It would be fair to say that there was a whole host of question marks hanging over Goodison Park this time twelve months ago. The departure of David Moyes had rocked the Toffees and even though his successor, Roberto Martinez, arrived with a promising reputation, the jury was still out.
As it turns out, such fears were completely unnecessary. The club experienced a superb campaign and while it is always going to be unlikely to obtain low odds for a Toffees title, most bookies have them placed at seventh favourites for the forthcoming campaign which certainly isn’t too pessimistic.
What happened last season?
Roberto Martinez promised to deliver Champions League football to the Everton chairman when he was first appointed and based on that, one could argue that he failed his mission. However, the Toffees were completely rebranded during his opening campaign and they bettered their 2012/13 finish, with their final league position of 5th.
There were occasions that the club looked as though they could push into the top four, but they just couldn’t force themselves over the edge. They still managed to qualify for the Europa League and if nothing else, played a much more fluid blend of football.
Has it been a busy summer?
One of the main reasons for Everton’s success last term was because of on loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku. As well as managing sixteen goals last season, his physical style of play became an integral feature of Everton’s game although the main feeling was that he would return to his parent club and go straight into their first team this year. Fortunately for fans, on this occasion the Toffees board pulled out all the stops to lure the 21-year-old to the club on a permanent deal. They spent the bulk of their summer budget, no less than £28m on his signature, and such a deal most certainly signals their intentions for the future.
While Lukaku was the main buy, they also managed to tie up another loan player from last year on a permanent contract. Despite his aging years, Gareth Barry impressed immensely in the middle of the park and arrived from Manchester City on a free transfer. It will also be interesting to see how Bosnia and Herzegovina midfielder Muhamed Besic fairs at Goodison Park, following his undisclosed switch from Ferencváros. Having represented his country at the World Cup, he already has plenty of experience on the big stage.
The intentions from the Everton board can be emphasised through their departures as well. They haven’t raised a single penny from players leaving the club, with all leaving on loan or as free agents. As such, Martinez has done nothing but strengthen his Toffees squad, which bodes incredibly well for this term.
What’s the prediction?
If there ever was a team who have put their money where their mouth is, at least when you analyse their financial capabilities, Everton fall into this category. The Toffees have splashed the cash like no previous campaign and their squad is unquestionably stronger than at this point last term. You could argue that they have lost other loan players such as Gerard Deulofeu, but on the whole Martinez has strengthened and the Toffees will prove to be a good bet this time around.
Of course, being a good bet is something, but being a top four challenger is something else. Unfortunately, despite their spending, the Goodison Park outfit are still light-years behind their rivals. They are not the only club to have invested heavily in their squad this term and there are at least five clubs who hold stronger squads on paper. Therefore, our tip is for the club to consolidate last season’s finish of 5th, and continue to build for the future. Based on their financial clout in the Premier League, some pessimists might suggest that this is the absolute maximum they can achieve anyway.