Over the last year or so, we’ve heard plenty about ‘Soft Brexit’ or ‘Hard Brexit’, following the referendum vote to leave the European Union. However, most people in the street still have no idea how it’s all going to turn out. Everton have had a recent Brexit of their own it seems, parting ways with a troublesome Dutch manager when Ronald Koeman was given the push, followed by waving goodbye to the Europa League.
Both of those footballing Brexit equivalents for the Toffees could, hopefully, prove to be the decisive turning point for the 2017-18 season. Koeman had been treading water since the start of the season, so it was never likely he would be giving any speeches at the Goodison Park Staff Christmas party this year.
David Unsworth always had a difficult task on his hands, but prior to ending his tenure as caretaker boss, at least he steadied the ship, ready for ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce to take the helm. Plus, a winning Premier League start for the vastly experienced Englishman was just what everyone needed. Positive momentum the team can continue to build upon.
As for the Europa League, four defeats, one draw, and one win against mighty Cypriot side, Apollon Limassol, just about says it all about this season’s continental adventures. In truth, and in no small part because of the disastrous start to the Premier League campaign, the European competition was never going to be anything more than a distraction, but at least the youngsters made sure it ended in style.
While uncertainty and questions still surround the UK Government negotiations with various EU Bureaucrats, at least the Brexit undertaken by Everton puts the club on a much firmer footing. After positive displays and back to back Premier League wins under Unsworth, regardless of how the Merseyside Derby turns out at Anfield, Allardyce knows exactly what is expected. After all, he had pretty much the same task last season at Crystal Palace, and successfully ensured they remained in the English top flight.
The last two Premier League wins and the arrival of ‘Big Sam’ seem to have brought more confidence amongst the bookmakers, with early December football betting quoting 28/1 odds on Everton being relegated. This is a stark change compared to the start of November, when the team was considered amongst the four favourites to go down.
Still, nobody can afford to be fooled by what currently appears to be mid-table safety. Eight points above the relegation zone, prior to the Merseyside Derby against Liverpool at Anfield, is a margin that can quickly disappear. However, whether you’re a fan of Big Sam, or were left feeling disappointed with his arrival as manager, few can argue with his experience and proven knack of getting results; especially from teams in less than satisfactory situations.
How Everton will fare during the remainder of the Premier League campaign, may depend on Allardyce and the board doing some convincing wheeler-dealing in January, with interesting names such as Arsenal’s Theo Walcott being linked recently. Evertonians have really suffered enough this season, so a couple of good signings would really lift the spirits in the stands. Match those with the positive recent displays from the youngsters getting their chances, hopefully, 2018 will bring plenty to cheer about.
PremierLeague: Sat 20 Jan (15:00); West Brom at Goodison
Wed 31 Jan (19:45); Leicester City at Goodison