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Football News: Everton Season Preview

Everton Season Preview
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This season is the most important one Everton have faced for a very long time, since the early days of David Moyes' reign as manager. Last season saw them drop back down the table and fall behind their rivals for a top four place, to the point where they looked more likely to get sucked into the relegation battle than a fight for a European place. With all the clubs around them strengthening their squads, the Toffees could well fall behind even the chasing pack, let alone the top four teams.

With Everton's incomings this summer, so far at least, restricted to just the arrival of former loan star, Gerard Deulofeu, and the free transfer signing of an England midfielder, in Tom Cleverley, that is the butt of most fans' jokes, it is a worrying time for fans of the blue half of Merseyside. While the signing of Deulofeu was greeted with optimism, in the main, the addition of Cleverley, even on a free, is seen as overpriced! Roberto Martinez will need the pair of them to make an impact if he is to have much of a long term future at Everton.


Can Everton return to the swagger and style they showed in Martinez's first season or will it be more of the passing for passing's sake that plagued last season? Well Deulofeu will certainly provide something different, with his willingness to pick the ball up and make direct runs at the opposition, rather than look for a sideways pass, something that made a difference, if only occasionally, in Martinez's first season. The worry is that Cleverley is better known for passing sideways and backwards than he is for anything else.

With no Europa League to worry about, the manager will have no excuse if results do not appear, despite the lack of squad strengthening this summer. The Toffees will need a strong start to provide a boost to confidence and to lift them for what could otherwise be a long hard slog of a season. One thing they do have in their favour is that they have kept their key men, even Luke Garbutt, who chose to sign a new contract, though he is going to spend the season on loan at Fulham.


Reasons to be cheerful:
John Stones, despite the offers from Chelsea, he is still in the royal blue of Everton for next season.
Leighton Baines, always a good provider of chances for his team mates.
The return of Gerard Deulofeu, who will at least provide the fans with flashes of excitement, even if he does flatter to deceive at times.
Keeping hold of James McCarthy, who was the lynchpin of the Everton midfield last season, though he does need to add goals to his game.
Their proud record of unbroken top flight football is unlikely to come to an end next season.
A good crop of youngster pushing to break through into the seniors could save the club a fortune in the transfer market.


Reasons to be fearful:
The lack of real strength in depth to deal with an injury crisis.
Many of the players who have been key to the team in recent seasons are ageing, such as Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman.
Ross Barkley has yet to prove he can apply his talent, even on an inconsistent basis.
Tom Cleverley shows little sign of being able to improve on Everton's midfield options.
Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar struggle to get fit.
Aiden McGeady, who fails to even flatter to deceive, he offers little value to the club as a player, though still slightly more worthwhile a signing than Arouna Kone.
The uncertainty surrounding Kevin Mirallas who, for all his exceptional talent, has shown his petulance is not just confined to on the pitch histrionics and late lunges.
The failing of Romelu Lukaku to learn how to control a ball, along with his constant rumblings about wanting a move to a 'big' club. He should probably concentrate on learning how to control a ball and about Everton's history so he realises they are a big club.


What can we expect from Everton next season?
It looks like midtable mediocrity beckons, with a lack of strengthening of the team while all around them have improved. All a far cry from the heady days of fighting for the title, or even the Moyes' era battles, though mainly futile battles, for a top four finish. The key battle for Everton this season may very well be Martinez's battle to keep his job.

Roberto Martinez needs to show that his stubborn refusal to practice set pieces and his insistence on possession are the correct ways for the club to go. That having a player with fantastic dead ball delivery in Baines, and a player with height and power in Lukaku, are not meant to be used in conjunction, as most people would believe. If he is wrong, then Everton's proud history of survival in the top flight could be at stake.

Written by Tris Burke August 02 2015 21:03:27