After last season, Evertonians have been understandably cautious in their optimism and outlook for the new campaign but with a significantly strengthened midfield and Ancelotti at the helm, there is hope that 2020-21 will be a season of marked progress
2020-21 Season Preview
If there was a feeling around mid-February that “the Ancelotti effect” might be enough to propel Everton into the reckoning not just for Europa League qualification then perhaps even the Champions League, by the end of a season disrupted severely by the Covid-19 shutdown reality had unquestionably hit home — not just for Evertonians accustomed to serial disappointment but for the new manager as well.
Had Carlo Ancelotti been under any illusions about the size of the task he had taken on when he succeeded Marco Silva in late December, they will have been shattered by season’s end… although the horror show that he witnessed at Anfield in the FA Cup in January, where his new charges were embarrassed by a team half full of untried kids, would have provided him an early indication.
There were flashes in between where the Blues threatened to rise above their collective torpor and give the new boss a higher platform from which to build in 2020-21 — perhaps, say, by sneaking into Europe — but three winless matches prior to the suspension of the Premier League in mid-March and a run of just one victory in the final six games was indicative of a team needing an urgent injection of fresh blood.
Marcel Brands, Everton’s suave Director of Football, arrived at the club in 2018 along with Silva with a clear intent to lighten a bloated squad and infuse it with younger talent than his predecessor, Steve Walsh had done over the preceding two years. Indeed, all six of the Dutchman’s first signings for the club that summer were aged 25 or under. The two 30-year-old’s he drafted in the following summer, Fabian Delph and Jonas Lössl, in addition to three more under-25s were aimed at adding experience and, especially in the case of the former, some much-needed leadership in the middle of park.
Delph, however, made just 13 League starts as he battled a succession of soft-tissue injuries and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, a highly-anticipated addition from Mainz, had his season wrecked by a thigh tendon tear and then a ruptured Achilles. In their absence, that limp conclusion to the campaign underscored the galling lack of drive, guile, imagination and presence in Everton’s midfield.
Ancelotti had seen enough and it probably didn’t take much persuading on his part to prompt Brands into making a sizeable change to his recruitment policy by advocating the need to sign some players capable of making a genuine and immediate impact, even if it meant acquiring talent on the upper end of his preferred age range.
The result was the arrival of three significant signings in the space of three hectic days a week before the new season was due to kick off. Brazilian midfielder Allan, one of Ancelotti’s most dependable players during his time at Napoli, came in for £21m; Abdoulaye Doucouré left relegated Watford to join the Toffees for an initial £20m; and the pièce de résistance, James Rodriguez, was lifted out of his frustrations at Real Madrid to link up with Ancelotti for the third time in his career.
Almost overnight, Everton’s midfield had been almost completely overhauled, with indisputable power, tenacity, physical presence, flair and a bona fide playmaker added to the ranks. A disjointed mid-section that had ambled its way through the final weeks of 2019-20 with the lackadaisical Gylfi Sigurdsson, the faltering Tom Davies, the ill-fitting Alex Iwobi, the half-fit André Gomes and the timid Bernard now had plenty of options and much-needed competition for places.
New Faces, New Options
As one of the most highly-regarded footballers in the world, a one-time World Cup Golden Boot winner and idol in his home country of Colombia, Rodriguez has grabbed the headlines and the imagination with his arrival on Merseyside. His move from La Liga has thrown up inevitable words of caution from pundits and journalists given that he has only played 28 games in two seasons, fewer even than serial treatment-room denizen Fabian Delph.
From the highs of his first season in Madrid under Ancelotti immediately after the 2014 World Cup, his statistics had been on a steady decline until they fell off a cliff last season when a combination of injury and Zinedine Zidane’s selection policy restricted James to just nine starts and one goal in all competitions.
His injury record will temper any unbridled optimism but the potential impact that a fit and firing James Rodriguez can have at Everton and on the Premier League as a whole really is a mouth-watering prospect. He has a deadly left foot, can score goals from anywhere, creates them just as frequently and has the talent to be the playmaker that the Toffees have so badly missed for more years than Evertonians would care to count. On top of that, being adept as a Number 10, wide player or sitting deeper, he opens up a raft of new attacking options for Ancelotti.
In terms of the difference made to the engine room of the team, though, it’s quite possible that the title of most important summer signing might go to one of Allan or Doucouré, both of whom promise to add bags of dynamism to a midfield that was depressingly ponderous for much of last season.
With his tenacity, mobility and touches of Brazilian flair, Allan could be a decent replacement for Idrissa Gueye who left Goodison for Paris Saint-Germain last year. He will cover ground in front of the back four, break up play and distribute the ball with confidence.
The rangy Doucouré, meanwhile, offers a genuine box-to-box presence, able to stop opposition attacks himself before powering forward to arrive at the end of moves, either to score himself or set up team-mates in the box. The Frenchman is a deceptively clever player for one having plied his trade for so long in the comparatively lowly environs of Vicarage Road, able to pick a pass through the opponents’ defence, while also possessing a venomous shot when he wants to unleash it.
With those two in the side and with Jean-Philippe Gbamin hopefully able to shake off his injury nightmares this season, Everton’s midfield should be much less of a soft touch and Ancelotti’s biggest headache in that part of the field might be whom to pick when everyone is fit. With André Gomes perhaps able to play further forward and express himself more and the likes of Sigurdsson, Davies and Walcott (assuming they all stay) now facing plenty of competition, the manager will have options from which to choose and genuine squad depth for when the fixture list gets heavy.
With an unlimited budget, Messers Brands and Ancelotti might well have taken a crack at strengthening all areas of the team but with only limited funds available, they have clearly addressed the most pressing needs. They may yet seek to add a goalkeeper capable of pushing Jordan Pickford and adding cover another option at right-back as cover for Seamus Coleman but they look like to start the season with familiar players at their disposal across the back line.
Pickford’s form was a mounting cause for concern over the run-in last season and it remains to be seen whether he will have used the break between campaigns to refocus mentally. On his game, he is excellent in one-on-one situations and provides top-notch distribution; at his worst, he is a veritable liability who costs the team goals.
A new season gives Mason Holgate more opportunity to grow into the commanding centre-half he showed he could be last season before he got injured during “Project Restart”. A captain-in-waiting, the young defender will, unfortunately miss the start of the campaign with the toe injury he sustained in the friendly against Preston but, when he is fit, it’s usually a question of who partners him.
Seeing as Yerry Mina’s time at Everton has been punctured here and there by injury, the default answer to that question has been Michael Keane, who was one of the most consistent performers over the final nine games of 2019-20. He was rewarded with a new contract over the summer but could face competition himself if a new signing like Fikayo Tomori comes in. Meanwhile, Blues fans have yet to really see the real Mina but with more protection in front of them, the defence as a whole should be generally more dependable this season.
With the new additions that have been made so far, it feels as though 2020-21 could provide the answers to a number of questions. Can James Rodriguez stay fit and can he produce the form that made him one of the most sought-after players on the planet a few years ago? Does Carlo Ancelotti have what it takes to rebuild a middling Premier League side and make it relatively successful?
This could also go a long way to demonstrating just how good Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean are as both could be the beneficiaries of a far more settled and productive team boasting significantly more competence and service in the final third of the field. Together with Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin in particular must be licking his lips at the prospect of playing with Rodriguez and his array of assist-providing talents. He didn’t score in any of the final nine games but his service had dried up; hopefully that will be very different in the coming months.
It will always feel as though Everton need another elite striker, more capable of making his own chances but the predatory instincts that Calvert-Lewin showed last season on his way to becoming the team’s joint-top scorer bode well for the new season.
The Competitive Landscape
If the onset of last season was pregnant with possibilities for a seemingly up-and-coming team like Everton, this time the Blues’ task looks a good deal more daunting. Last year, there were big question marks over the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal and all three did indeed have their wobbles before they got their acts together over the final third of the campaign to claim the last two Champions League spots.
For Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, it seemed as though all he needed was time to get his arms around his first Premier League job and to get a talented squad playing effective football. For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it was the January acquisition of Bruno Fernandes, arguably one of the most effective signings of the Premier League era. The Portuguese proved to be the missing link that transformed the Red Devils into also-rans to top-four finishers, edging out Leicester and Tottenham along the way.
Spurs, like Arsenal, struggled for consistency under a new manager but both were showing signs by season’s end and the Gunners’ FA Cup and Charity Shield successes might be indications that Mikel Arteta can be the successful successor to Arsene Wenger that that club was hoping he would be when they pried him away from Manchester City.
While City look well positioned to make a much better fist of challenging for the title and are hotly tipped to reclaim their crown from Liverpool, it is Chelsea who are expected to give them just as much trouble in terms of the race for top spot this season. It’s tempting very summer to look at the business done by other clubs and feel somewhat daunted, only for some of those new signings to struggle or disappoint. Chelsea’s recruitment, however, has been on another level this summer and the arrivals of the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz threaten to turn them into title challengers almost overnight. Plenty of pressure on Lampard’s shoulders, then, but he will have the personnel to do it and the West Londoners will be beyond Everton’s reach this season unless something seriously goes awry there.
Everton’s preoccupation will be with the teams that finished just below the top four last season and, assuming he now as the personnel to leapfrog the likes of Southampton, Burnley and Sheffield United, Ancelotti will feel that there are weaknesses to exploit in that group that placed between 5th and 8th.
Arsenal still haven’t demonstrated they can perform consistently under Arteta, although a defence that was considered fairly weak at times last season has been bolstered by Brazilian defender Gabriel who came very close to signing for Everton earlier this year.
Wolves should be a similar proposition this campaign and Leicester might experience a hangover from their dramatic fall from what looked at one stage as though would be almost certain Champions League qualification. Spurs, meanwhile, also flattered to deceive under Jose Mourinho but without significant upgrades this summer, they don’t look like a side capable of cracking the top four either.
So how high can Everton go in 2020-21? After that disappointing 12th-place finish and the manner in which the team as a collective seemed to lose their spirit and motivation down the “home stretch”, Evertonians have been understandably cautious in their optimism and outlook for the new campaign. According to the recently updated Premier League odds, Everton are among the top ten favourites with odds listed at +20000, ranked equally with Wolves but behind Marcelo Bielsa’s newly-promoted Leeds and Leicester on +15000. While the Yorkshire club’s return to the top flight will take up an inordinate amount of the oxygen of punditry this season and the Foxes will continue to be a force, if the Blues can get their act together, there’s no reason why they can’t finish above both of those clubs.
The three new signings made to date won’t completely transform the team – it's very much the promised evolution rather than a radical overhaul – and concerns over Seamus Coleman’s advancing years and gradually declining effectiveness combined with doubts over whether there is quite enough firepower up front might keep expectations in check.
Combine that with the fact that there might not ever have been quite so many strong teams all vying for the top six, plus the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions on fans in stadiums and you have the makings for another challenging season.
There are always the “unquantifiables” and the unpredictable in football, though. One or two teams can hit problems early on, have their plans derailed and spend much of the season trying to get back on track. Others, like Wolves, Sheffield United and Leicester in recent years have caught fire early in the season and used that as a platform to remain in contention for the top four even deep into the campaign.
Could Ancelotti, with his new signings on board and the benefit of almost nine months on the job inspire Everton to one of those unexpectedly strong starts? And if he is able to get the team ticking along nicely, there is every chance that Everton could mount a decent assault on the cups, competitions that have typically been the Italian’s strong point throughout his career. An end to the trophy drought feels like a lifetime away but it only takes one good momentum-fuelled run to get the club to Wembley. If Carlo can get us there, let’s hope the fans are back in grounds to see it; football feels pretty lifeless without them.
Certainly, there was evidence in his first few weeks at the helm that he has the tactical acumen to make the team more organised and harder to beat than was the case under Silva. Some good results out the gate would build that ephemeral but vital commodity in football — confidence. With belief, wins beget wins and the League points and cup progress start to take care of themselves.
If you start to take aberrations like the defeats to Norwich, Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Burnley and Bournemouth (both of them) out of the equation and add a couple more wins against the so-called Big 6, you’re looking at dozen to maybe 18 more points and the difference between the bottom half of the table and knocking on the door of the top four.
If this season’s Premier League is to be as competitive as it promises to be, without the total dominance by one or two teams at the very summit, more and more of the teams that finished above the Toffees last season will be taking points off each other and that will provide windows of opportunity if Ancelotti can inspire consistency from his charges. It really is up to them — they’ve demonstrated their quality at times and with the new additions, they should be far better equipped with far less room to hide for the under-achievers.
Predicted finish: 6th
Carabao Cup: Quarter-Finals
FA Cup: Semi-Finals
Reader Comments (84)
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1 Posted 10/09/2020 at 19:54:28
2 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:13:33
We have hope in a drastically overhauled midfield which everyone with eyes could see was needed. I have every confidence we'll get more goals from midfield and an increase in opportunities for Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison that I'm sure they'll take.
It's at the other end of the pitch that I worry. Pickford will cost us points (ten?) if his former doesn't improve dramatically (in both concentration and distribution) and we need a settled back four that can get organised and on the same wavelength to avoid more sloppy goals and generally panicky defending that gives the opposition encouragement to attack.
Having said all that, whilst I think top six will be a struggle (hope I'm proved wrong) I think we have a better chance of maybe lifting a cup (finally break our luck in the Carabao?) and getting into Europe that way. Most of all, I hope I can get back in my seat in the Balcony and enjoy watching James Rodriguez in the flesh! COYB's !
3 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:16:09
Simply put, we need to hit the ground running, stay free from injuries to key players, and have a shit load of lady luck... and there lays the problem...
I will not get my hopes up simply because Carlo got a few new players in.
He failed to motivate the shit heads that wore the famous blue shirt.
So good luck, Carlo...
4 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:17:09
6 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:22:59
With Everton, more than most things, seeing is believing.
7 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:25:37
I'm getting a bit greedy now, first I want Tomori in on loan preferably with a buy option.
Then if it's true Moise Kean wants to return to Juve, Carlo can use his charms and magic wand to bring in the Polish striker Ardcasz Milik from Napoli. This would transform us into no-nonsense top 6 plus material straight away. Look at the difference Aubameyang makes to a sub-par Arsenal team, Milik would bring some of that to a resurgent quality Everton team.
Tell Allan to text him and to jib Mourinho and Tottenham and come here instead.
I know it's greedy to want more, considering the amazing week we've had, but if Moise is intent on going back to Italy some business will have to be done.
8 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:38:44
Here's hoping for a good season, with plenty of smiles amongst us blues.
COYBs â€“ let start well against Spurs and keep it going.
9 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:39:52
Obviously the excitement of the new midfield has people focusing on the attack, but at the risk of boring the hell out of everybody with this repetition, I want to emphasize that I think these three signings will help our defense tremendously.
We have given up far too many goals the past couple of years that were not from defensive mistakes but from turnovers in the middle of the park. Our midfielders have been far too easy to hustle or bump off the ball (Bernard, Sigurdsson, Davies) or far too prone to dumb passes to the opposition in bad positions (Davies, Iwobi) that produce instant counterattacks or desperate fouls (Delph, Gomes) resulting in goals.
Allan and James will not lose the ball. They are superbly accurate passers who simply will not allow possession to be taken off them in bad positions. When they're on the ball, there will be no idiotic turnovers becoming 4-on-3 counterattacks against our backpedaling defenders. That alone could save us six or eight goals a season. And with DoucourÃ© to clean up behind them and carry the ball forward with his trademark aggression, the pressure will ease even further. So our center-backs should be much, much happier people right now.
I think 6th is a bit too optimistic, because after all we have currently upgraded only three of the 8 positions in the side that needed upgrading. And while I would have hoped that Chelsea could be one of the clubs we could leapfrog this season, their superb recruiting has bagged that hope -- plus bypassing Leicester and Wolves will be challenging.
But let's see who else arrives in this window -- and who of our holdovers decides to step up their game. Maybe the optimism isn't unjustified.
10 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:51:16
If we do struggle to break into the top six because the new players don't bed in as well as we'd like, I do hope we see a more entertaining and enterprising style of football on a more regular basis, this coming season, we cannot afford another 'wasted' season, financially or for the sake of our collective sanity.
11 Posted 10/09/2020 at 20:58:32
I'm holding cautious optimism until 10 games in. Then we'll know what the season holds.
12 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:02:15
All the talk is naturally around the new boys, rightly so, but much rests upon Calvert-Lewin.
I was very disappointed in his performances post lock-down. The vast improvement he had shown earlier in the season seemed to go out of the window. Every team needs its strikers scoring goals in order to flourish.
If he wants to be a Premier League striker, now would be a good time to stake his claim. He may not get another chance like this.
13 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:16:02
Better players will demand more, so whoever plays out of Richarlison, Kean and Calvert-Lewin will definitely have to improve on their ball retention, something very few Everton players have been good at for a long time now.
14 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:16:09
16 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:30:09
On the unexpectedly strong starts, with all the buzz around James it reminds me a bit of when Ravanelli joined Boro. He began with a hattrick, ended with two cup finals then relegation. I don't see the latter happening to us but sometimes the great start can be a platform (e.g. Leicester 3 years ago) sometimes it peters out e.g. Tony Cottee after his debut, or the Joe Royle team in his last season. We also had Kendall two's last year where we began with 3 wins and ended with 3 dodgy goals to survive against Wimbledon.
That being said, I think we need at least a solid if not spectacular start otherwise the nerves will kick in. There was excitement after Koeman's big summer spend, likewise after Silva's, but it quickly turned to panic. I really hope that this time we hold our nerve have at least a decent first month then kick into a higher gear.
17 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:31:15
19 Posted 10/09/2020 at 21:47:48
What has struck me most, is whilst there's been hype and buzz that hasn't permeated the noggins of many of the broadsheet podcasts. Whilst I'm all for the pinch of salt when they offer an opinion on a club like ours who they barely watch, not one thinks we will be a mover or a shaker and are doomed to finish middle of the pack. In some instances even the current strategy is seen as Everton still buying fading stars, lacking identity. Even in my current giddiness perhaps that's fair.
The truth as always is somewhere in between. However I was surprised no one thought we might spring a surprise, have we massively over egged the pudding?
21 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:00:16
As long as we didn't "ruin the transfer window" the media should leave us alone this time.
23 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:03:34
I'm hoping for 6th and the League Cup. Oh, and an away win at Anfield and at least a draw at GP in the derby. City to win the league by 1 point.
24 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:15:45
The competition in the Premier League has never been so strong. Liverpool and Man City have to be a bit beyond us in an honest moment. I'm not sold on Chelsea, but do appreciate and enjoy Frank's approach and style of football. So you have:
Chelsea, Man Utd, Leicester, Arsenal, Wolves, Spurs, and Everton in my opinion battling for 3rd through 9th place! That's insane, and it will be insanely competitive, the likes of which I have never personally witnessed. Couple that with:
Burnley, Leeds, Southhampton, and Sheffield Utd and you've basically set a "second table" of eleven teams vying for 4-5 European spots. Insanity!
So what to make of all of this? Same thing I think I've said for now near 14 years there or thereabouts.
We absolutely must win the games we "should". No exceptions, no excuses.
If zero heart, know our place in the world, feather-strong constitution Everton starts to rear it's ugly head, we're fucked.
A lot of this will be mental fortitude. The will to win, and not just coast through and take a paycheck.
These boys better come ready to play, week in and week out. Ownership and management have 100% done their part in setting up a winning landscape. If the players don't live up to their end of the bargain, I'd ship every single one of them out. Especially the weak of heart â€“ I've had enough of excusing shitting out of tackles and going through the motions to last me a lifetime.
It's time for the players to put up or shut up / get the fuck out of Everton Football Club.
After Spurs, there's three very winnable games. If we're on anything from 7 to 10 points after the first 4 games, we're onto something. Anything less, and I'll fear the worst.
25 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:18:09
26 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:35:16
Sir John, I am in total agreement with you, but I have to defend the pundits on this one.
Everton, in the Premier League era, have just been like that nice person who never ruffles feathers. Plods along with the "in" crowd but isn't the center of attention. Never takes a stand on any issue and knows their place.
Frankly, until Everton turn the corner and start to upset the spoiled Princes of English football, the pundits are right to discount us. As far as they are concerned, we have and will always be a non-factor.
They think, "Show me something." And I don't blame them.
It's down to the players now to show the pundits and honestly the world they mean business.
27 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:38:42
Might turn a few heads, that result.
28 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:40:35
The one time we ruffled feathers was the year we came forth and barring HKIII that was probably the time everyone had the bleakest outlook for us. I remember as a kid though watching the Saint and Greavsie show and the latter saying Iit's so boring every year either Everton or Liverpool win the league.â€ That was in1988. I've never forgiven Greavsie for jinxing us.
29 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:43:36
Same is true for us of course. Fact is a new season is a new season and it can be quite different from the previous season. I think we will be a lot stronger as we had a specific problem area that we have signed two players to fix. If only one of DoucourÃ© or Allen works out we will be much better. 6th is a realistic target for me. If James gets going maybe 5th, but 7th would be a decent interim point to reach â€“ it would be nice to win the "Everton Cup" again (7th).
31 Posted 10/09/2020 at 22:46:34
The glass half empty says it will take time for the new boys to settle into Premier League intensity and we still need a more clinical finisher up top and quality replacements for an aging right-back and two lumbering center-backs backed up by a nervous erratic wreck between the posts.
We could and should finish anywhere between 4th and 8th.
4th will need more additions and a Carlo miracle and 8th will be a disappointment but progress nonetheless.
I have predicted 5th behind Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd but Spurs, Arsenal and Wolves may have something to say about that.
I believe Leicester City will start to fall away as Vardy slows up and Maddison gets sussed and can't see Sheff Utd nor Burnley continuing to show the energy and desire of last season..
I challenge anyone to accurately predict the bottom 3. What a season in prospect.
32 Posted 10/09/2020 at 23:23:49
I don't know where we are going to end up. Nor what kind of start we'll have. But I'm sure it will be more entertaining, and give me more reasons to be positive than last season. We will be far more competitive. If we can get someone like Maxi Gomez, I think we could really make a dent in the top 6.
33 Posted 10/09/2020 at 23:36:18
Would quite like to see Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean up front together with Richarlison dropping back into a midfield 4, but I doubt that will happen.
The defence still looks to have problems and we will almost certainly have to score at least 2 to win. For the first time in a long time we look capable of that.
Agree with Jay that 5th is possible. Looking forward a great season for the first time since I can't remember when.
34 Posted 10/09/2020 at 00:03:51
Fair play to Carlo for giving Davies, Walcott, Iwobi and the rest a chance to impress but it's been clear to us for ages and now he's seen they're not up to it.
Can't wait for Sunday
35 Posted 11/09/2020 at 00:16:18
36 Posted 11/09/2020 at 00:57:25
37 Posted 11/09/2020 at 01:11:31
Leeds will come flying out of the box, get a few injuries, the pressing game of Bielsa will take it's toll around Christmas, and they'll fade.
That's my prediction. But my Lord they will be fun to watch.
Jay Harris @31 here's my stab at the relegated teams:
38 Posted 11/09/2020 at 01:18:35
It's the hope that kills you.
39 Posted 11/09/2020 at 01:51:10
40 Posted 11/09/2020 at 02:12:36
Light a candle for me in your living room grotto to Roberto Martinez.
41 Posted 11/09/2020 at 03:20:03
3. Man Utd / Chelsea
5. Spurs / Arsenal / Everton / Wolves
Though I think 5th is quite optimistic, given that Spurs and Arsenal does have stronger mentality when it comes to performing and closing down games.
Wolves seem to have gone from strength to strength, having developed an appetite and the experience of facing up to the big teams. Also, they have a fluency under Esposito.
Leceister is likely to fall away, as they have lost another key player in Chilwell. As mentioned by others, Vardy is only gonna lose pace.
Sheff Utd has bought a whole host of players too, so I can imagine there is quite some adjustments to the team. Also, the second season after promotion is only gonna get more challenging.
42 Posted 11/09/2020 at 04:02:46
43 Posted 11/09/2020 at 04:16:07
I've got Fulham as certs, Brighton likely and Palace particularly if they lose Zaha and don't get a goalscorer in.
But it could be anyone.
44 Posted 11/09/2020 at 06:21:54
To finish top 8, we will have to do our bit and then hope that Sheff United fall away, and that Spurs or Leicester have a worse season than last time. It's going to be a tough league this year. Fingers crossed DCL, Richarlison (and Kean?) can get enough goals to keep us in the mix for top 8/top 6...
45 Posted 11/09/2020 at 07:59:43
On paper, we have a strong team with a couple of weaknesses. But the midfield and attack could potentially be awesome.
I expect some high scoring games, peppered with frustrating results. Top 6 is a possibility, and we have a manager who will certainly be staining for that (no more, 'get to 40 points then we'll talk').
I'm gonna go for 2-2 in the first game.
In terms of the rest, Title race won't be the same run away, but one of City or Liverpool. Chelsea and Utd for 3rd4th is most likely, but someone may surprise.
Relegation: West Brom, Villa, and probably Fulham.
46 Posted 11/09/2020 at 08:33:35
Good analysis but I cannot agree with your evaluation of Jordan. I agree with him being excellent at one-on-one situations but top-notch distribution? I must be watching different games.
How many times in a game does he either put his own defenders under horrendous pressure with short passes or overhit the ball out of play with longer passes? It is well know that I have never rated him from Day 1 and, until this position is sorted, I fear our optimism needs to be curtailed.
All three midfielders may not be a success but I think we will be able to build a much stronger, quicker and more aggressive midfield which I believe will vastly improve two areas of team. The defence will be better protected by the new midfield, the forwards will get the ball quicker and they should be able to do their job and score goals instead of feeding off scraps.
47 Posted 11/09/2020 at 08:57:44
The one thing that's impressed me about Carlo, is his statement that he only wanted to sign players who expressed a desire to play for Everton. On that basis I have a feeling HÃ¸jbjerg may live to regret going to Tottenham who are not so far ahead of the 'old' Everton. With Allan, Rodriguez and Doucoure enlisted to the cause, we might just see a wholly different Everton this season.
Ancelotti is nobody's fool and he knows what he wants and anyone not wanting to play for him and for Everton will hopefully never get a look in, in the future.
48 Posted 11/09/2020 at 09:26:23
Ditto if all three of our new recruits play, on paper we look very tidy going forward; however, with Pickford and Keane in the side, there is always a chance of a soft goal. I certainly hope a new keeper is on Carlo's wish list.
49 Posted 11/09/2020 at 10:39:20
50 Posted 11/09/2020 at 10:54:27
We have been in similar positions in the past and fallen completely flat on our face so I'm going to withhold any expectations until I see how the first ten or twelve games develop.
We can't afford any excuse and we can't sit here having another poor slow start again and blame the fact that the new players haven't settled, I'm talking about the players that finished last season in dreadful form
It is likely that all three new boys won't start on Sunday so that means the likes of Gomes, Sigurdsson, Davies may play a part and for this trio of players it's almost reaching last chance saloon for their Everton careers.
Then there is the likes of Bernard, Iwobi and Walcott who will surely be replaced before much longer and you'd think they would need to play out of their skins when they do get opportunities for now on, the comfort zone has gone.
For me we still need better competition for Pickford, a player that terribly underperforms wearing an Everton shirt an is far too comfortable in his unchallenged position.
The right back area worries me with Coleman only regressing every season now.
The lack of a clinical striker also will be a downfall in games where chances are few and far between, is DCL good enough to take us up a level, I don't think so really and then the jury remains out both on and off the pitch with this erratic Moise Kean.
It will be an intriguing season but let's hold our fire before we get too carried away with things I think.
51 Posted 11/09/2020 at 11:13:19
Gotta remember Rome wasn't built in day.
52 Posted 11/09/2020 at 11:13:20
53 Posted 11/09/2020 at 11:14:16
A few of our current players I think will show improved form because of the stability, and class the new recruits will bring. They will also inspire some current players to be better.
The clinical finisher point. It's already been partially discussed on a few threads. A massive season for a DCL, can he step it up with his finishing? With the new stability in midfield and the boost in creativity that will undoubtedly come, all eyes will be on our ability to kill games off when we are in the ascendancy.
Above all things , this will probably be the no1 talking point all season , as to celebrating our successful finishing or lamenting it is a weakness that is holding us back.
I'm backing DCL to deliver, but I think there will be much bigger competition for him this season. From Moise Kean who is a player at some point that will â€˜catch fire' or his replacement (Edouard, Milik, Maxi Gomez ? ) if he returns to Juve.
54 Posted 11/09/2020 at 11:48:31
'... I played with Juan Cadrado, his Columbia team-mate at Fiorentina, and he used to rave about James...'
55 Posted 11/09/2020 at 11:57:33
56 Posted 11/09/2020 at 12:19:04
I still think he could be worth a shot for another season, but if his heart really is set on leaving, then away he must go.
57 Posted 11/09/2020 at 12:29:29
I think I feel the same level of optimism now as the first summer when Martinez took over and we signed Lukaku on the loan initially.
That was the last time I thought we were heading in the right direction finally.
58 Posted 11/09/2020 at 12:46:35
We still need a new right back, a goalkeeper, and a fast powerful central defender. We will then be able to really challenge for trophies. The sleeping giant will then truly awaken.
I still think we will have a good season with what we have now.
59 Posted 11/09/2020 at 12:53:52
The revamped midfield should provide a better outlet for the defence and more chances for the strikers and look to have more goals in them than the pathetic midfield return of last season. It's a make or break season for DCL
I can see no further than Man City to finish top. Liverpool were running out of steam before the lockdown, losing three of their last four games and only struggling past Bournemouth with the aid of VAR. After the resumption they look jaded so, hopefully, with no new blood added (to date) this will continue.
The bottom three is harder to predict but I expect Brighton, West Ham and Fulham to be there, or thereabouts, and West Brom, Burnley, Sheff Utd and Leeds to also struggle.
60 Posted 11/09/2020 at 13:03:23
I share your concern over the right back slot, but Seamus is a determined character and he will be delighted too with the better defensive midfield. He isn't the player he was, but he still has plenty to give.
It looks like they are trying to engineer a move for Jonjoe and get a Carlo/ Brands targeted right back in. (Arias, Emerson? ) So I think Seamus will be an able back up and cup game player in the main this season.
61 Posted 11/09/2020 at 13:07:42
As you mention, so many goals against have originated by defensive midfield turnovers. Some, in the case of Gomes, have come because others (most of the team) were like statues, too lazy to move in to position, that Gomes had nobody to pass to.
With the new signings I think we will see a completely different Everton this season.
62 Posted 11/09/2020 at 13:17:44
I think there must have been lots of barmy Leeds supporters crashing their money on.
I suppose it all depends on what you call a successful season, there can be no excuses this time on paper we have a squad that measures up to and beyond the bottom 14 clubs.
With the players we have I'm expecting 7th plus and I'm a proven serial pessimist.
63 Posted 11/09/2020 at 13:18:55
Bill, contrary to many others I, like you, have a feeling Leeds may find it hard going.
64 Posted 11/09/2020 at 13:48:01
with your prediction of 6th.
Carlo hasn't been employed by Moshiri to make us competitive with Leicester and Wolves, our sights are now set on permanently joining the so-called “big sixâ€ and the media are going to have to accept it.
65 Posted 11/09/2020 at 14:25:42
It's an increasingly competitive league and though the first team is looking better the squad as a whole still has quite a few weak links.
I have a fear we may start the season slowly. It will take time for the new signings to reach top speed and if there is one lesson we learnt from last year its that rushing in a new signing to compensate for no midfield can end extremely badly; poor Gbamin!
Losing Holgat for a month or two is a blow and I don't think we can expect too much from Gibson/Branthwaite. Still some deficiencies in defense and the the goalkeeping department that make me suspect we will not be keeping too many clean sheets.
66 Posted 11/09/2020 at 14:37:01
To those who think James won't start on Sunday, I will say that I'd be very, very surprised. I think Carlo will want to start the bedding-in process from the first minute.
67 Posted 11/09/2020 at 14:41:55
Can't argue with any of that however I would just add that better players play better with better players.
So while, for all their undoubted quality, our new acquisitions will undoubtedly improve our team, we should temper our expectations that James isn't surrounded by Robben, Ronaldo or Benzema.
Conversely, talented individuals like Sigurdsson, for example, may be ushered back in from the cold by players who destroy or make space for sharp-shooters.
I am, as ever at this time of year, completely open-minded, wide-eyedly optimistic, bent over with my trousers round my ankles, ready to be “Everton that'dâ€.
COYB FTRS NSNO
68 Posted 11/09/2020 at 14:42:16
69 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:04:01
In an honest moment, Fulham is a great shout to go back down. I just can't do it. I have a big soft spot in my heart for Fulham, as their owner also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars (I'm sure you knew this...).
Also, I love Craven Cottage at Christmas. I honestly can't wait to see it lit up with the holiday lights and decked out. It's one of the coolest things in sport, it's just gorgeous. When they've gone down, I've really missed seeing it during the Christmas season.
Odd and admittedly quirky, but whatever. I want them to stay up, so I can't tip them to go down.
70 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:17:09
Not sure if Jimmy Hill ever caught any attention across the pond but whenever I think of Fulham I always think of that poor old duffer back in the day with Des and Trev on MOTD. Or more recently Mohammed Al Fayed's bizarre shrine to Dodi and Diana plus his accompanying conspiracy theories. But yeah it's a nice old fashioned little ground. Regardless of their manager they usually play good football too.
71 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:18:32
Arsenal and Spurs are better but it's more marginal - and an injury to Aubameyang or Kane would be a real leveller.
We would have to be very, very mean defensively to catch them otherwise, I expect.
Leicester, Saints and Wolves have good teams and managers. Not better overall though.
The rest are inferior by some margin. Leeds have a very patchy team. Rodrigo was a good buy but he's not consistently prolific. They're also without Ben White this season. Big miss.
So, we are chasing 6th. But could be anywhere between about 6th and 9th.
72 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:23:45
Last season we had no midfield, looked largely demotivated and still finished 12th. With more quality in midfield, giving the chance for some existing players to improve, I think we have reasons to be optimistic.
Whatever happens on Sunday, we need to make sure we don't over-react.
73 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:45:55
I don't know if you've watched the Amazon series on Spurs "All or nothing" but its a real insight into the club and Kane got one of the worst hamstring tears going and for me hasn't been the same since coming back.
They are also without LoCelso and Vertonghen has gone. my only worry is the pace of Son and Maura if he plays.
They also wont have the advantage of a partisan crowd but they will have Martin Atkinson to allow them to get away with stuff.
We haven't beaten them since 2010. Our time is coming.
74 Posted 11/09/2020 at 15:51:29
75 Posted 11/09/2020 at 16:19:45
Sundays game will be the same in preparations for all teams due to the pandemic and I expect at least 2 of our new signings to start with Allan and Doucoure and James on the bench.
All 3 players seem to be fit and it is just getting to be able to get used to the system and their teammates. Allen seems to be a logical choice as he is used to a defensive game were Doucoure is more a ball winning attacking player.
Ancelotti will want the new signings to be able to play as soon as possible, and they are not going to learn on the bench.
76 Posted 11/09/2020 at 16:43:20
Really miss it when they are not in the prem.
77 Posted 11/09/2020 at 16:54:10
78 Posted 11/09/2020 at 16:56:42
79 Posted 11/09/2020 at 17:08:09
I expect Allan to be a more streetwise campaigner but we can only be sure that Doucoure, of our new arrivals, really knows what he's in for.
80 Posted 11/09/2020 at 17:10:08
81 Posted 11/09/2020 at 17:17:32
82 Posted 11/09/2020 at 18:05:41
83 Posted 11/09/2020 at 21:02:52
84 Posted 11/09/2020 at 21:37:37
The biggest concern for me is the goal keeper, but let's see if His focus and concentration has improved.
Hopefully we'll be shooting more this season from outside the box, but also we must convert the chances made in the box and be ruthless.
Hopefully DCL can step up and become a reliable finisher, and who knows, but we'll need as always, luck with injuries.
85 Posted 12/09/2020 at 08:04:08
Our defence still not great, Digne disappointed last season, hopefully he can return to his first season form. Keane on a 5-year contract was strange decision for me, slow and error-prone.
Coleman can do a job some games, need Kenny to step up and solve a problem there. Pickford needs cut errors out, gets too pumped up and emotional. Let's get a trophy.
86 Posted 12/09/2020 at 10:00:16
Midfield should improve, defence is okay, but needs to keep fit. Kenny is okay as back-up, with younger players as cover. I agree the improvement in midfield will help playing out from the back.
With the improvement on the previous frailties of midfield, we will now see the kick-on effect on the attacking players, if any. It also will be interesting to see the effect that the new competition will have on existing stereotype players we know and 'love'. Maybe a few surprising additions may cement progress in the coming weeks.
I would have liked to have seen more activity regarding moving on deadwood and reducing the wages percentage as stated as future policy, which could still happen. But maybe Moshiri may want to take advantage of the relaxation in FFP rules. In my opinion, it would be better to continue moving forward in terms of Everton's finances, in case expectations on the field are not realised.
Pickford does concern me, I would like to see a replacement backup in place.
Good Luck, Everton.
87 Posted 12/09/2020 at 10:56:59
And on a similar note - until I can take my seat at Goodison, it's all a bit meh for me. I'll watch the games on my laptop but without the crowds and without being able to welcome the new signings to Goodison, it's not really football.
88 Posted 12/09/2020 at 11:18:09
I am not sure if I am offended by this or surprised; they obviously don't share the optimism we have as supporters. Is it a dose of reality or complacency on their part? Past signings have failed to inspire or perform and the end of last season could not have come soon enough.
There is no doubt the midfield will be a vastly different battleground for opposing teams than last season: more bite, more defensive cover, more attacking prowess, we hope!
In my opinion, I am mildly optimistic that Europe will be achieved and 3 players don't make a team but they do win games.
89 Posted 23/09/2020 at 09:55:13
Further to this, James will be pronounced 'Jammez'. Reminds me of the Goodness, Gracious Me sketch of the Indians going for a 'Friday night English'. I am sure you know the rest!
90 Posted 23/09/2020 at 10:57:58
"We have a top-class keeper. Our full-backs are superb, our central defenders are seasoned internationals. We have bought a world-class midfield. We have two of the most promising forwards in football. Oh, and we have a world-class manager overseeing all that talent."
So where do you think we will finish in what is really a very ordinary league?
Expectation managing bravado. Our target should be to win it and our hat should have long since been thrown into the ring.
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