By Owen Parkes
The 2019/2020 Premier League season feels like the ultimate chance for Everton to fulfil Farhad Moshiri’s and the fans’ ambitions
The transfer window is no more. Thank God. There is nothing more I hate than the transfer window. It’s unnecessary, discombobulating trauma caused by ‘ITKs’ and twitter meltdown. It’s over, good. As for the business we did, good. Jonas Lossl, Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph, Jean Philippe Gbamin, Moise Kean, Dijbril Sidibe, who I keep forgetting, and Alex Iwobi means Everton have done smart business.
I would have loved a defender, preferably Kurt Zouma but it was not meant to be. Michael Keane is one of my favourite footballers ever and Yerry Mina I’ve always said is sound. Cover is worrying but there are some options until January where we can renew interest in centre backs. Going forward we look pretty good. Richarlison is excellent. Iwobi is a creative spark, so too Bernard and there is the exciting prospect of Moise Kean who I love already. In midfield we look stronger than we left it with Gomes, Gbamin and Delph bolstering the squad and we also have a competitor to Seamus. We are good to go. It will be about progression again for Marco Silva and I can see us going up to 7th because the clubs around us aren’t that great, they really aren’t. They all have strong parts but in equal measure they have their weaknesses. I believe the top 6 is doable providing we can get good seasons out of Mina and Keane as a partnership
Previous years have been met with the excuse of ‘transition’ or met with underachievement, but all the stars are seemingly aligning for Everton to break the top six. Not only does Everton’s transfer business seem positive and strategic, but those above Everton seem to be enduring their own malaise whether that be going with a rookie manager or having deeply rooted problems in terms of squad strength, in the case of Chelsea, it’s both. It is also true that clubs in and around us such as Leicester and Wolves harbour the same ambition, but with the longevity of Everton’s preparation for this being longer, it is the time for the Blues to displace the current top six shutout.
Results have been patchy throughout pre-season. Although performances have been generally acceptable and useful in preparation for the new season, there has not been a great deal of ruthlessness up top which is paramount for a top six finish. Despite this, the signings of Moise Kean from Juventus and Alex Iwobi should remedy this. Sadly, Zaha did not happen and whilst it would have been met with an unprecedented excitement from the fan base, Everton are smart enough not to be held to ransom over an inflated fee. However, up top we have secured additional reinforcements that will increase our goal output. Whilst Dominic Calvert-Lewin, without exception, puts in committed and determined performances, his lack of goals will ultimately cost him a starting place in the short to medium term this season, with Everton betting pretty heavily on the ability of Moise Kean.
Defensively, there are still some question marks. The issue around Zouma has marred the club’s pre season as fans and Marco Silva alike have expressed their desire for Kurt Zouma to return. But with Chelsea’s transfer ban, it has been difficult for Everton to secure his services one again. Still, a new centre back has not been brought in despite this being a concern for a some time. Whilst Gbamin is able to cover and Mason Holgate and Lewis Gibson could deputise, it is surely not strong enough to compete for the entirety of the season. Yerry Mina and Michael Keane are fine as starting defenders, but they cannot be solely relied on. Still, there will be opportunities for Everton to buy in January and better deals may arise.
It is also a big season for our manager, Marco Silva. The Portuguese endured an inconsistent but positive first season and more is expected this season. With the squad being replenished with new players, Silva’s attacking system should flourish. For a while, he has expressed his desire for a 4-3-3 system but has been unable to do so due to his lack of faith in fringe midfielders. His unwillingness to drop Gylfi Sigurdsson due to his productivity has meant he has been unable to do so. With the arrival of Fabian Delph and Jean Philipe Gbamin, there is more scope for Silva rotate his midfield options. Indeed, even without successfully acquiring Abdoulaye Doucoure towards the end of the transfer window, there is a feeling that Silva has several options. Within that brings greater tactical flexibility and the option not to only change for each game, but to manipulate the way Everton play within games.
The start to the season is kind to Everton. The fact they are the only club to not face a top six side within their first six games, it is a chance to lay down a marker towards the upper echelons of the Premier League which could lead to an exciting opening to the campaign.