clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Everton Season Preview: Right-Back

New, comment

The Toffees got a dream season out of right-back Seamus Coleman last season. Can that production at the position be duplicated?

Seamus Coleman celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in last year's home fixture against Cardiff City.
Seamus Coleman celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in last year's home fixture against Cardiff City.
Clive Brunskill

Current Players:

Name

Age

Nationality

Key Stats

Seamus Coleman

25

Ireland

6 goals, 2 assists last season

Tony Hibbert

33

England

260 appearances in 14 seasons with Everton (his only club)

John Stones

20

England

26 appearances in all competitions last season

Key Departures and Arrivals:

There were no additions or subtractions at right back this off-season.

Returning Players:

Seamus Coleman: The Everton 2013/14 Player of the Season and PFA Team of the Season member was a wonderful revelation for the club last season. His six goals and two assists are perhaps an unfair representation to what a crucial part he played in the successes of last season. His attacking threat was constant, his pace was always on display, his control of the ball was sound, and his link-up play with Kevin Mirallas, as well as other right wingers, was sublime at times.

Defensively, Coleman had his strongest Premier League season as well. In a season when both the center-back and left-back positions suffered major injuries through the season, Coleman's constant presence was a huge boost. He appeared in 36 of 38 league matches, and was only booked three times. His defensive IQ was clearly at its highest last season, and his pace helps make up for any mental mistakes he commits.

Tony Hibbert: Hibbo fell victim to injury and Coleman's tremendous form last season, and ultimately only played in four matches in all competitions (one in the league), his lowest total appearances since his first season with the club in 2000-01.

Roberto Martinez has maintained that there is a place for Hibbert in the current Everton setup however, and at 33 years old, there should still be some football left in the Englishman's legs. Hibbert lacks the pace and attacking prowess often expected from full-backs in the modern game, but his defensive acuity and experience make him a valuable asset off the bench and in a bind.

John Stones: Stones is normally a center-back, but is a capable right-back as well, and appeared in that position for Everton last season. He has unusually impressive pace and skill on the ball for a player of his height, and as such is likely a better attacking right-back than Hibbert, even though it is not Stones' first position.

Certainly Stones will be discussed at much greater length in our center-back preview, but one question does surround him when thinking of him as a right-back. If Coleman is injured, should Stones start ahead of Hibbert at right-back?

Tactics:

If Martinez sticks with last season's 4-2-3-1 formation, an attacking burden does fall on both the right and left backs. Last season, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy sat deep in the midfield, playing as both distributors and stoppers. This alignment opens the door for the full-backs to push high up the pitch, linking up with wingers, making overlapping runs, and providing crosses.

With the team lacking some depth at wing (at least for now), Martinez will look for the full-backs to repeat last year's performances. At right-back, Coleman in particular will be asked to get up the pitch and give defenders headaches with his pace and crossing ability. As long as the holding midfielders continue to do a sound job of covering for Coleman and co. defensively on the break, there's no reason we cannot see the same production from the position this season.

Summary:

The right-back position should be a strength of this Everton team. I see no reason why Coleman's breakout season last year should not be a sign of things to come for the Irishman, and two capable back-ups are ready in case of injury or fatigue.

As mentioned above, the main question at right-back is who is number two behind Coleman? Martinez knows what he will get from the wily veteran Hibbert; he may not provide much in the way of offense, but he can certainly be trusted defensively. Stones remains more of a mystery. The 20-year-old hardly made a mistake at center-back last season, but lined up at right-back in January's fateful 4-0 loss at Anfield. Can he be trusted to defend adequately out of position?

Hopefully Everton will not have to answer these questions often, but with Coleman slated to miss the remainder of the preseason, there is a real possibility that he will not be ready for the season opener. If that is the case, we will soon have our answers.