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Jhe defeats at Everton were not limited to the pitch. With their Premier League status increasingly in jeopardy, they announced a third consecutive annual deficit of over £100million last week. Rarely has so much been spent to achieve so little and while some are speculating to accumulate, the danger is that Everton have been speculating to relegate.

A glimpse of a team with 15 defeats in 20 Premier League games may raise questions about where the money goes. Everton have the worst away record this season and the fewest points in the past six months, despite around £550million being spent on transfers during Farhad Moshiri’s largely unhappy reign as owner.

The School of Science barely specialized in mathematics. The numbers did not add up. If Everton’s 68-year stay in the top flight comes to an end, signings will be the reason for a historic slide.

Alex Iwobi’s £28m fee makes him the fourth most expensive arrival in Everton history and there was an element of understatement from the Nigerian when asked to describe his stay at Goodison Park. “I think it could always get better,” he says. There are more vehement verdicts. He was called a waste of money.

But while Everton had little return on investment, Iwobi scored perhaps the most important goal of his season. His winner against Newcastle, as Everton were down to 10 men in a match delayed because a protester tied himself to a goal post, sparked such delirium that Frank Lampard broke his hand but did not recover. didn’t realize it at first. “It was crazy, the scenes were amazing,” says Iwobi. “It was one of those feelings that you wish never went away.”

While that strike may prove crucial in keeping Everton going, three days later they lost 4-0 to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Their season seemed distilled into two games: one step forward, one bigger back. This prompted Lampard to accuse his accusations of missing necessary “bullshit”.

Speculate to relegate?  The price of failure weighs heavily on Everton |  Everton
Frank Lampard celebrates after Alex Iwobi’s winning goal against Newcastle. Photography: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Iwobi agrees, but with more measured words. An ability to capitulate predates Everton’s last manager. “It comes from us,” he says. “We know that sometimes we don’t give the fight that we are capable of giving. Even before Frank came along, we were saying we needed to show more character. Our away form hasn’t been great. I feel like it’s a mental thing.

Some of the lows have come in the capital and, after March also brought a 5-0 thrashing at Tottenham, London is calling again. Sunday’s trip to West Ham is a reminder of Everton’s past and a vision of an alternative existence. The Hammers now seem to be enjoying the annual top eight spots that David Moyes has brought to Goodison Park.

While Everton have named Champions League-winning managers in 2019 and 2021 and a Champions League-winning player in 2022, West Ham could soon be heading to a European final. The fact that Moyes was interested in returning to Merseyside when Marco Silva was sacked suggests this season could have been more triumphant than traumatic.

Instead, Everton took the more glamorous option and then moved from Carlo Ancelotti to Rafael Benítez to Lampard. Iwobi scored one league goal for each of the four supposedly permanent managers to pick him. While that meager return implies he’s part of the problem, he can also look like collateral damage, victim of shifting plans, pushed in, around and out the side.

Iwobi’s £28m fee is similar to Moyes’ net outlay during his 11 years on Merseyside. Nine years after his departure, the biggest advertisement for Moyesian savings remains. Séamus Coleman’s £65,000 fee means he stands out even among other bargains. While the pair of £28million full-backs Everton bought in January, Nathan Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko, are more likely to be on the bench at the London Stadium and look like the latest indictment of spending on a scattergun, Coleman continues as a captain, starter and motivator.

A happier time survivor took on extra duties trying to help Everton stay on their feet. “The one thing that Séamus always tells us is that we have to keep fighting and giving our 100%,” says Iwobi. “Every time we’ve done that, no matter which manager we’re fighting under, we’ve normally been able to get results.

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“Every time I’ve heard negativity it gives me this hunger and the urge to try to prove people wrong, and Séamus said it should make us hungry and willing to go out and fight for it. our club and to show that Everton are not soft, that Everton are not going downhill.

Perhaps the outspoken Coleman was a rarity to highlight the threat on the horizon. “I’m not going to lie, it’s been mentioned once or twice, but if relegation is mentioned, it’s not often mentioned,” says Iwobi.

For a club whose wage bill peaked at £182m last season, which is building a £500m stadium and which in the past six seasons has spent more on transfers than Real Madrid and Liverpool , it would be the most painful and expensive demotion. Iwobi says, “We know what’s at stake.”

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