So, it’s the summer and I’m officially bored. I’ve not watched a football match for over a month and now the endless search for news amongst the rumour columns is beginning to get to me.
But, like the rest of you, I continue to read them and try and picture what Everton’s season is going to look like: dreaming and worrying in equal measure.
The reason for this is the sheer quantity of players we currently seem to have in some positions and the apparent lack of quality we have in others. At the time of writing Everton have 27 players who could be looking for first team football next season and we continue to be linked with more.
So who is going to play, who should be sold and who is going to be left to rot?
Let’s take a look:
This is a nice easy one to start with. Pickford has clearly been signed to be number one (and has been given the jersey), so it’s all about Stekelenburg and Robles. I strongly suspect Robles wants first team football somewhere, so he should be on his way for a nominal fee. Stekelenburg will probably be satisfied with some cup appearances. Done.
Here we seem to be lacking in the full-back area. When Coleman is back, he will undoubtedly be first choice on the right and the little I’ve seen of Kenny leaves me wanting to see him get some football in the meantime. Holgate has shown he’s a good footballer, but also not a full-back.
On the left there is still just Leighton Baines. A great player for Everton, but didn’t look the same last year and there’s no one to replace him if he gets injured. Maybe this should be make or break for Luke Garbutt at Everton this season?
As for the centre-halves, we seem to have a few too many. Keane and Funes Mori are the standout players for me, but I don’t see Koeman being able to keep the four senior centre-backs all happy. Then, with Holgate and Connolly both demonstrating that they deserve some time on the pitch to develop, the manager is going to be left with a number of decisions to make.
Conclusion: Potentially require a left-back and should ship out one of the old boys from the middle.
This is one place where Koeman could do some trimming and also make a little money. McCarthy is not good enough with the ball and is well down the order behind Schneiderlin, Gueye, Davies and even Barry. We should have sold him a few years ago when Arsenal were prepared to chuck a load of money our way, but there would still be some suitors out there who would part with a little cash.
As for Besic, I like him a lot, but he is just injured too often and needs to be at a club where he can guarantee himself some playing time for the periods that he’s fit for. Everton cannot offer him that.
This just leaves Kieran Dowell. He’s rated highly at Everton, but there’s a number of players in his way before he’s running out at Goodison.
Conclusion: End of the line for McCarthy and Besic and consider a loan move for Dowell.
There’s no getting around it – we simply have too many attackers and we still need more. Even if we assume that McGeady and Niasse will be gone soon, that still leaves nine (yes, NINE!) players looking to fill what will probably be three attacking positions. Of these nine, only Lookman and Calvert-Lewin are youngsters, so there are sure to be some unhappy faces around Finch Farm.
However, the plus side for the players is that all these places are currently up for grabs, but who will get the nod from the Dutchman?
First we have Bolasie, who is expected back at around Christmas time. Upon his return to full fitness, I would think he’s the only nailed-on starter.
Arriving from abroad we have Ramirez and Klaassen. Both are currently unproven in the Premier League and that matters. It’s still the toughest league in the world and they’ll certainly need some time to adapt. Ramirez has an advantage in that he can play as an out-and-out striker, but Klaassen has strong competition from a couple of boyhood blues…
The older of which is a certain Wayne Rooney. There are a number of non-playing reasons why this is a good signing, but I can’t imagine that’s the main reason for Koeman bringing him back. He’s at Goodison to play.
Then we have the on-going saga of Ross Barkley. He doesn’t seem to want to stay, we kind of want to keep him and no one wants to buy him. For me, he should not be on the pitch until a contract is signed. If no one buys him, then some time with David Unsworth might make him come to his senses – especially with the World Cup in a year’s time.
This leaves us with Mirallas and Lennon. Mirallas was finally given the opportunity to shine last season, but never really took it. It’s still not clear if he’s a winger, a forward or should be behind the striker. I don’t know, he doesn’t know and Koeman doesn’t know. As for Lennon, everyone is glad to see that he’s bounced back, but he’s never truly been good enough. 15 years after his professional debut he still has no real end product and that simply is not going to change.
Conclusion: A striker who guarantees goals is still required; the Barkley issue has gone on long enough; let Lennon leave if someone wants him – I’d even let him go for nothing.
All in all, my big concern is that some of our fine youngsters are not going to get enough playing time thanks to some of our aging, but more experienced, players. People will point to the extra games we’ll have due to European football, but I don’t see it being enough to keep all the names above happy. I’d be glad to see a few faces moving towards the exit doors in order to create the space for the club to grow.
But, alas, these are not my decisions and nor are they yours. So I guess we’ll all keep scouring the Internet for information until 12th August when we’ll get our first idea of what the new-look Everton side will be.