We’re at that time of year that normally features a collective feeling of despondency and sadness that the football season is over. Enduring those couple of months, which seem like an eternity, before we get Everton back properly again. The Euro’s are filling that summer void I suppose.
It’s different this time though isn’t it?
Like the majority of you, I couldn’t wait for the season to end. I’ve seen far worse Everton sides, teams that almost got relegated for example, but this season just felt the pits. Others have analysed and pinpointed where it went wrong in other articles far better than I could, so I will not add anymore to what has already been said. It’s time to look forward.
At the time of writing we have no manager and social media, as always, is awash with rumours and opinions. Personally, I look the the shortlist and I’m neither excited nor downbeat about it. I’ve decided whoever it is, I’ll go along with the ride. For the first time in a LONG time, whoever takes charge will be significantly backed in the transfer market. Reason enough to try and feel some excitement after a season which broke our collective spirit.
But this appointment is important for so many reasons. The new majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri will want to make a statement and want to see his investment returned. Also, in what is being determined as the first season in a new era, it is vital that the new manager gets a good season under his belt. But what does he need to do to make sure it is a successful start?
Of course, you don’t need me or anyone else writing about Everton to point out what’s needed. We all know we want a more balanced team that can defend properly. We all know we need a new keeper and we all know that we need to sort the Lukaku/striker situation out. That’s all stating the obvious. However here are a few things that the manager could, or rather, must do to get off to a good start and win fans over…
Play with Intensity
The most important. Many have commented on that QPR game in 14/15, when at 3-0 up, a pass back resulted in booing from some of our fans. Although the team was winning, the dissension from supporters came from what was perceived as a laboured and slow performance. This methodical approach continued and left supporters frustrated.
I am of the belief that certain football teams must play with a certain style in order to maintain that club’s tradition and to keep fans happy. United fans want attacking football with width. Newcastle fans always talk for the need to be entertained. West Ham want the ‘West Ham way’ whatever that is. I’ve come to realise that Everton fans want intensity. Skill and talent but complimented with effort and graft. A strong tackle is cheered as much as a goal at Goodison and we haven’t seen many recently.
Nothing gets the Goodison crowd going more than a ferocious challenge from someone who is part of a spirited team. Our title winning teams of the past comprised of this tough tackling approach, but also had sublime skill and craft. It’s in the nature of Everton. Whoever comes in must install this to win fans over.
A contentious issue amongst our support, but rumblings of Wayne’s return have cropped up again recently. I was very surprised last season at the reception Rooney received during Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial and from what I heard at the time, the apprehensive Rooney was also shocked at the warm applause from all sides of Goodison. Some want him nowhere near a blue shirt again, others would have him back in heartbeat.
His performance against us in the FA Cup semi-final was one of the most mature, tactical and intelligent displays from him ever. I think it would be a no-brainer if he was willing to return. Rooney’s presence would if anything, enhance the likes of Ross Barkley. If the chance is there, the new manager has to consider it. He’s going the Euro’s and he will want a chance in two years to captain England in a world cup. He’s got to prove he is up for that. He’s done everything there is to do at United now, the opportunity to win silverware at his boyhood club may be something he couldn’t turn down. It could of course be no more than speculation, but surely if the opportunity presented itself, no prospective new manager would turn down the chance to work with the quality of Wayne Rooney.
Play the Kids
Now this a must. I wrote an article some time ago about our impressive youth setup. Believe me, we have a wealth of potential in the academy. We all saw how impressive Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieran Dowell performed against Norwich. The new manager has to embrace these emerging talents.
One of the things I liked about Martinez was that he ensured there was the right development structure at Finch Farm in order for youngsters to progress into the first team. If a new manager discards that, all the work of the academy staff would be a waste. It is vital we continue to have a productive youth setup. We have some very good senior pro’s at Everton. We may add one or two more to the squad during the summer. Hopefully they can blend with the vibrancy of our youth, it could only be positive.
David Unsworth spoke at the end of last season that the new manager would be a very lucky man to inherit the setup at Everton. The aforementioned youngsters who played against Norwich proves that the new gaffer has some excellent potential to work with.
Get the best out of Geri
I love Deulofeu. I love his maverick style, I love how he is something different. If I was under the age of 10, he’d be the name I’d have on the back of my shirt. Whilst there is a big place for functional players who get you results, for me football has always been about those players who excite by doing the extra-ordinary. Someone who doesn’t follow ‘the rules’.
He’ll mature as a footballer with age and will only improve, but he is the one eccentric I don’t think we’ve had properly since Kanchelskis. Of course he has a long way to go before he reaches Kanchelskis’ level, but get Geri doing bits on the field again and we have a world beater on our hands.
With a bit more maturity I firmly believe Deulofeu could have a massive impact on our immediate future. That requires a manager who can get consistent performances from him. He’s not quite got the ability, nor has he proven he can do it for a full season. That is the worry with him and could be a challenge for anyone coming in.
Build around Barkley
Those last few games of the season were so painful to watch that many of us wouldn’t of been bothered if we never saw some players in an Everton shirt again. Whilst the majority of anger was aimed at the manager which ultimately led to his sacking, I was shocked at how little the players got away with their sub-standard effort. It is going to take a lot for them to be forgiven for downing tools in those last few games, but a decent start and all will be forgotten.
One player I will always be bothered about if he left is our Rosco. In a season which was poor to say the least, Barkley had a very decent goals and assists record. It seems that the lad thrives off confidence and when he has it, his real qualities shine through. He does have a habit of going missing in games, but like Deulofeu, with maturity he will improve.
When that confidence is there however, it is clear he wants to dictate play and control how we perform tactically. The way Iniesta dictates play for Barcelona, controlling the game, is how I envisage Ross doing for Everton. I am not for one second saying he is as good or is like Iniesta, but as he gets older, I would love for Barkley to be the one in which our play is directed by.
What better way to make him feel 10-foot-tall by building the side around him. Make him the focus, make him the one which all others play off or through. Make him realise that he’s the biggest part of the plan we want for Everton going forward. I want Ross here for the next 10 years and I want to see the local lad winning things for Everton. If the new manager can do that and add quality around him, perhaps he can excel and exceed all potential.