I caught up with Andy Burnham, Evertonian and Labour MP for Leigh, to get his views on matters at Goodison Park so far this campaign.
Everton are currently 6th in the league, based on what you’ve seen so far this season, will we be above, below, or in the same position come May?
Hmmm, tricky one that, but would probably say just below. Think we’re still three or four players short of a top-six team. But this represents really good progress on the shambles of last year.
Which player(s) have impressed you most so far this campaign?
The most eye-catching has got to be Gana – a real find. Stekelenburg has surpassed expectations. I continue to marvel at the Premier League phenomenon that is Gareth Barry and Ashley Williams is the kind of player we have needed for some time.
Which player(s) have failed to impress you as yet?
I’m afraid I’ve got to say Ross here. I thought he had a poor last third of last season and hasn’t snapped out of it yet. Seamus frustrates me as well.
What are your thoughts on Ronald Koeman and Everton’s style so far this season?
I like it but don’t think we’ve seen the best of it yet. Defensively, we are a lot better and becoming hard to beat again, thank God. I like the more direct style, and the attacking at speed down the wings, but we’re still prone to lapse back into the ponderousness of recent times. But, overall, the signs are good. And I love the idea that Everton are led by a name that commands utter respect in world football.
We’ve got a stronger spine but we’re too weak on the wings.
If anything, what would you change at the moment in terms of formation, players involved?
Given the players at our disposal, I wouldn’t change that much. But I would certainly recall Brendan Galloway from loan and drop Oviedo.
What areas do you think we need to strengthen in January if we dip into the market?
Stekelenburg has impressed but we need to sign another proven Premier League keeper. I am glad we didn’t sign Sissoko on deadline day but do think we need a dominant central midfielder. And we need a quality goal-scorer, two if Rom leaves. In two minds about Rooney coming back. But, you know what, it could just work for us – on and off the field.
Overall assessment of the season so far?
Real signs of progress but still some way from where we want to be. And please, for God’s sake, let’s never field a weakened team again in ANY cup competition. I am 46 now and want to see us win one again before I reach my 60s!