Can Everton afford to take gamble needed to join Europe's elite?

The Weekend Dossier: Merseyside club are locked into an atmospheric but dated ground and unable to find significant outside investment

In an era of seven substitutes, the bench reveals much about the strength of a football club's squad. Compare those at Loftus Road last Sunday when the teams in fourth and bottom met (see panel). In John Heitinga, Everton did have a player who figured and was dismissed in a World Cup final, but Queen's Park Rangers had more expensive, more experienced and theoretically stronger reserves than the team 16 places above them.

The same is likely to apply when Everton face Liverpool tomorrow, and in particular when they face the teams who appear to be their most likely rivals for a Champions League place: Tottenham and Arsenal. There is no great surprise or shame in this. Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal operate on far bigger budgets than Everton who, under David Moyes, have consistently out-performed their expenditure with six successive top-eight finishes.

This impressive achievement has, however, only earned the occasional Europa League appearance for they have failed to either crack the top four or win a cup. Such crumbs are not enough for a club of Everton's illustrious history, but it is difficult to envisage how they can live up to their heritage without taking fiscal risks.

Locked into an atmospheric but dated ground and unable to find significant outside investment, Everton's circumstances are akin to Aston Villa who, under Randy Lerner and Martin O'Neill, tried to break into the Champions League places a few years ago. Villa lacked the squad depth to maintain their challenge then fell away as Lerner took fright at the escalating wage bill and O'Neill quit in protest at the subsequent economies. They now languish and provide a cautionary tale to those who suggest Everton's Bill Kenwright should bankroll an assault on the top four by taking on further debt.

There have been two pivotal moments in Everton's recent history. Until the mid-1970s they were as big a club as Liverpool, matching them for titles and attendances. Then Liverpool, under Bob Paisley and his successors, began winning league championships and European Cups on a near-annual basis. It took Everton until the mid-Eighties and Howard Kendall's side to match their neighbours but just as it seemed they were poised to also conquer Europe the post-Heysel ban forced the break-up of that team.

Everton declined, somehow survived several relegation scrapes, and eventually, under Moyes in 2005, again had the chance to sup at Europe's top-table. But referee Pierluigi Collina, in his last game of note, disallowed the Duncan Ferguson goal that would have edged Everton past Villarreal in the Champions League qualifier. The Spanish club went on to reach the semi-final; for Everton the moment was gone. Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour ploughed millions into Chelsea and Manchester City, Arsenal developed the Emirates' cash machine and Manchester United became a global brand. That Liverpool have been similarly left trailing is only marginal consolation.

For Liverpool, though, there is hope. They have a worldwide name recognition Everton lack. The Blues may be enjoying the excruciating documentary series Being: Liverpool more than their rivals but the fact it is being made – and made for a US audience – speaks volumes. The Reds' glory years are recent enough, especially the miracle of Istanbul, to pull in fans from Toronto to Tokyo. Everton's are too distant. History moves on which is why Wigan Athletic, after just eight years in the Premier League following decades of obscurity, are better known worldwide than their neighbours Preston North End, winners of championships and FA Cups long before Wigan entered the league (Facebook likes: Wigan 21,000, Preston 6,400; Twitter followers: Wigan 34,000, Preston 7,400).

The reality is that only by breaking into the Champions League can Everton re-establish themselves as one of the English game's Big Clubs. Arsène Wenger was mocked for describing qualification as a trophy, but he was right to say the Champions League attracts players – the promise of playing in it lured Mikel Arteta from Everton to Arsenal. It also brings in huge income. Continued qualification becomes a virtuous circle making clubs stronger and stronger. The danger is Everton could cripple themselves in the attempt, as Lerner feared Villa would.

Moyes has a very good side now, one which has developed beyond being effective to playing good football, but he knows it could unravel with a couple of injuries to key personnel. It is a difficult equation to balance but, for 90 minutes tomorrow, everyone in blue can put such worries aside and get on with showing Liverpool they are, for the moment at least, equals.

Everton: Bare bench

Players on each bench in last week's 1-1 draw at Loftus Road reveal Everton, fourth in the league, are outperforming their rivals like QPR, bottom.

Queen's Park Rangers

R Green, A Ferdinand, N Onuoha, A Faurlin, S Wright-Phillips, D Cissé, J Mackie

Everton

J Mucha, J Heitinga, S Duffy, T Hitzlsperger, B Oviedo, S Naismith, M Gueye

Five Asides

1. Kick It Out could benefit from some players' cash

If part of the problem some players have with Kick It Out is that the anti-exclusion organisation lacks the independence and funding to work effectively, the solution is simple: put their hands in their pockets. Kick It Out's budget is £450,000 per annum, a few weeks' wages for some players. Some will feel this argument is facetious and insensitive of a white middle-class journalist to make, but given the wealth Premier League footballers receive this is an issue where they have the resources to change things directly if they want to. Plenty of footballers do use their income to effect change, notably African players working in their home countries.

The comments of Paul Mortimer are also pertinent. The former Charlton player, now involved with Show Racism the Red Card, said: "We have events where we request players to come and speak and give their experiences, and [mostly] they don't come. And when they do come, they don't talk about their experiences of racism." As Mortimer said: "Players have power, players can help by turning up to these events. We can give them a voice."

2. Fans' mockery of deaf player was vile to hear

It was depressing to hear of the experience of GB Deaf XI player Daniel Ailey, who plays for Ryman League Potters Bar Town. Ailey is not mute, but having been born deaf has no experience of how words sound, so usually communicates by sign language. On the pitch he has to make sounds to get the attention of team-mates. These were mocked by visiting Grays Athletic fans on Tuesday. Only when police were called did the taunting stop. That Ailey is black, and the mimicry could sound like grunting, added to the vileness.

3. It's up to supporters to get behind women's football

The post-Olympic return to obscurity of women's sport is a valid concern, but the FA is at least testing interest with plans to expand the WSL. Now it is up to sponsors and fans, of both sexes, to support the initiative.

4. Szczesny dismissal a clear case of triple jeopardy

Uefa's technical report on Euro 2012 highlighted Wojciech Szczesny's dismissal for Poland v Greece and pondered a rethink on red cards for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity (rather than denying a goal). Many coaches felt the combination of penalty, dismissal and suspension was excessive.

5. So what did Arbeloa do to upset Uefa selectors?

Is football a team game? Uefa's 23-man Euro 2012 all-star squad included 10 of Spain's starting XI in the final. Absent was Alvaro Arbeloa, who played every minute. Steven Gerrard was the only Englishman.

twitter.com/GlennMoore7

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?