There are only four weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Everton.
Last season was certainly one to remember for the Toffees. They were under new management after the long and relatively successful (even without silverware) David Moyes era. They broke club record after club record including their highest points total in the premier league and most wins in a season.
Roberto Martinez had an excellent debut season in charge of the Toffees and has again shown himself as a perpetual over achiever. His track record is admirable, having pulled Swansea from League One to 8th in the Championship and keeping Wigan in the Premier League for 3 of his 4 seasons. Despite succumbing to relegation in his final season with the Latics, Martinez masterminded a miraculous FA cup victory, overcoming Man City in the final.
Going to Everton, however, was always going to be a big step up for Martinez, taking over from David Moyes who had undoubtedly done a fantastic job in his 11-year tenure. This did not seem to faze the Spaniard, as he successfully implemented his possession-based footballing philosophy into the Everton squad and played exciting, attacking football throughout last season.
Whether they retain the services of Lukaku or not, I firmly believe that snapping up Gareth Barry on a free transfer will still be their most important signing. The former England international proved he’s still got it after a frustrating spell at Man City, striking up a fantastic midfield partnership with James McCarthy who had an equally impressive season. Furthermore, retaining the services of full-backs Seamus Colman and Leighton Baines, which looks increasingly likely, is an impressive statement about their intentions next season and is as good as any signings they are likely to make.
Who is tipped to join them?
With Lukaku being central to Everton’s fortunes last season, Roberto Martinez will no doubt be doing everything in his power to bring the strong Belgium striker back to Goodison Park. He’ll probably be quietly pleased that Lukaku didn’t have the great World Cup campaign that many were expecting, as there may not be quite as much interest in his services from the top European clubs. That said, there will still be plenty of teams desperate for a player of his quality should Jose Mourinho decide that he is not needed at Stamford Bridge. Martinez has also admitted that he is keen to bring Lacina Traore of Monaco back for a second loan spell despite an injury limiting him to just 63 minutes of football for the Toffees in the second half of last season.
Finally, Everton remain hot favourites to sign Jack Rodwell, who will provide competition in midfield and be a future replacement for Barry who, at 33, may only have a few seasons left in the top flight. Martinez will be hoping that he can get the England international on a loan deal with a view to buy, as if not, he could prove to be an expensive signing, given the inflated price-tags attached to English talent.
Who should they sign?
Last season, the Toffees relied heavily on three of their loan signings. Of the two mentioned previously, Barry has been signed and Lukaku will either return on loan or they must sign a similarly quick and powerful striker with an eye for goal. The third loanee was Gerard Deulofeu. New Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has deemed him good enough to join up with their first team and Everton should now seek a replacement. They do have options on the wing with Mirallas, Pienaar and McGeady – all more than capable players – but it does look like they could do with one more flair player who can really get at opposition full-backs.
A loan move for Joel Campbell of Arsenal could be an ideal option. He proved himself both last season on loan at Olympiakos and during the World Cup with Costa Rica. Should he not be deemed ready to compete in Arsenal’s highly populated midfield ranks, he would fit perfectly into Martinez’s pacey attacking system. However, it remains to be seen if Arsene Wenger would allow such a player to go to a team who pushed them hard for their Champion’s League spot at the end of last season.
Ross Barkley will surely have a big impact on Everton’s fortunes in this coming season. Having gone from one for the future to a key member of the Toffee’s first team in a very short space of time, this is no doubt going to a big season for the young England international.
I expect Everton to have a similar season in terms of causing the big teams problems, and will find themselves buzzing around the Champion’s League places once again. However, I believe that the four teams who finished above them last season still have more about them than Martinez’s side, and with Man United seemingly strengthening more than the Toffees, I expect to see Everton slip down one position. Expect Everton to finish 6th.