2019 did not begin well for Everton football club.
In January, owner Farshad Moshiri declared their form “not good enough”.
In February, Marco Silva’s men were booed off after losing at home to Wolves.
They only won three games between the start of the year and the 17th March.
Yet they won five out of the last eight games and finished the season in eighth.
So what’s really going on? Is the club flourishing or fragile?
To find the answer, it’s necessary to understand its evolution over the past 18 months.
It’s easy to forget that Sam Allardyce was still at the helm just over a year ago. The fall-out from his time in charge was ugly, with the former England manager removed from his duties at the end of last season and Director of Football Steve Walsh following him on the same day. Walsh ultimately paid the price for many of his signings failing to integrate, such as £24m midfielder Davy Klaasen (£0.28).
The hiring of Marco Silva did not go smoothly either, with the much-publicised spat with his former employer Watford creating unsavoury attention.
All of this meant that Silva and new Director of Football Marcel Brands were always going to inherit a club in a state of flux. They fell as low as twelfth in the league last season, but Moshiri nonetheless preached patience at their AGM:
“We put a big bet on Marco and we stick with him. Consistency has been an issue but we have had some terrific performances. We know what we are and I’m comfortable.”
This stability and long-term thinking – so uncommon among most owners – may now start to pay dividends.
The likes of Lucas Digne (£1.10) and Richarlison (£1.85) are now accustomed to the league – the latter is up 55% on our index over the past three months – and can help guide a young crop of home-grown players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£0.83) and Tom Davies (£0.45).
The U-23 side won the Premier League 2 title for the second time in three years under David Unsworth and Silva has already begun promoting players from that squad too, such as goalkeeper Joao Virginia. It’s therefore realistic to think the first team could get closer to the top six than the twelve point gap this season.
Moshiri acknowledges too that, aside from on-field fortunes, the club must leave their Goodison Park home in order to generate higher revenues:
“We’ll complete this stadium (Bramley Moore Dock). I will throw as much money as needed. It is no luxury, we have to get it done. If we want to have a big club we need a modern stadium.”
Strong rhetoric that will please Evertonians, albeit traditionalists may bemoan the loss of another of English football’s historic grounds.
But such progress is vital to ensure that Everton keep pace with the global elite of the Premier League and remain as one of only six clubs never to be relegated from the top flight.