Tough To Progress For Plucky Toffees

So a 7th –place-finish and finishing on the cusp of European qualification was how Everton reflected on last season.

But it could have been so much worse for one of the most established sides in the land, with a worrying flirtation with relegation.

Halfway through the campaign, Everton had managed just four wins and were three points above the relegation zone, despite being in 11th place.

However, one has to take the number of injuries which David Moyes had to cope with during this part of the season. With Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Captain Phil Neville all in the physio room by the end of August, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.

A season of struggle lied ahead, particularly with the added loss of the team’s most influential player: Mikel Arteta in mid-October.

It highlighted the threadbare nature of the Toffees’ squad, putting the emphasis on youth team graduates such as: Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell to shine.

Both players enjoyed successful seasons, with Rodwell’s drive and energy and Coleman’s power down on the right-hand side leading to six goals in all competitions last season.

Moyes also demonstrated his prowess in the transfer market, signing Jermaine Beckford on a free transfer. After taking a while to settle in, he soon found his feet, ending the season as top-scorer with 10 goals. No mean feat for a player who spent the previous season in League One with Leeds United.

So what lies next for the blue-half of Merseyside? Well when judging their squad and current spending power, it seems unrealistic to predict a challenge for a top-four spot, but Europe is an outside possibility, if they get off to a much better start.

They will start off the season with a trip to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham, before welcoming newly-promoted QPR to Goodison Park and a visit to Ewood Park to play Blackburn.

If they can keep the likes of Cahill and Arteta fit, then the Blues should be looking to make a positive start, but with their limited financial clout, they are unlikely to able to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham in upsetting the traditional ‘big four’ equilibrium.

James Hilsum

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