So the waiting is over as Everton can get their Premier League campaign underway this weekend at the King Power Stadium when they face Leicester City on Saturday and us Evertonians can’t wait.
It will of course be a poignant moment for many Evertonians as it will be the first time they have been back to the Stadium since fellow Evertonian Bernard Murphy lost his life on the way to the game after being hit by a roof tile in high winds. I was there that day and it was a sad day for all Blues and I’m sure you’ll all agree that our thoughts will be with his family this weekend. RIP Bernard.
Back onto the football side of things though, this game cannot come quick enough for us after the delights of the World Cup in Brazil whetted our appetite, this is now the real thing.
Since our victory against Hull City in May, Blues fans have been chomping at the bit to watch the team again given they had been so impressive in Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge. The likeable Spaniard has been fantastic for our football club since his arrival and this summer he has demonstrated his positivity and determination to smash the shackles placed on us by the previous regime.
Now please don’t for one minute think that I am having a go at David Moyes’ tenure at Everton because I am not as Moyes did a great job for Everton during his 11 years in charge. However, this media and general football perception that Everton are ‘punching above their weight’ is down to our former manager and there is no escaping from that fact. At every opportunity David Moyes would bemoan the fact the we don’t have the resources at Everton to aspire to much more than a 7/8 place finish, and whilst there may be more than a grain of truth in the fact that money generally wins the day, this is football and football is about dreams. Moyes loved to tell reporters and anyone else who would listen that the job he was doing was almost impossible but he was fabulous so he had the club fighting for Europe, he did do a good job but this spin was purely for himself and it worked as it got him one of the biggest jobs in World football and definitely the biggest in this country.
However, back to Roberto and the job he has done in the 14 months he has been in charge. It started last August on deadline day, continued in January by convincing Leighton Baines to not only stay at Everton but to commit to a new long term deal. He then signed a new deal himself, followed it up with deals for Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, John Stones and is 99.25% through James McCarthy’s new contract. As well as that he has convinced Gareth Barry to stay, smashed our transfer record for Romelu Lukaku, bought a Bosnian Zidane okay well maybe not but he still looks boss does Muhamed Besic and convinced Chelsea to give us Christian Atsu for a year but we all know he will fall in love with the Blues and demand to stay !! He has also signed England Under 18 hotshot Brendan Galloway and is chasing Belgian winger David Henen which looks as though an agreement is now imminent.
Now all of that could not take place without Martinez creating a belief that things are changing at Everton. Look at our side now it has players like Coleman, Stones, McCarthy, Besic, Barkley and Lukaku who are all ours and all young, what a nucleus of a team. Add into that mix Atsu, Mirallas, Baines, Howard, Jagielka, Oviedo, McGeady and you are talking about a cracker of a team.
Underneath that first team there are players like Ryan Ledson, Chris Long, George Green, Tyias Browning, Luke Garbutt, John Lundstram, Conor McAleny and Matthew Kennedy who are all pushing to be part of the squad. Its a great position for the Blues to be in and if we add Galloway and can add Henen into that mix then we could have a real opportunity to develop some excellent players that in the long run can save the club money. Under the stewardship of Martinez, David Unsworth and Joe Royle, another Bobby masterstroke, then I am sure these players will have a part to play for the club.
Onto this weekend now and I think we have been given a very tough task with this fixture. Leicester City will be right up for this game and will have been preparing all week to get at us from the beginning. They beat us in Thailand but I am not too sure that they can play much better than they did that day whereas I know that we will be a different side altogether. Whilst our pre season has been poor the Foxes have won 6 out of their 7 frendlies and drew the other one so they will be buzzing with confidence for the game.
In contrast to them we have been shocking in our games and but they are simply a fitness exercise. Yes we want to win every game we play but to be honest as long as we win on Saturday nothing else really matters.
A couple of things hang over us going into this game and that is the fitness concerns around Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku. I fully expect Lukaku to start up top for us and do around 60-70 minutes, the other two I think may end up on the bench. Coleman will want to play but personally, I think that John Stones will start at Right Back for this one as it may have come a few days too early for Seamus.
It will be really important to Everton that they get their passing game going and keep possession, we managed so many games really well last season by doing this and again this will be massive for us moving forward. If we can continue to dominate the ball it takes out the risks from the game and then hopefully our quality will show through and we can get off to a flyer.
For me, Leicester’s biggest threat will come from mad Evertonian David Nugent. The Huyton born frontman is full of running and movement and the Blues will have to be on their toes to keep him at bay. I personally would have Nugent at Everton because I think coming off the bench he would offer us something different and being a Blue would also have that desire to do well. I also expect Leicester to be dangerous from set plays and Nigel Pearson will have them well drilled at those and it’s probably one area where we were really poor last season, both offensively and defensively so we will have to not give away any cheap set plays.
Going forward from here we have two very tough home games against Arsenal and Chelsea before the window slams shut and I expect that Bobby may be looking for another couple of players before it shuts. A striker is imperative for me as I feel we probably aren’t strong enough with just Lukaku, Steven Naismith and Arouna Kone as our 3 strikers. I personally, would love to see Everton try and get Loic Remy from Queens Park Rangers but that isn’t a probability at the moment although things change rapidly in football, however, Remy would be perfect for us and can play as a wide striker as well as a lone forward.
One striker that has been mentioned is former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o who has been linked with a move to Goodison Park but he has also been linked with everyone this summer but he looks on the verge of signing for Ajax. My understanding is that Eto’o won’t be joining Everton and unless both parties have a change of heart I expect him to end up in Holland. That is of course unless Liverpool don’t sign him as they were heavily linked with him earlier in the week. Someone like Eto’o could actually do Everton a job as a substitute striker but we would probably benefit more by buying a younger player but like I say at the moment it is a no go.
Everton had been watching last season’s loan signing Gerard Deulofeu’s situation at Barcelona but he has agreed to join Sevilla on a year long loan after Barca coach Luis Enrique deemed him not ready for Barca. Whilst there is a tinge of regret that we won’t be seeing Gerry back at Everton it makes sense for him to play in La Liga as he wants to make it with Barcelona not a Premier League side.
Anyway, the transfer stuff is all speculation at the moment whilst the real stuff is almost upon us, let’s get behind the lads and get the season off to a flyer. It would be great if we could come out of the first 3 games with 6/7 points, that for me would really set us up for the season and we could go into the first International break with confidence sky high, it starts on Saturday so COYB !!
Solo lo Mejor
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