Are the pundits right to tell us to keep our expectations low?

Andy Osborne 06/12/2018 34comments  |  Jump to last

After reading a few comments recently on ToffeeWeb and after hearing a few "so-called" experts on TV talk about what Evertonians should be expecting from the club this season, I thought I would take stock after the 15 games so far and look to the rest of the season.

I will declare right from the start that I like Silva and Brands and I like what they are doing and saying. It is a breath of fresh air, not only in rebuilding the style of football we all like to see, but setting the attitude and expectations of players and fans alike. I am a proud Evertonian who hates to think we are second best. I know we have been far off the pace in terms of being a top team in the last 30 years, but it always grated me to see that position reinforced in the attitude of managers and directors: "The best we can be, is the best of the rest, and sometimes we won't be even that."

Fifteen games in and I ask myself the question I ask every season. "Is this a rebuilding season, or the season we challenge for top 6 or beyond?" Clearly we are rebuilding, after the disappointment of the previous three managers, but the change seems to be happening very quickly. Yes, we are far from the team that we could be, and yes, we drop silly points like last night against Newcastle, but the signs are there.


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The current Premier League table is split into 4 parts:

  • The title contenders, who are separated by two points and 6 points clear of 3rd.
  • 3rd to 5th, who are separated by two points and 8 points clear of 6th.
  • 6th to 13th, who are separated by 5 points and 5 points clear of 14th.
  • The relegation candidates, who are separated by 4 points.

We are currently 6th, and after 15 games I am happy with that. To be honest, I didn't expect that at the start of the season. I was hoping, but not expecting. But what can we expect from the rest of the season?

To maintain our 6th position, it is clear we need to beat the teams below us. To bridge the gap to 5th, we need to beat teams above us. So, is 6th the best we can do this season, or can we go higher?

In the next 11 games, we have 9 against teams that are below us, so that will be a great opportunity to continue the development, build confidence and take points, possibly cementing our hold on 6th. The two games that are not against teams below us are against Man City (A) and Spurs (H) and we play them in the next 18 days, so we may see the team drop below 6th by the end of the year, but there is a run of 8 games immediately after that where we will be favourites to take all three points.

After that run of games, we then go into the last 12 games of the season where we play a team below us and a team (currently) above us on alternate weeks. The interesting thing is that we will play all but one of the teams above us at home (only Spurs is away on the last game of the season). So, if we build up momentum in the next 11 games, we (may) have a good chance of taking points from the (Sky 6) in the last part of the season. I have included Man Utd in those top 6 teams even though they are currently below us.

So, should we expect 6th as the best we can hope for, or can the sights be set slightly higher? Well, as far as I can see, the fixtures are in our favour to give us a chance of that. If we are to get higher than 6th, we need to beat teams above us and to have 5 of them at home, after a period against lower teams where we can build momentum, gives us a great opportunity to do exactly that.

Silva says one game at a time, and that is what he should say, but I am looking ahead. Is the best we can be, the best of the rest? This season, I think yes, but I am hopeful that we will start to see the "new Everton" take shape and put the "top 5" under pressure this season, and then it is "gloves off" next season.

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Reader Comments (34)

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Jim Burns
1 Posted 06/12/2018 at 15:44:27
Thought-provoking analysis Andy – thank you.

Based on performances so far this season home and away - it's clear to most of us that the need for a number 9 is an urgent next step in our climb back.

If Silva and Brands can crack that in January – we are on our way and your well considered projections could be nailed on or even bettered.

I've been home and away for every match so far this season and without falling foul of the ‘what if’ brigade – I can realistically say that a half-decent striker - would have put us in the top 4 comfortably already. That view includes the games against the so-called top 4 – RS, Man Utd, Arsenal and the West London crowd – and last night is a case in point.

I'm not even talking top drawer – a Mitrovic would suffice, for example. Look at the goals against vs goals for, between the 3 teams in 6th – us, Bournemouth and Man Utd. Defensively we are getting there, offensively just 4 goals more scored in previous games so far this season... and wow!

We are making fantastic progress and I have no doubt Silva and Brands are already on the case.

1983, anyone?

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 06/12/2018 at 15:56:02
Andy and Jim, I'm thinking exactly like you two, we are moving in the right direction and it might take a year or two before we collect some silverware. But collect some we will.

We've been waiting a long time for some really happy cup-winning days... so, for me, another year or two will be well worth the wait.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:03:26

Goals are an issue for sure but I don't think it is as easy as just getting a striker. I don't know Mitrovic would be better than Tosun or Calvert-Lewin. We need more goals from midfield.

I was reviewing stats and Bernard's career record averages about 1 goal every 10 games. Likewise with Gomes. Walcott gets about 1 in every 5 games, Sigurdsson about 1 in every four. Gueye is basically a non-factor with goals. So assuming those trends stay the same, over a 38 games season, those four players would combine to score about 23 goals.

Chelsea were the lowest scoring team in the top 6 last year with 62 goals. To reach that level, we need to find another 40 goals between our striker, defenders and subs. Even if Richarlison chips in with say 20 goals, would we get another 20 between Coleman, Mina, Calvert-Lewin off the bench etc? I doubt it.

Sigurdsson apart, I don't think we will ever get enough goals if we have Gomes, Bernard and Walcott playing with Gueye. So either we replace Gueye with someone more in the Matic mold (eg, defensive midfielder who scores) or we replace two of the other three with people who can get 10-15 goals a season.

Kevin Prytherch
4 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:17:40
Someone did an expected points article at the start of the season that got slated. I wonder how we're doing now compared to that?

Might be useful for predicting the games left as well...

Mike Allison
5 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:25:19
We're four points down, Kevin, depending on where you think other teams will finish.

Dropped 3 vs West Ham and 2 each vs Newcastle and Huddersfield, gained 2 at Leicester and 1 at Chelsea. All other results are as expected.

By the formula I used, that would have us on 66 at the end of the season, but I set high expectations and dropping points is easier than gaining them.

We need wins away from home to make serious gains, and we have to be utterly relentless in winning at home against teams below us, which we haven't been.

Trevor Powell
6 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:30:26
Who cares what Sheararse or Murphanny think? Overpaid and scared to take on a real position in the game!

I am happy for EFC to be under their radar, all the sweeter when they are proved wrong and they will be.

I would love to hear Sheararse's thoughts on not having one his bezzies in the dugout, ie, Obese Sam.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
7 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:34:03

How about comparing last season with this?

15 fixtures played – 23 points; scored 21, conceded 17.

Same fixtures last season:

22 points; scored 19, conceded 20.

Half of the top 7 last season are all doing better except Chelsea (3 points less), Man Utd (14 points less) and Burnley (8 points less).

So, first of all, we are not really out-performing last season in terms of points but, with Burnley falling away, we are more locked for 7th. Will Man Utd drop 23 more points over the next 23 fixtures and finish with 44 points and below us?

Steavey Buckley
8 Posted 06/12/2018 at 16:54:59
With Everton firing on only half a cylinder upfront, expectations should be lower. Until Silva finds 2 players with pace who can finish, Everton just have Richarlison upfront.

I would personally move Bernard into midfield because he has the ability of David Silva of Man City. But not stuck out on the wing!

Mike Galley
9 Posted 06/12/2018 at 17:34:12
If we're going to progress in the medium term, we need to find a way to beat the big six (hate that saying). There's a danger of a mental hold on us coming into play with regards to this. I think it's fair to say it could already be in place with regards to the away fixtures against these clubs.

I think it's imperative that we beat Spurs at the old lady on the 23rd, even if it's just to let the players believe we can do it.

Like quite a few fans I know, I was a little lukewarm with regards to Marco getting the Everton gig, but up to know I have nothing but praise for how he's going about things. Hopefully, the upward trajectory can continue. Oh, and can we please, please, please win one against the RS.

Jack Convery
10 Posted 06/12/2018 at 18:20:14
Interesting article. We are on the up and I reckon we can get in the top 6 as Man Utd are in crisis, the English players at Spurs will be knackered by January or February and if Hazard's head is turned by Real Madrid then Chelsea could be in trouble. Buy Vardy and get Gomes on a permanent contract asap. Vardy will give us 2 good seasons and then as an established EPL team we can go out and offer a contract to the very best. Brands and Silva have given us back our self-respect in just over 4 months. Imagine what it will be like in 18 months!! COYBs.
Eddie Dunn
11 Posted 06/12/2018 at 18:24:12
Interesting Andy but surely we can get points not just from those below us. it has to be a mixture. Hopefully the rest of the fixtures will see us beat some of the big boys at Goodison. Certainly, it will suit us more to play more adventurous teams instead of the likes of Huddersfield and Newcastle with their obstinate defending. It should also be remembered that we waited quite a while for Gomes to gain fitness and didn't even have Bernard or Mina until a few weeks back.

A striker is a priority and, for me, Charlie Austin would fit the bill. Big strong and fearless with an eye for goal and good in the air. We could offer Saints a swap for Toscun or Niasse. We have no-one who can really lead the line and be a target man. Calvert-Lewin is still learning his trade, Richarlison is more effective from the left and Toscun is more of a sniffer.

Pickford's clanger wouldn't have mattered if we had taken our chances last week. Last night, and at Man Utd and Arsenal, we were undone because we couldn't take our chances. Our defence is still getting settled-in and we will concede goals, so we simply have to score more at the other end.

The shooting last night, with a greasy ball, was terrible.

Tom Bowers
12 Posted 06/12/2018 at 18:40:11
We all would be foolish to set the expectation level too high at the moment for obvious reasons. We have a new manager in place and so far he has improved the team but still has a long way to go.

Richarlison has been a good signing but Bernard and Walcott have disappointed. Gomes is still a loanee but should he become permanent then it will be a big plus.

The defence is still pretty solid and should be even better for next season with Mina and Digne getting settled in after a delayed start somewhat.

They are probably still at least three class players away from being a real challenge to the top echelon. However, there is still reasonable cause for being cautiously optimistic for the rest of the season especially after this month and the early Christmas present they handed RS.

Gerard McKean
13 Posted 06/12/2018 at 18:48:47
Thought-provoking analysis, Andy, thank you.

Like Jim and Dave #1 & #2, I feel we have to show some patience with Marco Silva but that the good times will return.

We have to remember that the club has stagnated over many years and I like Silva's "one game at a time" approach while at the same time working with Marcel Brands on taking a longer term view of what needs to happen.

I just wish collectively we could all try to take the long view; young Lookman gets a first start last night, doesn't score a hat-trick, and there are people coming on TW saying he's had his chance and didn't take it. Incredible!

Bit of a wildcard suggestion for a centre-forward: there's a young striker starting to come good in the Bundesliga called Dodi Lukebakio. He's been promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf's best player so far this season; very fast and he knows where the net is. He's a Belgium U21 international and signed for Fortuna originally on loan from Watford. I wonder if Marco remembers him or maybe it was before his time there? In any event, one to watch.

Kunal Desai
14 Posted 06/12/2018 at 18:56:26
Mauro Icardi has a buyout clause of €110 million. Go and get him, Moshiri.
Either him or Ciro Immobile would be the level we should be aiming for.
Paul Tran
15 Posted 06/12/2018 at 19:10:39
Andy, thanks for the interesting article.

We are currently the 6th/7th/8th best team in the league. We're well-organised, play some good stuff but are short of goals throughout the team.

The top five are pulling away because the gap between their best & worst performances is narrower than ours.

If Richarlison & Sigurdsson don't score, we struggle. The other midfielders have a poor scoring record and the team lacks conviction in the final third, particularly against the teams above us.

So what's the solution? We could keep things as they are, which I think would see us finish 7th or 8th. We could find ourselves a goalscorer and/or a goalscoring midfielder. How easy will that be next month? I'd also like us to secure Gomes's signature, find a right back and another midfielder who can pass under pressure.

Of course, it's possible that this squad will achieve greater consistency and mental strength in time, bit I'm not convinced.

Either way, we need that best - worst performance gap to narrow. I've got every confidence in Silva, it may take longer than we'd like to build the right squad. And I'm happy for us to be under the radar, like we were in 1984-85. My eyes tell me we're improving, I don't need anyone on the telly for that.

Dan Davies
16 Posted 06/12/2018 at 19:12:37
The target for the Premier League should be top 6, mixing it with the better teams – not best of the rest. Then we take it from there.
Joe McMahon
17 Posted 06/12/2018 at 19:49:28
On the whole, we have been goal starved for decades, Yak for one season, helped by Cahill/Lescott in 2008, and Lukaku gave us a taste of what we have missed (and miss again).

I have felt for the past 15 years though, that it's good old Goodison that gives us a dated and unfashionable image in the eyes of the media and public (who don't give a flyer about history, Dixie, Z-Cars etc - why should they). Until we finally move into the new stadium, we will always been seen as little old quaint Everton.

A small step would to actually make the group stages of the Champions League, something Everton (as we all know) have never done since re - branding in 1992. I do think that M&M will be able to give us that, but it may take at least 3 years.

Frank Wade
18 Posted 06/12/2018 at 22:57:52
Kieran #3, I was reading down your post with interest and I came to your suggestion of

So either we replace Gueye with someone more in the Matic mold (eg, defensive midfielder who scores)

I don't see him getting forward much so checked his record 1 goal in 48 games for Man Utd and a slightly better 4 in 121 for Chelsea, hardly sees him much better than Gueye's record of 3 in 78 for Everton.

Replacing our best ball winner with a midfield scorer is not the answer. We would be operating with a lot less possession for a start.

Derek Thomas
19 Posted 06/12/2018 at 23:57:50
Definitely a transition season of the curate's egg type. The teams in our group are there because of inconsistency. Only Man Utd worry me for 6th, but not too much. They are not likely to bite the bullet, sack Mourinho and get rid of the shit stirrer Pogba over Christmas, Lukaku is not going to lose the blubber and find his mojo overnight.

If we can't, over the long term, see off Bournemouth etc. we don't deserve 6th... and I won't cry if we don't qualify for the Europa League either.

The FA Cup is there to aim at, then the Summer window. This time next season, we need to be contesting in that next small group above us.

Hard, I know... but let's try and take the future the proper way: patiently... One Game at a Time.

Eddie Dunn
20 Posted 07/12/2018 at 00:28:48
Hey Joe! (forgive the Hendrix pun!) As for little quaint old Goodison, did you note that Spurs (regular top 5 in recent years) only got 33,000 into Wembley last night! It ain't all about fancy new stadiums, mate – those media whores will lap it up if we start hammering any of the so-called Sky 6, never mind the stadium!
Andy Osborne
21 Posted 07/12/2018 at 03:39:17
Jim (1), Kieran (3).

Yes I agree, we need more goals. It will be interesting to see if this "need" is addressed in January.

Last season, the goals we scored put us 12th in that category and goals conceded put us in 14th. This season, we are 8th in goals scored and 5th in goals conceded. So it is obvious we have made the biggest improvement in defense, but we have also improved on goals scored.

But to progress further, and "possibly" push for 5th, we need to score more, wherever those goals come from. A more productive striker seems to be the obvious place to start.

David Ellis
22 Posted 07/12/2018 at 04:24:49
The aim this season is 6th. That gives us:

1. Guaranteed Europa League participation (which is important for profile, player retention or acquisition, revenue and learning the ropes for future Champions League campaigns).

2. Helps to smash this Big Six nonsense (which sadly isn't nonsense at all).

I think we'll finish 6th or 7th. We have more than Bournemouth and Man Utd (and possibly Chelsea) are in a bit of a wobble this year.

A new striker and new right back (and Gomes signed up) needed over the summer. Then we'll be ready for a Top 4 crack and Europa League success

John Pierce
23 Posted 07/12/2018 at 04:40:41
'Transition' is a horrible term. I can never bring myself to use it with any degree of conviction. The chance is there to finish 5th or 6th. No matter how early in a managers tenure, Everton have a squad capable of that.

My own personal assessment is Silva is trending in the right direction, doing so in smart fashion. However, it does feel we have missed a very good opportunity to have another 4 or 5 more points than we have.

2 points from 3 home games against West Ham, Huddersfield & Newcastle is a very poor return indeed. More pointedly, the performances in those games deserved the return.

Work to do, lessons that haven't been learned against teams who sit in and the need for striker in the window might decide whether we do finish 5th or 6th.

Mike Allison
24 Posted 07/12/2018 at 06:56:17
We don’t need to accept ‘transition’, we’ve improved a lot and Man United are struggling. 6th is there for the taking. We can use ‘transition’ to keep a bit of perspective after a disappointing result if it helps emotionally, but we actually finished 8th last season and Burnley have fallen away. That makes us naturally 7th, as usual, so that should be seen as a minimum.

Ultimately I think that, as always, European qualification constitutes a successful season. I wouldn’t worry too much where we finished if we win the FA Cup, but anywhere below 7th is a backwards step from last season, at least results-wise.

Ian Bennett
25 Posted 07/12/2018 at 07:30:37
I don't think we are a million miles away.

We aren't clinical enough in front of goal when we are running the game. This to me is the biggest problem and why we got fuck all from Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd, Newcastle. Some of the missed chances are just terrible across the entire team. But for a team that has struggled in recent years, they aren't suddenly going to turn into a top scoring team.

The defending has been largely better. A couple of games we've been poor from set plays or just unlucky. Arsenal offsides, Liverpool keeper error, Man Utd getting a penalty that wasn't, Wolves marching a free kick 10 yards forward. Ill-discipline against Bournemouth. These have all hurt.

Really the only performances where we didn't turn up was Huddersfield and West Ham. Both games we missed a lot of top players, with the under studies by in large not being good enough for a top 6 side.

For me a big improvement under Silva. A braver style that needs to ensure that Gomes and Zouma stay for the journey. Plenty of transfer activity ahead needed to still slash the unused players – and up the quality of the starting 14/15 .

Kevin Prytherch
26 Posted 07/12/2018 at 08:35:35
Mike 5 and Phil 7 – thanks for the stats, didn't have time to find them myself.

I think it shows that, at this stage of the season, although performances have improved immeasurably, we need to keep translating these into points or we'll end up pretty much the same as last season.

To break the top 6, we don't need to beat the top 6, we do however need to consistently beat the likes of Newcastle at home.

Jim Burns
27 Posted 07/12/2018 at 13:48:24
Keiran @3 – I agree it's not as easy as getting a Number 9 – I'm suggesting it's the next key step in January.

If you look at the number of times we are getting crosses and balls into the box (Newcastle was a case in point) this season, a half-decent striker on the front foot would have made a massive difference.

Richarlison's goal on Wednesday was the first we have scored from the last 83 corners in all games... tells a story, I think.

Andy Osborne
28 Posted 07/12/2018 at 14:56:30
We have two goal scorers right now, Richarlison (7) and Sigurdsson (6). Walcott, Tosun and Calvert-Lewin have chipped in 2 each, with Keane and Coleman scoring 1 a piece. On another thread, someone said we had only scored 1 goal from the last 83 corners. Wow!

Yes, we need a "proper" striker, but we also need the centre-backs and midfield to contribute more. We got 14 corners against Newcastle, with the centre-backs we have, I would expect more goals than the solitary Keane goal so far this season.

Andy Osborne
29 Posted 07/12/2018 at 15:15:00
Sorry Jim (27), it was you that said we had only scored one from 83 corners. That is a very damning stat.
Derek Knox
30 Posted 07/12/2018 at 20:01:05
Considering the situations that have affected our Club basically since David Moyes left, four Managers and a new Owner, it is nothing short of a disaster which would have destroyed most others.

As regrettable as a lot of the appointments, and money misspent on over-priced flops is, it is no point 'crying over spilt milk'. Let's learn from those mistakes, making sure they are not repeated.

I have every confidence that eventually, our Club is in good hands from top to bottom; we are nowhere near the finished article yet.

Using the 'Rome wasn't built in a day' analogy I still consider that we have made giant strides since Marcel Brands and Marco Silva took over, which is just 6 months ago in reality.

I concur totally with the demand for a striker in January, not an easy order by any means, but there again, not impossible either.

I would be a lot happier if goals were coming from different areas consistently, and without sounding like the proverbial broken record, if Richarlison and Sigurdsson don't score, there is little chance that they will come from anyone else.

Mark Andersson
31 Posted 10/12/2018 at 07:51:15
What is clear reading all the above is that once again most fans are more optimistic.

I think the last two games shows that we are not making as much progress as some think. Everton played out of their skins against the reds and still got beat. The Newcastle game shows that we are still far from being any were near good enough to compete against the top 6.

I can't see us bringing in a striker until the summer if at all. A proven striker is out of our reach both financially and status wise. Brands and Silva will be looking long-term in building a solid in-depth squad and if lucky will either turn Richarlison into a top striker or unearth an unkown top talent.

Derek Taylor
33 Posted 10/12/2018 at 09:56:33
I don't feel we have made much progress since Moshiri took the helm. League position-wise we are where Moyes had us for most of his reign and the stadium project seems always a 'consultation' away.

Granted, Silva has got the team playing more attractive football than Allardyce could ever manage but paying off about two dozen players, replacing them with phenomenally expensive newcomers, is a recipe that has yet to prove itself.

The apparent failure of the much vaunted Unsworth project is yet another false dawn as not one locally produced player can currently merit a first-team place.

The suffering goes on.

James Hughes
34 Posted 13/12/2018 at 17:19:09
We talk about squad depth and our chances. the Chelski chavs have made 11 changes for tonight's europa game, just picked a few to highlight. -

Ross b
loftus cheek

Just about says it all really. Apart from the known quantity, the rest we would all love in our team, even fabregas (in his football dotage )

Gordon Crawford
35 Posted 13/12/2018 at 18:22:18
Depends on the pundit and their motivation. But we shouldn’t get carried away whether we win or lose. We are a work in progress, again. Top 7 would do me this season. Next season though I’d expect higher.

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