We’re back. Yes, like Tony Hibbert, inexplicably I’ve been handed a new contract despite the fact I’m clearly losing it a bit. But it’s good to be back, because this preview hails the start of the 2014/15 season. Well, this and the vastly superior previews. That stuff on the TV…forget it. Thanks for reading you three.
Anyway, this summer was…positive? K’inell. That glorious World Cup period was soured by the fact Hibbo’s new contract was the only news coming out of Goodison. Tim Howard, meanwhile, helped us conquer America by being Tim Howard. Then with the permanent – always nice to add to the vocabulary – signing of Gareth Barry, the floodgates opened.
Gueye and Vellios left and we lost nothing but selfies. Coleman, Barkley and Stones all confirmed that they wanted to continue doing the boss togger with Everton for the foreseeable future, Mo Bešić is the football hipsters’ darling du jour and will set out to break people. Forza snide. Christian Atsu has restored our faith in the loan system. Brendan Galloway joins some very promising youth players.
And then there’s Romelu Lukaku. £28 million is an unbelievable fee for Everton to pay, and I presume it’s why the (sexy) kits cost more than the search and rescue team it’d take to find some socks. He’s 21 and a proven Premier League goalscorer. Not only is it the biggest deal we’ve done in the Premier League era, but it’s a huge statement of intent. Plus we’ve got the 15+ goal-per-season man we’ve craved since Sky invented football.
Naturally when Manuel Pellegrini claimed Everton could be a surprise package in the title race, Sky were flabbergasted. What, Everton? But they’re not bankrolled by billionaires! We do most of our talking on the pitch, which is why managers such as Pellegrini know what’s going on. Naturally we’re not bona fide title challengers at this point, but the teams at the top rate and are wary of Everton. Good. Getting handouts off Man City represents changing times though. Mad. All the best Rodwell lad.
And just to wrap up a great summer, Everton tried to kill Si Currie with a huge Roberto Martínez mural on the Goodison wall. And it almost worked.
Enough pre-amble. We kick off the glorious 2014/15 campaign in the less than glamorous Leicester. Still, we’re not there to traverse the urban wasteland. We’re at the King Power Stadium to take on a side I quite like. I have to say that now, or I’m pretty sure Sunderland fans still fuming over a preview from last season will assassinate me. But really. Nigel Pearson is a tactically astute manager, a likeable chap, and leads a side sticking to the core that fired them with aplomb into the top flight. Basically, Leicester and Burnley are everything QPR aren’t, and I love them for it.
In goal, Kasper Schmeichel. Basically, one day he’ll be as good as his dad, but I don’t know if we’ll live to see it. Great reflexes though. As I would expect from a man of Pearson’s ilk they’ve got some no-nonsense centre backs – aka big fellas. Wes Morgan is likely to partner Liam Moore or Marcin Wasilewski, who played for Anderlecht at some point. I think. Plus his paperwork’s been checked, and he’s eligible, so not all Poles can be neutralised by that old claim. Pity. Works a charm. Ex Man Utd youngster Ritchie De Laet at right back and…what’s this? It’s ex Liverpool left back Paul Konchesky! Remember when he was better than Baines? Nah. Me neither. Another pair that didn’t make it at Man Utd are Drinkwater and James in midfield. Then again, Giuseppe Rossi, Gerard Piqué and Paul Pogba couldn’t cut the mustard too apparently, so take that with a pinch of salt. There are a few options after that. Mahrez is a handful, while we were heavily linked with Marc Albrighton in those dark days of June. It’s part of football folklore (and in a book by Jeff Stelling) that David Moyes was desperate to sign David Nugent, but Alan Irvine and Chris Woods dissuaded him. Our loss, eh. He has a big chance to finally prove his top level mettle. Jamie Vardy is the soft lady’s next rags-to-riches player (he was in the Conference/insert f*cking ridiculous sponsor name here Premier with Fleetwood not long back), Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored the winner against us in Bangkok despite resembling a battleship and Andy King has a boss name. Er, that’s about it. Leonardo Ulloa up top is one of the graduates of the hilariously priced Championship grade player scheme, and I’ve heard that Knockaert is injured. If not, he’s an excellent player.
Basically, if you haven’t heard of them, it’s understandable. Leave watching every league possible to us with nothing better to do. Point is, they’re all part of a good unit with a lot to prove. Luckily for us our manager also manages to watch all the leagues and will be prepared.
Must be a European season, because we can name two entirely different XIs. Fun.
In goal….nah, it’s just Tim Howard isn’t it. He’s the beard to be feared. When Robles learns we catch footballs if we’re a goalkeeper in England, he can play too.
At right back, naturally Seamus Coleman can look to build on the incredible foundations he set last season. Who else? Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning. Enjoy the League Cup lads, it’s great fun.
Centre backs. What a dilemma. Distin, Jagielka, Stones, Alcaraz. Pick two. For me it’s Jagielka and Stones, but we’ll leave the fun little headaches like this to the boss. Chuck in Shane Duffy if you like. Go ed Shane lad.
At left back, Leighton Baines. If he needs a break, the world’s most loveable man, Bryan Oviedo. Plus Luke Garbutt looks like a real talent. All three can play further forward. Cracking.
In the centre of midfield, Barry and McCarthy can continue what they started last season. Bešić looks a class act, plus an absolute terror. Wonderful. And Darron Gibson! He’s alive! Throw in Ryan Ledson for posterity.
In front of them…Pienaar, McGeady, Mirallas, World Cup vet and all-round dynamo Ross Barkley, the rejuvenated Stevie Naismith, the fleet-footed Osman and the loanee Atsu. Mirallas, Naismith, Barkley? Yes, I think so. Onwards.
For the lone role up front, Lukaku and his deputies. Koné will hope for more than a couple of games and a shank into the post. From there it’s the youth talent – Long and Hope, which put together aptly describes their chances of getting more than a few sub appearances. Plus McAleny. Being greedy I’d like to see another striker sign. Maybe a winger. Lionel Messi. Resurrect Dixie Dean. Everything.
So what can we hope for from this side? The top 4? Breaking the points record again? The FA Cup? Europa League? Challenging for the league? Stopping asking these questions before they get really daft?
For me it starts with getting a win against a newly promoted side that we’ve drawn 7 of the last 9 meetings with at their place at the start of a new season. Normally this is the most nailed on 1-1 draw ever. With them taking the lead, naturally. Change that and we can get the songs going. Up for the league and up for the Cup. Everton’s on the up and up.
Thanks for reading this preview. If you want more, I’ve got about 50 or so of them, left in the locker before May. All that Everton. Boss.
As that great mural on the side of Goodison says, “Solo Lo Mejor”. Buckle up ladies and gents. Here we go again.