There is a grim reality when you support a club like Everton.
Firstly, what do I mean a ‘club like Everton’? There is a food chain in football. Instead of using the term ‘big club’, which is subjective, I’d prefer to use the term ‘bigger reputation’. The perfect example would between Everton and Chelsea. If you were to ask many Evertonians who was the bigger club then some would say Everton based on our history but if you were to ask who had the bigger reputation in Europe then, at the moment, it is undoubtedly Chelsea.
So the food chain. . . the food chain is that players will always want to move to a club with a bigger reputation and clubs with bigger reputations will always feel they can buy players off a club with a lesser reputation.
We do it, of course, with clubs with a smaller reputation than us. Barnsley – Everton – Chelsea. That could be the chain of John Stones’ career. Hopefully not.
This is why I loathe the term ‘selling club’, what does it actually mean? Man Utd had to sell Ronaldo to Real Madrid, does that make them a selling club? Did Figo make Barcelona a selling club? All clubs have to sell to clubs with a higher reputation, unless you are the very top of the food chain. “Not a selling club”, “Not for sale”. . . many empty words are spoke at a time like this.
So what can you do to protect yourself from this grim reality? When you try and aspire to become a Champions League club but lose players when they get to that level?
In order to keep the likes of Lukaku, Stones, Barkley and Deulofeu in the long term we have to improve. This is the point where Evertonians get angry and rightfully so. It wouldn’t take a lot of investment for us to have a special squad. We have great potential, the makings of a great first 11 but beyond that the quality drops off like a cliff. Who could blame a player for wanting what we all desperately want? Imagine a semi-final of the Champions League under the lights of Goodison Park, we are desperate for that but we can’t move clubs. We were born and raised as proud Evertonians, John Stones wasn’t. He may of gained an affinity to the club, he a very likable lad whose style of play has made him a fan favourite but if he doesn’t see progress then he knows that all he has to do to sample those lights of a Champions League semi-final is to take the 3 hour drive to Stamford Bridge.
Both Tottenham and Liverpool in recent years have sold their best players for high prices and made a complete mess with the money received. If we are forced to sell, and that is the grim reality, then we need to make sure the same mistakes aren’t made.
This board can be accused of many things, but selling our players cheaply is not one of them. We keep our players happy, keep them on long contracts and don’t bow to pressure when bids come in. We may be vulnerable to such bids but our bullish front is the perfect riposte to them. We know the value of our players and we know what prices we would reluctantly accept. A lot of this will be in the hands of John Stones, hopefully he sees that his development as a footballer would be best served with another year playing in the Royal Blue Jersey and not any other shade of blue. Hopefully at that point Martinez has worked a miracle to improve our football team to top 4 contenders.
As we sadly know though, without investment we’ll never improve to a point where a potentially world class footballer sees his long term future at Everton Football Club. The grimest reality of all.