Everton: What Are They Transitioning To?

Everton have a new manager with a new style, but what will their aims be? To have a more attractive style? To be more likely to win a trophy? Philip Cornwall ponders...

Last Updated: 12/08/13 at 16:06 Post Comment

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LAST SEASON

Premier League 6th FA Cup sixth round League Cup third round

Manager Roberto Martinez (since June 2013) Odds on being first out of his job 40-1 (17th)

Players in Arouna Kone (Wigan, £6m), Joel Robles (Atletico Madrid, £2m), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan, free), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, loan)

Players out Phil Neville, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Jan Mucha (all released)

Club turnover in 2011-12 £81m (8th)

Handicap betting to win Premier League +27 points (7th)

At last, David Moyes has a trophy and Everton's manager is the holder of some silverware, but the Goodison Park drought goes on - with the Scot's last chance of a cup on Merseyside ended by the team of his successor. Whether Roberto Martinez's successful audition as his Wigan side romped home 3-0 in the FA Cup quarter-final was the silver lining in the grey sky or fresh injury to the Everton cause from that day remains to be seen.

The Spaniard's Wigan team frustrated and delighted, suffering relegation after putting the romance back in the FA Cup final with Ben Watson's last-minute winner against Manchester City. His task at Goodison is to bring in some of the excitement while not losing too much of the solidity that enabled Moyes's sides to punch above their financial weight year after year in the league. Until the last campaign this was something Martinez just about achieved for impoverished Wigan but it is an ever-more difficult trick. Look at some of the spending around the rest of the division, at Norwich, Swansea and Southampton for example.

At least Everton have brought in Arouna Kone and Antolin Alacaraz from Wigan, and Joel Robles - on loan at the Latics last season - and Gerard Deulofeu from Spain, the last on loan from Barcelona. But Alcaraz already has injury problems and the Wigan trio are fresh from relegation, while the 19-year-old attacker Deulofeu has only played for Barca's B side. Moyes, meanwhile, is looking to weaken his former employers by prising away Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, and Everton lack the financial strength to take the kind of stand their neighbours are attempting to take over Luis Suarez. Bill Kenwright has been looking for a buyer or at least financial help for more or less his entire time in charge.

Nikica Jelavic struggled for goals last season, with a total of seven in the league being two fewer than he managed in the 13 games he played in the previous campaign after a January move from Rangers. The lack of a prolific forward was expensive; Fellaini bore the scoring responsibility with 13, making his potential loss even harder to compensate for.

Martinez knows what it is like to lose key players - at Wigan he lost Victor Moses in 2012, Antonio Valencia two years before - but now must deal with higher expectations. This will be a transitional season for Everton, the question is a transition to where? To a more attractive style perhaps more likely to win a cup? Or to a plateau beneath the European places? We may have a better idea by the time the window closes.

Away games at Norwich and Cardiff, either side of West Brom's visit, are an early test of whether Martinez can maintain Everton as the best of the rest, but Chelsea's arrival at Goodison after the international break will be a sterner task. A year ago Everton kicked off by beating Manchester United and there were further wins against Tottenham and Manchester City of the quintet that finished higher. Without Fellaini and Baines - or the discovery of replacements, which seems unlikely in the time available - it is impossible to see a repeat.

Philip Cornwall

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