Do we dare to dream?
by Jake Wilson (@JakeWilson95)
If you had asked any Evertonian at the end of august last year, if Champions league football was achievable, the more realistic of us will have said “not a chance.” This season as I have pointed out before in previous articles and on twitter was our ‘transitional’ season. A chance to bed in Roberto’s philosophy, with limited resources Roberto was always fighting to keep up with the chasing pack while adding his philosophy to a strong Everton side.
However after a mid-season dip in form, we have come back stronger. After the win at Newcastle it is 4 straight wins and 6 straight wins at home, momentum is certainly on our side. With Arsenal dropping 2 vital points against Swansea last night, it leaves us 6 points behind the Gunners with a game in hand plus they have to come to Goodison where our form has been so formidable. They also play City this weekend, if they lose, which can be seen as a probability, and we beat bottom club Fulham, that gap goes to 3 points with a game in hand plus the advantage of hosting Arsenal.
Has Roberto got us dreaming? I believe we will get some form of European football this season, with United showing little sign of improving their dismal league form and Arsenal insistent on imploding at the same time every year. We also have competition off Spurs, who now have no distractions after being dispatched by Benfica in the Europa League, I think that Spurs will give us one hell of a fight for fourth and fifth. Arsenal are not to be counted out though, as they rarely fail to qualify for Europe’s elite competition under the guidance of Wenger.
Whether it has been intentional or not, we have had less possession in the last two games against Swansea and Newcastle. If it is a tactic from Roberto, it is a tactic that has seen us score 3 goals in each game. Something we have been crying out for this season, to kill games off. The tactic is very simple yet very effective, we sit back a little more and encourage the opposition to try and break us down, and when we win the ball back, we break with pace and if it doesn’t work, we revert to our patient, probing possession plan. With players like; Mirallas, McGeady, Deulofeu on the wings with blistering pace and Barkley and Lukaku aren’t exactly slouches, and we can add McCarthy breaking from midfield, we can devastate teams on the counter. This tactic has been near perfected by a team who are based just across Stanley park. They may ship goals as they are not as defensively strong as us, but they devastate teams on the counter and look where it’s got them. A few years back, teams used to look to Barca for inspiration for tactics, I think at the moment we have the players and the right playing style to use the same tactic as Liverpool to fire us into the champions’ league.
All this talk of Champions League is all well and good, but we need a summer transfer window to back up our ambitions. Romelu Lukaku has hinted he would be open to a permanent return should European football be available to him. I believe Chelsea would be more open to him returning to Goodison than going anywhere else, Chelsea will quite rightly not consider us to be a threat to their title aspirations, however we would be more likely to take points off the likes of City, Arsenal, Liverpool and possibly United if they revive themselves, with a player of Lukaku’s calibre, Chelsea could see us a massive help to them. We will need another striker to compliment Lukaku and the returning Kone if we mean business, I also believe Gerard Deulofeu will return if we have European football, as he is not ready for Barcelona’s first team yet but another year flourishing in Everton’s team and gaining European experience while doing so will be a very attractive offer to them. It is a MUST that we sign Barry down permanently, as he will provide great qualities both on and off the pitch and his influence on an ever-improving James McCarthy cannot go unnoticed. I believe we need to find a young replacement for Distin this summer as next season may very well be his last and Jagielka not getting any younger, we need someone to partner the impressive John Stones for the long haul.
Whatever happens in the next nine games, we can hold our head up high and be proud of what we have done this season. We have proved everyone wrong that Everton need Moyes, we have changed to an attractive style of football and if we carry on with this level progression, we can expect exciting things from Roberto’s men…