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Are Everton the third-best team in the League now?

by   |   01/08/2014  Comments (140)  jump

With Lukaku signed and hopefully Atsu and/or Guardado on the way, where do Everton honestly rate among the best teams in the Premier League going into the 2014-15 season?

Taking an objective look at the league, we probably have to admit that Manchester City and Chelsea appear to have the strongest sides. But can any other club really claim to rate clearly higher than Everton now?

There is good reason to believe that all Southampton’s horses and all Southampton’s men can’t put the RS together again, after the departure of Suarez. Their attack has lost its…bite.

Nothing that Arsenal and Man Utd have done looks like a dramatic improvement. Van Gaal is even making excuses already, saying how difficult it is to sort out the mess that Moyes left him, how unbalanced his squad are, and so forth.

And are the Spurs even in the discussion anymore?

I think a 3rd place finish is a quite realistic goal for Everton this season.

For the betting types, I notice that for a “Tricast” bet for 1st Chelsea, 2nd Man City, 3rd Everton, one can get odds of 225 to 1 or as much as 400 to 1, and for 1st Man City, 2nd Chelsea, 3rd Everton, 225 to 1 or as much as 500 to 1. A small bet on each of these outcomes might not be a bad wager to make right now!

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Reader Comments (140)

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Sam Morrison
1 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:18:36
Maybe it's because I'm an Evertonian, but it worries me when people start thinking this way. We haven't even played a game yet. I'm as excited as anyone - ok, almost anyone - about the new season, but lets take it one game at a time.
Lyndon Lloyd
2 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:12:28
Realistically, I don't think we're there yet. Even if we sign Christian Atsu and he proves to be a replacement for Gerard Deulofeu in terms of his contribution, we're only as good a team as we were last season but with the benefit of having a settled Lukaku from the beginning of the season.

For me, we still lack a world-class attacking midfielder to rotate with Barkley, Pienaar and Osman and who can provide Lukaku with the ammunition that was clearly lacking at times last season, particularly against teams that dug in and put men behind the ball.

I'd be surprised if Martinez is done for the transfer window, though, so we may have a clearer answer to your question at the end of the month.

Dean Adams
4 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:23:09
Optimistic Geoffrey. Excellent to have such courage of your conviction. I wish, I hope for a return to more glorious days for our club. Alas I fear that there is always something around the corner that will cause us pain. It is almost always the same, but good positive thinking is no sin. Believe brothers, it might just be time for the mighty blue mersey to rise from the ashes!!
Kunal Desai
5 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:25:24
I still think the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal have strength in depth and the quality to go with it. 4th? perhaps, much will depend on how much further business Man Utd and Spurs do between now and the end of the window and whether Liverpool's signings all gel together from the start.
Dave Lynch
6 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:32:41
If we finish 3rd at the end of the season then yes. It's a results game and as mentioned we havn't kicked a ball in anger yet.
Chad Schofield
7 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:27:23
I think Man U will have a resurgence this season, in the same way Liverpool last season without Europe did well. Arsenal and Tottenham have not really changed, but Tottenham may have solidified.

All that said, maybe it's Roberto, but I believe we can be there or there abouts.

Darryl Ritchie
8 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:23:07
Not quite yet. We're a promising side, which is going to cause a lot of opposition managers to lose sleep before a match, but, I think we're a couple quality players short. There's still time for RM in this transfer window to pull something out of his hat, so you never know.

Consistency is going to be the key. We have to beat teams we're supposed to beat, and surprise a few of the ones we're not. Every one knows what to expect from us now, so we won't be surprising anybody this season. It will be harder just to repeat what happened last season.

Antony Matthews
9 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:33:43
If OFM, was still in charge our target would have been 40 pts. What a difference in 12 months! A certain ceiling is cracking and we must be prepared to be the first through it.The stadium hopefully will follow and the good times will return. Football swings in roundabouts and our time will come again. IRWT!
Andrew Ellams
10 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:41:57
We are now a mid table team in a seven-team mini league at the top of the Premier League. Luck will have a lot to do with where we finish and not necessarily our luck. We need to be prepared to go for the jugular when those around struggle with bad form or injuries and fight tooth and nail when things go against us.
Paul Ellam
11 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:44:44
In terms of being one of the best I honestly believe we are a top 7 side but capable of being a top 4 side.
If we stay consistently good we could do it but it's a lot to ask , there are 6 other sides all wanting to do the same and we can't all be top 3!
Fingers crossed though.
David Chait
12 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:49:04
We are missing a world class creative midfielder in the middle who can slide those passes a few times a game. Barkley we hope will become this player but based on last year is a couple years from that if that player at all.
Even Man U who I reckon we have more better players than, have world class attacking threat with the addition of Herrera to RVP and Rooney. Arsenal have that player as do Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. Even Spurs have Ericksen.
If there is one thing that might cost us its this. Too many times last year the players were trying to score spectacular goals and were quite selfish. Very few lay offs that threaded the needle.
Shane Corcoran
13 Posted 01/08/2014 at 16:58:04
I think we’re about on a par with anyone apart from up front.

The window’s not shut yet but suppose we got Traore and Atsu, I think United have more fire power in their attack.

What we need to compensate is for the likes of Barkley, Miralles, McGeady and Pienaar to chip in with more goals.

We also need to believe we can finish that high.

Paul Hewitt
14 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:03:44
Everton the third best team in Premier League.?.......

.........Er... No!

Phil Walling
15 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:01:45
How the hell can anybody predict where Everton will finish in 14/15 ? Only Evertonians seem to think we have a prayer of breaking into the Top Four but we can all live in hopes.

Meanwhile, I'll be putting my usual wager on two places below last season's fifth and hoping, like last time, I've underestimated the manager and his charges !

Patrick Murphy
16 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:01:20
I think our problems lie at the other end of the pitch - we are not going to be a team that will sweep all before them but we'll score enough to give us a chance of winning but it's those silly goals we concede all too often that will be our downfall.

As for third best team - I don't think so not yet anyway don't forget apart from struggling to beat the usual suspects away from home in particular we will and have been seen as a scalp for many of the rest of the league We have to keep our home record which won't be any easier this season and we need to win more away from home which again is easier said than done.

Just enjoy the ride see where we are next March / April and then perhaps we can start to think that we are in with a chance - patience is required and setting us up for a fall is Everton's favourite pastime.

Linda Morrison
17 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:04:56
I think Darryl has it spot on and we all need to calm down and not get carried away too much.

Realistically we have resigned 2 players as our players instead of borrowing them from other clubs and signed a couple of additional players.

of course the big difference is that Roma has chosen to come to our club when he had other options, including sitting on the bench for higher wages.

I just don't want us putting too much pressure on the young players, who are still learning and will make mistakes.

We lack strength in depth but I truly believe that we have a very good chance of getting in the top 4.

Man U will not make it and if they don't make the top 4 that has serious financial implications for the club. No pressure then.

Let's enjoy seeing Roberto develop the squad and who knows in a couple of seasons we could be looking at winning the title. Why Not?

Trevor Thompson
19 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:15:10
I'm with Lyndon on this one. I think we need a classy playmaker. I'd rather we got someone who can pull the strings, as well as tutor Ross, rather than a winger. We're not there yet but, we could possibly be there in the next 3 years if we keep adding quality to the squad and improving our game.
Paul Ferry
20 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:15:33
Third best? No way! IÂ’m thinking this is a bit of Lukaku hangover blue glow.

IÂ’m one of BobbyÂ’s biggest backers on here, I think, and delighted with what has happened so far in this window. However, it might be better to ask this question on 3 September... or 3 May 2015. Today only Besic is the difference between us last Autumn and us this minute.

Yes, there will be more incoming perhaps over the next few days if reports are as credible as they seem. But today, right now, this minute, 3rd best? Let’s give it a few weeks... or months – or years!

Man City and Chelsea are streets ahead but that donÂ’t mean we wonÂ’t beat them on the day. I suspect that Man Utd will finish ahead of us this season and I have a hunch that Arsene has more big things under his sleeve. The Redshite have brought in too much dispersed talent and look like Spurs this time last year. Spurs donÂ’t count, I agree.

Again, we wonÂ’t know for a good few weeks what the others will end up looking like for the season. So, once more, this is all premature.

I wish people would hold back on threads about what we will be and what we will do next season for a little longer. Exciting times, I know, and when someone else joins us soon weÂ’ll get another one of these things.

But … IF – chuckle – everything remained exactly the same as it is today, then we will end up in 4th to 6th, so let’s say 5th!

Erik Dols
21 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:33:32
I really enjoy our transfer window so far but with the added games of the Euro League I think we will drop too much points to go for a top-3 spot.

I expect Man Utd to be in the top-3 btw. No euro distraction. Just look at how the RS did last year.

Craig Walker
22 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:33:50
Like a few other people have said, it concerns me when we start forecasting top four finishes and we get the odd deluded fan who'll go as far as saying we could win it. We had a great campaign last season but other teams have seriously strengthened. Man United won't be as weak again and I expect Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham to be better than last year. We also have a Europa League spot to contend with. These are exciting times to be a blue but we need to maintain a sense of realism. I still think we aren't strong enough with our goalkeepers. Naismith improved considerably last season but would he get into any of last season's top four? Osman has been a good servant but isn't a long term answer. We have a good team on paper and a great manager who will play the game right way. Let's just be glad of that and enjoy watching the games again without making rash predictions before a ball has been kicked.
Mike Hughes
23 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:41:02
Craig

"Naismith improved considerably last season but would he get into any of last season's top four? Osman has been a good servant but isn't a long term answer."

Same could be said for Alan Harper, Kevin Richardson and a few others from the 80's so you never know.

We've never been group of superstars but a team whenever we have won anything.

To me, our first team should fear nobody and is definitely on for top 4 - at least on paper.

Need 3 more in to give us sufficient depth for 4 competitions.

James Stewart
24 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:46:32
Slightly misguided post. Spurs will be definitely improved under their new manager. Same for Man Utd. I don’t think anyone could honestly predict the top 4 next season. Man City, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal – all could realistically do it.
Gerry Quinn
25 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:43:56
After all those years of hoping to get to the 40 point mark, we now have a Manager who exudes positivity from every pore in his body. The players have continued to gain more and more confidence because of this positivity. And it is funny, isn't it, that over the last few months of last season and during the break, the fans have now bought into this positivity and are all (well, the majority!!!) feeling POSITIVE!!!

Don't knock it, enjoy it while you can.

In the words of the famous song re-penned by myself last year,
"We share the dream, and sing with one voice - I am, you are, we're Evertonians"

Matthew Roberts
26 Posted 01/08/2014 at 17:54:24
I certainly love the optimism around us at the moment, the best squad IÂ’ve ever seen us have, and the most excited about young players IÂ’ve been.. but I just want to reiterate what others having been saying and we shouldnÂ’t get carried away, we have to remember that getting 5th would still be a big achievement.

Chelsea and Man City are certains for the top 4 for me, and Arsenal have bought Sanchez and have an incredible midfield; the Redshite are an unexpected force this season, though I donÂ’t think theyÂ’ll be as good as last season.

Man Utd will have less games than us to worry about so we should be careful of them, they still have a strike force of Mata, Rooney and RvP. Spurs for once have a decent manager; also those flops of last season may be their heroes this season. I just hope if we donÂ’t quite hit top 4 this season that fans donÂ’t start jumping on Bobby’s back.

Colin Glassar
27 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:11:38
Let's just hope that Luis Enrique has a successful couple of seasons.
Chris Funk
28 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:11:02
Like many, I think predictions are dubious at this stage, and 3rd is a bit too far of a reach.

Here's what I like, however:

We've pulled ourselves up into a mini-league just behind a given season's elite teams. In this mini-league we've got Tottenham, and another couple teams from the perennial 'elites' who are having a relatively lackluster season.

I don't think we can challenge (for the title -- not in individual matches) whichever 2-3 teams emerge as the strongest title contenders from the group of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd, and, to a lesser extent, Liverpool. However, there are usually only 2-3 teams that play at that elite level throughout the course of the season, and we're now in a position to battle it out with the other 2-3 teams for the last Champions League place, and the other European places.

Effectively, I think we're ensconced in a seven team mini-league, albeit toward the mid- to lower end of that league: Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton, Tottenham, Liverpool. 2-3 of those teams will go on and challenge for the title -- we won't be one of them, but we can sure battle it out with the rest. We may end up bottom of that league (7th) in a given year, or fifth, fourth, sixth, but 1-3 are tremendously unlikely until we take the next step.

But, this was a step that had to happen. We had to transition from mid-table mediocrity, with potential to make European places if the season worked out just so, to a team that was constructed to challenge for European places on an annual basis. I think we've done that. It doesn't guarantee 4th or 5th place finishes every year, but I think it puts us clearly in the mix.

Colin Metcalfe
29 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:17:17
After all the fanfare of the last couple of days it will be interesting what Arouna Kone will be thinking about the season ahead ? The few minutes we did see him last season he didn't really perform and me and a few others thought RM has bought a dud ! However I am sure he will have a point to prove this coming season and RM rates him , you never know if he stays fit he could well prove to be a good addition to the squad and chip in with his fair share of goals .

Paul Andrews
30 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:43:22
Colin,

Given the fee we paid for Kone I would consider 12 goals to be a decent return.

Dick Brady
31 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:25:14
I am very happy with the permanent transfer of Lukaku and I think Besic could be a useful player too. But essentially we haven't really strengthened the team as such. We have the same team except for Besic instead of Deulofeu.

Liverpool have lost Suarez but have added near 𧴜 million worth of talent and similarly Chelsea have lost Luiz but have added players like Costa and Fabregas.

Arsenal haven't lost any players but have added Sanchez and Debuchy. Man City have added Fernando and I expect more to follow while Man Utd are undoubtedly stronger with the signings of Herrera and Shaw.

So in my opinion Chelsea are stronger, Arsenal are stronger, Man City are slightly better, Man Utd are stronger and the jury is out on Liverpool.

I don't think Everton have strengthen (we had Lukaku & Barry last season) and I can't see Besic instead of Deulofeu changing much. I don't want to say we are standing still but we certainly haven't strengthened the team as much as our rivals.

But on the other hand I expect young players like Barkley, Lukaku and Stones is grow in stature and hopefully the team will improve as they develop.

Jamie Crowley
32 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:49:46
I agree we need to calm down with the expectations a bit.

Unfortunately, I see Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, and Man U ahead of us. The first 3 look just quality. Man U, with their fat-headed Dutch manager will be much better this season. Precisely down to the fact that the fat-headed Dutchman knows what the hell he's doing IMO. I think he's gonna be one hell of a manager.

I think we're in from 5th to 7th between us, rs, and Spurs.

One thing's for certain - it's going to be a very exciting season. I think we can get top 4, but it's gonna be a monumental task this year.

And Bobby is just fucking gold. It's gonna be a wild, entertaining, fun ride all the way through May.

Jay Harris
33 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:57:19
I know we all hate them with a vengeance but lets be honest you would have to accept that the RS have a much stronger squad than us.
They did just as well without Suarez last season and have strengthened their defence which was their big weakness last season.

Chelsea and Man City have enormous quality throughout their squads and Arsenal have added quality too.

That for me is the top 4 sorted and its between us, Man U and Spurs for 5th.

Despite not being in Europe I believe it will be a transitional season for Van Gaal but I do expect Pocchetino to do better at Spurs (who only finished 3 points behind us last season).

So its going to be a really competitive and demanding season
and despite the optimism going around I am not building my expectations up too highly.

I have a feeling we will go all out in the Europa league which I think I am right in saying if we win it we qualify for CL.

Mark Taylor
34 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:58:29
Last year we finished 5th. Our current squad is basically the same, with Besic instead of Delboy. I struggle to understand the logic of how that takes us to 3rd unless the other sides around us are weaker. Without going into the detail, that clearly isn't true, all have added net strength. Moreover, we have the additional challenge of the EL, which will stretch a squad that was clearly somewhat light last year, even without that extra competition.

One could claim we have players who will be fit this year who weren't last year. True, but there will no doubt be new long term injuries, and maybe some who matter more than Kone or Gibson or Alcaraz or Hibbert.

One could claim our younger players will benefit from being a year older and more experienced. True, but I'm not sure our key older players, like Distin, Osman, Peanuts, can claim the same.

I think we will probably finish 6th, 7th or 8th unless our board have some serious tricks up their sleeves.

In fact, I've suggested that this year, it might just be worth accepting a poor PL performance and giving the EL our full attention. I think we have a good enough squad to avoid relegation, while our first team is good enough to win the EL, which this year, means you're in the CL. To me, it looks like a more viable route to that holy grail than the league.

Mike Hughes
35 Posted 01/08/2014 at 18:59:58
I agree we need to reign in expectations.
So we won't win it. But will finish 3rd or 4th.
My top 6.

1. Chelski
2. City
3. Everton
4. The Arse (we were so close to these last season and should have been ahead of them - and they were top of the league longer than any other side last season).
5. Utd (they can't be any worse than last season)
6. The shite (they can be any better than last season)

If you can't dream now, when can you dream? As someone else pointed out on here, let's hope the 40 point target days are well and truly behind us. What do you think RM is telling the players - 5th or 6th will be phenomenal? I don't think so and 5th / 6th doesn't excite me at all. Is it so much more difficult for us than for Athletico Madrid?

Paul Andrews
36 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:27:27
Jay,

What players from Liverpool would you say would get in our team, who would they displace and in what positions? I know you said Â’squadÂ’, but just interested.

Dick Brady
38 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:34:05
We finished 5th last season and I think all the teams above us have stronger squads while we have exactly the same (Besic for Deulofeu is the only change). What makes everyone think we will suddenly finish higher than the likes of Arsenal (who now have Sanchez) and Liverpool (who have spent nearly 𧴜 million)?
Kevin Tully
39 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:34:32
Barring injuries, I expect Barkley, McCarthy, Lukaku and Mirallas to improve on last season's performances. In that respect, I think we will be stronger. Don't underestimate how difficult it is playing in a side who are changing their style so dramatically.

Desperately hoping for a European final personally, winning it would be a dream come true.

Patrick Murphy
40 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:37:38
The only caveat I would put into my earlier post is that we have continuity which is a vital part of the grind of the Premier League, It's OK suggesting that Spurs will improve or that United don't have Europe and they will obviously improve but the points tally wasn't down to those sides being poor it was due to Everton getting more points than they had in previous PL campaigns.

Also don't underestimate the attraction of Old Big Ears to our neighbours or indeed to City so yes we might have more of a chance in one way but it will still take some effort and performances to realise the dream. But I wouldn't totally write off our chances and I also don't buy into the idea that these particular clubs are automatically entitled to finish in the top 6 places because they spent more money than the rest of the league.

David Hallwood
41 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:41:46
You can dream but I donÂ’t think there are enough goals in midfield. ItÂ’s all very well having a 20 goal a season striker, but a team needs 30 from midfield and for the defence to chip in a few as well, which Coleman/Baines supplied last season, so for me Miralles, Barkley et al need to be in double figures.
Mike Hughes
42 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:39:59
Dick -

I take your point but squad stability with emerging youth must count for something. Not only that but RM's completely different outlook / style of play and management approach have moved us on a level from the previous regime in only one season. We also have smashed our transfer record and now have a striker to potentially rank alongside - Bob Latchford, Gary Lineker et all (note - potentially).

Yes it could all go tits up - second season syndrome, injuries etc - but if all the excitement and expectation that people can muster before the season's started is for a pragmatic 6th / 7th finish then I don't get that mentality (except in the context of being perennial relegation fodder or mid table mediocrity which we no longer are.)

By the way, if splashing the cash was always a formula for success, Spurs and Newcastle would be extending their trophy rooms now.

Dick Brady
43 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:41:25
I will say if Stones, Barkley & Lukaku continue to develop we will be stronger. (The reverse of this though is that the older players like Osman, Distin & Barry might struggle to sustain their high standards).

If Pienaar, McGeady and Mirallas can find consistant form we will be stronger.

If Gibson, Kone & Oviedo can overcome their injuries and contribute the team we will be stronger.

And if the likes of Coleman, Baines and McCarthy can find another level we will be stronger.

Brian Harrison
44 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:45:45
We would obviously love to finish in the top 4 but I think that will be a tall order. I think Chelsea have really strengthened and when you think that they came close last year without a striker, so I think them and City will again fight it out for the top spot. I also think Arsenal have bought well and may well challenge the top 2.

So for me it is 4 clubs chasing 4th, us Liverpool,Man utd and Spurs.
You have to think that Man Utd will be better than last season and with no European games to worry about I make them favourites for 4th. Although Liverpool have added players with Suarez gone and Champions league to play in I cant see them making top 4 either.

I am sure we will give it a good go and RM has got his main transfer targets signed so unlike last season we arent playing catch up.

Dick Brady
45 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:52:40
For every developing young player (Stones, Barkley, Lukaku) who might contribute more next season there is an aging player (Distin, Osman, Barry) who might contribute less next season.

For every player who might find form next season (Pienaar, Mirallas, McGeady) there is a player who could sadly lose form.

And for every player returning from injury (Kone, Gibson, Oviedo) there is the potential for other players to get injured.

So its very hard to say if we will be stronger of weaker next season. Lets just hope for the best.

Mark Taylor
46 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:52:41
Mike42

I hope for the players, the sky is the limit- and as someone else said, Atletico is a good proxy for what so called second tier sides can achieve- but as a supporter, I always find that realism prevents disappointment. Personally I'd sooner be pleasantly surprised (as last season) than let down.

David Ellis
47 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:07:39
Who knows? I would not obsess about other teams getting stronger with their new additions. Football teams are not the sum of their parts. What matters is whether they click as a team, if the team has confidence, if the manager is respected, how they react to set backs, how much they will play for each other , squad balance etc. I think we will score well on these factors.

Assuming a couple more additions before the window closes we will be a bit stronger than a year ago. Most importantly we will have cover in the defensive midfield position, last season after Gibson was injured we only had two players and I think they just ran out of steam towards the end.

We will certainly be in the mix between 8th and 4th (usually one mid table team pops into the top 7 mini league) third is not out of the question, but things would have to go our way.

Mike Hughes
48 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:06:19
Mark -
Fair point. But it's still a bit Moyes-esque in outlook.
I'm fed-up with the status quo of best of the rest or punching above our weight and so on.
None of the supporters of 'Sky 4' clubs will be expecting anything less than CL.
What I like about RM is him changing our outlook to the same as theirs.
While it's a massive challenge, I genuinely believe right now that we can break into the top 4 this season.
(And I'm not on medication or boozed-up.)

P.S. 84-85 - we went from 7th to winning it. OK times have changed etc but still ...... so have EFC by the looks of it.

Sam Hoare
49 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:12:20
As others have said we essentially have the same squad as last year where our rivals have strengthened.

Anything can happen but we will need great luck on our side and two or more of our rivals to underperform in the way that Man U did last season.

I expect Chelsea and City to slug it out for 1st with Arsenal not that far behind if they don't get the bad injury luck of last season. Us, RS, manyoo and Spurs will likely battle it out for 4th and we will do very well to beat two let alone all three of those teams. But no harm in hoping.

Darren Hind
50 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:23:02
Yes absolutely we can storm the top table.

The key word is improvement.

The Mancs have enjoyed years of success, by having teams built on top class center halves, can they improve enough with Evans, Smalling (and the lighthouse whose name escapes me) minding the shop? No chance.

Can the shite improve without rat boy? No chance

Will Costa embrace the 90 minute hard labour Jose will demand every week and can Drogba or lady boy turn back
the clock and weigh in with enough goals, Can John Terry improve? No Chance.

I expect City and Arsenal to be strong and Pocchetino will not be long in turning all the talented misfits Levy bought last year into a cohesive unit . . .but we are the ones with REAL scope for improvement.

Stones will improve. Barkley will improve. Seamus will improve.Mirallas will improve. Lukaku will improve. Macca will improve . . . FFs Even our arl geriatric goalie has decided to improve.

our players grasp of the system will improve.

Our confidence and belief will improve.

While we've seen the best of Wenger,,Jose, Pelegrini and Van Gaal, Our boy will improve

Of course we have a chance, we have a briiliant chance.

The Manager, The Players may be pretty much the same as last year, but theyll be better, of course they'll be better

Chris Funk
51 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:09:44
Mark (46) - I agree. I'd rather set realistic expectations and be happily surprised if we exceed them. The maximum likely range, I think, probably is 3rd-9th, with 6th being most likely. If we repeat 5th with a good European showing, I'll be very happy.
Raymond Fox
52 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:58:56
Too much expectation can lead to unnecessary disappointment , then we start to get on the managers and players backs which is counter productive.

Don't forget we have the Europa games, which I can only see making our Prem. League task more difficult.

We are short a top class attacking midfielder without a doubt, if we could get one we would then have a team to compete with the very best.

Lets wait to see what the end of the transfer window brings,
but I'm sure we are now in a far better position as a club than we were at this time last year.

Lets enjoy the games, its going to be a very interesting and exciting season for certain.
At the moment I'd say top 4 unlikely, top 6 good chance of, top 8 very likely to, my guess is 6th.

Chris Funk
53 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:31:01
Mike (48) - I think there is one key difference between what's being said and that kind of pervasive negativity is that I wouldn't say that we shouldn't dream of 3rd or 4th, or refuse to set our sights that high. Rather, just be slightly realistic that the next step in our club's development is being a serious challenger for 4th every year -- not a serious challenger for 1st who'll expect better than 4th as a consolation (like City, Arsenal, Chelsea, etc.). I expect a serious challenge for 4th/5th next year, and that is a step up in expectation level, even if I think our most probable final position will be closer to 6th.

Again, the clubs that assume CL football each year are the clubs that challenge for 1st and accept > 4th as a consolation. We're not quite there yet.

Steve Woods
54 Posted 01/08/2014 at 19:47:03
Like some others, my feeling is that Champions League football next year is more likely/possible by us winning the Europa League.

As wonderful as that would be, does anyone know if our "nearest and dearest" were to finish fourth in the EPL, would they then have to give way to us as winners of the Europa and so drop out of the CL in 2015?

Patrick Murphy
55 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:47:48
I don't know the answer to your question Steve but a showdown with our neighbours in the Europa League could be a strong possibility.
Graham Mockford
56 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:42:36
I think if we studied TW posts over the last 15 years expectation is at the highest it has ever been. Besic,Barry and Lukaku signed on the back of our best season in all that time.And it looks like more to come.

This morning my postman delivered me a nice refund from HRMC. Two Peoples Club season tickets just purchased.

Roll on August

Mike Hughes
57 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:41:44
I understand the sentiments and logic regarding too much expectation. It makes sense.

I'm not saying we go out shouting our mouths off like kopites about what we're going to do. Leave that to them.

It's time to move up a level and a very uncharacteristic 㿈m investment suggests that the board believe this is also the case.

I really don't think they'd have done that with an expectation of status quo being maintained.

Doesn't mean it will happen, of course, but given that we broke the top 4 in 2005 with arguably a less robust / talented side than what we have now, I think it is on.

Sean Kelly
58 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:58:39
I think we need to have a bit of patience to get to 3rd. Maybe not this season but if we continue to overhaul the squad at this rate then I donÂ’t see any reason why we canÂ’t in 2015-16.
We currently need a play maker in midfield a couple if centre backs and another decent striker. We will also need a decent back up keeper to keep the pressure on Timmy.
IÂ’m more optimistic than IÂ’ve been for a long time about the start of a new season but letÂ’s just get behind them from the start and if the results go our way in the tough start we have then maybe billy will get the cheque book out again even if itÂ’s for loanees.
Gerald Foo
59 Posted 01/08/2014 at 21:11:41
If we're looking to make an immediate step up, we could do a lot worse than bringing in Mathieu Valbuena. He might be 28/29 but he seems to be available for 7/8m as he's looking to leave his club.

Was probably France's most creative player at the WC and is still very very fast, technically adept, and will provide us the spark we need.

Kevin Tully
60 Posted 01/08/2014 at 20:59:53
The manager and a few players have said our aim is Champions League football. So even if we don't make it, we as supporters should all give them our full backing and at least expect a challenge.

I'm a firm believer in setting high standards for the players, the manager and the board. If we all sit on our hands and accept mid-table mediocrity, that's what we will be served, make no mistake.

Please, no more mention of our past relegation scraps as an excuse, the last fella got a free ride on the back of that one.

We are an established top 6 club, no matter what the other clubs are spending. I would hate to think any manager gave a team talk pointing out how much Spurs, or the shite had spent, so neither should we. It's 11 v 11, and no-one has gone and bought a team full of Ronaldo's - just mainly overpriced foreign players. How many times have these big signings flopped? it's on!

David Chait
61 Posted 01/08/2014 at 21:34:46
I was thinking.. Milner would be a grand signing. We were linked last year but nothing this year. No one seems to have any hopes for McGeady unfortunately .. Milner would be excellent in our side and would feed Lukaku nicely .
Patrick Murphy
62 Posted 01/08/2014 at 21:54:56
Just when we thought we had seen the back of him, BBC reports that Fat Frank is on his way to Man City on loan from New York City FC I bet he gets at least one against us when we play them.
Tony Doran
63 Posted 01/08/2014 at 21:48:34
The next biggest signing we need is a player called Mental Winning. ItÂ’s about going into a game expecting to win and confidence to attack from the off knowing you have a solid defence. To many single goals wins over the last few years. The teams that finished above us regulary beat teams by 3-4 goals. Tha next step is a mental one and I think Roberto is the man to install this.
Damian Braithwaite
64 Posted 01/08/2014 at 22:04:36
David 61, good shout on James Milner he's only 28 and although he's not very fast he puts in solid displays and like Gareth Barry has tons of experience and a winning mentality.
Barry Tickle
65 Posted 01/08/2014 at 22:18:54
That little midget fella who played for France in the world cup, seemed to set up loadÂ’s of chanceÂ’s, last I heard he was in advanced talks with QPR, surely he would be gettable.
Geoffrey Caveney
66 Posted 01/08/2014 at 22:03:36
I agree with Kevin (60), I think the other clubs have bought an awful lot of overpriced players. I'm not convinced at all, for example, that Arsenal will be better this season than they were last season. So they added a couple "stars". Anyone better than Arshavin appeared to be when he came to the league? I think not, and we know how he worked out with them.

I see only one team that was consistently excellent year in and year out over the past 20 years, and that was Man U. under Ferguson. And correct me if I'm wrong, but they began with a core group of young players that they brought up themselves, and only added outside stars to the core they had in place. I don't see Arsenal or the RS or the Spurs or today's Man U. doing that. I don't think Everton has to fear any of them or look at them as superiors.

Eric Holland
67 Posted 01/08/2014 at 22:51:44
Andrea Pirlo could fit in for a season or two,
Now that would be a creative midfielder for Ross to learn from!!!
James Flynn
70 Posted 01/08/2014 at 22:59:36
Who knows?

Is:

ManCity the best team in the league this year?

LFC 2nd best?

Chelsea third best?

Arsenal 4th best? (closest to a lock on this one)

Everton 5th best? Here I say no. Everton Football Club is poised to break the "glass ceiling" for several, reasons. Every reason, um, . . . . . . . . reasonable.

1. Roberto is settled as manager for the first Big Club he's managed. Respect to Swansea City and Wigan Athletic. But, neither are Everton.

2. Roberto is building from a platform of true professional footballers who bought into his approach (a lot faster than guys like me watching the first several games last season).

3. The last minute-of-the-window pairing of Barry and McCarthy worked out well. This season? Even better.

4. Ross Barkley, at 20-years of age, was a regular for a Top-4 challenging Side. Did great/OK/not bad/shit. Expect the last two of those opinions gone this season.

5. Lukaku. Mourinho, all salutations and genuflections to you; you brilliant, arroganttothepointofstupidity genius.
The sky's the limit with Lukaku. For the first time in the Prem, the youngster is in camp with the same set of teammates under the same manager. Good times for Evertonians.

6. Injuries - Unavoidable. But a reprieve from Lady Luck would be nice. Speaking of injuries:

7. Gibson. In general, players at his position, enter their prime at the age he is now. So, Lady Luck, I ask you: Please, please (dropping to my knees like James Brown), PLEASE go easy on Gibson's legs. If he can stay healthy, play regular? One of the clubs finished ahead of us last season needs to shift.

Steve Durham
71 Posted 02/08/2014 at 00:07:24
Robert Elstone nutting the vicar
Harold Matthews
72 Posted 02/08/2014 at 01:20:38
No idea where we will finish next season. Chelsea look strongest with City close behind. Arsenal will improve and if Sterling manages to stay fit, the RS will have a good year. They are also backed by the Fenway Group who will demand the title. Spurs are loaded with talent and are much better organised under their new boss. Palace, who hammered us last season, have strengthened considerably. Man Utd. without Euro commitments will be a force to be reckoned with and the likes of Stoke, Sunderland, Newcastle, Hull and West Ham will take points from teams at the top end.

As for Everton. If we can get forward with fewer passes, score more goals, stop crosses into our box and defend set pieces, we would, of course, finish in a very high position. Yes indeed, that "if" is a mighty word.

Steve Durham
73 Posted 02/08/2014 at 03:30:46
Barry Horne and John Ebbrell winning the mixed doubles
Peter Barry
74 Posted 02/08/2014 at 04:49:25
Lots of 'Chickens counting' in this article.
Matthew Williams
75 Posted 02/08/2014 at 07:54:09
I love the optimism but realistically it’s going to be tough to finish 5th again. Man Utd are definitely going to improve and I suspect Spurs will be much better this season.

A lot will depend on injuries for us. We are going to need Lukaku to stay fit for most of the season and Kone has to come back and prove himself.

Our first XI is as good as most teams but it’s the injuries, loss of form, and suspensions which will most likely cost us again.

Peter Jamieson
76 Posted 02/08/2014 at 08:13:26
We're playing for 5th, with an outside chance of 4th
Peter Barry
77 Posted 02/08/2014 at 08:46:34
The RS have bought too many players is team work which makes you successful and changing too many players at once does not give them time to gel. Of course I might be wrong and if I works then of course clubs like Chelski and Al Man Citeh would just buy a new team every year
Paul Andrews
78 Posted 02/08/2014 at 08:50:52
Peter Barry,

Good point, I posted the same a couple of weeks ago.

They came within 1 mistake from winning the league and he is ripping the team up?

Chris James
79 Posted 02/08/2014 at 09:25:06
Everton are stronger certainly. We have Barry + Lukaku not just committed but also with a season under their belt and some pre-season, we have a new international midfielder in Besic and a trio of first team players returning from injury plus a couple of youngsters coming through. We’ll also likely have 1 or 2 more before the season starts (pick 2 from Atsu, Henen, Galloway, Guadardo).

We’ve got a good team spirit and, crucially I think, a settled team who know exactly how the manager wants them to play and will work as a unit from day 1 (continuity of manager and players was one of the key elements behind Utd’s success and to an extent our own).

By stark contrast Liverpool appear to be doing a spurs and trying to replace 1 world class player with a host of less good ones (although they aren’t done yet - they have cash still and I wouldn’t be amazed if someone like Bony signed on). This isn’t to say it won’t work better here than in North London and there are some good players (Sterling, Sturridge and Llallana in the mix) plus the nucleus of a side that went close for the title. However, I suspect the need for new players to settle, the lack of Suarez and the challenge of Champions League will leave Liverpool struggling more in the league - top 6 certainly and top 4 challengers but not nailed on.

City are settled champions with a couple of new signings and Aguero back fit so I’d expect them to be top 2 again (although much will depend on whether Yaya can hit the same heights this year). I’d expect Chelsea, who were already strong but have signed 3 world class players, to go one step further this year and win the trophy. Fabregas, Costa and Drogba between them will get the goals that Torres and Eto’o couldn’t manage and with the likes of Hazard, Oscar and Schurle in midfield they could be fiersome. I’m certainly hoping we catch them before they really start to click.

Assuming Chelsea and City are favourites for 1-2, and Liverpool are expected to finish 4-6, then our other obvious rivals are Arsenal and Utd.

I don’t agree with the OP that Arsenal aren’t stronger, the arrival of Sanchez adds more attacking bite and the ability to start with fit again Ramsey, Wilshire and Oxlade-Chamberlain (albeit not Walcott) as options alongside Cazorla, Ozil and Arteta mean that Giroud will have more ammunition. The return of the pacy Campbell who looked pretty good in the World Cup is also a boon and I’d expect 1-2 more signings. Most importantly they finally managed to break their hoodoo and win a trophy last year which leads me to suspect they’ll be challenging for the top slots.

Which leaves us with Utd. An utter shambles without direction, motivation and all weaknesses exposed last season, we really can’t expect the same again. For all of Van Gaal’s claims his target will be top 4 at the very least. With a couple of decent new signings bolstering defence and midfield, a brand new shape that seems better suited to their front players and a truly world class manager (minus the distraction of European football) I see Utd as our main challengers for 4th (above Liverpool).

On the periphery of all this are Spurs and to be honest no-one knows what to expect from them. They have a better manager who can make differences quickly and who knows how to build strong defence but plays attacking football. They also have a decent number of good players and IF they could be aligned into a team could be a contender for the CL places.

No doubt the rest of the PL will throw up a couple of surprises who make an impressive showing early on, although looking at it coldly it’s hard to see who these could be this year. Of the teams that showed well in recent years Southampton have been gutted, Newcastle are all over the place and Swansea lost their way meaning that you end up looking at Stoke or Palace as best of rest!!

Add this all together and we’re looking again at 7 teams vying for (likely) 6 European spots and 4 CL places.
Of these my gut feeling is that we have enough to finish above Spurs and a ’second season’ Liverpool side who for some reason I just feel will struggle more this time, so I’’d have these 2 in 6-7 with City and Chelsea out of reach in 1-2.

So the question we return to is can we really compete/overcome Arsenal and/or Utd over a season? If we start well and have some luck with injuries I think we can compete certainly but even with a strong first team and some good back-ups I think we have to admit that they both have stronger squads (transfermarkt values their teams at 3x ours for instance http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/jumplist/startseite/wettbewerb/GB1), so it’ll be down to team spirit and Martinez trickery to even the score.

Harold Matthews
80 Posted 02/08/2014 at 10:18:55
Peter Barry / Paul. Yes. Great point. Made me chuckle.
Phil Walling
81 Posted 02/08/2014 at 10:14:18
Building on the 'if' world, if Roberto can guide this squad into the top four let alone three, he will be a bloody miracle worker !

Most posts on this thread focus on how Everton have strengthened by being the same. I endorse that view believing that 'owned' players bring a different mindset to those on loan.

However, the Top Four have already invested heavily in improving and none of those clubs' managers are dolts - even Brenda !
I think we can stay ahead of change absorbed Spurs and suspect the arrogant Vanman has a bigger job on his hands than he realises. But man for man and with the Thursday night diversion to be factored in, I doubt we shall trouble 'the monied ones'.

For certain, we'll cause a few shocks but suspect that with not much in reserve, we could well run out of steam a long way before the finishing line.

Yair Kaye
82 Posted 02/08/2014 at 10:50:30
I donÂ’t think weÂ’ll see a top 4 finish this year. Although we have first XI to match any team on a given day, we still donÂ’t have strength in depth. Especially we donÂ’t have enough top options up front, in attacking midfield as well as with strikers, and we will feel it more than last season due to our involvement in Europe.

Injuries will definitely occur – they always do.

I repeat what I wrote here before – a place in the Champions League justifies getting busy with European football, since it brings big money indeed and enables strengthening the squad dramatically. Playing in the Europa League will, I’m afraid, cost us not getting 4th. I wish I will be proven wrong.

Iain Love
83 Posted 02/08/2014 at 12:15:22
Last season we where 5th best , include Besic exclude Del boy, not much difference. Taking europe into account probably worse.
Utd will be better under Van Gal , Arsenal minus injuries and plus Sanchez will be better, Liverpool will miss Ratboy, Spurs have replaced their statistically best manager ?????? and will be worse.
I'd say that puts us 5th.
Mick MacManus
84 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:05:19
The first 10 games or so will give us a good indication of where we will stand among our peers. Our run in at the end of the season, on paper looks 'easy', so we we are steady through the season, there's a chance to power on!

All managers get testing periods, we just don't know when Martinez's will come and how he'll come through it. That'll be the real test. Mid-table mediocrity is our biggest fear. It is far too early to make lofty predictions or write off other strong teams.

Colin Glassar
85 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:05:03
My first team XI would be:
Howard
Coleman
Jags
Distin
Baines
Mirallas
McCarthy
Barkley
Pienaar
Naismith
Lukaku

Second XI:

Robles
Hibbo
Stones
Duffy
Garbutt
Atsu
Besic
Ossie
Oviedo
Mcgeady
Kone

That's the strongest we've been for years.

Chris Williams
86 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:21:38
Colin,

No Barry? But you're spot on, it is looking very strong, with the likes of Alcaraz and presumably another centre forward, as well as a few youngsters hopefully pushing on, we might surprise ourselves.

Hang on, what's that?

Oh that's right, it's optimism. I'd forgotten all about that.

Kev Johnson
87 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:17:45
Good summary, Chris (79).

Disagree that Drogba is a world class player at this point in his career, but I'm with you on Fabregas and Costa. For me, Sanchez to Arsenal is the best transfer of the window; he is a terrific player and will do really well for then. Giroud? He's a dead loss - the more ammunition you give him, the more he'll shoot himself in the foot. Unfortunately, I'm convinced Van Gaal with grab United's players by the balls and drag them into contention. It might take a little time, though.

Predicting league placing is pretty pointless right now, but I expect us to operating be in the same zone as last season - ie, 4th-8th.

Colin - you've left Barry out of both of your teams! WTF?

Eric Holland
88 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:27:23
My first team XI would be:
Howard
Coleman
Jag's
Distin
Baines
Barry
McCarthy/Besic
Barkley
Atsu
Mirallas/Kone
Lukaku
Peter Z Jones
89 Posted 02/08/2014 at 12:47:27
Liverpool has done exactly what Spurs did last season. Sell the Bugatti. Replace with 6-8 Acuras (Eriksen was probably a Ferrari but you follow what I'm saying). I'd be shocked if they finish better than 6th. The core of Southampton was only good for a distant 8th anyway, so I'm not sure how that improves them. United will be a force IF they sign Vidal. But I can't help but looking at how defensively frail they will be without bringing in one world class center half. Smalling, Jones, and Evans is really poor by any of the top 7s standards and will leave them vulnerable, regardless of how great the manager is. I agree with the general consensus on here that Chelsea, City, and Arsenal are probably the elite this season, leaving us to scrap for 4th again, which I'm fine with. Where I think we have the edge on United, Spurs, and Liverpool is in our previously mentioned continuity and potential to improve. So much of our core is centered around youth and if they make strides, the league better watch out. Our closest competitors buy finished products that are what they are generally. In Barkley, Lukaku, Besic, McCarthy, Coleman, Stones, and Oviedo we have huge amounts of talent that can grow exponentially if nurtured properly. The other squads don't have this quality because of their short term view towards football. Martinez is just the man for this job and I fully understand the optimism surrounding the team. It has depth. It has youthful exuberance. It has experience. It has tactical flexibility. It has a great manager in charge. I can think of more reasons for why we can make top 4 than why we can't.
Eric Holland
90 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:34:13
PS
I have heard we are in the hunt to bring Delboy back.
Brent Stephens
91 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:37:00
Peter Z Jones #89. That analysis gets the juices flowing! So positive.

Is your third forename "Cars"?

Raymond Fox
92 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:24:52
Phil W 81, its not often we agree but I think your summary is very close to the mark!

Without the Europa I could fancy us to give the top 4 comp. a real run at, but I fear the diversion of the extra games will take the edge off our challenge in the Prem.

I'm very optimistic for the future though, and I believe the quality of our squad will increase year on year as long as Martinez is manager.

Peter Bell
93 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:27:23
Colin @ 85
Do you think Gibson is going to be injured all season or you just don't rate him ?
Peter Z Jones
94 Posted 02/08/2014 at 13:46:53
Nice Brent :)
Mike Hughes
95 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:00:08
I see we've signed Galloway from MK Dons today.
Undisclosed fee.
Straight into U21's.
Disappointed Colin Glassar never picked up on this :)


Mike Childs
96 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:30:50
Love it and totally agree with the last sentence of your analysis Peter Z. In fact I agree with the entire analysis. While Van Gaal is obviously an excellent manager United have done nothing to improve their sieve at the back or their midfield. Yes they have WC attacking talent but RVP older more injury prone same for Rooney who's also likely to pout because LVG isn't Moyes.
Steve Barr
97 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:34:01
As much as I'm buoyed by our recent acquisitions, realistically we need another striker to ensure we can kick on and finish higher than last season and hopefully lift some silverware! Particularly with Europa football added to the season.

I was really impressed with Naismith's showing last season but in reality he only started a few Premier League matches last season and scored once as a central striker. Mirallas was also tried a couple of times at striker but is clearly a much better threat as a right-sided attacking player. Can't rely on Arouna Kone and Traore.

We do have some good young uns we can try out more frequently such as Chris Long, Conor McAleny and Hallam Hope but another proven striker will surely all but complete the puzzle.

COYBs

Peter Z Jones
98 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:44:08
Glad we're on the same wavelength Mr. Childs! The only thing I'm relatively certain of is that this will be an even closer race for the top 4 than last year. Can't wait for the season to begin. It's shaping up to be truly epic. I think this is the year I make the pilgrimage to Goodison Park from the US! Maybe a cheeky European night in the away stands in some dilapidated ground in the middle of nowhere as well? COYB
Mark Frere
99 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:47:09
Colin, I don't think Naismith warrants a place in our best starting 11. Yes he's come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so but he lacks the technical ability compared with most of our players. I actually think he's best used as an impact sub because he's good at observing the game and knows where to find space when he comes on.

I don't know if it was intentional but you left Barry, Gibson, and Oviedo completely out of your line-ups. I'm probably in the minority here but I think Gibson is a quality player (when fit). He might not have an engine like McCarthy but he does possess a good range of passing and is a good option to have.

Oviedo proved he was more capable of deputising for Baines when needed... and can also play in midfield.

We have plenty of depth already and hopefully Martinez isn't finished in the transfer market; a creative midfielder and another striker would just complete the squad nicely.

Lets remember, we suffered with terrible injuries last season and started the season slowly with 3 draws... it was a season where the players were getting used to Martinez's change in football philosophy. This squad is virtually the same as last years and has had a year to get used to Martinez's methods... players such Barkley and Stones have gained more experience, so I think we could shock a few of our closest rivals... and finish 3rd.

My first team XI would be:

Howard
Coleman Jags Distin Baines
McCarthy Barry
Mirallas Barkley Pienaar
Lukaku

My second XI would be:

Stanek
Hibbert Stones Alcaraz Oviedo
Gibson Besic
Mcgeady Osman Astu
Kone

Subs: Robles Garbutt Galloway Duffy Naismith

Ray Roche
100 Posted 02/08/2014 at 14:57:59
Some posters on TW are of the opinion that we should play the youngsters in the Europa League to give them experience. I don't agree. Personally, I think we have a better chance of getting CL football next season by WINNING the Europa, consequently, we should go all out to win it. City, Chelsea, maybe Arsenal, or the RS , United if they get their game together, even Spurs, all have at least as much potential as we do and will be fighting for the top 4 places. Go for it. If we do well in the Prem, great, but let's try for some silverware that is possibly more attainable.
Geoffrey Caveney
101 Posted 02/08/2014 at 15:24:59
Ray (100) I see your point, but focusing on the Europa above the PL is risky. Put it this way: Would you be willing to play Robles or Stanek as keeper in league games, to save Howard for the Europa matches? That's a hard one to swallow. The Europa is all or nothing: We could have a fantastic run but lose the final and get no CL and a poor 7th in the league or worse.

The best thing for us might be to get knocked out of the Europa quickly, so we can focus on the league. We will see what Roberto really thinks of the Europa by his choice of goalkeeper.

I'm still not sold on Arsenal's greatness. We'll see. Last season Arsenal won 21 of their 26 matches vs. the "bottom 13", tops in the league. We only won 17 of those matches. We have more room to improve and I think we will. For Arsenal to improve they will have to beat more top teams, a tall order. If Sanchez is Player of the Year, they could win the league. If Sanchez does not gel with the team or the team does not gel with him, they could finish 4th or 5th.

Jim Knightley
102 Posted 02/08/2014 at 15:46:25
I think the idea of us being the 3rd best in the league is..beyond absurd. I'm extremely happy with the summer acquisitions on permanent deals, but as it stands, our squad is not stronger than last season in terms of personnel (although the younger players are older), whilst we have Europa League to contend with. Arsenal, who still finished 7? points above us last season, and suffered from terrible injury luck, have added one of the very best wide players in the world to their team. Chelski and City, needless to say, are beyond us, whilst Liverpool, who I believe are weaker this season, will nonetheless have added 100mil worth of talent before the season begins. United were artificially low last season, because Moyes lost it a little, and will be strengthened by the acquisitions of Herrera and Shaw, will have Mata from the start, and will not have European football to contend with. I believe we will finish sixth or seventh next season, because of Europa League football, unless we manage to add the top quality creative midfield we need and get lucky with injuries. I believe that describing us as a realistic bet for third, is about as realistic a claim as those who thought England could lift the World Cup.

I think we must aim for Champions League football, but will full short. I want to see silverware this season, and think that our team can achieve that. 3rd is out of the question, because those above us boast players with incredible quality in reserve, have world class consistent quality (Barkley and Mirallas offer flashes but no consistency) and are used to balancing European and league football. I feel that we could close on Liverpool, but I see Arsenal, Chelski and City finishing just as far away as last season, whilst I fear a United renaissance under the superior management of Van Gaal.

Phil Walling
103 Posted 02/08/2014 at 16:10:29
'Let's remember we suffered with terrible injuries last season.' What's to say we wont do so in the coming campaign? And are we the only club to suffer thus?

Basing any prediction whilst factoring in the injury quotient is speculation at its wildest !

Phil Walling
104 Posted 02/08/2014 at 16:28:50
I don't think I'm the only one who thinks we shall soon be out of ANY competition in which Robles is the selected goalie !
Mark Frere
105 Posted 02/08/2014 at 16:29:00
Phil, of course there's no guarantee that we won't suffer the same amount of catastrophic injuries that we did last season, but one would hope we might get a little luckier this season... its called being optimistic; you aught to try it once in a while!
Phil Walling
107 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:02:53
My point is that every club has their share of injuries but every club's speccies believe ill-fortune only strikes their own team.
Darren Hind
109 Posted 02/08/2014 at 16:31:44
I was kinda hoping the excuse factory would close for a couple of weeks this summed,but its clearly not happening.

"Everyone has spent more" . "we've got Europa league to contend with" . "we're not ready yet" . "we'll get injuries" . . Dear me it makes for depressing reading. What next ? will we be playing against the wind every week?

I've been critical of Martinez in the past, but fuck me the guy has his work cut out trying to rid this club of its inferiority complex.

You don't pay 28m for a striker to finish 6-7th, You can do
that by getting a croc like Saha on the cheap.

Whether the expectation dampeners like it or not, Martinez - fair play to him - has thrown our hat into the ring, he has declared us top four contenders and by smashing the club record he is showing the courage of his convictions.

We are not asking for "miracles, nor being "unrealistic" The hole of football knows we have a talented group of players and are very real contenders.

The difference betweeen Gobshites and Evertonians is they don't care who thinks they are delusional, they still think they"ll win everything . . half of our fans don't even dare to dream.

Brian Denton
110 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:15:32
Darren (109). Good post.
Colin Glassar
111 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:14:48
Darren, I think Roberto is well on the way to ridding any inferiority complex the club might've had left. The former regime(s) has been well and truly cleaned out of GP and theres now an air of optimism around the club. Now the fans need to hold their heads high, puff out their chests and stick up two fingers to the rest of the world and say, We are Everton and we are proud!!!
Jim Knightley
112 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:08:40
I would argue that our injuries were not that particularly awful last season, given who they impacted the most. Kone was a backup to Lukaku, Gibson is inferior to Barry and McCarthy and Oviedo, although impressive, was not a regular starter. Similarly, Traore was not important to the first 11, although he would have offered needed backup. I would go so far as to say that, as far as our first eleven was concerned, our injury luck was the best in the entire league. With the added pressures of Europa League football next season, and the uncertainty of luck, I think it is likely that we will lose more first team players to injury for longer periods. That said, our squad is healthier than in the past, and I fell that we could lose a player in certain positions without dropping our standard considerably (left back and cb for instance). But, that said, I do not feel that we can adequately replace Mirallas when he is injured, or Barkley, or Coleman or Howard.
Patrick Murphy
113 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:22:24
Darren it is inevitable that the fans are cautious as there have many false dawns during the last quarter of a century and some of those 'dawns' have turned into living nightmares. However, I do agree with your sentiment that if the fans want it enough they can play a huge role in the coming season.

I have often mentioned that Everton FC are at their best when the fans and the team are on the same wavelength and the atmosphere created can be enough to have experienced opposition pros wilting and for our players to reach incredible heights.

Nobody knows how things will work out in the coming season and that is the beauty of the game - but whatever happens it is bound to be full of incident and excitement and we all hope not too much disappointment. COYB let's give it a real go this time around.

Mike Hughes
114 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:25:14
Darren - yep ... pretty much echoes my own comments from earlier on. I'm not sure it's entirely an inferiority complex though. Some people (the minority thankfully) will have a negative perspective and a whinge no matter what the news.

Mark Frere
115 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:36:36
Jim, are you forgetting the injuries to Baines, Barkley, Deulofeu, Distin, Jags, Alcaraz, Pienaar and of course Lukaku? So much momentum was lost by injuries last season.

"our injury luck was the best in the entire league."

Absolute drivel!

Mike Hughes
116 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:32:54
Just to sound ancient, back in the 70's there used to be football magazines / annuals with league ladders in them. They were gimmicky cardboard cut-out things you could reassemble every week. At around this time of the year, you'd buy one and dream about how high Everton would finish. (I'd like to point out I was a kid at that time, by the way).

It was not unrealistic to position us at or close to the top and there was definitely an excitement and anticipation to the new season.

This is the first time in ages I have had that feeling of positioning Everton for a real challenge. It may not work out as we plan but if you can't be positive / optimistic given the past year and having just broken our transfer record by some margin, then there's something wrong.

Patrick Murphy
117 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:42:36
Mike I've still got one from 1984-85 complete with the graph that showed the progress over the season - I was a slightly over-grown kid at that time - missus thinks I still remain that way.
Raymond Fox
118 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:35:56
Get off the lads back Phil, our mate Robles won the cup with Wigan and played in every round.

He conceded only 2 goals in the 7 matches including nil-ling
us and Man C in the final making some cracking saves!

Tony Draper
119 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:28:42
Darren @ 109

Brian & Colin (The Prophet) are right, yours is a really good post and as Evertonians we simply must bgin to think as you are.

And to prove it I'll use a very dark chapter in our history to illustrate why.

"The Wimbledon Game".
In the week before that fixture our "cheeky neighbours" were wetting their pants with the prospect of us slipping through the trapdoor.

The ramifications were simply unthinkable.

So, I decided that if I capitulated I was gunna get at least 53 weeks of sheer torment. Plus, I'd always know that I'd bottled out.

But !
If I stood my ground and we pulled off "The Great Escape", those spineless glory hunters would soon bugger off !

So despite what "The Undead" were whispering in my ears I gave it loads, and just laughed in their faces when they tried it on......and true to form they were nowhere to be found when we succeeded.

But, have I learned to stick to that line of reason ?
NO !

Roberto is encouraging us all to think and act with that singleminded confidence "We Will Succeed".
He really doesn't show the slightest shadow of doubt that we will succeed, not at all.
He regularly reminds whoever is in earshot just how great our Everton heritage really is.

So, surely, if we gave credence to his predecessors "Dads Army" philosophy, it just must be easier & more productive to adopt Roberto's positive approach ?

There, I've said it now, so no turning back.

I'm up for it.

Mike Hughes
120 Posted 02/08/2014 at 17:51:06
Patrick #117 -
I suppose league ladders were around for a while - perhaps into the 90's. I forgot about the progress chart as well. I might check at the newsagents when I walk our Dixie a bit later (!)
Holy crap - 48 years old and I'll be collecting football player Panini (?) stickers next and doing swaps.

Dennis Ng
121 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:02:40
First team wise, I think we can be world beaters. The problem remains with depth. It's 38 games and then you have cup games. But I like the optimism we have now. If we don't try to win, we'll never win.
Brian Denton
122 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:09:50
AND I got birthday best wishes today from Roberto - okay, it was via a link to a Youtube clip which I suspect wasn't made just for me - but I never ever got one from Moyes. Miserable git.
Mike Hughes
123 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:15:08
Congratulations, Brian.
However, just a YouTube clip?
He sent me a cake and a gift voucher as well.
Colin Glassar
124 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:14:28
As a kid I used to use those league ladders but I'd predict the results by throwing a dice and every season, without fail, Everton would win the league.
Brian Denton
125 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:17:10
It's the thought that counts. Roberto cares. If Moyes were to send a gift voucher you can be fairly sure it would be past its redemption date.
Mike Hughes
126 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:36:16
To be fair, it is quite classy of RM to do that.
And in-keeping with his outlook and persona.
Jim Knightley
127 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:13:06
Mark Frere..can you read?

'I would go so far as to say that, as far as our first eleven was concerned, our injury luck was the best in the entire league.'

I didn't say our injury luck was the best in the league, I said it in relation to the first 11. It may have been an exaggeration, but I would state that our injury luck last season, in terms of our first eleven, is as good as we can expect.

Of course we had injuries to others, although picking on players that we not in the first 11 ignores my point (Again..read my post properly).

Last season, I would argue that our first 11 was:
Howard (37 appearances)
Baines (32 appearances)
Distin (33)
Jags (26)
Coleman (36)
Barry (32/35)
McCarthy (34/35)
Pienaar (23)
Barkley (34)
Mirallas (32)
Lukaku (31/35)

Our most injury absence was therefore Pienaar, who was still available for 23 out of 38 matches, and who I believe was the least important of those players in terms of what he contributed last season.

Now let me ask you a question: Do you think that we had bad luck in terms of injuries to our first 11? And how many/which top 10 sides lost first 11 players for less time than we did (I say top 10, because top 10 are relevant to us in terms of quality, and more than that would necessitate too much research. I look forward to your answers.

Drew O'Neall
128 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:21:48
As others have stated, we aren't much better (or different for that matter) player for player than last season.

What is aparrent to me is we are at a point, financially and statistically, with Man U and Spurs adrift and the shite losing their best player, where stretching ourselves to make a big push this season might prove worth a calculated risk.

We were at the same point a few years ago where splurging on a big name could have delivered CL football and we didn't go for it, I suspect we have the funds and, knowing what I do about our manager, if there is a chance to risk it all and go for it, he will.

I expect at least one more big signing - a game changer.

Jim Knightley
129 Posted 02/08/2014 at 18:43:16
(Obviously appearances stats ignore selection choices..but that is a necessary problem)
Jim Lloyd
132 Posted 04/08/2014 at 08:42:08
I think we will be challenging to get in the top six regularly now. And we will be challenging in a way that is stylish and hungry. Whether we can get a top four place depends on how each season pans out. With the money our competitors are spending, and will continue to spend, I don't see us as a regular top four team.

I think there will be times that some of the other 5 or 6, will falter and we'll be there breathing down their necks.

In 2 or 3 seasons time, as long as we can keep Robbie and the players we have already, then I think we will be even more stylish and a more complete squad.

So I'll never say never but the odds are stacked in favour of those with mega bucks.

Mike Green
133 Posted 04/08/2014 at 09:18:29
On paper.....

Top 3 - Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal.

Next 4 - Man Utd, Everton, Spurs, LFC.

Man Utd have got the likes of RVP, Rooney, Mata, Herrera, just need to sort their defence out. They will be a different proposition this year, as will Spurs. Liverpool will also be in amongst it, they may have lost Suarez but last season will have rejuvenated their belief that they are 'contenders' once more - a belief which will more than adequately be pushed by Rodgers and the media.

If we want to consider ourselves as genuine Top 4 material we need to develop a much sharper cutting edge, we're very good at keeping possession now, just not good enough at capitalising on it.

I predict 5th again with a major tilt at one of the Cups.

Jarrod O'Neill
134 Posted 04/08/2014 at 09:56:16
We are going to have to be more creative/better in the goals department. What worries me a bit is I can count I think 4-5 games last year we won from amazing free-kicks from Barkley, Baines and Mirallas. We need some more open play goals. I'm very excited for this season and watching Besic, he looks a right character.
Simon George
135 Posted 04/08/2014 at 12:19:21
We are top 7 yes. No way are we the 3rd best... we have potential to be there for sure, but we can't say that's where we should expect to finish.

To continue the form of last season would be a massive achievement, let's not forget that. But just as we can beat anyone on our day, so can we lose to almost anyone on a bad day too.

Richard Harris
136 Posted 04/08/2014 at 12:39:28
League Ladders, Shoot magazine, simpler times isn't it, two wingers, 2-3-5 formation, small boys playing in the park after school, jumpers for goalposts, Bradford Park Avenue, rattles, knitted scarves and bobble-hats, World of Sport, applause for a good goal by the opposition, marvellous isn't it.....
Geoffrey Caveney
137 Posted 04/08/2014 at 22:43:53
As a counter-point to my OP, here is a perspective that ignores us completely:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2148628-predicting-the-top-three-in-each-of-europes-10-biggest-leagues/page/2

Article says: "That leaves Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool vying for third and fourth." Doesn't even mention Everton. And this is after we signed Lukaku.

This kind of annoying article is exactly why I wrote my post, to counter it. As Darren (109) said so well: "You don't pay 28m for a striker to finish 6-7th, You can do that by getting a croc like Saha on the cheap."

Dave Abrahams
138 Posted 05/08/2014 at 20:24:46
Most probably we will not but I for one am not bothered. I am happy that IÂ’m looking forward to the new season. ItÂ’s a pleasure to go to Goodison now after 11 years with Glum from Glasgow... itÂ’s great to be really entertained by Sunny from Spain. He can make Everton great again, given time.
Steven Telford
139 Posted 07/08/2014 at 22:59:41
This time last year, we were all a bit apprehensive, the new boss having to settle, and our expectations were surpassed. And now what, a bust of (yet to be rationalised) exuberance.

Come on, we all wish well, and the potential is there, but keep your feet on the ground boys. Top 4 in the EPL is a tall order when you have to consider that (at least) 2 of those 4 spots are bought and paid for.


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