Disasterous deadline day leaves Everton in terminal decline

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Everton fans hold up banners of protest during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton FC at London Stadium on January 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Everton fans hold up banners of protest during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton FC at London Stadium on January 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

After a truly dreadful deadline day in which Everton alone amongst all Premier League clubs failed to make a single signing, is this club now in terminal decline? It certainly feels so.

It was a catastophic 24 hours, as Everton tried in vain to sign a ever-expanding list of forwards that eventually reached almost ludicrous levels, with nearly every striker you could think of being alledgedly of interest.

As events unfolded yesterday, my worst fears that the chaos at Goodison Park would result in no new signings, came true.

If you wanted a blueprint of how not to run a football club, Everton are that blueprint. Yesterday was just the latest and most unbelievably disgraceful farce in a long line of them.

And worryingly, so many players decided against moving to Merseyside, often preferring the Toffees’ immediate rivals, all of whom considerably strengthened for the second half of the season.

This fact again underlines just how far this once great club has sunk. With all due respect to Bournemouth and Southampton, in the past, it would have been almost unthinkable that quality footballers would rather go there than than to the Blues’.

But now, given the increasingly toxic and soap-opera style comedy of errors that is Everton Football Club, it seems players simply don’t want to deal with such a situation. To be honest, who can blame them?

Having said all that, I do have nagging doubts about some of the transfer moves claimed to have been made yesterday. Did the club really pull out all the stops to get their supposed top targets in?

What about Viktor Gyokeres for example? The Swedish striker was apparently very much in the sights of new manager Sean Dyche and yet no firm bid seems to have been made, despite the Toffees’ having Anthony Gordon’s fee to play with.

Has the decision been taken at the top that the club is going down and so there’s no point in spending any more money on this squad?

Apparently, the club turned down a promising young player offered to them on loan. It is true that an inexperienced youngster wouldn’t be the optimal choice, but perhaps if he was hungry to make a name for himself he might have contributed something?

And, was this the real reason Sean Dyche was hired to try to ensure an immediate bounce back up, rather than as a genuine attempt to survive this season?

The problem is that wouldn’t make much business sense as far as I can see, never mind from a football standpoint.

Farhad Moshiri wants to recoup what he has spent and more if he sells, and a club in the Championship will be worth a fraction of what he was alledgedly seeking when rumours of a sale resurfaced a few days ago.

Then there is the new stadium. It has still not been fully paid for and the danger is this futuristic ground we were looking forward to moving to, will become a huge financial millstone round the club’s neck, especially if the Blues’ have been relegated.

So, if that’s the case, then the lack of apparent strategy and clarity of thinking to support their new manager is quite frightening and inexplicable.

What exactly happened yesterday and why? As usual the silence from the owner and board and the lack of communication, will probably be deafening.

The Blues’ had of course anyway left it to the very end to terminate Frank Lampard’s time as manager and bring in new signings.

Even though, it had been increasingly clear Lampard wasn’t going to turn things around, certainly not I think after the Brighton debacle.

Exactly the same thing happened a year ago with Rafa Benitez. Once injuries hit and results went south, he was always a dead duck in the water.

But, the board hung on and on without making a decision, while the team slumped further and further embarking on a terrible run of results that almost took Everton down.

Then after finally sacking Benitez, Lampard came in with a day to spare before the transfer window shut, just like Dyche this January.

Unlike his successor though, he did manage to get a few players in, albeit not exactly transformative signings!

It seems as if the people we all know who are making these decisions thought they could try the same trick again in another January window. Not this time.

One question is, did Dyche know there was no money to spend when he took the job?

Or, as I assume, has this come as much of a shock to him as to supporters and was he expecting to have a few new faces in when he takes training this week?

I presume it’s the latter, otherwise surely no self-respecting manager would have taken the job. No one would blame him either if he decided to quit now before embarking on this enormous task.

Because, trying to get a tune out of the existing group of chronically under-performing footballers who have seen off so many of his predecessors, was going to be hard enough.

Now, Dyche will have to do so without the impetus and potentially galvanising effect of new talent and possibly more importantly, competition for places.

As we all know, it certainly looks as though a quite unlikely miracle and a huge slice of luck is needed to turn things around now and avoid relegation.

However, to be honest, does anyone really think this current Toffees’ team without any attacking reinforcements, can win seven or maybe eight of their remaining sixteen fixtures, because I don’t.

At the end of the last campaign, after the emotionally and psychologically draining experience that culminated in that heady night against Crystal Palace, most Evertonians felt this was the final time we could through an experience of that sort. And probably, that we had used up all our remaining luck in doing so.

I have been through it with the last day survivals in 1994 and 98, as well as other flirts with near relegation, and then again to that penultimate match last season.

Like I suspect many fans, I don’t think I can face it once more in a few months from now. After yesterday, I feel almost done with this club. But in truth, I doubt it will even go that far this time round.