The curtain fell on the 2021/2022 premier league season only a few of days ago, and understandably so Evertonians are already be looking as to what happens next for the club. 21/22 was a disastrous season for Everton, and one that fans and club alike will be desperate to put behind them. From the hugely unpopular (and quite frankly mind boggling) decision to appoint Rafa Benitez as manager after Carlo Ancelotti returned to Real Madrid, to EFC scraping PL survival in the final week of the season. To put it simply, this season has been an absolute mess, but what needs to happen next?
I’ve looked at 5 talking points I think need to be addressed this summer to help secure a better future for EFC, and to try prevent the club from falling any further in to the abyss.
“The fish rots from the head”
‘It refers to failing organizations and how the blame of it should be on its ‘head’ that is its leadership.’ It’s a saying that I’ve heard a lot over
various conversations/spaces over the season, and it’s one that sums up EFC’s situation well. EFC owner Farhad Moshiri has made continuous mistakes at the football club, mistakes that EFC are suffering from immensely, from putting his nose directly in to EFC footballing/transfer matters to allowing agent’s to manipulate him into signing off on horrendous deals.
I think Moshiri is invested in this club doing well, but he’s just advised by all the wrong people in how is best to do that. I remember someone saying to me early doors at EFC that Moshiri is treating EFC like a PlayStation game, continuously trying to get the biggest names instead of what’s actually right for the club, and it’s not wrong. An Owner of Moshiri’s know how shouldn’t be anywhere near footballing decisions for a top flight club, because it’s obvious he doesn’t really have any idea on how that should work, if you’re going by the director of football model this has to be the man you trust with that area of your business. I know owners are always naturally going to want to have a say in every matter at the club, but EFC have been that unsuccessful in him doing this, surely there now has to be a period of reflection? There has to be an element of trust and to then take the backseat a little, something he’s been unwilling to do, but now must otherwise fan unrest will escalate further.
Away from purely under the footballing microscope, EFC have to address the running of the club period. A board of directors not really fit for purpose needs a refresh, a refresh with faces who have success in those roles, an outsider’s point of view to come in and run it as a business, no nostalgia. The club has once again hit losses of £100m+ which just highlights how badly this ‘business’ is being ran. In my opinion, for a PL club to be really pushing up against P&S restrictions & having to have their hand held by the league during every decision made involving finance just highlights how badly this club has been managed, not spending within their budget. I’d hope EFC’s situation is serious enough now that immediate change is sparked upon season end.
For what it’s worth I actually think it’s not too late for Farhad Moshiri to turn this around with EFC fans, he just needs to really get his act together on all the above, a big summer ahead off the field is needed just as much as on it.
Setting out a realistic plan of the next few years.
This season has been that bad, with that many changes, that now feels like a complete restart of what this club has to aim for. EFC fans are constantly told about the clubs ambitions of UCL football and challenging for major honours, this now has to be completely shelved to manage realistic expectations. I know that sounds negative, but EFC now have a new DOF, a new Manager & should after this summer have serious change at boardroom level. This requires a sit down to re-discuss realistic aims for this football club year by year. If you’re asking me what that should be *realistically* I’d say below…
- Making sure the club are not in this situation again and are comfortably safe a lot earlier, whilst deciding a model they will be following as to what sort of club EFC want to be
- Becoming again a comfortable mid table side that doesn’t essentially have to look over its shoulder, whilst signing players to grow with your expectations every year
- Same as year 2.
- Once got a strong foot in then you can begin to look at Europe and making that next step
Above is in reflection too of again managing your club properly in terms of ‘wheeling & dealing’ with players, part of a football clubs growth now is flipping players, they grow as a player at your club which takes you higher, whilst you then flip profit and reinvest when they move on.
EFC need to lower expectation, and I highlight this because we as fans need it to be lowered. We need some stability, and this year highlights just how far away this club is from competing where everybody wants to be, unfortunately that’s going to take some serious time. Having a strategic review should show how poorly this club is, and should firmly rip everything up and set out a new step by step plan to get this club on the up again, rather than freefall.
Addressing what Frank Lampard & Kevin Thelwell agree what this football team should look like.
It’s something I’ve said a lot over the years, it’s something I think EFC need to put in place from the first team to the absolute bottom of the youth pyramid, a style of play. To have this top to bottom is key to having first team and youth academy success for me, because you can then begin to build a team that suits your club instead of having a group of misfits from loads of different manager reigns brought in for different systems/styles. It’s part of the big reason EFC’s squad is so bad, not essentially the players are *that* bad, but they aren’t designed to fit the system which each manager is bringing in. Not only does it not help EFC on the pitch, it makes the players look worse than they are and completely dropping their value.
I understand the argument of ‘well a club of this situation can’t just try and play possession high press football against LFC/MCFC’! There has to be sense of realism, but the aim for this should be similar to above in setting out a plan on how to gradually get there. Thelwell & Lampard could do a lot worse than setting out that vision to fans via club socials on what they plan to do in addressing this, it gains an understanding.
Summer transfer window of 22/23
Once again EFC go in to a summer window with that feeling ‘this is our biggest yet’ the team needs major surgery…again. Everton will again have to try and work some magic as the purse strings tighten further, especially after losing the money behind USM & Megafon sponsorship deals ASWEL as being up against P&S boundaries. So what are the talking points ahead of this window for Everton?
- Contract expiries – EFC see a good chunk of contracts expire this summer, none of which the club will be particularly sorry to see go. Jonjoe Kenny, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Delph, Cenk Tosun & Andy Lonergan all look set to leave the toffees this summer as the time of writing, as well as loan contracts ending for Donny Van De Beek & Anwar El Ghazi. This is a welcome boost to EFC’s budget as there is considerable saving in wages on these releases for players not really seen as key first team figures.
- Addressing the futures of players no longer needed/with contracts entering final year, is always on the agenda of clubs in the summer. EFC have Townsend, Coleman, Rondon, Allan, Doucoure, Mina & Tom Davies entering their final 12 months, so if the club intend on not offering fresh terms to anyone they have to reflect on what’s next. Doucoure & Allan have club option to extend by a further year, but it’s still a conversation that needs to be had. A big dilemma for EFC this summer is the Yerry Mina question, with this being the last chance for EFC to recoup any sort of fee for the Colombian Centre back. There is no doubt Yerry Mina is a top defender, but one of the clubs top earners he simply isn’t available enough for a club fresh of a relegation battle to continue paying 100k+
- Getting rid of the players who aren’t really offering anything to EFC is big this summer, the main one you feel is Andre Gomes who sits as one of the clubs highest earners whilst offering next to nothing to Everton Football Club. Other players such as Michael Keane & Solomon Rondon fill in to this category as well as names mentioned above whose deals expire in 2023.
- The futures of DCL, Richarlison, Jordan Pickford & Ben Godfrey, understandably players will be keen to look at their options after this season with the blues being so below par. If any of these players are intent on leaving then realistically it needs to happen swiftly with replacements in early to get to grips replacing them. Easier said than done.
- Getting players out on the right loan, it’s something EFC haven’t been brilliant at. Players such as Dobbin & Branthwaite especially need that right loan deal sorted, they need to be playing first team football. EFC need to find a club where they will get game time whilst playing in a similar way that players can come back and slot in for EFC if loans are successful.
- In terms of incomings, even before any outgoings EFC need to address positions of need, they haven’t been good enough in midfield or centre defence this season, improvement is badly needed. EFC will to an extent still have their hands tied behind their backs in terms of financial restraints so will need to be business savvy.
Lots to do for new Director of Football Kevin Thelwell & manager Frank Lampard no doubt.
The only silver lining from this disaster of a season
The only good thing to have come from this season, the unity of the fan base since Lampard has come in. It’s been absolutely brilliant to say the least, and despite us never wanting to be in the situation we’re in, this has arguably (for me at my age anyway) been the most I’ve enjoyed going the match in years. It’s something that I’d love to see stay, especially as we say goodbye to Goodison park in the next few years, the team thrives off it and I think it’s given every EFC fan a welcome boost. So how can the fan base stay unified with the team? (At least from DOF down to the coaches & players) Open communication with each other, and I think Frank Lampard will try and do this. We hardly ever heard from Marcel Brands/Steve Walsh which didn’t help their cause, as fans never really got to see a vision/plan or even get to understand what they were doing. Kevin Thelwell would be wise to learn from these mistakes an open up a clear path of communication with supporters. Maybe that’s easier said than done, but even hearing from Thelwell at the beginning & end of every season is a stark improvement on the previous men. To have any sort of healing with the owner the same applies, Farhad Moshiri must do better in communicating, not through Talksport or Sky Sports, through official EFC media channels.
Key to this unification is also as much on the players, they need to keep this level of attitude and commitment, and we know that sometimes tactics & set up mean you can’t show it too much but this needs to be taken in to account. EFC fans understand players won’t just sprint around like lunatics for a full 90, but even in tactical approaches against Chelsea you could see the desire of every single individual on the pitch that day, which is pivotal to keeping this relationship strong.
To summarise, the future of EFC is still pretty much up in the air really, to put a downer in this it’s still pretty bleak. EFC are relying fully on Farhad Moshiri finally getting his house in order, and unfortunately all signs point to him probably not being able to do this, but here’s to hoping EFC do learn their lessons from this dreadful season & begin to heal, slowly but surely.