Everton: Season Preview


For the blue half of Merseyside, times are pretty good right now. That David Moyes guy is gone, and he brought with him the notion that Everton were an overachieving club who would have been lost without him. With the arrival of Roberto Martinez from Wigan at the beginning of last season, we now know this isn’t true.

Everton are one of the eight best teams in the league, and will be looking to continue to get better. Now is not the time to talk about this subject, but Martinez is so good that one day he will be gone. That day will be sooner rather than later. So it is about establishing the club and trying to take it to the next level while he is still here that should be the aim. Luckily, this team seems equipped to give that task a right good go.

The astute loan signings of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku were big reasons this team finished in fifth place, only six points behind fourth place Arsenal. This year, both are back for keeps. Couple this with the emergence of some young talent, as well as the shortcomings of other teams, and there is no reason why a top four finish isn’t possible. Remember, Goodison Park is a difficult place to come.

TRANSFERS IN (five; totally approximately 36 million pounds):

Christian Atsu; MF (On loan from Chelsea) – The pacy twenty-two year old winger will be looking to do what the likes of Lukaku has before him. That is to make an impact while on loan from Chelsea for the year, with the view to breaking into the London club’s first team next season. So Atsu will no doubt give his all and enjoy playing in far more games than he would have at his parent club. On loan at Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands last year, look for Atsu to start the counter-attack with his bombings down the flanks. His control and vision are also two underrated aspects of his game. A nice loan move for a player who could yet move to this team permanently.

Brendan Galloway; DF/MF (Undisclosed from MK Dons) – Galloway is most certainly one for the future at eighteen years old. Already though the thought of him and the promising Jon Stones being the defensive duo have many fans excited about what the future can be for this team. For now though all you need to know is that he played ten times for Milton Keynes, and that he has the versatility to play in midfield too. In terms of first team football though we probably won’t be seeing him this year.

Romelu Lukaku; ST (Club record 28 million from Chelsea) – What more needs to be said. He has escaped his nightmare at Chelsea, is better than Didier Drogba was at the same age and will look to torment defenders for thirty-eight league games. His loan spell here last season was a massive success, and the money paid for his services ushers in a sort of new era for the club. They can spend big and attract top young talent. So Lukaku going to Everton goes beyond what he does on the pitch, he is a standard bearer for carrying this team to new heights. On the pitch we know he’ll score plenty of goals and put in a shift, and really that’s all you can ask of your strikers. He’ll bag twenty goals and probably score four against a hapless team like Leicester in February.

Already a full international who has played at the World Cup, Romelu Lukaku will score plenty of goals for Everton now that he is with the team on a full time basis. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Muhamed Besic; DM (Undisclosed from Ferencvaros) – At twenty-one years of age, you would think Besic is one for the future. However manager Martinez has talked up the defensive midfielder, which makes you think he may see some meaningful action this season. As it stands, the Toffees have a nice midfield, but there is room for competition, Standing under six feet tall and having already played forty-seven times for Hungarian outfit Ferencaros, Besic will relish the physical nature of the Premier League and look to make an impact at a quicker rate than most expected him too. A terrier of a player. 

Gareth Barry: MF (1 million from Manchester City) – Surplus to requirements in Manchester, Barry spent last season on loan with the team in the hopes of getting game time ahead of the World Cup. Back for good now, he breaks up play in the middle of the park, while also providing a leadership role for the likes of James McCarthy and Ross Barkley. His experience will also be vital for this team as it grows. Barry is a winner, with the right mentality who may also split playing time with the aforementioned Besic.

TRANSFERS OUT (two; both loan deals):

Matthew Kennedy and John Lundstram – Both players have left the club looking for first team opportunities elsewhere. Kennedy has gone to Hibernian in Scotland while Lunstram has joined Blackpool. Though fans will wish them the best, the reality is that neither may ever come back to the club. This is not because they are not talented enough, more because the team have a core of some very strong players now. Not allowing any other players to leave so far this summer is also a positive sign too.

"PREDICTED STARTING XI: 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-2-1-1: Tim Howard; Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines; James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley; Stephen Pienaar, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin MirallasLooking at this team, the positive that jumps out right away is the near perfect balance in the team. Experienced goalkeeper, blend of youthful and experienced defenders and midfielders, and some world class attacking talent. In fact, on any given day this starting eleven would rival any in the league. Throw in the tactical configuring of Roberto Martinez, and this is more than just a very good side. Where they will be let down though is the depth of their team, so if the injury bug strikes they could be in trouble. Players like Aiden McGeady on the bench don’t inspire too much confidence, so keeping the starters fit is essential. At home they can beat anybody, it just remains to be seen how they’ll do away from home. The team typically start well before fading as the season goes on, although this wasn’t the case last year. Everton are no longer a surprise package to the opposition either, so will have to be prepared to face teams geared up to play them. A couple of losses to beatable opponents will also hinder their chances of finishing as high as they are capable of. Make no mistake though, this is a team in the second tier of clubs in the league."

Ross Barkley is the present and future of this team, depending on how long he sticks around for. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Team Strengths: 

Full Backs: Seamus Coleman is the best right back in the Premier League, it’s as simple as that. Reminiscent of his compatriot Denis Irwin for Manchester United, Coleman runs up and down the pitch for ninety minutes straight. Last year he added goals to his game as well. His character is what you dream of as a manager, the Killybegs man never in the news for the wrong reasons. Baines is far more accepted as being one of the best in the league in his position, however that shouldn’t take away from the super job he does. Having these two coming at you and defending with gusto will be a big plus for this team.

Continuity: This team haven’t lost any key players and brought back the ones who made them so successful last season. This means most players are familiar with one another and a period of getting the team to gel will not have to take place. It will be a case of picking up where they left off last season, and that will spell trouble for teams who are only finding their feet themselves. For this reason expect Everton to blow out of the gates, before slowing down as the season winds on.

Exciting Youth: Both John Stones and Ross Barkley won’t play for this team in five years. The truth is they’re both too good and will have joined one of better teams in the league by then. It is a sad but true face. However, both play for Everton now and both will make huge strides this year in the league. The composure of Stones on the ball and his ability to read a situation before it happens go far beyond his years, while Barkley truly is a do it all kind of player. Expect telling contributions from both.


Reliance On Lukaku: Yes he’s the main striker now, and yes he’ll score loads of goals. But like every striker, Lukaku will go through a funk at some point in the season. When this happens, the team may struggle to score goals. They have goals in them for sure, but when you’re leaning on a player to score for months and then suddenly he goes dry, it can make a team nervous. This will happen to Everton, and it is how they meet this challenge that will tell us a lot about the team.

Small Team Mentality: While Martinez worked wonders with Wigan, winning the F.A. Cup in the process, there is still the feeling that Everton are content with finishing just behind the big boys. While that is a great achievement in itself, Martinez will be trying to change the culture of the club, so that the players feel they can go on to bigger and better things while at this club. This won’t happen overnight, and at times next season when they are up against it or leading bigger teams in the table, nerves will creep in as the team attempts to break new ground.

Seamus Coleman is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Element Of Surprise: Teams know what to expect when they play Everton these days, and so plan accordingly. They get treated with the respect they have earned from years of playing well against the big teams, and ironically that will begin to work against them going forward. There are no easy games in the Premier League, but Everton are no longer viewed upon as one of the more desirable fixtures for any team looking to get points. Getting the best of every team every week will be a grind for them.

"Predicted Finish: 4thThat’s right, you’ve read that correctly. Everton are building on what was a great season last year, with pretty much the same team. The new recruits may not help right away, but they do partially solve the depth problems this team has. With both Liverpool and Manchester United looking vulnerable, this will be Everton’s best chance to pounce and break into the top four for years to come. It won’t be easy or straightforward and will only come down to a few points, but this team is growing and will be right up there fighting for that fourth spot. The solid and industrious players the team always had is now dotted with genuine class like Lukaku and Barkley. With the solid base of Howard, Jagielka and Barry knowing their roles and executing them, this will give the Mirallas’ of the team the chance to be creative going forward. Those fullbacks will rip teams apart too, in what has turned into a team capable of beating you in various ways. Look out for an extended cup run in either the F.A. or Capital One cups. Oh what a time to be an Everton fan."