After a tumultuous season including the sacking of Ronald Koeman and latterly Sam Allardyce, Farhad Moshiri got his man and Marco Silva will lead Everton in the 2018/19 campaign – though just how far could they go?
Everton had an immensely disappointing season which ultimately culminated in an 8th placed finish in the Premier League. On the face of it, finishing 8th doesn’t appear too bad, particularly given the awful start the Toffees endured first under Ronald Koeman and later David Unsworth.
Sam Allardyce came in to steady the ship and helped steer the club away from a relegation dogfight. Big Sam did his job, but the football played at Goodison Park left a lot to be desired. Some of his comments off the pitch and lack of ambitions for the club left a bad taste in the mouths of many Evertonians, and he was sacked once the season had come to a close.
What disappointed the majority of the Everton faithful was that the 2017/18 Premier League season should have seen them start to bridge the gap between themselves and the top six, not extend it further.
Manager and tactics
Marco Silva took over from Sam Allardyce for the start of pre-season, and despite a 22-0 victory over Austrian amateurs ATV Irdning, there have been some disappointing results so far in pre-season as Marco Silva looks to roll out his style of play at Everton. Of course, every result in pre-season should be taken with a pinch of salt, but there are some echoes of last year, when the Everton squad looked lethargic in many of their summer friendlies.
Silva has said he will likely deploy the 4-3-3 formation, and is working hard on the training ground at Finch Farm to implement his tactics. The use of a deep-lying midfielder is key to Everton’s success under Silva. Despite links with Silva’s Portuguese compatriot, William Carvalho, it looks likely that Morgan Schneiderlin will start the season in that role. He even said that if he does utilise the Frenchman in that position, he will likely choose two midfielders who will enjoy more freedom as Schneiderlin is someone who prefers to play more alone, compared to alongside another midfielder. Leading the line will be Cenk Tosun.
The Turkish striker fared okay last season with the Blues, but will likely benefit from the arrival of Richarlison from Silva’s former club, Watford. Whilst at the Hornets, Silva preferred his players to press high up the pitch, and whilst Tosun is not a natural presser of the ball, Gylfi Sigurdsson certainly is. Everton’s Icelandic star regularly tops the distance covered charts each game and he could be the lynchpin of this new Everton side. He will be key to unlocking defences with his eye for a pass and long-range shooting, and is another who should benefit from having Richarlison alongside him.
Club stalwart Phil Jagielka has been club captain since 2013, but with the centre-back about to be 36-years-old, it remains to be seen whether he will be a regular this season, despite the fact he is still probably Everton’s best option in the centre of their defence.
The tough-tackling defender has been at the club for over ten years now, earning 40 England caps in that time. Leighton Baines has frequented the captaincy role a number of times in the past, and should he remain Everton’s first-choice at left-back, it is likely that he will wear the armband during Jagielka’s absence.
After an excellent debut season at the club, where he picked up both the fans’ and players’ player of the year awards, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is undoubtedly Everton’s superstar. Following a series of superb showings for England during the World Cup, the former Sunderland man has subsequently been linked with a move to Chelsea.
Pickford’s supreme shot-stopping ability, coupled with his exemplary distribution has made him a fans’ favourite at Goodison. It will be a huge coup if Pickford does indeed stay at the club for the coming season. He will be hoping that further defensive reinforcements will be acquired by the club so that he doesn’t have to do all the work at the back this season.
To the dismay of the Everton faithful, there has been limited transfer movement so far this summer. Richarlison arrived from Watford for a fee upwards of £40 million to add greater attacking flair to Everton’s line-up. The Brazilian winger had an excellent start to his Premier League career under Silva at the Hornets, but his form faded rapidly following the Portuguese manager’s dismissal in January.
Lucas Digne has been confirmed as an Everton player after the Toffees agreed a fee of €25 million with Barcelona for the French left-back. Everton will probably dip back into the market in the coming days, with moves for another Barca defender, Yerry Mina, being touted by many. The headline departure from Goodison Park was Wayne Rooney – the English veteran has joined MLS outfit D.C. United, whilst Dutch flop Davvy Klaassen completed his transfer to Werder Bremen in a deal worth £12 million.
After a thoroughly disappointing last 12 months for Everton fans, it is important that they remain realistic about their prospects for the coming season. In an exclusive interview with 90MAAT, Everton season ticket holder George highlighted the lack of defensive options as the main cause for concern ahead of the new season, pointing out that “three of the current back four [Jagielka, Baines and Coleman] were starters during the David Moyes years, a sign of how little progress we have made.”
Everton started last season threatening to break into the top six, yet having seen the likes of Wolves and West Ham strengthening their squads so extensively this summer, it could be another season ending in mid-table obscurity for the Blues. More investment is needed to improve a languishing squad.