We finish up our review of the past Everton season, in which each individual will be recapped and rated. Today, we look at the club as a whole.
Everton continued to cement their reputation as the People’s Club with a number of community-focused initiatives across Merseyside. The planning work around the new stadium and the move to Bramley-Moore Dock has been painstakingly slow, but the Blues are leaving no stones unturned in their mission of ensuring that fans and local citizens are heard.
On the pitch, Everton had their second successive eighth-placed finish, albeit as a team on the rise. Under Marco Silva in his first season, the Toffees looked exciting and vibrant in the second half of the season, and put together an encouraging run of results against the top six.
All was not rosy financially though, as the club paid the price of poor transfer market spending from years past as well as multiple settlements led to an operating loss of £22.9 million for the year 2018, after making a profit of £25m the season before.
A full round of stadium consultations held in person on Merseyside and online resulted in significant design inputs for architect Dan Meis. We’ll finally get to see some designs for the new stadium in the next round of consultations next week, though some renderings we’ve already seen filled us with great hope that the new stadium will indeed be the fortress we want.
The Toffees aren’t going to leave Goodison Park without making a mark though. The site the Grand Old Lady stands on will remain Everton’s spiritual home forever. Under the leadership of current CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton in the Community (EitC) has gone from strength to strength and continues to be a pillar of support for social initiatives in the Northwest region.
Last summer the club announced Marcel Brands as the new Director of Football, and he immediately set out to trim a gigantic squad of bit part players and over-the-hill veterans. A year on, the Blues are still saddled with an unwieldy squad and wage bill, but there have been signs of progress.
Almost all the transfers into the club have been unmitigated successes, with Lucas Digne and Richarlison massively impressing in excellent first seasons. Blues can finally see a concerted plan approaching transfer windows and an unheralded sense of positivity has replaced the apathy from Sam Allardyce’s tenure.
The Under-23 side accomplished a feat never done before in England, lifting the youth domestic double, while the Under-18 side also had a strong season. There remain some very worrying trends in the women’s side which need to be addressed before the Blue Girls become the laughing stock of the Women’s Super League (WSL), and we hope there is a renewed sense of focus on that side of the club.
Another record year of Premier League earnings means the Blues should come closer to turning a profit, even though significant sums of money are being spent on the planning phases of stadium development.
Everton will need to ensure their planning application is filed by the end of 2019 to keep to the timeline of moving into the new stadium for 2023, starting with the second round of consultations in July.
The Blues will need another magical transfer window from Brands and team, including strengthening the squad in multiple positions to ensure the Toffees can pose a more coherent challenge to the top six sides.
As we noted in Silva’s report card, anything less than at least one Wembley appearance in the Cups and coming closer to the top six will be considered a bad season.
Grade - B
While EitC and stadium initiatives are feelgood factors for the fanbase, at the end of the day Everton Football Club’s existence is dependent primarily on one thing - the success of the men’s senior side. We want to see that get better first and foremost, by competing for trophies and getting back into Europe.