If last summer at Everton was characterised by big spending and several much-heralded arrivals, this summer will be – necessarily – very different.
Director of football Marcel Brands will not allow new boss Marco Silva the same freedom – some would call it recklessness – that his predecessors Ronald Koeman (£150 million spent in the summer) and Sam Allardyce (£40 million spent in January) enjoyed. The club cannot afford it. It is one of the reasons why Brands was brought in amid a management structure overhaul.
The Portuguese has already been told he will have to sell players to trim Everton’s squad to a more manageable size. Brands has said at least eight must leave; more will follow if Silva wants to bring in new talent.
So far, both are making the right noises about understanding each other and the need to approach their summer recruitment carefully. Silva is sensible enough to realise two things; first, working with Brands was a prerequisite for taking the job; and second, the Dutchman is a success in his own right, and he is at the club for the long-term.
The task they face is not easy. One of the significant challenges Silva faces is that so few of Everton’s players’ contracts are expiring soon. It means if he wants to move them on he will have to accept lower than market value or let them go on loan, putting him in a weak position.
Joel Robles was the only player whose contract was up at the end of this season, and it came as no surprise when the club released him. They would like to let more go. Davy Klaassen, for example, signed a contract until 2021 but will likely only go out on loan this season while the Toffees still pay some of his wages.
One of the few Koeman signings to have impressed was Wayne Rooney, and even he looks likely to depart. If it didn’t look it at the time, it is now clear that Everton’s transfer policy last summer was haphazard at best.
Kevin Mirallas, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sandro Ramirez are among plenty of others whom the Toffees may sell this summer, but given Brands’ remit, Everton could be in a position where any reasonable bid for a player will be considered.
And it is not a case of just getting rid of a few players and working with what he has got. That will not be good enough. Everton badly need better central defenders and at least one proven goalscorer. Better back-up for Pickford would be a bonus.
After a season that promised so much but delivered so little, these are challenging times for the blue half of Liverpool. But in Brands and Silva they could have the right men in place.
For the latter, making a success of the Everton job could define his managerial career. If he can work with the former and succeed without spending the money Koeman and Allardyce did, he stands a chance of making Goodison Park his home for some time.