For those readers that browse the various Everton news sources, a big topic this week has been the multitude of injuries that Everton have suffered this season and how it affects the team. One of the main reasons these injuries have harmed the team so much is the lack of quality backups in key positions.
Granted, no amount of depth can make up for the quality that Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas bring to the squad, but there seem to be few players capable of stopping the bleeding that these early season injuries have caused.
Royal Blue Mersey did a season preview that thoroughly highlighted the squad for this current season, and I wrote a piece called squad weaknesses in which I discussed that the wings and fullback positions were an area of weakness for the squad. While the starters have not been the biggest issue to date, the players on the bench have been.
The center backs have been the players getting the majority of the blame for Everton's goal conceding issues (and rightfully so), the lack of options behind Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman have been an issue. Baines has been fantastic this season and has remained healthy. Coleman on the other hand has struggled with injury and the team has had trouble replacing his offensive contributions on the right side.
Let's face it, Tony Hibbert simply cannot replicate the offensive firepower that Coleman brings to the pitch and before his injury John Stones was a better center back than a right back. And with Stones out for the remainder of the calendar year, we will be seeing a lot of Tony Hibbert while Coleman looks to regain his fitness.
Behind Baines, there is Luke Garbutt and Bryan Ovideo. Garbutt impressed in preseason and is likely to be the primary backup to Baines with Ovideo undergoing surgery on his repaired leg. Everton rely so much on their fullbacks going forward that the absence of Coleman has hurt them.
Wing play has also been an issue for the club, not only with the starters but with the replacements as well. Steven Pienaar was impressive to begin the season, but has been unable to stay healthy in his time with Everton. Kevin Mirallas is dealing with a hamstring injury, and hamstring injuries tend to stick around for a while. Aiden McGeady has been good at times but has the tendency to dribble himself into a corner. Christian Atsu has plenty of time to impress and while his speed is amazing, his touch can fail him at times.
It is almost a given that during a season, players will be injured and a manager needs to be prepared for that. Everton have suffered a few more injuries than the average Premier League squad, but this team has nonetheless looked lackluster.
And despite the record signing of Romelu Lukaku, this team will never be like Manchester United and spend a small fortune on a shiny new midfield. Everton have always been a squad on a budget and this season is no different.
It just seems at times that Roberto Martinez failed to make all the necessary signings that the squad would need in a season featuring European competition. We were so excited about the arrival of Lukaku that some fans may have looked past the lack of other signings in the summer transfer window.
Everything written so far has been incredibly pessimistic, but there is still hope. There is quality on this team despite a very poor start to the season. However, those quality players are injured or underachieving. Something needs to change, whether it is a new lineup or formation, a senior player speaking up about the issues, or Martinez calling someone out to the press.