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Between The Lines

What I’d like to see from Everton this season

There’s been a lot of huffing and puffing amongst Everton supporters this summer, mainly expressing concern about a continued lack of finance and doubts about the ability of Bill Kenwright to attract the investment he says he is looking for. I’m not surprised about this, but slightly disappointed that, given the strong finish at the end of last season, more is not being made of the prospects for the season ahead.

I’ll leave the financial arguments to one side, suffice to say I would rather have Bill Kenwright in charge than Venkys chicken (and the associated hilarious TV advertisements). We need a new stadium, and probably need plans in place to get one before someone would seriously consider buying out Kenwright.

Anyway, as Jimmy Hill used to say in his kitchen a few years back, lets get the ball out Brian.

I am hoping for the following from the 2011/2012 season:

1. We start better. Last year was ridiculous, and we cannot rely on ‘top 4 form’ from January onwards to drag us out of the mire.

2. We hold on to all of our players (apart from the ones we want to sell). This means that we do not sell Jagielka, Fellaini or Baines – as these are the 3 who have been mentioned in the ‘transfer gossip’ columns over the summer. I’d rather keep these proven players, than sell and have to compete in the market for replacements.

3. Ross Barkely gets a chance in the first team. He was due to last season, but broke his leg in 3 places on England U17 duty in October 2010 and missed the rest of the season. He has featured regularly in the pre-season matches and has not looked out of place at all. Apparently he also has an ‘eye for goal’ although given that he hasn’t scored yet, I’m not sure how this is measured. Just having loads of shots surely doesn’t count (Heitinga would therefore also qualify), but I’ll go with it for now.

4. Saha stays fit. A bit obvious this one, but with striking resources as bare as those at Everton, we really need the one class act amongst them to be available for selection.

5. Anichebe stops falling over and/or getting cross. This guy could be a genuine asset in premier league football with his strength and ability to play from wide on the right or through the middle. He seems to get knocked over easily (usually early on in games), and then spends the remainder of his time on the pitch (until subbed on about 60 mins) chuntering to himself and shaking his head. Sort it out Victor!

6. Arteta recovers form. He was poor last season, although towards the end there were flickers of a return to previous heights. The problem Arteta has is that a couple of seasons ago he was so good that now we expect him to be like that all the time. The nasty knee injury at St James’ Park obviously set him back, and another injury in pre-season will not have helped preparations. We know how good he can be (he earned a 5-year, 70k a week contract). He’s also my favourite player.

7. Fellaini signs a new contract. Eyebrows were raised when Moyes paid 15m for him from Standard Liege, and his early appearances were not completely convincing. Some of us were sure there was a player there though, and we were rewarded when he grabbed a regular spot in the team, and became one of the strongest central midfielders in the league (I reckon, anyway). His absolutely superb individual display in the 2-0 victory over Manchester City in January 2010 was something that I won’t forget ever, I don’t think, and I hope that we can hang on to a player who will improve even more in the coming years. Sadly, past experience tells me he’ll stay this year and then move to Spurs for a knock-down fee next summer as his contract winds down.

8. A cup run. Our goal for the season has to be a return to Europe, and I think it is more likely that we can achieve this by winning either of the cups than it would be to finish in the top 5/6. Last years home defeat to Reading was very frustrating, given that it came after the superb away win at Chelsea in the previous round.

Predicted League Position: 8th
Top Scorer: Tim Cahill (11 league goals)

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