The relegation run-in

by   |   18/03/2024  41 Comments  [Jump to last]

Sheff Utd and Burnley are already down.  It remains for Luton, Forest, Everton and Brentford to fight their way out of trouble.

How are these teams shaping up?

Well, the sadly significant thing to note is that we do not have the best squad or First XI out of this lot.  Being Everton means nothing these days after chronic negative investment in the football club.  Due to good recruitment / investment over an extended period, Brentford are best by some distance.  Due to reckless spending for which they haven’t been properly punished, Forest are second best (in fact a whole Gibbs-White worth of difference).  In fact it’s only Luton that have a worse squad.  Transfermarkt rates the squad values as follows:

·       Brentford: £426,08m
·       Forest: £369.65m
·       Everton: £345.40m
·       Luton: £125.10m

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This is kind of borne out when you try to come up with a best XI out of these clubs.

·       Pickford
·       Branthwaite
·       Tarkowski
·       Williams 
·       Doughty
·       Onana 
·       Jensen
·       Gibbs-White
·       Mbuemo
·       Elanga
·       Toney

I’ve given us four spots in this side. You might make a case for one or two others (probably Mykolenko) – but equally you could make a case for the likes of Murrillo, Sangare, Danilo, Hudson-Odoi and Awoyinyi of Forest – or Collins, Henry, Hickey and Janelt of Brentford – or Barkley, Adebayo or Morris of Luton.

It’s also notable that we have no-one in a remotely attacking spot in this side.  We have a very, very weak attack indeed (and I include the full backs in that).  Add Gibbs-White, Mbeumo and Elanga to our side and it finishes top half.  Unfortunately, we have Doucoure, Harrison and McNeil in these positions…

Still all is not lost when you look at the form book.  Although our form is terrible – that is true of our relegation rivals too.

In the last 5 games, the four clubs have accrued the following points:

·       Brentford (29 games / 26 points): 1 point 
·       Everton (28 games / 31 points and 6 deducted): 2 points 
·       Luton (29 games / 22 points): 2 points 
·       Forest (29 games / 25 points and 4 deducted): 4 points (albeit the one victory was 5 games ago)

If these clubs carry on at the same sort of rate to the remainder of the season, it will finish as:

·       Everton: 29 points (with the best goal difference and a game in hand)
·       Forest: 29 points
·       Brentford: 28 points
·       Luton: 26 points

It seems likely obviously that there will be a few twists and turns – and indeed the possibility that the corrupt Premier League robs us of another 3 points (as they have done more justifiably with Forest).  That will make things very, very difficult indeed.  However, just 2 wins in the next 10 games could be easily enough to stay up – and it is possible that we could fail to win another game this season and still stay up.  Lots to play for.  

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Reader Comments (41)

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Ian Jones
1 Posted 19/03/2024 at 12:27:01
Interesting read, Robert — however, I wouldn't assume Burnley are down. Sometimes, one team goes on a run. They are currently only 5 points off Luton.

I appreciate they may have a harder run of games coming up and a worse goal difference but they may surprise people, a little like Wigan did years ago. They had a different goalie in place at the weekend – just takes a lucky goalie to start making saves and anything is possble.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:24:45

I think if we had bought Gibbs-White instead of you-know-who, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.

Paul Tran
3 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:28:09

Didn't Forest pay £40M for Gibbs-White? We couldn't afford that, but they could. Hang on…

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:42:24
Paul (3),

Yes, Gibbs-White cost more and we bought the other fella on the drip.

I was just pointing out that Gibbs-White, imo of course, is a much better more aggressive player and adds quite a lot to Forests' game and Forest would have missed this player more than we would have missed the cheerleader.

Joe McMahon
5 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:47:42
Robert, it just shows how depressing our goalscoring department is.
Lee Courtliff
6 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:56:19
In fairness, Burnley had everything go their way on Saturday, including a penalty and red card in the first 8 minutes, a goal line clearance and a goal for Brentford was disallowed...a nd they were still hanging on at the end!

Muric might make a difference in goal but I highly doubt they will stay up.

It would be typical of Dyche and Everton to go on a little winning run after months without a league victory… 9 points from Bournemouth, Newcastle and Burnley is very much doable.

Brian Harrison
7 Posted 19/03/2024 at 17:19:19
I no longer look at future games, only our next game.

Moshiri and his mate have sucked the life out of this club, he's been here 8 years and the club has gone backwards.

Yes, he has put money in but, apart from Ancelotti and possibly Silva, they have appointed managers who weren't good enough. When Moshiri took over, who in their wildest dreams (or should I say nightmares) thought that he would hire Allardyce, Dyche, and the two worst of the lot: Benitez and Koeman.

Is it any wonder for most of his ownership we have been fighting relegation? You can have all the money but, without the brains, it's worthless. Many will point to the building of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, and it looks great, but maybe the concentration should have been about building a decent team before we embarked on a new stadium.

I know many are looking at the games left and trying to guess how many points we will get and will it be enough. I have very little faith in this manager or this team, I just hope I am being a tad pessimistic.

But this is the 3rd consecutive year we have been in a relegation battle; yes, the points deduction hasn't helped, but we just don't help ourselves sometimes.

The fans need something to get behind and, in the last few home games, there has been very little to cheer. With the possibility of a further points deduction, it's just going to make things that much harder.

Andy Crooks
8 Posted 19/03/2024 at 18:54:58
I love how our club can have our nerves shredded even if we don't have a game for weeks. No mid-table serenity for us. I reckon we'll be sitting on 36 points after our last game of the season, still having sleepless nights waiting on our fate.

No one ever said being a Blue would be easy but, my God, our young supporters, who have had no joy other than avoiding relegation, deserve medals struck in their honour.

Robert Tressell
9 Posted 19/03/2024 at 19:21:29

It was always very possible to build the stadium and develop a good squad at the same time. We spent easily enough on players and wages to now have a squad capable of challenging theTop 6.

The trouble was, in the period of June 2016 to September 2020, we spent a lot of money (much of it generated by the sales of Lukaku and Stones) on players who had peaked in terms of age and / or potential – and so acquired rapidly deteriorating assets at high cost. Many of these players have since left for free or nominal amounts after little or no contribution to the first team.

As a very predictable consequence, we managed to turn about £500M into nothing in the space of a few years.

Had we stuck to buying and selling developmental players (and sourcing older players only at low cost, like Tarkowski) we could easily be where Villa are now, since we we had a considerable head start on them just a few years ago. Instead, and as the article sadly shows, we now have a weaker set of attacking options than Luton and a squad worth materially less than Brentford.

Despite all that, the defence is good! And I am expecting some hard-fought wins in the next 10 games too.

Brian Harrison
10 Posted 19/03/2024 at 20:11:16

I don't doubt its possible to build a new stadium and develop a good squad at the same time, but there aren't many clubs who have achieved that, but even Arsenal under Wenger struggled while building their new stadium. You are absolutely right in saying that we spent enough money which should have produced a side fighting for a top 6 place. You are right when you say we spent the money on players past their peak. But we had a manager in Moyes who brought in good young players that he improved and sold on for 10 or 15 times what we paid for them.
But when Moshiri took over he gave a very inexperienced manager in Koeman a war chest that he wasnt equipped with the ability or expeirience in how to use that money. It was very much a bull in a China shop approach, and it was unplanned chaos in the transfer market.

I was reading about Jim Ratcliffes approach at Man Utd, who has rightly said the way to progress is to bring in the best recruiting personnel, thats why he head hunted Dan Ashworth from Newcastle. He then said you have to employ the best coaches to look after all the teams at Man Utd. He also said this isn't a light bulb situation it will take some time for all his plans to come together. And there is the difference between someone who has a vision and a plan how to get there, and even more importantly has been successful in other sporting fields. Were I believe Moshiri and Usmanov came into Everton thinking here is a club with little money averaging 6th or 7th in the Premier league, if we throw a few hundred million into the pot we will have ourselves a Champions league team

Robert Tressell
11 Posted 19/03/2024 at 20:55:05
Brian, I think your last sentence very eloquently captures the mood of Kenwright and Moshiri after the takeover.

" is a club with little money averaging 6th or 7th in the Premier league, if we throw a few hundred million into the pot we will have ourselves a Champions league team"

And to that I shake my head and think "fucking imbeciles".

It's interesting that you quote Jim Ratcliffe too. Man Utd are very much like a rich version of Everton - failing to return to the relative heights achieved by a long term manager who left 11 years ago. Both clubs have embarked on utterly idiotic spending sprees - and seen their playing squads predictably deteriorate sharply as a consequence. Both clubs stand out as failing to embrace longer term player development strategies. Both are getting back on track although their managers are getting a lot of stick, despite being saddled with sorting out crap squads.

So yes, as Jim Ratcliffe says you do need the right people in place.

Sadly, we had what could easily have been "the right people" in place in Silva and Brands - but they were required to operate under a thick, vain and complacent club management team with no vision, no overall strategy and constant interference.

So you also need the right owners!

Given our financials and crap squad, Dyche and Thelwell represent "the right people" for us at the moment. Returning to the theme of the article, we should (against very extraordinary odds) stay up this season. Hopefully whoever does takeover from the disastrous Moshiri proves to be the right owner.

Andy Crooks
12 Posted 19/03/2024 at 21:23:38
Robert, this is the type of thought out article I really like. However, I strongly disagree with your assertion that we will stay up this season against" very extraordinary odds".
I think if we are relegated it will be against extraordinary odds and should be utterly unthinkable now.
Tom Bowers
13 Posted 19/03/2024 at 21:44:39
Everton have made some big mistakes over the last 10 years or more which have been inexcusable for a club with such pedigree as ours.

We have seen some gross mishandling of finances, some very poor overpaid managers and far too many second rate players.

Assuming we dodge the bullet again courtesy of Burnley, Forest, Luton, Sheff.Utd and maybe even Brentford it should be the start of a new era next season.

What that means is hopefully some positive new investment that is concerned with the product on the pitch being a lot more productive than the dross that has been served up this season.

Okay, ten games since a win could have been a little different (not much) but they have to get themselves away from danger and not have to rely on others losing.

There is not much in the way of goals and so defensively we have to be more resolute and steal a few games.

The league has handed us back a lifeline at a vital time so here's hoping they grab hold of it.

Robert Tressell
14 Posted 19/03/2024 at 22:03:12
Andy # 12, from here you're right. The odds are now in our favour. What I meant by extraordinary odds was:

- consistent relegation battlers

- minus £40m of investment over summer

- robbed of 6 points (and suffered the strain of 10 points initially)

That combination would have broken most clubs.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 19/03/2024 at 22:06:40
I'm with Brian @7

I can't predict the future but there are points to be had including against them.

Bournemouth next. Let's get over that hurdle first.

Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 20/03/2024 at 00:27:43
And just to add an optimistic note, Luton has one of the league's most difficult run-ins from here.
John Zapa
17 Posted 20/03/2024 at 05:11:20
I feel survival this season is easily achievable, unless an injury crisis hits. Its next season I would be worried about. I expect both the squad and 1st team to be weaker after the close of the next transfer window. At the same time, the teams coming up from the Championship will be much better than the pathetic ones that are on their way down this year.

You can only circle the drain for so long until it catches up with you.

Andrew Clare
18 Posted 20/03/2024 at 07:00:35
I wish I could be as optimistic as you John.
I can't remember the last time we won a match and we can't score goals. Not a very good position to enter a relegation battle.
I hope we make it but it's going to be tough.
Charles Ward
19 Posted 20/03/2024 at 08:41:27
So far it's small margins that cause our downfall. If we'd have scored first against a hesitant Man Utd when we had the chances, we'd have got at least a point as they would have gone into their shell. And just look at the confidence that fortunate victory gave them.

My only concern is placing too much faith in the current break. All of our rivals have had at least a 2-week break and may result in them having currently injured players available. For example, our friendly Brentford fan John Hood lists at least six key players they are missing.

I may be wrong but we only have Gana to return?

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 20/03/2024 at 09:13:56
It has been Charles.

A lot will depend on whether the manager changes things.

Will he bring in young Dobbin? Still undecided on where he plays. I think a wide player, but he's. still young (21). Bring Seamus back in and get Garner more central. I'll have that debate with my brother.

Get McNeil more central and tell Doucoure to put his boots on the right feet!

Will he play Patterson? Use Danjuma?

Will he play a back three of Branthwaite, Capitano Tarkowski and Mykolenko?

Who knows. I'll just wait and see, but he needs to change it.

We'll see. Half way there until we go to Bournemouth.

Mark Murphy
21 Posted 20/03/2024 at 09:24:45
Danny, if you play Garner and McNeil in central roles and assuming you're asking Doucoure to select his boots to play, not sit on the bench, where do Gana and Onana fit in?

I'm hoping a fit-again Danjuma and a point-to-prove Dobbin will give us wider options in the run-in but, as I've said before, none of us can or will influence the manager. He'll continue with his (only) Plan A for the rest of this season.

It will either be viewed as stubborn and clueless or practical and smart, depending on the outcome, but a lot of it rests in the boots of Dom and Beto! He has got to get them scoring!

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 20/03/2024 at 09:46:15
It's why I don't like predicting team line-ups, Mark! I'd probably end up with 14 players on the pitch.

On a serious note if Idrissa is fit, he plays.

See you at the next one, mate. I think it's Chelsea.

We have to find a place or put on our best Kensington accents and blag our way in near the ground! Or be sensible and meet in London before heading out. Whoever does sensible?!!!

Family funeral on Monday in Liverpool with my mixed bag of blues and red family before we get to Bournemouth.

Mal van Schaick
23 Posted 20/03/2024 at 10:09:50
The sooner that we kick on and get the required points to retain our Premier League status, the better.

We cannot keep making the same mistakes of the past over and over again, but unfortunately there is still a lot of uncertainty around the club.

It would be nice for long-suffering Everton fans for the overall picture to settle down, and have a great run of wins and challenge for Europe at some stage. We can only dream.

Dyche is doing his best with the resources he has, but even he must realise that you cannot keep picking the same players, in the same formation, and getting the same results.

Raymond Fox
24 Posted 20/03/2024 at 11:01:12
My guess is we will get 12pts from remaining games with the possibility of more points being taken from us.

That said I think we will avoid the drop again, but its going to be tight.

Looking past this crisis, what sort of state will we be in at the start of next season?

Jerome Shields
25 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:10:59
There will be a lot of twists and turns in the run-in. Both Burnley and Sheffield United will pull surprises. Other teams will come into the fray. Everton will bob about, lucky and disappointing. But they will survive by the skin of their teeth.

How well will depend on Dyche getting work out of the squad during the break. He should have a fully fit squad, bar the odd stupid training-ground injury. In better shape than January after the damage of his Cup exploits.

Jerome Shields
26 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:28:08
I should add on a positive note that it is a plus that Everton are in the situation they are in. It has been the only negotiating ploy that the Club have had in the PSR saga, not having a glue what they were doing.
Mark Murphy
27 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:36:31
It is a sticky situation Jerome, that’s true.
Mark Murphy
28 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:41:50
Danny, I've got my ticket – the White Horse in Parsons Green is good and walkable to the ground.

I had to turn my jacket inside out last time as it had the club crest but I won't wear that this time and anyway, you don't wear jackets so we should be okay! UTFT!

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 21/03/2024 at 09:36:08
Nice one, Mark. A few years ago, I somehow managed to get myself into a pub very close to the ground as my son has a neutral accent.

My brother's friend is attending. He's from Milton Keynes and adopted Everton through his girlfriend's Liverpool family and time at John Moores in his university days. I'll let him do the talking!!

It's not the '80s but I am always cautious walking past the Butcher's Hook pub on the way out. Some proper cockney wide boys usually goading as we walk past.

I don't need a jacket. It will be April! That's practically summer. I'll wear my Germany top!

Brian Harrison
30 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:32:09
I have been critical of Sean Dyche but I can't think of too many managers having to work in the conditions he is having to navigate. Not only is he having to fight yet another relegation battle, but he is having to do this without a board or Owner in place.

I am sure, like many of the players, he may well be considering his position come the season's end. How a club of Everton's stature can end up with no board, an owner who is the most culpable of the reasons we are in this mess having no communication with the fans and instead hides away in Monaco seemingly unconcerned with the plight of our club.

As well as having sympathy for Dyche probably the man who has had to pick up the poisoned chalice is Colin Chong, he was brought in to oversee the building of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock ,and a magnificent job he has done in that respect. But now he has been put in the onerous position of CEO, and is having to deal with things that very experienced CEOs would struggle with.

Finally, how does Kevin Thelwell prepare for next season? He probably doesn't know if he will be here next season, or if we will still be in the Premier League or looking at the prospect of the club going into administration. So I guess it's almost impossible for him or Dyche to try and formulate any plans with so much up in the air.

Danny O’Neill
31 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:42:55
It is, Brian. They are managing the ship in difficult circumstances with no leadership.

Thelwell comes out of this with credibility in my opinion. But then it is the manager, the players and us, the supporters who are marching on.

This club in its current state simply doesn't support us. I'm just glad there is still connection between the supporters and the team.

For now, I can't care for the leadership (or lack of). Despite changes, they abandoned us a while back.

And still we have a waiting list of 30,000 for season tickets and are sold out every week.

They simply don't deserve us. But they have us.

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:00:51
Good post Brian, with a lot of what you wrote being the reason why I have defended our current manager.

Imagine him and Thelwell, having a discussion about signing players. Who shall we get? Hang on, who can we get with a budget of absolute zero? Don’t worry we are allowed to buy now - but pay next year, so I’m sure we will be able to sign a couple of players, and don’t forget we can also get a few in on loan.

Dyche isn’t stupid, he knows he’s been brought into Everton, on a clean up job, but until people actually stop and think about the incredibly poor circumstances that he his working under, circumstances that have then made it a lot more difficult because his team got a ten point deduction, (that is some pressure, that?) then the man is simply not being appreciated for having his team continuing to fight, when a lot of managers would have just shrugged their shoulders, and tried to lay the blame elsewhere.

Sam Hoare
33 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:24:03
It's so draining to be in this position once more!

I believe that we are performing as well if not better than any of those teams and would be ahead of all of them if not for the deduction.

Much will depend on the outcome of the second case. If we get 3 points deducted, I think we will hopefully be okay. But if we get 6 taken away again, then I think we'll be in real trouble.

Whatever happens, it will be in our hands to a certain degree, especially with games against Luton and Forest. Dyche and this team have a fair amount of relegation survival experience now and historically it is the teams with the tightest defences that have made it through. Most bookies have us around 5 or 6/1 so let's hope they have it right.

I very much hope we don't go to the Emirates on the last day needing to get something!

Christopher Timmins
34 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:51:41
Tony, I would go a step further, a lot of managers would have walked away or not have touched us with a barge pole in the first place.

Not having a game for 3 weeks is going to be a help to the manager, coaching staff, players and supporters alike, we all needed time away.

We will come back stronger and, unless something crazy happens in the points deduction lottery, let's hope it's not determined by postcode, we will be fine.

Anthony Hawkins
35 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:19:44
With the second charge — what's stopping the commission from applying the same formula and reaching the same outcome? 6 further points despite double jeopardy?
Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:24:33
Baited breadth, Anthony, we await with baited breadth!
Mark Murphy
37 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:44:48
Danny, unless the late kick-off affects people's travel plans, your brother's friend (and me) will be in the minority accent wise! It's usually full of Evertonians.
Tom Bowers
38 Posted 21/03/2024 at 15:15:11
I agree that Dyche is doing as good a job as anyone can (even Pep or Klopp) given the circumstances.

He has no resources to attract the better players and has to play with little or no strike force plus the points deduction which keeps us down with the dregs.

If the new investment helps and he can correct the deficiencies within the squad, then I would certainly keep him for another season.

Andy Crooks
39 Posted 22/03/2024 at 16:01:15
Sam Hoare, your post @33 just hits it. Here we go again. The utter, totally unjustifiable anxiety. It is madness. It is unexplainable to any sane person.

I couldn't watch the Bournemouth game last season and wandered around my town like some sad zombie. I met a friend, a jeweller, who had shut his shop in case a customer came in and mentioned the score. We sat in the square like two fools suffering from a malady that could be cured with a simple phrase. "Fuck off, Everton".

But you can't do it. This is our own labour of Hercules! 😥

Charles Ward
40 Posted 22/03/2024 at 16:14:25
Tom, I agree that Dyche is doing a good job in the circumstances with the financial sword of Damocles hanging over his head and not a great squad.

Klopp managed to keep Mainz in the Bundesliga but eventually they sank to relegation.

John Connor
41 Posted 24/03/2024 at 23:17:54
I'm almost past caring to be honest. More conjecture and rumours about the 777 Partners takeover. Whatever happens with them, it will be too late to make any changes to anything this season and most of the scenarios on the points we may gain before the season ends will ultimately depend on the decision of the Premier League's 'independent commission' to deduct points (if so, how many?) or not.

I can't see a nil points deduction, so at least one more win this season will be negated if we get a 3-point deduction. We really are in trouble this season, and I am so pleased Burnley, Sheffield Utd and Luton are far worse than us.

I think we will just survive this season but when Branthwaite, Onana, maybe Pickford leave to either balance the books or for their own ambition, we have no quality left. No one of significant value and no one coming through the academy of any significance.

Either way, the future in many ways looks bleak to me. I don't want to be forever in the bottom 5 which looks increasingly likely if we stave of relegation this season. Depressing… even with the new stadium to look forward to.

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