RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess

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RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
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The more I look at the numbers, the less I understand. Everton have invested £500million in five years on 44 players. It should have taken them forwards but they are going backwards.

Their net spend in that period of £213m dwarfs superpowers such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. In the Premier League, only the Manchester clubs have a bigger transfer deficit.

I simply cannot fathom how so much can be invested and for a team to be no better than they were before.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton’s Merseyside defeat by Liverpool shows they are a long way off where they want to be
RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton have invested more than Bayern Munich and Real Madrid yet continue to go backwards (Owner Farhad Moshiri pictured)

As someone who loves football, it is so frustrating to watch the continual wasting of money.

Whoever has sanctioned these deals — such as £27m on Davy Klaassen, £35m on Alex Iwobi and £45m on Gylfi Sigurdsson — has serious questions to answer.

Iwobi couldn’t get in Arsenal’s team at the time of his move in 2019, so how does that allow you to spend £35m?

Klaassen was well-regarded in Holland but he joined in the summer that Everton also signed Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney and left having barely kicked a ball. He never scored a goal.

Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s major shareholder, has been at Goodison Park since February 2016. His first big decision was to sack Roberto Martinez three months later and try to improve a squad that had been built over a number of years.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton got Alex Iwobi for £35m from Arsenal
RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton signed flop Davy Klaassen for £27m

It’s worth pointing out that Martinez reached the semi-finals of both the League Cup and FA Cup in his final season.

His team for that 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Manchester United included John Stones, Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka. Do Everton have five players of comparable quality in their squad now?

The irony of the situation now, though, is the current manager has not had the right level of backing.

I see that Rafa Benitez is under pressure following a run of eight games without a win and many fans have no affinity to him.

Rafa isn’t the main problem here. I worked with him earlier this year on CBS Sports for the Europa League final and found him fascinating.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail
RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Liverpool’s victory on Wednesday meant Everton are now eight games without a victory

He knows everything there is to know about tactics and he talks about the game relentlessly.

He cares deeply about his job and improving players. Benitez took the job, determined to transform their fortunes, but he has arrived at a club that looks nothing like how I remember it.

Everton reminded me of the old Manchester City, with a sense of community and family, but what I see now doesn’t seem to reflect those values.

Going to Goodison Park was always hard. It wasn’t as intimidating as Anfield but it was on a par with Stoke — in that I mean the crowd was angry in a good way and, if you were not at the right level, you could easily get swept away and beaten 3-0.

I could have seen myself enjoying playing for them as it seems that if you give your all for their crowd they will get right behind you. There was talk of me being potentially used as part of swap deal when Everton sold Joleon Lescott to City in 2009 but it never materialised.

What you see with Everton now, however, is a reminder that money is not the route to all happiness or a guarantee of success.

We saw it initially at City when Thaksin Shinawatra was our owner; there was a giddiness and we didn’t buy the right players.

Sometimes money makes you think you are something that you are not — you want to buy glamorous players.

Look at what Everton did with James Rodriguez last year. He’s a lovely footballer, with all the tricks, but come the end of the season, he didn’t want to be there. They paid him a fortune for very little return.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton have wasted money on the likes of James Rodriguez for very little back in return

Everton should be a club putting pressure on the European places. Martinez, who took the team to fifth in 2014, has regularly told me about it being an amazing place with incredible potential and how he loved his time there, following on from David Moyes.

Now all the talk is about building a new stadium on Liverpool’s waterfront but part of me wonders whether they have become too sidetracked by that project —there’s no point having a brand new house if there is nothing to put inside it.

Standards have fallen in the one area of the club that matters more than anything — the actual football, as shown on Wednesday when they were thrashed in the Merseyside derby.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Everton shouldn’t be in danger of relegation but there is a long road for them to get near where they want to be

When I think of Everton, I remember their academy thriving and producing a raft of great young players such as Rooney, Barkley and Leon Osman. James Vaughan would have been brilliant but for injuries.

They used to make smart signings like Joleon, who cost £5m from Wolves, or Seamus Coleman, who at £60,000 is one of the best value for money transfers you will ever see. Unfortunately, they have got themselves into a horrible mess, one that has led fans to talk about the prospect of relegation.

Everton won’t go down — but it’s going to be a long road back.



Credit where it is due. VAR has been used superbly this season and I can’t pick a fault in it. What I can complain about, though, is the offside rule. The more I see the delay in a flag being raised, the more I’m convinced someone is going to be hurt.

I sympathise with assistant referees as they are only doing what they have been told. But, if everyone in the stadium can see a player is clearly offside, why can’t they just call it rather than wait for play to stop? Let’s get back to calling it offside when it is clear.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Someone could get hurt due to the delay of the assistant referee’s flagging for offside  


It is five years since I got laughed at for making a declaration about Jordan Henderson one night on radio. 

I had played with Jordan for England Under 21s and I knew what he could do — so I called him ‘world class’.

There wasn’t a lot of agreement with me at the time but I wanted to make the point. Since then, Jordan has gone on to play in a Champions League final, win a Champions League final, lift the Premier League trophy and add a few more cups for good measure. 

Watching him against Everton was fantastic because he proved, once again, that he is world class. The only midfielders who are operating at his level in the Premier League at the moment are Bernardo Silva and Declan Rice. He deserves every plaudit he receives.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Only Bernardo Silva and Declan Rice are the only midfielders operating at Jordan Henderson’s (above) level in the Premier League  


Perhaps it is inevitable in modern life but it was still deflating to see Jack Grealish being booed on his return to Villa Park.

If Jack had left Aston Villa at a difficult time and had not given his all, maybe you could have understood if there was a backlash.

But Jack was a homegrown talent, he gave everything every week for the club he loved and for Villa to receive £100million was outstanding business. 

Jack had to go to City for the chance to fight for the trophies he had seen his England team-mates Phil Foden and Mason Mount scrapping over. 

I understand emotions run deep in football but it was still pretty sad to see. In time, I hope Jack will be able to go ‘home’ and get a proper ovation.

RICHARDS: Everton have got themselves into a horrible mess
© Provided by Daily Mail Jack Grealish faced heavy jeers on his return to Villa Park after moving to Manchester City

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