Look back to the 80′s and football fans used to refer to the ‘big 5′, five teams that were the ‘top 4′ of an era, teams that had a magic about them and dominated league, cup and European competition. Since the Premier League started only two of this ’5′ have been unable to emulate past success in the Premier League years; Spurs and Everton. Everton in the 1980′s were unbelievable, they won a string of trophies that ranged from the First Division title to the European Cup Winners Cup and were one of the most exciting teams in the land. The success in the 1980′s sparked a generation of new fans, but fast forward to modern day and the same fans have grown frustrated with the uncertainty that surrounds the club financially.
It is amazing to think that other clubs have secured investment and takeovers when they are in a worse financial position. Aston Villa are a prime example of this; they recently released their figures for 2010/11 financial year and it wasn’t good reading. Villa’s net debt as of May 2011 was nearly double that of Everton’s and when you look around the rest of the Premier League, Everton’s finances on paper do not look as bad as some others. Similarly to Spurs, Everton need to look at a serious stadium upgrade to give this historically great side a home that will take the team in to a new era.
David Moyes has performed miracles on a shoestring budget, which is easily one of the lowest in the Premier League. He has managed to keep Everton competitive and at the same time play an exciting brand of football. Moyes has had his critics, but Everton fans are knowledgeable and understand the job he has done at their club is nothing short of remarkable. David Moyes has become one of the most sort-after managers in English football after his achievements at Everton, but Moyes remains totally committed even though he doesn’t get the luxuries other managers in the league get.
Without the riches of other clubs, Moyes has had to be an extremely shrewd operator in the transfer market. If you look at the last three seasons of transfer activity it shows you just how shrewd he has been. He has taken big decisions to move players on to help ease the clubs financial problems as much as possible and not always had a lot in return. Moyes managed to get big earners like Louis Saha, Joseph Yobo and Lucas Neill off the wage bill.
He has managed to sign bargains and good quality free transfers over the years like Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Darren Gibson, Phil Jagielka and Jermaine Beckford who have contributed to the team or been moved on to contribute to the clubs finances. Even his latest ‘big’ signing, Nikica Jelavić, will turn out to be extremely good value if he can transfer his goal scoring prowess in Scotland to the Premier League having cost just £5.5million. Moyes has also been wily in the loan market adding quality with the likes of Landon Donovan, Royston Drenthe, Denis Stracqualursi and the return of Steven Pienaar.
Moyes’ main ‘pièce de resistance’ has come with his transfer dealings for younger players, whilst giving youth academy graduations the chance to shine at the club. Moyes has complimented the likes of Jack Rodwell, Leon Osman, Victor Anichebe and now Ross Barkley with Shamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Apostolos Vellios and Magaye Gueye to give this Everton side serious longevity and unity. Moyes has built something from nothing at Everton and he should take the plaudits for it.
But I worry that trouble looms for Everton. They don’t want to become a club at the mercy of the big boys who do have the financial clout and turn Everton in to a club that has to sell when it is not on their terms. As members of this side keep performing, interest in those players’ services intensifies and Everton do not want to get into a situation where players have to be sold on the cheap. The arrival of Jelavic shows exactly how this can happen; Rangers wanted big money for their top scorer with figures of £7-£10million floating around, but in the end he signed for just £5.5million as they were desperate. Clubs will come calling for the likes of Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Ross Barkley, Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell probably as early as this summer and how long they can hold on to such stars is anyone’s guess having already seen Arteta sold to Arsenal.
The other key point as well as the quality of the playing squad is Moyes himself. How long can Everton hold off the advances of others clubs for their manager? Many of the big clubs will be changing manager in the next few years with Moyes already touted as a possible successor at both Manchester United and Spurs. With the club constantly defying the odds in the league, a great squad of talented players, a top class manager and finances that are restrained, but not awful, Everton will never be a more appealing proposition than now. Investment simply has to come if this giant club is to fully awaken.