As we close out the 2018-19 season, we’re continuing our look back at the year that was, where Everton got it right and what areas need improvement.
Here we review three things that the club knocked it out of the park and should fill us with optimism for next season.
Excellent work in the transfer market
It’s interesting to think that only one season ago, Everton were spending obscene amounts of money in the transfer market only for it to go so poorly just a few months into the season. With those expensive mistakes weighing on the minds of majority shareowner Farhad Moshiri, the Board and newly installed Director of Football Marcel Brands, a different strategy was in order.
Most importantly, much of the dead weight from the Koeman and Martinez eras was cleared out throughout the summer and winter transfer windows. Players like Ashley Williams and Kevin Mirallas were sent away on loan, likely never to return, while high priced mistakes like Davy Klaassen was sold for a fraction of what the team paid for him. This freed up crucial money to go after a group of players that contributed in a massive way to this team. There’s still more to do there, but Brands is already showing he is no Steve Walsh.
There will be future articles that delve into the positives and negatives of each player, but Brands and manager Marco Silva brought in a fantastic group this summer consisting of: Richarlison, Lucas Digne, João Virginia, Bernard, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma on loan. Most of that group were stand out players at their positions this year and those that were not are likely to be in the future.
Things were not looking good for Marco Silva throughout the winter this season. Everton went through a putrid run of form during this time, losing nine matches from December to February and winning only three. Many thought this was yet another failed managerial hire and some were calling for Silva to get the boot.
While this stretch was by no means enjoyable for anyone to watch, Silva was able to turn things around in the latter stage of the year. In their last 11 matches Everton secured a clean sheet in eight of them. Three of those came in victories against top six sides, and save for two stinkers against Fulham and Newcastle, they were a very fun team to watch.
Silva certainly has the blueprint on how to handle the top six sides, it’s the bottom half teams that he needs to work out how to beat regularly. A deeper squad that he can trust will go a long way towards improving the squad rotation, preventing the mid-season slump that plagued the Blues when the temperatures dropped this season.
Lowering the squad average age
One of the biggest positives for Everton this year was the fact that they became less reliant on older players. The days of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines manning the back line for 30-plus games and Silva and Brands recognized that. In fact only two players aged 30 and over had more than ten appearances, Theo Walcott and Seamus Coleman.
Brands had made it very clear soon after his appointment that while he still valued experience, his goal was to ensure the core of the team was in the 25-28 year old age bracket.
There are a few like Gylfi Sigurdsson or Morgan Schneiderlin who are nearing their 30’s, but most of this club’s best players are in their early to mid-twenties. And most importantly, they’re almost all up to the challenge of playing week in and week out in the Premier League. The core of this team looks set to compete for years to come, and will likely get better with future transfer windows.