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Everton's Outsized Expectations

Michael Regan

In case you missed it, Evertonians had their usual Twitter meltdown after a big loss on Monday. The angst from the poor performance against Wigan coupled with some familiar information about the state of the club led to calls for Kenwright and Moyes to leave the club, as well as the usual hysterics about outside investment and the stadium problem. It is always funny to see this Twitter meltdown because it is the same story every time.

First Everton loses a match in embarrassing fashion. Then everyone starts grumbling about how awful Moyes is, or how his lineup was poor, or the subs were poor, or really everything was poor. Then more often than not there is an interview or article in the media about the state of Everton’s ownership situation. Then Twitter goes mad. Even with such a situation it is pretty funny to watch.

This unrest on Twitter comes from the simple fact that the fans have expectations that are far higher than the abilities of the squad. Look at all the squads in the EPL and rank Evertons. Certainly Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea have much better quality and depth compared to Everton. Then there is Tottenham, Arsenal, and Everton. I’d argue Tottenham have the 4th best squad in the EPL followed by Arsenal, and Everton has the 6th best squad. Heck you could make an argument that Liverpool’s squad is better than ours, though I’d say the two squads are close enough in talent that it is a wash.

Now everyone is probably screaming about how consistently we can beat teams above us and that is true, we can compete with the big boys. The problem is we don’t have the depth that is needed to make a top 4 run, let alone a title challenge. Everton has always had issues anytime a player or two has to miss due to injury, and that is one of the biggest reasons that we only have the 6th best squad.

A lot of fans may think our squad is better than Arsenal and Spurs, but ask then why our players aren’t being bought constantly. The only players we ever hear about leaving are Baines and Fellaini. Other than that clubs going for 4th don’t see a real need to grab our players. It is a harsh reality, but with a club as skint as ours, it seems odd that more players aren't leaving if they are good enough for the clubs above us.

If we have the 6th best squad then a challenge to the top 4 takes a perfect storm. A club needs to get all the close decisions in their favor, get some help from the refs at one or two crucial moments, and stay fairly injury free. We had that luck come together for us in 2004-2005, and we had it in the first half of this season. Now Everton is reverting towards the mean over their talent, rather than overachieving.

This apparent slide is in direct contrast to the expectations of supporters. Everton has a history of success before the Premier League, and most fans think the club should be competing for Europe and trophies more often than not. Fans have also gotten used to finishing around 6th or 7th, and think the next step for the club is to begin to qualify for the Champions League.

While the Champions League is the next logical step, it takes a huge investment to get there. Look at Tottenham, the latest club to make the jump to competing for the Champions League. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of pounds buying and paying players to compete for 4th.

This is why all the anger at Moyes is slightly over the top. Yes, he has made mistakes on tactics and squad selection before, just as the players have decided to skip showing up to play some weeks. But a new manager isn’t going to do much. Maybe Everton lasts a bit longer while chasing a Champions League berth, but it still requires a tremendous season to finish 4th for the club.

The real ire needs to be on the board and getting more money into the club. Maybe this comes from a fresh start with a new owner, or maybe Kenwright and company can bring some folks in that actually know how to run a business. Regardless of what they do, the club needs money if the expectations of fans are going to be met. Until then it is all just a fantasy.