The summer is always a good time to level set expectations among the Everton fanbase, as well as discussing what went well and what went badly. Not much more needs to be said about what went wrong the last season, so we started off by discussing the end of Marco Silva’s tenure, and what Carlo Ancelotti has brought to the Blues.
Marco Silva - should have been sacked earlier, right time to go, or given more time?
Matthew: Should have been sacked earlier; my patience snapped with Silva after the Sheffield United defeat in September. Clearly a lovely fella but just not up to it at Everton.
Though, I understand why Everton were so desperate not to part with him and gave him every chance to turn it around. And also, Ancelotti only became available a week after Silva’s December departure, so we may have ended up with a less desirable replacement had Silva been sacked much earlier.
Pat: Silva should’ve been sacked earlier. I feel like our fanbase gets too caught up in the emotions of it all once a former manager comes out and expresses how much they enjoyed their time at the club. While the sentiment is appreciated, we have seen dire times since Moyes left and results are all that matter.
Tom: The bigger issue with Silva was whether he should have got the job in the first place, but that’s another question. Looking at this season alone, he probably should have gone after the Norwich game, which was truly dreadful. But I can understand the reluctance given the tough upcoming run of fixtures. Through sheer luck, however, Duncan Ferguson’s caretaker tenure suited big matches against Chelsea and Man United perfectly, and also coincided with Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal at Napoli, which freed him up to move to Goodison. So things worked out nicely in the end.
Brian: I’m not sure that it matters either way. Everton’s problems have extended beyond the manager since David Moyes and while Silva staying may have threatened relegation a bit more than this season did, it would have been absolutely stunning to see the Toffees relegated.
Pete: When Marco got it right, we looked fantastic (remember that home run at the end of 2018/19?). The trouble was, like Martinez, he kept making the same mistakes week-in, week-out and wasn’t winning the games we expect to win. Personally, I don’t typically believe in changing managers mid-season, but the crowd had turned on him and things could have got ugly. Probably the right time.
Calvin: He had no Plan B and it was clear in the first season. I get the feeling Brands and the rest of the leadership had also bought in to what Marco was selling, and in the end had to cut him before things got uglier with the fanbase. Not a fan of mid-season changes, but there was nothing left to do but sack him.
How happy are you with both the appointment of and the work done so far by Carlo Ancelotti?
Matthew: Could hardly be happier with both. His appointment was bizarrely ridiculed in some quarters but I think he will be the man who can truly shake Everton to its foundations. It is a different job to that which he has taken previously, yes, but no experience of something does not make you bad at it. Results tailed off towards the end but I don’t think he could have got much more of a tune out of what is patently a mess of a squad.
Pat: I was thrilled at the Carlo appointment; still hard to believe. In terms of results, for what he’s been handed, I am pleased; he oozes confidence and desire for improvement.
Tom: I was and still am extremely happy with the appointment. Ancelotti is footballing royalty and credit has to go to the board for persuading him to move to Merseyside. He has shown already that he possesses the tactical nous to win points from games we would otherwise lose, and the progress of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite shows he is willing to put his faith in young players. The form after the restart was poor, but Ancelotti gets a free pass given the state of the squad, which includes a complete black hole in midfield. Everton is going to take a long time to fix, so I’d say even a year is not long enough to be able to judge his progress. If we are still in the same position at the end of the 2021-22 season, then questions may need to be asked.
Brian: The nice thing about Ancelotti is he understands what it takes to win on and off the pitch. If he is able to form a working relationship with Brands where they can transform the entire club then I think he’ll be successful. But if all he can do is maximize the performance of the squad I don’t think we’ll see much beyond what we’ve experienced over the last 5-plus seasons.
Pete: He’s steadied the ship and he’s just a loveable bloke. Can he transform us into real contenders? I’m doubtful. But I’d love to be proven wrong. We have to give him time even when things get tough.
Calvin: I’m one of the sceptics who wasn’t quite sure about the Ancelotti appointment. On one hand I can see him laying down the foundations for what could be an excellent legacy, but on the other hand I am not completely sold that the Board will give him whatever he needs. Tactically, he seems to have laid out a bit of a simplistic gameplan when qualifying for Europe required more risk-taking, but it seems he was ready to accept that we would not be contending for a Europa League spot.
Three first team players Everton should move on, and one player we could realistically sign this summer?
There’s almost a consensus on a handful of players - Fabian Delph, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott from the main squad, with Yannick Bolasie and Sandro Ramirez among the loan army were the top names.
Among targets that the Blues should be looking at there was a wide variety of names that popped up in positions we are pretty weak at.
Hopes and expectations for next season?
Matthew: A top seven finish, a cup (not just a cup run - let’s actually win one this year), and a club and fan base that feels as united as it did in Roberto Martinez’s spectacular first season.
Pat: Finish top-8 and win a trophy. There is speculation that the teams who qualified for Europe won’t be involved in the league cup next season due to scheduling conflicts; next year is our best shot to end the trophy drought.
Tom: I’m usually always optimistic ahead of a new season, but years of disappointment have numbed by senses, to the extent where expectations for 2020-21 are lower than they have been for a long time. The squad looks in too much of a mess to allow for rapid improvement, with even a cup run looking beyond this current lot.
The presence of Ancelotti is the only reason for genuine optimism, but he’s not a miracle worker. A more balanced squad (including some semblance of a midfield) and genuine signs of progress is the best we can probably hope for, even if that results in yet another mid-table finish.
Brian: My hope is that we see true improvement in the talent level of the squad. If we truly want to compete for Europe and have it be more than just a hope and a prayer the overall talent level at the club has to be better. That’s what I’m looking for this year that will show me Brands and Ancelotti have a real plan.
Pete: Hopes? Win a cup and top 4? Expectations? Flounder just above mid-table.
Calvin: I want to see squad development, tactical maturity, better play on the pitch, in youngsters coming through and in decisions made by the Board. I don’t expect any of this to happen over this summer, so I am mentally preparing myself for another season of flirting with Europa League contention and missing out again.