Opposition view – Everton

We speak to Calvin of Royal Blue Mersey ahead of their Saturday evening visit to the Liberty…

How’s your season been so far?

Going by how the last couple of seasons we’re doing very well finishing seventh. However, having come so close to the top six, you know how fans are, we always want more and are kind of disappointed we weren’t able to mount a more serious push for 5th or 6th.

You’re guaranteed a top-seven finish and a place in Europe next term. How much credit does Ronald Koeman take for that?

Most of it. Between him and Director of Football Steve Walsh (who we poached from Leicester), they have brought in the right players that work within Koeman’s system and gotten us to Europe, which was his most basic goal.
Koeman has also shown a tactical nous that we didn’t have Martinez, who seemed to loath to make in-game changes. When things aren’t working, the Dutchman has pulled the plug at the half and gone to a different system, something unheard of under Bobby.

I was surprised to discover you’ve only won 4 games away from home this term, why have you been unable to replicate your home form on the road.

Shouldn’t be a surprise really. This is going to be considered one of Koeman’s big failings of the season, his inability to exert the same dominance that we have at Goodison when away. It’s like the players lose a step and become more hesitant when they don’t have the home crowd roaring them on. Having a more definitive gameplan when we are on the road would be a start, rather than a reactive strategy where Koeman sets his team up depending on the opponent all the time.

Who have been your star performers and who needs to up their game?

Romelu Lukaku has been indisputably one of the best players in the Premier League, and we wouldn’t be here without his goals. Midfielders Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies have been very good too.
Ross Barkley has been enigmatic and we’re starting to wonder if he’ll ever be able to play in a midfield role, which is why the clamour for Gylfi Sigurdsson has been growing. Despite a good number of clean sheets, there is a lot of room for improvement at the goalkeeper spot and we’ll be expecting a top-class signing at that position too.

Ashley Williams returns to the Liberty for the first time since he left last summer on Saturday. How has he performed for you this term?

He has been the true captain of the side even though he doesn’t wear the armband. His leadership abilities aside, he has provided the stability that this defence badly needed. Williams is on the wrong side of 30 but still has another couple of good seasons in him, and it’s on the management to get another two central defenders who can learn from him and continue to improve the backline.

There’s been discussions in the press that you could be moving to a new stadium in the near future. Is that likely and how do you feel about it?

Everton’s new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has completely changed our perception of what is possible and what is a dream. He has invested millions in the club already with transfers, but in addition to that he has paid off all the club’s debt with his personal funds and has been a big part in the negotiations to buy property at the docks by the River Mersey. Stadium design conversations are well underway and we are expecting to move to a state-of-the-art facility at Bramley-Moore in the next couple of seasons.

What do you make of Swansea and which players if any do you fear?

With Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, it’s a wonder how you haven’t scored a lot more goals than you already have, which in turn makes us wonder why you’re in the relegation scrap to begin with! Of course, the coaching turmoil this season didn’t help but Paul Clement looked to have gotten off to a decent start. We fully expect the Swans to give everything they have this weekend and it’ll be a hotly-contested game – if anything, I’d be worried that Everton have nothing to play for and won’t ‘show up’.

Predict the score and where both teams will finish

I’d say the Swans have enough motivation to pull out a win against a barely-interested Everton, maybe 2-1. Swansea have long been one of the few teams I’ve genuinely liked in the Premier League and working with you Steven has been an absolute pleasure the last few years, so I’m tipping you to stay in the Premier League.