For me, an overhaul this summer is required. But this is Everton, and the question of whether Roberto will or will not be sufficiently be backed will probably rumble on all summer and until the end of August for that matter. It’s a big IF, but in an ideal world I believe the following players need to be shipped out of Goodison Park as we look to revamp, refresh and build around the young talents we already have at the Club.
Starting in goal and in my opinion Tim Howard has to leave, his time was up a long time ago and a few quality saves won’t alter my opinion of him – not good enough for Everton and hasn’t been for some time. Tim should depart and return to his homeland and bask in his hero status before he gets any worse at Everton. As for Robles, he showed real promise when involved earlier in the season, but he was booted straight back to bench upon Howard’s return – a decision that saw Martinez come under fire – Robles is still relatively young but could well make the step up to first choice ‘keeper next season, however even if he did we should still be looking to strengthen in that area.
Further ahead in defence and I think it is clear that Messer’s Alcaraz and Distin need to go, even if Martinez did hint at new deals for the pair in midweek. (Let me guess – Distin will be like a new signing?!) Alcaraz is assured in one game, Sunday League in another and injured for the rest, whereas Distin’s reported fight with Graeme Jones sees the Frenchman surely just waiting for his contract to expire before he moves on. At right back Tony Hibbert has been injured for long periods of the current campaign, realistically he will probably stay on at his boyhood Club but in my opinion he should be another name on the list of departures – a solid tackler and performer, but in terms of our future he can’t seriously play a key role, can he?
At centre half we’ve got Jagielka and Stones – backed up by the prospects of Galloway and Browning – but additions are required in this position. A centre half is a must, someone who can work and grow into the void Jagielka will eventually leave. Baines and Garbutt (if he signs that bloody contract) fill up the left back position and although it might sound harsh and unlikely, I see Oviedo as someone who could be surplus to requirements at Goodison Park too. A favourite amongst the fans but let’s be honest, will he take us to another level? I seriously doubt it, a utility player at best. Garbutt has the potential to fill Baines’ boots in the imminent future, and that time might come sooner rather than later following the England man’s performances this season, unless he goes out on loan next term as the media have been suggesting.
Into the midfield, Barry is going nowhere so there is no point in us even contemplating it – if he is fit he usually starts, but if his erratic form continues next season and Martinez continues to stick with him then the Spaniard will have a lot to answer for. McCarthy and Besic are the other names in the centre of the park and the latter we expect to be more and more involved next season. Everton seem to be managing the Bosnian in a way that will frustrate fans, but it will probably benefit him long term. Darron Gibson has picked up yet another injury which was tough news to take. The Irishman was becoming more and more involved over the last two months so to see him ruled out long-term again is a massive blow. Will we continue to stick by him or will he leave in the summer? It’s a tough one really, we all know the talent is there but his injury record is shocking. Personally I’d love to see Gibbo succeed at Everton, my heart says keep him but my head says let him go and focus our attentions on a new playmaker. A creative central midfielder is needed. Someone to take the weight off Ross Barkley, who is much more useful when played in an advanced position. At times this season we’ve seen Ross deployed out wide and he’s had a frustrating time, but we all know his future is at the forefront of this side, played centrally in a number ten role.
On the flanks without beating around the bush Kevin Mirallas has to go. Martinez can say all he wants about activating his two year option on the Belgian’s contract but we all know he wants out, even if he says he is happy at the Club. We’ve seen moments of brilliance from Mirallas but only when he feels in the mood. Mirallas possesses real quality, but he hasn’t got the heart or the desire to be as consistent as we’d all like and his future lies away from Goodison Park – I think we should sell now at a good price. Aiden McGeady, another player who can be brilliant one minute but absolutely woeful the next. McGeady will surely go back to Scotland and return to Celtic where he will no doubt look like a world beater, let’s be honest the standard up there is probably at McGeady’s level. Wingers are a must at Everton, and if we can secure Lennon and a left-sided midfielder than that would fill the gaps that would be left by the likes of Mirallas, McGeady or Atsu. We need quality in those areas and players who are going to be around long-term. Deulofeu gave us a taste of what it is like to have real promise in that area, and Lennon offers raw wing play too, but both of which (and Atsu) were or are only on loan, they don’t belong to Everton – permanent reinforcements are required.
A couple of old timers have been sorely missed this season – Pienaar and Osman, I can’t see either of them leaving if I’m completely honest and I firmly believe we are owed at least another season from Pienaar who does still have the quality we lack in the creative areas. Pienaar showed a small glimpse of what we’ve missed when he came off the bench for Osman away at Swansea, but it appears that he has picked up another knock and he then missed the victory over Burnley last time out. Osman, for all his criticism, is seen as a vital member of the squad by Martinez so although many Blues would probably hope to see him move on, I just can’t see it happening (similarly to Hibbert). Ironically when Osman returned to the side a couple of months back he gave us a much-needed lift during a horrid run of form.
The two current loan players we have at Everton are Aaron Lennon and Christian Atsu; whilst the latter will no doubt return to Chelsea and not be signed permanently, I do hope we make a real effort to land Aaron Lennon who has been a great asset since arriving on Merseyside. A price tag of six million might sound a bit steep to some, but looking at his age and performances since arriving at the Club in January I believe he is worth the investment. Lennon has brought something different to our side – attacking intent and defensive work too, something we don’t see often from the current wingers we have at the Club. He’s scored a couple of goals and been heavily involved in our recent upturn in League form and hopefully he sees his future with the Toffees, however I’d expect Everton not to be the only Club interested in signing the Spurs man.
In attack we have Steven Naismith, Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone. Naismith brings a bit of steel to the attacking areas and after a slow start to his Everton career he has developed into a real favourite at Goodison Park with his efforts (and goals). Lukaku has managed to keep scoring throughout this season, even when he wasn’t playing too well, but since February he has really pulled his finger out and shown that he does have the capabilities to lead this Everton side. Now that he has got his new agent the speculation will undeniably increase – in fact it already has – but if we look to build around Rom and go into next season in better shape (younger players, less stubborn in our approach, more ambition by our board) then Lukaku can only get better and better. It just depends if he wants to continue his development at Everton or move on in search of consistent European football, again it’s another big IF. Kone frustrates the hell out of all of us, if it was up to me I’d look to move him on and find a replacement. You wouldn’t get six million for him put it that way, so Everton would make a loss, but in reality is the Ivorian going to eventually find his feet here and start banging in the goals? There is nothing to suggest he will. Get shut and move on.
Some harsh opinions? Maybe so. How likely is any of the above to happen? Probably very little. As I said, in an ideal world. The key word for me after this season is rejuvenation, and this summer would be the perfect chance for the Club to take the opportunity. However in times gone by we’ve had our chances to really strengthen and make the most of the situation we are in, but shot ourselves in the foot, waited too long and fallen away. This summer we will look back on a season of hope, promise and entertainment, followed by a season of disappointment, lacklustre displays and stubbornness from our manager – how we want the 2015-16 season to pan out can be measured by our plans throughout the next three months or so. Only time will tell.
We all know Martinez will probably have to ‘work within budget’s’ even though we are getting more and more TV revenue than ever before and we’ve continued to sell before we buy time and time again. I, like many other fans of this Club are now sick of ‘just having to make do’. My eyes have been well and truly opened to how this Club operates – for years we have just existed, we won’t look to improve or change our ideas and ways, we don’t look to kick on and better ourselves, and it’s this board’s way or no way. For years we’ve apparently been searching for investment, yet nothing concrete is ever said or ever happens at our Club. And all the while hardly anyone bats an eyelid! There are never any developments on the investment or sale side of things, even though Football Clubs are being bought, sold and invested in across the Leagues, but not Everton for some reason? Are we even for sale or actively looking for buyers or interested parties? Does everyone just believe Kenwright in the infrequent interviews he gives, when he has told us the Club are actively seeking buyers and looking for investment 24/7?
If we carry on as we are our Club will remain as the ‘overachievers’ a side who have a tendency to ‘make the best out of what we’ve got’. Will we always aspire to finish somewhere between 8th place and 5th, and ‘just come up short’ in every competition we partake? Well I, like many others, have had enough. It’s time we showed ambition, took a few chances, we either continue as we are or something has to give, be it changes at boardroom level, ground regeneration or new projection, new investment and better transparency, something has to give. Even though thousands of Evertonians are happy to continue to pay their £500 season tickets without even thinking about off-field matters (whilst that continues, so will Kenwright and the way the Club is ran), they are happy to buy their pie and their pint and put up with the disappointments and shortfalls the Club put us through, there is also a large faction of our support that have turned their backs on the Club too. These fans seem to be on the increase, refusing to buy tickets or Everton merchandise, these fans are openly protesting against the way the Club is run and some of these fans are even setting up Supporters Trusts, attempting to put ideas in place for a fan-owned Everton. As far-fetched as that might sound it is such as the feeling out there towards our Chairman – this is fact. We’ve seen it before with the Blue Union, the Peoples Group et al, but nowadays the feeling tends to be more widespread, maybe not everyone is willing to protest but these Evertonians are certainly having their say, I see and hear it every single day! Surely something is not right if that many of our fans are angry and unhappy about it? Whilst our fans continue to air their opinions on all things Everton – Kenwright never says a peep – even when there were calls for Martinez to go this season, sheer anger from our fans and a sour atmosphere – nothing was said, no backing of the Manager or players, ‘Martinez Out’ written on the walls of Goodison – again nothing said. Nothing said about spend, about profits or plans for a new stadium, new projects, it’s all very silent at Goodison Park. So it is down to us, the fans, to bicker amongst ourselves and attempt to find answers or solutions – but isn’t that the job of the board, to find answers and solutions for the better of this Football Club we all love? Does Kenwright love Everton or just love being in charge at Everton? Like a real showman, and we are all just his puppets?
Many Evertonians remain fully behind Kenwright and believe he is the right man to take Everton forward. Some label him as our saviour and plenty suggest that they would rather have a fan of the Club who is British in charge rather than a flash in the pan foreigner. Well for every tale of Club’s going under or downhill under new ownership there are ten more tales of many others who have gone on to prosper with new investment, new ideas, a fresh start. Kenwright and his cronies – who all appear happy to just bide their time alongside him – will not let go of the Club and until they do we will continue to please certain sections of our fan base by just ‘competing’ in the Premier League, having a little Cup run here and there and signing the odd player now and again. Do people not want more? I know I certainly do. I am not naïve enough to think these changes would automatically make for a better Everton overnight or bring instant success but without hope we have nothing do we? Without hope that one day the powers that be will step aside and allow new life to breathe into this Club. New life that empowers us to kick on, to grow commercially, as a brand, as a team and as supporters. A new stadium, assets that belong to us, a training ground that we actually own. Business plans that don’t fall flat on their face like they have time and time again under this Chairman and his board. It’s almost like it is one big game of chess, nobody is willing to be bold and make that move which will see Everton improve. Its Kenwright’s way or no way. If you speak out against the Club you are shouted down – well now there are too many of our fans shouting and it is about time they were heard.
It is the fans who demand answers because the local press won’t, will they? It is insulting how The Liverpool Echo just blatantly ignore the fact we haven’t had a trophy for 20 years, it is insulting how they fail to acknowledge the debates that take place amongst our supporters and it is disgusting that they have never, for one minute, even began to question Bill Kenwright and his colleagues. The whole relationship between fans, press and the Club stinks. Just this morning The Echo released an article entitled ‘No trophy for 3 years, who is to blame at LFC, the manager, the players, the owners?’ yet they release an article on the same day about Everton entitled ‘Snods; United are good but Everton can beat them’. It f*cking stinks. Not for one minute does that rag even attempt to question Everton’s methods or demand answers as to why for a whole generation we haven’t won silverware. They don’t demand to know why we find ourselves selling players year on year. The Lukaku deal – as great as that signing was – it is just a smoke screen in my opinion. We still owe Chelsea upwards of £8 million for him, and that’s not forgetting the fact that we sold Fellaini for the same price tag just months before. But Kenwright and co believe they can dine out on that deal and plucky little Evertonians will accept it and move on. But what about the player sales that have gone unnoticed, the Rodwell’s, the Jelavic’s and Anichebe’s to name but a few recent departures. That’s upwards of £20 million itself isn’t it? Nobody seems to want to question why we never kick on. Nobody ever seems to want more at this Club. Plucky little Everton coasting along, forever in Liverpool’s shadow. We got our tag as overachievers ‘punching above our weight’ under Moyes and nothing has changed now. Moyes and Martinez are both great in their own ways in my opinion, but ultimately when they are brought to the Club they must have to take a vow of silence when it comes to the running of the finances at Goodison Park. Plucky little budgets, sh*tty little press releases about ‘not needing many new players’ they almost become a censored mouthpiece for our Chairman and his colleagues. A mouthpiece to Kenwright just like the Liverpool Echo is – but now their relationship is one that is being put under intense scrutiny and rightly so. Aren’t journalists supposed to report the news and provide us with information, or ask questions? Well at the moment it is our fans doing all of the questioning, all of the finger pointing and information finding, we have become our own journalists because the ones paid to do it just aren’t doing their job properly! Or if they did do their job properly then maybe they’d get sacked? Unfortunately because of Kenwright’s relationships and connections it is probably a sad reality that would happen!
Mocking us with articles asking what we think Tom Cleverley is worth and suggest we will have ‘ample’ funds to deal with come the summer. What are those ample funds then, according to the Echo’s sources? Bullshit, the lot of it. They are all on the payroll, just as many other local journo’s, theatre Lotharios and even Members of Parliament probably are! It’s terrible. Put this into context – the Echo are questioning and looking to blame somebody at Liverpool for not winning a trophy in three years – a Club who have got wealthy owners willing to spend money on numerous players, a Club expanding their stadium with a new project, a Club who nearly won the league last year and a Club who have often won silverware over the past decade or so. Yet they won’t write one single column inch questioning or blaming anyone at Everton FC – a Club who have got wealthy owners who aren’t willing to invest or spend, a Club who only seem to sign players when a few have been shipped out beforehand, a Club who has no plans to expand its stadium or build a new one, and a Club who haven’t won a trophy for exactly 20 years.
Need I say any more? I’ll let you make your own mind up about that rag of a newspaper.
This summer is massive, whatever your opinion is of Kenwright, of Martinez or this current crop of players, we have come to a cross roads. We either need to refresh, rebuild and apply ourselves like a team and Club who want to go places, or if we don’t we carry on making do, we find ourselves in a similar position to as we are now this time in 12 months. This manager needs backing, he has the lure to attract big name players – as he has done, for which he deserves praise – but he also needs to realise some of the mistakes he has made too. Alcaraz, McGeady, Kone to name but three. Roberto has been too stubborn this season, he has refused to adapt or to change, to admit his faults (nobody would blame him for doing so). He has stuck with his favourites and stuck with tactics at times when we just needed something different. His motivational speeches need to stop, I’m all for being positive but that man takes the biscuit and it doesn’t wash with our fans. In his first season he got away with it because everything we did as a Club seemed to work out, it turned to gold, but this season and in numerous transfer windows in recent years, we’ve been found out. Out with the dead wood and in with the new. Build an Everton we want to see, a vibrant force in this League and a team who CAN compete consistently. Will we ever get that under Kenwright’s stewardship, I very much have my doubts.
Whilst many have gone before me in criticising Bill and this Board and the way things operate at EFC, I felt compelled to write something here, you only get 120 characters to have your say on Twitter so I’ve had to get this down in an article – albeit a lengthy one. I love the Club and I always will, and I am not just saying this because we’ve had a poor season, but the older I am getting and the more I am giving to Everton in terms of time, patience and money, I just don’t feel like I am getting it back in return. It starts from the top to the bottom and a lot of it is leaving me disgruntled. As family values of a Football Club go and in the community we could not be any better, but in terms of our commercial performance, our partnerships and retail arrangements, our financial transparency and openness to fans we are p*ss poor. We always seem streets behind everyone else, even as a brand, on social media and the way we market ourselves, I honestly feel like I could do a better job myself! I might sound overly critical here but a lot of these thoughts have been brimming for a while now. I haven’t written anything for a couple of months but I can’t help but have a say on all of this, it’s sort of been building up.
I’m worried that we will never kick on, I’m worried that younger lads like me will never taste silverware again and I worry that unless we actually take a few chances in how we operate or apply ourselves we will always be left wondering ‘what if’. Let’s live life on the edge a little, try something new or maybe take a gamble from time to time – we are too set in our ways, we play everything safe and carry the ‘plucky’ and ‘simple’ tag in everything we do. Premier League football is such a big business these days, but it appears to me that our current owners are just happy to exist in this League – because whilst we are in this League the money will continue to roll in. The Television money is ridiculous, but why are we always left selling players, loaning players, and making do with Goodison Park how it is? These are just a handful of things you could ask of the Club, I know anyone reading this will probably have many more, and it all makes for one big frustrating situation we find ourselves in. It’s a balancing act between staying loyal to the Club, continuing to support the players and the manager – which I always will – but also having lots of other annoyances in the back of your mind, questions that never get answered and theories about how and where the Club is going. Our fans battle it out amongst themselves because we can’t rely on anyone to give us answers, the Club aren’t interested and the press certainly aren’t too. Who can you trust? The answer is nobody. Make of it what you will, form your own opinions and make a stand for what you believe. We are all part of this Club – supposedly one big family – but there’s certainly a few dodgy members of that family that will continue to be questioned and for the sake of all Evertonians’ sanity it is about time we had some answers.