Do Everton have what it takes to finish above Liverpool again?


2011/12 Campaign (7th in the Premier League)

Back in the summer preceding Everton’s 2011/12 campaign, The Toffees alarmed the national press for a failure to spend yet again: in fact, since signing Jonny Heitinga for £6.2m in the 2009 summer transfer window, Everton were yet to spend over £1.5m in combined transfer fees. Then, conveniently hours before Everton’s official site released a blog written by their chief executive Robert Elstone, detailing the club’s finances in the five seasons preceding the 2011/12 campaign, they signed Manchester United’s Darron Gibson on January 13th for just under £500k.

Yet, their transfer activity up until that to be turning point merely consisted of: James McFadden and Marcus Hahnemann on free transfers – who have both been released this summer; Denis Stracqualursi, Royston Drenthe and Landon Donovan on loan; and their only bought player, the aforementioned Darron Gibson. It was an Everton far flung from the free-spending side we saw in the second half of last decade.

When Wayne Rooney left Everton for Manchester United for £25m in 2004, Moyes went on to smash Everton’s transfer record 4 times in 4 years and spend over £40m on James Beattie, Andrew Johnson, Yakubu and Fellaini. Moyes’ ability to spend led to Champions League qualification in 2005, and UEFA Cup runs in the 07/08 season and 08/09 season, as well as an F.A. Cup Final appearance in 2009, finishing runners up to Chelsea.

However, a deadline day sale of Mikel Arteta to Arsenal for £10m and a series of comments from players and David Moyes alike, which suggested there still wasn’t money to spend, resulted in protests from a section of Everton fans not happy with the club’s progress under Bill Kenwright, nor the money available for new signings. The unrest began during preseason and having heard a telling interview from Sylvain Distin to BBC Radio Merseyside, where he stated that they have “a small squad” that is wary of injuries being able to threaten their campaign and if so they’ll “have to deal with it,” a phrase again echoed by Tim Cahill, questions started being fired from fans at the powers who be at Goodison Park, prompting January’s in-depth blog on their finances and most importantly further transfer action in the shape of Steven Pienaar rejoining Moyes’ side on-loan and Nikica Jelavic from Rangers for a fee marginally over £5m.

With Everton’s borrowing having risen from £22m to £45m from 2006-2011, an increase of 104.5%, and player wages increasing by £20m over the same 5-year period, despite an actual 4% drop in the proportion of revenue spent on player wages, it was clear that money for investment in the playing squad wasn’t readily available any time soon – however, without it, Everton’s repeated success in the top-half of the table may have dissipated, considering they had the third highest average squad age in the Premier League, something Elstone denies in his blog: “this is not an ageing, threadbare squad.”

Fortunately, Everton found the money to cough up just under £6m in the January transfer window and the 9 Premier League goals from the Croatian striker Jelavic and the 7 assists from returning South African Pienaar was the firepower needed to ensure Everton finished in the top eight of the Premier League for the fifth season on the trot. More importantly, they finished above Liverpool – something they hadn’t done since the 2004/05 campaign in which Everton finished 4th thus qualifying for the Champions League.

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Budding Football journalist who blogs at daily as well as writing here for ThisisFutbol and on the England fan's page. Outside of writing is more football. I work at Southampton F.C and I manage a men's football team on Saturdays.


  • Fraser says:

    Everybody has what it takes to finish above Liverpool.

  • Alex Leonard says:

    The financial difficulties are, naturally, a major hindrance; however, for the time being, consistency is the key to success whilst there are no hugely rich Qatari families whishing to buy (the fact that we need a new stadium is an important factor as to why a lack of investment comes Everton’s way) a historic club with a loyal fanbase and creditable profile from an owner who raises suspicions frequently. As you can imagine, when teams like Nottingham Forest, who lie in the Championship (regardless of their Brian Clough era in the history books) are taken over, Evertonians become increasingly frustrated for the obvious reasons. What I would say is that, with this cwurrent squad, you are right – we could finish sixth, which would be an outstanding achievement. Like I said however, only a consistent season can bring that. As we saw towards the end of last season, we can outplay Newcastle and Chelsea, hold off Manchester City and Tottenham and make it to Wembley for an F.A Cup semi-final (as much as I like David Moyes, his negative second half tactics cost us a place in the final). I really like your article, and as someone who watches Everton week in, week out, I am glad you realise that despite the lack of money, we can take advantage of Liverpool’s ongoing transitional period, and finish higher up the table, like we did in recent seasons. I hope your predictions come true.

  • Gareth Fieldstead says:

    All depends on three things for me, the start we have, holding onto our top players and avoiding injuries to those top players, I know it’s a no sh** Sherlock but I do believe we could have a season like 06 to 09 if the above go our way. As for Liverpool, it will be interesting to see who they do buy, because this time last year they were competing with City and Chelsea for top spenders, so far they have sold far more than they have bought and according to reports look like they will continue to sell. Looks to me like there owners are trying to balance the books which makes sense when you consider they went for a manager ho has had to work within a tight budget at his previous clubs.

  • Roy says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t think we should be embarking on rubbish like this . A club like everton worrying about finishing above the s…..e. come on there must be better conversations than this around , I’d rather win a trophy and finish 15th than concern myself about this , were just given them more ammo to fire . I. Bet you won’t hear this on there web site, plus there name alone, should not even be mentioned on our web . Let’s talk about trophys, Europa footy, new signings, finance, etc. not this crap.

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