Everton: Season preview and predictions
Major transfers IN: Arouna Kone – £6 million – Wigan; Antolin Alcaraz – Free – Wigan; Gerard Deulofeu – Loan – Barcelona; Joel Robles – £2 million – Atletico Madrid
Major Transfers OUT: Phil Neville – Retired
Despite receiving plaudits for his time at Wigan, in which he kept them in the league for the four season he was there, and also won the FA cup, the cold hard facts is that the majority of the time Wigan were flirting dangerously close to relegation the whole time, and to play devil’s advocate, should a manger thought to be that talented be so consistently close to the relegation zone?
Whatever happens in Martinez’s first season, he has a lot to do to push on from the hard work of David Moyes, as the top 6 looks to be too classy for the Toffees this, and so a 7th place finish is the best they can hope for, which may not go down well with the Goodison faithful. Everton’s season was built upon a brilliant home record, only losing once at home all season (best in the league, and was to Chelsea) and only being beaten at all 7 times (the same as 3rd placed Chelsea).
Everton picked up points consistently through the season but only 2 losses in their opening 19 games of the season dispelled any problems of being slow starters, but 15 draws over the 38 games season (a league joint-high) was the difference between pushing for 4th place more vehemently or settling for a 6th place finish.
The problem for Everton was their lack of firepower, especially away from home with only 22 goals scored on their travels, which was worse than Aston Villa and Southampton and only one more than relegated Wigan.
The reason for Everton’s 6th placed finish seems to be a strong defence which only conceded 40 goals, a figure only beaten by the top 4, and perhaps reflects the defensive tendancies of Moyes. It would be foolish for Martinez to split up a defence which was so strong last season, with Leighton Baines staking a claim for England’s best left-back, Seamus Coleman improving rapidly as a right back, with an experienced and trustworthy central defensive partnership of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.
The area which needs improvement is obviously the attack of Everton with Nikica Jelavic badly misfiring last season with a paltry 7 goals, Victor Anichebe still to prove himself as Premier League quality with his 6 goals and Steven Naismith being a backup option weighing in with only 4 goals.
It was the 11 goals of Fellaini which kept Everton going last season, and losing him would be a major, but he looks set to stay. Martinez has looked to address the lack of goals in the team by bringing Arouna Kone with him from Wigan, which looks a decent signing, even if the £6 million looks on the steep side, considering Darren Bent looks set to move away from Aston Villa for around the same value.