The Shackles Are Off

It’s all been a bit mad hasn’t it, these past couple of months. I’ve been wanting to try and write something for ages now – basically to try to put my excitement into words – but with so many topics, a conveyor belt of new players arriving with Contract Dave never busier, Oumar Niasse getting a squad number, and pretty much everything at Everton FC being ‘all go’ I postponed doing a write up until I felt there was a bit of a lull in proceedings. Plus during the past few weeks I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a mass of Twitter fume and attention directed our Club’s way – the mini rivalry with West Ham’s ultras kicking off again, Kopites talking about us constantly, claiming that we’ve bought a load of average players, yet they’ve just signed a defender from Hull and are selling Coutinho to Barca, plus the fact that Everton has been the name mentioned first on most broadcasting channels, websites and in the papers, it’s been great to see us in the spotlight and some football fans actually getting annoyed at our behaviour. Evertonians have had me in tears some nights with their social media shouts and it’s brilliant to see my fellow comrades basking in the fact that Everton are brewstered (to the none Scousers reading this – that means rich), and spending money freely as our Iranian Prince sets Everton off into what is a new chapter full of hope. He also bought the Liver Building which was only because he got bored one day, what a guy.


Above I said the word lull, yes there’s been a lull, if you could call it that, in Everton’s summer spending spree, and by lull I mean that even though they are on the brink of smashing their transfer record in what could reportedly be a £50 million move for Gylfi Sigurdsson, it’s been a week since we actually signed a player (Cuco Martina joined on a free transfer from Saints). In that time Everton have played a few pre-season games too and if it feels mad to actually start focusing on the football again after a whirlwind period. We’ve been to Tanzania, Holland and Belgium in pre season and now the blues are home preparing for their Europa League tie against FC Ruzomberok, try saying that after a few scoops, at a packed out Goodison Park on Thursday night.

‘Why haven’t we signed anyone today?’ ‘Sort it out Koeman, it’s been a week now’. Admit it your getting impatient.

I’ve literally struggled to keep up and it’s been boss.

Our latest link – Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea – has raised some ‘debate’ amongst supporters so let me settle that one for you now. Koeman’s obviously bang into him, and Koeman being Koeman he inevitably gets what he wants, like a big Dutch gangster he’s targeted his man and won’t rest until his right hand man Steve ‘the assassin’ Walsh delivers him, so I’d expect it to happen – even if ye Da says he’d ‘only pay about £22 mill for him’ – calm down John from Halewood, it’s not your cash and £50 million just about gets you a right back these days. Some blues need to chill out, enjoy the new-found transfer fees (it is insane yes, but it’s only going to get worse) and remind themselves that things are different nowadays. What’s £50 million to the Mersey Billionaires when we recouped half of that just binning off Deulofeu, Cleverley and McGeady? Whether Sigurdsson is worth it or not doesn’t really matter in what we say or think, if the manager and the Club want him then we are now in the position to pursue players and bring them in. If Walsh and Koeman want him, and they have the money to get him, then it gets a big fat thumbs up from me. The hunted now becomes the hunter, the exact reverse of what we’ve been for the past 20 years, light a cigar, crack a beer and enjoy it, happy days.

Admittedly we are still limited in the type of players we sign as we did finish 7th last season, we can’t offer Champions League football, and our profile is improving, however to get us to that next level we must do what we can in terms of bringing in quality, signing players from the sides above us who need a fresh start, players who possess quality but need a new club to show it at, and also sign the best players from the sides below us too, as well as looking abroad, looking down the leagues for talent, as well as developing youth which we are doing to a tee. Look back over the past year of signings and you’ll see what I mean – we brought in Williams, Gueye, Bolasie, all three were the best players at their respective clubs at the time, we got Schneiderlin from United, a leader and a real Rolls Royce of a player, plus Lookman, one of the hottest talents around. We are now carrying it through, we’ve bought the Ajax Captain in Klaassen, a huge prospect in Sandro, Burnley and Sunderland’s best players and the Manchester United Captain too. Not to mention the investment in youth, and the additional new faces who will surely follow. We’re spending more on our Under 23 squad than most EPL clubs are on their first teams, that’s huge, and we’re still nurturing our own lads too – see Kieran Dowell, Jonjo Kenny, Matty Pennington and Tyias Browning as examples of that. It’s impressive stuff if you see the bigger picture, the collective approach to being talented across the board in terms of personnel is such a vibrant one.

Gylfi Sigurdsson could be the latest name in what has been a fruitful summer so far for ‘FC Sexy’ and he could potentially join Pickford, Klaassen, Keane, Sandro, Rooney, Onyekuru, Martina, and about 3 or 4 boss youngsters who have arrived at Goodison Park. We’ve sold a few as well, most notably McGeady and Cleverley, we released Kone, the seasoned Conor McAleny, oh and we’ve also sold Lukaku and Deulofeu too, and it’s been a very busy time for the Club in what is a huge summer for the Toffees. The fees we have received for outgoing players is impressive, which is key – we won’t accept taking low offers, a pittance, like we may have done in the past, if you want our players you have to pay the going rate. New kits, new commercial deals, financial agreements with banks, the draw for the Europa League, Carling being installed on the pumps at Goodison to name but a few things that have happened throughout recent weeks and it has certainly got the Evertonian pulses racing, well apart from the Carling obviously.

On the Lukaku departure, I’m not going to slag him off as it was inevitable he would leave to be involved in the Champions League, but I don’t think his attitude throughout his time with us helped his reputation at all. Certain fans never really took to him and I don’t think he really took to Everton but whatever your opinion of the lad his record speaks for itself during his time with us. Lukaku banged in the goals and performed well each season he was on Merseyside, but it is significant to me that his departure has been met with little noise from Evertonians, almost like we were losing ‘just another player’ – this epitomises the new found life at Everton and the confidence that we can now fill the gaps left by big players. You could say exactly the same about Deulofeu’s exit, nobody even batted an eyelid. Of course there aren’t many players around who are proven like Rom is in the Premier League, but already you can see the new shape to Everton, Rooney and Sandro appear to be linking up early, plus there are potential for more bodies in that area with talk of Giroud as one possibility. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also there don’t forget too, and of course Onyekuru next season as well. Speaking of departures, today I heard Koeman’s quotes about Ross Barkley wanting a new challenge and that he is now likely to leave Everton – this I simply cannot get my head around. He’s a boyhood blue, he’s hardly got clubs knocking down the door for him has he? Maybe his ego has got the better of him, the stories about him being in with a bad crowd are true, he’s been badly advised, or he’s just had enough of Everton, but I must say I’m confused by it all. Koeman’s admission leaves more questions than answers but one noticeable thing was the Dutchman saying he’s already looking at players in that position – i.e. Sigurdsson (one of a handful probably) so it is plain to see that similarly to Lukaku, if Everton are to lose one of their so-called biggest talents in Ross Barkley, then they are certainly not waiting around to sulk about it. Everton are moving on quickly, and if you don’t want to be part of it then nobody is going to beg you to stay. Personally I’d be sad to see Ross Barkley leave, but just as I said earlier this summer when I wrote about the potential departures of Ross and Rom from Everton, there’s no time or room to worry about it now, our Club is changing and has changed already, we will swiftly move on.

I don’t know about you but I’m overjoyed by what has happened so far this summer, to see those smiles on blue faces and have those conversations of the past few weeks and months, there’s almost an arrogance about us. It’s an arrogance in the fact that we are being noticed now, there’s no more being ‘looked upon fondly but never going to break the mould’, instead heads are turning. Of course the Club are still well respected and highly regarded for many of the good things they do – that’ll never change – but as a business, and in terms of clout and capability, there is a wave of assurance and ambition (two words distant from Everton FC for many a year) about us now and it is absolutely refreshing. I was astounded how we went about swiftly announcing all of our new players to date in such successive and impressive style. Every day there’s been something new, be it a good thing the Club was doing off the pitch, the Under 23’s, EITC, the new players, the commercial aspects, the way we are branding ourselves now, acting like the modern-day Premier League Club that we are, it’s an upward curve which is continuing and will continue into what can be a memorable season ahead. European involvement brings about further revenue, further attention and further chances of silverware and success, the challenges of the Premier League get more and more difficult each year but we’ve never been more up for it, we’ve never been more prepared. Koeman’s grin in his latest press conference represents the feelings of most Evertonians this summer, everyone is brimming with excitement and you get the feeling there are many more positives to come before the season kicks off in August and before that transfer window closes.

I’m relishing every minute of it, seeing kids with Rooney’s name on the back of their shirts like he’s never been away, it stopped me in my tracks whilst I was in Sefton Park at the weekend, dozens upon dozens of them. A sight to behold of you ask me. Whatever your thoughts on Wayne you can’t deny his arrival hasn’t had a positive, influential impact and he’s only been back here weeks, he looks in shape, he has a point to prove and he’s back where he belongs. Just you wait when he pings his first goal in for the Toffees this season, I worry for Goodison’s foundations. The marketing and publicity his return has brought, it’s the right timing for him but more importantly Everton as a Club. He would have had his pick of potential suitors but he chose to come back, it’s massive. Players like him don’t just get written off because of one bad season, at Everton things will be different and you can see he’s already playing a key role, both on and off the pitch. Everton are on the up and he said that in his first interview, he’s not just here for the retirement fund he wants to win, because he’s a winner. I’ve spoken to different fans of different clubs and foreign journalists about our other new signings and the noise is all good. Sandro could really be an eye catcher, his pace and finishing could light up the Premier League. Klaassen comes with a tenacious reputation and experience as the captain of Ajax, your no mug if you lead that team, and Pickford/Keane well you don’t need me to explain, we’ve all seen what they can do. Martina is obviously a lesser glamorous signing however Koeman had managed him at Southampton and he adds to the numbers through the door at Finch Farm. Onyekuru will be one for next season but his statistics read well, and I’m sure the tally of incomings won’t stop now, regardless of what happens with Sigurdsson.

These signings are yet more pieces of the bigger jigsaw Farhad Moshiri, his staff, Steve Walsh, Ronald Koeman and his staff are piecing together for Everton FC and this summer it really does now feel like things are starting to move. Moshiri’s been here 16 months and it’s evident what he has done already, but his vision is now being well and truly put into place. I can’t help but get carried away, not in my lifetime have I seen a buzz around my club like this, nor have any of us ever see us act like this in the transfer market, and that’s not to mention the infrastructure potential – more specifically Bramley Moore. We now have a guy in charge of our finances who has the capacity to take us to another level, a winner of a Manager in Koeman and a growing, talented squad which contains many leaders and a real mix of quality, potential and experience. For years we had to beg, steal and borrow, we borrowed from Peter to pay Paul, loan deals, failed projects, losing assets but not replacing them, long gone are those days, and yes we will still lose players along the way, that’s part and parcel, but the direction Everton FC are going in under the current regime is a significant one, and one that can certainly bring success, we can make new history and this direction is already putting Everton back in the limelight where we all want us to be. There’s a swagger about us, the possibilities really are endless and this summer it definitely feels like the shackles are off at Goodison Park, there’s simply no stopping us now.

Up the Toffees

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