So then, summer 2017.
Having watched the Toffees for a while now and as someone present- at least for the first half at Sunderland 2015-16, to be experiencing the current transfer window feels as if I have entered the Twilight Zone meanwhile with rumours this very afternoon of a £65m bid for Virgil Van Dyke.
We are without doubt now fully through the looking- glass as a football club while our usual activity during the close-season is more akin to dossing from any pretensions whatsoever on social media whilst praying that we don’t sell the family silver.
So yeah, great, fabulous even and this is certainly a time to take a load off, spark a cigar and enjoy the ambience which we have all undoubtedly earned, yet I cannot help but wonder what comes next??? Is the Premier League ready for a resurgent Everton, indeed are we??? Things are going to start changing in all kinds of ways, to paraphrase Biggie; Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.
First things first Farshad Moshiri. I shall not attempt to state that I was all gung-ho for a billionaire owner because I was not on the basis that I generically mistrusted their aims and aspirations for what is a very specific type of club. Mike Ashley would not work at Goodison Park- he doesn’t work at Newcastle United either in fairness but I trust you take my point. I was loathe yet in the 16 months or so that Mr. Moshiri has been here he appears to have assessed what needed doing and attempted to address those issues. The stadium revamp as well as the appointment of Steve Walsh- more of whom later, spoke volumes yet Farshad himself said very little other than to reiterate the party line that this is the People’s Club and that these people deserve better.
It is at this point that our expectations began to be lifted with the arrival of Ajax captain Davy Klaassen, England U-21 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Spanish U-21 striker Sandro, Premier League starlet defender, and our Jake’s mate, Michael Keane and current England captain and of course ex-alumni Wayne Rooney and we are not yet halfway through July. Howard Kendall once signed 7 players in a single summer and they were termed “magnificent” despite only Neville Southall ever amounting to much in Everton blue (or green). While I suspect that there will be at least as many this summer, the standard of player has improved exponentially so I eagerly await the applicable adjective of this group. It is the stuff of St. Domingo dreamland and should one postscript these with the- even if merely a rumour, interest in Van Dyke allied to the recent purchase of the Liver buildings underlines that this man is neither a financial nor indeed a political novice. In the period available he has manifested on all his pre-and immediate post-purchase promises and gives no reason to suspect that the pipeline is about to be shut-off any time soon. In short, he has delivered which in turn places the onus upon our manager, his new squad and ultimately ourselves.
Ronald Koeman does not strike me as the type of person to shy from pressure yet pressure is what he will feel from this point on in his Toffee tenure simply because of the increase in our profile as a result of Moshiri’s transfer activity. Last season he could legitimately claim to be steering Martinez’s ship and evaded criticism as a result. He no longer has that shield and the media in particular will look to focus thereupon hence our displays specifically against last season’s top 6 teams take on even greater significance as will his tactics, specifically away from home, furthermore if our Dutchman has any genuine pretensions of ultimately managing Barcelona then he needs to start giving them reasons to start monitoring him and that means trophies. Plural. We shall of course see.
Yesterday I spoke to someone whom has known Steve Walsh personally for many years and spoke highly of him as an individual and as a football man and stressed that he sets great stall by the personality of players, the right type of footballer. I like that- I’m not disliking a whole lot generally at the moment in fairness but again Steve Walsh has gone about his business in an efficient and understated manner while delivering for the most part, young footballers of quality. I like that too, meanwhile the wider blueprint is slowly coming into focus and I think I like that most of all.
As for the rest of the world of English football, I suspect that they may like our new-found financial fluidity somewhat less indeed our status as “plucky old Everton- used to be a force now they’re loyal but no longer a threat” is I expect about to undergo a review and furthermore that the honeymoon period may be a brief one. Should Farshad Moshiri continue his investment to anything resembling current levels then we shall find ourselves becoming legitimate contenders- certainly for the top 4 and folks I’m afraid are simply not going to like it. Indeed I expect, having sown the wind as regards our transfer activity we are almost certainly be about to reap the whirlwind as regards the affections of other football fans whom to date have kinda gotten along with us. Fortunately our neighbours will not in this instance be forced to invent some traditional rivalry to underline their stance although they too will not be happy. These are not simply throwaway comments of brevity but rather genuine points. If they like us they like us, if they don’t well that’s alright too but we have to simply maintain focus and above do not under any circumstances start “having” ourselves. It is this trait that we have so loathed and ridiculed in our crimson cousins for years and we must actively strive to avoid becoming something that we despise having basically built our brand upon our being “of the people” “of family” of being different. So let’s be different.
Our club is moving forward and we shall be encountering new territory and a winning mentality is essential, enter Wayne Rooney, but I truly believe our collective mindset, patience and behaviour as fans is as crucial. Let us not forget that a year after finishing 5th Roberto’s team were booed off at 0- 0 at half-time in our first home game of the following campaign against Watford. It was ridiculous and needs to be jettisoned as a behaviour trait while the journey we all hope that we are about to embark upon will include a huge learning curve for us all. It will also- to my mind require higher standards all round. On the field there will be signings whom work immediately others whom take a while to settle and still others whom just do not work out at all. This has been the methodology at Chelsea and Manchester City when under new (wealthy) ownership and I expect something similar for ourselves. There will be no overnight fix yet should we allow a soupcon more patience and our owner inject a tad more millions over coming years we may well find ourselves challenging for major honours once more. Investment however will not merely be required by our owner it will also need to come from ourselves. From our own expectation levels.
By way of conclusion I would highlight that I have purposely omitted any mention of Ross Barkley on the basis that should he still be amongst our playing roster on September 1st then great, if not then we are moving on regardless. As for yourselves, yous should indeed all shade under Farshad’s money tree during what is admittedly an extremely brilliant summer following a long period of more than stormy climes yet once it is over and fixtures begin we need to begin to apply ourselves for campaigns and journeys long hoped for as they are around the corner. Everton Football Club shall require optimum from all parties. Be ready.
David Fehily; LCAB