Everton’s stuttering pre-season continues with a trip to the seaside and a meeting with Championship Blackpool on Sunday.
I know we are not meant to read too much into friendly results but two defeats from two, with six goals conceded and none scored from their US tour has raised the anxiety levels among the fanbase.
The performance in the 4-0 defeat to Minnesota was particularly grim, with Everton’s crumbling midfield repeatedly exposing a porous backline. Lessons of last season have not been learned, prompting an angry response from manager Frank Lampard after the game.
Lampard wants to revert to a more forward-thinking, pressing game after the defensive, direct pragmatism employed during the final weeks of last campaign. But on this showing he will not be able to do so without some fresh faces.
Which brings us to the next issue, transfers.
James Tarkowski is the only new signing so far while there is still a Richarlison-sized hole in the front line. It means that with two weeks to go until the season starts Everton are weaker than they were at the end of the last campaign.
There are no end of rumours of course but it seems the Toffees’ perilous finances are hampering negotiations, which will likely mean we will have to wait until the end of the window before we can get them over the line.
On the flip side we should be pleased that the era of over-spending on ageing players is over. Kevin Thelwell is looking to extract as much value as possible from the market and that means reaching an agreement will take longer.
That said, with five games scheduled before the transfer deadline the Toffees cannot afford write off the opening weeks while they wait to bring players in.
Only Everton could stress out their fanbase before the season has even started.
What will help of course is a couple of decent performances between now and the Chelsea game, with Dynamo Kiev the visitors to Goodison in Everton’s final pre-season game next Friday.
Things have certainly not been dull for Blackpool since their relegation from the Premier League. The Seasisders dropped all the way down to League Two before slowly crawling their way back up to the Championship last season.
The turbulent and controversial Owen Oyston era also came to close in 2019 after 32 years, with Blackpool-born businessman Simon Sadler purchasing a 96.2% stake in the club.
They suffered a blow over the summer though when highly-rated manager Neil Critchley resigned to become Steven Gerrard’s number two at Aston Villa, with Michael Appleton returning for a second spell in charge.
Their pre-season results have largely gone as expected, with wins over Salford City and Southport book-ending defeats by Rangers and Leeds.
There could also be three former Toffees on show at Bloomfield Road. Luke Garbutt joined the Tangerines following his release by Everton in 2020, with Callum Connolly and Josh Bowler moving from Goodison Park the following year.
Blackpool 3-3 Everton – August 20, 2020
It is a decade since the last competitive meeting between the sides – a 2-0 FA Cup fifth round victory for the Toffees at Goodison Park in February 2012. But you only have to go back two years for the last friendly meeting, a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at Bloomfield Road. Everton found themselves 3-0 down inside 11 minutes, though Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header and a double from Gylfi Sigurdsson sparing Toffees blushes.
It is important to remember this is only pre-season and fitness is the main driver of these games, but boy would a win be good to calm the nerves. Blackpool are slightly ahead of Everton in terms of preparation as their season starts next week, but that will not be much of an excuse if the Blues fail to secure some sort of result.