Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
Everton went into the start of the 2017/18 campaign full of hope and ambition. Ronald Koeman had guided The Toffees back into Europe the season before and was bolstering his squad with a host of relatively big signings. The likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, and Davy Klaasen all came in for over £20 million, but it seemed obvious that the player who provided those funds desperately needed replacing.
Romelu Lukaku was subject to a huge £76 million transfer to Manchester United last summer, but Ronald Koeman seemed content with strengthening his midfield and defence rather than filling the gaping hole left by a striker who had scored 25 Premier League goals for them the season before. Wayne Rooney did move the other way to return to his boyhood club, but his once formidable powers had been in decline for years and he was never likely to cut it as their star striker.
Things started well enough for Everton though. They won both of their Europa League qualifiers and kickstarted the league campaign with a win against Stoke and a draw away to Manchester City. That 1-1 draw turned out to be the highlight of Koeman’s season.
The Toffees quickly descended into abject misery. Koeman oversaw just two wins in the 12 competitive games that followed that impressive draw at The Etihad, eventually falling in the sack race in the middle of October. A lengthy and rather embarrassing pursuit of Marco Silva of Watford followed, with caretaker manager David Unsworth taking the reins for over a month before the Goodison Park hierarchy finally gave up.
Tail between their legs, Everton finally turned to everybody’s favourite manager Sam Allardyce to save them from a potential relegation battle. This did not go down well with the fans, although they perhaps should have just been happy to be winning matches again. When Allardyce was appointed Everton had won just three of their last 20 competitive matches, but in the month that followed his appointment they went unbeaten in eight competitive matches.
Allardyce’s managerial style and seeming lack of ambition would become his downfall though. He guided Everton to an impressive 8th place finish in the Premier League, but it was clear that his tenure wouldn’t be a prolonged one. He left the club just three days after the end of the Premier League season, and at the end of May long term target Marco Silva was appointed.
But will the 41 year old Portuguese manager live up to the billing at Goodison Park?
Position last season: 8th
Top Scorer: Wayne Rooney – 10 goals
Richarlison – Watford (£40.5 million)
Davy Klaassen – Werder Bremen (£12.15 million)
Ramiro Funes Mori – Villarreal (£8.1 million)
Henry Onyekuru – Galatasaray (on loan)
Conor Grant – Plymouth (free transfer)
Wayne Rooney – DC United (free transfer)
Joel Robles – Real Betis (free transfer)
Shani Tarashaj – Grasshoppers (on loan)
Luke Garbutt – Oxford United (on loan)
Player to Watch
Marco Silva obviously has a soft spot for Richarlison. The Portuguese manager signed him for Watford just last summer for £11.5 million from Fluminense, and upon being appointed Everton manager he instantly set Richarlison as his primary transfer target. The Toffees eventually came to an agreement with Watford over the 21 year old, with an initial £35 million being shelled out and plenty more to follow in add ons. Not bad business at all from Watford’s point of view, but is it good for Everton?
Richarlison burst onto the Premier League scene under Marco Silva, scoring five goals in his first 12 Premier League matches and looking like the real deal. Watford’s form collapsed as Everton sowed disharmony with their pursuit of Silva, and with Watford’s form went Richarlison’s. He failed to score another league goal all season despite playing all 38 matches for The Hornets, and you would imagine that Watford were very pleased to pocket nearly £30 million profit from a winger who hasn’t scored since November.
That may sound harsh on the youngster, and he could yet prove everybody wrong. He is undoubtedly a huge talent with his skilful dribbling and blistering pace, and he can be deployed anywhere along the front line. However, his end product needs a lot of work, as does his mentality. He was almost invisible during Watford’s poor runs of form, and for £40 million you would expect a player to be able to grab the game by the scruff of it’s neck and drag the team out of the mire.
The Season Ahead
Marco Silva began his reign at Everton with a demolition job of Austrian minnows ATV Irdning. They won by the ridiculous scoreline of 22-0, but since then things haven’t looked so rosy. They have drawn with Bury and Lille before defeats to Porto and Blackburn. Of course, you can’t read much into these friendly results, but it’s not the start that Everton will have wanted.
Everton’s transfer dealings
It only takes a glance at Everton’s transfer record to realise that things have gone by the wayside over the last couple of years. The most recent evidence of this is the sale of Davy Klaassen for £12 million, just 12 months after he joined for over double that price. He made just seven Premier League appearances, costing Everton £1.7 million per match in transfer fees alone.
It doesn’t end there either; They spent £12 million on Ramiro Funes Mori, a centre back they saw big potential in, but a few years down the line they’ve sold him for a loss too. Sandro Ramirez arrived last summer too, but after half a season he was farmed out to Sevilla on loan, where the striker scored a grand total of zero goals in 13 LA Liga matches.
Oumar Niasse is another prime example; The Senegalese striker arrived at the end of the winter transfer window in the 2015/16 season, and after two and a half seasons at Goodison Park he has played just 27 league games, scoring eight goals. He did spend part of one season on loan at Hull, but even then only managed four goals in 17 matches.
The list goes on – Shani Tarashaj came in for £4 million a month before Sandro Ramirez and is yet to even make an appearance for Everton. He was loaned out to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he was limited to one start and 12 appearances from the bench in the Bundesliga, and is heading back to Grasshopper on loan this term.
If Marco Silva is to try and build his dynasty at Goodison Park, their wayward transfer policy is something he will definitely need to get a handle on.
A change of style
Everton fans’ main criticism of Sam Allardyce was his prehistoric approach to the game. During his time at Goodison Park, despite having one of the most talented squads he’s ever managed, Everton were ranked 20th for total shots in the league, 19th for shots on target, 16th for passing accuracy, and 17th for shots faced. Understandably, this didn’t make pleasant viewing for the season ticket holders.
However, he did win them matches. Allardyce took them from a potential relegation battle for a very respectable 8th position in the table, losing just eight of his 25 Premier League games in charge. Five of these came against top seven teams and six were away from home. Say what you will about the much maligned manager, but he does know how to get a result.
Marco Silva has a markedly different style, and it’s one that caught the eye of the Everton hierarchy last season. He set off at a blistering pace with Watford, winning six of their opening 13 league matches and losing just four times. Their opener was a six goal thriller at home to Liverpool, and that high scoring trend continued. There were 43 goals scored in Watford’s first 13 matches, with The Hornets themselves netting 22 of them. Not bad for a side who many tipped for relegation.
It didn’t last though. Many will cite Everton’s controversial approach of the then Watford boss as their downfall, but there’s no way to know that for sure. Silva last another 11 Premier League matches, winning once and losing eight times before getting the sack. Was this a result of disharmony in the dressing room after his head was turned, or was it simply all of Watford’s terrible defensive stability finally catching up with them?
There’s really no way to tell if Silva is actually a top class manager. His honours list is understandably short for a man of his age, with a Segunda Liga title in 2012 marking an impressive first season in management. He won the Taca de Portugal with Sporting and then won Olympiacos’ sixth Greek Superleague title in a row in 2016. His first foray into England saw him take charge of Hull in January, where he understandably failed to save them from relegation before heading to Watford.
Where are the goals coming from?
Perhaps Everton’s biggest mistake last summer was failing to replace Romelu Lukaku. They had a large wad of money in their pocket from his transfer, but still failed to recruit a top class striker. Lukaku scored 87 competitive goals, including 26 in his final season, in his four seasons at Goodison Park. This equates to a goal every 1.9 matches, but nobody came close to that for Everton last season.
Wayne Rooney was their top scorer with ten league goals, averaging a goal every 3.1 matches. Oumar Niasse was next up with a slightly better record of a goal every 2.75 matches, and Cenk Tosun managed a goal every 2.8 games after arriving in winter.
Tosun certainly picked up some of the slack when he arrived and adapted well to the Premier League, but is he a striker you can rely on throughout the season? You won’t find many Toffees fans who expect him to rattle in 20+ goals this year, and they look frightfully short of backup options should he lose form or get injured.
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