As the final game of the 2020-2021 Premier League season draws closer, Everton somehow remain alive for European competition, despite doing so much to eliminate themselves over the last months of the season. Having beaten Wolves just days ago, the Blues will have to end their campaign on a high note, or wonder what might have been all summer.
For the Toffees to qualify for the Europa Conference League will require a win against the new champions at home, as they prepare to face Chelsea in the Champions League final just six days after they host Carlo Ancelotti’s lot; qualifying will also require certain results to fall properly for the Blues as well.
While Everton are level with Tottenham Hotspur on points at 59, they are 17 goals inferior in goal difference. Arsenal are only a point back at 58 with a seemingly less difficult final match against Brighton & Hove Albion, while Leeds United sits back with 56 points but could also overtake Everton on goal difference should they win while the Blues fall to Manchester City, which could see the Toffees fall all the way to tenth place instead of the coveted seventh spot.
With Leicester City playing Spurs needing a win to secure Champions League football, there is a strong chance that the Foxes end Tottenham’s hopes and European dreams for next season, leaving the seventh position vulnerable if Everton can simply take three points against the Citizens.
Leaving it to chance, say with a draw, would be so risky precisely because the Gunners are playing a match they ought to dominate, and so could easily gain the three points that would vault them over Everton in this instance. It was just weeks ago that both the Europa League and the Champions League were still real possibilities for the Blues, but the newly-formed Europa Conference League might actually be the easiest stepping stone for the Toffees as they get back into European competition with Ancelotti’s squad still needing tinkering to become regular European campaigners.
Everton can be the big fish in the smaller pond
While both other European competitions would’ve been more positive financial boons for the Toffees, the Europa Conference League would still give us additional resources to build the squad. In the long term these innovations would help the club out substantially and could add greater momentum to the team development with so many positives already in place.
There have been murmurs of rumours that Don Carlo could be lured back to Real Madrid this summer, but the manager doesn't seem to be acting like it; he has voiced his frustration with the way the players have performed at times this season, yet has said that he wishes to build something special on Merseyside and not Madrid. I believe him, and think that he wants the challenge of reinvigorating this club still further.
He has said that he simply needs more talent this summer, new players who wish to be there and contribute, and that he wants no one who does not wish to represent the shirt and the badge; while many of his former players have been linked to him, having the Blues back competing in Europe would likely be as wonderful an incentive as playing for their old boss at a very famous old club.
Many of these players rumoured to be on Everton’s radar have won trophies across their club careers. Adding potential old names like Isco, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Kalidou Koulibaly, Alex Meret or Hirving Lozano would be positive innovations were the prices correct. Meanwhile talents like Philippe Coutinho, Yves Bissouma, Daryl Dike, Rafael Leao, Max Aarons and/or others would aid the club in crucial ways across the pitch, preferably for years to come; all of the aforementioned would likely be easier to attarct to Goodison Park with European football a reality, and a team with any of these players alongside our own quality would likely be favored in the newly created third tier of European football.
While obviously the other competitions are more prestigious, I’m not sure there is too much confidence or team development gained from getting into a high profile competition only to get bounced out in short order. If Everton are going to be a developing club, then let them continue to grow and develop in an environment where they will have a good shot at gaining some confidence and maybe even a trophy as they face the harsh and unrelenting Premier League week in and out.