Everton fans have been saying at the midpoint of many seasons that the upcoming summer is the most important one yet. It’s the one they need to salvage the current squad and get on the right path to success. No matter whether a club has been lifting trophies or battling relegation, every summer is important to both improvement and avoiding stagnation. But, for Everton, a club with good infrastructure – in terms of training ground, stadium, and fan base – who are struggling in the lower midtable, the upcoming summer needs to be done correctly. They can’t afford more transfers for players that don’t add playing quality or resale value.
Everyone club and sportsperson wants to be the elite of their sport. Every casual player who buys in to a ggpoker.co.uktournament will have their sights set on the ultimate prize. Every unseeded tennis player will picture themselves on the Court No. 1 at Wimbeldon. Every amateur golfer practicing their drive on the range will try on every blazer like it’s a green jacket. Everton have lofty ambitions. The club spends money. However, they’ve repeatedly done it stupidly, with little direction, vision, or idea.
Rafa Benitez’s hiring was a disaster. A bizarre choice initially, and one that didn’t age well at all. He alienated two key players in James Rodriguez and Lucas Digne, which resulted in both being sold. Arguably, Digne is the one that most regrettable. He is a play at about the right age who can be a first team regular as a squad is built over a couple of years, ready for a serious European push. Now, though, is there really a player, aside from Dominic Calvert Lewin, capable of being in a top-6 starting XI?
Frank Lampard coming in means there’s a manager capable of implementing a contemporarily successful off-ball system, as showcased in the narrow 1-0 loss to Manchester City. It’ll be a mix of high- and mid-block pressing, focused more on shutting down progression for defensive purposes (like Pochettino’s Spurs) rather than for offensive purposes (like Klopp’s Liverpool). Lampard’s Chelsea side did this successful for a reasonable period of time.
However, the key question will be whether the former Chelsea legend can get the team creating enough good chances to drive them up the table. For this, though, while Lampard will have to improve his coaching in this area – or hire someone who can help – players might be key.
As mentioned, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, is, arguably, the only player who flirts with being elite. He is a pure number nine. He will stretch the channels with his runs, bully the centre-backs with his mobility and physicality, and be a notable box-threat, taking shots from great locations. He needs support, though. Richarlison could well scale up, and he’s been a healthy balance of both shooter and creator, but not excelling at either. Andros Townsend will take long-distance shots and put in crosses, but is a limited attacker who will likely only get a small number of minutes. Demarai Gray is this season’s surprise package, being among the teams xG leaders, and scoring a reasonable amount – but is this sustainable?
Allan is a destructive and combative midfielder, and a reasonable passer. Partnered with Doucoure means the midfield is really lacking excellent passers. Anthony Gordon, the prospect, is still an unknown. While he seems a capable dribbler, there’s nothing to suggest, as yet, he’ll be a top-end Premier-League quality winger.
As such, creators are what Everton need. One who will sit deeper and move the ball into the final third effectively and continuously. One who will be able to carve defences apart, finding the likes of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison – even Dele – in scoring positions.
Can the board be trusted to get the right players in, though?