Recently I answered some questions as part of the Liverpool Echo’s ‘Your Views’ Everton season preview – My answers are listed below….
What are your expectations for Everton going into the new season?
Mark Finnegan (MF): I expect us to the hit the ground running and continue to play the way we did last season. We were expressive, positive, but patient in our approach and Martinez’ ideology for the club has everyone on the edge of their seats. With reinforcements now arriving at Goodison Park, I’d expect Everton to be targeting the Champions League and personally I’d expect us to finish in the top four. Although the sides around us have strengthened and each season it gets tougher to compete, I think if Everton show the no-fear, attacking intent they did last season then this campaign could be one to remember. We have a great mix of talent within our squad and a hungry manager in Martinez and us Evertonians get the feeling that this is very much the start of something under the Spaniard.
What are your thoughts on the transfer dealings so far; and if you were Martinez what are your priorities?
MF: So far our transfer dealings have again been impressive; we signed Barry which was essential, and now the exciting Besic has joined too, plus the major statement of intent in signing Lukaku on a permanent. Barry and Lukaku were two key members of the squad last season and to bring them back on a permanent basis signals the current lure of playing at the club, and add to that the addition of young Bosnian prospect Besic, the squad is taking shape nicely. We have also signed Sam Byrne and Brendan Galloway, who will be joined in the Under 21s by incoming Belgian youngster David Henen. Roberto says he still wants more players and one that has been mentioned is Atsu from Chelsea, but regardless if we sign the winger or not I’d still expect us to make one more permanent and one more loan signing – and more bodies are needed for the forthcoming campaign.
What are your opinions on Everton’s involvement in the Europa League?
MF: Although it was disappointing to miss out on Champions League qualification I was happy to see us achieve a Europa League place and look forward to being back in Europe this season. The Europa isn’t the most glamorous of competitions and many of our league fixtures will now move to a Sunday, which is a bit of a pain, but I suppose being in the competition means we are in with an additional chance of a trophy and as we all know, it’s been a while. On another note it will be interesting to see how Martinez plays against Clubs from abroad and again this is all part of the project he is building at Goodison Park, bring it on I say.
Looking at the Blues both on and off the field do you think Everton are heading in the right direction?
MF: On the pitch yes, without doubt, but off it, I’m not so sure. I have my reservations about our board and even though we are seeing a successful transfer window and Martinez is being backed with adequate finances, a lot has gone on in the past which causes myself and many others to always have our doubts.
As for our reported search for investment and new ownership, are the right people in the right places doing enough about this? My answer would be no. I know opinion amongst our fans is split on this, and if we got going, we’d be here all night. For now I just hope Roberto is given the tools to continue his good work (he’s done an awful lot already) because in this league and in this day and age, we cannot afford to stand still – something which many would argue we have done on numerous occasions in the past. As for on-field matters we have a superb mix of talent of all ages and abilities and I cannot wait to see what they can achieve this season and in the future – but it is vital that we continue to add quality and not allow it to fall from our grasp.
Another off-field issue is the stadium – Goodison Park will not last forever and although there has been musings about a potential new site at Walton Park, as yet the stadium subject well and truly remains up in the air.
If you could have one wish for next season (be realistic!) what would it be?
MF: In all honesty – a trophy. The FA Cup ideally, but the Europa or League Cup – I’d be happy just to win silverware again. I’m 28 years of age and I am hungry for success, 1995 was too long ago, Moyes came close but with Martinez in charge ( a recent cup winner) and with the football we are playing, this could be the perfect time to end our drought. Never mind all of this ‘mickey mouse cup’ business, I want to see Everton win things and that is the end of that. Whilst I know the League is probably out of our reach, I hope and believe that Martinez can bring us glory in either domestic or European cup competitions and I certainly buy into the ideas that he has for this Football Club.