What do you mean, I hear you say… we’ve won the league nine times in our glorious history, this year the best we can hope for is to scrape into 4th place… how could this possibly be our third-best ever team (or possibly even the best – let me come on to that)?

Well, it’s all about the statistics. In the Sky era, as the super-rich clubs have zoomed off into a stratosphere all of their own, and the gap between rich and poor has grown ever wider, the number of points-per-game you need to finish in the top few places has grown with it.

In the old Division One, an average of two points per game (in the three points for a win era) or thereabouts would put you in with a good shout of winning the league. But in the 22 years of the Premier League, on only two occasions – and those as long ago as 1992-93 and 1996-97 – has two points per game been enough; and in recent years it’s been nowhere near enough.

Scrolling back, the last few winning totals from 38 games have been 89, 89, 80, 86, 90, 87, 89, 91, 95… and so on. Second, third and fourth also require points totals which once would have won you the title.

Now consider our own “glory years” – our nine championship winning seasons:

		P	W	D	L	F	A	Pts	PPG
1986-87		42	26	8	8	76	31	86	2.05
1984-85		42	28	6	8	88	43	90	2.14
1969-70		42	29	8	5	72	34	66	2.26
1962-63		42	25	11	6	84	42	61	2.05
1938-39		42	27	5	10	88	52	59	2.05
1931-32		42	26	4	12	116	64	56	1.95
1927-28		42	20	13	9	102	66	53	1.74
1914-15		38	19	8	11	76	47	46	1.71
1890-91		22	14	1	7	63	29	29	1.95

(The last sevenwere all from the “two points per game” era, but to be able to make a comparison I’ve calculated points per game as if there had been three points for a win):Then, consider how things will look if we manage to win our last six games this season:

		38	24	9	5	x	x	81	2.13

And intriguingly, even if we allowed for one “slip up”:

		38	23	9	6	x	x	78	2.05

… in fact, by a fraction of a percent that’d still be third as slightly better than 86-87, 62-63 and 38-39 (and also 85-86, when we finished agonisingly second behind the RS)…

So in other words, if the class of 2013-14 win either five or six of the last six games, they will be statistically the third best Everton team of all time – only bettered by the vintages of 1984-85 and (by some way) 1969-70 – even if it only gets us fifth place, and a spot in the Europa League...

And a final thought. However much we may dislike many aspects of it, many people would argue that with its wealth of international superstars, the quality of play in the Premier League is streets ahead of the old Division One with its cast of almost exclusively GB-and-Ireland players. Given the fine margins at stake, this means you could actually make the case that there has never been a better Everton team than this one.

Until we lose at Sunderland on Saturday, of course. Then forget I said anything…

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Roberto Birquet
1 Posted 09/04/2014 at 14:07:58
Then, consider how things will look if we manage to win our last six games this season:
That sentence alone makes this a false comparison. And it's "would" look, if we "won".... Our points per game stands at: 1.97, putting this team in the middle of the Champion teams' range.

They are also very different eras, ones were the financial resources were far more even: on the one hand, making today more difficult against top 4-5 clubs; arguable easier against some others.

What is inarguable is that 2 points per game is likely gonna be required for 4th place this year. A quite incredible stat.

We deserve 4th. This has been a great season. I thought we played some very good stuff last season, but seeing players like Distin and Jags eschew those long diagonals for playing the ball out is a breath of fresh air, and, my oh my, how it's worked well.

Patrick Murphy
2 Posted 09/04/2014 at 14:21:22
I'm sorry but there are at least Nine Everton sides better than the current one as they managed to win the League. Then there are the other Everton sides who finished second and third. Some would argue that the teams that managed to win the FA Cup are also better due to the fact that they were winners.

We could be statistically better for the next ten years but if we have nothing tangible to show for it, it won't register in 25 years time – it's a bit like that possession stats thing – it doesn't matter how much of the ball you have, if you don't score more than your opponents, you don't win the game.

This is a very good Everton side and the exciting thing about it is that it has the potential to improve given the right additions / replacements and it could be a very productive team in the process – obviously that gives the team a really good chance of success in the coming years and hopefully a bit of long overdue silverware.

Andrew Ellams
3 Posted 09/04/2014 at 14:34:52
The key to this Everton team is just how young some of the best players are. I'm not sure any Everton manager has ever had potential like this.
Sam Morrison
4 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:19:28
While this is interesting, the points are an abstract system designed to keep track of which team is the best. To be the best team, you need to finish top of the league, whether it's 3 points for a win or 300. What defines the best team is how they have performed against the other teams in the league, not how those performances are mathematically recorded.
Lloyd Brodrick
5 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:29:54
I had high expectation for the season and I'm not surprised we are still challenging the top four but, given some of the twists and the odd fracture or two, my expectations have been surpassed.

Even at this point, it has to go down as the finest season for Everton in the Premier League era. Bobby and the boys are on the verge of breaking club records and deserve to stand out as the best Everton squad in the last 20 years.

We all know that the highest points tally is about to be surpassed but to achieve the most consecutive wins, it's currently equal, since the eighties, in his first season is indeed 'phenomenal'.

Stuart Gray
6 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:21:09
I think you can probably argue that the reason for this is that the gap between the top and the bottom has increased, therefore meaning it was harder to win the league in the olden days.

The achievement of RM shouldn't be underestimated though and I reckon if you pitted this Everton team with the 86-67 team, then this team would win. Just as this team would beat the great Brazilian teams of the 70s. Not because they are a better team, but better athletes.

Basically, it's almost pointless to compare. Time moves on and so does the sport. This team is not great, so no – regardless of stats – it isn't the 3rd best team. But it's fun to watch and finally we have something to look forward to in the closing weeks of the season.

I hate comparisons by the way!

Micky Norman
7 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:19:09
To compare the old first division with the premier league is not possible. It's like comparing cheese to kippers. You could argue that todays players are fitter faster and drawn from the worlds best. On the other hand the old first division had a longer season, worse pitches, fewer or no substitutions allowed in games and lessin the way of squad rotation. Not to mention, well of course I am, less scientific kit, medical support and tactical analysis. However, I've been following the toffees since 1962/3 and this year has beenone of the best ever. Barkley's goal vs Newcastle, Mirallas free kick vs Villa. Seamus playing keepy uppy down the touchline last week have been amongst the highlights. And this against high class, expensively compiled opposition. I can't remember a side when we had so many players who are so comfortable on the ball and will dribble through the opposition without fear. The stats mean nothing. Let's just enjoy it, hope we can maintain it for the next 6 games and forget the stats. They mean nothing.
Matt Traynor
8 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:44:18
Well it's a thought-provoking article, and interesting to see the range of opinions it's brought forth.

I'm with Stuart #051 - what the wealth has done is made the bottom 1/3 or so of the table cut off from the rest in terms of resources (when you factor in wages which is also key to attracting the better players). So occasionally there's an upset when bottom will beat top, but it's more about the bottom beating the mid-teams - probably doesn't happen as much.

It may be a record points haul required to reach 4th, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the team staying up in 17th also having one of the lowest totals to achieve it.

Dean Adams
9 Posted 09/04/2014 at 15:15:59
Colin, to be honest, if we win 5 more games we will be 4th. Nice bit of analysis, but each season is different and can in no way be compared on an equal standing with any other.

I do believe that if Roberto stays for five years and is given some financial backing that we can expect to see the "glass ceiling" well and truely smashed. (It clearly was'nt our glass ceiling but it was OFM's).

Derek Thomas
10 Posted 09/04/2014 at 22:41:37
Colin; I don't trust any statistics I didn't make up myself - Winston Churchill... but it's a fair point well argued.


As others have said, it's only stats, same with possession its goals that count.

You say ' Best Team' want you actually mean is ' Best seasons Stats' *

* Adjusted for 2 or 3 points per game.

85-86 the Lineker season is regarded by many as the ultimate 'fail' season, yet we were P42 W26 D8 L 8

We are P32 W18 D9 L5... best we could get is P38 W24 D 9 L 5

What you can't allow for is the imponderables, here we get into Rumsfeld's known knowns, known unknown etc of the extra 4 games, trouble is stats / facts (mostly the same but sometimes not) either they are or they aren't

So I would settle for the definite maybe of... 'Up there statistically with the best we've ever had'. *

* Bearing in mind known unknowns etc. imponderables, different eras, apples vs oranges (with a nod to the odd banana...)

Like I said, a fair point well made... but What I did see over the weekend was our game at the end of 2002 vs Arsenal when they won the League... only 12 years ago and it was noticeable slower than now.

Steve Carter
11 Posted 10/04/2014 at 00:43:33
Further to Mickey's point. PL sides are, as he says, drawn from the world's best. Pre-PL sides were (merely) drawn from Great Britain's and Eire's best. Would Everton have won in, say, 70 if, instead of Corrigan, Book, Bell and Summerbee, Man City had contained Zoff, Beckenbaur, Cryuff and Tostao, and Chelsea others of that ilk - notwithstanding the longer season, worse pitches, and fewer substitutions?

People get starry eyed about the Youngs, the Gabriels, the 'Holy Trinity' etc., but you have to remember that, for the most part, they played against opposition who more often than not would be Championship quality, or less, in today's world. The answer to your question, Colin, is no: it, arguably along with 2004-05, is our best side ever.

Jim Harrison
12 Posted 10/04/2014 at 02:11:31
Remarkable to look at those tables and see how many games you could lose and still win the title!! Our last championship winning team failed to take maximum points from 16 matches, losing 8
Harold Matthews
13 Posted 10/04/2014 at 02:21:08
We're gradually assembling a really good, all-round squad but we've achieved nothing yet. Come back in a year or two.
Anto Byrne
14 Posted 10/04/2014 at 04:31:27
This is most definitely the best pure foot-balling side in the last decade but that counts for nought if we can’t win something. We do have a super-star player in Ross Barkley who now has a full season of Premier League experience; as long we can retain him at Everton, then the future looks rosy. With Gibson, Oviedo and Kone to return next season, we look to be fairly strong in depth.

The loan signings will be instrumental for next year. Will Barry become a permanent fixture, can we extend the loan period for Deulofeu? Lukaku scores goals can look a bit lazy or out of sorts... but so what? We had the Yak, so the question remains: Will he become an Everton player? I think securing a top four spot would be very attractive to these players and of course there is the extra money from.qualification.

Patrick Murphy
15 Posted 10/04/2014 at 07:17:36
Steve #136 - If Sir John Moores had have got his way those overseas players would have been at Goodison in the mid 60s - but the Board of Trade wouldn't give work permits to overseas players at that time. Any team can only beat what is in front of them. It was just as difficult to win the league in 1915 as it will be in 2015.

Everton in 1905 had to play three away games in the space of four days and missed out on the title to Newcastle by a point. One of the away matches was a re-arranged fixture at Arsenal which they lost after the original match had been abandoned when Everton had been leading by two goals.

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 10/04/2014 at 08:51:17
Steve (#136),

In 1970, the then World Champions / England Team had Ball, Labone, Wright & Newton and would've had a good chance of making the final if Westie decided to go so don't be giving me any of that Championship shite. And I echo Patrick (#165) Re John Moores... he was a man who DID believe in the motto so the Beckenbaurs, Cryuffs would be there...

Anto Byrne
17 Posted 10/04/2014 at 08:57:14
I've got a leather casey and a football kit from the late forties. The shorts and shirt are heavy cotton and wool and the shorts are just as heavy. The football boots (look like old army boots) are amazing with studs you have to press in through the sole and the laces are at least a mile long so you have to wind them round your foot. These old shin pads have pig bones in them and are akin to cricket pads. You can imagine what the jock strap and box looks like.

Once you have mastered your kit, then you might have a chance of winning the league. When I was a kid, I tried to kick the old casey and I nearly broke my foot. How anyone could head the thing is beyond me.

Ahh them was the days... good old-fashioned blood and guts and a trainer with a bucket of cold water and a dirty old sponge.

Nathan Ward
18 Posted 10/04/2014 at 21:40:54
In fairness the articile does state 'statisitically'.....

However on the argument of what our best team is - I've been watching quite a lot of footage from the 80s. The standard of play compared to what we watch now is very pedestrian and poor.

That said "show us ya medals".....

Alan McGuffog
19 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:47:12
Dunno about best three sides... today, we reminded me of Brazil in 1970.

Their darts team, that is!

Rick Tarleton
20 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:43:54
This is the best team for about twenty years and, for younger fans, it's our first decent team. I'm worried that so many players are quite old: Howard, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barry, Osman and Pienaar and two of the great young talents: Lukaku and Deulofeu are on loan. I hope we keep Barkley and Coleman, but it's not guaranteed. Me, I still think Young, Vernon et alia circa 1963, were my best team.
Colin Glassar
21 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:57:51
The best Everton team I’ve ever seen is the 1969-70 Champions. The team of the ’80s wasn’t bad either. Me dad said the pre-war team of Lawton, Mercer, Jones etc... was the greatest Everton team of all time. If it wasn’t for that gobshyte Hitler, we’d have won far more titles.

This team is good, very good and will only get better.

Alan McGuffog
22 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:23:26
Colin, 1969-70 was, of course, wonderful. For sheer entertainment value I would say the previous season was sublime. In 69-70, we added a touch of steel and were able to grind out some tough results.
Colin Glassar
23 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:42:55
Alan, I still remember with great pain the FA cup final in 1968. It was a great team but just fell short of glory. The 69-70 team was just so strong in every position. To this day I still can’t fathom why we didn’t dominate the league for many years. Bloody Catterick.
Steven Telford
24 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:31:16
Very interesting article, and nice of Colin to go to the trouble of crunching the numbers.
Taking into account, the global reach of the EPL in the modern game, and general increase in fitness and competitiveness, I think that there is a fair argument to be made that this may well be one of our best teams.

Plus, I don't know if anybody noticed a GOT facebook post a few weeks back, showing that our net 10 year transfer spend is negative.

Its damn hard to crack the top 4 of this league, and our current stock of lads is top class for what their are knocking on the door of achieving - so much potential there. Colman, Barkley, McCarthy, Stones.......... to have these young guys.....(I'll borrow his word) - 'Phenomenal'. Potential Watching that slide block/tackle by McCarthy today, I just thought to myself, "that's real football"

Alan McGuffog
25 Posted 13/04/2014 at 08:36:26
Shared your pain, Colin, though oddly enough I was more devastated by losing the semi-final in 1969 against Man City... last-minute goal and all.

In 1970, as you say, we were so strong and had a great squad. There was brilliance of course... the 3-2 win over Leeds and the 5-2 battering of Chelsea (I still think the goal Kendall got after about 10 seconds was the swiftest at Goodison).

Unsung heroes in 1970, such as the recently departed Sandy Brown... Alan Whittle and Tommy Jackson all played their parts. In fact I read that the Holy Trinity only played together about 7 times that season due to injury and suspension.

Great days!

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