Modern-day football is a financial beast unlike anything most supporters have seen. In the decades past, a football club was something that could sustain itself; depending on a single source of income today is akin to financial suicide. Nonetheless, a team like Everton have shown that despite their perilous situation football clubs can still compete with the best even if the playing field is off-kilter.
Everton were much like Liverpool in the 80s, a team vying for the league something that would sound almost fantastical if it were uttered nowadays. Since the inception of the Premier League (which has produced as many successes as it has disasters) they have dropped off, a solitary FA Cup win in 1995 and entry into the preliminary Champions Leagues stages ranking amongst their best achievements in recent memory.
…managed to retain a place…
Unlike Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday or Leeds, they’ve managed to retain a place amongst the elite of English football through graft, an acceptance of losing their best players to bigger clubs and keenness on using their academy system to replenish the playing staff. Everton are no longer a big club and despite their illustrious history, past achievements alone would not suffice in today’s environment where petrochemical dollars and a worldwide network of fans are key to local and global success.
Despite that, Everton as a club has been shrewd, manager David Moyes has made some astute signings, making use of the loan market to snap up talented players like Landon Donovan and Royston Drenthe without paying exorbitant transfer fees. The fans are passionate and have stayed with the club through thick and thin and there have been some extremely thin times.
…relatively less recent history…
Chairman Bill Kenwright has been looking for investors to no avail, with teams that have relatively less recent history being snapped up left, right and centre, a proud club like Everton is left on the sidelines glumly waiting for their chance. It paints a depressing present and fans have not always been favourable of the Kenwright’s prudent policy but they should understand that they have to make do with what they have. It is to the club’s testament that their youth academy offers a brief respite from their less than impressive off-field activities.
Everton’s production line of talented young players in the 2000s includes Wayne Rooney, Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley, an impressive use of the club’s reach within their own community and excellent coaching. With the fair play rules coming into effect in the next few years, it is policies like this that will help Everton stay competitive in what has become an increasingly unbalanced league.
…how to generate a team spirit…
With David Moyes at the helm they have one of the best managers outside the top six, a tough, discerning and still young manager who knows how to generate a team spirit that makes up for the lack of financial might.
Surviving on limited funds and being successful is a near-impossible thing to do; even so, Everton show that it is not all doom and gloom and that there can be a positive side to being parsimonious. Sometimes success is measured not by how many trophies you win but from the appreciation of the club still being in existence and playing at the highest level.
Image courtesy of David Moyes