Everton have endured a difficult start to life under former Liverpool head coach Rafa Benitez. A recent run of one win in their last 12 games in all competitions has Evertonian’s calling for the Spaniard to leave his post.
However, the club’s hierarchy seems keen to back Benitez and even sacked director of football Marcel Brands to give the Spaniard more control of what happens throughout the club. Whether that decision is right or not, only time will tell. There have been very few positives of late for the Toffees.
January signings make sense
Everton have moved quickly to strengthen their squad early in January. The first player to arrive was the Ukrainian international left-back Vitaly Mykolenko, who arrived from Dynamo Kiev for an initial fee of £17m, plus add-ons. The 22-year-old is highly rated and has experience at both club and international level.
It seems the full-back is a replacement for French star Lucas Digne, who has fallen out with Benitez and has since been frozen out of the team. He is expected to leave the Toffees before the transfer window closes.
The signing was followed on Tuesday by the capture of another promising young full-back in Scotland international Nathan Patterson, who cost the Toffees paid Rangers an initial £11m plus add-ons to sign. The 20-year-old hasn’t played much first-team football for Rangers. However, he has impressed when he has played for the Scottish champions and Scotland.
Everton have been looking for a right-back for a few seasons now, as club captain Seamus Coleman is now 33. The Republic of Ireland star has been forced to play most games in recent seasons, as he simply doesn’t have a reliable backup. Coleman has been a fantastic servant to the club, especially, as he cost just £60,000 when he joined back in 2009.
A different way of operating in the transfer market
Everton has major Financial Fair Play problems due to some horrendously bad business in the transfer market. The men from Merseyside have spent upward of £500m since the arrival of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri. Much of that money has been wasted on big fees and wages on players who have taken the team backwards, rather than forwards.
Many of the signings were players who were so-called rejects from more high-profile clubs. That has very rarely proven to be a recipe for success for many clubs. This business strategy has been a disaster for Everton.
This summer the Toffees hands tied by FFP the Toffees had to take a different approach to their transfer business. They brought in the likes of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray and Asmir Begovic. Gray was the only player who cost a fee, as they paid £1.7m for the winger. He has proven to be one of the bargains of the season.
The signings of Mykolenko and Patterson are in a similar vein. Younger players with potential, who are not on massive wages and add value to the squad. It is not rocket science; it just seems to be good business.
Both signings have an element of risk, but the fees and wages for both players are not massive. That means they are gambles worth taking, especially as the pair play in positions that Everton needs to reinforce.
Whether Rafa Benitez stays on as head coach or not for much longer at the Merseyside club, it seems like the Toffees are finally being much smarter when it comes to recruitment.
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Will Everton’s new approach to recruitment stand them in good stead for the future?