10 reasons to be cheerful in 2022

It is not all doom and gloom. Here are my 10 reasons to retain that hope that has shone fairly dimly for 30 years

It has been a very up-and-down season so far. At the end of last summer, some contributors were predicting that we might sneak into the Top 4. Only a week or so ago, many were convinced we were destined for relegation. The truth is that we’ve always been very likely to finish mid-table, probably about 10th.

Unfortunately, that means the remainder of the season will be a mix of surprisingly good results and some gut-wrenchingly awful ones. Our style and standard of play is likely to be pretty patchy too.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. My 10 reasons to retain that hope that has shone fairly dimly for 30 years are:

  1. We seem to be able to spend again and the likely sale or loan of Digne (and maybe Holgate) will further help. And having hit financial difficulties, there seems to be less chance of money being squandered because the club is once more looking for low cost, value and potential – which are the features of some of the best Moyes and Martinez signings.
  2. The full-back positions look likely to be resolved. The Mykolenko deal seems more or less done and he certainly has very good credentials to replace the out-of-sorts Digne. If successful, he could occupy the left-back spot in the side for 10 years. It seems very likely we’ll sign a right-back too – with Patterson now seeming more likely than Maitland-Niles. This resolves a weirdly persistent problem spot for us and takes the pressure off Coleman (who is by no means finished).
  3. There’s a chance we might pick up another signing – perhaps on loan with a view to buy. Lots of rumours kicking around. One might come true (or something might come out of nowhere). I won’t list out all of the rumours but some interesting ones include Van der Beek (probably on loan), Dike, Azmoun and Larin (the latter two entering the final 6 months of their contracts).
  4. Gordon and Branthwaite seem to have emerged as credible first-teamers – with both guts and talent. Again, they could occupy their spots in the first XI for the next 10 years. This means less reliance on players like Iwobi, Gomes and Holgate who aren’t always as bad as gets made out but do certainly fail to contribute enough.
  5. Simms, Dobbin and Onyango might not be far behind – albeit the former probably needs to regain his goalscoring touch at Blackpool before he’s really ready for the first team.
  6. Despite general misgivings about the Academy, the Brands re-structure seems to be paying off with Whitaker, Kouyate, Okoronkwo, Price, Warrington, Metcalfe, Samuels-Smith and Welch all looking like a decent shout to make the first team over the next few years. Some will fall away, but even if 2 or 3 really embed themselves in the squad, then that’s a very good return. Maybe David Weir is earmarked to oversee their development through the loan system – although I have lost track of that story.
  7. Covid-19 has really hit the market for players – with a large number of quality young players ending their contracts this summer and next. In addition, a good number of big clubs are looking to shed players (including up-and-coming young players). This should help us assemble a squad with greater depth and quality without spending a fortune. The bittersweet note is that we’ll probably be spending the sale proceeds of Mina and Richarlison (and Kean) in summer. That said, Mina didn’t play enough and his departure will be good for Branthwaite and Richarlison is probably more dispensable now that Gray is here.
  8. Newcastle looking destined for relegation will mean (a) it’s unlikely Dminic Calvert-Lewin will leave in January or the summer, and (b) despite all their money, they have a disadvantage in the transfer market. Otherwise, we might have ended up competing with them (and losing) for a lot of the same sorts of targets.
  9. Benitez is by no means a magician, and he certainly has his faults, but he’s experienced enough to know what a well-run club looks like and is trying to mould things that way. In that respect, he does seem to have more clout and bottle than Brands, who seemed to know what he was doing but allowed himself to be undermined for so long that he became part of the problem. None of us have a crystal ball as to whether this will be a success or not – but some change in a club that is desperately in need of better organisation and modernisation should be greeted with cautious enthusiasm.
  10. Finally, construction at Bramley-Moore Dock is underway and we edge ever closer to having a stadium that allows us to think more about the future than a (sadly very distant) glorious past. There will be lots of fond memories of Goodison but it is seriously old-fashioned and reflects really badly on the club now. Whilst the new stadium won’t guarantee any success on the football field – it will help attract a new generation of fans and will look more appealing to a new generation of players too.

Ultimately, this season was always going to be crap… but, if we get the next 6 months right, then we could enter next season with a good squad (not just a good first XI) and a realistic goal of qualifying for Europe. From there, we can start to dream of trophies again and in a glamorous new home.

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Reader Comments (33)

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Andrew Merrick
1 Posted 30/12/2021 at 12:55:52
Hope springs eternal...

Interesting to hear that some of the Brands youth are shaping up. I heard mixed views on TW, but I felt he had his wings clipped as DoF and then got served up on a sacrificial plate...

He showed the usual respect to his employers so we don't get to hear his take on things.

If Moshiri is really backing Rafa, and Bill can't stick his oar in, and the club review is carried out properly, we may well see a positive outcome.

Here's hoping!

Ian Bennett
2 Posted 30/12/2021 at 13:29:29
The squad needs filling with good up-and-coming talent.

We are 6 months away from dumping a fair amount of wages on lads that don't deliver, so some well-thought Bosman signings could be on the cards too.

Andrew Keatley
3 Posted 30/12/2021 at 13:33:02
Ah. A healthy dose of positivity on ToffeeWeb. Lovely stuff. Nice one Robert.
Andrew Ellams
4 Posted 30/12/2021 at 13:41:19
I see Matthias Ginter will be out of contract at the end of the season. 27, plenty of experience, 46 caps for Germany.

If we could unload Holgate and Mina and promote Branthwaite and bring Ginter in on a Bosman, we'd be doing well.

Jim Lloyd
5 Posted 30/12/2021 at 18:44:17
Robert, what an excellent article! You've put down a decent future for us there, if things go our way.
Brian Wilkinson
6 Posted 30/12/2021 at 18:58:48
Good read that, Paul.

I know some have been against Benitez from the very start; I agree he seems to have more clout and not accepting not doing it his way.

With the lack of spending and bad luck on the injury front, this is where we will see if Benitez will improve our football style, with better players coming back into the team. If he brings a right back in, then at least it is a start of addressing one of the problems.

I have been in the Benitez camp; all that could change in the next year or so, but for now, he will have my full support.

John Hodgkins
7 Posted 30/12/2021 at 20:16:48
Agree with your synopsis, Robert, if it all comes to fruition, we may have a good future to look forward to. I hope the match going fans give the manager a fair crack of the whip for the second half of the season, and let's see where we are then.
Mike Gaynes
8 Posted 30/12/2021 at 20:23:35
Always a valuable contributor, Robert, but never more than right here.

Happy New Year to you, sir!

Brent Stephens
9 Posted 30/12/2021 at 20:34:55
A fine piece, Robert. Would so love a few of the young lads to come through. I guess we all have our personal favourites and I'd love to see Simms, Onyango (some catching up to do after his injury) and Warrington make it – for starters!
Jerome Shields
10 Posted 30/12/2021 at 20:43:22
Yes, there are optimistic signs that you have pointed out. Well done.
Paul Birmingham
11 Posted 30/12/2021 at 21:01:08
Good balanced and thoughtful summary Robert.

I hope that the club will wipe the slate clean, and start clean and fresh in 2022, all matters considered.

Hopefully the slow road back to professionalism, consistency and standards on and off the park, will start to emerge.

The internal power struggle if is the case, must be resolved and build a future for Everton FC.

This means success on the park, and there will be winners and losers as is always the case, within the EFC boardroom.

But a new year and fresh hope, and regardless of the lack of success on the park, TW, is regardless of people’s views, all respected, a great place to debate and discuss all matters EFC.

Happy Hogmanay, New Year, 2022, to all Evertonians, and let’s embrace the challenges we face in life and all matters Everton FC, and battle to be successful and stay well.

“Whats Our Name?”


Andy Crooks
12 Posted 30/12/2021 at 21:13:19
Good stuff, Robert. You have raised the spirits of a moaning faced old git. (Yes, it really has cheered Derek up!!)

Derek Thomas
13 Posted 30/12/2021 at 00:15:48
'Reasons to be cheerful'...is there nothing the popular music culture can't help solve?

Maybe a Happy New Year present to us all? could we put ourselves down for more 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll'...and while I'm at it, could somebody hit our Mid-Field with a 'Rhythm Stick', because it needs something.

Oh and we could do with a 'Clever Trevor' on the right too.

So; to sum up 'The Moshiri Years' so far - 'What a Waste'.

It's been a long time since we were 'England's Glory'...who can say it won't start with a small step in the right direction in the new year

Brian Murray
14 Posted 31/12/2021 at 00:19:55
Derek. We could start by getting rid of that blockhead Moshiris right hand man. No dury out on him
Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 31/12/2021 at 07:53:24
A man after my own heart Robert. When it comes to football, and Everton in particular, I can't help but be hopeful and optimistic.

I tend to agree (without inside knowledge), that if Brands' stamp on the club was the restructuring of the academy to accelerate the progress and development of young players, then he achieved something even if we don't see the benefits for a season or two. Alongside that and clever use of the loan system, hopefully we'll see some of this potential establish itself. The recent Chelsea model is a good example, but that was put in place several years ago, it didn't happen overnight. If you recall, I'm particularly hopeful for Lewis Warrington.

A shame about Digne, but sometimes it doesn't harm player or club to freshen things up and change it. Providing we've done our homework and the replacement is suitable, it could prove good business. I'm also glad we seem to be able to move in the market again. I don't know if it's a low cost approach, but it certainly needs to be a value approach - Mr Moshiri must surely have learned his lesson? The Leipzig model is a good one for a club trying to establish itself and they came from a much lower position than we are now. They didn't squander, they spent their new found riches wisely. All hindsight, but that's how we should have been operating. Maybe there's still time for a reset.

I'm getting more impressed with Gordon every time I see him, but let's still be patient with him. That includes not raging and foaming when he is left out. Let the coaches and managers manage his continued development. Likewise with Branthwaite. I'd not seen a lot of him, but heard and respected the views of those who had and he didn't disappoint. But patience; let's not do a Park End John Stones on the lad - he's years away from hitting peak as a centre back and will make mistakes. I'd still like to see experience and someone comfortable driving the team higher alongside him if he is to become a regular. An undiscovered Rudiger must be out there somewhere? I do get jealous of his rampaging runs out of defence. The midfield has no option but to get ahead of him.

Final note on the manager. Not wanted, continues to be disliked by many and will never be accepted by some. But maybe, just maybe, the ruthless, thick skinned, emotionally detached B'stard is what the has been needed to give this club the kick up the arse it has long required. I know where I hope his next sights are targeted, as he seems to be operating like a sniper on range day.

Of course we have reason to be cheerful for 2022. Wembley in May and Europe next season. If I can't get a ticket, see you in the Green Man. I hope we get that end, I don't like the other one.

Derek Moore
16 Posted 31/12/2021 at 08:06:15
Happy new year to you and yours Mr Tressell! I'll second some of the other comments here, you're one of the few contributors on here I rely on to be consistently sensible.

And New Year is a time to be hopeful. The writing may be on the wall but the future isn't written yet either!
(Love a good jumbled aphorism or five )

I'd like to wish peace and prosperity for 2022 to every... almost everyone on here. You can include or exclude yourself to taste.

Thanks again for the hopeful piece Robert. But as Evertonians well know - it's the hope that kills you.

Christine Foster
17 Posted 31/12/2021 at 08:26:32
Happy New Year Rob, nice read and it did make me smile so it did the job! I hope every blue has a good one, players and manager included, we love you all really! (I wonder if any actually read ToffeeWeb? if they do I wish them well)
Lets hope 2022 is the turning of a corner for all of us!
Kunal Desai
18 Posted 31/12/2021 at 08:31:03
I'm expecting a mixed bag of results for the second half of this season. We might spring a couple of more surprise results like Man.Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea, equally expecting similar garbage witnessed against the likes of Brentford and Crystal Palace.

I think top 7 is out of the equation even at this early stage, 6 points deficit is a tall order to make up on Man.Utd and Spurs.
Being realistic it's not going to happen.

If two or three of our signings come together we should atleast push Wolves and Leicester for 8th/9th at best but I think we will have to put a couple of mini runs winning three on the bounce or something to that effect, not seen since the opening few fixtures.

12th is my prediction. Yet again the summer transfer window will point to which direction the club is heading towards.

Reason to be cheerful? Difficult one, has to be a change of structure at board level, Kenwright still has to go along with DBB.

David Bromwell
19 Posted 31/12/2021 at 08:37:07
What a great article for New Years Eve, green shoots of recovery and all that. I also love Danny 's 15 summary description of Rafa and believe this is exactly what is needed after the years of mis management and extravagant spending.

For me the key component will be the introduction and development of young players and I hope the Manager and his staff will be committed to this philosophy. Please no more end of career players enjoying a final pay day.

Happy New year to all, but remember we are not out of the woods yet and a healthy injury free new year will have an important bearing on our finishing position.

Tony Everan
20 Posted 31/12/2021 at 08:55:51
I am an eternal optimist, but Everton have ground me down to a shrivelled, cynical old bastard. However, amongst the twisted wreck of bitterness there is still a blue-glowing, radioactive bean of optimism to be found. Your ten reasons to be cheerful sum it up.

Any manager who comes to Everton has a big task in signing the players that they actually want, rather than signing compromises. One of the biggest things that will make me cheerful in 2022 is that Benitez signs two or three players in January who make an impact to the first team. Then again in in the summer. More than anything I want to see a quality young energetic tenacious central midfielder come in. Benitez will be looking for the next Xabi Alonso in Spain for us. I want this quality young midfielder to be the priority in the summer.

Also, if not more, what a buzz it is when the young players show they can do it at the top table. Just writing about Branthwaite and Gordon makes me feel excited about the future. They will both need time and patience to become consistent performers but both these players look like they have the mentality to succeed. There must be a lot of clubs looking in in envy that we have these two.

The other players you mention all have chances to make it
as well. Add Stanley Mills to the list of ones to watch. The u18s could go far in he FA youth cup next year too, I’d recommend more tuning in to watch. I really enjoyed watching them trying to play it out from the back and be technical as well as playing with aggression and intensity. It makes me think there is some decent progress too behind the scenes at younger levels.

My dad had heart failure a few days before Christmas, so I’ve been in and out of Fazakerley hospital non stop this last week, back again today. He’s pulled through it though and maybe getting discharged tomorrow and I’ll be caring for him for a few weeks. The doctors, nurses and staff there are just awe inspiring how they are coping and caring for people, understaffed and under pressure.

So thanks for this article Robert, it’s a tonic.

Robert Tressell
21 Posted 31/12/2021 at 09:00:08
I've just had to google Reasons to be Cheerful, Derek # 13. Never heard of it!

Thanks for the various comments everyone. And thanks to Lyndon and Michael for creating this opportunity to have these virtual chats. It has kept me going in lieu of those 5 minute breaks with colleagues here and there during the Pandemic. An antidote to the stress and boredom of a daily grind in the home office.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year (and an against-the-odds FA Cup victory) in 2022. 👍

Jim Lloyd
22 Posted 31/12/2021 at 09:56:35
It's a long way to Wembley Stadium; it's a long way to go

It's a long way to Wembley Stadium, for the Greatest team I know
wirrout yer kecks on...

I haven't even got the ale to blame for that! but it's about time we went to Wembley again.
Hope springs eternal and this year I hope we have a much better year for our families, our friends, our club and our country.

Robert's article,has set a tone and many contributors have added to it. I don't think we're far away from becoming a good side. I think we've all wanted to see the young lads and they've not let us down. I believe our manager will bring in better players to add to the good ones we've got. I think (hope!!!) that the present power of the board is being challenged. It's a way to go, yet but I think this is the long awaited start of our rise.
Thanks again Robert for inspiring us.

PS, Tony (20) I was thinking of us finding the next Peter Reid, but Xabi Alonso'd do!

Rob Halligan
23 Posted 31/12/2021 at 09:58:44
Andrew # 3. Don’t worry, the thread is still relatively young. Plenty of time for all the negativity posts to appear.
Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 31/12/2021 at 10:02:43
Robert (21), good post and it’s always best to at least try to look on the bright side, your own posts I enjoy because they give a sensible look at what is going on at the club on and off the field.

I’m expecting the playing side to be a lot more positive in the New Year and hopefully a good run in the FA cup to go along with improving results in the league to give us all a lot more cheerful outlook as the season moves on.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 31/12/2021 at 10:10:46
Tony (20), a good example of staying positive Tony, with all the worry and stress of your dad’s illness you can still see some good points about the future for The Blues, I hope everything turns out okay for Everton and us supporters but more importantly for your dad, best of luck to him in his recovery period.
Steve Shave
26 Posted 31/12/2021 at 10:46:22
This article is just the tonic, thanks Robert. I'd consider myself one of the handful optimists on here but I lack yours (and others) resilience Rob when it comes to all things Blue. I can get sucked into voids of hopelessness, especially the past 2 seasons, so I appreciate the nudge in the right direction.

I agree with many of the sentiments you express, there are green shoots, there are reasons to be hopeful. However, we are going to have to play a blinder to come out of this mess, the ducks need to line up. Blooding Branthwaite, Gordon, Onyango and Dobbin seems to be a necessity now the money has gone, let's build with these guys in mind. A couple of astute young, hungry players to come in and further shifting of dead wood is also required. Above all we need some luck with injuries and for us to get behind Rafa the Gaffa.

Lastly, just a word for Tony. Sorry to hear about your family difficulties this Christmas, wishing your father a speedy return to health in 2022 bud.

Jim Lloyd
27 Posted 31/12/2021 at 11:28:21
Well said Steve.
John Raftery
28 Posted 31/12/2021 at 11:44:08
This post makes a refreshing change from the pit of despair we are accustomed to wallowing in. Now that the manager has had five months to assess what he has available I hope to see a couple of astute acquisitions in January followed by a more radical reshaping of the squad in the summer.

I expect our results to improve but we need to be realistic about how much can be achieved in the short term. We will not be anywhere near competing with the top six clubs until the manager is able to build a squad to implement successfully the playing system he wants. That will take a couple of years.

In the meantime patience will be required. From what I have seen most supporters attending matches have that.

Barry Ferguson
29 Posted 31/12/2021 at 11:48:09
11 Iwobi selected for AFcon
Niall McIlhone
30 Posted 31/12/2021 at 12:24:35
I endorse Steve’s comments (#26)and thanks to Robert for those jolts of optimism. I have maintained the position that the manager’s performance should not be judged until after January:I feel that once he gets a settled team, hopefully with one or two new players and being free of long term injuries to key players, the team will start to show it’s potential.
Key to this is the team plays on the “front foot” and gets the crowd behind them, especially at Goodison, and we get ahead in games more so than now. We have seen that all teams in this division are beatable, with the possible exception of Man City. Let’s hope for a win on Sunday, whatever it takes- so the Toffees start 2022 on the upward path.
A happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 to all Blues worldwide, and may those supporting sick or vulnerable relatives take strength in these difficult times.
Barry Rathbone
31 Posted 31/12/2021 at 13:08:16
The biggest reason to be cheerful is we're not playing!! Life is so much brighter
Peter Mills
32 Posted 31/12/2021 at 18:36:15
Jim#22, I hate to be negative, but… surely “wirrout yer kecks on” should be tagged onto the end of the much-missed “When you’re smiling”?

Let’s sing them all on 14th May at Wembley.

Robert Tressell
33 Posted 02/01/2022 at 16:23:00
This dated badly

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