By Dan Emson
The transfer window opens and as it opens out flies the sanity and normal reasoning of the majority of the nation’s football fans!
Like an addict looking for our next fix we scour every possible media outlet looking for even the most tenuous of links to players both familiar and unknown. The now obligatory 3 minute you tube montage which makes even the most limited of players look like the greatest potential signing in the club’s history (No names mentioned!) start doing the rounds and all of those “in the know” fans (you know who you are!) start inventing phantom sightings at every corner of the city!
For Evertonian’s this excitement has typically been tempered by bouts of anxiety every time one of our prized assets is touted as a possible target for one of our more affluent/ambitious rivals. The growing inevitability that they will ultimately jump ship in order to “advance their career” is a bitter pill we’ve all had to swallow in recent times as we lamented the continued stagnation of our beloved team.
It’s fairly safe to say that the blue landscape has changed significantly over the last 12 months. With Farhad Moshiri’s Billion-pound bankroll apparently burning a hole in his back pocket (“he wants to sign more players than you want to sign” don’t ya’ know! Just ask Bill!) you would think that most Evertonian’s would look on the transfer window with a renewed sense of optimism.
Unfortunately, the last 30 years have ensured that the word’s Evertonian and optimism typically don’t good bedfellows make! A sense of scepticism still remains surrounding our new benefactor. To some, despite already clearing the club’s debt with an interest free loan, obtaining significant investment in the Finch Farm naming rights (bringing his multi-billionaire Bessie mate along with it) and significant improvement being made to the club’s commercial deals he still remains a fraud.
The reasoning for this lies purely and simply with the club’s performance during the summer window.
I think it’s fair to say that we were all a little guilty of getting caught up in the sudden euphoria of being a buying club again. Players were being linked left, right and centre, decent players at that. Gone were the days of McGeady’s, Traore’s and Niasse’s. We had traded the pound shop for Harrods! Juan Mata was signing along with Schneiderlin, Joe Hart was going to join the fun as well as 5 or 6 other players that we’d never heard of but they sounded the business so that was ok! Everything was going to be boss and didn’t we let everyone know it!
Ultimately this didn’t happen. The war chest of 100 million that was touted preseason fell way short of the mark and for many fans who have had their fingers burnt too many times in the past this was a clear indication that all was not what it seemed with our new saviour and an all too familiar narrative was once again unfolding.
Truth be told, the late recruitment of new management and the restrictions that FFP place on the club probably played a greater part in this failure than any other factors but despite bringing in a number of new faces, clearly there were gaps in the squad that hadn’t been addressed and for some that was unacceptable.
Fast forward to the present day and that shadow of doubt has once again appeared on the horizon. Frustration is something that most of us can certainly identify with where Everton are concerned and despite all the encouraging noises coming out of the club during the recent AGM the clubs seeming inability to get the big deals over the line remains a stumbling block and has once again tempered that sense of optimism.
Is it a case of the old Everton not being able to transition to the new? Kenright despite his many criticisms has always retained a reputation of being a good negotiator when it comes to transfers, but has years of being on the defensive and having to make every pound stretch as far as possible now become a hindrance to the club? With a seemingly unlimited budget in contrast to recent windows Everton don’t need to be quibbling over a couple of million here or a couple of million there. If the manager wants a player, then pay what the club are asking and get the deal done. We are too short of quality and cover in so many positions that we can’t afford to drag our heels and miss out on more targets. Give the manager what he needs to make us competitive again and establish us as a force. Maybe someone needs to remind Bill that this isn’t his money so he can relax his sphincter a little during negotiations!
Personally, I think the money thrown around on players and wages is obscene. The money we spent on Schneiderlin is a huge amount of cash in the real world but in the context of football we’re not dealing with the real world and if Moshiri is sincere in his wishes to make Everton a powerhouse once again then we as a club need to make a statement of intent not just to our supporters but to the rest of the footballing world.
I truly believe that the next couple of years will prove to be a watershed in Everton’s history. With the club moving in the right direction off the pitch and with the possibility of an iconic new stadium looking more and more of a reality, the future looks bright. However, despite all of these things, ultimately a club is judged by what happens on the pitch not off it.
To quote Farhad Moshiri at the recent AGM “it is not enough to say that we are special. We don’t want to be a museum. We need to be competitive and we need to win. The gold standard is the Premier league. The premier league is where our competitive edge will be measured. We have a window to establish ourselves and we will do everything we can.”
As fans, this is music to the ears. This is the Everton that we all want us to get back to, the Everton I grew up with, a powerhouse of English football. We’re all done with hearing about taking knives to gun fights or plucky Everton punching above their weight. I personally believe that Moshiri is the man to take us forward as a business, and given the players he wants Koeman is the manager to take us forward as a team. But to quote Aerosmith “Talk is cheap, shut up and dance”. Here’s hoping we all have something to dance about in the not too distant future.