The 2013-14 season is over. For any follower of Everton, the year has been exciting and the finish proved that the Everton faithful can place their dreams closer to finishing in the top four in the future than hoping for finishing in the top half of the table. While many of Everton’s key players from the season are now returning to the club they were loaned from, a strong base and even stronger manager have been put in place to ensure that success from their location in England does not have to be wearing red. In order for Everton to continue proving their worth to the best in England, let us see what they need to do this summer.
The goal for Roberto Martinez’s men will not change from the goal they set before realizing beating Manchester City would help Liverpool win the title: 4th place. As we have mentioned in earlier versions of The Dossier, many of the top-tier teams in England are only going to get stronger during the summer months and it seems unlikely that anyone will suffer a massive setback before the new season begins. Everton’s best hope will be similar luck in loan signings, some luck in the transfer market, another Aaron Ramsey injury, and some more luck from their top-4 competition.
The coach issue for Everton, unlike a few other teams we have profiled, is non-existent. Martinez has proven that David Moyes was not the main reason for Everton’s past success and that, with a proper manager and the proper mentality, this squad can really challenge everyone in England. The biggest ask for Martinez this summer will be to turn down any bigger offers that come around and to, somehow, find some talent in the transfer market equal to what he obtained through loans and transfers in the past season…if Martinez pulls a top-5 finish off again, bigger clubs WILL come courting.
Players that NEED to go - Sadly, for Everton, it might be more about players that they really need to STAY over players that they should be letting depart. It would not be the worst decision to let go of a few aging pieces if Everton are going to try and maintain their fight for the upper echelon of English football, but the Europa League will require them to still possess some semblance of depth this upcoming season. With more fixtures in the upcoming campaign than Everton have faced in a long time, letting players near the exit door might not be a true option.
Positions that NEED to be filled - Let it slowly sink in that several key players for Everton were actually loan signings. With that in mind, Everton need another central defender (Distin is fading at 36 years of age), a defensive midfielder (in the vein of Gareth Barry), a creative attacker (in the vein of Deulofeu), and a striker (preferably, in the exact shape, age, name, and form of Romelu Lukaku…although, I hear Drogba might be available!). Martinez will make fantastic lemonade with whatever lemons he is given, but I would love to see the product he provides if Everton snag another few high-caliber players.
The KEY to next season - Since we have already mentioned the massive importance of replacing his departing loan signings, we will turn our attention to Everton’s away form. Amassing fewer away victories than any of their top-7 compatriots in the last season, Everton must garner more 3-point visits to away grounds if they are going to push on from (or even maintain) 5th place. Plus, you cannot count on getting three points from the Old Trafford visit every season…
Surprise boost - Since Ross Barkley continuing to improve and impress is definitely not a “surprise,” then it is tough to accurately put a finger on what will give the Toffees a little extra “gas in the tank” in 14/15. However, one has to think that the mere taste of European football (even Europa League) to the fans at Goodison Park and to the players for Everton might push them to even greater heights. The lights can still shine brighter on Europa League nights, and that might be just the spark to create an even stronger fire within the club.
Everton will face an uphill battle to recreate their 2013/14 success…and an ever greater battle to improve upon it. However, if there is any club in England that it would be unwise to bet against at this point, it is Everton. Martinez seems to have lifted the club, the fans are truly behind the players, and a fantastic mix of youth and experience can be seen on the pitch every match day. If the summer window brings even a hint of success to Everton, the belief will only continue to grow.
Everton goal finish: 4th
Players purchased for more than $7.5 million: 1.5
Players sold: 2
New coach? Are you insane? Of course not!
How long until Martinez is offered a better job? If someone from a bigger club has not already sent out a feeler to Martinez’s agent, then a lot of clubs have made a mistake.