Something has been playing on my mind. Despite Everton's all-round atrocious performance this season, I think that any football manager would be thinking about the next one – two even up to five seasons – how the squad is looking,– identifying areas that need strengthening immediately and will need strengthening in the coming years, etc.

Whilst Everton have some good young players, we also have a number of 33, 34 year olds who are propping up the first team squad. If Roberto is worth his salt, he'll have recognised and will know which areas of the squad need strengthening this summer.

I've made some attempt here to assess the squad in the way you might expect a manager to do and identifying positions that are in critical condition for the next season or two – a lack of depth and/or ageing players.


Howard (36, June 2018)
Robles (24, June 2018)

As a 24-year-old keeper, I probably wouldn't have any arguments with Robles continuing as our second choice. He looked nervous in his first few appearances for Everton but I suspected that there was a reasonable player in him somewhere, as he'd shown in half a season at Wigan that he was capable of some very good performances. I have question marks over his ability to command his box and back four, and so I'm not convinced he'll ever break through as our first choice but the priority for me has to be to sign a first choice keeper.

As for Howard – he's been a good goalkeeper for us for a few years but his kicking has never been great, and his proneness to errors has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. Jamie Carragher tweeted an interesting observation recently that Howard often gets caught hopping around and when someone strikes from distance he's mid-air and so can't react until half a second too late. Especially given his age, I think most of us recognise that a new keeper is required. He's been a good servant but now is the time.

Full backs:

Coleman (26, June 2019)
Hibbert (34, June 2016)
Baines (30, June 2019)
Oviedo (25, June 2016)
Garbutt (21, June 2015)

The clear first choice here is Coleman. He may not have had his best season, but he's still clearly a very strong right back. Hibbert is probably no longer at a point where we should be considering him even as reserve (imagine Coleman gets an injury for a couple of months or longer). A back-up right back is needed (before people say Browning could play there, again, take a long term injury to Coleman into account – do you want a young centre back playing as our first choice right back for several months?)

Left back is clearly the strongest position in our squad. It's looking increasingly likely that Garbutt will move on at the end of the season, although given his performances to date and Baines turning 31 this year, I certainly hope that isn't the case. I would not like to see Leighton leave but if it were to mean a significant increase in our transfer funds then Oviedo and Garbutt fighting for the first choice spot wouldn't be a disaster. In an ideal world, you keep all three but I think this article will tell the story that we live in anything but an ideal world...

Centre backs:

Jagielka (32, June 2017)
Stones (20, June 2018)
Alcaraz (32, June 2015)
Distin (37, June 2015)
Browning (20, June 2017)

Again, the clear first choice here is John Stones. He should be our first choice centre back for many years to come. Despite Phil Jagielka's somewhat erratic form this season, he is another pick here – whether as a first choice or squad player probably depends on how much investment we see. First choice it is then.

Distin's Everton career looks like it has come to an end, and with Alcaraz's contract also expiring this summer you would hope that we'd be looking for an upgrade. It's difficult to judge Browning as he's not had much exposure to the first team but assuming you'd want four centre backs in the first team squad then you'd probably be looking at one or two new faces (with Stones, Jagielka and Browning remaining).

Central Midfielders:

McCarthy (24, June 2018?)
Besic (22, June 2019)
Gibson (27, June 2016)
Barry (34, June 2017)
Ledson (17, unknown)

McCarthy is a definite starter, with none of the others crying out for starting berths. Ledson is a young player that is very highly rated but nobody can ever tell how highly rated young players will progress. If Gibson could stay fit, he could push for the second starting berth (assuming we continue to play a 4-2-3-1), but as a manager you wouldn't want to rely on that. Besic's game needs maturing and Barry would appear to be a fading force. Whilst we have enough numbers in this position, it looks as though a starter alongside McCarthy would be a sensible purchase.

Attacking Midfielders:

Mirallas (27, June 2016)
Naismith (28, June 2019)
Barkley (21, June 2018)
Osman (33, June 2016)
Pienaar (33, June 2016)
McGeady (29, June 2018)

Again, assuming we continue to play a 4-2-3-1, you'd probably ideally want 2 players to compete for the central positions (which we probably have in Osman, Naismith and Barkley – clearly neither are as comfortable on the wings) and 3 or 4 players competing for the wide positions. If Mirallas stays, he is our only genuine wide player who could lay a claim for a starting position – and if he goes, that goes down to none. Osman is inevitably going to play less and less but probably warrants a place in the squad – albeit he's better in the centre, him and Naismith can both provide depth in the wing positions.

McGeady is nothing more than a back-up and Pienaar has played so little this season that you wonder how much he will contribute next. I'd suggest at least one first choice wide player needs bringing in – and that's if Mirallas stays (with a new purchase and the Belgian representing first choices, and Naismith/Osman, McGeady, Pienaar providing back up). Ideally you'd want two new wide players though – three if Mirallas were indeed to go.


Lukaku (21, June 2019)
Kone (31, June 2016)

Lukaku has shown in recent weeks that he's an excellent first choice striker. Kone is still a bit of an unknown, but again taking the worst case situation that Lukaku suffers a long term injury, you wouldn't want Kone as the only striker in the first team squad. A new striker is required.

Positions reasonably identified that we need to strengthen:

First choice goalkeeper
Back up right back
One or two centre backs
First choice central midfielder
One or two wingers (two or three if Mirallas goes)
Back up striker

That's a minimum of 7 players in an ideal world (possibly up to 9 or 10 if Mirallas leaves). Given how unrealistic that is, you then have to prioritise. My feeling is that you'd prioritise a winger, a centre back and a goalkeeper. But I'd be worried if Roberto wasn't able to get a second winger in, and another striker. The purchase of a first choice central midfielder to play alongside McCarthy may have to be delayed, unless the board wins the lottery in the close season, as would the back up to Coleman.

Loans might be able to provide us the second winger, back up striker etc but you'd still be looking at a minimum of three outright purchases. Given that our expendable players are mostly past their best now (Howard, Barry, Pienaar etc) - and that you'd be probably looking at no transfer fees coming in just to get their wages off the books - the one, as loathe as I am to say it, that might still command a reasonably good fee and probably only has a couple of years left before age begins to tell is Baines. If we were able to tie Garbutt down on a long term contract, him and Oviedo would be able to soften the blow of Leighton's loss and allow us to spend elsewhere – if that's the path the manager chooses.

It's a worrying situation – an ageing squad and some areas that need significant strengthening. Whilst the media would have us believe that Everton have a good, young squad – what they in fact have is a small number of very good young players (Lukaku, Stones, Barkley) with the potential to form the core of an Everton team for many years to come.

However, the players that make up the rest of the side have been getting older year by year, and it's now come to a point where we require significant investment to make us strong enough to compete in the top four to six positions in the league. Assuming Martinez continues as manager (and he will, unless the wheels completely fall off and we go down), next season is where we see what he is made of.

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Reader Comments (50)

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Karl Graham
1 Posted 24/03/2015 at 18:32:25
I think if we sold Mirallas, Baines and Howard we could get between 㿅-30 million which along with some more tv money should easily cover the cost of a goalkeeper, centre back, 2 wingers and a striker which I agree are a priority.

Darren Hind
2 Posted 24/03/2015 at 18:52:52
30 million quid for Mirallas, Baines and Howard Karl ?

I think you are being a tad ambitious. Given BainesÂ’s age weÂ’d be lucky to get 6-8, MirallasÂ’s stock has fallen bigtime this season (5m ?)
And you wouldnt get a Tobey Jug for Howard

Karl Graham
3 Posted 24/03/2015 at 18:59:19
Baines is still in top 3 left backs in the league IÂ’m only saying sell because he is wrong side of 30 and we have sufficient cover in his position. I believe we would get 㾶-12 million, Man City might even be interested as left back is one of their problem positions and they need home grown players.

Mirallas has played well in parts this season but clearly wants away so I believe although his stock has fallen again 㾶-12 million is possible. The only place Howard is likely to go is MLS but I believe after his performance at the World Cup they would pay some money for him as merchandising would be worth a lot.

Gavin Johnson
4 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:07:36
Graham, those are players IÂ’d be sacrificing too (although sacrificing is hardly apt for Howard) I think we should get 㾶m for Mirallas – if Lennon is apparently worth ٤m with one season left on his contract.

As for Baines, I think the fee would be between ٦-9m now, down to his age. We should give Howard a free transfer, but some mug of chairman in the MLS might sanction a deal for around ١-5m, I hope.

Darren Hind
5 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:16:20
Graham and Karl.

If I was Kenwright I would hire your services right now.

I would offer Karl half of anything he got over 㾻M for Mirallas and Baines and I would offer the same bonus to Gavin if he could find a chairman anywhere in the world mug enough to pay ١.5M for Howard - he didnt cost that much in his prime.

If you guys could get the sort of money you are talking about for these three players, you are in the wrong jobs. You need to be working for Everton.

Colin Smith
6 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:03:46
Agree with Darren re-㿊m. Not convinced by either Â’keeper Howard is sliding down the hill and not really convinced by Robles. Cover for Coleman, yes. Left-sided Centre Half yes, Distan (sadly) and Alcaraz should both be off. Left back is interesting, Garbutt looks good enough to be 1st choice at a top team and IÂ’d give him a go with Oviedo as back up.

I like the idea of Baines playing in midfield; think heÂ’d be a great combination with McCarthy. Baines has all GibsonÂ’s passing ability, is quicker and can tackle. Pienaar like Distan is probably done, Mirallas clearly thinks heÂ’s worthy of a better club - we need a right and left-sided midfield player/winger. Barkley should be 1st choice No.10 with cover competition from Naismith/Osman. Up front an experienced striker needed as cover for Rom, IÂ’m afraid I donÂ’t think Kone is good emough.

Gavin Johnson
7 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:36:55
Darren, I donÂ’t know if IÂ’d be expecting a bonus any time soon. The MLS is the only league I can imagine a club even wanting Howard. I think the more conservative end of my estimation (١m) is more likely given heÂ’s a big name in the US national team. But apart from the exception of the MLS I think weÂ’ll be lumbered with him until his contract runs out.

If it was down to me, Howard would be gone on a free transfer and IÂ’d snap up Begovic from Stoke on a free this summer.

Conor Skelly
8 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:34:07
Not good reading. It all points towards bye bye Barkley, Rom and Kev. That would give us about 㿼million. ThatÂ’s 10 x 8million pound players which should see us back to mid table for a few years which is all BK wants. Sorted. You never know. If spent wisely and not like Spurs with the Bale money it could go quite far.

Lennon at ٤ million will get the ball rolling.

Conor Skelly
9 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:53:25
Bojan for 㾼 mill and Begovic for free = 2 x ٦ mill players.
Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:58:57
Begovic? Bungles Begovic? Really?

You guys have an interesting turn of mind towards masochism.

Lyndon Lloyd
11 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:01:28
I've seen a lot of shouts re us going for Begovic, Mike, and, like you, I don't get it. He's mostly competent but is prone to moments of madness and poor kicking. Remind you of anyone?

He looked very dodgy against us at Goodison in December even though he ended up on the winning side.

I still maintain that a bid for Peter Cech would make the most sense (assuming his wage demands aren't too high) and perhaps see something come of our interest in Orjan Nyland (although I confess I've only ever seen him once).

Colin Glassar
12 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:54:41
Excellent post Graham. I did something similar last night but just as a comment.

I think we could get decent dosh for Bainsey but I’d prefer to see him move into MF (to replace Barry) and let Garbutt and Oviedo fight for the LB slot. Pienaar, Hibbo, Alcaraz, Howard and McGeady should all leave in the summer, on frees if necessary, and we should sell Mirallas for whatever we get.

So major rebuilding is needed to freshen the squad. God knows where the money is going to come from though.

Iain Love
13 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:59:26
When are WE going to make major changes?

I agree with the post on the players who need replacing but given Martinez track record Robles (who might come good); Kone , is it 1 goal in nearly 2 seasons? Alcaraz, who I never want to see in an Everton shirt again (bet Bobby gives him a 1- or 2-year extension); and McGeady, Championship player at best.

Would you REALLY want Martinez in charge of wholesale changes? Now that would be our death knell.

Mark Frere
14 Posted 24/03/2015 at 19:59:31
In a ideal world, Howard and Barry would be fucked off to the MLS for one last big pay day, where their lack of ability due to old age (in Barry's case) wont be exposed like it is in the PL.

It would be nice to get Pienaar off the wage bill because he's become very unreliable these last couple of seasons due to constant injuries and father time has almost caught up with him. I would really love for Martinez to find a young, more consistent version of Pienaar. We need a creative wide man (like Pienaar was in his prime) to link-up play. Aaron Lennon is not the answer as he's just merely about pace and work-rate, with very little flair and no creativity.

If Mirallas is sold, I would like Deulofeu to replace him as he is very similar but much younger with a better attitude, less injury prone and has the potential to be a real star. Deulofeu and a creative winger would really strengthen the wide areas.

Alcaraz and Distin will be out of contract and at least one of them will need replacing. Perhaps Galloway may be ready to make more of an impact for the first team, but we will definitely need one more CB as well.

The most important position that needs addressing is the playmaker role. Our team is crying out for a creative player in the mould of Eriksson that can link-up play - we badly need a bit of craft in midfield.

I agree with the original post about all the areas of the squad which need strengthening... but even with all the extra TV revenue , there isn't going to be enough funds to strengthen all areas. I suspect there will be a few loan signings and probably 2-3 permanent signings.

As priority:

Permanent signings - Goalkeeper, Centre-back, central midfielder(playmaker), creative winger

Conor Skelly
15 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:08:46
I think I know Colin
Gavin McGarvey
16 Posted 24/03/2015 at 18:45:17
Good article. Our squad position really is a bit ugly when you look at it. Worse, because of the poor performances this season then we won't get great money if we choose to sell.

The main problem is the necessity to get players out before we bring players in. We don't have the money to bring in 4 or 5 extra wages to our bill. Also I fear that Martinez will want to give Alcaraz another contract as he is one of the players that RM brought in.

Who should we hold on to? This is always a compromise. Obviously we would be able to lose a couple of the older defenders. Also some of the midfielders who haven't worked out. Will anyone want those players? We'll see, but we need to move a few off the wage bill to bring in new blood and keep the wages under control.

I'm a bit concerned about the last couple of wide players we've brought in, and this is an area we've struggled in since the late 90's. It's a big disappointment we can't make things work out with Mirallas. He's one of the better ones we've had since then.

I certainly hope nobody's keeping count of the number of times I've suggested bringing back Deulofeu since he's left. Suffice to say it's a few. On a more realistic note, we need to bring in some quality prospects, mixed in with a few players with a point to prove.

It's interesting seeing RM's shopping list figure of 7 reflected in the article. A strange misunderstanding that one, very Everton. As the above states the best we can hope for is 3. We really need them to be good.

Iain Love
17 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:15:15
Perisic from Wolfsburg hasn't completed a full game in the last 9, maybe he's out of favour. Plays off either wing and can play upfront.
Ian Tunstead
18 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:20:29
We donÂ’t really need to buy any players, what we need is a manager who is prepared to give some of our youth team a chance. We have spent all this money on our academy and won 2 under-18 titles in recent years had had players involved in winning international tournaments.

We have seen the benefits of giving youth a chance at Southampton, we should be doing the same and putting a little faith in our own.

Gavin Johnson
19 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:25:49
I agree Begovic is prone to a gaffe here and there but he's certainly a step up from Howard and he would appeal to me because he'd be on a free. Besides this, I think we will need, at least the 7 bodies, Martinez was calling for last summer before he back tracked.

So any money in the kitty will have to be spread across acquisitions in just about every position. But I agree that Cech and Nyland might be better bets but I'd be reluctant about the money involved in those deals when we have to recruit in other areas too.

Mike Gaynes
20 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:29:44
Lyndon, I'm definitely with you on Cech over Begovic, but I'd be with you on anybody over Begovic (including Peter Shilton, who's about 70 I guess). My personal favorite is Yann Sommer, the Swiss national keeper, who's a little undersized and was still under everyone's radar until this season, when he's become a superstar at Moenchengladbach. I saw him shut out Bayern on Sunday. We couldn't afford him now.

Gavin, I think it's time to give up on the Deulofeu campaign... he doesn't want to be here and wherever he winds up (probably not Barca), it will almost certainly be Spain or France, not England. And while nobody's counting your mentions of him, yes, you are starting to sound a little like Jimmy on Drenthe. Let it go.

Gavin Johnson
21 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:48:47
Lol, what you on Mike?!... I didn't even mention Deulofeu, But coincidently, I do rate the kid and would love us to sign him this summer.
Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:52:53
Gavin, I was addressing Gavin McGarvey's comment on Deulofeu.

Regarding your comment on Begovic, however, he would only be free to the club. He'd be very expensive to us fans. Medical costs, you know. First antacids and blood pressure medications, then heart attacks and strokes.

Put the gloves on Jags, bail Rene Higuita out of prison, I don't care, but please, not Begovic.

Gavin Johnson
23 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:55:52
No worries, Mike... I haven't mentioned Deulofeu in ages, so I thought you must have been paying a lot of attention to my posts if you'd remembered how much I rate him.

Sam Hoare
24 Posted 26/03/2015 at 09:09:00
Our transfer budget is going to be cut into by the lost money from lower league finish; probably 6 positions lower than predicted which =㾸m!

I have a horrible feeling that the pot will be a lot more bare than we would like and as a result we will be handing out contracts to those who may not deserve them (I'm looking at you, Antolin!) and relying heavily on promoting the youth.

That may change if we sell some big players and I think it's safe to say that Mirallas will be off with Coleman likely to go as well as possibly even McCarthy or Lukaku if big bids come in. I'd expect the first two will probably go for around 㿊m between them.

I would not be surprised if that was our transfer pot and for that we potentially have to replace a first team winger and right back as well as maybe adding a CB, GK and playmaker. Gonna be heading to Primark then....

Andrew Ellams
25 Posted 26/03/2015 at 11:53:39
Some good Bosmans about this year. We just need to be able to compete on the wages front. If Danny Ings ends up at Sociedad it would be a crime
Denis Richardson
26 Posted 26/03/2015 at 12:08:10
If I had my wish, the following would/should realistically leave this summer;

Martinez - will never make it at Everton, strange views on the game.

Distin, Alcaraz - contracts run out anyway

Howard, Hibbo, Pienaar, Kone - too old /cost too much in wages /unreliable

McGeady - simply not good enough for this level

Mirallas - wants to leave, last year of contract

Baines - cash in before its too late, have 2 other decent LBs. (Get Garbutt signed up!)

Assuming Rom's new agent doesn't shfit him on, that's at least 9 players gone raising not much in transfer fees (㿀m-25m?) but freeing up a massive amount in the wage bill. With there being well over 100 players on a 'free' at the end of each season, just in the premiership, we should be able to replace a lot of these without shelling out massive transfer fees, especially when considering that most of the ones above were/are not first team regulars anyway.

First priority would then be: GK, CB, 2xAM, Str, so 5 new faces and promote a couple from the youth/reserves. That's less than has gone out but the likes of Distin, Alcaraz, Pienaar, Kone etc have hardly played this season as it is.

First out the door should however be the manager!

Sam Hoare
27 Posted 26/03/2015 at 12:18:09
Yes Andrew. If we could snap up Ings up front, Neto from Fiorentina to go in goal, Schaar or Rannochia to play alonsgide Stones and maybe Ayew or Konoplyanka to go on the wing then we might be looking better. All tasty free transfers. And maybe take a gamble on Pato...?

Trouble is the inflated wages and ludicrous signing on fee's...

I'd be happy if Martinez finally bought in some Spanish/South American gems. Players with the technique and vision to actually play the posession football he is so enamoured by!!

Roger Sunde
28 Posted 26/03/2015 at 12:37:20
We need a center back, RM took a hugh gamble last summer using virtually all money on Lukaku and signing up Ross on a long time deal.

And when Stones got injured for 3-4 months plus Distin's rapid decline, we had a defensive nightmare as a result.

Also a left winger must be a priority. I don't think we need striker, Kone, Naismith and even Mirallas can play up front. Also if we get a new centre-back, Stones can play right back if necessary.

Denis Richardson
29 Posted 26/03/2015 at 13:10:08
Sam - my fear is that RM doesn't actually have that in-depth a knowledge of the South American or Spanish football as we'd hoped and is not able to unearth any gems.

He moved to the UK when he was 20 and has lived here ever since, mostly plying his trade in the lower English divisions. I think his scouting network is basically the UK. Delboy is the only 'unkown' we've signed since he got here, even though he's had 3 transfer windows already. Even he was only a loanee...

Like you, I'd hoped we'd have 2-3 Michu type cheap gems from Spain or South America but alas it doesn't look too good on that front.

Sam Hoare
30 Posted 26/03/2015 at 14:06:06
Yes, Denis. Though his English history didn't stop him bringing the likes of Valencia, Diame, Figueroa, Di Santo, N'Zogbia, Gomez and Moses to Wigan. All good value buys.

Ray Roche
31 Posted 26/03/2015 at 14:34:25
Thing is, Sam, with your excellent observation in mind, why hasn't he managed to repeat it with us? His track record of Alcaraz, Robles, Atsu, McCarthy, Kone, McGeady, Lukaku, Besic, Barry, and Lennon may contain a couple of very good players but I can't see some of them being any use to Everton after this season due to age or ability. Or the fact that they are on loan, being brought on for another clubs benefit. He isn't a wizard in the transfer market for us, that's for sure.
Andrew Ellams
32 Posted 26/03/2015 at 14:38:33
Out - Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Alcaraz, Pienaar, Miralles, McGeady, Kone (£20-25m)

In - Nyland, Ranocchia (bosman), Ayew (bosman), Konoplyanka (bosman), Deulofeu, Ings (bosman) and a right back. (£15-20m)

Use Browning as cover in Central defence and we are better off all round.

Gavin Johnson
33 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:07:06
I like your thinking Andrew, but I think we'll be lucky if we could land even one of those Bosman signings you mention. A lot of clubs are sniffing around Ayew, and hasn't Ings all but signed for the RS?!
Brian Harrison
34 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:01:28
Look forget the list of which player should go or stay, just get rid of this charlatan and get a decent manager and he will have this squad in the top 7. Someone said we need 2 wingers since he has been here we have had Deulofeu,McGeady,Lennon and Atsu plus Mirallas and Pienaar.

He has given Barry a 3 year contract, Eto a 2year contract and don't forget he chose to leave. He has extended Hibberts contract so this is hardly a man who sees youth as the future. He has chopped and changed his team from week to week when there was no need. And because we will finish lower in the league than we have for a decade our money for our finishing position will reduce by about 7/9 million. No wonder Lukaku is looking elsewhere didnt take him long to suss out the charlatan and realize that European football will become no more than a distant memory under this manager.

Andrew Ellams
35 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:41:46
I went a bit football manager there Gavin, but it looks well within budget even at Everton. According to the press last week Martinez went out to meet Ayew so maybe that's a possibility. Ings has been touted for Liverpool but also with Moyes at Sociedad too. Surely we can compete with a mid table Spanish side.
Denis Richardson
36 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:51:13
Sam 30, I think you need to trim your list a little.

N'Zogbia went to Wigan from the Barcodes; Di Santo was signed from Chelsea; and Moses was signed from Palace. Granted the others came mostly via Spain or direct from South America in the case of Diame.

Either way, his transfers from Spain & South America to Everton have been disappointing. Especially when you consider he presumably could have attracted a better quality of player to Everton than to Wigan. One loanee is pretty underwhelming after three transfer windows.

Trevor Peers
37 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:45:14
I agree, Brian. Speculating about the squad is missing the point. There should be a concerted protest to remove this manager – that's the only way forward; keeping him till Christmas to see if he can regain the Midas touch will be a disaster. Who knows what state we will be in by then? BK is either taking a huge gamble on Roberto or is past caring.
Mohammed Horoub
38 Posted 26/03/2015 at 15:21:51
Andrew @32, I agree with your out list 100%. The squad needs a reboot and hopefully this summer's business freshens things up. Although I still don't trust RM to lead the process.

Sam @30 Valencia, N'Zogbia and Figueroa were bought by Bruce. I was expecting more signings like Diame and Gomez which shows he has good scouts in Spain but so far, other than Deulofeu on loan, we haven't really seen his network find anyone over four windows.

Andrew Ellams
39 Posted 26/03/2015 at 16:34:20
I think he, Bruce and Martinez got lucky with some of their signings. If you bring a player in from South or Central America, like they did with the likes of Palacios, Rodellega, Valencia etc, it's a huge gamble and for so many to pay off and in some cases turn a healthy profit you need a stroke of luck.
Gavin Johnson
40 Posted 26/03/2015 at 16:27:40
I think we should give him until Xmas. I'm aware I'll be in the minority on TW, but I've softened my stance since the Europa League capitulation. After the exit, I couldn't find anything good to say about Martinez and I would have been fairly indifferent had he got the sack, after continuing to back him while we were still in that competition.

The reason I'd back him until Xmas is because the QPR game suggested to me, that he isn't totally inflexible as some would believe. The fact that he's played two strikers in a traditional 4-4-2 and given up possession over the last two league games shows that he'll change tactics when necessary. While I can understand it will too little, too late for many, I admire him for playing a system that is the total antithesis of his beliefs, which comes across to me, that he does care about the club and has heeded advise.

His use of the transfer window has seen mixed results. But I don't think he's made any really bad signings, apart from Alcaraz and Atsu. McGeady hasn't been great, but he cost peanuts and can be sold on. So I'd be willing to give him one more window, based on the number of players who are in the autumn of their careers who need replacing (Howard, Distin, Pienaar and Hibbert) three of these were still big players for us last season, but have let us down this season. In fairness I don't think that's all Martinez's fault. So he should be given the chance to replace these ageing remnants of Moyes's team.

Brian Harrison
41 Posted 26/03/2015 at 17:06:28
Gavin 40,

I agree that he has definitely changed his game plan during the last couple of games, and he seems to have ditched the passing around the back 4. You suggest that seeing as he has changed his style maybe we should give him till Xmas, which on the face of it would seem reasonable. But, for me, therein lies the problem has he really ditched his long held philosophy or has he changed for what he might see as short term game.

Everything he has said since he joined the club has been about not changing his philosophy for short term gain. So does this mean that come next season he will revert back to type and if we give him till Xmas then I presume he will be given a transfer kitty for summer signings.

But what if he does, as I think he will, revert to type and results are the same and BK has to sack him? So the new man will have no money to spend to try and improve the team, and presumably we will be in the bottom 3.

Gavin Johnson
42 Posted 26/03/2015 at 17:26:28
Good point there, Brian. I would hope he will learn from what's been a disaster of season, starting with a good pre-season – there are encouraging signs of that with the far east competition with Arsenal and Stoke. I'd also like to think that this season has been a learning curve for a young manager and he'll keep the same principles but continue to mix things up tactically when necessary.

He's got to replace a number of old players from his predecessors team. Due to that, I'd like him to have a go at a third season so it will be his team. I know some will say a team of just Martinez's signings would take us down, but I'd say that the players that need replacing have contributed nothing this season, so he should have this chance to get in players who thinks will be better suited to his system. After that there will be no 'ifs' or 'buts' about the squad being over stretched playing in Europe or second season syndrome, and he will be gone if we're not in the top half by Xmas. And we will all know conclusively whether he's the snake oil sales man or brilliant manager who has just had the period of readjustment that was going to happen at some stage.

If another manager came in at Xmas I think we'll still have a very good squad as most of the players leaving will be deadwood. If a couple of those exiting are first team players (Rom & Mirallas maybe?) I would expect us to have made 3-4 quality signings in the McCarthy, Rom, mould. I think Martinez will unearth some good players when he has a transfer budget. All his big money signings have been spot-on, for me.

Mike Allison
43 Posted 26/03/2015 at 17:33:59
I completely disagree that major rebuilding is needed, our squad is in pretty good shape, and although there are a few obvious older players who need to move on, they haven’t contributed much this season.

Our problem this season has been our ’philosophy’, or playing style, not the players. I’m a bit annoyed at Graham for doing this article, because I did one last April and was planning to do the same, but there’s no point now as he’s beaten me to it.

The gist of last year was that we needed two players for every position because of the increased demands of the Europa League fixtures. Martinez completely bungled the type of squad rotation that I believe would have been required, but at least there will be no need for it next season, and we can get by with a slightly smaller squad than we’d have needed this year if we’d got the rotation thing right.

The players I would definitely get rid of are:

Distin - very old and hardly played this season.
Alcaraz - not that old, but also injury prone and has put in some terrible performances.
Barry - too old for the position, although actually I would keep him around as a coach to the likes of Ledson.
Pienaar - I’m a big fan, but a combination of age and injury means we have to look beyond him.

This may apply to Osman as well, and unfortunately, Gibson. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors but I can only assume that there is something wrong with Gibson’s conditioning. If it’s a lifestyle issue, or he’s just not been physically conditioned well enough, then maybe it can be fixed, otherwise I’d be looking to move beyond him. Of these, only a new centre back and a replacement for Pienaar are really necessary.

I’d like a new goalkeeper, and if the right long term replacement could be found then go for it, otherwise I’d just swap Robles and Howard in their roles if the money or the right man weren’t available.

In the other positions we have the players, although two of them are on loan and would need signing on or replacing. We seem to have blown the Atsu thing, he’s highly talented and could have done great things, but for some reason Martinez fancied signing him but not playing him.

A minimum outlay for next season is a new centre back so that we have three we can definitely trust, and at least one new permanent signing in the attacking midfield positions, preferably a winger. The depth and options could be provided here with another loan. My preference for centre back would be Virgil Van Dijk, although I don’t watch nearly as much football as I used to, so there may be better options. As wingers we could look at Lennon, Deulofeu, Atsu, Andre Ayew who we’re linked with or a few others.

The one thing we’re not sure of is the role the younger players will be able to play. For all he talks them up, he seems reluctant to actually throw them in. We have nearly a full XI of promising youngsters who will have had first team football experience by then, plus Jonjoe Kenny, captain of the U-21s at age 17 and the possible back up for Coleman. The rest include Browning, Matthew Pennington, Galloway, Gethin Jones, Ledson, Conor Grant, Francisco Junior, John Lundstram, George Green and Chris Long (as well as possibly counting Conor McAleny). I’d much rather put these young players into the first team set-up than go and buy seven people to fill up the squad.

Mike Allison
44 Posted 26/03/2015 at 18:14:01
On two signings here's a quality young team we could select next season (with back-ups in brackets).

GK: Robles (Howard)
RB: Coleman (Kenny)
LB: Garbutt (Baines)
CB: Stones (Browning)
CB: Jagielka/Van Dijk

DM: Besic (Barry, Ledson)
CM: McCarthy (Gibson)

RW: Atsu/Deulofeu/Lennon (Oviedo)
LW: Mirallas (McGeady)

AM/SS: Barkley (Naismith, Osman)
CF: Lukaku (Kone)

I'd happily sign two or three of the wingers, but one would be enough not to panic about.

Jay Harris
45 Posted 26/03/2015 at 18:10:49
A couple of points:

Why would anyone pay 㾶-12 million for Bainesy when they can get Garbutt on a nominal fee?

I would be amazed if all three of Coleman, Lukaku and Mirallas stay.

I have always believed the spine of the team is most important and therefore priority for me in that regard is a top class GK, Galloway to be fast tracked as Jagielka's stand-in, a new CF who can actually hold the ball up and bring others into play as well as 20 goals a season.

If Lukaku goes most of the money will go to Chelsea no doubt so Bill had better look behind the sofa.

However absolute top priority for me is a goalscoring MF playmaker which I don't believe we have replaced since Felli left. Forget all these wingers we have Baines and Coleman if we keep them. IMO a MF hub of strong goal scoring players will solve all our problems (assuming we have a decent manager).

Gavin Johnson
46 Posted 26/03/2015 at 18:35:02

While I'd never describe Fellaini as a playmaker I think you're on the right track about us crying out for a goalscoring midfielder who scores goals. The ideal for me would be a young Osman type player who's a bit more handy in front of the goal.

Sam Hoare
47 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:36:54
How about we bring in Frank de Boer and he can bring Davy Klassen who looks like an excellent young AMC able to get assists and goals, unlike a certain young scouser who has been sulking around the pitch in blue this season.
Denis Richardson
48 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:48:10
Gavin - re giving Martinez more time. You mention he may have changed/will change his tactics so that the team is more direct. However, the guy has shown he and/or his coaching staff basically don't believe in defending or bothering about set pieces. Assuming this won't change, would you still want to give him more time?
Gavin Johnson
49 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:56:55
Denis, I take on board what you're saying. The amount of goals we've shipped in on set pieces since Martinez has been with us is ridiculous, and is my biggest criticism of him. His remark about not being concerned about letting in goals gave me some misgivings. So why would I want him to have more time?

Well they say there's a fine line between genius and insanity, In Martinez's case I still have a little hope he's the former and he'll prove his critics wrong. As I said in the other posts there are some encouraging signs in the style and tempo we're playing at the moment, and my hope is that he'll learn from this season and he'll continue to tweak things accordingly. Brenda's managed to do it, so that's my hope. whether it happens remains to be seen. But I think we've got him going into next season whether we like it or not.

I think the question to ask is what Brian #41 focussed on – Whether this change is a short term fix... or whether he'll just go back to the passing from the defence. Or will he mix things up and learn from this season.

Peter Murray
50 Posted 26/03/2015 at 22:33:51
Can anybody please explain why, when the majority of 30,000 weekly Goodison supporters that have continuously expressed their total dissent on the Blues heartless, one-paced, passionless performances, it has finally taken RM to actually alter our play, with less than 10 games remaining??

When the going gets TOUGH – the Tough get GOING, (players haven't) – being led by an example of a cardboard cutout!!! Can you actually imagine this "leader" giving our players a deserved rollicking, – because I cannot – oh for 30% of Moyes's fight/character & just a sprinking of RM's greater use of the ball.

Definitely not second season syndrome – but horrendous tactics / selections – highlighted by gifting our eastern block opponents, with a basic embarrassing "walkover" – how did Peter Reid/Ratters keep their patience?? Ratters positive comment/suggestion of removing our S/American "no mark" at half time – said it all, alas our RM thought the opposite, & everything was AOK.

He's tactically inept, & his selections against Kiev horrendous, to most was obvious, so very early on. A supporters poll, would in my opinion highlight the overall dissatisfaction, & real future concerns that his continued "leadership" role at our club would suggest.

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE & further more, unfortunately having to continuously listen, try & understand his inane, unreal, highly imaginative, after match comments!!!

It says it all – that in my opinion, the current highlight of the season, to date, for me is the DRAW – 2-2, with Arsenal!!!

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