Hope. Hope is what makes it all worth it. Only one team can win a championship in a given season, and the rest are left wondering what they could’ve done better. Even in professional soccer, where there are multiple competitions to win each year, most teams are on the outside looking in at the trophy winners. In the Premier League especially, if your club isn’t in the exclusive “top six”, then you have little more than a Wigan in the FA Cup in 2013 or a Leicester in 2015-16 longshot-type chance at hardware. And yet, fans across the world still tune in to watch their teams play.
Everton in particular have been a frustrating watch this season, with the high of momentarily sitting in 6th place after 13 matches long since crushed by a collection of just 11 out of 42 possible points over the next 14 gameweeks. While a current position of 9th place is not too far from early season expectations, they still remain just 6 points off of 15th place while all the clubs below them have a game in hand. While things are not necessarily rosy at Goodison Park, here are three reasons to be hopeful about the state of the club as a whole.
To get the obvious out of the way, the lowest bar to set as a fan is for your club to stay in the league, and Everton are on track to leap that bar comfortably. Barring a catastrophic collapse, the club with the most seasons spent in the English top-flight will retain their spot in it for the 2019-20 season. Even though each rung on the league ladder correlates with more money, most fans won’t lose sleep over a 15th place finish versus a 12th as long as their team is not relegated. At this point, Fulham and Huddersfield have all but clinched their demotions, so there remains a nine team buffer between the Toffees and the drop zone that is unlikely to be fully breached.
Perhaps the most conspicuous form of hope in soccer is that which derives from the potential of a team’s youngsters. Whether it’s a homegrown wonder-kid or a recently purchased stud, nothing can lift the spirits of a club more than the thought of a group of young stars growing and carrying the club to future successes. Tom Davies, 20, and Jonjoe Kenny, 21, are a couple of local lads that have made a name for themselves in their respective stints in the first team this season, with each threatening to poach future playing time from the veterans in front of them. Richarlison, 21, has mostly lived up to his $50 million summer transfer fee, as he currently sits as the club’s top scorer in the league this season with 10 goals to his name. Jordan Pickford, Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin round out the impressive 25 and under contingent on the team, not to mention the half dozen or so players currently out on loan.
Manager and Board are Settled
Long term success in professional sports necessitates stability from the top down, and Everton supporters can rest assured that billionaire owner Farhad Moshiri, who has spent his first few seasons at the club stabilizing finances and paying off debts, has a sensible plan for the financial future of the team. Newly appointed Director of Football Marcel Brands is another man with a plan behind the scenes at Everton, as his track record of unearthing and promoting young talent over his two decades in the Netherlands speaks for itself. Lastly, manager Marco Silva, although the recipient of a fair amount of the blame from the more capricious contingent of Everton supporters this season, remains the right man for the job. While his results thus far have been underwhelming, much of that can be attributed to the last two years of chaos that have seen the club go through five managers, all with different visions of play style and transfer strategy. What can be attributed to Silva are his transfers (Richarlison, Digne, Gomes, etc.) and his play style, both of which are marked improvements over the last few men in charge.