EAW 2018/19 Season Preview

Back once again for the renegade master. D4 damager? Well, that’s for you to decide. Everton are BACK baby, ready to ruin your weekends all over again. The fat hank is gone, the smell of gravy has been Febreeze’d from the hallowed halls of Goodison and we’re ready to go again with a touch of Iberian suave, backed by ruthless Dutch efficiency. Here at Everton Aren’t We, we felt that was the perfect excuse for another rambling season preview. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin….

 

 

How do you feel about the appointments of Marco Silva and Marcel Brands?

@MatFlusk Extremely positive, but aware that it won’t come good straight away. I’ve always been sceptical of the Director of Football/Head Coach model, and last season could have sent me over the edge. Too often we’ve seen overpriced signings based on the numbers game – you can’t moneyball your way into the Top 6. All that said, I’m excited to see a genuine expert at the role paired up with a coach who is comfortable working within that system and I’m expecting a much more attacking style than we’ve had to endure the past couple of years.

@MichaelDeAsha Both optimistic and yet sceptical. Optimistic because they seem like two very capable individuals who have been hired in a much more fluid way than the last time Everton attempted to simultaneously fill these posts. It’s quite clear that Marcel Brands had been getting ready to take over the Director of Football position for a while, he was then allowed the time to pick the manager he wanted to follow his plan for the football club. This was miles away from Steve Walsh being quickly bundled into the club, with a manager already in situ, once the preferred targets of Monchi and Brands had said no to the job. The manager Brands has hired seems one driven to succeed, much like Ronald Koeman was. But there is one key difference between the two managers; Silva seems to have a plan. I can already tell what a Marco Silva team looks like, how they play and how they’ll score their goals. That encourages a confidence within me that has been sorely lacking recently.

So why am I sceptical? Well, this is the Everton that turned Koeman into Phil Mitchell and Martinez into Ian ‘I’ve got nothing left’ Beale. They can break anyone. That’s probably enough EastEnders references to last me a lifetime, by the way.

@TheRobVera I have all the usual “new car smell” feelings about the hunky yet understated new manager and our swaggering Director of Football. But I’m hoping it’s more than that as the duo have brought an air of ambition and steely professionalism to the positions. The vibe is promising and full of intrigue and their ruthlessly efficient final push toward deadline day in regards to both incomings and outgoings exceeded my tempered expectations. I’ve got the tingle and I hope it isn’t fleeting.

@nsno_83 Them not being Sam Allardyce and Steve Walsh is good enough for me. It’s a strange one though isn’t it? Not often would a club appoint a Manager and a Director of Football and the fans be seemingly more excited about the latter. That’s nothing against Silva though, it’s probably more to do with the way Brands has conducted himself since he arrived. Be honest, as soon as you saw him strutting down a corridor in that unveiling video you took a deep breath, leaned back in your chair and murmured to yourself ‘everything is going to be okay here’, didn’t you? Of course you did, your only human.

@PaulDaly90 Absolutely delighted. Silva has a very positive attacking philosophy, clearly demands the very best from each of his players and, judging by the signings we’ve made, people want to play for him. Brands is just a God walking amongst mere mortals. He’s identified EXACTLY where the problems were with Everton last season and with Silva, he has rectified them as well as improving the side. Get shut of Mirallas and bring Bernard in? Steve Walsh could only have dreamt of doing that once he’d fired Football Manager up. Outstanding business.

@GwladysOptimist Think like with anything new in football management the key is patience, if we are to be a success under the new regime it’s going to need time, there’s going to be heartbreak along the way, and it’s down to us as supporters to accept that in the short term. Given what I’ve seen in pre-season it’s going to be a very different looking team style wise, and Brands seems to have moved in that direction with the manager, seeking players that can cope with the high press and quick countering. They both sound like they have bought into the ethos of the club, which is good both for us and for them, it means to us as supporters that they are genuine about their ambitions for the club, and also gives them breathing space should results not go our way, something not afford to Koeman who seemed more interested in his own personal fortunes.

@_false9_ In Marcel Brands and Marco Silva we now have a partnership in place who can both identify deficiencies within the team and find the solutions to resolve them promptly. That’s something that we have lacked for years with previous management teams and can only bode well for the future. Whilst I’m still cautious about Everton’s ability to be less Everton I’m happy with the fact that we now have a clear plan in place to progress. It’s just whether the plan works.

@thechicoazul It was a low bar from Allardyce and Walsh, so I’m feeling pragmatically enthused to see them try and inject some life into the Everton carcass. Both are men of detailed hair and blazer compatible with jeans, and although this may be a small detail to you it’s the sweet spot on new continental management fanfare.

@EdMc_Cosh It’s another summer of welcoming in a totally new team, so there’s a bit of fatigue at this point. Silva naturally isn’t perfect, what’s important is that he wants to play open, attacking football. This could well expose Everton’s defensive weaknesses, which then presents a new challenge. Brands seems to conduct his business quickly and quietly; he’s the anti-Walsh. Our former director of football went to Italy and only came back with the sunglasses he picked up at EuroSPAR. Brands went to Barcelona, took what he wanted, and got an Andre Gomes thrown in for good measure.

@keef1985_2 Confident mostly. There’s slight concern that Silva doesn’t seem to spend more than ten minutes in any one place, but if we get him settled and here for five years plus, I reckon they’ll build something special between them.

 

 

What is your biggest positive from this transfer window?

@MatFlusk It’s hard to look past the signing of Lucas Digne, with left back being the most critically neglected position in the squad for a number of years now. I’m not a Eurotogger viewer, so I can’t testify to his ability, but love alone cannot sustain Leighton and he looks like he may be about to fall off the cliff this season.

@MichaelDeAsha Everton have lacked a real creative player who can consistently find the pass that unlocks a defence for a long time now, probably since Arteta left. In Bernard, the club might have finally found a player capable of that. Bringing him in on a free transfer is good business and sees the player arrive with much less pressure on him than Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself with this time last summer. I’m not sure I buy completely into the stories of him turning down currently more successful clubs than Everton, but he’s definitely a player who has interested significant clubs for a while. It may take him time to get up to speed (he’s played 5 games in 2018 and none since March) and to adapt to the league, but I think he’s more than capable of that. If he does, then he’ll prove to be an excellent signing for the club.

@TheRobVera Of the many positives, the reinforcement of our previously crumbling flanks feels like a long overdue turning point for a team that’s essentially ceded large swaths of the pitch out wide of late.  The additions of both Richarlison and Lucas Digne present the potential for an attacking dynamism and general defensive solidity that’s long been missing down the left side. Combined with a more settled Theo Walcott and a healthy Seamus Coleman, we ought to see an injection of long absent pace into an attack that promises on paper to be as dangerous as its been in ages.

@nsno_83 Just…you know…er… strengthening in the postions we needed to strengthen in. It’s a bold strategy, but I really think it might catch on. One of the biggest issues last season for me, was the disconnect between the fans and the club and more specifically the players. So I’m made up to see the players we’ve been brought in, not only seem quite likeable but also seem really keen to interact with the fans. Whether it’s Richardson hanging around Goodison after the Valencia match signing shirts etc or Lucas Digne following every fucker on Twitter, I’m into it. Don’t get me wrong, it helps if they’re good at footy too. On the same hand, Brands getting rid of some of the deadwood has really helped lift the mood too, it’s quite nice not hating the majority of the squad isn’t it?

@PaulDaly90 I would say my biggest positive is the fact we’ve finally got rid of the deadwood and bad attitudes that were smothering Everton. Ramiro Funes Mori, Davy Klaassen and even Wayne Rooney were no longer required here, so the speed in which they were moved on was very satisfying. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Ashley Williams and Kevin Mirallas are not our problem for this season; I imagine they’ll return like the shit-stained boomerangs they are but following our business this summer, the writing is clearly on the wall for the both of them.

Oh, and I’m happy that we’ve finally managed to tap into the South American market by bringing Bernard, Richarlison and Yerry Mina to the club. That’s nice. I’m expecting big things from all three, Andre Gomes and Lucas Digne as well; hopefully, Kurt Zouma can enhance the side further, too.

@GwladysOptimist Biggest positive for me is that we have finally faced up to the hard truth about Leighton Baines. He’s probably one of, if not the very best left back I’ve seen in a blue shirt, but over the past couple of seasons his influence on the field has dropped dramatically. Bringing in Lucas Digne, at the age he’s at, with a massive upside talent wise for a relatively low fee in today’s market could be massive for the present and future.

@_false9_ The biggest positive is that we’ve shifted players, either from the first eleven or from the club itself, who have evidently not had the desire to help Everton achieve. Players like Kevin Mirallas and Ashley Williams who have thrown the towel in rather than work hard and produce are the people who drag a club down and their absence will do wonders for the squad as a whole.

@thechicoazul The decisive shedding of the ill-suited, deadwood and too expensive. Failure shouldn’t be tolerated at Everton, even less so with the huge resources provided by Moshiri of late. Makes us sweat leaving transfers to the final day but if compare our squad now v the beginning of the window it’s way superior, with weaknesses identified and filled with potential. Can’t under estimate the positivity it will invoke in the crowd too. Wolves 3-1, obvs.

@EdMc_Cosh We needed a left back. We got a left back. The middle of the defence needed strengthening. We did that. We needed creative players who could operate on both wings and centrally. They came. High-earning flops had to go, and most of them have gone. The biggest positive Is our beautiful, beautiful competence. It’s weird but I like it.

@keef1985_2 That the problem areas from past seasons have actually been identified and dealt with. Last summer’s refusal to sign a striker and instead lash nearly £90m at number tens alone was a fucking debacle and should have rung alarm bells immediately.

 

 

Conversely, what is your biggest negative?

@MatFlusk For me it’s the failure to properly define our midfield. We’ve made a lot of good signings in the middle of the park, and I’m sure that all will become clear in the first few weeks of the season, but right now I’m none the wiser as to who will actually play where, what Tom Davies’ actual role will be and whether Schneiderlin will be the toast or the target of the Park End arlarses come Monday morning.

@MichaelDeAsha Possibly that the business was done so late. At the time of writing it still isn’t clear if Kurt Zouma is an Everton player or not. But can Everton really be blamed for that? I don’t think so. The deal for Yerry Mina was always going to be protracted, considering the other clubs involved, and it’s testament to Brands that he stuck in there and got his top target. Bernard’s wage demands needed to drop before Everton firmed up their interest and the loan deals, like those for Zouma and Gomes, often don’t become available until very late on in the window. Apart from that, I do have some reservations about the signing of Yerry Mina, but he was Brands’ top target and if there’s a manager capable of drawing out the confidence that was so lacking in Mina’s demeanour at Barcelona, it’s Marco Silva. This was always going to be an incredibly difficult window and I think it’s fair to say that those in charge have made the best of it.

@TheRobVera The inability to bring in true competition for Morgan Schneiderlin at the No. 6 position.  While the strikingly handsome addition of a currently sidelined Andre Gomes may ultimately replace Schneiderlin in midfield in more attack-minded setups, you get the sense that outside of Idrissa Gueye, the midfield is a bit thin on defensive steel. Having another more well-rounded central midfielder who can both win balls while picking out passes in a more sophisticated attack would be ideal and you feel like it’s only a matter of time before a Doucoure-type gets drafted in long term.

@nsno_83 The fact it’s taken me a couple of minutes to think of one speaks to how good a window it’s been really. If I had to pick one though, it’d have to be Schneiderlin not being replaced. I know it seems Silva was keen for him to stay but as we’ve seen before he’ll be the first to go hiding when the going gets tough. He was nothing short of embarrassing at points last season. In short, I’m still not over him getting himself sent off at Lyon, that should have been the end of his Everton career there and then.

Christ. Got a bit serious there, didn’t it? Let’s all sit back and think of André Gomes’ lovely hair instead.

@PaulDaly90 The only negative I can think of, personally, is not signing Kieran Tierney. I like the cut of Digne’s jib, but I think we’ve missed a massive opportunity not signing him.  Also, Ralf Rangnick being an absolute chopper. Take no for an answer, you deviant. Other than that? Nothing else, which feels nice to be able to say.

@GwladysOptimist Not addressing centre back issue early and not addressing the holding midfield position at all. Two things we really struggled with last season was stability at the back, given that Williams was a dud and Keane’s lack of confidence and positional awareness, it’s disappointing that this wasn’t given priority, as I believe it’s something that needed working on all pre-season. Also controlling of the midfield has been a massive issue, given Schneiderlin’s massive drop out from when he first arrived, it’s a shame we didn’t get in someone who embodies the physical style in which Silva’s style requires.

@_false9_ The big negative for me is that we still have a dressing room that includes a good number of players who have downed tools for consecutive managers. Whatever service they have given the club, the fact is that kind of attitude indicates an acceptance of where we are and no real desire to improve as players or as a team. If Silva gets in a tough patch he needs players who can help us climb out of it, and I’m not convinced those who clearly can’t be arsed with a battle will do him justice. So essentially, it’s good that we’ve shifted some shite, but there may be enough shite still dwelling to really clog up the plumbing.

@thechicoazul Waiting until the final day of the transfer window to add numbers to the squad. These players are now going to need time to bed in, while the season is underway. Also- don’t reckon we’ve sorted out that defensive midfield out.

@EdMc_Cosh We spent weeks debating whether we’d get Yerry Mina or Marcos Rojo. How did that happen? In the end it was Mina who joined up. According to Twitter, he’s both quick and slow, good on the ball, bad on the ball, positioning is decent and awful, a major prospect and a costly flop. All we know for sure right now is that he’s a hell of a dancer.

@keef1985_2 Probably that it’s taken until deadline day to nail down a centre half or two and as a result, it’ll most likely be the Keane Jagielka axis of awful at Molineux on the opening day.

 

 

What player do you feel will have the biggest influence on the team this season?

@MatFlusk It’s not going to click straight away for the blues, and with so many new faces in the side I can see us playing a lot of games on the back foot initially. For that reason I think our key player this year will be Pickford again. As long as he can keep our head above water for those spells of barrage that we’re going to have to endure, we should be alright. To put a more positive spin on things though, Bernard will be a real unknown quantity to a lot of the league. The little pocket rocket can potentially be that player we’ve been lacking to cut through and punish weaker sides in the Premier League.

@MichaelDeAsha Part of me wants to say Richarlison, because he will offer an outlet on the left wing that Everton were completely devoid of last season. He seems the type of player, if he progresses and matures well, that is able to drag a team over the finish line by himself. I believe we’ll see that at points this season, but maybe we won’t see those levels of performances consistently until next season, after he’s had a full season of coaching from Silva.

So I’ll probably say Yerry Mina. Whether it’s good or bad, he’ll definitely have a massive influence on Everton this season. If he regains his confidence and adapts successfully to Marco Silva’s high line, then he could prove to be the man who holds together the defensive unit. If he doesn’t adapt and struggles with the high line, then you do worry about him going the same way as Michael Keane. But time will tell on that one.

@TheRobVera Gylfi Sigurdsson.  Getting him into his natural No. 10 position—and potentially flexing him a bit deeper in some lineups when Bernard plays more centrally behind the striker—will mean that Sigurdsson will generally operate as the heartbeat of the operation most weeks. His cerebral and skilled game will be augmented by more weapons than he’s ever played with before, so the pressure will be on him to pull them silky strings like the cool operator–you know the kind that actually OWNS his own tuxedo and can’t fathom a blended scotch–that we all believe him to be. His ability to settle into a new system and ultimately take command after a stop-start first season at Everton will be critical to the fortunes of this team.

@nsno_83 I’m convinced Cenk, The Big Loveable Turk is going to slot for fun this season. Absolutely convinced. Hopefully this doesn’t come back to haunt me when he ends up scoring four before being shipped out on loan to Sam Allardyce’s Newcastle in January.

@PaulDaly90 I expect Richarlison to have the biggest influence. It’s been clear to see in each pre-season game so far that the players are always looking to give him the ball because they know he can make things happen. I also think his sheer commitment in terms of getting the ball up the pitch and getting back and winning it back will rub off on the rest of the team, as well as the supporters. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and I expect him, along with Bernard, to tear it up for us this season.

@GwladysOptimist I think given the outstanding World Cup he had, am looking at seeing what Jordan Pickford can become in terms of a leader. He’s a very vocal player on the pitch, and it may help solidify the back line given the likelihood Jagielka will be play less and less games under Silva.

@thechicoazul Goals maketh the season so either Sigurdsson – on the proviso he gets a settled role he’s suited to in this new system – or Richarlison as he looks like he can actually beat a man and lash balls dead hard into the goal. Liking the look of this Bernard cat too.

@EdMc_Cosh The two focal points, for me, are at either end of the field. Jordan Pickford had a fruitful summer at the World Cup – he is now a goalkeeper with international pedigree. Pickford had a huge role last season and was ultimately kept much too busy. With any luck he’ll have more of a breather this time, but we’ll still need a top-class last line of defence. Cenk Tosun is the only striker Everton have that can be considered top class; his deadly finishing even while feeding off scraps under Sam Allardyce shows that. We’ve added creative talent to the midfield, and it should play into his hands. His goals could prove decisive in a number of games.

@keef1985_2 Richarlison, because we’ve finally got a fast, direct, creative outlet on the left wing, something we’ve been lacking since Steven Pienaar cut off his dreadlocks and took up knocking back a litre of schnapps and driving down the Strand as a hobby.

 

 

What are your realistic predictions for Everton over the next nine months?

@MatFlusk I think we’ll start quite well, given our relatively soft opening, with a couple of good wins. We’ll run into traffic around Christmas and the angst will creep in. Then we’ll rally in the spring and finish well, wondering what could have been and wildly optimistic for next season. Finishing position wise, I will be optimistic and say we will be king of the losers again – 7th.

Silva is no mug, and he will be acutely aware that despite two semi-finals it was the league position that did for Martinez and for that reason I’m not expecting the cups to be a priority for him in his first season. Expect B teams and demoralising defeats to third tier sides led by some yard dog with a police caution for scrapping outside Popworld and who improbably supports Liverpool.

@MichaelDeAsha I don’t see Everton finishing above 7th, because this season is about regaining the stability lost during the last one. As I said before, we’re still not sure if Kurt Zouma has signed for the club. If he has, then I think Everton have enough to finish comfortably 7th and have a significant go at one of the cups. Probably the FA Cup, once the new players have had time to settle. If we haven’t got Zouma over the line, then we look a lot lighter at the back. I’d see us in more of a battle to finish 7th and I don’t think we’d have enough to mount any significant challenge in any of the cup competitions. If we get to 7th and give ourselves a platform to build on in 19/20 (as if it’s almost 2020), I’d consider that a very adequate.

@TheRobVera There will be bumps as there always are with a team with so many new faces and a manager trying to implement a new approach–and to expect any differently would be naive.  But this ought to be a team whose talent and chemistry will sharpen as the season goes on.  If relatively healthy, Everton should be able to scratch out a 7th place finish despite the improvements of some around them.  And with a Europe-free schedule, 6th isn’t out of the question if they can combine good form with some not out of the realm of possibility stumbles by sides in the usual six (Think United or Chelsea).

@nsno_83 Can’t see us finishing any higher than 7th, but as long as we can see signs of a long-term plan mixed with some good football and a decent cup run, I’ll be happy. I’m also preparing myself for loads of mad 3-2 and 5-4 results along the way. Strap yourselves in, Marco’s Mental Blues are in town. I can’t wait.

@PaulDaly90 I set out every season with the belief that we should be going out to win the league (stop laughing at the back, knobhead…) but, realistically, with the signings we’ve made and the changes that have taken place this summer, it’s going to take a little while to shake the cobwebs and rid ourselves of the massive bison-headed spectre that was Sam Allardyce. I think we really need to give Marco Silva as much time and patience as possible because I think we’ve got a really promising manager on our hands: he knows what he’s doing, he’s identified our weaknesses as well as the players we need to play in the system he wants and, as I said before, people want to play for him so he must have something about him. I expect Everton to be better than last season so I’m going to say a top 6 finish and, finally, the Carabao Cup. The FA Cup would be nice, but we’ve never won the League Cup before. I think this year *could* finally be the year we put that right.

@GwladysOptimist A lot of hardship, a lot of disappointing results, but I think that given the time, and the chance for Silva to really install that style he’s looking for, the results will follow. It’s a rebuilding season no question, the upside is that the teams who are realistically our rivals haven’t themselves made much waves in the market in the summer, so hopefully towards the back end of the season, maybe after a solid January window, we could start to see the fruits of what the new regime brings.

@_false9_ I would expect to see an Everton that competes properly to win football matches. It’s a very simple thing for a professional football team but it’s something we haven’t seen very much of and I’m confident the players and management we’ve brought in will rectify that. I wouldn’t expect to see any more than noticeable progress, but a cup run, and some big away wins would be beautiful to see, and also for Big Mark Silver to finish higher than Allardyce.

@thechicoazul Inconsistency until Christmas and then gains until May. 6th-9th place. Occasional Everton twitter anxiety and meltdowns along the way, mass necking when we nail the good shit.

@EdMc_Cosh Playing better football. That’s almost a certainty, given what we sat through last year. I think Everton will start being a bit more adventurous away from home, which should lead to some more points getting picked up. The side looks like it’ll score more goals but also keep conceding steadily, and I think we won’t see a massive difference in the end result, as far as the table goes. Burnley will struggle to hold on to seventh. There seem to be a few pretenders to that spot, but we’re at the front of the pack. Top six still seems a couple of years away, and that’s if Everton continue to improve.

@keef1985_2 If we can get the team settled and gelled quickly, then we should have enough to finish comfortably seventh, with a decent cup run thrown in, probably the Worthingtons, which would be nice to finally win. We’ll be top half and have a few memorable results but without really threatening the top six.

 

 

Finally, what’s the biggest animal you could single handedly clingfilm to a lamppost?

@MatFlusk When you say single handedly, do you mean with one hand or without assistance? In either case I’m going for porpoise.

@MichaelDeAsha A lamb. Docile enough to get hold of without it kicking off and if it does kick off then it’s probably not going to do you in.

@TheRobVera Steve Buscemi.

@nsno_83 Komodo Dragon. ‘Bit heavy that? You must be dead hard’ I hear you say, well I’ve done the research and a male Komodo Dragon in his prime would weigh around about the same weight as Steve Walsh. Now if you’re telling me I couldn’t cling film Steve Walsh the Komodo Dragon to a lamppost fuelled by the thought of him giving Sandro and Klassen £150k a week contracts, you are hugely mistaken.

@PaulDaly90 An excellent question.

I’m going to go with a swan. They’re not quite huge but they’re not small either. It could be a struggle, but I think I could think of a few ways to tactically out-manoeuvre it. Would I feed it beef-burgers? I’m not sure…it would be quite a sight to behold though.

@GwladysOptimist Si Currie

@_false9_ A parakeet, but one who has eaten Alan Brazil.

@thechicoazul A particularly amicable giant tortoise

@EdMc_Cosh Leaving the toughest question til last, huh. I’m going to opt for a giant sloth, because I figure that they’d hug the lamppost and do half the job for you.

@keef1985_2 I reckon a particularly large sheep. They’re quite docile as a rule and their woolly pelt should be easy to grab hold of, preventing escape while the clingfilming begins.

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