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Everton 2022/23 Season Preview: Fullbacks

Will the performances of Mykolenko and Patterson prove to be crucial for Everton’s upcoming season?

Blackpool v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images


Stats: 2021/22 Everton Fullbacks

Player: Games Goals Assists YCs RCs Tackles+Interceptions/90 Blocks/90 Key Passes/90 Minutes:
Player: Games Goals Assists YCs RCs Tackles+Interceptions/90 Blocks/90 Key Passes/90 Minutes:
Vitaliy Mykolenko 16 1 0 1 0 4.4 2.9 0.7 1,306'
Seamus Coleman 34 1 1 4 0 4.2 2.0 0.4 2,969'
Jonjoe Kenny 21 0 3 1 1 4.6 1.5 1.0 1,424'
Lucas Digne 15 1 0 4 0 5.1 2.2 1.5 1,276'


The expectations of Everton’s fullbacks changed dramatically throughout the course of last season, not only due to the change of personnel which saw a certain French left-back replaced by a certain one from Ukraine but also due to the change in system and formation that Frank Lampard implemented upon his appointment as manager.

As a result of this, it became painfully obvious the entire season that the Toffees desperately needed a replacement for the ever-aging Seamus Coleman, but January addition Nathan Patterson’s season was ended by injury before he even stepped foot on the pitch in the Premier League. We saw a lot more of Jonjoe Kenny and Ben Godfrey deputizing either the left or right than we ever bargained for. Overall, the fullback position was one of many weaknesses in the squad throughout the course of the season as players adjusted to the demands of the wingback position Lampard’s conservative 5-4-1/3-4-3 required.

Everton v Dynamo Kyiv - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Current Players

Vitaliy Mykolenko

As previously mentioned, Vitaliy Mykolenko quickly established his place in Frank Lampard’s XI after his arrival in January, but the fact that Everton had no other first-team quality left-backs on their books probably contributed a bit to that. Regardless, his performances were instrumental in Everton’s late-season resurrection, as he contributed massively in defense, but also in attack, most notably through the Everton Goal of the Season winner he scored in a crucial 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium. The Ukrainian has the position all but locked down going into the new season.

Niels Nkounkou

Fresh off his loan spell at Standard Liege in Belgium, it appears as if Niels Nkounkou is being overlooked by yet another Everton manager. He is reportedly not a part of Frank Lampard’s plans, and the signing of Ruben Vinagre on loan is a clear indication that the young Frenchman has been deemed not good enough even to be the backup left-back at the club.

Everton v Dynamo Kyiv - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Ruben Vinagre

After spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sporting Club de Portugal, 23-year-old has made a move to Everton on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season. The Portuguese had an instant impact off the bench in his debut versus Kyiv, whipping in a delightful ball that handed Dwight McNeil a headed goal on a silver platter. Although his time at Sporting didn’t quite work out, Vinagre seems like a more-than-adequate backup option for Mykolenko and provides much-needed depth at the position.

Seamus Coleman

Having undergone surgery this summer, Seamus Coleman will not be starting the season as a part of Everton’s playing squad, with young Scot Nathan Patterson set to make his Premier League debut against Chelsea in place of the club captain. Although he is beloved by Frank Lampard, it’s easy to envisage a world in which Patterson never relinquishes the starting RWB role back to Coleman, something which has been a long time coming. Although an incredible leader and servant to the club, Seamus Coleman simply doesn’t provide enough anymore to justify his selection in the team. Should Patterson take his chance and play well in the first few weeks of the season, it’s safe to say that Coleman’s race at Everton will have been nearly run.

Nathan Patterson

The Scotsman has impressed in pre-season thus far, providing two assists against Blackpool and showing no fear of bombing down the right flank on the overlap. Patterson reminds me of a young Seamus Coleman, and I sure hope he can develop into what his predecessor once was. His form during Coleman’s absence will be crucial in terms of Lampard’s plans for the RWB position for the rest of the season, and I’m sure all Evertonians will be crossing their fingers hoping that the Irishman’s long-term replacement is already at the club.

Blackpool v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

State of the Position

The thought of having two young and swashbuckling wingbacks blazing down the channels is truly a breath of fresh air, and I think the energy of Mykolenko and Patterson in those positions could be instrumental to securing Everton’s leaky back-line while also adding extra potency in attack.

With the fullbacks quickly becoming some of the most important players on the pitch in modern football, there is little room for error, especially considering their role in Lampard’s 3-4-3. Although the lack of experience between the two is definitely a cause for concern, I have faith that they can form a great long-term partnership like Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman once did. That comparison — being logical — is obviously still a long way off, but they have the potential to make it a fair one in the upcoming years.