Everton Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, has written to supporters in Saturday's Official Matchday Programme for the Premier League season opener against Fulham at Goodison Park.
Last season was obviously a very difficult campaign for everyone connected with Everton. Without question, battling to the final weekend to secure the points to maintain our Premier League status was not a scenario we wanted to be in for the second consecutive year.
And so, whilst there is relief that we are starting this new campaign in the top-flight of English football, everybody recognises we must do better.
We are aligned in terms of what is required - and how that can be delivered in our current financial position. We need to be careful, considered and diligent in our trading in the remaining weeks of the transfer window.
The changes and improvements that must be made to our squad have to be managed carefully. That means sensible trading, astute acquisitions and utilising the free transfer and loan market where necessary. The entire focus is on ensuring Sean has a squad with the right balance and attributes to contend more effectively with the challenges of a Premier League campaign.
Whilst this window is not an easy one for us, I can assure you I am working extremely hard with the Chairman, Board, our recruitment team and manager to bring in quality players within the constraints we are working under.
We feel we have made positive steps in that respect with the additions already this summer of Ashley Young, Arnaut Danjuma and Youssef Chemiti.
Ashley joined us on a free transfer and brings a wealth of experience and quality, while his list of honours and achievements show we have brought in a proven winner and leader.
He is highly thought of in football as a person and, as a player, his performances over many years, which include an excellent season with Aston Villa last term, underline why he will strengthen our squad.
Meanwhile, getting a player of Arnaut’s undoubted ability on loan was excellent business for us. We are clear admirers of his quality, which is why we were so keen to bring him to Everton. He is a versatile forward who can play across the front line and as a central striker.
We accepted his decision not to join us in January. That is football. But we always maintained good relations with Arnaut and the important thing is he is now at Everton and eager to show what a quality player he is.
We were delighted to secure the signing of Youssef this week. He is a player we have been tracking for a long time.
He is a talented striker with a lot to offer who showed his undoubted talent in Portugal last season with Sporting.
Having turned 19 in May, there is plenty of room for Youssef to develop his game, too, and we are looking forward to him being a success with Everton for many years to come.
There were a lot of players on the Club’s books for the 2022/23 season - but not the balance or strength in depth to provide the manager with enough selection options. That is something that has already been addressed with players leaving the Club this summer, and it is fair to say more will move on from Everton before the close of the transfer window on 1 September.
We have also secured vital loan experience for some of our younger players such as Reece Welch, Lewis Warrington and Stanley Mills, which we think will prove crucial in their development.
Sean and his coaching staff have worked hard over the summer to get our squad in the best possible shape for the season ahead. A lot of pre-season is about fitness but there have also been plenty of encouraging signs in our friendly matches, highlighted by last weekend’s 1-0 win over a strong Sporting CP side. We know the real work begins today and our players will be ready.
In terms of our footballing strategy, we are 18 months into a plan that will bring significant long-term benefit - with particular focus on our Academy structures and pathways.
There have already been short-term benefits from that strategic approach, as demonstrated by the huge increase in game-time for our on-loan players in 22/23. The young players making what is a big step up to the senior squad must be good enough and ready, and the strategy we have implemented, along with the appointments made, have been entirely focused on that. I am sure we will begin to see the benefit of that in the new campaign.
Of course, every club wants to get its business done as early as possible, but this is often difficult to achieve. Selling clubs will always seek the best price possible for their best players, and that often means extended negotiations to acquire new signings at an appropriate and fair price. We have demonstrated across several transfer windows in the past two years that we will not expose the Club to risk through over-inflated fees for players who would provide little or no return on that investment in the future.
That is a hard reality. But one we do not shy away from.
It is also only correct that we will only confirm departures and arrivals when deals are completed. I know that can be frustrating when there is so much transfer speculation and media focus, but I hope you appreciate it’s the right way for us to operate.
We are fully aware of the need for quality and depth in each area of our squad and we will continue to work hard to give Sean the strongest squad possible to enable us to make progress this season.
Enjoy today’s game.