of a whippet, who can offer us some decent movement.
We are obviously late in bringing in a striker, but at least because of the change of ownership, I am confident work is being done behind the scenes to get this done. The new owner appears to have been busy building up our structure - new manager, new director of football, plus we seem to be making real progress on the stadium. Our business so far has been solid if not spectacular. Hopefully there will be another couple of signings in the next week or two so that there is no doubt we are stronger than last season anyway.
13 Posted 05/08/2016 at 04:21:49
I'm impatient, true. But RK should have made GK and striker his number 1 priority as he signed on the dotted line. Every man and his dog within 500 miles of Goodison knew it, so why wasn't he told or made aware of it is beyond me. I'm frustrated as it was so obvious and we appear no where near getting anyone in for either of these positions ... and that's if Lukaku stays!
And a busy week? One signing wish my busy week was that busy ....
14 Posted 05/08/2016 at 06:38:56
Keep the faith.
15 Posted 05/08/2016 at 10:01:00
Transfer deals are very complex and normally very long chains of falling bones are set in motion when one domino falls. We must also not just rush out and buy rubbish or anything that doesn't improve the squad. I'll say one word to illustrate this - Niasse!!
We get frustrated sure but our lot is to let the board get on with it, none of us know a tiny fraction of what is going on, none of us can influence the events so best just chill out over it
16 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:45:06
My problem is I can't get my head round the fact we still haven't sorted out the biggest problem areas (GK and Striker for me) 1 week from kick off. Pre-Mosh I would have expected it, accepted it, hell even resigned to it. But in this new era surely something should have happened apart from getting the Fulham reserve goalkeeper in who looks like starting the season as our number 1 and a defensive midfielder in who was relegated with his last team?!?
I know I'm in the spoilt brat section of fans who "want it now" but I'm feeling rather deflated in the same way as I have been for the last 10 years + as the season approaches ... and for me that isn't good enough anymore.
It sends a shudder down my spine that we look like we'll be starting our first game of the season with virtually the same team that has been no where good enough for the last 2 and bit seasons - plus the two I mention above.
I dunno, perhaps I just expected too much and got caught in the post-Mosh hype ... but I guess it's time for a beer, a cigar and get my wife to do a strip tease for me to take my mind off all things Everton ... for an hour or two anyway :)
17 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:47:24
18 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:57:36
I will worry about groundhog Kenwright era in two years' time when we have European Football and a new stadium in construction and then not able to sign players. Patience, brothers!
19 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:59:54
20 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:03:39
21 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:16:53
22 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:20:17
Without significant additions to last year's squad, merely paying the centre forward double money will not get us much higher than say 8th next season, surely ?
23 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:34:45
I think it is going to take some time for Koeman to get the discipline back into the players that was knocked out of them over the last 3 years and until the Stones/Lukaku situation is sorted we will not get the harmony back in the dressing room.
I don't see many defeats but I think we will draw too many to challenge the top of the table.
24 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:45:38
This is a transitional season but I'd gladly take a top 5 which I can't see happening.
25 Posted 05/08/2016 at 22:44:04
26 Posted 05/08/2016 at 23:01:01
28 Posted 06/08/2016 at 08:29:51
The manager is the most important wheel in the cog, not media splash signings. We have started to put everything in place for long term success, signings will come over time but the initial impact on our existing squad of Koeman being our manager is being overlooked by many I think.
29 Posted 06/08/2016 at 21:01:54
Doesn't mention that anywhere on the fancy "baby blue" poncy paraphernalia containing my new Season Ticket/Card (why from Stockport? WTF?).
30 Posted 07/08/2016 at 11:05:43
What's happened to Baines taking them? And his free kicks has he lost his bottle? We need new experienced players to help our young lads out... I'm not looking forward to Spurs.
31 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:19:13
So the deadline isn't this Saturday its the 31st August. Frustrating I know but thats where we are. I think EFC are dead right not to be throwing silly money at players just to get them in early. If we haven't got a full squad by 1st September that's when we can start moaning.
32 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:53:35
Be that as it may, I am still worried about out lack of signings and apparent quality. The so-called bigger clubs have done most of their shopping, their players are getting used to their system and will be off and running come next week.
Getting 'one or two in' before the window shuts isn't good enough. Before you know it the dreaded autumn international fixtures are breaking up the rhythm of early season and come November we find ourselves 15 points behind the leaders.
I am all for patience (you have to have it as an Evertonian) and Koeman and his staff need time but I was expecting more at this stage of pre-season to be honest.
Whoever we bring in, I want them to have pride in playing for our beloved Everton and not ponce around sulking because they haven't been sold.
Can't wait for next week. Nil satis...
33 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:55:38
Who do you think we'll be able to get rid of even if it means paying their wages for the season?
34 Posted 07/08/2016 at 13:05:59
For years and years we have cried out for an owner who would give us cash to spend. Now we have one and money to spend nobody will sign.
Are we still chasing Witsel, Mata or any of the other names on the tracker? I don't know. But I still see their names on a fantasy list telling us how far we have fallen.
We need to stop this chasing after hopeless targets who will only sign if we bribe them with humongous wages. We have spent months getting a director of football so what's he doing? He managed to get a bunch of bargains in for Leicester so he needs to start producing for us. And he needs to do it now!
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