Now, lets get one thing straight; friendlies don’t matter. We’ve seen Everton beat all-comers before in pre-season and then play awfully when it comes to the new season. We’ve also seen them be terrible in pre-season and then start the campaign well.
It’s a time to get fitness up for the players and for some of them to show what they can do to a new manager. Anyone who seriously starts calling for the manager’s head (especially a new one) needs their own head checked.
We are however just two weeks away (well, less than that) away from the new season and a tough game against Spurs. I’m nowhere near as worried as I was this time last season, but things need to start falling into place.
We have looked at 5 areas of interest that I’m sure is being discussed by our fans but also being heavily debated at a management level at Goodison. I’m kind’ve hoping that by the time you read this by the way it is totally out of date and we’ve bought 5 excellent players that will lead us to certain glory…
Some Players Look Very Motivated; Some Clearly Want To Go
Pre-season is always a chance for players to show that they want to be involved in the first team for the coming season. We have seen breakthrough players come from nowhere to convince managers that they need a chance in the upcoming campaign. This can be a young player like Rooney or Stones or an established older player such as Leon Osman last season who trained well and got his chance.
We have seen some nice displays from certain players but no more than Deulofeu who looks determined to put a quiet second half of last season behind him. He was brilliant for a while, setting up Lukaku all the time. Then something happened and he was dropped. Not sure we’ll ever know the story behind that one.
Talking of Lukaku, I’m probably on the side of wanting him to stay as he’s a great goalscorer. He doesn’t do a lot of running and can’t head the ball unless it’s at goal, but he is still the best goalscorer we’ve seen in years at Goodison. Those who want him out for being ‘lazy’ clearly don’t remember us playing Steve Watson up front or Joe-Max Moore. However…
He clearly wants to go. His head has been turned by Chelsea/any other club ‘bigger than Everton’ at this time and we need to cash in. He ambled around in the Dresden Cup on Saturday without much purpose and his agent is constantly talking to the press about where he should go. I heard we’d been offered £67m the other day and that we were holding out for £75m. That’s mental. Cash in now and lets look to invest the cash in the squad.
We clearly need to invest in creative players so we should be looking to do that now, ahead of the next couple of friendlies. Do we really want to start the season giving people debuts against Spurs or just playing with a squad we had last season? Not ideal is it?
Transfer Strategies Will Be Clear By Now
One thing that is positive about Everton’s pre-season is that the manager will clearly know where we need to improve the squad. There is a reason why we’re paying him all this money after all.
The fact that he left Niasse out of the Germany trip completely is unfortunate but understandable, and a striker is going to be one of his priorities. We’ll also clearly need more options in central defence as, despite the youngsters looking okay, we need some decent leadership in there. We’ve been linked with Williams of Swansea and Fonte of Southampton and either of them would be great additions. Both and I’d be very happy.
It would at least give Steve Walsh a couple of years to search for successors for these players as they are the wrong side of 30 (Williams is 32 this week).
If Everton do sell Stones and Lukaku though we need to do it quickly. We’ve seen many teams make the mistake of selling prized assets too late and having to panic-buy to fill the position. We’ve also seen the issue of players having to play in matches and not be mentally right. Remember Arsenal 6-1/Lescott everyone?
Sell those that don’t want to be there and move on quickly. Please.
Fitness Levels and Organisation Are Still Poor
Yes, there is some work to do here. Roberto Martinez spent the last three seasons asking people to play with the ball and not worry about fitness levels. Even at this stage of pre-season the players don’t look very fit and he’ll have them doing extra sessions ahead of the season kick-off I’m sure. One of the strengths of Southampton was play fast football on the break and he’ll be looking to bring players in who fit that ethos or will bring current players up to speed.
We also still look a bit hopeless at dead-ball situations. This will be due to Martinez not having any concentration on defending corners and free-kicks for the last couple of years. I think that it’s well known that Koeman will look at bringing in players that are leaders who can deal with such situations easily. Taking ownership and heading the ball away as opposed to bringing the ball down and flicking it inside to another player or chipping it over an opposition players head so we can start a very slow attack. Ah, memories…
Remember – This Is A Long Term Project!
One thing that needs to be remembered by our fans is that this is a ‘long term project’. We shouldn’t expect miracles in the first season as we look to change the system that Martinez had us ‘playing’ for the last three years.
We have spent big money bringing in Koeman and his team and also for Steve Walsh to arrive with his black book of magical contacts. Walsh built up Leicester’s player portfolio over a number of years. If that is our purchasing strategy we should probably not question it seeing as they won the league by TEN points last season!
We should also not be expecting big names to come through the door too easily. Think back to when Man City came into money. They had a new stadium, lots of money and, tellingly, not much competition when spending cash. We have money now, granted, but so does everyone else. We may have to end up spending massive amounts of cash on a marquee signing but look at how it has gone so far.
Players will be looking for instant gratification in terms of trophies and Champions League football – for glory, exposure and lucrative sponsorship deals. We can’t offer that as yet. We also don’t have a recent history of winning anything which might put some players off as opposed to joining other clubs that are outside of the CL places this year. Witsel was always unlikely to come to us when teams like Juventus are in the same market.
We’ve even seen players using us for better contracts with their own clubs such as Arnautovic of Stoke which was a bit embarrassing. Especially as I was quite excited about that one. Will we even be priced out of the market for Gueye of Aston Villa? He seems quite good but the question remains of why he’s not already an Everton player a week after first showing our interest.
No, we must remain calm and look to support the current team as we go through this transition stage. It might not be what we’d like to see instantly but give it time and I’m sure within a couple of years we’ll be spoken about as real challengers for the Champions League places. Well, either that of we’ll be in the old Division 3 like Leeds United. Let’s just hope we have some fun along the way, eh?
Some Everton Fans Are Mental
Ah, good old social media.
I think the advice I have for most relatively-sane Everton fans is to avoid it this season. We’re going to have some ups and downs along the way and some people are just crazy.
I do understand that supporting a football team is an expensive hobby and a way of life for many. It’s the most important thing in some fans’ lives in some cases. The abuse I’ve seen already aimed at Everton-based members of staff and even the niece of Moshiri has been awful, and we’ve not even started the new campaign as yet.
This isn’t always representative of the fans in the stadium, although the mood towards the end of last season was pretty toxic. We won’t always be able to buy the players we’d like though, play the football we want to or win the games we feel we should. Football is a game and whilst we all want to win every trophy we’re entered into it doesn’t work like that.
Oh god – I’ve just realised Koeman and his team all have Twitter accounts. Good luck lads!
Remember – you can get a £200 welcome bonus for the Toffees with Bet365. Where do you think we’ll finish this season!?!?