Opposition View – Everton

We welcome Everton to the Liberty this weekend and once again thanks to Calvin from Royal Blue Mersey for providing the answers in this weeks opposition view…

As things stand you have eight points from five games which includes a win over Chelsea last weekend. You must be quite happy with the start you’ve made?
While both Everton and Swansea are on eight points, how we’ve gotten them has been quite different. We played poorly against Watford for the season opener, and were lucky to get a point. The two wins against Southampton and Chelsea were quite dominating while we we were pretty outplayed by Manchester City in our only loss and looked pretty flat in the draw at Tottenham.

At this point though we’ll take the eight points because the schedule-makers did us no favours with us playing last season’s top eight in our first ten fixtures. However, home games against City and Chelsea with Liverpool and Manchester United to come means we’ll be playing all four away in the back half of the season, so we’d better get whatever points we can right now.

We’ve seen the Toffees do this before though, up their game when playing good teams and then getting sucked into the mire when playing park-the-bus teams. It’s that additional creative spark it takes to break such teams down that we often lack.

John Stones’ name seemed to crop up every day as we edged closer to the transfer window shutting. You must be delighted he’s staying, do you think you can hang onto him long term?
Boy are we glad we still have him. He has been nothing short of spectacular at times. And of course, having him turn in an excellent performance to thump Chelski last weekend was just icing on the cake. To answer your question though, I’d have to say no. There is no doubt in my mind the lad has been placed on this earth to do greater things, and soon enough his career goals are going to far outstrip anything Everton can do in the next couple of years.

If we hang on to him through the winter transfer window, surely next summer we are going to have to face an even greater cast of suitors who are going to come knocking on the doors at Goodison Park. The only way we can keep him is if we somehow find an oil baron to buy us and then qualify for the Champions League between now and next May. Short of that we can only hope to sell him in exchange for a cheque with an obscene number of zeros on it so that we can develop the squad.

Aside from keeping him, were you happy with your other business this summer?
We added depth across the board which was the best thing. Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu and Aaron Lennon are all known properties and we are happy to have them here. Ramiro Funes Mori and Leandro Rodrigues are two unknown South Americans to most of us, so we’ll just have to trust Roberto Martinez knows what he’s got.

We were linked heavily with Ukrainian playmaker Andriy Yarmolenko, and it’s unfortunate we were not able to seal that deal, because he is exactly the kind of player we need to provide that creative spark I had mentioned above.

After a great first year in charge finishing fifth, Roberto Martinez’s second season saw you slip down to eleventh. How do the fans feel about the Spaniard at the moment?
I think now we are getting used to Roberto. There are some things he does, and some that he simply doesn’t. Like it or not, he is who we have and we just have to accept it. We have three pacy wingers who warm the bench while we clog up the centre of the park playing ‘Piggy in the Middle’. Just like Big Ben is omnipresent in any picture of the London skyline, so is Gareth Barry in every Everton starting XI, and possibly just as old too. His substitution timing and choices leave the majority of the fans scratching their heads, but guess what, when Muhamed Besic left the Chelsea game after eight minutes and most Evertonians would have brought on Kevin Mirallas or Deulofeu, the gaffer sent on Steven Naismith and look what happened.

There have been a few protests against the board recently. What are your fans so unhappy about?
Now the Board is who fans are really ticked off about. For years there’s been rumblings of discontent about where Everton’s earnings from tickets, merchandise and player sales have been going. Every transfer window that has closed, apart from the one we signed Romelu Lukaku in for a club record, has led to ‘Kenwright Out’ shouts. For years we’ve had the one of smallest squads in the Premier League. Rumours of new owners and new stadium deals have been dime a dozen, but nothing has come out of it all.

Now reports of all sorts of financial impropriety with shell companies fronting the Board the operating money for each season have been surfacing, and things are building up to a head. Various supporters organizations have been calling for marches, protests and airplane banners, and you get the feeling that pretty close to all of it bubbling over. A couple of losses in a row could set the match to this tinderbox.

What are your hopes and expectations this term?
We have to make it back into Europe. Anything short of that would be considered utter failure. A second consecutive season out of European football would all but ensure an exodus of skilled players and that would be the end of this ‘golden generation’ of talent that Roberto is building.

A Cup win in either tournament would not be bad either. This season marks the twentieth year since we last lifted any sort of silverware, and that’s about nineteen years longer than should be for a club that was once considered one of the top two, big four, famous five or whatever you will.

What do you make of Swansea so far this term?
How do you keep doing it? Manager after manager, season after season, no matter which players you lose, you still put out a starting XI that plays open, attacking football.. it’s quite impressive you know. You should know I always root for your lads whenever you’re not playing us. And after watching ‘Jack to a King’, do not be surprised if more than one Evertonian is cheering your lot on on thirty six football weekends every season.

You and I have been talking for the last couple of seasons now, and I think your team has been getting better every year. Last season Garry Monk got the team to its highest ever Premier League points total, and I fully expect that you can beat that again. Where that falls on the Premier League table this year though remains to be seen, because five games into this season it’s looking like a pretty even battle across the board.

Predict the score and where both teams will finish…
Saturday should see another open football game filled with attacking intent, as that is what brings out the best in both sides. I’m certain there are going to be goals aplenty, so I’ll wager a 2-2 scoreline.

Like I mentioned previously, I see no reason why Swansea cannot replicate last season’s performance, especially if Andre Ayew keeps up his form. For Everton, as long as we can keep players fresh and healthy we should be able to get a Europa League spot.
Thanks, and enjoy the game!