Manager: Roberto Martinez
Upsides: Roberto Martinez has inherited a solid Everton squad, and has added three familiar faces in Joel, Alcaraz and Kone who all played underneath him at Wigan last year. A series of tough pre-season friendlies against the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid have left the Toffees primed for the start of the season. Better yet, Nikica Jelavic has been in some excellent form – giving supporters hope that he can re-create his heroics from the 11-12 season.
Downsides: Chairman Bill Kenwright revealed after the appointment of Martinez that the Spaniard has promised to deliver Champions League football to Goodison Park. The problem is that, while they have an excellent squad, there are depth problems in a few areas of the park – particularly centre midfield – and some of the best performers over the last couple of seasons are starting to get on in years. Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Phil Jagielka are all on the wrong side of 30, and new recruits Alcaraz and Kone are 31 and 29 respectively. All of this says that this is a squad for now – not building for a few years time. So does Martinez really think he has the personnel to make an assault on the top 4? It’s a tough ask.
Ins: Gerard Deulofeu (FC Barcelona – Loan), Joel Robles (Atletico de Madrid), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic), Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic)
Outs: Conor McAleny (FC Brentford – Loan), Jan Mucha (Krylya Sovetov Samara), Thomas Hitzlsperger (Free), Jake Bidwell (FC Brentford), Phil Neville (Retired)
The Blog FC Predicts: 10th. David Moyes had an uncanny knack of getting the best out of his players. Martinez will struggle to emulate this, but Everton still have too much quality to drop out of the top half of the table.
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