Everton 2018/19 season preview: Silva looking to make his mark as Blues fans look for progress

A Season Preview of Everton's upcoming campaign.

Everton 2018/19 season preview: Silva looking to make his mark as Blues fans look for progress
Photo: Getty Images - Everton FC

Everton are heading into another Premier League season with another new manager.

Marco Silva takes over the reigns at Goodison Park but has an incredibly challenging task ahead of him.

The Blues faithful demands success and is hungry for some sort of improvement after last season’s disastrous campaign but a shortened transfer window and difficulty in making deals happen could hamper Silva’s first term.

Yet, the Portuguese boss - coupled with the club’s Director of Football Marcel Brands - understand the challenge of them and have preached as they look to build the structure that has been desired and desperately needed at Everton.

There is no quick fix to the Everton problem but yet, the standards created by the Nil Satis Nisi Optimum motto that is proudly showed on the club badge must be adhered to despite what could be viewed as a transitional season.

Turbulence: The story of last season

The last twelve months at Goodison Park have been extremely well documented. A seemingly fantastic summer under former boss Ronald Koeman seemed to have the Blues to finally make that all important push for the top four.

As it was, that never unfolded.

Koeman was sacked at the end of October following the Blues’ 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal. Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri had to act with his team winless in four in the Premier League and sitting in the bottom three of the table.

They turned to Under-23s boss David Unsworth on an interim basis but the former Blues defender ended up holding the role for six weeks. There were bright sparks under the man known as Rhino but, again, the squad looked broken and ultimately rudderless.

Searching for stability and safety, Moshiri turned to noted relegation firefighter Sam Allardyce.

To say it was an unpopular appointment with the Goodison faithful would be an understatement. The former England boss and his style was not wanted nor needed by a vocal majority.

They let themselves be known later in the season when 63-year-old stated, repeatedly, that he believed he would be in charge for the following season.

The Blues were pretty much safe after Unsworth’s final game win over West Ham United but a following weekend win over Huddersfield Town had the club sitting mid-table.

Success came in January as Allardyce acquired Cenk Tosun from Besiktas and Theo Walcott from Arsenal for close to £50 million for the pair.

A run of seven games undefeated on the back of Allardyce’s appointment cemented the Blues’ top-half finish but it wasn’t enough for a majority of fans. They had been promised success and better football than had been served up during the campaign.

The Europa League adventure had also been an abject failure as the club crashed out at the group stages, only winning one game - their final one, away at Apollon Limassol.

Allardyce’s style resulted in a comfortable 8th placed finish.

Despite that, the season gave way to an increasingly fractured fan base that is aiming to be reunited with progress under Silva and Brands and look past the season that was the 2017/18 campaign.

 

Story of the transfer window

The success or lack of when it comes to Everton’s summer transfer window will only be able to be judged once the window shuts.

Focus was put on getting rid of players who were deemed not needed or not up to scratch for the new regime. Wayne Rooney was shipped to America, Ramiro Funes Mori was sold to Villarreal whilst Davy Klaassen joined Werder Bremen.

There are, of course, more departures to come with Ashley Williams joining Stoke City and Kevin Mirallas set for a spell with Fiorentina.

However, for the majority of fans, selling players who are not needed may be part of a successful transfer window but the priority lies in quality additions.

The full picture of additions was not complete until the window shut as the Blues added to the three signings they had already made. The three, signed prior to the final day, were needed and of the quality required to move forward from the debacle of last season. 

Look past the price tag and Richarlison ticks all the boxes in a player the Blues have needed for the past two season. The Brazilian is a handful, both in attack and defence, and his pace gives Everton a different dimension on the left-hand side.

Behind him, at some point, will be new boy Lucas Digne. The former Barcelona defender is a genuine challenger and more than probable replacement for the outstanding Leighton Baines.

Add to that mix the coup of Bernard and the Silva/Brands coupling has ended up with a shrewd first transfer window that ticks plenty of boxes.

Deadline day saw the captures of that elusive defender. Yerry Mina agreed to join from Barcelona and the Blues added to that with a late in the day loan move for Chelsea's Kurt Zouma. Zouma is expected to join before the opening day trip to Wolves

A loan for André Gomes was also secured but the Portuguese midfielder will be out injured until September. However, his upside of being able to dictate in midfield - as Everton need - could likely be worth the wait. 

Pre-season: The good, the bad, the bizarre

Everton’s pre-season has been indifferent results wise.

However, for Silva, pre-season has been all about building fitness and implementing his style of pressing.

It got off to a bizarre start when Silva’s side demolished ATV Irdning 22-0 to end their Austrian training camp.

A late draw away at Bury followed but that result at Gigg Lane, like the others, came off the back of a training session meaning that Blues looked sharp for a period but once that was over, they were pretty lethargic and the play was poor.

Defeats but better performances in the Algarve followed as Everton drew - but then lost on penalties to Lille - and were beaten, despite being the better team, by FC Porto.

The Algarve training camp was the point at which the new boss had decided on which players he wanted to keep around his side for the upcoming campaign and those he didn’t.

He made those feelings clear in the following days.

A trip and defeat to face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park looked like the wake-up point of pre-season as the Blues were blown away 3-0.

The defeat against Stade Rennais followed a similar story to their evening out in deepest Lancashire.

A return to Goodison Park to face Valencia showed improvement but problems remained. With their first two attacks, Los Che were able to score and would have had a third if not for an errant offside flag.

However, Everton showed progress in the attacking third, highlighted by the return of Walcott from injury.

It isn’t ideal to be heading into a vital Premier League season on the back of but when that offers Silva and his coaching staff plenty of food for thought and negatives to convert into positives.

 

Four key players for this season

Everton’s award night treble winner Jordan Pickford will be looking to improve on an impressive debut campaign at Goodison Park.

His World Cup heroics means he hasn’t had a full pre-season and only returned to training last Friday.

He will, however, require a much steadier side in-front of him if he is to continue his impressive form.

Theo Walcott joined the Blues from Arsenal in January in a shrewd move from former boss Allardyce. The experienced winger was brilliant at times during the end of the last campaign, showing he was on a different level to most of his teammates.

Yet, he has had his summer hampered by injuries and has only played a part in one pre-season game. Despite that, in the defeat to Valencia, the 29-year-old showcased more of his brilliant link-up play with Cenk Tosun.

He will get a full season flanked with Seamus Coleman on the right-hand side, standing him in good stead for the coming campaign.

In Richarlison, Blues fans have seen plenty of bright sparks in the few pre-season games he’s taken part in since his move from Watford.

The Brazilian represents a quality option on the opposite wing to Walcott that was missing last season. It's not only his attacking flair that will have Everton fans appreciated his quality but also his defensive work rate.

Cenk Tosun showed glimpses last season that Everton may have found a competent forward who could be relied upon for goals. A number of clever goals were met with brave finishes where the Turkish forward put his head in amongst the boots to claim a win at Stoke City.

However, it was only glimpses that he showed. There is no doubt that he is a good finisher but questions remain about his overall influence on the game as his hold-up play, for a play of his build, was inconsistent at best.

He thrived playing with Walcott but when the winger’s influence drifted in and out of games, so did Tosun.

The question is whether or not he can he do it in his first full term after teams have had plenty of times to scout him on the Premier League stage.

 

Predicted finish: Fans want progress

The question of how well or indeed poorly Silva will do as Everton boss will come down to a few things.

Can the club do the needed late business in the window? Can the defensive frailties shown in pre-season be ironed out? Can Tosun be relied on for goals in his first full season at the club?

Many Everton fans will be looking for progress both on and off the pitch under Silva. On the pitch, performances and in turn results must be better than last season. Off it, the connection between fans and players that has been lost over the past few years must be rebuilt and rekindled.

As ever, the silverware drought looms large and a cup run in either the FA Cup or League Cup is always warmly welcomed at Goodison Park.

As for the league table, the Portuguese boss faces plenty of challenges.

There could be an acceptance of finishing in the top-half as long as performances show improvement on last term but plenty of fans will still be hoping the Blues push on for more.

Patience from all parties - Silva, Brands, the clubs board and fans - will be paramount for the next campaign as the Blues look to finally put an end to the tumultuous last few years and bring back some much-needed stability to L4.

Brands will undoubtedly get that required patience but also Silva should be allowed patience to implement his style on a squad of players made up of remnants from Everton’s previous four managers.

This job is no quick fix.