Our Season So Far: Same Old Story or Unrealistic Expectations?

everton fans at anfieldThe consensus amongst Evertonians at this moment seems to be that “nothing has changed.”

You could easily look at us at this specific moment in time and think we have gone from a team that was scoring a lot of goals but always looked just as likely to concede under Roberto Martinez to a team that now looks relatively solid and very well organised but struggling to score goals under Ronald Koeman. There is certainly an air of discontent growing around Goodison, and you could speak to any number of Evertonians with each one providing a different theory or reason as to why the frustration is growing.

The most obvious one would be the teams current run of form and the lack of quality being shown by our so called top players. For me one of the questions we should be asking ourselves as fans is are we creating this discontent with our unrealistic expectations?

Its fair to say that us Blues are an emotional lot, we love our football, we are passionate, we are loyal and we love our team. We basically wear our heart on our sleeves when it comes to Everton Football Club. In my opinion that is where the problem has started this season, we are thinking with our hearts and not with our heads and our desperation for success is tainting our opinions on our season so far. It doesn’t matter whether this discussion between Evertonians takes place now which is inevitably going to be negative or whether the discussion took place in the summer which was inevitably going to be positive, our thoughts on where we can finish and who we should be buying were way beyond the realms of reality.

Farhad Moshiri became our majority shareholder in March of this year and the whole structure of the club has changed within nine months. It was obvious that off the field the club was a mess to what extent we will never know but from the stadium issues, to the sale of the club, to who was buying the players, where the money from player sales was had gone, to the job requirements of the CEO and to what certain directors were doing or contributing to as directors at our club, there were so many things that the fans could not answer with 100% conviction. That list could go on but these were all questions that we all wanted answering and let’s face it we had become a laughing stock.

Now there is clear hierarchy in place from the majority shareholder and shareholders to the board of directors. This is very simplistic and some fans won’t care about structures and will comment let’s just buy some players but to move forward as a club this was needed, combine this with the appointment of Steve Walsh as Director of Football and now there is a clear strategy at the club which can assist with us moving forward in the modern-day football world. This strategy will enable us to cope with the unexpected departures of managers and players, and will enable us to make plans for long term progression instead of going from season to season and just seeing what happened.

Everton’s problem since Farhad Moshiri took control and in the summer transfer window is that we are competing against clubs who have had this strategy in place for several years and are as always fully prepared and that the reputation of the club from a footballing point of view does not change overnight. I know we are a big club and we have a history to be proud of and we are the fourth biggest club in England in terms of leagues titles but some of the players we should be looking to buy now are players in their prime or approaching there prime, in my opinion they should be in the age range of 20-26 which means they weren’t even alive in the eighties so why would they care about the history of our club, most of them I bet wouldn’t even know about our history. To be brutally honest our history is going further and further away isn’t it.

I can understand that because a billionaire bought a majority stake in the club and then we appointed Ronald Koeman who is the highest profile manager we have ever had why optimism was high, then you  consider us signing Steve Walsh from the Premier League champions who can scout and recruit players such as Kante and Mahrez. Everything was in place for us to progress instantly. Unfortunately for us the days of takeovers like Chelsea and Manchester City’s are gone, FFP (financial fair play) has put an end to that and you also should take into consideration the new TV deal which now are puts every Premier League club in a strong financial position whether they are in the Champions League or not.

Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright

This is what I think most of us have failed to see given the state of the club before Farhad Moshiri took over and given everything positive that’ has occurred since he took over we are still only in a position of being better equipped to challenge the elite, were not yet in amongst them. This is being why the summer transfer window was normal one and should be considered productive, and why I mentioned earlier the names we were getting linked or the names social media were stating we should attempt to buy were not realistic and have blinkered people’s opinion on the season so far. We sold a defender who very limited ability when it came to defending, and used the money to buy a proven solid premiership defender in Williams, a proven yet inconsistent Premiership winger who offered something our other wingers did not in Bolasie and we stole an absolute gem of a midfielder in Gueye.

I know people will say but will say we were told there was £100 million to spend so we should have spent it. Spending big money for the sake of spending it does not make you successful, spending what money you have available wisely is what makes you successful.

The question everyone should have been asking was is Ronald Koeman capable of improving these players? And are these players good enough to improve on last season?

After the Middlesbrough game our spirits were high and rightfully so, we were unbeaten in the first five league games winning four of them on the spin. During those games, we looked organised defensively and we created lots of chances. Shortly after the Middlesbrough game had finished I was talking to one of their fans about the match and the upcoming season when he asked “where do you think you lot will finish this season” to which I replied Seventh, he shook his head in disagreement and said that’s wrong we should be looking to challenge for the Champions League. Now before I go on to say what I’m about to say all teams should and I find it very difficult to believe they don’t always look to finish as high as they possibly can in the league and I want and expect Everton to finish as high as they possibly can.

However, the fact remains there are six teams who have either a better squad of players, a better starting eleven, a set of players who are now fully aware of how the manager wants them to play and a set of players that can play the way their manager wants them to play. All of which are big advantages over the course of a full season. An obvious example is the high pressing game there are still big questions to be asked about whether our current squad know how to press high and play the way Ronald Koeman wants them to play, especially the front four players. The manager has had since July to try and coach the players the style he wants them to play to get them to the required fitness level needed to play that style and most importantly to assess whether they have the right qualities to play that style of football, we are now in December this is still relatively a short period.

We are approaching Christmas and we’re in 8th position.  Yes it could be better but it also could have been worse, new players are needed in January but we now are financially able to sign these players and an  important factor now is the manager now knows what he needs and where he needs to strengthen because in the summer that wouldn’t have been the case. A realistic approach is needed, do we merit being any higher in the league no, and does the quality of the players we have warrant a higher position in the league no, remember this squad is made up of the majority the same players for the last two seasons yet they are two years older.

In those two seasons, we finished 11th on both occasions.

As the manager recently stated we are aiming to be the best of the rest which now we are one place away from being, if you add a good cup run to a seventh-place finish then that must be considered very good and productive season which would give us a strong platform to build on for next season.

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