The disappointing 2014/15 campaign is now getting further and further away from us, but the lessons learned should stay fresh in our minds as we look forward to this coming season. Fans were so excited about the arrival of Romelu Lukaku and eventually Samuel Eto'o that it was easy to forget how many other areas of the team were left unaddressed. Many of those issues still remain such to this day and Roberto Martinez and company will need to look for answers in the transfer market if the team look to finish higher in the table.
This season's foray into the Europa League exposed a massive issue that Everton will need to address if they wish to be competitive in Europe moving forward. The lack of depth and especially quality depth reared its ugly head whenever the Toffees were playing a league game on the heels of a Europa League clash. The likes of Antolin Alcaraz and Arouna Kone proved to be lacking and when the injury bug hit, the squad was left without quality players throughout the squad. Even though Everton won't be playing in Europe next year, there needs to be a focus on bringing in squad players that are capable of filling in the gaps when players need a rest or go down injured.
The three players that played the bulk of the minutes in Everton's midfield were Ross Barkley, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy and none of them are playmakers. Barkley may be a powerful and aggressive attacking option but neither he, nor the two defensive midfielders seem overly capable of making a great pass to play one of the attackers in behind the defense. Too often it seemed that Everton's attackers were left running at the defense or pumping in crosses from the wings. In a system that is supposed to be based on possession, there seems to be no one on this team that can play a great ball in the attacking third. Barkley may be that player someday, but for now, Everton need a true number 10 on this squad.
John Stones was fantastic this past season and Phil Jagielka improved after a shaky start and won the Everton Player of the Year award. Stones and Jagielka formed a fantastic partnership and despite Jagielka's age, he still looks like he has a few good years left. With that being said, there is a lack of depth behind the two incumbent starters now that Sylvain Distin and Alcaraz are gone. Muhamed Besic is capable of playing center back and Brendan Galloway or Tyias Browning could also fill in, but none of those options are ideal. Everton will likely need to look elsewhere to improve upon their lacking defense.
Tim Howard has been fantastic for Everton over the course of his time with the club, but this last season put a lot of doubts in the heads of supporters. As he gets closer to 40 there will be questions about his long term viability and when the team should look to groom his replacement. Some would say that we have that in Joel Robles, but I remain unconvinced by Joel due to the inconsistency of his play and a small sample size in which to judge him. It would be wise to keep an eye toward the future and start grooming the future keeper sooner rather than later.