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Season Preview 2021 – Part 2 10/08/2021

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.


INS: Nathan Collins (Stoke City, Undisclosed), Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace, Free)

OUTS: Josh Benson (Barnsley, Undisclosed), Jimmy Dunne (Queens Park Rangers, Undisclosed), Ben Gibson (Norwich City, Undisclosed), Ryan Cooney (Morecambe, Free), Robbie Brady, Joel Mumbongo (Accrington Stanley, Season Loan), Bayley Peacock-Farrell (Sheffield Wednesday, Season Loan), Adam Phillips (Morecambe, Season Loan)

OUR EX-CLARETS: Nathaniel Chalobah, Andre Gray

THEIR EX-ORNS: Jack Cork, Sean Dyche (Manager), Matěj Vydra, Ian Woan (Assistant Manager)

GOOD THINGS: Sean Dyche and the single-minded pragmatism that we saw in 2011/12 dialled up some.  The cricket club and all it’s funny little nooks and crannies.  Scarves raised in the away end on the anniversary of GT’s passing. Glen Little.


2019-20 0-3
2018-19 0-0
2016-17 2-1 0-2
2013-14 1-1
2012-13 3-3
2011-12 3-2 2-2
2010-11 1-3
2008-09 3-0 0-4
2007-08 1-2
2005-06 3-1 1-4
2004-05 0-1 1-3
2003-04 1-1 3-2
2002-03 2-1 7-4  2-0
2001-02 1-2 0-1
2000-01 0-1 0-2
1997-98 1-0 0-2
1996-97 2-2 1-4


Lowton            Tarkowski                Mee                  Taylor
Gudmundsson         Brownhill             Westwood                 McNeil
Vydra            Wood

VERDICT: My day job is mathematical, loosely.

It can involve fitting models, and these vary in complexity.  You only need two data points to estimate a linear relationship for example, strictly speaking (more to do it reliably).  A smooth parabolic curve, maybe three or four.

But most difficult to predict is where you anticipate some kind of step change;  a sudden break in the pattern that might occur at a specific but unknown point.  From this point, everything changes but you don’t know exactly when that change is going to occur.

Burnley have been around for long enough not just for everyone to know the deal, but for it to be clear that they’re pretty robust to the vagaries of fortune.  Left to trundle on as they are they will happily do so, and whilst they’re not immune to an unlucky season they’ve taken the rough with the smooth since promotion finishing as high as seventh but never lower than seventeenth, their final berth after an injury-disrupted 2020/21.

But at some point there will be a sea-change, and it’s likely to be instantaneous and dramatic.  Replacing a long-standing and dominant leader tends to be a painful experience for any club, but when a club is proudly and successfully punching above its weight by adhering to an approach that stems from that leader it’s only going one way when that central pillar is removed.

For now, as I write, he’s still in place with a five year contract on the table but unsigned.  Burnley have recruited frugally over recent seasons but under new ownership may be in a position to strengthen further.  Either way you’d fancy the Clarets to have, as a minumum, enough once again. Probably.


INS: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham, Free)

OUTS: Fikayo Tomori (Milan, £24,000,000), Marc Guéhi (Crystal Palace, £18,500,000), Victor Moses (Spartak Moscow, £4,500,000), Lewis Bate (Leeds United, £1,500,000), Dynel Simeu (Southampton, £1,500,000), Pierre Ekwah (West Ham United, Undisclosed), Olivier Giroud (Milan, Undisclosed), Tino Livramento (Southampton, Undisclosed), Myles Peart-Harris (Brentford, Undisclosed), Izzy Brown (Preston North End, Free), Jack Wakely (Wycombe Wanderers, Free), Willy Caballero, Nathan Baxter (Hull City, Season Loan), Levi Colwill (Huddersfield Town, Season Loan), Jamie Cumming (Gillingham, Season Loan), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace, Season Loan), Billy Gilmour (Norwich City, Season Loan), Henry Lawrence (AFC Wimbledon, Season Loan), Ian Maatsen (Coventry City, Season Loan)

OUR EX-BLUES: Nathaniel Chalobah

THEIR EX-ORNS: Danny Drinkwater, Kenedy

GOOD THINGS: The walk from Blackfriars along the river to Stamford Bridge.  Didier Drogba, and particularly his header against Bayern in the Champions League Final, the original thunderbastard.  Gianfranco Zola.  The anti-Super League protest, good work.


2019-20 1-2 0-3
2018-19 0-3
2017-18 4-1 2-4
2016-17 1-2 3-4
2015-16 0-0
2014-15 0-3
2009-10 0-5
2008-09 1-3
2003-04 2-2 / 0-4
1999-00 1-0 1-2
1981-82 3-0
1969-70 1-5


James             Silva            Rüdiger      Chilwell
Kanté               Jorginho
Pulisic                     Havertz                    Mount

VERDICT: There’s a danger in presuming that we just slip back into the groove, I think.  Theoretically at least.  Not that we were ever able be presumptuous or comfortable in the top flight, but we’d had four seasons of not really being threatened by relegation until, well, you know.  Going down and coming up forces a rejigging and although we’ve done very well given those circumstances all things considered we’re not a mid-table side again just because that’s what we kind of were.

Case in point is Chelsea.  We were never in the same weight division as Chelsea, never competing on equal terms, but although a few brownie points and five actual points from the Blues in five seasons is hardly a princely haul we’d passed the stage where a game against the Blues was daunting.  A tough game, sure, one of the toughest of the season.  But nothing to be scared of.

I think that’s changed a bit.  As much because of them as because of us perhaps, the transfer splurge that followed Frank Lampard being forced to save his pocket money for a couple of transfer windows hasn’t been completely transformative but certainly gave Chelsea a new lick of paint.  Suddenly they have a formidable manager, a Champions’ League title and a realistic shot at the Premier League next season whether the mooted move for Haaland Lukaku materialises or not.  Meanwhile we’ve lost Daryl Janmaat and Bobby Pereyra, both of whom seemed to save better days for Chelsea.

The one cloud on the horizon is the summer departure of yet more promising kids of whom much was expected but little leeway has been offered to much disappointment.  Marc Guéhi (see below) and Billy Gilmour are two such who might be back, but they’re far from the only ones in an ongoing trend with Tammy Abraham, seemingly, also surplus to requirements.

Such trains of thought, whereby you associate Chelsea fans with human and sympathetic emotions, is obviously subversion of the highest order and not to be condoned – I shall flog myself directly.  In the meantime, Chelsea are serious contenders.


INS: Marc Guéhi (Chelsea, £18,500,000), Michael Olise (Reading, £8,000,000), Joachim Andersen (Lyon, Undisclosed), Remi Matthews (Sunderland, Free), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Wayne Hennessey (Burnley, Free), James McCarthy (Celtic, Free), Mamadou Sakho (Montpellier, Free), Andros Townsend (Everton, Free), Patrick van Aanholt (Galatasaray, Free), Gary Cahill, Scott Dann, Stephen Henderson, Connor Wickham, Sion Spence (Bristol Rovers, Season Loan)

OUR EX-EAGLES: Kwadwo Baah, Joseph Hungbo


GOOD THINGS: The racket that the Holmesdale End can make.  Wilfried Zaha, an icon or the perfect antihero depending on your point of view. A London club with a local feel – represents its environment.  Wright and Bright.  The sash.


2019-20 0-0
2018-19 2-1 2-1 2-1
2017-18 0-0
2016-17 1-1  0-1
2015-16 0-1  1-2
2012-13 2-2 0-1
2011-12 0-2 0-4
2010-11 1-1 2-3
2009-10 1-3
2008-09 2-0 0-0 4-3
2007-08 0-2 2-0 2-0
2005-06 1-2 1-3 0-0 / 3-0
2003-04 1-5 0-1
2002-03 3-3 1-0
2001-02 1-0 2-0
2000-01 2-2 0-1
1998-99 2-1 2-2
1995-96 0-4
1993-94 2-0


Clyne             Kouyaté             Andersen        Mitchell
Milivojević         Gallagher       McArthur
Ayew                    Benteke                  Zaha

VERDICT: Well this isn’t dull.

All change at Selhurst, after four years of Roy and Ray.  Not only have the management team exited stage left but a good chunk of the squad were out of contract and have gone with them.

There seems to be a consensus that a change was needed, but if you could have chosen a summer to execute it this probably wouldn’t have been it.  Palace are in the position of needing to rebuild a squad – specifically, to sign a load of players – at a time when financial pressures mean that players aren’t being offered the contracts that they’ve come to expect.  Palace having a load of “old school” contracts ending at the same time might benefit them in that regard, but they’ve still got to attract signings at a time when it looks as if there’s a lot of wink murder going on. I’ve no doubt that players will come in, but whether it’s down to expectations being moderated or Palace getting desperate or a bit of both it’s going to be late in the window.  This doesn’t help incoming boss Patrick Vieira, managing in England for the first time and trying to introduce a very different style of playing by all accounts without much of a squad.

There’s a “this is fun” tone to some of the messageboard posts, but that optimism might be tested before too long.  Palace have a tough start to the season with four London derbies to start followed by Liverpool and a “derby” with Brighton.  Palace have played catch-up before and won, but would rather not have to.  Meanwhile Zaha seems to be angling for a move,  Eberechi Eze will miss much of the season and a squad that has struggled for goals is missing more than just depth.  Michael Olise looks like a steal, but whilst Marc Guéhi was tremendous at Swansea last season the pressures having been signed for a club at a higher level expected to be on the back foot rather than the front with a reported £18million fee around his neck will be rather different.

All up in the air, clearly.  But Palace could be in real trouble.  You don’t get points for pre-season friendlies, after all.


INS: Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen, Undisclosed), Asmir Begović (AFC Bournemouth, Free), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace, Free)

OUTS: Bernard (Sharjah, €1 million), Beni Baningime (Hearts, Undisclosed), Dennis Adeniran (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Josh Bowler (Blackpool, Free), Callum Connolly (Blackpool, Free), Con Ouzonoudis (Esbjerg, Free), Matthew Pennington (Shrewsbury Town, Free); Theo Walcott (Southampton, Free), Muhamed Bešić, Yannick Bolasie, Bobby Carroll, Lewis Gibson (Sheffield Wednesday, Season Loan), Nico Defreitas-Hansen (Swansea City, Season Loan), Robin Olsen (Roma, End of Loan)

OUR EX-TOFFEES: Tom Cleverley, Dan Gosling, Joshua King

THEIR EX-ORNS: Abdoulaye Doucouré, Richarlíson, Andros Townsend

GOOD THINGS: 1984, despite Andy Gray. The bloke who shook my hand outside Goodison Park after the 2015 game as I struggled to herd a nine year-old and a six year-old back towards the car, to the derision of his mates.  Peter Reid.  Goodison’s wonkiness.


2019-20 2-3 0-1
2018-19 1-0
2017-18 1-0
2016-17 3-2
2015-16 1-1 2-2
2006-07 1-2
2000-01 1-2
1999-00 1-3 2-4
1983-84 0-2


Coleman        Godfrey         Mina            Digne
Doucouré             Allan
Townsend               Rodríguez                Richarlíson

VERDICT: The answer to the question is of course, as the last 18 months has demonstrated beyond any doubt, that supporting your team is great whoever you are and however successful or otherwise.   Success has something to do with it but…  being part of it and having it there matters more.

But beyond that, and if we can stay facetious for a moment…  what are you hoping for as an Everton fan right now?  Realistically?  What’s your aspiration?  Because having a possibility to cling to is everything, isn’t it? This is why our own five years in the Prem were so important, not just financially but also in demonstrating that it was possible after two previous forays that suggested otherwise.  What are you hoping for if that’s how it always ends?

For Watford, dropping anchor in mid-table remains an aspiration.  It’s an ask, but it’s not completely unrealistic.  That would do me, certainly for the time being, maybe for good if it attracted “what’s the point of Watford being there?” complaints from the carcasses below, trading off bigness as some nebulous alternative currency above goodness.

For Everton…  a big city club with tradition and a fanbase, notionally on the edge of the big six but actually, and partly because of a tried and tested ability to spend loads of money on the wrong players, often ageing trophy players (and there’s still scope for the Poborsky signing of the summer in the mooted Denzel Dumfries), they’re miles away.  Last season with a prestige manager and a lot of investment they finished tenth. They’re at least a year away from being able to rid themselves of some miserable decisions.

On the upside, in Rafa Benítez they’ve got absolutely the right bloke, links across Stanley Park notwithstanding.  He’s come in, looked at the squad and said “right, I’ve got a fairly solid defence and a big lad up top, what do I need” and brought in Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray.  Not flashy.  Not big names.  But smart in facilitating an effective and sustainable style of play – Digne already provides quality from wide, Doucs and Allan an engine in the middle, Richarlíson is capable of attacking crosses if Calvert-Lewin is out.

Everton will still be nowhere near the top four, and may even finish lower than last time, but Benítez is arresting a downward trajectory.  Mid-table.


1. Duncan - 10/08/2021

I have a real soft spot for a sash on a football kit… One day, one day…

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2021

I don’t doubt it will come around given our current flexible approach to kit design

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