Everton cannot escape double transfer truth as Sean Dyche enters unfamiliar territory
Everton return to Premier League action against Fulham at Goodison Park this weekend
Everton have just completed their first pre-season under Sean Dyche but what is your biggest takeaway from the Blues’ summer friendlies?
Members of the ECHO sportsdesk have their say
We’re constantly told that pre-season is all about fitness rather than results but surely Everton going unbeaten throughout their half a dozen friendlies can only be a good thing?
It’s never too early to get into the winning habit, especially for a team who have just come off the back of the lowest equivalent points total in the club’s 135-year history in the Football League/Premier League. So hopefully this group of whom Sean Dyche himself, when still Burnley manager, said: “don’t know how to win” in April last year, can benefit from their positive sequence of scorelines ahead of the big kick-off.
The Blues’ first summer under Dyche seemed to be very logical in its structure. Starting with the training camp by the shores of Lake Geneva which culminated with the game at local side Stade Nyonnais, there was then a gradual increase in standards of opponent.
While it might not have matched recent jaunts to the USA and Australia in terms of commercial opportunities, going to League One Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers and then Championship Stoke City, is going to prepare you better for the gruelling Premier League campaign ahead. Everton then finished with a brace of matches against top flight opponents from abroad in the shape of Monza and Sporting CP and other than their behind closed doors 2-2 draw with the former, a late consolation in Nyon in their opening game when they had a back five of youngsters on the pitch was the only time they conceded which should also be another plus point.
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It feels a little bit like that famous Gennaro Gattuso meme at the moment – sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe…well, less good.
The problems in this Everton squad are obvious and dated at this point. As things stand, Dominic Calvert-Lewin holds the key to the Blues’ hopes of a season rid of relegation fear. The Toffees are on the hunt for more attacking reinforcements, although fans with gripes over the time taken to get deals done are well with their rights to be miffed.
If Calvert-Lewin gets injured in training this week, as he did in the build-up to the season opener last season, then it’s hard to see a way to goal for the Blues.
In defence, there are clearly issues too. Ashley Young has impressed, although arguably when higher up the pitch rather than at full-back. Meanwhile, an obvious replacement for Yerry Mina has not been acquired. It would be a big ask for Jarrad Branthwaite, or indeed Michael Keane, to step into those shoes.
But if Everton can get the necessary reinforcements in at centre-forward and centre-back, there’s warranted hope that this team can keep their head above water.
A season of grinding, a few more goals and the odd great Goodison Park afternoon would be most welcome. It doesn’t look too far beyond this squad.
My main takeaway from pre-season is just how reliant Everton are on Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
It’s hardly anything new, and I don’t think Sean Dyche or Kevin Thelwell could properly address this in this window, but having watched experimental sides through recent weeks it has really hit home how Everton’s only effective way of playing is with someone with real presence up front.
The setup crumbles without that focal point – Everton have some talented players and some versatile players but ultimately there is a Plan A that can be competitive but no serious Plan B. It means Everton really need to find someone who can make the system work when Calvert-Lewin isn’t in it.
With his injury misfortune and 100 minute games on the horizon, Everton can’t sacrifice matches after the hour mark when Calvert-Lewin may be withdrawn as the pressure on him is managed.
It’s not just about having backup in case he suffers an injury, it’s about having someone who can keep the system working and Everton competitive in the final act of each match. Danjuma, Young and Chermiti strengthen Everton but there is still more work to be done.