“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
Old Albert knew a thing or two. And, if he was in Carlo Ancelotti’s position, he may well recognise Everton have a chance to make the most of this bizarre situation we find ourselves in.
In case you haven’t looked at the Premier League table lately, Everton are 12th, ten points clear of the relegation spots and six short of the Europa League positions.
To all but the most optimistic (or pessimistic) supporters, therefore, it’s safe to say that there is basically nothing realistic to play for in the remaining nine games apart from good old fashioned, participation award - ‘pride’.
Of course, dead pan fixtures towards the end of the season have become something of an Everton speciality.
None more so than when Sam Allardyce babysat the Blues for the remainder of the 2017/18 season.
Big Sam, though – as far as I’m aware – has never been mentioned in the same breath as Albert Einstein. He dragged the Blues to an eighth-place finish by way of the the most dire of pragmatic football imaginable.
But he had a chance. He had a swathe of promising youngsters under his tutelage, whom he could have given plenty of game time too without any real risk. Indeed, if he’d been willing to show any kind of vision or ambition, he might have even been allowed to reach the second season of his contract.
Instead Everton ended the season with Oumar Niasse on the pitch, while Mason Holgate, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Nikola Vlasic watched from the sides, and Ademola Lookman and Antonee Robinson watched from even further away as they thrived on loan elsewhere.
Now Everton are back in the same spot. The season is essentially finished. Yes, there’s a few million quid to boost the coffers if you manage to sneak up to eighth, but it would be nothing compared to the value that could be created.
Anthony Gordon, Moise Kean and Tom Davies need serious game time. Not ten-minute cameos. 90 minutes on the pitch as much as possible until the end of the season – aided by the bonus of not having a frustrated Goodison groan behind them.
What’s the downside?
They play badly and we finish 14th? Well, at least we know they’re not ready and can send them out on a season-long loan next season.
They play well and we finish eighth? We’ll have developed three players with big potential, boosting their values by millions and create a youthful spine to the team on which we build.
Everton have a big opportunity to make the best of a bizarre situation and build something here. But I don’t think we’ll take it.