We’re told some Everton fans are desperate. In fact, we’re told it’s not just Everton fans, but their Chairman too. Bill Kenright admitted as much to a supporters group, to discuss their problems. Everton have exhausted their overdraft and the banks, probably sensibly, don’t see any reason to extend it. Everton don’t have the ability to buy unless they sell. Frustratingly, they haven’t been able to raise much from moving on fringe players, so nobody’s been bought. For all that, this might actually be Everton’s best summer for years. There’s no need to panic. Yet.
Last year, as is tradition, Everton started the season in poor form, only to end the season with a strong push for Europe. It wasn’t the new signings that particularly dragged them to that, it was the strong, experienced core: Sylvain Distin, Phil Neville and Tim Howard, all of whom remain. The most important objective now, at this late stage, it to secure loan deals where possible as there’s little chance of permanent transfers. However, this summer, Everton might have lost Phil Jagielka, Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines. They don’t have the ability to refuse large offers for their players, but mainly through luck, no sizeable offers came in. As it stands, Everton have spent no money, and have not come out of the summer noticeably worsened.
That they’ve managed to hold onto Baines, Ashley Cole’s natural successor is a boon. Last season his form was so good that he was linked with Bayern Munich, but turned them down as he anticipated homesickness. This summer, a bid from Liverpool was rumoured, and due to Jose Enrique’s availability at low price no move was forthcoming. Another experienced performer, Tim Cahill, has struggled for goals, but in tandem with a fully fit Marouane Fellaini, the two should spark eventually and they sit in front of central defence of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka. Rarely will Everton experience humilation.
Despite the transfer inaction. there are still few better first teams. The top four, of course, have the resources to refinforce annually in order to stay ahead. Liverpool, and Spurs have similar financial clout, but no others have the ability to add to a squad at a pace that Everton shouldn’t handle. There is little to fear from the rest of the league.
Ross Barkley, just seventeen, is another reason for Everton fans to retain optimism. While he’s still more potential than anything else, there’s no reason to think he won’t make it. Jack Rodwell is an an example of an Everton youngster who made the transition to Premiership performer, coveted by many of the established sides. Should Barkley step up to the Premier League, and Rodwell be able to add consistency to his game, then Everton will have a significantly stronger squad than they did last year. This doesn’t even mention their finest young player, Seamus Coleman, who had a fine breakthrough season.
It always feels risky to invest in youth, because there’s no price tag to hold onto, just the manager’s ability to coach. David Moyes is a manager you can trust to develop young players. Wayne Rooney is blessed with inherent magic in his feet, but there are plenty of Everton players who’ve burst onto the scene and proceeded to disappear completely, who didn’t have Moyes to guide them. If you add the unexciting but utterly competent duo of Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert, there’s no reason to think this cycle of Everton graduates won’t establish themselves in the Premier League, and keep Everton there too.
So, much of Everton are desperate, and in many ways it’s understandable. Liverpool, their rivals and neighbours, are spending again, and under Kenny Dalglish have had their morale lifted. But Everton have their own exceptional manager for the circumstances in David Moyes. While they have managed to keep hold of their best players, the fans should be most thankful that the man charged with keeping Everton competitive, still hasn’t been given the chance elsewhere.
Written by Neil Isaacs from Surreal Football.