With 20 games played in the 2022/23 Premier League season, one of England’s
most historic clubs is staring down the barrel at relegation to the EFL
Championship. Liverpool-based Everton FC have just 15 points to their name and
sit second to bottom, only by virtue of having a moderately better goal
difference than bottom side Southampton.
Founded in 1878, the Toffees are one of the most historic clubs in English
football. They also boast a proud record of having the second-longest presence
in the top-flight of the English football pyramid. The last time Everton played
in the second tier was the 1953/54 season. That’s two generations of Everton
fans who have only tasted top tier action, but there is a genuine prospect of
the Toffees falling out of the Premier League this year.
The club has recently disposed of the services of former manager Frank
Lampard, who failed to build on last season’s momentum after dramatically avoiding relegation in 2021/22. The former Derby and Chelsea
boss was a marquee appointment for Everton in their hour of need, with
Lampard’s reputation from his glittering playing career preceding him.
fans have begun to tilt at their team’s lack of passion, creativity, defensive
nous and goals. You name it, the Goodison Park faithful are tilted about it.
Tilt is a buzz word used in the world of poker, where unforeseen circumstances at the
poker table – like losing a big pot with a very strong pre-flop hand – can
cause players to be detrimentally affected mentally. There’s no doubting that
the Toffees’ underachievement, given the hundreds of millions spent, has caused
the fans to tilt on the terraces; losing faith in the club’s boardroom and
confidence in the players to do their job on the pitch.
Lampard was stripped of his marquee names
Lampard’s appointment was supposed to be the antithesis of his predecessor,
Rafa Benitez. Everton fans had grown tired of Benitez’ pragmatic approach to
the team’s style of play. Unfortunately for Lampard, multiple things went
against him to create the front-foot, attack-minded team he and the fans
craved. Star striker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, has been injury-prone of late,
while Lampard was stung by the sale of Brazilian top scorer Richarlison to Tottenham before the 22/23 season
began. His replacements – the likes of Neal Maupay and Dwight McNeil – have
failed to set the world alight.
Moshiri gets the most flak from Toffees fans
Although some might blame Lampard for the weakening of the Everton squad,
more long-sighted fans believe the club’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, is much more
at fault. Upwards of £500 million has been invested in the playing staff, most
of which has been wasted on ageing players or precocious talents that have
failed to perform in front of the Goodison Park faithful. Fans feel
short-changed over the club’s lack of a long-term plan. In fact, the only long-term project that has come
to fruition is the club’s new stadium on the Bramley Moore Dock, although
Moshiri and co. could look somewhat red-faced if the club ends up moving
grounds while playing in the second tier.
There are many fans equally frustrated with long-time chairman Bill
Kenwright for failing to control Moshiri’s spending. CEO Denise
Barrett-Baxendale also has plenty of questions to answer for her role in the
overall mismanagement of the club. Seven managers have taken charge of Everton
since Farhad Moshiri took ownership of the Toffees. That’s an average of one
manager every 0.85 seasons. The British-Iranian entrepreneur has his work cut
out in finding a replacement for Lampard, given the club’s perilous league
position and the lack of transfer funds likely to be available. The
mismanagement of transfer fees means that the club now needs to cut its cloth
accordingly to stay on the right side of Financial Fair Play (FFP).
For a second season in succession, Everton as a club is battling relegation.
Gone are the days of being the gritty underdogs for a Champions League
qualification place. Everton are the modern-day example that money does not
guarantee success. Without a coherent strategy that runs through a club from
top to bottom, they are frittering away their best ever opportunity of catching
up with the Premier League elite.