Evertonians will just about be getting over Thursday night’s dramatic scenes at Goodison Park.
Although their season technically came to an end against Arsenal on Sunday – a 5-1 defeat after a lacklustre performance – it felt like the curtain really came down after the 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace, which preserved the Toffees’ place in the top flight.
While there was widespread relief for everyone associated with the club when the final whistle blew, now the campaign has finished the inquest into what was a disastrous season overall – Everton finished with just 39 points and in 16th position – can begin.
With a stressful few days still vivid in the memory and a busy summer on the horizon, the ECHO’s Joe Thomas took part in a live Q+A on Monday and here’s what was said:
CON1311: Hi Joe. Do you see this summer’s transfer window being a busy one for Everton ?
Joe Thomas: I do. The context in which Frank Lampard and Kevin Thelwell will be operating within is still to be established – Lampard has said he is due to sit down with club officials and discuss the resources available to him. But I think there will be a fair degree of movement. Cenk Tosun has just announced his departure, and Fabian Delph, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jonjoe Kenny are out of contract as it stands. Asmir Begovic has had his contract extended. Lampard has spoken about trying to develop a more progressive style and making the squad more robust, so there will be attempts to make changes and perhaps move on a few players to help that process.
Cypherbeeyt: Top target this summer?
Joe Thomas: I don’t know who is on the initial wish list but the important conversations about transfer strategy are likely to happen this week. While there has been some focus on recruitment already, action was restricted by uncertainty over Everton’s survival. Frank Lampard has said he is due to hold discussions with key figures about what the approach will be this summer, and the resources that will be available to him, so I suspect the plan for the transfer window will take shape from the back end of this week as ideas crystallise into genuine targets. Of what he has said so far, his priority appears to be keeping hold of the likes of Jordan Pickford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
Charliefreak: Dele will never be the player he was, do you think we should let him go? We can’t afford to keep these luxury players.
Joe Thomas: Dele is a difficult one and it is hard to answer this without truly knowing the reasons behind his struggles at Tottenham Hotspur. I think Lampard was aware he may be a long term project and not someone who would have an immediate impact. He hoped to have more opportunity to play Dele in games without the intense pressure Everton have been under. We saw in the second half v Palace that he still has a lot of quality. I thought he was OK in the early stages against Arsenal too – and he definitely has a streetwise footballing brain. He is one of a lot of players Lampard will have to make a call on. Quite a few have struggled with form or injuries and Lampard will need to decide whether he is left with a player who still reach past heights, or whether there is too much chance of more struggles down the line.
PeterWs: If there are no transfer-fee paying takers for players such as Gomes and Allan, should we just let them go on free transfers to cut the wage bill?
Joe Thomas: That’s an interesting one Peter – and the answer is probably that each decision is taken on a case by case basis. The wage bill revealed in the last accounts was a real concern, But it is important to reflect a lot of those wages will now go. James’ wages were included in the last accounts and he has gone, while those of Tosun and any of the other out of contract players who leave will also be removed from the costs. Donny van de Beek heading back to Man Utd will save money too. I think the reality is that, while this transfer window may be busy, it won’t be like Football Manager where you can normally shift any player you don’t want (and I don’t know Lampard’s deepest thoughts on Allan and Gomes). So part of the decision-making process about who goes will depend on who else stays, and who else is available to bring in.
Dello: Who will be going this year? It could be quite a few and we may need to find several players.
Joe Thomas: There’s potential for a lot of movement. As you say, Tosun has confirmed he is leaving. Sigurdss…