We're a Hopeful Bunch, We Evertonians

David Randles 04/08/2016  32 Comments  [Jump to last]
We're a hopeful bunch, we Evertonians.

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.

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Reader Comments (32)

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Gareth Williams
1 Posted 04/08/2016 at 15:36:00
We need at least another 3 or 4 players to strenthen the squad.
Gareth Williams
2 Posted 04/08/2016 at 15:36:00
We need at least another 3 or 4 players to strenthen the squad.
Alan Bodell
3 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:04:33
I'm hopeful David if for nothing else last night the 11 on the pitch showed more energy than many games last season, I think Koeman has a way of not suffering lazy boys lightly unlike RM, the squad we currently have is good for top 8 and with more creativity I am confident of a good season.
Jay Harris
4 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:25:11
I am really optimistic that for once we are not building on sand.

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.

Ognjen Mojovic
5 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:37:19
I am really hoping that we don't need to bring in another goalkeeper. Stekelenburg reached a World Cup final, so he might have a second wind at Everton, but maybe we will have all new goalkeepers at the end of August (assuming that Robles will no longer be in the club).
Tom Bowers
6 Posted 04/08/2016 at 16:44:15
There is an air of optimism in this new hierarchy at Goodison which is understandable. Without getting carried away, I see some real talent emerging which is about ready to step up this season if needed.

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.

Phil Walling
7 Posted 04/08/2016 at 17:52:33
Even WITH Lukaku up front, we have often looked impotent up front. Combine that with a shaky defence and you have a bottom half side.

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.

Patrick Murphy
8 Posted 04/08/2016 at 18:01:45
Perhaps things are or have changed, who knows?

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.

Lukaku talks and 3 more signings

Colin Glassar
9 Posted 04/08/2016 at 22:52:49
Even though I'm always optimistic when it comes to Everton I feel things have gone a bit flat again. I can't wait until this transfer window is closed and we can just get on with it.
Tony Hill
10 Posted 04/08/2016 at 22:58:47
I remain entirely confident. Koeman's age means he cannot afford to fail (he has one serious blemish which is his season at Valencia) and I expect zero tolerance of crap. Ditto Moshiri. Whether it's now or later, we're going to succeed with these people.

Danny Broderick
12 Posted 04/08/2016 at 23:19:12
While we are all a little underwhelmed at the number of signings we have made, I don't agree we are weaker than last season. The players mentioned above (Hibbert, Osman and Pienaar) had had their day. They were no longer in the first team, so we haven't lost anything. As things stand, young players like Davies and Dowell have stepped up to take their place, and Gueye has come in too.

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.

James Watts
13 Posted 05/08/2016 at 04:21:49
Going into the season with Stek in goal as our number 1 and Lukaku up front with Kone as backup is ridiculous IF we have anywhere the money we are supposed to have. I could have put up with the defenders being the same, and the midfield - as we either have plenty of players there or good players that have been coached badly for the last couple of years.

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 ....

Paul Hay
14 Posted 05/08/2016 at 06:38:56
Patience needed here. Mr Koeman knows what we require and I am confident that he will deliver. I think that he is stabilizing now for an attack in the Winter window. He is far from satisfied with how we are playing at the moment and will be working on quality on the pitch in a way that Martinez wouldn't be capable of doing.

Keep the faith.

Martin Mason
15 Posted 05/08/2016 at 10:01:00
We need fans to be patient and let those who can influence and make events happen get on with it in whatever time it takes to do it properly. They know vastly more about what is going on than fans.

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

James Watts
16 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:45:06
Agreed the only thing we can do is chill out over it and be patient.

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 :)

David Barks
17 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:47:24
Well I'm a little nervous after seeing how good Spurs just looked in their friendly with Inter.
Ian Horan
18 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:57:36
I think we need to realise we ain't the draw we thought we were! Yes, we can pay the inflated transfer fees but – and it is a big but – geographically we ain't London and do not offer European Football.

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!
Martin Mason
19 Posted 05/08/2016 at 17:59:54
Spurs are a very good side but they've had their transition and are at least a season ahead of us. Our time will come, we're only the equivalent of seconds into a successful future for the Club
Sam Hoare
20 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:03:39
Spurs demolishing a handy Inter team. Reckon they'll be top 4 again this year. Realistically top 6 or 7 would be good progress for us.
Colin Metcalfe
21 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:16:53
James#16 I have said this on another thread but I reckon RK will give Robles a run in the side to prove himself and I actually think he is right , I am probably in the minority but I think he will come good although I do wish it was big Nev coaching him !
Phil Walling
22 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:20:17
Martin, I think you are wearing those 'rose tints' again. By any standard, we are at least THREE seasons behind Spurs not ONE as you opine.

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 ?

Jay Harris
23 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:34:45
I'm going for 8th too Phil with a hint of optimism that we will get top 6.

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.

Dave Lynch
24 Posted 05/08/2016 at 18:45:38
Anywhere between 6th - 10th with improved football and giving the other lot a well deserved pasting will do for me.

This is a transitional season but I'd gladly take a top 5 which I can't see happening.

John Austin
25 Posted 05/08/2016 at 22:44:04
I agree with Martin @ 15. We don't have a clue what's going on behind the scenes. We could be trying to get all sorts of big names in, but as Ian @ 18 rightly says, we are not a big draw for top players - yet. Let RK do his job over a period of time. We are already in a much better position than last season. I'm as bad as anyone, constantly checking for news of new players and getting frustrated at the lack of signings. But we have to accept that it's not going to happen overnight. Let's trust RK and his team and be as patient as we can. If nothing else, it's better for our health!
Ian Riley
26 Posted 05/08/2016 at 23:01:01
Average at best. Koeman is not a miracle worker. Top five!! Please be right! Funny thing is koeman must be as frustrated as we are with transfers. Take top ten now!!!
Andy Walker
28 Posted 06/08/2016 at 08:29:51
We are much stronger than last season for one very important reason, we have proper manager now. The training, game plan/tactics and player motivation will all be different.

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.

Tony Draper
29 Posted 06/08/2016 at 21:01:54
We are?

Doesn't mention that anywhere on the fancy "baby blue" poncy paraphernalia containing my new Season Ticket/Card (why from Stockport? WTF?).

Anton Garvey
30 Posted 07/08/2016 at 11:05:43
Went to the game with an open mind and my blue heart... what a let-down. Same old problems: no one up front with Lukaku, corners crap, penalty taker crap...

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.

Sean Randles
31 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:19:13
Its a seller's market, and all the buyers have got money. Any player becoming available probably has 2 or 3 choices on where to go. So a lot of the deals will be done on deadline day – or you will see a flurry of action after the biggest deal has happened, ie, Pogba. Man Utd will offload a few more players – Schneiderlin or Blind may become available.

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.

Julian Exshaw
32 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:53:35
This all feels a bit like the biter bitten to me. When we were 'poor' we asked for inflated amounts for some of our players. Now that we are 'rich', the same is happening to us.

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...

Phil Walling
33 Posted 07/08/2016 at 12:55:38
Hey, Sean. Getting them in is one thing, clearing out the dross is quite another.

Who do you think we'll be able to get rid of – even if it means paying their wages for the season?

Frank Crewe
34 Posted 07/08/2016 at 13:05:59
I wish they would remove the Rumour Tracker. Everytime I click on the site it's there mocking us. All those big money names and not one of them signed.

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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