During the Euro 2012 David Moyes was asked as a pundit whether he was using the tournament to scout for new signings. “I’ll have to see if there’s any money first” came the Everton manager’s telling reply. At the same time he was also heavily linked with the vacant Spurs job but Toffees fans will be glad they’ve still got their man- who has stayed with the club on an ever thinning shoe-string over the past 10 years. So the funds may not be available but with a few players leaving and a few players coming in it is clear that Moyes’ intention is to keep Everton challenging for both Europe and possibly the top four. Having just watched them clinch a 1-0 win over Manchester United, Everton are already showing the signs of challenging for every single game. There key man Marouane Fellaini did his job perfectly and Everton fans can only hope this was a sign of what is to come.
However, low on money the transfers in and out of the Merseyside club are always intriguing every time the window opens. The club have a tendancy to lose players to the richer clubs in the league but they are always vocal in the window and manage to snatch a few bargins underneath everyones noses. With the likes of skipper Tim Cahill leaving for America and Jack Rodwell being drawn to the wages and silverware prospect of Manchester City you could see Everton go into a shell, trying to protect what they have left.
Pienaar, some may say he never left Everton, and in essence he didn’t…. He never truely settled at Spurs and constantly had the pressure of recreating his best form all the time. But when he went back to Everton on various loans, the Evertonian style of play helped him recapture some of his best form in the final third of last season. This year, with his return to the squad full time, Moyes will continue to utilise the South Africans free flowing attacking football to undo opponents throughout this season. If he can stay fit and in form then Everton will have a strong attack threat that is unlike most they already have.
Steven Naismith, the former strike partner of Jelavic when they played together at Rangers. They together produced some of the best football in the SPL the few years ago they played together. If he can match Jelavic’s Premier League scoring record- who was Everton’s top scorer with 9 goals last season, then it is likely that Everton will continue to compete for the European places and push harder on the top of the pack.
Now, this may appear aggravating for Everton fans but I must touch on the departure of Jack Rodwell (I’ll focus on him more in the Man City Team Preview). This was set to be his year, pushing his way into the squad on a regular basis and putting in a high level of performance whenever called upon. Although his departure saw a decent amount of money come in through the transfer, it also leaves a small gap within the centre of the youth in Everton. The loss of Rodwell will probably spur Moyes to call on some of his other youngsters to come of age quickly and solidify the team, such as Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman.
Plan A: To utilise Jelavic and Naismith as strike partners, will be key for Everton who are relatively stable in defence. If Moyes continues to use the same system as last season we will see Everton playing a 4-4-1-1 formation with wide players tucked in, allowing full-backs to provide the width. It was also noticeable in the first game, against United, that Fellaini will prove key to Everton’s success this season. Though he did concede the second highest amount of fouls- 88, second only to Grant Holt (Norwich) which could prove costly if there key man is suspended from playing for certain games.
Plan B: Returning to a solid 4-4-2 formation will be plan B whilst allowing their two front men the freedom to play. Will their parnership prove as productive in the Premier League??? We’ll have to wait and see.
Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines
Osman, Gibson, Neville (C) , Pienaar
Notes: I would assume Pienaar would be the one to make way for Naismith, then Fellaini would move back into midfield. This would turn it into a 4-4-2 formation.
Lessons From Last Season
I think most Everton fans would agree that Everton need to come out of the blocks faster than previous campaigns. Last season Everton won only 3 of their first 10 games, at stat which Moyes will be hoping to improve on in the coming campaign. There nine match unbeaten run at the end of last season saw them finish about Liverpool for only the second time in 25 years. This will give Evertonians and Moyes some courage for the coming season but its still clear Everton need to start fast.
A summer where Moyes was linked away from Everton, will he still have the motivation to work with Everton on the shoe-string budget?? Everton fans will hope so. But like most seasons Everton will be in the top half of the table and could even be surprise to reach the top four.