The recent interview with Romelu Lukaku was billed by the local press to be an impending disaster for Evertonians. On the contrary, upon reading the transcript fans were left with a sense of agreement, as they saw their star man speak with refreshing honesty.
It read like a fan interview for the most part. The Belgian spoke of the proud history and tradition of the club being nice, but simply not enough to keep Everton amid the party of big clubs competing for European places and major honours.
He went on to voice his frustration at the lack of high profile signings, citing Belgian teammate Vincent Kompany’s delight at City signing the likes of Robinho as an example of every player’s hunger to be part of a developing and exciting project.
Everton fans, although encouraged by the acquisitions of the likes of Ademola Lookman, Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye, will have felt that the last 2 windows have not delivered as much as was promised. Bolasie and Williams still have much to prove, whilst the loan signing of Enner Valencia on deadline day epitomised an underwhelming summer of spending.
Lukaku also spoke of Everton’s uninspiring recruitment, highlighting the club’s failure to attain their top targets, many of whom are said to be performing well for other Premier League clubs this season. It begs the question, are the board really trying as hard as they say?
It’s a question that neither Lukaku nor Evertonians have found the answer to. When asked about the club’s ambition, he said he “didn’t really know” the boards plan. This statement encapsulates the problem entirely – the Everton board are letting the club down by not making their intentions clear.
Romelu Lukaku is not the first to raise this issue. His manager Ronald Koeman challenged the board in January to deliver a firmer plan of action behind the scenes to take the club forward on the pitch. Lukaku’s words merely echoes those of his manager; they are both showing a winner’s mentality. In an era where Premier League clubs are becoming more and more competitive, Everton must use all their tools to build towards a better future.
The summer is of course when all will be revealed. If Lukaku can be forced to stay, it will only be because of a sudden change of stance from the board. The plan; buy early, buy wisely and most importantly buy big. It will not only send out a message to the likes of Lukaku and Ross Barkley that Everton mean business, but the big clubs will also take note.
Were Lukaku to leave, which does look most likely, Everton will have a vast rebuilding job on their hands. However, they should not let this be an excuse to accept mediocrity for the next season or two. A plan must be in place to use the vast funds from the sale to improve a squad with some genuine potential.
The blues must be very careful and learn from the mistakes made by Spurs and Liverpool when they sold their star men to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Spurs were in a healthier position than Everton are now when they sold Gareth Bale, but their recruitment took them backwards when they bought in the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Vlad Chiriches.
Similarly, Liverpool made some disastrous decisions after they sold Luis Suarez. Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Divock Origi were signed for a combined fee of nearly £30mil, much to the disappointment of the Anfield faithful, showing that quantity simply cannot replace quality.
If Lukaku’s departure sends Everton into a downward spiral, it will prove that despite new investment the same old story applies. They seemingly have everything in place to become competitive. A new stadium, a top manager, money for transfers, a director of football. Everything but the basics; The fundamental will to win at all costs.
Lukaku’s words must act as a wake up call for the club; they should be preparing a strong course of action that can be swiftly delivered. Show him we mean business; if he still doesn’t care for it then move him on. Everton are in danger of standing still whilst players like Romelu Lukaku come and go. It is time for Everton to finally stand up and let their actions do the talking.