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RBM Roundtable: Everton in 2023, and a wish for 2024

It was a year filled with multiple low points along with some moments when the Blues came together

FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-MAN CITY Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The inimitable Alan Myers posed Everton fans on Twitter with a simple set of questions as 2023 wound down to a close, and we are using those as the basis for a Royal Blue Mersey roundtable.

As the New Year approaches what is your 2023 Everton:

Best result:

Best Goal:

Worst result:

Worst moment:

Player of the year:

Biggest wish for 2024:

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Geoff

Best result: Has to be the 1-0 home victory against Bournemouth on the last day of the 22/23 season.

Best Goal: Was tempted by either of Dwight McNeil’s double against Brighton in the 5-1 win but plumped for Jack Harrison’s delicious strike against Bournemouth this season, technique and control was excellent

Worst result: Too many to choose from almost but I’d opt for the 4-1 home defeat to Newcastle last season when our defence was pathetic. Under the floodlights at Goodison is normally a fantastic atmosphere but that was demoralising.

Worst moment: Was tempted to say the 10 point deduction although that has had a galvanising effect. I would, instead, select the entire month of January 2023 when we had the laughable interview with Farhad Moshiri, the ridiculous delay in sacking Frank Lampard after a winless 10 game run when they lost 8, scoring just 6 goals and conceding 23. Dyche appointed with hours left of the transfer window. Only Everton could do that.

Player of the year: If it was just the 2023/ 24 season then Jarrad Branthwaite without a shadow of a doubt but he didn’t really feature until late August. For me, over the entire calendar year, James Tarkowski who has never missed a game in the year and, until this last weekend, had barely put a foot wrong.

Biggest wish for 2024: Obviously survival in the Premier League but also to keep hold of Branthwaite at all costs.

Everton FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Tom

Best result: The Bournemouth win is a stand out but I have to pick the stunning 5-1 win at Brighton a few weeks earlier. It the perfect away performance and a display so at odds with what we had endured for much of the season. It was vital too, Everton escaped the relegation zone that day and never went back in it.

Best Goal: Abdoulaye Doucoure v Bournemouth. Not only was it a great strike but it meant everything to Evertonians everywhere. A goal that will be remembered for years to come.

Worst result: So many to choose from! But I probably have to pick the 4-1 home defeat by Newcastle in April. It felt like all hope had been sucked out of the club that night and relegation was inevitable.

Worst moment: Again, there’s so many to choose from. But I would probably pick the day Everton were handed the 10-point deduction. It was a crushing blow just as the team were showing signs of real progress. Even if they get some or all back on appeal, Evertonian anger at their club’s treatment will not subside for a while.

Player of the year: Abdoulaye Doucoure. He began the year ostracised from the first-team squad under Frank Lampard but transformed into one the team’s key players under Sean Dyche. His absence through injury over recent games as been sorely missed.

Biggest wish for 2024: That the club’s off-field future is resolved, with capable and responsible owners showing true leadership and consigning the financial turbulence of recent years - and all the ramifications that has brought - to the history books.

Everton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Pat

Best result: Everton’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth to secure safety in the last game of last season.

Best Goal: Michael Keane’s screamer against Tottenham Hotspur in the 90th minute to secure a 1-1 draw and a much-needed point last season.

Worst result: This might be recency bias, but I’d say the League Cup QF loss to Fulham. We were absolutely soaring and that match felt like a sure win, especially at home.

Worst moment: The 10-point deduction of course.

Player of the year: Dwight McNeil! Everton have been crying out for a talented winger for years now, and it’s a pleasant sight to have him and Jack Harrison on the wings. Hard to believe Dwight is only 24, too.

Biggest wish for 2024: The dreamer in me would say an FA Cup win. The realist in me would wish for some points back following the appeal. If neither of those two happen, let’s just stay up!

Everton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Kevin

Best result: There are a few candidates (surprisingly), considering how generally awful and stressful 2023 was on the pitch. Everton have enjoyed some dominating performances and pivotal ones, but considering both categories, I’d have to go for the 5-1 destruction of Brighton at the Amex on May 8th. With only four games left to rescue the club’s Premier League status, the Blues were in deep trouble on a seven-game winless streak, whereas the Seagulls were unbeaten in six at home, winning five and were being widely praised for their attacking football under Roberto de Zerbi. Nobody could have predicted how that game would play out and how badly Everton would maul them. The unexpected win gave the team a real shot in the arm and meant that they’d still have their fate in their own hands on the final day.

Best goal: I’ve given the player a lot of criticism (more to come!) but Michael Keane’s long-range thunderbolt to tie the game against Spurs on April 3rd is my pick, narrowly ahead of Dwight McNeil’s 1966 World Cup Final-style blast into the roof of the net from a tight angle in the Brighton demolition.

Worst result: Where to start? I’ve left off the handful of defeats in 2023 under Frank Lampard, because at that stage it’s hard to say I expected anything from the team. Others where Everton were easily handled at home by good teams like Newcastle United, or Brighton are tempting, but I’m going with the 2-1 loss to Luton Town at Goodison Park on September 30th. Watching the Toffees get undone on home turf by yet another newly-promoted side and one considered to have next to no chance of Premier League survival before the season had even kicked off, was a demoralizing experience. Just ugh all around.

Worst moment: Looking back at the shambles that the club has been throughout the year off the pitch, the low point has to be the November decision by an independent commission appointed by the Premier League, to penalize Everton ten points due to an admitted breach of profit and sustainability regulations. For a club owned by a billionaire-chartered accountant to be caught out in such a way beggars belief, but this is quite apt for Everton in 2023.

Player of the year: There’s been a few solid candidates, but for sheer consistency of contribution and impact over the whole year it’s between two main contenders, separated by very little. For me, Abdoulaye Doucoure just edges out McNeil.

Biggest wish for 2024: I have a few of these written out (not on paper, I’m not reduced that that level of desperation), but foremost it’s that Everton gets a new ownership in place, preferably in January. The club can’t be allowed to drift in the current manner, with an owner who is incapable of providing either financial support, or direction and a cobbled-together executive team. It’s true that 777 Partners may not be ideal replacements for Farhad Moshiri, but Everton are out of time - and alternatives - and the situation needs stabilizing immediately.

Everton v Burnley - Carabao Cup - Fourth Round - Goodison Park Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Peter

Best result: It would be easy to say the 1-0 victory over Bournemouth that sealed our status as a Premier League team for another year but for me it was the Brighton victory three weeks earlier. Brighton had been the breakout team of the year and eventually qualified for Europe after finishing in 6th place ahead of the chasing pack, the best of the rest. A 5-1 demolition away from home was completely unexpected but showed that we could score goals and could work as a team.

Best Goal: Seamus Coleman vs Leeds was another in the unexpected joys of the year. Coleman has been the heart of our team for a long time and in his early days we grew to love the way he charged down the line to cross the ball for his team mates. The same marauding Irishman went down the wing, heading to the Gwladys Street End and looked for the cross but saw the Leeds keeper off the line and he blasted the ball into the net to give us the victory over Leeds.

Worst result: This week it was Wolves, last week it was City and Tottenham.......you get the idea. Any loss is the worst result but as an Evertonian we have to put them behind us and focus on getting better and working as a team, sticking to the plan and focusing on the next match....look at that, I am starting to sound like Dyche!!!!!!!!

Worst moment: For me, the takeover of the club by 777 Partners was a low point as the negative vibes surrounding the purchase are very disconcerting. I understand that the business world is well out of my sphere of influence but our team is being purchased by a group of investors who ultimately just want to make money. It has nothing to do with this team, or this city, or the history of this great club. Bill Kenwright may have been slagged but ultimately, he bought the club because he loved the club. A purchase by a profiteer, full stop, is so unfortunate.

Player of the year: It has to be Abdoulaye Doucoure. He scored THE goal against Bournemouth. He was the player who has scored other goals of significance and when he is not in the team, we have been poor. Get well soon, real soon! Please?

Biggest wish for 2024: I am getting back to Goodison in March to see Everton play Liverpool. It will be my last time at Goodison (probably) before we move to the Everton Stadium. I will be sitting in the Gwlady Street End where I used to sit on the bar with my Dad behind me. My wish is to see a win for the boys in the royal blue jerseys!

Everton v Fulham - Carabao Cup Quarter Final Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Calvin

Best result: Without a doubt the 5-1 demolition of Brighton late last season. It seemed to spark some belief in a side shorn of that confidence as mistakes ground down the team.

Best Goal: There have been a number of candidates for this one, so how about I pull out one of my more recent faves - the third goal in the recent dismantling of Newcastle at Goodison Park, Beto’s first league goal for the Blues and one 29-pass-long sequence serenaded all the way by the crowd going ‘olé’.

Worst result: There have been some befuddling results this season, both losses against Wolves right at the top of that list, along with that loss to Luton Town.

Worst moment: It started early in January 2023 with the Board of Directors purportedly staying away from Goodison due to safety issues that mysteriously were never really addressed, but the relationship between fans and the club’s ownership has deteriorated rapidly after that.

Player of the year: A number of good shouts in Jordan Pickford and James Tarkowski, but surely it has to be Abdoulaye Doucoure whose indefatigable running and his timely goals have saved the Blues’ bacon very often.

Biggest wish for 2024: That this whole ownership issue gets resolved promptly and without too much impact on the on-field results. Whether it’s 777 Partners or someone else coming in, just would like to see this sale of the company go through all the stage-gates successfully and the new stadium construction is completed appropriately within the December ‘24 deadline.