The Meaning of Pre-Season

Monday evening´s 1-1 draw against Bohemians caused some Evertonians to all but write off the season already.

With the following logic applied: if when Everton should be one game into the Premier League season they cannot carve out a victory against an Irish Premier League team, what chance do Moyes´ men stand in the self-acclaimed best league in the world?

So just how prophetic are Everton pre-season campaigns? Do results in pre-season friendlies have any correlation for the Premier League season?

In the previous seven seasons the Club´s most successful pre-season campaign came last year. Everton won six and lost one, causing the fires of expectation to be stoked with added fervour. But come the start of the season all the success of the preceding seven friendlies was nowhere to be seen, and after six games Everton were propping up the other 19 teams in the league having only managed three losses and three draws. So far no correlation.

The Premier League has existed in a state of almost constant unbalance with the 04/05 season being the only time the Universe was at peace. For the Premier League´s 19 seasons Everton have only finished in their true and rightful position above the neighbours from across Stanley Park once, and that was in the 04/05 season. That was also the year the Club enjoyed their best ever start to a campaign, winning four out of the first six games to occupy third position, so logic must surely then dictate that the Toffees had their best ever pre-season campaign? Not quite. Out of the seven pre-season friendlies Everton played in the run up to their best ever finish; three were won, two drawn and two lost.

Despite 04/05 being Everton´s highest ever finish in the Premier League it was achieved with only their third highest points total, 61. In 07/08 Everton amassed 65 points and one more win than in 04/05, and this was achieved with a pre-season that included two wins, one loss and three draws. In 08/09 Moyes´ men tallied 63 points on the back of a pre-season campaign that produced three losses, two wins and two draws.

So if pre-season doesn´t prophesise how far up the table Everton will finish or how many games will be won, perhaps it alludes to the manner of football the team will play over the 38 games, perhaps it sheds some light on how many goals will be scored?

In the previous seven pre-seasons Everton have not scored more goals than in the 04/05 warm up campaign, where they scored 17. But then Everton only managed to score 45 in the Premier League, and actually qualified for the Champions League with a goal difference of -1. The Club´s highest Premier League goals tally over the past seven Premier League seasons was 60 in 09/10, on the back of just 11 pre-season goals, incidentally only the fourth highest tally of the previous seven pre-seasons.

Perhaps pre-season doesn´t illustrate the type of football Everton are going to play or their prowess in front of goal over the next 38 Premier League games, but then logic must suggest it is a proven scientific method of predicting which players are going to be the focus of Goodison´s adoration this season?

In this pre-season Moyes has deployed no less than 28 players over the seven games, including seven teenagers – cue mass outcry that the squad is too small. The chances of Moyes using 28 players in the Premier League are about the same as Leighton Baines not finishing with 10+ assists. Last pre-season Magaye Gueye played in every friendly, starting in most, and impressing down the left wing, but apart from Carling Cup cameos Evertonians had to wait until April to see him again, which suggests pre-season cannot be used to predict the Premier League team sheets.

So what significance does this pre-season, which has yielded three wins, three losses, one draw, ten goals, seven conceded, and 28 players, hold for Everton´s belated Premier League campaign? The answer is none, none whatsoever. COYB.

Joseph Fitzpatrick
Twitter: @fitz_joseph

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