fanatix previews Everton’s season…
Manager’s job safety: Bill Kenwright will give his new boss Roberto Martinez time. Unless Everton somehow get dragged into an unlikely relegation battle, Martinez’s job is safe for the time being.
Captain: Phil Jagielka
Last season: 6th
In: Arouna Koné (Wigan, £6m), Joel Robles (Atlético Madrid, £2m), Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan, Free), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, Loan).
Out: Jake Bidwell (Brentford, Undisclosed), Jasper Johns (Sheffield United, Free).
Released: Johan Hammer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Sam Kelly, Jan Mucha.
Retired: Phil Neville.
Aims: If Roberto Martinez manages to get Everton anywhere close to the 6th place David Moyes managed, his debut year at Goodison Park will be regarded as a success. 10th place is probably par for Everton this year, although they could reach Europa League spots if they hang on to Baines and Fellaini.
Key Player: Marouane Fellaini – Martinez will be desperate to keep hold of the giant Belgian midfielder, with David Moyes apparently keen to bring the battler to Old Trafford. Scored 11 league goals last term, and dominated the middle of the park with his strength, dynamism and wonderful chest control. Fellaini and Leighton Baines are Everton’s two stand out players by a very long way.
Needs to improve: Nikica Jelavic – The Croat did so well when he first moved down from Rangers in January 2012, but only managed seven league goals last term. The Toffees need him to find his shooting boots, and fast.
Big summer signing: Arouna Kone – Wigan £6m – The striker performed solidly if not spectacularly for relegated Wigan last term, bagging 13 in all competitions. Will compete with Jelavic for the starting spot.
One to watch: Gerard Deulofeu – This one’s pretty easy. The 19-year-old Barcelona loanee is one of the most talented teenagers in Europe, and fans cannot wait to see his mesmeric skills down the left wing. Bagged a hugely impressive 18 in 32 for Barcelona B last term, and Deulofeu could take the league by storm.
What do they need? Everton could do pretty badly with a top-class forward. Kone and Jelavic are mid-table strikers at best, and with the service of Steven Pienaar, Fellaini, Baines, Kevin Mirallas and Deulofeu, a real goalscorer could bag for fun at Goodison Park.
fanatix Prediction? 12th Everton’s hopes rest heavily on whether they’ll keep Fellaini and Baines. Martinez has mainly raided Wigan for new recruits this term – and they got relegated last season… We reckon he’ll struggle to match the heights David Moyes managed to at Everton, and finish comfortably, but uninspiringly, in mid-table. Gone are the days Everton could even think of challenging for a top four spot.