Where does the Everton hierarchy see their place in the Premier League?
By Joe Harker
Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has given his backing to manager Marco Silva but said that their current position in the Premier League, eleventh, is "not good enough". He stressed that an inconsistent start to life under their new manager was to be expected but reminded Silva that he has targets to meet.
The club has 27 points after 21 games and are decidedly in the middle of the table. The Premier League has split into three sections with the top six pulling away once again, a seven point gap exists between sixth placed Manchester United and seventh placed Leicester City. Meanwhile there is a four point gap between thirteenth placed Brighton and fourteenth placed Crystal Palace, with another four point gap between them and Newcastle United in fifteenth.
The groups of teams challenging for European football and fighting to avoid relegation appear to be more clearly defined and Everton are stuck in the middle. They are only four points off Leicester themselves but that is not where Moshiri wants the club to be after investing more money in the club.
Silva's appointment and an investment into the squad are part of an attempt to make Everton one of the top teams in England, as are plans to build and move into a new stadium. Club chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale said Everton was aiming to "challenge for domestic titles and trophies" with the ultimate aim of winning the Premier League in their new stadium.
Alongside Silva's appointment as manager, Marcel Brands was hired to be the club's director of football and ensure that a consistent style of play was in place no matter who was coaching the first team.
It's a lofty and ambitious goal for the club but they may want to consider the reality of their situation. The Premier League top six is a well established cadre of teams whose profile in the game and financial power is going to be very difficult to match. It's an exclusive club that Everton are desperate to get into but to do so they must become a financial superpower in football while also bankrolling the £500 million construction of a new stadium. It's not going to happen quickly if it even happens at all.
They are certainly not the first club who were sure their new project of expansion would propel them to the top of English football. Arsenal's move to the Emirates meant they couldn't match the spending of their title rivals and fell away, competing for fourth place and winning the occasional cup competition.
Tottenham Hotspur's project is ongoing and the club plans to move into their new stadium soon, but they have not won a trophy since 2008 and are yet to mount a serious title challenge. There have been seasons where they have pushed the eventual winners but never enough to be considered as the favourites themselves.
Close rivals Liverpool were languishing off the top of the Premier League several years ago and have been transformed since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, but they already had the money and standing in the game to improve, they just weren't using it properly.
Everton are seeking to join the top teams but they would have the toughest time of all. They are not going to have bigger financial resources than the Manchester clubs, Chelsea or Liverpool, nor the same pull for big players. Perhaps they could break into the top six on occasion, particularly if one of the usual suspects has a terrible season, but to consistently finish near the top of the table and outmatch the best in England is a very lofty goal.
Moshiri is right when he says that Everton should be doing better than eleventh place but they are only four points off seventh and it is somewhat unrealistic to expect them to break into the top six. They have a good squad, though it really could do with a striker, but it is asking much of them to transform into a top six team. The Everton hierarchy should be careful not to set unrealistic goals that all but the best and luckiest managers would fail to achieve.