Everton had to fight tooth and nail to survive relegation in the 2022/23 season - just as they had to during the 2021/22 campaign. It was only on the final day of the season this year - a game worse than the former - that they were able to remain secure in the Premier League for another year.
This team has suffered for two years running now, and it will not survive a third at the rate it is going. Change must come. It must come across the Board, and it must come through the new boss across the side. From what we witnessed to finish out the year, Sean Dyche was able to instill a belief and structure that feels different from what Frank Lampard put together in the final months of the 2021-22 season.
Lampard harnessed some great individual play from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to salvage another year in the Premier League, but when they were nowhere to be found, the former boss had no answers; to be fair, he had none at Chelsea with much better players either.
But Dyche was able to find success with those pieces that did remain healthy and playable for Everton, and he kept the team in the top flight once more, of course. That, however, is not sustainable, as he also noted, so where can the side look to for the purpose of strengthening its side? What positions does it need to address this summer so that this upcoming year is not like the past two?
Well, it looks a lot like last year’s three squad weaknesses, if just a bit more refined. Everton did address most of these issues last year, or at least found solutions at times across the season. Now, however, before players are sold and bought, we have to really hone in on the precise parts of the side that must be innovated for this team to do better than just scrape by.
Forwards - A Viktor Gyökeres required
Whether it’s Viktor Gyökeres, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka, Jamie Vardy, or really anyone else, to be fair, another striker (or even two) is necessary for the Blues.
In the striker report card, we lamented the lack of production from all three current number nines on Everton’s roster, and they will need to play much better going forward for this bunch of Toffees to be viable in the Premier League for very long.
But alongside their better play, Everton needs someone to complement a resurgent Dwight McNeil, a tireless Alex Iwobi, Idrissa Gana Gueye, and - if he remains on the side - Amadou Onana.
There must be a real dangerman in front of the opposition goal, and he must also be available for the rigor of a Premier League season plus the trimmings. Whoever it might be to come in and give the side greater, functional depth - Iheanacho fits the size profile that Dyche likes at least - could help to transform this struggling attack into one that can give its defence something to hold onto and play for each match.
Attacking Midfielder - Someone other than Alex Iwobi must create
Last season at around this time, I noted that the side needed a creative midfielder, before going into the logic of getting an attacking and defensive player in turn. This summer, the side needs another goal threat in the middle of the park. Amadou Onana, whether he leaves or stays will develop into a multipurpose midfielder but he provides more defensive protection at this stage of his development.
A player like James Ward-Prowse would be a realistic possibility just as James Maddison would likely be not interested and out of the team’s price range. The Saints captain could likely be a target that would provide some goals immediately, especially from setpieces. He could certainly play in a midfield alongside Alex Iwobi, and in front of either Gana Gueye or Onana, he could spell Iwobi and play as the sole creative midfielder for great swaths of time, but is also one of the sweetest dead ball takers in the world.
Rodrigo of Leeds United is also useful to bring up at this point, because he is capable of playing in the middle of the park as well as up front. He could be Everton’s new Richy, but with greater versatility in some manners; he wouldn’t be a cheap price and at his age the kind of purchase that could backfire, but he would manage to provide the side with some goalscoring.
Centre-Backs and Fullbacks - Stability and health is key
Last season it was centre-backs. This season, centre and full-backs; why? Because while some things became more clear, other things became more opaque. Seamus Coleman’s injury was hard to watch, and we all wish him well in his recovery, while Nathan Patterson remains as injury prone as he is talented thus far in his Everton career.
Vitalii Mykolenko is really quite good also, and will get better with time and a better squad around him. He needs help on the backend just as any other player needs good players around him. He could use some competition and depth behind him as well, which will likely be addressed this summer if possible as well; injuries have been wearing at Everton for years now, it seems.
As for the centre-backs, Mason Holgate must go, and Bed Godfrey must regain his form and ability, lost across injuries and poor team form. Michael Keane is likely to stay with Sean Dyche at the helm, as is James Tarkowski, who had a simply stellar year at stretches, to be fair. Other than that, with Yerry Mina on the way out, and Connor Coady headed back to Wolves, there will be room for innovations on the defensive front.
Getting bigger and more forceful in the middle of the defense will be key for Everton with whatever budget they have at their disposal during this summer stretch, and no one should be surprised to see the Blues raid those relegated sides for some of their more physical players at those positions. Sean Dyche will have a few players internally and externally he’s been watching too, but the boss is known for working with less and getting more out of his resources than most.
What are your thoughts? Any other weaknesses we might’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!