With Everton starting off the new year with 3 points and moving to 9th in the table, it is time to take a look at what the future holds for Everton. Although it is a new year, the same old Everton exists. We have no money, a lack of creativity, and an inability to score enough goals. Still there is some hope, and here are the 9 things for Evertonians to look for during 2012.
1. Year of youth
Remember that kid Ross Barkley? How about Conor McAleny or Apostolos Vellios? All three have shown some great promise, and all three are 19 or younger. It is hard to remember a time when Everton had several young players who had such a high potential, and 2012 will finally be the year that these guys get a chance to shine. David Moyes has always tried to protect young players, some may argue he protects them too much, but with this talent his hand will be forced into letting them compete for playing time in a side that is crying out for some creativity. If you want to be excited just go watch Barkley's first few matches this season, the youth movement is coming, the only question is when.
2. Goodbye to Saha
Louis Saha arrived at Goodison with something to prove after a Manchester United stint marred by injury, and despite some success as well as injury, this will be the last season the Frenchman puts on an Everton shirt. Despite the lack of attacking options at Goodison this year, Saha has been extremely ineffective, and it is time for Everton to move on and try something else.
3. The end of an era
Phil Neville has been a staple at Goodison since arriving from Manchester United, taking over as captain when David Weir left. That is all set to end as it appears that Neville has finally succumb to age. Moyes has preferred Tony Hibbert at right back, and while Hibbert is a beloved figure, he is certainly not a top talent. Although Neville has a few years on his contract, I expect him to either be shown the door this summer, or else be told that his role with the club is changing, and the captain's armband will be his no longer.
4. Negative Moyes
One of the biggest criticisms of David Moyes in recent seasons has been his tactics which have been perceived as too negative by fans. Recent squad selections have only reinforced this belief, with players like Neville and Heitinga being slotted into central midfield. While both can play as a solid defensive midfielder, neither offers much going forward which has hurt the team at times. His insistence at playing a lone striker up top, along with an ineffective Cahill has not helped either. Expect these tactics to continue, but maybe we will get lucky and Moyes will switch to a more effective formation.
5. Kenwright Out
Bill Kenwright will finally leave Goodison Park this year, but it will not be of his own choosing. Although Everton will not be in danger of falling to administration, the banks will force Kenwright to accept an offer that covers the debt, but is below what he feels is good value for the club. Fireworks and celebrations will move around the world at this news.
6. Temptation of Moyes
Though no one may know for certain just how close Moyes came to moving to Aston Villa, it is certain another club will come calling once again. Many clubs are now surpassing Everton in the amount of money in the budget, and there is only so long Moyes can continue to have to sell players in order to buy new ones. Expect a club with some history and money to come calling, and it wouldn't be shocking if Moyes decides to make the jump if the right situation comes along
7. Cahill canned
Tim Cahill has been an icon at Goodison ever since his arrival. His hard-headed style along with his knack for aerial goals made him a staple in Moyes squads. Unfortunately the past year has not proved kind to Cahill. He was unable to find the back of the net in 2011, and for much of this season has looked almost out of his depth. Come summer Cahill will be relegated to the bench, or perhaps even sold if Moyes can find a buyer.
8. Billy leaves Goodison
The Russian may be David Moyes biggest failure in the transfer market, a 10 million pound move that never came to fruition. Billy never adapted to the EPL and often looks out of place in the squad. Part of this is being forced to play out on the left wing where he has never looked comfortable, and the rest is just due to his inability to play at such a fast pace. It would have been interesting to see Billy get a consistent start in the center of the park, but instead he will be catching the quickest train out of Liverpool this year.
9. The Unknown Star
Two years ago only the mos fanatical Evertonians would have known the name Seamus Coleman. Now he is almost an automatic starter when healthy, and his blistering pace and fearless attacks have given Everton a bit of balance to Leighton Baines down the left. This year we will see another unknown player become a star. Maybe it is someone already making the bench, but merely needing an opportunity, or it may be someone on the reserve squad who manages to impress Moyes. None the less expect a shocking face to grace Goodison with some magical moments this year, and bring smiles to everyone's face.