Can We Be The Surprise Team?

by   |   21/07/2023  79 Comments  [Jump to last]

Brentford – with Brighton and Aston Villa in the frame – did it last season and it happens every season. What about us, with Sean Dyche unloading the stale, not-up-to-it, and gimpish ones, with seemingly a few quid squirrelled away if rumoured bids are true? 

The differential between top players and the level below seems not that great; it doesn't seem to be about ability but whose books they were on. Unheralded young players with a modicum of ability and desire must be around somewhere and, if we can get a few, it isn’t a massive step to give challenging clubs a bloody nose.  

The club drives me up the wall, to be honest, but I know there is something different here. Leicester had a better team but were relegated because they didn’t have it. It is an entity. 

“The Everton Entity” (Rathbone dictionary): 

Article continues below video content

“A visceral defiance when faced with oblivion, a circling of the wagons, bristling with fire and determination, the epitome of “they shall not pass” — fearsome, indomitable. With eyes strained in narrow focus and the cathedral at full volume, the spirits of Labone, Ball, Kendall, Dean, Hickson, Young, Gabriel and so many more will be seen marching with the lads to Z-Cars. It stems from roots being deeper into the soil than almost any other, with a glorious history that can never be erased.” 

It is in our gift to unleash this precious entity and inspire.  

If we can, mere prevailing will be an afterthought; we will rise again.  

Unleash the entity, it is our time to be that team.

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Reader Comments (79)

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Dupont Koo
1 Posted 22/07/2023 at 00:41:21
Hope springs eternal, Barry! I'm totally with you.

Just a quick run-down on our depth chart (without youngsters like the 2 Lewises and Cannon who are more likely to be benefited with season-long loans):

Goalies (3):

Right Back (2):

Left Back (2):

Centre Back (5):

Centre Midfield (6):

Right Wing (1):

Left Wing (3):

Striker (2):

In short, still a bit unbalanced. Even without our precarious financial situation, we might be just one or two loan signings away from filling out the squad (another pacey right-winger and a striker who can head a ball properly, after confirming Danjuma).

Like a lot of Evertonians have pointed out, Dyche likes to keep a small and compact line-up with an occasional promotion of youngsters (like McNeil & Nathan Collins when they were 19), a la Moyes's time before Yakubu's arrival (that was the time when Billy Liar began to borrow from various loan sharks to try shopping at the Harrod's instead of Tesco).

"The minimum requirement is maximum effort."

I am cautiously optimistic that Dyche can have this team surprising a few others in the Premier League.

Dupont Koo
2 Posted 22/07/2023 at 00:53:36
Can't believe I left out Doucouré — in a manner worse than Lampard did!
Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 22/07/2023 at 01:00:22

I love the article, mate. Plenty of folks give you the elbow on here for some of your sardonic posts. But to me, you're like the darker version of Colin Glassar. Both intelligent, both insightful… just one is a little more prone to dark pragmatism.

Anyway, I for one am unsurprised to see a bit of optimism from you even if delivered in your classic "glass half-empty" style.

Ernie Baywood
4 Posted 22/07/2023 at 05:49:37
Dupont, I don't think Dyche is there to surprise anyone. He's not the surprising type. He's steady, he's consistent.

We're going to go one of two ways.

Sink without a trace, as we were doing under Lampard –remembering that he also gave us some hope after avoiding the drop. History may well repeat.

Or else, we might be hard to beat and just avoid relegation.

It's inconceivable to me that we do anything else. And I still think the former is more likely than the latter. The squad isn't getting any better. Why would we improve?

Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 22/07/2023 at 06:26:53
Why not, Barry?

I would add West Ham to that list.

It wasn't long ago, even last season, that they were in the relegation mix. A modest 14th position finish only 4 points above an Everton team that survived on the last day. They had a negative goal difference, but won a European trophy and are in Europe again next season.

So again, why not?

Sean Roe
6 Posted 22/07/2023 at 06:58:28
This team, even with a few additions, would be relegated under Lampard.

With Dyche in charge, we will at least be fit, organised and hard to beat. We still don't have much in terms of quality but I think we can finish mid-table.

I expect the usual Top 6 or 7 will be the same, Chelsea and them others to have a better season than last, and the likes of Brighton, Fulham and Brentford to drop off a bit.

Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:31:18
To add, it wasn't long ago that some were lauding how good Southampton were. How exciting Leeds were. The miracle of Leicester. How we should be like them. Others may mention Fulham due to promotion and a decent season.


All of them have done what I've seen them do in my lifetime. Got relegated again. West Brom, Norwich, even Wolves (padlocks on the gates of Molineux in the 4th tier of English football). Yo-yo clubs.

The list could go on. Dare I say, even the likes of Manchester City (3rd tier at one point not so long ago) and Chelsea. Although they obviously benefited from and took advantage of the modern game with their finances, so won't be in that situation any time soon. But in the context of time, Manchester United in 1974? Who would have thought that at the time? Tottenham in 1977. Villa about 3 times since the 80s and Newcastle their equals.

It will be interesting to see how West Ham get on without their talisman Declan Rice. Yes, they got good money, but as we've seen, how you invest it is the big question. Big loss for them in my opinion.

Brighton and Brentford are the next model we are apparently measuring ourselves against. How long will they sustain it for? One is a provincial club, losing some of their best players and the manager that guided them. The other a club surrounded by Chelsea, and the other more prominent London clubs. I like Brentford, it's a good day out and reminds me of Fulham.

I don't know if they can or will sustain it, but I respect what they have both achieved and wish them well. Especially Brighton, as my last two trips to the south coast of East Sussex gave us 6 points and an aggregate score of 7-1!!

So again, no. I measure us against Everton and the standards we want for Everton. No one else matters.

It can be done, Barry. Anything is possible. I know I repeat myself a lot, but the winter of 1983. Who saw what was about to happen coming?

We just didn't sustain it and build on it. But we are still here and can do it.

Steve Brown
8 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:33:52
Sorry to be a doom merchant – normally I'm not.

If we don't sign a quality striker, central attacking midfielder, centre-back, and full-back, we will be in the same scrape as we have been for the last 2 seasons.

Sweat doesn't offset lack of quality, no matter how fit Dyche gets the squad.

Lee Courtliff
9 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:34:23
Absolutely possible, just like 2004-05 when we finished 4th.

This team won't be pretty to watch, mostly, but – if we can be hard to beat, super fit and avoid injuries – then why not? Like you say, it happens every season for some team.

Small squad won't bother Dyche one bit but we do need a couple more as a minimum. I'm no big fan of Dyche but he gave a great interview after the Bournemouth game so I've decided to change my attitude towards him, concentrate on what he can do well for us rather than focus on his shortcomings.

There's no point in being negative all the bloody time.

Steve Brown
10 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:35:32
I am looking forward to the entity bursting out though.

It will be like a scene from Alien.

Tony Everan
11 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:38:29
Barry, thanks for the article, we need the positivity.

It's all romantic guff, we need to stick to the science. Teams like Nottingham Forest, with their league wins and European Cup glories, that didn't stop them sinking into oblivion for 20 years.

The unprecedented support and defiance of our fans will not always work; it's wrong to expect it to by default. Make no mistake, under Lampard, we were sunk without a trace.

Now Sean Dyche is here, the basics are being taught again. Hard training, hunger for the game, and crystal-clear understanding of roles and formation. All these aspects are way better than Lampard. Literally in a different league!

So for us to be that ‘breakout team' next on the list is players. We've got the best fans, we've finally got the right manager.

Already we've seen Dyche and his team turning Doucouré around, McNeil from bewildered under Frank to a dangerous, key player under Dyche. More players will improve for his regimen. The players who we sign will be better targeted and screened to be sure to fit into the hard-working environment and the players we have got will go up a level.

So, it's a big Yes from me that we can be that team. With the caveat that Dyche and Thelwell are backed by the board to the maximum, to get the three or four players in who they want without compromising too much.

If we hit the bullseye with these three or four players, then the ingredients are there for a solid top-half finish and a blazing cup run. Nothing wrong with dreaming for more than that.

The three players? Danjuma – not a bad start on a loan deal. The priority, still, is getting the quality striker in to properly challenge Calvert-Lewin. The third I think we need, is a centre-back to challenge, share with Branthwaite (who may be not quite physically ready to be expected to play 40+ games).

It was striking how Mina affected the team when he played so we need to replicate that through Branthwaite, in conjunction with the third important signing.

With our financial constraints none of this is easy, but with the other crucial aspects in place, it's not impossible to get some shrewd transfer business done.

As we speak, it's just Danjuma in at the moment, a good start, but ultimately the season ahead will be largely determined by the incomings over the next three or four weeks.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 22/07/2023 at 07:50:47
I absolutely loved that paragraph under the Everton identity (Rathbone dictionary) but it deeply saddened me for obvious reasons.
Derek Thomas
13 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:06:35
Ernie @ 4;

"I don't think Dyche is there to surprise anyone. He's not the surprising type. He's steady, he's consistent."

'Steady and consistent' this coming season will do nicely – and it will be a very welcome surprise too.

Kevin Edward
14 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:10:53
I agree with Barry that's it's possible that we can overachieve, compared with low expectations of a similar scrap as seen in the last two seasons.

For me, it's all about the manager influencing the mentality of the squad, and Dyche can do it with a small group of players.
The problem is ability and fitness, some of this bunch (a decreasing number thankfully) are average at best.

I'd be happy with a ‘surprising' comfortable upper-mid-table finish, and a decent cup run, with a derby win at Goodison.
Something to build on, followed by another step up to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

This clearly ignores the reality of the financial mess, which it seems will have a massive drag (downwards) factor. But it's pre-season optimism all the way & UTFT.

David Bromwell
15 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:30:44
Sorry but our squad looks paper thin.

At present, we don't have a proven back up goalkeeper, surely messers Gomes and Gbamin will move on leaving us short in midfield. I am not sure how we can afford to keep Dele, and in my view he represents a huge gamble if we include him in the squad. And of course we are desperate for someone who can score goals and will be fit and strong enough to play regularly.

Sure Dyche will have the players organised and hard to beat but we have been desperately poor now for two seasons and with our present squad I cannot see things improving.

Sadly I am no longer a romantic as far as our Club are concerned. I believe we are in for another hard season and I can see loads of games where we play with spirit and effort only to be beaten by better quality teams in the end.

If we can off load a few more who we have seen repeatedly fail in the past, and bring in 3 or 4 new players with promise, I would feel a whole lot better. Here's hoping…

Steve Shave
16 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:40:33
A surprising burst of optimism from you there, Barry, but I appreciated the article and the sentiment, thank you for posting.

Kevin, you say you'd be happy with a comfortable upper-mid-table finish? I think we'd all be over the moon with that, bud!

I think there is a possibility (albeit small) that Barry's prediction comes true. I mean, everyone is writing us off, the media seems to dislike us quite intensely and revels in our misery. Outside expectations are low.

Dyche will have had last season to assess the squad properly and a full pre-season with the team. He will get them fitter than they have been collectively for years.

IF we can get a decent back-up to Calvert-Lewin (Dia, Dembele, Beto or someone of Bilal-Touré's quality and potential) and as Dupont rightly states above, a grafting right-winger with end product. Then who knows? I don't agree with Dupont that we need another centre-back, unless one leaves.

The squad is thin, we need more players, personally along with the striker and winger I'd go for Maitland-Niles on a free, a utility player who can fill gaps that will inevitably emerge in our paper-thin squad.

We potentially have outside expectations on our side, the work continues to need to be done on managing 'inside' expectations. Some will accuse me (and have repeatedly) of falling for the Kenwright narrative around expectations, I have not brought anything that charlatan has said for many years.

However, we might be a special "entity" as Barry puts it, we certainly have romance and history behind us. Saying that, with the move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock,we really need to reinvent ourselves and along with that, our expectations of a club in huge transition.

We need to reinvent the transfer model, the youth policy, investment in young talent, lose the board! This will take time, it will require us to aim for safety first, mid-table mediocrity for some time. We will be laden with further debt which we will need to consolidate.

I believe, if the fans can truly get behind the idea that this needs to happen, then with our untouchable support we could we find a way out of this shit show. Looking forward to Fulham now. COYB!

Eddie Dunn
17 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:49:29
There isn't a great deal between all of the teams in the bottom half of the table. A couple of useful additions can get us to the upper half of that lower tier.

The defence can cope with most opposition even when featuring Keane. It is our lack of goals that has been our biggest problem.

Watching us hang on to narrow one-nil leads was very bad for my blood pressure. An ability to score more than once gives the side that little bit of leeway. Knowing that, if you concede, the game is up is something that we have to overcome.

With a fit Dominic and the arrival of Danjuma, we could see a much more effective team. The performance at Brighton was indicative of what is possible.

We lack cover for Calvert-Lewin (but Danjuma gives us an option) but our biggest problem is the lack of cover in the squad. Garner was our best player, once he got over his injury but I don't want to see him wasted playing at right-back. I want another midfield player to cover the loss of lads to the Afcon.

We won't be knocking on the door for Europa but I do expect us to be around 10th to 14th.

An outside shout for the Top 6 could be Aston Villa.

Danny Baily
18 Posted 22/07/2023 at 08:51:30
With a bit of luck, we can stay up without the need to worry about the run-in. But we're not surprising anyone with a midtable finish next time out. We'll need a proper striker and a creative midfielder for that.
Barry Hesketh
19 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:05:55
Barry is right, the roots of Everton, do indeed run deep, and that's what has got us out of so many holes too many times. I see in Dyche the type of man and manager that will demand greater effort by everybody connected to the staff and players, regardless of ability or reputation. As somebody said above, it won't be pretty, but it may prove effective, but after seven years of mostly abject stuff on show, we have grown pretty used to ugly football.

I can't predict how next season will pan out, as there are possibly only eight clubs who can seriously compete for Europe, and the rest will either be down amongst the doom gang or constantly looking over their shoulders to see how close they are to the trap-door.

As always, every goal and every point will be hard-earned, and each and every team will hope to avoid injuries to important players, whilst also hoping that they get the rub of the green with the vagaries of VAR.

The good thing is we start on equal footing with the rest of the division, how it goes from there, is anybody's guess.

Sam Hoare
20 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:07:26
It seems that there are more and more well run clubs in the league. Brighton and Brentford spring to mind in recent years but the likes of Villa and of course Newcastle have turned the corner in the last year or so too.

Burnley seem to be going about business well and it will be interesting to see how West Ham spend the rice money.

As with others the only thing that gives me hope is Dyche. I think he’s the best fitting manager we’ve had since Moyes and I absolutely think it’s possible he and we could surprise a few people this season.

But the margins are small and much could hang on the fates, will DCL be able to stay fit? Will Branthwaite adjust to the step up? Will Patterson prove himself to Dyche?

Much will of course depend on who else we can bring in but I think Young and Danjuma for very little outlay is a great start and already gives us a good amount of cover. A DCL alternative feels crucial.

I feel more optimistic now than I have for a few seasons. Even though our squad and finances look thinner than ever we have moved beyond the disastrous and badly thought out appointments of Benitez and Lampard and I’m looking forward to seeing a hard working team who are press intelligently and get the ball forward quickly.

I think 15-16th would be decent this season (hopefully without being too close to 18th!) and 13-14th would be good. I think best case scenario is probably around 9th or 10th and anything above that would be borderline miraculous.

Rob Halligan
21 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:12:48
Think I need to visit specsavers. I've read this article about three or four times now, and I keep on seeing the name Barry Rathbone as the author. It's the kind of article that you may see the likes of myself, or Danny, Brent and one or two others with positive thoughts compose, but Barry? Absolutely love it Barry, well done.

We've been to hell and back a few times in the past few years, but are still around to fight another day. As some may say (ie the RS), we are like a bad smell that won't go away, we've been lingering around for too long, I suppose just waiting for the inevitable, but that's not going to happen. Stability is what's required, and under Dyche we may finally have that stability, on the pitch anyway. We're not out of the woods just yet, not by a long way. We still have the leech that is Kenwright hanging around, but getting rid of DBB, Ingles and Sharpie (why did you get involved mate?) was a start.

Amazing to think that out of our last seven away games last season, we only lost one, Man Utd. Ok, we only won one, but those five all important draws helped us over the line. The one major thing lacking was a goalscorer. Get one or two in, and we turn those draws into wins, those losses into draws.

We can, and will, be better than your Brightons, Brentfords, Fulhams and all those other wannabes (Newcastle and “Big club my Arse” Spurs), but it will take time. Get the new investment in, finish BMD, then a takeover, and watch the Phoenix rise from the ashes. We haven't spent the last seventy years in the top flight without good reason. We've had good teams, and bad, there's no denying that, but we've also got the best supporters around, who deserve success more than anyone. This club can, and will, provide that success, but as I say, it will take time. So for now, stability on the pitch is what's required. No more chopping and changing the manager. Let Dyche and his crew do their job and we “Can be that Surprise team”

Now then, where's the nearest Specsavers!!

Colin Glassar
22 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:21:25
Barry, I think you should take advantage of the Hollywood writer's strike and get in some of your own sci-fi fantasy scripts. You'll make a bomb… not literally – but you know what I mean.
Paul Tran
23 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:33:42
Good piece this. I'd say as realistic as optimistic.

Too many underestimate the value of consistently doing the simple things well. It might not be 'sexy', might not seem so exciting, but it's the bedrock of success in most walks of life.

Doing those things in the second half of last season kept us up. I thought it would.

What Dyche did in those 6 months of last season should shame his predecessors. On that basis, I'm not even thinking about relegation.

I'm not excited about us finishing in the midtable spot I think we'll finish. I'm excited about the possibility of these good habits sticking and producing a team with the passion, nous, and the odd sparkling display that makes me think my Everton is slowly returning.

Kevin Molloy
24 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:34:05
I think we can. They've surprised us already if you think about it.

Did anyone think Graeme Sharp and Denise Barrett-Baxendale would have the cheek to be taking millions out of the club?

Did anyone think they'd have the cheek to still not sign a striker with just a couple of weeks to season's start?

There's lots of surprises to go, too.

Brendan McLaughlin
25 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:45:29
My, my...

It's been quite a few seasons since someone penned an article suggesting Everton might be the surprise team for the upcoming season.

Didn't expect to see one appear quite this soon under Dyche and am even more surprised given who penned it... Nice one, Barry.

Laurie Hartley
26 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:45:44
I enjoyed your article very much, Barry.

Eddie # 17 ,“The performance at Brighton was indicative of what is possible”. That is a thought that keeps going through my head.

In my opinion, Calvert-Lewin was the catalyst for that remarkable improvement in the performance of the team. This leads me to believe that, if this squad think they have someone up front that can convert chances, they will raise their game accordingly.

Just need to bring that additional “someone” in – someone with a proven track record of scoring goals.

Paul Birmingham
27 Posted 22/07/2023 at 09:59:12
Barry, El Positivo, zackly… and if you believe you can, you will win your battles, as in daily life.

I've said several times over the last month, I believe Everton are set up to do a job, which they will do this season. Dyche has made a massive difference to the mentality of the squad.

A good start always helps but the stoic spirit of the last season will add to the resolve to do better this season. A few new signings and Everton are in the mix, and anything can happen.

It's a funny old game.

Poxy weather but let's see who plays at Wigan today. I've heard strong rumours this week of Ross Barkley coming back… let's see.

The likes of Iwobi and Gana will be unavailable in January due to the African Cup of Nations, so that could be a tough month.


Robert Tressell
28 Posted 22/07/2023 at 10:02:00
A stirring article, Barry. I thought you'd lost all hope judging from many of your recent posts.

I was really impressed with Dyche last season. He improved the morale of a squad at rock bottom, kept reinventing the side as injuries bit very hard, and managed to find attacking threat out of nowhere.

He absolutely could make us the surprise package next season but there are two conditions to this:

1. We do need to recruit effectively, especially in attacking positions. Maybe two in attack and a couple more to provide a bit of depth.

2. We need some luck with injuries (a bit like Leicester when they won the Premier League playing more or less the same First XI each week).

If all that materialises, then it wouldn't surprise me at all to see us really kick on – with players like Mykolenko, Godfrey, Branthwaite and Onana showing the same sort of improvement we saw from McNeil, Patterson and Garner after a pre-season with Dyche.

Andy Crooks
29 Posted 22/07/2023 at 10:10:35
Tell you what, Barry, you're your own man!

That quote from the Rathbone dictionary suggests you are ToffeeWeb's Dr Johnson. Nice article.

What next, a biography of Bill Kenwright? What would be a good title?

Jerome Shields
30 Posted 22/07/2023 at 10:20:05

The Everton entity you write about is fueled by the determination of the fans to put pressure on Everton to be accountable both on and off the pitch. The off-the-pitch management knew they were not wanted and stayed away from Goodison Park, which fans felt was necessary for the good of the club.

The fans never gave up on trying to motivate the players. The manager was largely supported. Those that did not play well were left in no doubt that it was not acceptable.

To an extent in the coming season, what you expect will happen. Dyche has had more time to galvanise the squad and put more time into the way he wants them to play.

To go to the next level, we need a upgrade in performance, but ideally the wish list would be a scoring striker, an athletic centre-back and Maginn or Maddison in midfield.

We would also need further changes at board level, since the current board would not want to be under FPP rules, having had so much self-inflicted problems with Profitabilit and Sustainability rules.

Rob Dolby
31 Posted 22/07/2023 at 10:30:20
Momentum is everything in sport, we need to get off to a decent start to the season and see what happens.

Can Onana improve after his average first season in the Premier League?

Will Garner get more game time in centre-midfield?

Will Dyche and Co unearth goals from somewhere other than back-post corners?

A fit Calvert-Lewin makes a massive difference to us but competition is needed. I suppose we will see soon enough.

Steve Byles
32 Posted 22/07/2023 at 11:23:19
I think we're all beginning to realise Dyche was the huge step forward for us last season.

Frank was a complete failure as we know, but I felt the rot set in with Koeman, lazy arrogant money grabbing shit. He created the mindset in the players that only Dyche is now beginning to reverse.

Ralph Basnett
33 Posted 22/07/2023 at 11:30:45
We do well up to October, we get a points deduction; we don't do well up to October, we get a massive fine and transfer ban, so we can't recruit out of trouble in January – and you believe we can be the surprise team.

The only thing that would surprise me would be if we do not get relegated this time around. We have diced with relegation two seasons on the trot without a forward and still think we can stay up for a third time without one.

Frog-faced cum dribble Kenwright has been left in charge of negotiating any transfer deals — which means we are basically fucked.

How's that for a surprise!!!!

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 22/07/2023 at 11:35:32

Saul turned into Paul? Keep it up, mate!

Laurie Hartley
35 Posted 22/07/2023 at 11:57:36
Ralph 33 - “third time?” - no problem - practice makes perfect 😉
Steve Shave
36 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:14:14
Steve Byles @32, exactly! The appointments of Koeman and Walsh is where it all started and we never recovered from the disastrous splurge that followed.
Laurie Hartley
37 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:19:32
Paul # 27 - interesting comment about Barkley - I always thought he was played out of position. Two footed and scores from outside the box?

Tony Abrahams
38 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:30:40
I remember an interview with Barkley, when he said he thought his best position was centre forward!
Barry Rathbone
39 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:32:09
Thanks chaps, a bit bowled over by the positive reaction to be honest.

Despite being Mr Curmudgeon I do recognise the fact (and I like facts) that, come what may, we have a remarkable knack of fighting the odds.

The piece was an amalgam of an answer I gave to a Sunderland fan daring to ask "how do Everton keep beating the drop?". After giving the full lecture I realised the club will never leave me - even if sometimes I'd like to leave it - it just can't happen.

Yes, some is emotion and likely based on hope but it just so happens we're better at those things than anyone else. There is a pride in being an Evertonian and though I regularly set off against the flow here that essential pride remains as it does with all no matter the disparate views.

I've said it before but maybe it needs repeating - we are unequivocally the eternal flame of English football. Part of the "originals" succeeding when others fell away. The Hollywood line "we will not go quietly into the night" was written for this club.

Arrive by boat, plane or train it matters not a jot. Because of it a threshold approaching Goodison will imperceptibly make the blood pump faster, conversation a tad stilted and walking more urgent. Crossing Queens Drive under the flyover did it for me every time, it is battle mode and will never change. It is why the element of surprise can never be ruled out from this club.

We can do it - we really can

Russelll Smith
40 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:35:39
Considering what he inherited, I thought Dyche improved us immeasurably from the turgid football that the previous two (and the end of Ancelloti's brief reign) had produced. Our attacking play was markedly improved, we just didn't have a striker to finish off tons of opportunities that we created.

People who are saying we will be steady but boring are in for a surprise. A decent backup to Calvert-Lewin together with Danjama will improve our scoring abilities, and I expect Dom will feature more regularly this season.

We will unleash the entity!!

Tom Bowers
41 Posted 22/07/2023 at 12:41:11
Anything can happen in football, so why not?

We Evertonians are forever the eternal optimists, it seems, no matter what… but, when you are at the bottom, the only way is up, as they say.

They certainly showed some spirit in a few games after Dyche came aboard and beating the likes of Arsenal, Brentford and Brighton showed that plus that battling performance against Bournemouth.

The squad still appears sound despite some departures but obviously, to be competitive, you have to win more games and you need goalscorers to do that which is where we are lacking at present.

Maybe a couple more signings will help and maybe a youngster breaking through but without a striker, à la Shearer, it may be a struggle again.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 22/07/2023 at 13:08:04
Your fist-pumping is coming through because you have lived it, Barry, but trust me when I say that there were many times during last season when the fans just ‘couldn't believe'.

Didn't or don't believe and couldn't or can't believe are similar but different, and when the board failed to turn up against Southampton, the song the fans sang at the end of the game was very, very telling imo.

"You're Not Fit To Wear The Shirt" – didn't sound good, but it was the final proof that the exasperated fans had finally had enough at the lack of heart and fight, and the lack of desire, will and leadership.

I used to hear people talking on phones coming away from Goodison, all saying the same thing. "We are down, there's nothing there," whilst slowly trying to convince themselves that it wasn't the end of the world. (It nearly fucking was, because thousands of Evertonians genuinely bleed blue.)

Dyche came in and slowly began to introduce something that we had lost, something that I have always believed to be Everton Football Club's greatest commodity. He started introducing pragmatism. Looking back to that Bournemouth game right now, then I believe it was this newly found pragmatism that helped us grind out the hard-fought one-nil victory, whilst playing without a recognized centre-forward, because the only one deemed good enough was injured, and the manager didn't trust the two who started on the bench.

I believe that Dyche will prove to be a better manager than Moyes, and just hope and pray that we get the changes in the boardroom, because nothing will change otherwise, imo.

Bill Gall
43 Posted 22/07/2023 at 13:14:59
To me, we are aiming for a mid-table position and, with more firepower brought in on the forward line, this should be achieved. Most of our problems in previous seasons have been replacing injured players; with the squad that is slowly being assembled, it is starting to solve that problem in defense and midfield.

We are starting to get coverage on the wings but we are definitely weak in attacking goalscorers at either winger or striker. Financially strapped a striker is needed, not to provide coverage for Calvert-Lewin if he is fit, but good enough to replace him even if he is fit. To improve, you have to have competition for places not just someone who can step in to cover an injury.

With Dyche, this is what he seems to aim for, not building around an individual but forcing the better players to fight for their positions. Individuals may get the points but it needs a team to get them.

Dave Abrahams
44 Posted 22/07/2023 at 13:50:52
Barry (39), Your first post was surprising but good, your second one was better and as you say the nearer you get to Goodison Park on match days the more you feel the pull of being an Evertonian.

I loved to watch old Everton fans, one myself now, getting to the game late and hearing the sound of “ Z Cars” see them pick their feet up and literally dance to their seats.

Maybe those days are not far away.

Barry Rathbone
45 Posted 22/07/2023 at 14:18:09
Tony 42

I understand fans' despair particularly those, like your good self, who regularly attend. Descent has been almost constant for decades and the case for a culmination of our demise these past 2 seasons compelling

But here's the thing - we survived.

In that respect we're as hard as nails the embodiment of the quote “Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.” I reckon a slight improvement on the pitch ( I feel Dyche can do it) will bring things together pretty quickly.

A bumpy ride for sure. it always is, but we will deal with it because we always do and that’s a fact

Dave 44

There really is nothing to compare with that hair standing on the back of your neck spine tingling moment.

Tony Abrahams
46 Posted 22/07/2023 at 14:53:11
As the saying goes Barry, - we are fuckin Everton aren’t we, and as the song says, - we shall not be moved
Andy Crooks
47 Posted 22/07/2023 at 17:04:15
Can I report to the moderators: Barry Rathbone's account has been hacked and it's just wrong.
Dale Self
48 Posted 22/07/2023 at 17:26:11
Nicely done, Barry. Fighting against the odds is all Everton has ever been to me. We have enough, whether motivated by unjust circumstances or this being first light, that we could see some chemistry completely surprise the shit out of opposing teams. Perhaps a few discerning fans will capitulate as well.
Steve Johnston
49 Posted 22/07/2023 at 17:55:02
Andy Crooks @29,

I reckon the luvvie's biography would be called Kenwright: Upwards Now Toffees.

Danny O’Neill
50 Posted 22/07/2023 at 21:48:53
Andy Crooks @29,

1. Boys Pen Memories (from the Kop)
2. The Good Times

When are you next over?

Paul Kossoff
51 Posted 22/07/2023 at 23:30:20
Well said, Barry. Our sleeping giant has slumbered too long now, it's about time to wake up and take our place as a top club again.
Kieran Kinsella
53 Posted 23/07/2023 at 06:23:00
Rob Halligan

I think with Barry Rathbone you miss the point that you are two sides of the same coin. You're both Evertonians irrationally emotionally connected to this club. But you're out there at the away games and your function is to cheer on whoever turns out, hoping against hope they can get a result.

And yourself, Danny, Brent and my mate Neil Copeland have inspired many a miracle. Barry on the other hand is like an insurance agent. A necessary evil looking at stats and preparing for the worst. Nobody wants to naively be led astray and gallop down a rabbit hole of failure in blissful ignorance.

So Barry is the proverbial canary in the coal mine with legitimate qualms. Where it gets complicated is that the likes of yourself help inspire the team to over-achieve so folks like Barry seem like alarmist “the end is nigh” sandwich-board carriers.

But if you, Danny, Brent, Neil and Co didn't keep the uber-positivity going away from home, then logically the pragmatists like Barry would be proven right.

So Barry, Hewitt, Kossoff, Edwards and Co aren't in opposition to you. They are just calling it how it looks on paper before our extraordinary away fans step in and drive the team to work miracles.

Personally, having been on ToffeeWeb for more than 20 years, I find myself torn between you, Neil and Co. And the complete opposite of Barry, Paul Hewitt and Co. In truth, both groups are in the right – just viewing it from a different perspective and serving a different purposes on matchday.

The only fans I don't have time for personally are the likes of Richard Dodd, Terry White, and I reluctantly add Karl Masters as previously he made some good posts but, as of late, he seems more interested in Kenwright than Everton.

Danny O’Neill
54 Posted 23/07/2023 at 07:36:41
I like that, Kieran. Very balanced.

We all make emotional posts, whichever side of the fence we sit on, but want the same thing.

Barry's post was great. Then you get emotional fools like me. Wait until we beat Fulham.

On a serious note, it's great to get the diversity of views. If we were in a pub, it would be an open discussion. As it should be on here.

Peter Mills
55 Posted 23/07/2023 at 10:51:06
Kieran #53.

I respect your right to take to, or against, whoever you wish.

In the interests of balance, I'll just say that I have known Terry White for 60 years and he is a dedicated Evertonian who watches every game on telly at his home in the USA, whatever time the kick-off is over there.

Neil Copeland
56 Posted 23/07/2023 at 11:03:36
Kieran, good post that, mate, and made me realise that as much as some of the perceived “negativity” on here drives me nuts it is necessary to balance things. Pragmatism is a much better word for it I agree.

In terms of optimism, I think all the away support we have is fantastic and mostly positive; everyone does their bit.

Barry R, I think you always write well and come across as well-informed, intelligent and articulate although sometimes difficult to understand. A good article thanks and follow-up posts to match!

Brian Harrison
57 Posted 23/07/2023 at 11:30:59
Just got back from a 2-week holiday and open ToffeeWeb to find that Barry – who is usually first to point out our deficiencies – has written an article full of hope.

So I automatically thought we must have found some money and signed some decent players, but realised that we have only signed a 38-year-old who apparently was MotM against Wigan.

Still no main striker signed and, despite Calvert-Lewin going off to Germany to help his recovery, it looks likely that he won't start the season, just like last season.

So I wish I could share your optimism, Barry, but despite Sean Dyche wanting a fitter team, I can only see another relegation battle ahead. I hope I am wrong and you are correct and we will be the surprise package; let's face it, we could do with a respite from another relegation battle.

Kunal Desai
58 Posted 23/07/2023 at 11:49:30
I'd like to see Goodison being turned back into a fortress. 21 wins from 57 fixtures over the last 3 seasons is absolutely poor. Got to start getting Goodison a difficult place for the opposition to take 3 points.

I'm with Sam above. Incremental progress. Premier League safety with a few games left. Anywhere between 13th to 6th is pragmatic and realistic for next season.

Andrew Clare
59 Posted 23/07/2023 at 12:02:14
If we were to make three or four astute signings, then maybe we could be the surprise package.

The season starts soon and we are leaving it very late for any signings to bed in.

James Newcombe
60 Posted 23/07/2023 at 12:25:24
It's not just a striker we need. We did that with Maupay, seemingly just to get anyone in who fitted the description.

Calvert-Lewin wasn't smashing in goals left, right, and centre; but when he played, transformed the team by giving it a focal point – he was quick, strong, and tall enough to help bring others into the play.

Basically, we need a carbon copy of him. Any ideas?

Eric Myles
61 Posted 23/07/2023 at 12:41:58
Kieran #53, excellent post.

Although I did like Doddsies posts as they sparked many a debate and you can't fault a man that gets sacked by the Council for spending more time on Everton than on his job while at work.

Paul Ferry
62 Posted 23/07/2023 at 13:11:22
I didn't know good old Doddy was sacked for that Eric! I seem to remember that he worked in Wigan, lived in Freshfield, and had a liking for the ginger one! I must confess that I do miss him!

Ray Roche
63 Posted 23/07/2023 at 13:17:31
Paul, there are a number of one-time stalwarts who no longer participate and are missed. Ken Naughton, Gavin Ramjekis (sp), and many more.Even Darren and Eugene are very rare visitors nowadays.

A quick look at TW posts from several years back will act as a reminder of absent friends. I don't post as much myself as I used to so I'm just as bad.

Maybe if things improve on the pitch then they may rekindle their desire to participate again.

Matt Traynor
64 Posted 23/07/2023 at 13:56:31
Laurie #37, Ross was 2 footed because he had a bad break of his right leg when he was 16, I think. As part of building up his fitness, during rehab, he started using his left peg, and we saw the result in Martinez's first game away at Norwich.

The story I heard was he had so much ability and natural athleticism that they forgot to coach him the basics of a team game. And whilst I would think that was ludicrous, it would explain some of his brainless play.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Would Everton fans take him back?
Would the city, remembering part of the reason he left?

Hopefully a more mature and if he hasn't pissed it away, financially secure Barkley, would be a different and relatively inexpensive proposition to Dele Alli.

Nothing against Deli, I just don't think we can afford him. Not sure a rejuvenated Alli and Barkley could play in the same team anyway.

Paul Tran
65 Posted 23/07/2023 at 14:04:04
Matt, that story makes a lot of sense and, if true, is a shocking indictment of our backroom staff.

Barkley was extremely talented, with poor decision-making. That's why he could veer from brilliant to dreadful at the blink of an eye.

James Flynn
66 Posted 23/07/2023 at 15:20:58
We can be the "Surprise Team" if we knock a dozen goals off last year's GA of 57.

That will do the trick. Then we'll need to score "enough" goals, not fill the net up.

Si Cooper
67 Posted 23/07/2023 at 23:33:15
The magic of team sports is that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. A few pieces clicking into place could transform us. We’d still need good luck on the fitness of key players but these things are possible.
Laurie Hartley
68 Posted 24/07/2023 at 11:51:35
For all anti-clappers (I made that up 😁) always remember what we have in common and always will have.
All together now - we don’t care …….
Ian Bennett
69 Posted 24/07/2023 at 16:52:11
Dyche took Burnley into Europe with less. Moyes took a team that had sold its better players into 4th. Walter Smith somehow got Manager of the Year.

It does happen, but we will need a huge slice of luck with injuries given the squad depth.

We will need a top defensive effort, and some clinical finishing to pinch games. Both are an issue given the weakness of Keane, Godfrey, Mykolenko and Holgate – with upfront just as poor.

Villa are my tip to shake the Top 4 up.

Dave Abrahams
70 Posted 25/07/2023 at 10:26:23
Laurie (68), Cracker that Laurie, what spirit that old lady has got, brilliant, I sang every word along with her!
Ray Jacques
71 Posted 25/07/2023 at 12:40:17
Quick answer: No!!!!!

Coady and Mina both gone, the centre of defence worries the life out of me, even more than the lack of forwards.

Stephen Vincent
72 Posted 25/07/2023 at 13:53:37
Lee #9, You are right about 2004/2005, the previous season we had finished 17th and guess who finished below us and were relegated.
Leicester and Leeds.
Christy Ring
73 Posted 25/07/2023 at 19:17:21
Great article Barry, and nice touch Kieran#53. Bringing in Dyche was a master stroke, as you said Barry look at the Leicester squad that got relegated, and our team with no striker for the season, and finishing the season with no recognised full back's. If Dyche can bring in another few players and a striker, and give us a more balanced squad as he said himself, and get a fit DCL, why not?
Jay Harris
74 Posted 25/07/2023 at 19:34:38
Very happy with Dyche and most of the squad however unless the penny drops with those upstairs that we desperately need a goalscorer top half is just a pipedream. We can believe all we want and I have for over 65 years but that lack of a goalscorer continues to haunt us.

I am optimistic that we wont be in another relegation batlle but that goalscorer would transform us.

Soren Moyer
76 Posted 25/07/2023 at 20:31:05
sorry but no. Only the club TV.
Mike Gaynes
78 Posted 25/07/2023 at 20:34:55
"All these positive waves! Maybe we can't lose! You're on!" -- Oddball from Kelly's Heroes.

I've gotta say that "Unleash the Entity" doesn't have quite the inspirational cachet of, say "Release the Kraken!" or "Remember the Alamo!", but hey, a slogan is a slogan.

And if Barry can become an optimist, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility -- Maupay can score 15 goals and we can soar into Europe.

Soren Moyer
79 Posted 25/07/2023 at 20:37:30
This is it Christine, lol.
Bill Piscass
81 Posted 25/07/2023 at 20:50:47
Does anyone know why players are not signing. Could it be that when it comes down to negotiating a fee, we only offer a curly wurly?
Dale Self
82 Posted 25/07/2023 at 21:42:48
Ah, the ol’ technicolor coat has lost its value.
Jack Convery
83 Posted 31/07/2023 at 15:36:09
No !

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