After two seasons of unease, Everton faithful across the globe are certainly giddy with excitement as the Toffees prepare to play meaningful league soccer in April and May.
Battling for 6th, and the ability to skip the late July Europa League qualifiers and instead pickup the competition in September, there is plenty on the line heading into the last few matches of the season.
In the past few weeks there seems to have been a coming together of Everton fans as we prepare for what could easily be defined as a club-defining summer.
With this cohesive mentality and the desire to finish strong, the Toffees welcomed Leicester to town this past weekend
The return of Morgan Schneiderlin to the starting lineup against the Foxes over the weekend buoyed Everton’s efforts to continue their good form, and boy did he ever.
A resounding 4-2 victory (slight first half hiccups notwithstanding) allowed the Toffees to continue their STERLING 2017 home form.
How sterling, you ask?
26 - Everton have already scored more league goals at Goodison Park in 2017 (26 in 7 games) than in 2016 (25 in 18 games). Entertainment. pic.twitter.com/6YpEycIJl6— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 9, 2017
I actually didn’t believe that stat for fear it was an April Fools joke until I verified it myself.
Is there another stat that says more about the improvements the club has made in ONLY 10 months!!!
Not only has Koeman come in and done wonders as far as getting results go, he has done so in a fashion that leaves the fans thirsting for more, not exhausted from a harrowing 1-0 win or 1-1 draw.... ***cough*** Red Devils ***cough***
I am counting the days until the summer window opens and we all get a glimpse into the targets and priorities as identified by Ronald Koeman, Steve Walsh, and the rest of the Goodison decision makers.
Unfortunately, even in times of great joy there are battles to be fought.
If you were unaware, due to Watford having to make up a match against Chelsea, the Watford vs Everton match at Goodison has been moved from Saturday May 13th to Friday May 12th.
This may seem innocuous enough, but as it was the last home match of the season there were a large number of fans who had planned on gathering to celebrate the end of a very successful campaign.
With the change of date, however, there is at least one group of over 100 fans who have already confirmed their reservations for Saturday and now find themselves visiting Merseyside with no match to enjoy.
So let’s do it Everton fans!! Let’s start hitting up @Everton to make sure these fans get taken care of. They aren’t asking for anything more than a trip around the grounds.
Come on Toffees supporters, get to the Twitter airwaves and get @robbymad1 and his group the tour they deserve!
Let’s use the hastag.....#givethemthetour!!
Now, to your questions!!
If you weren’t aware, Besic started and played 45 minutes for the U23s in their 4-1 win over Tottenham earlier this week.
That is fantastic news for the young Bosnian midfielder and Everton fans alike.
Besic has been severely limited by injury in his Toffees career, but when he has found the pitch his surly demeanor and
willingness to enjoyment in serving up a crunching tackle has endeared him to the fans.
The question being posed now is, where does he fit?
To answer your immediate question, I do think he will get a run with the first team this year, as Koeman is a manager who rewards hard work and having taken him to Dubai he obviously has some interest in the Bosnian.
However, with Davies, Schneiderlin, Gueye, McCarthy, Barkley and Barry all currently manning the center of the park (in Barkley’s case he is currently a winger but he’s still a midfielder) does Besic stand any prospect of becoming a regular member of the squad?
(There is also a train of thought that Koeman will morph him into a full time right back but that is for another article.)
Well, I think the most telling thing will be what Everton decides to do with McCarthy. Never short of suitors, the fiery Irishman may have used up his last Toffee life when he attempted to play for Ireland while still injured.
If Everton decide to cash in on McCarthy, it signals that Koeman is willing to give Besic a chance to enter into the rotation, perhaps in a battle with Barry (he’ll be back) as the first sub off the bench for Gueye/ Schneiderlin/ Davies.
Of course, the other way this plays out (even if McCarthy is sold as I expect) is that Koeman goes out and gets another central midfielder, which isn’t a total stretch considering the amount of them we have been linked to.
With league, cup, and HOPEFULLY extensive European competition, there will be plenty of need for talented players.
Koeman has high hopes though and won’t wait around for Besic to rediscover his form. With the aforementioned trio roaming the midfield the Toffees are no longer short of bite in the center of the park.
If Besic is to become a regular member he will have to show the ability to diversify his game and be a ball winner AND ball player.
With all that said, here are the possibilities for Besic’s future and the likelihood I think they will happen:
McCarthy is sold, Besic becomes a rotational squad member. 50%
McCarthy stays, Besic goes out on loan 15%
McCarthy is sold, new CM brought in, Besic goes on loan 15%
Everyone stays, new CM brought in, Besic buried on chart 10%
Something totally crazy I haven’t even thought of 10%
Gunners be slipping
There is a chance for 6th place
The Toffees will rise
A little multimedia enjoyment!
Joel Robles' Instagram story with Tom Davies and Kevin Mirallas. pic.twitter.com/O8uJO3UP1F— Everton Blue Army (@EvertonBlueArmy) April 7, 2017
As excited as everyone is to see who will be brought in over the summer, less is being made of who should GO during the same window.
Now, that could be because Everton was ruthless in the late summer and January windows when they started to shed weight like a new divorcee.
Niasse, McGeady, Oviedo, Cleverley, and Gibson were just some of the names that were removed from the weekly wage bill.
In the case of Cleverley, his loan has already turned into a sale, with Everton earning a pretty transfer fee after signing the diminutive English midfielder on a free just a few seasons ago.
Even with Niasse lighting it up for Hull, I expect to see him sold off in the summer, recouping most of the ridiculous transfer fee Bobby Martinez and the Board paid for him just over a year ago.
As for who SHOULD go....
McCarthy needs to go because his priorities are out of whack.
Jagielka (or Williams) need to go so that we don’t have multiple mid-30’s aged center backs.
Enner Valencia should go because while his talents are great off the bench, he isn’t worth his 10 mil fee.
Funes Mori needs to go because he isn’t good enough.
Arouna Kone needs to go because it’s 2017 not 2007.
Joel Robles needs to go because he is nothing better than a mid-table backup.
While some of these seem harsh they are what is needed for the team to progress.
The debate about Jags reminds me of a scene from Little Big League, when the young manager desperately wants to hold onto his favorite player for nostalgic reasons. The ageing former team captain is hanging on for dear life.
The team legend is in quite the slump.
When the player (Jerry Johnson) eeks out a single, the young manager gets excited:
“ SEE! I told you Jerry still had it!”
But much like is needed in the Toffees locker room, the assistant brings the painful truth:
"Kid, don't you think there's a problem when you get
that excited over a seeing-eye single?"
That’s how I feel about Jagielka.
I’m not denying he can’t do the job as Premier League center back, but he can’t do it with the consistency necessary for our squad to reach their goals.
Sure, he played great against Leicester, but do you want to ask him to do that 30 times next season? I DON’T!!!
Additionally, if Koeman is so inclined to keep the Goodison vet around, I hope it is at the expense of Williams, who while more consistent than Jags, is showing many of the early signs of break down that we saw in Phil just a year ago.
It isn’t that I want to see either of them go, but I am pragmatic and Champions League sides simply don’t carry multiple center backs in their respective ages and conditions.
How Koeman handles this position will probably have more impact on the long term success of the squad than any other moves they make, Lukaku included.
Let the intrigue continue.....
PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK’S MAILBAG...WHO IS YOUR TEAM’S SPIRIT ANIMAL???