Everton had to fight tooth and nail to survive relegation in the 2021/22 season, and it was only in the second-to-last round of games that they were able to do that. This last campaign was not one of Toffees’ strongest to be sure, but with that said, the weaknesses of this squad were oftentimes glaring across this season - even with a new boss and fresh tactics. It is telling that Frank Lampard acknowledged that he had to modify his vision to a more pragmatic (aka basic) playing style with the squad he had available to him.
Injuries played their part as well in the entire mess, but there were three main areas that have seemed frustratingly shallow in depth for some time now. Now that the summer window is nearly upon us and the offseason is here, appraising this team at its most vulnerable and necessary - as well as its strongest - is very important for the future progress of this club.
The Blues clearly have issues - over the season they conceded nine more goals than in any other season this century, and the 43 goals scored is the fewest they have in any campaign also this century, although twice in the last five years they have only hit 44.
Forwards - particularly a reliable #9
When injuries ravaged Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s season, Everton only had Richarlison to use as the number nine, or to throw on Salomon Rondon. The former was very useful and positive as can be expected, while the latter was only a sight better than the rarely used backup striker of last season, Joshua King.
While the Toffees would love to keep both DCL and Richy, and there is definitely a chance for that, other teams will be calling and the financial pressures on the club plus the players’ ambitions might decide what will happen next. Either way, a really useful number nine will be necessary to ensure that Everton does not suffer goalless spells next season as they so often did during this previous campaign.
Youngsters Ellis Simms and Louis Dobbins would both be useful additions to the first team, and Frank Lampard does like to use academy players, but the Blues need to find an experienced striker with proven Premier League experience to come in and actually meaningfully contribute in a way that names like Rondon, King and Cenk Tosun have, time and time again, failed to.
Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray, meanwhile, are good out on the wings to be sure, but more talent and youth is needed there too; Andros Townsend played well before his own injury, but at 30 he is likely not in the long-term future plans of boss Frank Lampard.
Midfielders - a distinct lack of quality
If possession in the final third was an issue at times for the Toffees over the course of the previous season, then getting the team into that position wasn’t much easier either. The midfield play - another issue that has lingered with this club to varying degrees over the last several seasons - was not able to often enough put Everton into good scoring positions through positive, fluid, and attacking play.
Despite a number of highly-paid professionals in this area, there just is not enough quality depth beyond the obvious starters to consistently ensure that the defence is shielded while also sustaining enough possession to create attacking opportunities.
During the best moments of the Carlo Ancelotti Era, the Blues were scoring and the midfield play was positive and mature. We did not get to see much of that this season with James Rodriguez and Gylfi Sigurdsson not playing, but there was a flashback to those day when the team shone against Crystal Palace with the introduction at halftime of Dele Alli. The former Spurs talisman is a creative and brilliant player when he's on, and provided the spark the Blues needed at just the right time.
In the future, especially with Donny van de Beek likely returning to Manchester United under his former boss, the team will have to add another creative piece to the group that they already have. Andre Gomes has often flattered to deceive but simply cannot sustain the level of play required for the position in the Premier League. Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, despite their excellent workrate cannot be relied upon to provide creative impetus while Fabian Delph hasn’t been able to stay fit for more than a handful of games at a time.
Centre-Backs - more quality needed
Finally, centre-back play was not always strong for Everton last season either. Long absences from Yerry Mina hampered the lot, as did Ben Godfrey’s injury. In their places, both Mason Holgate and Michael Keane filled in to the best of their abilities - and often admirably contributed to positive results.
Yet they also were responsible for blunders at the back that left Jordan Pickford seething at times, and let the team down more often than not. As with most issues on this list, this is more a matter of depth than of quality players from the start. The Toffees have talent, but when that talent is unable to perform, the team often goes to bits; moving forward, there must be top tier talent across this squad, so that it can really flourish and sustain itself even when it is missing some names.
What are your thoughts? Any other weaknesses we might’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!