Here’s another one of those articles where I dissect the goings on at a few European clubs, in order to convince people (including myself) that Everton can do something along those lines.  I will not succeed, of course, but god loves a trier.

Although the Champions League Final and (most) of Europe’s major leagues have been won by the richest club, there have been some really encouraging performances by well-run (rather than well-rich) clubs.

Let’s have a butchers at what they have been up to..,

Bayer Leverkusen

Finished 1st as the first unbeaten side ever in Bundesliga history after scoring loads of goals and playing brilliant football under Xabi Alonso.

This comes after selling their best player of 2022-23 season, Moussa Diaby, to Villa for £50M. 

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Although Alonso is clearly an excellent manager, no team wins titles without good recruitment. As much as they are good buyers, Leverkusen are very good sellers. They are also very good developers of exceptional talent.

Their biggest signing of the summer, Diaby’s replacement, was Saints and Burnley star Nathan Tella who set them back £20M.  That is pretty much their upper limit on spending on any one player.  Most are between £10M and £20M and sourced from weaker leagues (Brazil, Argentina, Czechia, Belgium, Portugal and Scotland) or, like Diaby himself, rich club reserves (in his case, PSG).  A few, generally sub £10M players are sourced from within Germany itself.  These are generally Steady Eddies – comparable to the likes of Phil Neville, say.

Many of the players they spend real money on are very high-ceiling big talents aged between about 19 and 22.  They buy players who have the ability, though not the track record, to play in the Champions League.  And good on them, they have done it in fine style.


Finished 2nd, ahead of a Bayern Munich side with Harry Kane, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman, Jamal Musiala, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, Dayot Upamecano, Kim Min-Jae, Mattias DeLigt and Manuel Neuer.

They spent £20M in total last summer, after recouping £50M in transfer fees. Their biggest outlay was Guirassy of Rennes, a striker we have been regularly linked with over the years, for £9M.  They have been spending less than about half what they generate in transfer fees for some years now – and most signings are between £2.5M and £10M.

You’ll never guess what, they source players from low-cost markets (Argentina, Croatia, Austria, Belgium), rich club reserves – and also pay modest fees for Steady Eddie Germans. They work the free and loan market pretty hard too.

Their manager Sebastian Hoeness takes an awful lot of credit after also performing very well at Hoffenheim.  An ex-Bayern youth team coach, he is probably in with an outside chance of the vacant Bayern job this summer.


But for our old pal Carlo Ancelotti, Girona might well have won La Liga this season. They ended up finishing 3rd, just 4 points off Barca.

Their recruitment has been inspired.  You might notice a pattern here but it involves buying players from low-cost markets (Ukraine, Colombia), hitting the loan and free market hard, and picking up players from rich club reserves.

Their biggest ever fee was spent last summer on (now 26-year-old) Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk – who we were pretty strongly linked with after a fairly good (but not spectacular) spell for SK Dnipro. He cost £7M. He then scored 21 in 35 in La Liga. Incidentally, that is second only to the 23 goals former Crystal Palace flop Alexander Sorloth scored for Villarreal this season.

Anyway, in recruitment, Girona have a huge advantage as forming part of the Manchester City stable – and therefore have access to players like Savio (from Manchester City affiliate club Troyes in France), and Yan Couto on loan direct from Man City.  Both Brazilians have been absolutely exceptional.

They also have an excellent manager, that is true, but like Leverkusen in particular they have sourced players who have the technical ability and potential to play Champions League football (even on a shoestring).  They have not sourced average players – other than very low cost Steady Eddies to supplement the real flair.


There’s a strong Everton connection here because they won the Europa League Final (against Leverkusen) with an Ademola Lookman hat-trick.

But the real reason they won was the recruitment and player development strategy which feeds the first team with excellent players. Players good enough to hand Liverpool a sound thrashing, no less.

Until recently, they have been a bit like the other clubs mentioned, sourcing players for no more than about £20M.  This season, they have taken that up a notch to the £25M to £30M mark – basically because they can.  They’ve been trading players for some years now and it has given them the financial muscle to buy the likes of El-Bilal Toure (who we very nearly got instead of Beto) and Scamacca (who had failed at West Ham).  These two replaced the outgoing Hojlund.  They still (as they pretty much always do) spent much less than they generated in transfer fees though.

When you look at the source of the players they buy, they focus very hard on youth / reserves from their much richer domestic rivals (Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan), the Italian lower leagues plus a little bit from the Premier League, Brazil, Belgium, Russia and the Netherlands – but always hunting for value (low cost but Champions League ability).  They also have a top-notch academy, which they recruit into very heavily through international scouting that found the likes of Amad Diallo and Dejan Kulusevski.  

This is not like the sort of international scouting we’ve done little bits of – this is committing pretty big money £3.5M on Kulusevski when he was a 16-year-old playing for a minor Swedish club’s youth team (but on the strength of performances for Sweden and Macedonia U15 and U16 sides).

Despite being adjacent geographically to Milan and Turin, Atalanta do well with Italian youth too with the top graduate being 21-year-old Giorgio Scalvini (the Italian Branthwaite). 

What about Everton?

Well, the German and Spanish sides have managers who play a pretty punchy, aggressive attacking game. These are undoubtedly more progressive managers than Dyche and each are in with a very good shout of landing a job with more established Champions League sides.

Dyche, people may have observed, is pretty conservative and plays a tactically astute and extremely well-organised defensive, counter-attacking side.  This is designed to make the most of players who generally do not have the technical ability and potential to play Champions League football.  We do have talent, absolutely we do, but not really where it counts when it comes to constructive football – ie, at full-back, Number 10 and wing forwards. 

Dyche is possibly more like Gasperini at Atalanta – a wise but unspectacular manager who gets a lot out of the players at his disposal. Whilst I do not expect Dyche to ever replicate the free-flowing artistry of Alonso’s Leverkusen this season, he can do a heck of a lot better with better players. I really hope we get to see it.

The other comment I expect will be that these examples are of clubs from weaker leagues where it is easier to pull this sort of thing off.  There is some truth in this, although Atalanta’s demolition of Liverpool shows that these are good sides.  The Premier League is much hyped but the quality is patchy.

Atalanta’s ability to run a leading academy under the noses of neighbours Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan is also encouraging.

The examples above show (and I hope prove) that extremely good quality players can be sourced to fill these problem positions for us at low cost.  Doing so doesn’t feed the vanity of fans who would like us to be competing for household names – but it has worked wonders for four clubs who have quietly and quickly assembled very good squads of players.  It isn't a quick fix but, since we've been waiting about 35 years, I reckon it's worth waiting a little longer.

Alas, these clubs will not keep it going indefinitely without the financial clout of richer rivals. They might even drop down into mid-table next time around. However, being penniless, it would be a bit remiss to ignore how they (and other clubs like them who outperform) have gone about laying the foundations for this remarkable season.

I have said on other threads that, if Leverkusen were to sell Branthwaite, I am very confident they would replace him with Martin Vitik of Sparta Prague – who would cost about £15M. Vitik is, like Branthwaite, a tall, fast and aggressive 21-year-old with excellent technical skills.  He also has Champions League and International experience already.  They wouldn’t spend, say, £30M on a player who has already peaked even if such a player would provide a more consistent, dependable immediate presence in the First XI.

It needn’t be Vitik, of course, but we can adopt a similar approach to these three clubs when sourcing a replacement for Branthwaite – and building up the rest of the squad with our meagre kitty.  Another nice thought to end on is that Leverkusen’s success comes just 3 years after they sold Kai Havertz, then their finest talent since Michael Ballack, to Chelsea for £75M (he’s since been overtaken by the magnificent Florian Wirtz).

Atalanta’s success comes a year after selling Hojlund to Man Utd and two years after selling Romero to Spurs. If we must sell Branthwaite, and despite calls for defiance, it does look strongly like “we must”, then it needn’t be all doom and gloom for the future.  

Reader Comments (114)

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Eric Myles
1 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:13:05
Robert, how is our ability to recruit players from the minor European leagues you mention now hampered by Brexit?

I assume they, and the South Americans you mention, would require work permits these days? Something we haven't had much success with in the past.

Eric Myles
2 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:24:34
By the way, I'm surprised that Atalanta are close neighbours to Milan?

I was at the final home game of Inter vs Atalanta a few seasons ago and there must have been all of 20 fans in the vast away end.

It should have been more of a local derby? Although the ticket sales did tell me they only sell out when they play the other Milan team.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:27:09

That is an interesting point. Wasn't that the issue with Henry Onyekuru?

Eric Myles
4 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:44:46
Kieran, was he the guy that we signed to a 4-year contract that got a 3-year work permit?

Or one of the many that we couldn't even get a work permit for?

Kieran Kinsella
5 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:48:04

We signed him in 2017 and loaned him out twice as he couldn't get a work permit then eventually sold him in 2019.

Nyarko was the guy with a work permit a year shorter than his contract back in the Walter Smith era.

Eric Myles
6 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:52:16
Right, so I guess the minor leagues we'll be looking at are the Northern Conference League.

Mind, isn't that were Vardy came from?

Dale Self
7 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:56:11
And shopping at the local shops to tap up some promising baggers.
Jay Harris
8 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:57:11
Robert great and well researched post but following that approach does rely on a good network of scouts/recruiters something we haven't had for a long time.

It would be ok to sell some of our most valuable players if we had the confidence in bringing in quality replacements.

I do not have that confidence and would prefer to take a hit on PSR and keep the likes of Brandthwaite and DCL.

Onana I am ambivalent about because he isn't at his best in our style of play and I think we could find a more suitable replacement for him at lower cost.

Robert Tressell
9 Posted 23/05/2024 at 16:57:57
Eric, you probably need an immigration lawyer for that question. My understanding is that with the major nations it is really not that hard.

As demonstrated by the huge numbers of foreign players from a multitude of countries now playing not just in the Premier League but the Championship too.

We didn't have any trouble signing Chermiti for example.

Outside of the EU but still in Europe, Spurs recently bought the teenage Swede, Bergvall with no problem.

From South America, Forest have Danilo and Murillo from Brazil, Watford have Asprilla from Colombia and Brighton have Enciso from Paraguay and Buonanotte from Argentina.

Basically, anyone who is of the sort of calibre we would want to sign seems much more likely than not to be able to get a work permit.

Bill Hawker
10 Posted 23/05/2024 at 17:08:30
While I agree with your assessments and optimism, the biggest issue is that Evertonians do not have patience with players. I remember Per Kroldrup had a mare his first match or two and was subsequently shipped out only to have a solid career with Fiorentina.

I think the pressure to get it right with players here is greater than at many of the clubs you mentioned. Your example of Vitik seems like a good one but if he were to have a tough start, would he be cast off like others have been?

I love the idea of Everton looking for younger players from "lesser" leagues however and have often wondered why we don't do more of that through proper scouting and analysis. I'm not saying every player we'd bring in would be a hit but I'd like to think our success level would be better and we'd stop relying on United castoffs as we had done in the past.

Sam Hoare
11 Posted 23/05/2024 at 17:08:51
Another good piece Robert.

One of Moshiri's biggest flaws (facilitated by Kenwright, Walsh and Brands) as I see it was his insistence on 'known' players.

Initially we bought almost exclusively in the overpriced PL market. Paying inflated fees and wages for the likes of Bolasie, Schneiderlin, Williams, Sigurdsson, Keane, Pickford, Rooney, Iwobi and Walcott.

The rare times we went abroad we still overpaid and the scouting was poor as we bought Klaassen when we already had 3 number tens and Tosun when we really needed a striker with pace.

We have shopped almost exclusively at Harrods despite buying goods available at most Primarks.

A lot of success under Moyes was built upon picking up good players from the championship but that is something we've not done once under Moshiri, missing out on the likes of Maddison, Bowen, Eze and Olise for affordable fees.

Summer 21 saw some better business I thought with Garner and McNeil sensibly priced at £10M and £12M, and Tarkowski and Gueye being sensible cheap additions. Chermiti may also signal a more 'European' approach as the £4M up-front payment for him could prove a bargain from what I've seen so far, even though he will require patience.

Ajay Gopal
12 Posted 23/05/2024 at 17:32:43
Thanks Robert for another well researched transfer article. It makes me feel optimistic that given a sensible approach from the management, we can build something interesting.

We saw that play out in the initial years of the Kenwright-Moyes era, so there is no reason why it can't be done again.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 23/05/2024 at 17:39:57
It's incredible to think that Everton sacked the head of the academy over a poaching issue at a time they brought in a director of football who wouldn't have really known the English game, especially at Under-23s downwards.

They thought money was the answer to everything, but money is useless without a plan, and Moshiri has definitely learned the hard way.

Barry Rathbone
14 Posted 23/05/2024 at 18:19:49
Bill 10

"The biggest issue is that Evertonians do not have patience with players"

Spot on.

It is the difference between us and the clubs mentioned and in fairness plays at all "big clubs". Once the upward straight-line trend falters fans get stuck into the tranquilizers and the whole edifice becomes a gibbering wreck.

I'm afraid, unless someone puts together a team like Martinez's first season and somehow keeps it going for 2 or 3 seasons, we are dead fish.

Don Alexander
15 Posted 23/05/2024 at 21:51:02
I assume the owners of Leverkusen, Stuttgart, Girona, Atalanta must've been amongst the host of those who sought advice from Kenwright on how to improve their clubs!
Brendan McLaughlin
16 Posted 23/05/2024 at 22:46:27
Bill #10

To be fair it ain't really down to Evertonians.

It's the manager’s decision... Seamus took a while.

Frank Wolfe
17 Posted 24/05/2024 at 04:41:35
I agree with Bill (10):

"The biggest issue is that Evertonians do not have patience with players".

The issue is the culture or mindset of the club including the fans. We still think of ourselves as a "big club" who deserve success now, who should be buying quality players etc.

Most of the above clubs have a different mentality. The expectations are lower, so they have the room to be patient and the time to develop players etc.

Bob Parrington
18 Posted 24/05/2024 at 07:01:09
Robert Tressel, I'll start with my only negative, which is when you wrote, "I will not succeed, of course, but god loves a trier".

You made a really detailed and interesting assessment, for which I congratulate you. No need for the subservience, mate!

On the whole, our transfers in and out have been a load of crap, at least until Thelwell came on board (with a couple of exceptions). Hands tied behind his back, with atrocious spending by Moshiri (at the behest of the likes of Koeman), IMO Dyche did an exceptional job with the stock of players we had this recent season.

Your article gives clear sight that, given the right thought processes, we can build a competitive squad without shopping at the high price end of town. I'm so Australian now that I can't think of a better description than we can't buy on Oxford Street, at least for a while.

Thanks for your positive and interesting dialogue. And please accept that you do not have to apologise for your well researched thoughts. 👍

Lee Courtliff
19 Posted 24/05/2024 at 07:20:57
Every summer yourself and Sam Hoare write pieces like this, I enjoy every single one as much as the other.

And every single summer I convince myself that if normal, everyday fans like yourselves know this, then surely the Club does and we will finally do something similar ourselves!

And every single summer...they let us down!!

Robert Tressell
20 Posted 24/05/2024 at 09:29:00
The issue of patience and expectations is interesting.

We are traditionally a big club and still have a big club fan base. It has been about 35 years though since we were really still in the big time.

I think those who remember the glory years (I don't ) have a different perspective. In some respects they are awaiting the arrival of a decent manager who can craft a side befitting our status. Maybe like Clough once did at Forest (but again I'm going back too far to remember) and Kendall did for us.

I can't think of anyone who has done that anywhere though in the modern era without the benefit of a very modern scouting and player development model. For example it is far too simplistic to credit Simeone with success at Athletico given the quality of players he's been fed via the academy and South American recruitment.

AC Milan are struggling post Berlusconi. Man Utd are an example of a club, like us, trying to find immediate success and failing because of it.

Arsenal however moved to the youth / player development model and are now where they are. The RS too have become exceptional at player development and trading - which enabled the Klopp era. Neither club went for the likes of Casemiro, Varane and Pogba - who are the equivalent of our underperforming big earners.

Maybe there is still an example of a modern manager turning it around in rapid fashion and without being fed excellent players. You could make a case for Ranieri's Leicester perhaps. But other examples will be very hard to find.

David West
21 Posted 24/05/2024 at 12:19:23
Nice post, Robert.

It's pretty clear we don't have the funds of the early Moshiri era any more, we also don't have many big assets to sell.

Onana and Branthwaite are the obvious ones, however there are others in the squad who would generate decent fees like Mykolenko, McNeil, Garner & Calvert-Lewin.

A positive is the fact that Dyche is not really a big-name buyer, he would choose substance over style every time, graft and application over reputation.

How he and Thelwell have managed, to get a few players on loan & free transfers last year shows they can play this market well.

The biggest concern would be how much would given to Thelwell & Dyche to improve the sqaud if players are sold?

There are players leaving anyway, loanees, out of contracts so there needs to be additions.

Thelwell in my opinion can hopefully prove his worth this window. If Onana and, or Branthwaite leave he must get the best possible price. We have seen him get good deals on incoming players can he do it with outgoings, and then invest some to have assets to sell on again in a few years.

Big summer for Kev!!!

Simon Jones
22 Posted 24/05/2024 at 13:41:35
I agree that I'd prefer to see Everton linked with up-and-coming players that you might do a double-take when they sign. Tim Cahill from Milwall for example.

But a word for the odd dinosaur, anyone of my vintage will remember the impact that Paul Power made in our last Championship winning season.

Gerry Quinn
23 Posted 24/05/2024 at 13:59:08
Barcelona have sacked Xavi and are replacing him with a guy called Flick - can you imagine if we got "Herr Flick" as a Manager? Start the they don't like it up 'em...
Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 24/05/2024 at 17:28:07
Good piece, Robert.

I really think we've turned the corner on signings -- vastly impressed with the value Thelwell has brought in with very little cash expenditure. But I'd like to see him leverage his MLS experience to develop a scouting network in North America.

Recruiting in South American countries is pretty labor-intensive, but the US, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica are comparatively easy to track and there are players to be found. Remember Oviedo?

Sam #11, maybe we've finally learned our lesson. Thanks to Thelwell.

Kieran #3, yep, and except for one purple patch on loan at Galatasaray, Henry has never really made an impact anywhere. He played this past season in Saudi Arabia.

Robert Tressell
25 Posted 24/05/2024 at 17:52:31
One important point with the likes of Onyekuru, Lookman and Vlasic. It didn't work out, but because of the profile we made money on all of them.

Simon # 22, I can only remember Paul Power as a Panini sticker – but he is often talked about. Older players are a key part of what these "role model" clubs are doing – but the key thing is they don't spend money on them. According to Google, Power cost £65,000 in 1986. As a % of the then record transfer, that translates to about a £3m fee now.

So maybe a bit like signing 35-year-old Willian for free this summer, provided he doesn't ask for daft wages. Not a bad idea especially if you're trying to develop Brazilian (or Portuguese) youth.

David West
26 Posted 24/05/2024 at 19:41:22
Robert your post @25 is the key.

You can punt relatively small amounts on up and coming talent, if they don't make the grade at Everton then there's other teams that are willing to take that punt again on players with time still left to develop and improve.

Take Schneiderlin, it was Southampton who took the real punt on him. UTD liked what they saw and Southampton did well, only for him to fall out of favour. His value has already gone by the time we paid too much for him.

Lookman, vlasic, onyekuru are the types we should be going for.

I'd say mcneil, Onana, Garner & Patterson are all of that profile, and if you'd agree only Patterson has failed to live up to the expectation, then we are looking at the right profile. ( I know Onana spilts opinions ) however his value has surely increased since he came.

Branthwaite, Onana, mcneil, Garner all worth considerably more than when purchased.

The hard part for us is being able to invest in players that are not going to have an immediate impact, due to the financial restrictions we have.

Every penny spent in ny opinion, needs to be spent on the first team, to have an impact on the first team, to improve the first team, because if not we are just treading water and will have another long hard season.

Jim Lloyd
27 Posted 24/05/2024 at 23:34:23
I think that is a smashing post, Robert, and agree with it. Much different from the previous board who believed they had 4 years to catch the European train. Then spent tons of money on a number of disjointed groups of players, and a revolving door for managers.

Someone said about the supporters being too ready to decry a crop of players because they didn't reach the Olympian Heights. Yes, that's true to a degree, because we were promised caviar and got porridge.

I'd love to see one of the managers Robert mentioned, Sabi Alonso would be my favourite. But whoever we get – or keep Dyche which would do me – we have to rebuild a whole squad almost, while competing against clubs in much better straits than us.

But that's the situation we're in and Robert's formula seems to me the most logical way of starting on the long road back to being in with the big boys. As long as we don't ever get too big for our financial boots, and use our money wisely in sorting out our scouting, youth policy and start right from the ground up.

More like every penny is spent wisely, than solely on the first team. I think I'm right when Everton had the chance to get Haaland for £4M and Koeman didn't want him. We've got to invest in younger players, scouts who can pick out decent players in lower leagues, Scotland, South America, anywhere in Europe, wherever football is played.

Aye, the priority is our first team but we haven't got the money to buy so-called top players, maybe not even Premier League players, because of the cost of their transfers and wages. Loans free transfers, whatever. Keep our heads above water.

I don't know, of course; but I've got a feeling that, if Dele Alli does make a comeback in top football, it's going to be with us.

I like Robert's post. I think Sean is also thinking along those lines. It's live within our means and spend wisely.

Si Cooper
28 Posted 24/05/2024 at 23:45:07
Robert (25) you very briefly touch on something I think is missing from your OP.

Where do wages come into the equation?

When talking about our finances people tend to fixate on the overall transfer spend, not what we are committed to spending that year. We may have made money selling players but the ‘cheaper’ recruits are just sucking the money out by a different route.

How do your chosen clubs stack up wage bill wise against their domestic rivals (as that is often used these days as a good indicator of probable league position)?

Is there potentially a Premier League premium we would pay; inflated transfer fees and wages precisely because we are a ‘rich’ English club (or perhaps more pertinently because we are an English club desperately trying to preserve its top flight status)?

Brian Denton
29 Posted 25/05/2024 at 00:44:54
Robert, I've been meaning to ask you this for a while: are you related to the author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, or is it just coincidence? After all, as we are sternly told, noms de plumes are not allowed on ToffeeWeb.

By another remarkable coincidence, we have a ToffeeWeb participant who shares the real name of 70s rock star Alice Cooper. Though since Alice Cooper is still alive, I suppose it is possible that the writer of School's Out and Only Women Bleed is really a good Blue.

Alan J Thompson
30 Posted 25/05/2024 at 05:45:40
I sometimes wonder if we haven't been doing what Robert suggests except that we've been picking the wrong players.

From "big" clubs reserves we've had Deulofeu, Gomes, Allan, James, Mina, Beto and well priced from lower leagues Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Holgate, Branthwaite, Galloway, Coleman, Stones (would you include Patterson?) and free transfers in Young, Tarkowski, the two Benitez brought in, and would you include Rooney.

And I suppose there must be players from "lesser" markets like Mykolenko, Vlasic, Chermiti, and that's just from memory which can then be mixed in with the big transfer money players like Lukaku, Sigurdsson and Pickford.

What we don't seem to have had is players from our own Academy who have made a first-team place their own.

I suppose we come back to the problems that these other continental "successful" clubs don't have which are play in the Premier League or seem to have our quality of owners and the number of managers .

What was that old song; "You can't have one without the other"?

Robert Tressell
31 Posted 25/05/2024 at 06:20:07
Si, #28, you're right: wages are a big issue and all of these clubs punch above their weight from a wages point of view.

Our wage bill has been all over the place because some of the biggest earners are the lowest contributors, like Dele Alli, Gomes and others who we have now fortunately got off the books.

Brian, #29, just a coincidence. Good book though – and the author's real name was Robert Croker.

Alan, #30, yes we have done some of this and you can categorise a very high proportion of our most successful signings of the past 20 years in that way.

But it's not just the categories, it is the financials. None of the clubs above would have bought Allan, Gomes, Rodriguez, Dele Alli, Bolasie, Keane etc etc. And we shouldn't have either.

Hence paying sub £10M for established domestic league steady eddies. Hence paying no more than about £20M for any one player – often much less – and only on the condition they have Champions League potential and are under 22. Hence sourcing players from cheap markets with lower wage demands.

Weirdly, for a club without the resources to compete – even under Moshiri's initial spree – we have largely ignored very reliable cheap markets like South America, France and Scandinavia.

So it's not just about picking the wrong players – nothing like it in fact – it's about the markets you do business in, and the terms you do business on.

Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 25/05/2024 at 06:38:09
I guess it comes down to the manager and, now, the Director of Football working in parallel along with the staff.

The infamous now deal when we took on a Liverpool reserve that Howard Kendall didn't fancy, but Colin Harvey convinced him.

He went on to be the best Everton player I've watched in my life to date.

He will take some beating, although I would have loved to have watched James Rodriguez live.

Eric Myles
33 Posted 25/05/2024 at 10:33:20
Brian #29,

You've missed off ex-Free lead guitarist Paul Kossof from your list of famous ToffeeWebbers.

Eric Myles
34 Posted 25/05/2024 at 10:44:50
Gerry #23, wasn't it the fuzziewuzzies that "didn't like it up 'em"?

Herr Flick was from "Allo, Allo" wasn't he?

Dave Lynch
35 Posted 25/05/2024 at 11:54:34
I've made a weird movie or two...apparently 🤣
Christine Foster
36 Posted 25/05/2024 at 13:30:29
Robert, risk and reward, the clubs in the Premie League spend money because in the main, what you spend in comparison to the other clubs generally equates to your finally league placing:

Transfer Expenditures vs Premier League Position

The only clubs who punched above their weight were Palace, Villa and Everton, those who didn't… well, only Chelsea. The issue with getting players on a free is the higher wage cost and / or longer contract.

In the Koeman years, we paid too much upfront and wages... crippled us for 5 years. This is where the PL is a bunch of sly, hypocritical prats, trying to tell clubs when and why they should sell players knowing full well such decisions could cost the clubs survival.

Bad decisions by both Moshiri and transfer negotiations by Kenwtigh are to blame, lack of commercialisation / income, for the last 20 years meant low turnover opening us up to the perfect PSR storm. At some point, Moshiri muddled, Kenwright surrounded himself with yesmen, and the club went to hell in a basket.

Now, even mediocre players in the UK are not worth the money or the wages, restrictions on overseas players means finding young gems overseas doesn't mean you can sign them.

Yes, there are players who can sometimes hit heights, but not consistently, McNeil, Patterson, Godfrey, Onana – to name a few. Money buys better quality usually. Building a team from the lower divisions fraught with risk, it's the name of the game.

Gerry Quinn
37 Posted 25/05/2024 at 14:39:24
You are correct, Eric...
Robert Tressell
39 Posted 25/05/2024 at 15:48:02
Have to disagree with your there, Christine. Your table shows only net spend over a 1-year period – and a sample of one is never very illuminating in isolation.

I think it is safe to show that, over a more meaningful period, you can start to see a correlation between strategic recruitment and development versus just plain old "throwing money at it".

If you look at that same table over the period of the past 3 years for example (hope this link works) then you start to see a different pattern emerge:


As it happens, Everton are the only club in profit over a 3 year period still in the Premier League. All other clubs in that position have been relegated. Wolves are the other over-achievers – hanging on in there with a net spend of just –£50m.

Man City wouldn't even be in the Top 4 – they'd be 7th behind Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, Spurs, Newcastle and Liverpool.

However, even a 3-year period disguises huge historic spending by some clubs – and more astute long-term strategic recruitment and development by others.

If you go back to the 2016-17 season (the start of Moshiri's reign), you see that the massive over-achievers are Brentford – which makes a lot of sense, given how astutely they built up the club from nowhere. They have a net spend of only £50M in that period.

Of those still in the Premier League, next up is Brighton with a net spend of only £65M and then us at £202M (but only because of the extreme spending cuts of the past 3 years).

Over that period, you start to see that Aston Villa are only punching above their weight a bit given huge levels of spending - but the RS are really overachieving with the 9th highest net spend but consistent top 4 finishes and trophies along the way.

Man Utd, Chelsea are consistent under-achievers despite their huge levels of investment trying and failing to catch-up with Man City.

So this helps to demonstrate that three clubs really noted for their player development, player trading and recruitment strategy have borne the fruits: Brighton, Brentford and Liverpool.

Martin Farrington
40 Posted 25/05/2024 at 19:38:44
Excellent article Robert. Informative and enlightening.

Firstly, I will answer this:-"I think I'm right when Everton had the chance to Haarland for £4 million and Koeman didn't want him"

Yes we did have the opportunity. Twice. Bryan King was the scout who introduced him to the club at 15. We had an option on him for £60k.

Because he was tall, slim and miles ahead of the the other trial and academy players he was dismissed on the grounds that "others would catch up". That he would lose any advantage as he got older. Biggest load of bollocks ever. A certain Ian Rush being a previous example of our derisory attitudes.

The second opportunity came at a price of £3.4M by Steve Walsh. Although I believe the initial outlay was £2M. However, due to a certain agent being right into Moshiri and driving his dreadful player clients onto our books, Moshiri dismissed this transfer in favour of the woeful Sandro Ramirez.

Which leads me neatly into an observation to highlight the difference between the clubs you highlight and ours. Apart from the golden years, our recruitment back to the beginning of the ‘70s has been awful. It has progressed at all levels to fucking criminal as of today.

With the hiring of staff including former bitter players and ex-reds with hidden (but clearly obvious) agendas. To sum up our approach before the Premier League, it was ad hoc. Without cohesion or thought. Other title-winning clubs of the era had the opposite approach proving successful.

Everton was never in harmony. Apart from that golden era, it never has been. The board have always been poor at everything. A huge gulf between them, the manager, coaching staff, players, at all levels and what was going on in and around the

The Premier League era saw a very low, poor Everton clinging onto historical coat tails of previous glory to elbow its way as a Top Six club in decision process at the start. This is well and truly over.

Once the Premier League was formed, we became ever more dysfunctional at the top, cascading to the bottom, which is where we are now. A scattergun approach to transfers. Or on and wing and a prayer.

Cozying up to complete selfish, greedy inappropriate agents. A string of unsuitable managers, a swivel door policy. A lack of any vision to create solid, professional infrastructure across the UK, Europe, the World to harness support and sell the product whilst scouting talent too.

During Moshiri's time, giving Kenwright money was one of the worst things he ever did. Moshiri has introduced a completely mental system for the manager / coach to obtain players. A proforma application system. This goes through a number of stages before it even reaches the Director of Football.

Thelwell then does whatever, I guess due diligence (??) before it travels up through an incompetent board to Moshiri. Then it goes back down and up.

The fact that, up to and including today, it hasn't produced surely shows it is another crock of shit that he has embraced and will cling onto out of sheer bloody mindedness.

So, I completely am for what the clubs you gave outlined are doing. However, we do not have an owner capable.

Stephen Davies
41 Posted 25/05/2024 at 20:27:08
Tavernier from Rangers... apparently.
Christine Foster
42 Posted 25/05/2024 at 23:32:20

I agree a single-year snapshot is probably too small a sample to hang your hat on, and that massive historic spending is no guarantee of success. The bottom line comes down to what you do with your money – no matter how much you spend and exactly what your objective is.

Staying in the Premier League and you're in the bottom band, win the Champions League expectation? That's the top end. But it's very much about the middle band, where there's a 70% chance you won't be relegated or get into Europe.

It also reinforces the EFL case of the financial gap (and therefore ability gap) between the Championship and the Premier League. The 3 promoted clubs are generally out of their league because of the gulf of class and money.

Of course, some clubs like Forest ditch the players who got them promoted and try to improve the quality of the squad by replacement as Forest found out, it's almost impossible to do stay within PSR rules.

And then you throw into the mix, the quality of management and coaching making the purchase decisions on players... only the bankrolled and hugely profitable clubs can afford to get it wrong occasionally; the rest of us dice with death.

Jason Li
43 Posted 26/05/2024 at 09:55:17
Great article and thoughts on this subject.

I think as Dyche is pretty astute, he has given lots of young players chances to prove themselves this season in probably the most turbulent season in the club's Premier League history. Garner, Branthwaite, and Chermiti kicked on a lot. Even Beto was given plenty of chances to show better effectiveness with minutes given.

If Dyche gets to have a squad of players next season capable of 15th+, maybe Thelwell can bring in a couple of high potentials to supplement the first team to bring off the bench. Or allocate a small amount to buy one player for development, depending on how the finances turn out by August.

By the season after, surely new owners want to have a recruitment rubric in place to develop a larger percentage of annual transfers in spend on high potential players?

Robert Tressell
44 Posted 26/05/2024 at 11:29:58

You are dead right to position this in terms of risk. However, I see the risk position differently – it is the risk of wasting a small kitty and robbing yourself of future transfer kitty (which is basically what we have done with the Lukaku money and the initial injection of funds from Moshiri).

Basically, with every transfer (whatever the fee), there is a risk of failure. The Premier League is littered with very high-cost flops. Our own squad, despite considerable pruning, still contains high-cost flops like Andre Gomes (a player with a sexy backstory but who probably isn't as good as a player like Will Hughes).

Following the principles used by these role model clubs (ie, not just the categories but the fee and wage limits), you can massively dial down the risk of failure.

For example, it strikes me as very low risk to target low-wage-demand free transfers like: Brownhill and Taylor at Burnley, and McBurnie and Bogle at Sheffield Utd. All would improve the squad and possibly first XI.

The loan market is likely to offer: Broja, Fofana, Ugochukwu and others from Chelsea; McAtee and Doyle from City; Nelson, Patino and Norton-Cuffey from Arsenal. Again, all low-risk. You might also add Brereton Diaz and Ndiaye to that list from Villarreal and Marseille respectively.

Low-cost players from rich club academies might include Micah Hamilton and Shola Shoretire from Man City and Man Utd respectively.

Talented players under 22 and under £20M might include the likes of Asprilla (Watford), some of the loan options mentioned above… and then the world is your oyster. France, South America etc keeps producing talent in this category but apart from Funes Mori (2015) and Stracqualursi (2011) when have we bought from South American clubs? When was the last time we bought from a French club (apart from the re-signing of Gueye)?

Most of these players are not really hidden gems because they are often playing Champions League, Europa League and / or International football (or youth international football).

The real risk is paying a premium for very low quality players – like the £20m quoted for Che Adams last summer. Or paying a £25m fee for a player who will almost inevitably leave for free within a few years (eg, Allan) but again, despite a sexy backstory, he isn't really any better than a player like Jefferson Lerma.

Peter Fearon
45 Posted 26/05/2024 at 13:55:56
Very interesting piece but I lost you when it came to the Valentine to Dyche.

First, he is not conservative – he is a tactical dinosaur. In an era of perfect pitches and five potential subs, parking the bus for long periods is virtually certain to result in the concession of late goals. As it did against Arsenal et al.

Further, Dyche has made it clear in his not usually informative press conferences he is not at all interested in any of the current crop of academy or U21 players, none of whom – his words – could make it in the first team without a spell elsewhere. Revealing, that. Of course that would put the best players in a shop window ready to be poached by other clubs.

Dyche never played football at the highest level and has not managed a successful club at the highest level so there is no reason to expect progressive management from him.

“Hard Yards” — Those are the ones we walk going home from the match.

Ray Roche
46 Posted 26/05/2024 at 15:14:09
Peter, just a couple of points:

The fact that Dyche doesn't think that our Academy/Under-21 players are good enough is surely down to the failure of the Academy and not Dyche. Those players have, mainly, been in our system since before he arrived.

Secondly, Dobbin said only last week that Dyche watched all the Academy etc games that he can. We haven't exactly had a conveyor belt of talent knocking on the first team door, have we?

Incidentally, Mourhino, Wenger and maybe Klopp weren't top players or played in high-standard teams either.

Alan McGuffog
47 Posted 26/05/2024 at 15:50:06
With our financial position and the total shit show of the ownership stuff, it's probable that we will struggle next season, yet again.

So we get rid of a "dinosaur" and replace him with?

Alan J Thompson
48 Posted 26/05/2024 at 16:42:37

What examples do you have of those clubs mentioned in your article of buying failures other than to say that they are less because they pay less?

They can't have just picked all winners and is there a percentage you can put on it to give some perspective?

David West
49 Posted 26/05/2024 at 16:52:22
Robert. The loan market is a funny one. We used to play it so well under Moyes and Martinez, but we were an attractive destination then to develop players at a stable club.

We can definitely see that players we've tried to get on loan for many reasons are not interested, or their clubs or agents are not sold on Everton at the moment.

It's up to the club to project that stable environment so the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, Chelsea or Man City would feel good about loaning us top talent or talent they want to put in the shop window... or we won't be seeing the likes of Lukaku or Deulofeu coming on loan.

Andy Crooks
50 Posted 26/05/2024 at 17:00:51
Peter @ 45, a Yes or No will do: What would you have had for our club – relegated under Kompany or saved by Dyche?

If managers had been swapped, I believe we would have been relegated and heading for extinction and Burnley would be ready for another season of Premier League money.

Name one proven manager who plays the fantasy football you dream of, who would touch us with a bargepole? You won't because you can't.

Clough, Wenger, Mourinho and many others didn't play football at the highest level. Your monumental day-dreaming, escape from reality, is really poor, ill-informed nonsense.

"Valentine to Dyche"? Awful comment. Put up an article offering an alternative. Go for it.

Liam Mogan
51 Posted 26/05/2024 at 17:04:19
Lost opportunity last season with dinosaur Dyche.

Clearly the talented squad and academy would have been challenging for Europe without him, even with the points deduction.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
52 Posted 26/05/2024 at 17:06:58
How good are we at bringing through players?

Lewis Dobbin played 224 minutes this season. He was the only player to have come through Everton's academy to have played.

Last season, we played Price (sold), Simms (sold), Cannon (sold), Davies (released), Gordon (sold). 21-22 was Jonjoe Kenny (released). Year before Nkounkou (sold), Broadhead (sold). The player before that was 2017-18 with Baningime.

Seven seasons and how many would you wish were still here – apart from Gordon?

Taking the 10 years since Moyes (2013-14) then the only players to have come through the academy (rather than bought in such as Calvert-Lewin) are Davies, Barkley and Gordon.

One not good enough (as proved at Sheff Utd), one who had issues (given his number of clubs since then) and one who we needed to sell.

Not a good look. You can understand why Dyche is reluctant. Any names you would care to throw out who should be there but he has not picked?

Dave Cashen
53 Posted 26/05/2024 at 17:43:44
The three scousers named in post 52 may be the last we see for a while.

No club and I do mean, NO club in world football has a more difficult task of attracting top local talent. Three of the richest and most successful clubs in world football are on our doorstep. The real stand out young talent have already been snapped up by the Mancs or the shite by the time you get to the ones who see us as their best option - Thanks Bill.

We have to establish a reputation for giving youngsters first team opportunities to counter what the big boys can offer, but it is a chicken and egg situation. If you cant attract youngsters who are good enough to play in the EPL. How do you establish a reputation for giving them a chance ?.

If there is a short term solution. I'm not seeing it

Iain Johnston
54 Posted 26/05/2024 at 17:49:34
So... Dyche is a dinosaur is he? Without the points deduction what he achieved in his first full season would have eclipsed anything Frank did at Brentford and equal the data & stats model Brighton utilise.

Finishing a very healthy 12th compared to the last gasp survival antics of the 2 previous seasons.

Many fans talk about the gems Moyes found, Arteta, Cahill, Pienaar even Gravesen for the grand total of circa £12mM and why can't we find similar today? Simple answer is these players would cost us ten times that now.

For me this is one of our biggest obstacles, there are no cheap players anymore.

Take Bournemouth last summer they bought players from relegated Leeds Utd & other EFL clubs, Norwich, Bristol City & Middlesboro for almost £80M. An overall net spend of around £130M and without the points deductions would have finished below us.

David West
55 Posted 26/05/2024 at 18:38:24
Dave 53. Good points!

There should also be opportunities from the academies of them 3 big clubs for us too. Not making the grade at one of them doesn't necessarily mean you won't go on to be a great player, so why don't we pick up some of their younger talents that see a better pathway to first-team football at Everton?

It's been hard to blood young players when even established international players have struggled in the Everton side of recent years, so much easier if you have the team playing well and getting results to throw in a young lad here and there.

There hasn't been a real stand-out talent since Barkley, the Branthwaite - Calvert-Lewin model is the way we need to go longer term. We generated decent fees for the likes of Simms, Cannon, Broadhead, Nkounkou.

Branthwaite may be the only truly top player from that bunch but, if we generated £70M - £90M from him, you invest in another batch of youth.

Tony Abrahams
56 Posted 26/05/2024 at 19:49:04
There is simply not a short term solution Dave, which is why you can't see one mate!

It's a bugbear of mine because I can see how important of a role the academy has played in our past and I also believe we need some real innovation so it plays a much bigger part in our future.

Dyche came into a football club that had lost most of its soul (even the most diehard of fans were on their knees – let's not kid ourselves) and had also had most of its foundations ripped apart. Until we can build them back, it's got to be backs against the wall and fight.

Charles Ward
57 Posted 26/05/2024 at 19:58:13
Wasn't Gordon at the RS until he was eleven?

The problem with the academy is twofold, it hasn't been well managed for at least a decade and with a constant turnover of managers there is no consistency in playing style for the youngsters to be trained up to.

Tony Abrahams
58 Posted 26/05/2024 at 20:11:16
Manchester City might have bent the rules and have more money than any other football club but, when it comes to sport, those Arabs have some of the best commodities which allows real foundations to be built.

They have a great deal of patience because they believe in what they are doing and have probably spent years devising their plans. Total professionalism and no real knee-jerk decisions, which allows for great stability to grow inside their football club.

You don't get stability without trust and you only get trust when you believe in something or someone.

Peter Fearon
59 Posted 26/05/2024 at 20:39:49
Andy, (50) relegated under Kompany or “saved” by Dyche isn't a Yes or No question and also has not ever been a choice.

My beef with Dyche is that he is at heart a "park the bus and pray for a miracle" manager. Even with one of the best disciplined defences in the league, those tactics are doomed over the long term. The Arsenal defeat was an excellent example of why.

Our side has to be perfect and theirs has to get it right once or twice. Our strikers have difficulty because they are isolated for much the game.

The irony is that, on the few occasions when we attack in numbers, we look dangerous and opposing teams look vulnerable. So why not play a more attacking game?

And since when has been playing attacking attractive football a “fantasy”? If they are not trying to entertain us, why are we watching?

Rob Jones
60 Posted 26/05/2024 at 21:58:01
Peter, how come we've just achieved our best set of results since Carlo Ancelotti, if Sean Dyche is so fucking limited?

The squad is mostly terrible, threadbare, and yes, we've had to rely on defensive excellence. Because other than our defensive players, we've a set of players that nobody else would want. There's a reason that, Calvert-Lewin aside, the only players anybody wants to buy are our central defenders and star goalkeeper.

It is absolutely fantasy to suggest we should be playing "attractive football" (attractive being subjective to taste, incidentally) when our playing squad is so fucking limited.

Barry Rathbone
61 Posted 26/05/2024 at 21:58:31
Chelsea pre Abramovich are the only club to perform the Lazarus act and maintain it.

Effectively bust on the verge of dropping into the old 3rd Division, they rebuilt a successful side in one go and therein lies the key.

There isn't the patience for long-term strategic development; coaches hardly last a season, it is a desperate delusion hence why it doesn't happen. One season wonders pop up but is that really our goal?

Inspired signings – Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin, Mickey Thomas, David Speedie and others transformed Chelsea in short order and promotion to the top level happened immediately. From there, Ken Bates gambled everything and bought experienced big hitters – Gullit, Hoddle, Zola, Ia Bouef, Wise, Andy Townsend, Mark Hughes, Vialli, Di Mateo etc.

If the Chelsea example shows anything, it is the importance of getting a successful team in one hit, then buy good players thought to be over the hill – but not.

After that, hope a few kids come through inspired by said stars and wait for an Abramovich to arrive.

Christine Foster
62 Posted 27/05/2024 at 00:36:29
If we looked at the Premier League 10 or even 20 years ago, you would find a very different league with a very different mix of players. The game itself has changed at this level and comparisons are difficult, if not impossible to make. There are always going to be exceptional players who would have made it no matter what team or type of league they played in, but not so all footballers.

Tackles have gone, with it the type of defenders we knew; now, it's positional play and two-touch football. Contact, no matter how minimal, is an offence, offside is measured in millimetres, handball is… well, no one can answer that anymore, linesman are there for what reason now?

The type of player in the Premier League has changed too: countering style with aggression is no longer possible, teams are encouraged, indeed have no option, but to play open football. It can be open play, such as Man City, or park-the-bus defensive play within the confines of the current attitude of play (no contact); Dyche plays KITANO because he cannot afford to do anything better with what he has.

Chelsea tore us apart, quick feet and one-touch killed us. Man City didn't, Arsenal didn't, Liverpool didn't. So his methods work against the teams with a vast array of quality, the quality we lack to compete the same way.

That also means access to quality players is limited and, if found, costs a premium. It's why the academy is important, it's why finding it elsewhere is vital, it's why you need wealth to buy it. It's why we cannot compete over all a season with those with the quality in depth.

A good example: we lose Calvert-Lewin and we have Maupay to replace him. Look at Man City's bench, one player cost more that our team it was reported... and they can replace what they have on the pitch with 5 others of the same ability while we have 2 keepers on our subs bench.

So in the main, the Premier League winners will be the ones with quality of management, players and unlimited resources. In addition, they are protected.

The Premier League has been developed to do exactly that, to become entertainment and not tribal warfare. Rules changed on and off the pitch accordingly, make it difficult if not impossible to compete.

Dyche is limited. But not because of his mentality, but because of practicality. The club is limited in any way it can assist, not just by access to players and funding, but in the very way the league adjudicates on equality and fairness. Its inbuilt corruption designed to keep the few wealthy and its model making money for them.

But both Dyche and the club are finding ways of doing what they can to stay in the league. But then so are 14 others. It's why the league as a competition is unsustainable. How will it grow without change?

Jerome Shields
64 Posted 27/05/2024 at 04:34:14
Thanks for the information on what is going on elsewhere, Robert. I tend to focus on Everton.

Everton is in the position it is in for a reason. It has been badly run both on and off the pitch. Now the result of that is self-fulfilling, with continuing protagonists still making decisions. Everton are far off the model required structurally.

Tony Abrahams
65 Posted 27/05/2024 at 09:20:51
Good post, Christine, and what I took out of it is that Sean Dyche is very limited because, at the moment, Everton Football Club are also very limited.

A match made in hell? But maybe a lot more suited to each other than most people realize.

Did the School of Science just play silky football or did they also roll up their sleeves and fight for the shirt?

I ask because the only two trophy-winning squads that I've witnessed at Everton (going into my 50th season) both knew how to roll up their sleeves and fight.

I think football is so much more aggressive than it's ever been but I suppose it's how you view aggression?

My own view is that running isn't easy and football is such an intense running game nowadays. Aggressive tackling has slowly been edged out of the game so now it's got to be all about aggressive running and that's why I keep saying I'd choose quantity over quality right now.

Dave Abrahams
66 Posted 27/05/2024 at 10:13:00

Clough was an excellent player; injury spoiled his career.

Ian Bennett
68 Posted 27/05/2024 at 10:54:34
Leeds blew it yesterday.

Will be interesting where Harrison, Summerville, Gnoto, and Gray end up, as they surely can't spend another season in the Championship.

Not a fan of Harrison, he looked lost on the right. Needs to play wide left, but he's no upgrade on McNeil.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 27/05/2024 at 11:10:24
Quantity over quantity, maybe Ian?

Look at how good Harrison played against Liverpool. He must have been good because my 10-year-old son told me he had never noticed Harrison having so much skill before and he became the first Everton player I've ever heard him praise!

Dyche runs them hard but, unless you have got quantity, then this is simply not sustainable. Let's worry about our quality, further down the line, and concentrate on quantity to improve us first!

Andy Crooks
70 Posted 27/05/2024 at 12:54:57
Dave, I agree about Clough. He would have been one of the greats as a player as well as a manager.
Steve Brown
71 Posted 27/05/2024 at 12:58:29
The issue has not been the young players per se. The lack of a strategy and instability at all levels of footballing operations (7 managers and 3 DoFs in 7 seasons) has made the development path for most young players almost impossible to navigate.

But, at least we are now raising transfer fees from departures. Simms, Cannon, Broadhead, Nkounkou and Gordon have raised £55 million in transfer fees, with a big fee coming in if Branthwaite is sold.

That is the beginning of a stable football model taking shape.

Robert Tressell
72 Posted 27/05/2024 at 14:05:12
I'll wrap up a few points in one go:

Alan # 48, not 100% I am sure what your question is – but something around the proportion of failed signings at these clubs. To that I would say have a look at their squads and judge for yourself – but their respective successes this season suggests a very low failure rate.

Contrast that with Seville (13th) and Villarreal (8th), two clubs I've looked at in the past, who have had more average seasons. Without money, you can't keep success up indefinitely, players leave and you have to accept it takes time to rebuild. But if you protect your future spending ability, then you can rebuild.

Barry #61, loads of clubs have bounced up the league with inspired signings, good strategy, good management etc. Bit peculiar to pick on a Chelsea side from over 30 years ago. The reason they stuck around is the Abramovich money. Otherwise, they'd probably have gone bust.

Tony #69, my concern with the quantity over quality is where that leads us in a few years. If we spend the Branthwaite and Onana money on a number of fairly limited players (Harrison standard), then two things happen:

1. We have a better squad overall to manage injuries etc. So that helps reinforce our position in the upper reaches of the bottom half – and maybe helps us creep into the Top 10.

2. We get to summer 2025 and summer 2026 and have no-one to sell for a big fee. Indeed, by summer 2027 some of those limited players will leave for free.

So you end up peaking at about 10th and then inevitably drop back because you've no money to reinvest in the playing sqaud.

Contrast that with the acquisition of a few (2 or 3) very high potential 18- to 21-year-olds alongside some very cheap steady eddies – and you give yourself a good chance of having a big sale each summer that allows you to materially improve the playing squad over a few years.

If Leverkusen had just spread out the proceeds of the Havertz sale on a few 26-year-old upper mid-table Bundesliga players, they would still now be a mid-table Bundesliga side.

Danny O’Neill
73 Posted 27/05/2024 at 14:37:43
Harrison's work rate has impressed me when I've watched him.

I prefer McNeil in a more central role. Roaming. His delivery is great, so I see the temptation to play him wide.

Francis van Lierop
74 Posted 27/05/2024 at 14:46:14
This is a really good thread, starting off excellently, Robert.

The clubs given as examples are the ones we should aspire to, but then we need stable leadership. Something we are clearly lacking.

Mike Gaynes
75 Posted 27/05/2024 at 16:54:03
Christine #62, that is one brilliant post. A perfect summary of the situation.

Tony #69, I have often wondered at the fierce stick that Harrison gets here. He's capable of moments of great skill -- the goal against Bournemouth was sublime -- and he has the heart of a lion. His huge problem is a total inability to win the ball, either on the ground or in the air, or keep it against stronger opponents. If there's a contest, he loses every time. But he never stops working, never stops trying. I hope he returns.

Danny #73, the problem is that Dwight's pretty crosses rarely produce goals. He's not all that accurate. I too would rather see him more in the center of the pitch, where his through balls really do create magic sometimes. He gravitated that way often last season and something good seemed to happen.

Robert #72, I see your point but I'm not sure I agree 100%. Your preferred formula works IF those promising teenagers work out, but the odds are always against it, and if they don't enhance both the team and their value, you're screwed.

And Leverkusen did, in fact, spread the Havertz money out over older players who weren't really wanted elsewhere, like Xhaka, Grimaldo and Hofmann. They just happened to get a magical manager who raised the level of these veterans to previously unapproached heights. 18 goals from Wirtz?!?! Ridiculous. That almost matched his career total. Tah had been a strictly average player for eight seasons, and Xabi convinced him he was Rudiger. Did you notice Grimaldo at Benfica? Nah, me neither. Xabi got him on a free and turned the guy into Roberto Carlos. Bayer's only real steal of a young player was Boniface.

Danny O’Neill
76 Posted 27/05/2024 at 17:59:49
I like your last paragraph, Mike.

I don't tend to fret over a player's age. A team will always be a blend of young players and experience.

Barry Rathbone
77 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:00:56
Robert @72,

Chelsea challenged and won stuff for several years prior to Abramovich – irrefutable.

I explained how and why this unique achievement occurred and it has very little to do with strategic planning of youth development — in fact, the complete opposite.

They bought oven-ready footballers to create an emerging force in the game.

Abramovich arrived later.

Perhaps you skimmed through; try re-reading…

Joe McMahon
78 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:17:36
Correct, Barry, class players such as Zola and the wonderful Gianluca Vialli who also helped Everton stay up in 1998.

Didn't Chelsea become a force under the ownership of Mathew Harding who unfortunately died in a helicopter crash?

Dale Self
79 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:18:50

What a player!

Ed Prytherch
80 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:20:23
Mike, add to Harrison's problems his inability to beat a man with the ball at his feet or to put in a good cross.

If we could trade him back to Leeds, then I would take Dan James.

Danny O’Neill
81 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:32:41
That is true, Barry. Chelsea were steadily building and progressing through from the mid-90s. Abramovich was the icing on the cake for them, but they were developing before that.

I always felt a bit for Ranieri as he came close, but they brought in Mourinho.

Dale Self
82 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:35:12
I was interrupted and so I came back to mention that sublime kick over the shoulder goal of Vialli in the Champions League final against Ajax. The keeper could only watch.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
83 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:45:30
Our real problem is we can only have 11 players on the field at any one time.

I have just seen a stat and Calvert-Lewin came top of the table for the worst differential between his xG and his actual goals. He even beat Darwin Nunez into 2nd place. His xG (however they measure it is beyond my comprehension) was 13 and he actually only netted 7. Where would we have finished if he had scored 6 more – mind you 3 of them could have been at Chelsea and the other 3 at Villa.

But that aside, how many on here will say we are a better side with him than without? So we need him, or at least a player like him in the No 9 shirt. Answer is that he is the target man and we need a goal scorer to feed off him. I hate to say it: Toshack and Keegan (yes, I am that old).

But to play 2 up front to benefit from the chances created by Calvert-Lewin means we have to play 4 in the middle and our 4 aren't good enough to play 4 and we need 5.

We are only 2 years on from David Unsworth's reign as U23s manager where he won the title on more than one occasion but his 8-year reign produced little in terms of first teamers. Yes Calvert-Lewin, Gordon and Davies plus Branthwaite - but really is that acceptable over a 10-year period for the number of academy graduates to be of Premier League standard?

There was something – I think it was Marco Silva's time – where he wanted all the teams in the club to play the same style so youngsters coming into the first XI were used to the style and did not have to do anything other than what they had been doing. Has that now stopped?

But I would also say our main problem is, when you have a team with 10 players that could probably beat the opposition, you can play a young kid and still win. Young kid gets experience, gets better, can now play as part of the eleven. When you need all 11 to win, you cannot afford to play a youngster who may be a liability.

In the same way, 10 minutes to go 1-0 or even 2-0 up and you put on a youngster who makes a goof, becomes 1-1 or 2-1 and now defending as though your life depended on it – a manager can't take the risk.

I also think we were not good at sending players out on loan. Again Branthwaite is the only success (in my view) since Coleman and Osman. We either send out players who are never going to make it to the first team or we keep those that may so they can spend the season on the bench. We never seem to send out players who transform the team for whom they are playing.

This season just gone, Reece Welch was at Forest Green Rovers who came last in League 2 and Sean McAllister was at Inverness Caledonian Thistle who were relegated after a play-off. The two young goalkeepers were at non-League sides.

Two experienced pros we had on loan to reduce the wage bill, leaving Campbell and Mills. The latter got a season-ending injury so was not in the team which won the promotion play-off while the latter started 11 of the remaining matches as his side were relegated.

So can one player make a difference? I would hope that someone who was destined to make it in the Premier League would. But it looks like none of our loanees were able to. Is that why there is not a queue outside Kevin Thelwell's office of lower league clubs desperate for our youngsters — or Sean Dyche wanting to play them???

Don't expect a quick fix.

Kieran Kinsella
84 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:51:27
Danny, Barry and Joe,

When Chelsea first improved, they did have a core of homegrown players who were decent enough for the era: Duberry, Newton, Sinclair, Shipperly.

They also bought Gavin Peacock very astutely for not a huge fee and he was their equivalent of Tim Cahill as they got to the Cup Final under Hoddle. Then they upped the ante with the fading great Gullit a year later. So the initial batch weren't all expensively signed by any means or oven ready.

And some of these guys like another homegrown Jodi Morris stuck around in the starting line-up as they in turn upped the ante with Vialli and Zola, after which spending went through the roof under Ranieri.

Liam Mogan
85 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:54:52
Re. Harrison. I find it fascinating the way fans judge and talk about players. Some will see what they can do, some will only see what they can't do. Some great posts on here both for and against.

Interesting that there are other Leeds players posters would rather have. I work in Leeds and most of their fans don't rate any of them! (Although Leeds fans are arguably even less forgiving than Toffees!)

Judging players at other clubs is difficult I find, as you don't see every minute they play, nor are you as invested - what gets your goat from one of ours, you wouldn't necessarily notice from theirs.

I watch Leeds quite a bit and watched them yesterday. I don't see any of them as an upgrade on Harrison. Probably only Archie Gray, the young 18-year-old from the Gray dynasty, has the potential to be top-class. The rest are top-of-the-Championship, bottom-of-the-Premier-League yo-yo players at best.

Dave Cashen
86 Posted 27/05/2024 at 18:58:49
To give Bates credit for anything would be as insulting to most Chelsea supporters as a supporter of another club coming on here giving Kenwright praise for his achievements.

Bates bought the club for £1. Unfortunately (for the club) he didn't have the money to take them anywhere – sound familiar?

He appealed for investment and got it in spades from a died-in-the-wool Chelsea fan.

In exchange for a place on the board, Mathew Harding invested millions of his own money on players. He built the Mathew Harding stand and he finally bought the stadium Chelsea had been renting for years.

Unfortunately, he was tragically killed in a helicopter accident shortly before Chelsea won the cup – his dream.

After Harding's death, Bates started to run the club into the ground, running up debt which had the club on the brink of going bust.

Abramovich stepped in. He paid the debt and made Bates a very wealthy man – Still sounding familiar?

Mathew Harding's untimely death ensured that he never was able to wrest Bates's trainset from him, but he is revered among Chelsea fans. They know who really stumped up the dosh.

He didn't sit in the Directors Box. He sat with them.

Danny O’Neill
87 Posted 27/05/2024 at 19:47:38
Dave, if I recall correctly, didn't Bates want to install barbed wire and even electric fences?

As if it wasn't bad enough having to stand behind the fences! I'm glad we don't have to do that anymore.

Denver Daniels
88 Posted 27/05/2024 at 19:48:55
Harrison works hard for the team and tracks back to help the right-back but his wing play is atrocious. Even when he has time and space, he refuses to put the ball in the box.

I think it's because he's a lefty and has no confidence in his right foot. I'd have liked to see what he could do from the left flank. At £90k/wk, surely Patterson could do the same job for less money.

Barry Rathbone
90 Posted 27/05/2024 at 19:54:32
Dave @86,

You appear to be getting into a chairman who brought in the wrong investment and won naff all which seems quite logical to me.

Where you get a bit strange is getting into another chairman who brought the right investment (twice) and with it unparalleled success – I just don't get it.

Danny O’Neill
91 Posted 27/05/2024 at 19:55:11
Denver, it might be that he's a left-footed player being put on the right side, so always having to check inside.

I've always been of the opinion players, especially wingers, should play on their natural side.

Robert Tressell
92 Posted 27/05/2024 at 19:59:21
Mike, just to pick you up on comment #75. Leverkusen did not spend the Havertz money on Xhaka, Grimaldo and Hofmann.

Havertz was sold in summer 2020.

Xhaka, Grimaldo and Hofmann were all bought summer 2023. And returning to the original article, the likes of Grimaldo (free) and Hofmann (low cost mature domestic league player) are also precisely the sorts of players I am suggesting we should go for alongside the talented youth.

They actually spent the proceeds of Havertz, then Bailey and then Diaby on a string of talented youth players, including:

- Frimpong
- Kossounou
- Adli
- Bakker
- Hincapie
- Hlozek
- Puerta
- Tella
- Boniface
- Artur
- Kovar

Although, as will be the case with all transfers, some of these young talents have been hit and miss, about 5 are regular starters - and Boniface, Hincapie, Frimpong and Kossounou are genuine Champions League standard players. Hlozek, Artur, Kovar and Adli may yet get there too but are still developing.

And to say Grimaldo was a nothing player is to ignore how highly sought after he's been throughout his career - close to joining big Premier League sides when he moved to Benfica from Barca, and then close to joining Premier League sides from Benfica for big money before his contract expired.

The final point I'll end on is that, of course, it is hard to find and develop players of genuine talent - and bring them through as these four clubs have done (although even with our failed trio of Lookman, Onyekuru and Vlasic we made a decent profit).

However, for a club that is skint and very reliant on sales to keep going, we know that there is pretty much a 0% chance of finding a saleable asset if we do not buy very talented young players. And if you project ahead post Branthwaite and Onana, it is very hard to see who our next big saleable asset might be.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
93 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:00:42
Radical thought:

Play Patterson at Right Back and Seamus in place of Harrison.

Denver Daniels
94 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:20:55
I agree, Danny, the manager plays him on that side, probably because McNeil is a better left-wing option. But that doesn't change the fact we get zero crosses into the box from the right most games. Even when he cuts inside onto his left, he doesn't put the ball into the box. Very strange.

When Dyche first came, McNeil played like a traditional left-winger, very direct and putting in plenty of crosses into the box. Now he seems to be cutting inside more often and crossing less. So maybe with Danjuma not returning, we could have both of those as the left-side options. If Dyche brings him back.

Dave Cashen
95 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:31:57

You're right. You don't get it.

Peter Fearon
96 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:49:50
Rob Jones (60),

Playing football with the intention of winning by scoring more goals than the opposition is not a fantasy – even for a squad that you choose to disparage. It is illogical to praise them for securing our best performances since Carlo Ancelotti and at the same time claim they are incapable of playing attacking football.

We failed to win a single match between January and April and the primary reason – for me – was the unreasonably unadventurous tactics. We do not score enough goals from open play. Surely that is undeniable.

It is not because Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Dwight McNeil or Jack Harrison or Abdoulaye Doucoure are incompetent which is essentially what you suggest. It is because we hesitate to go forward in numbers due to the manager's defense-minded mentality.

Denver Daniels
97 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:51:49

I don't think Dyche trusts Patterson at right-back. And quite frankly, neither do I. Some of the stuff he does scares the shit out of me. But he needs to play.

So if that's in the Harrison position with the intent of moving him to right-back sometime later in the season, then maybe that's an option so he's on the field at least.

Barry Rathbone
98 Posted 27/05/2024 at 20:59:57
Dave @95,

Irrational reasoning always leaves me flummoxed but I'm sure in your mind comp!aiming about both failure and success makes perfect sense.

Tom Bowers
99 Posted 27/05/2024 at 21:14:39
Evertonians can only dream about some of the players they would like to see join up during the Summer but alas it will all be about financial constraints at least for this year.

There will be some changes we all agree but who comes and who goes is anyone's guess.

Defensively we didn't do too badly apart from one or two strange results but a new right back is surely needed as Seamus and Patterson do not pass muster anymore. Mykolenko did well until his injury.

I think the biggest problem was midfield where, in too many games they were all over the shop and not playing as a unit but individually they worked their socks off.

Things picked up again after that long run of bad results especially when DCL got fit.

Hard to see where Beto and Chermitti will fit in next season but somehow I fancy Doucoure will move on as will Gomes and no-show Deli Alli.

Let's all hope we get into a safe spot early and avoid long runs without getting any points.

Up to the last month the season was a nightmare.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
100 Posted 27/05/2024 at 21:19:27
Denver - which is what Moyes did with Coleman.

Seamus first appearance was 2009-10 with 3 subs for centre-halves. The following season, he had 6 games where Hibbo also played but all his other 19 were when Pip Neville was also in the side. Of his 14 appearances in 2011-12 all but one were in midfield as Hibbert was in the side.

It was only the 2013-14 season did he make that right-back slot his own. So he had a 3-year apprenticeship before making that right-bak slot his own when he was almost 25.

Perhaps we are trying to rush things?

Andy Crooks
101 Posted 27/05/2024 at 21:25:34
Peter @ 96, you can actually answer Yes or No to this question:

In your opinion, did Dyche's "defense-minded mentality" save us from relegation?

One word will do.

Danny O’Neill
102 Posted 27/05/2024 at 21:25:36
All that matters is the players who walk onto the pitch when the season starts.

As much as I go on about witnessing the most successful Everton team, I've also seen some very poor ones. Believe me, this one is far better than others I've seen and I know it is opinion-based.

They would have almost finished on the same points that Moyes got us to the Champions League qualification stage.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
103 Posted 27/05/2024 at 21:55:44
Danny – we were on 48 points before deductions.

We got 61 points when we were 4th. That would have put us 7th this season.

World of difference.

Tony Abrahams
104 Posted 27/05/2024 at 22:03:51
If we can bring in some 18- to 21-year-olds with potential, Robert T, then that's even better, imo mate!

You make a good point about the money drying up once we have got no more quality younger players to sell but football is constantly evolving and doesn't stand still for anybody.

We need to get away from the bottom half of the table next, and I think Dyche would find this easy to achieve if he had a few more numbers in his squad.

Dave Cashen
105 Posted 27/05/2024 at 22:17:55

Bates held out the begging bowl. He got better than investment. He got backing from a fan who wanted no return for his investment. Harding's backing did not come as a loan. He just put up the dosh as a fan.

Without a Harding. Bates would have taken Chelsea to the wall.

Without a Harding. He did take Leeds to the wall. He is despised by the fans of both clubs.

I'm not complaining about both success and failure. I'm sure thats obvious (to anybody else). I'm simply pointing out the glaring comparisons to be drawn about two owners (Bates and Kenwright) who both put themselves above their clubs and who both walked away with millions more than they were ever prepared to put in.

Using Chelsea as a model for Everton (or any other club) to follow kinda proves you dont get it.

Mathew Hardings do not grow on tree's. Other wise we`d all have one

Tony Abrahams
106 Posted 27/05/2024 at 22:27:41
He died on the way home from a Chelsea away game, if my memory is correct, Dave?

Harding was a true Chelsea supporter, who was only interested in what was best for the club he loved, and it was tragic that he died (aged 42) – just before Chelsea started winning things.

Don Alexander
107 Posted 27/05/2024 at 23:53:08
Christine (#62), what a brilliant post (again).

Our club now has years to endure before it ever gets even a chance of trophy-winning, courtesy of Moshiri's (ongoing) buffoonery and the man he trusted (and, yes, some Toffees trusted the self-serving shyster too for some weird reason(s) – what the hell?!)

And, now most disgustingly, the craven attitude of the Premier League acquiescing to the perennial Top Six who get away with murder compared to those clubs they now deem "small" (and never forget that, pre-Kenwright, we were deemed a Top Six club by that very same Premier League).

Football is now thoroughly corrupt, weekly inadequately "led", and as a spectacle is like watching a plank warp unless, as a fan of the "Top Six", you get off on seeing your team doing the football equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

Forecast next season's top six folks, and six actively trying to evade relegation. If Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea ain't in the former, and we ain't in the Bottom Six (again), I'll eat my filo-pastry hat!

Mid-table will involve several other clubs also just too boring to even mention. So there!

Kieran Kinsella
108 Posted 28/05/2024 at 00:09:06

Where Dave gets strange is calling himself 'Dave' instead of 'Darren'.

James Hughes
109 Posted 28/05/2024 at 09:47:13
What is strange is your ongoing obsession with Darren.
Tony Abrahams
110 Posted 28/05/2024 at 10:05:28
I miss Darren Hind. Dave is his mate and a lot more measured and calm but I miss the way Darren used to return those volleys & smashes on a regular basis.

Remembering that old Des Walker, I often used to smile and think the same thing about Darren!

Danny O’Neill
111 Posted 28/05/2024 at 10:43:14
Bring back Darren!

I had a few runs in with him over Ancelotti but we made our peace. We have many different opinions on here and sometimes it gets heated.

I've spoken with Dave and messaged him last night. As he eloquently put it, we all want what is best for the club, we just have different ways of showing or expressing it.

Barry Rathbone
112 Posted 28/05/2024 at 10:50:56
Dave @105,

The obvious counter-argument is, without Bates, would Harding have turned up?

As you concede it was Bates who activated proceedings (begging bowl!!)

Chelsea fans don't hate Bates, they recognise him I'm as a bizarre maverick who nonetheless saved the club and set them on the path to success.

Tony Abrahams
113 Posted 28/05/2024 at 11:01:54
Without Harding, Bates, would have had to sell, but probably like Bill Kenwright, he was only really interested in investors.

Peter Johnson, lost a fortune,(if not on Everton, on investing in cheesy chips🤦‍♂️) as will Farhad’s Master, but stuck in the middle of these two owners, was a man who made a fortune whilst delivering us into a world that was previously unknown to the once great Everton fc.

Lose money? Not Bill. Win trophies? Not Bill. Split the fan base by lowering the narrative, and letting them fight, whilst you wait for the perfect investor? That’s Bill, the finest player, never to kick a ball, for Everton Football club.

Kevin Molloy
114 Posted 28/05/2024 at 11:11:39
I sometimes wonder if Evertonians have been subject to a mass MK Ultra mind meld experiment in cognitive dissonance.

'Yes, tell them they've got no money, but at the same time show them a stadium that they're getting which will cost a billion pounds. Show them pictures every few days, but tell them they've got no money. That should do it.'

Dave Cashen
115 Posted 28/05/2024 at 17:27:16
Always amusing watching somebody dig deeper and deeper.

James MacGlashan
116 Posted 28/05/2024 at 17:51:54
Isn't Girona part of the Man City set up?
Peter Fearon
117 Posted 28/05/2024 at 21:46:07
Andy Crooks (101),

This season? No. For all the talk about the points deduction, the real trouble were the much greater number of points left on the field between January and April.

It was only when we opened up and became more adventurous against Liverpool and clubs who were much closer to relegation than we were that we picked up a bagful of points.

I'm not saying Dyche hasn't tightened up the defence a great deal but we can't only be a club that aspires to safety.

Tony Abrahams
118 Posted 29/05/2024 at 09:53:16
Do you think the effort our very small squad put into retrieving those points, in the grueling month of December, contributed to our downfall over the next few months Peter?

I’m aware that you saw changes when we allegedly opened up towards the end of the season, but I didn’t really see this if I’m being honest Peter.

The Forest result enabled everyone to relax, and we put in a fantastic hardworking and disciplined display against Liverpool, but other than that, the only difference towards the end of the season, was that the results went our way a bit more.

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