Pre-season and transfer woe the key behind Everton’s slow starts

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Everton manager David Moyes points during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Everton and Blackpool at Goodison Park on February 18, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

By Alex Fitzgerald

As we fans have become all too aware in recent years, Everton don't exactly start a Premier League season in winning ways.

The fact that we almost certainly start a season without a player either due to injury or because we have sold them and have failed to find a replacement doesn’t help.

However, this season has proved to me the spirit David Moyes still manages to instil in the players when the going is tough. He knows exactly what the team needs to break out of the doldrums.

But he still doesn’t know how to get the team firing from the off in August. Three seasons in a row now we have started off badly, with similar problems affecting the squad each year.

Starting with this season we began with a typically poor performance and defeat against a newbie to the league, Queens Park Rangers, before enduring another stuttering first half to the season.

Throughout the campaign the creativity in the side has been poor, and the main reason for that is the loss of the Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta to Arsenal. His departure in August has been pin-pointed as the reason for our lack of goal scoring opportunities.

Looking back upon the season of 2010-11, the Blues opened the campaign with a horror of a defeat to Blackburn at Ewood Park.

Week two of the season saw the first game at Goodison Park, where Wolverhampton Wanderers were the opponents. Again in this game we dropped points with a disappointing 1-1 draw in a game we controlled throughout.

However, this season the lack of early points wasn't all down to injuries or losing key players (although the injury to Yakubu may have contributed). I think it is that the teams we faced in our pre-season games where not beneficial in anyway to us at all.

We began our pre-season in Australia of all places! Is going all the way to Australia to play A-League sides any kind of work-out what so ever? My opinion was that touring Australia was a bad idea for more than one reason, the climate, the long journey time as well as the quality of the opposition being a few.

Our clean sweep of all three of the Oz teams we face proved that they were no match for us and I can't see the benefit.

My final reason I feel it was wrong to tour down under is with the money-less climate we faced ourselves with then and still now, any deal that may have happened involving a player on the tour may have been jeopardised. This also goes for the (rare) case of any player coming into the club.

In that pre-season I believe the one team, that gave us the greatest benefit Wolfsburg, to whom we fell to a 1-0 defeat.

Finally now, a look back on the season of 2009-10 where I feel a massive part of our bad start was that of the Joleon Lescott saga, this indefinitely impacted upon the rest of the team as we prepared for our opening games of the season.

We started our season against Arsenal at Goodison who you may remember destroyed us in all areas of the pitch with a 6-1 drubbing. At the final whistle Lescott paraded the pitch waving to the Goodison crowd who by this point, were frustrated, and embarrassed.

Sure enough Lescott, who David Moyes had valiantly battled to keep at Goodison Park, soon departed the club.

Fast forwarding to this season again and as well as the departure of Arteta the general lack of financial investment in the team caused the side to become stale.

But then looking at the promising position we find ourselves in at the moment, it shows how much the money that was spent in January has lifted the players, fans and also inspired our otherwise struggling manager David Moyes.

The F.A Cup this year is more needed than it was back in 2009, not only for the dusty trophy cabinet but also for the money it will bring us and advertisement it will give to other potential investors, which in turn could help us have a successful pre-season.

So a tip for the boss – credible pre-season opposition and transfer business done early and our early season woes should be over!


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