This week I answered the following questions for the It Is Football Not Soccer Blog.
Here is my answers.
Which player is a ‘one to watch’ at Everton this season?
I would have said John Stones, but it is unclear as to whether he will still be at the Club this season! If he does stay then he is definitely one to watch – huge talent with massive potential and a big career ahead, I just hope that career is at Goodison Park. Stones is such a raw talent, confident, a great reader of the game, and that’s just for starters. Future Captain of England in the making, and more importantly Everton of course.
Two other players who I think might catch the eye this season are our two new signings – Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley. Whilst the latter doesn’t excite our fans like Deulofeu does, both players come to Everton with points to prove and will be hungry to cement a regular spot in Martinez’ side and play a key part this season.
Are you happy with the club’s transfer activity so far?
I am happy with the signings we have made; Deulofeu and Cleverley are both good additions in their own right, but we’ve lost two players in Distin and Alcaraz so in terms of numbers we haven’t strengthened. Deulofeu is a talented player but tended to be a bit hit and miss during his loan spell, however after a frustrating season in Seville and not being able to force his way through at Barca, I am hoping he will want to make a real impression and demonstrate his attributes in the Premier League with Everton – where he will hopefully settle and continue to develop. He gets our supporters on the edge of their seats, has the opposition constantly on the back foot and was welcomed back to the Club with open arms.
The Cleverley deal made sense for all concerned; United didn’t want him, he was looking for a permanent move where he can play regularly, Everton were looking to bolster their midfield options, and Martinez has previously worked with Cleverley at Wigan. Plenty of our fans have written him off already, but I believe he will do well here, he’s certainly impressed in pre-season so far. Like Deulofeu he is a player with a point to prove and I believe Everton is the perfect place for him to showcase his capabilities.
In terms of transfer targets we need a central defender, a winger (potentially Aaron Lennon) and ideally another striker too. However after a hectic few weeks in terms of rumours, it has all gone quiet on the Goodison front. Worrying really because we need players – our squad is simply not strong enough. Money is always an issue at our Club, and we usually shift a few out before we shift a few in, on the face of it this summer appears to be much of the same.
Were you disappointed with an 11th place finish in the last campaign?
More than disappointed; Evertonians were left dejected, confused and very worried at times last season. A combination of confidence-loss, tactical stubbornness from the Manager and defensive frailties were exposed and compared to the season before we looked a shadow of ourselves. Many said we were found out by the opposition, and Martinez’ football vision fell flat on its face. We flirted with relegation at one point, but thankfully manage to drag ourselves away from the danger zone. Everton are not used to being out of the top 7/6 sides in the League in recent times, so to finish bottom half was a real wake up call. Martinez and his side need to right the wrongs of last season and start the forthcoming campaign well otherwise the pressure will begin mount once again.
Best away ground to visit in the league?
Even though their fans do my head in, I’ve got to say West Ham. This away day always seems to result in an Everton win which makes my choice biased, but overall there is a few decent boozers, often an intimidating atmosphere and plenty of snarls (that’s just the women) on your way to the ground, and once inside it is just one of those traditional British football grounds, quite tight and compact. I’ve enjoyed my trips there, and unfortunately the Boleyn Ground won’t be used by the Hammers as they move to a new stadium. According to their fans they are going to win the League now because they’ve signed a few players, but take my word for it Everton will still beat them home and away.
Who do you think will win the Premier League title and who will get relegated?
I reckon Chelsea will win the League. It is the Mourinho effect. With Costa firing and Hazard/Fabregas pulling the strings, backed up by a spine of Matic, Terry, Cahill and Courtois – there is only one winner for me. They are bound to spend again this summer and even though the other top sides are too, I believe Chelsea will still be too strong for the likes of City, United and Arsenal.
From the sides that came up I can see Bournemouth staying up; for some reason I believe they will consolidate, they play good football and I am looking forward to seeing them in the Premier League. I think the other promoted sides – Watford and Norwich – will struggle and go straight back down, and they will be joined by Aston Villa. I am not a fan of Sherwood, and I believe this season will be one too many for them and they’ll go down, especially now that they’ve just lost Delph and Benteke..
Predicted Everton finish?
My heart says top 5 but my head says 6th or 7th place. The aim for us has to be to finish as high up as possible, get back into Europe, why can’t we aim for the top four (we’ve done it before), but we need more players because we will inevitably lose a couple more players this window and suffer injuries throughout the campaign – we need quality squad depth and be rid of the dead wood – it is all about ambition and we don’t often see it at our Club.
Keeping a settled back four this season, Martinez being less stubborn and Lukaku picking up where he left off last season (20 goals) will be key to our success. Bringing Lennon in would offer us another option in our offensive areas but there is a couple of positions (as detailed above) that we need to strengthen in and with a few weeks left of the window I am hopeful we will. Our Europa League adventure came to a horrific end last season but we want to be back in Europe, we did have a real go up until our disastrous exit in Kiev, and as a team we need to learn from it and aim to get back amongst the European spots. Silverware has eluded us for over twenty years now so a real go at the domestic cups would be something I’d like to see; even a League Cup win is silverware, why not go all out to get it.
Roberto has had one good season and one bad, us Evertonians are hoping it is third time lucky and we can do something memorable during the forthcoming campaign.