Everton FC – Season Review 2013/2014

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Lukaku under the spotlight for Everton

One of the consequences of Everton’s poor form this season has been the focus on striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian international was signed from Chelsea for a club record £ 28 million after he impressed in his season-long loan spell last season. After making 29 appearances for Everton last season, he scored a spectacular 15 goals and this was largely responsible for the club almost qualifying for the Champions League after a long time. In the end, they had to settle for a Europa league spot but even this was viewed as a major improvement compared to previous seasons.

The expectations surrounding Everton were raised immensely after Lukaku was signed on a permanent deal. However, the striker has been disappointing so far and this has also coincided with the club being unable to get consistent results. There is a danger of Lukaku being criticised for the poor defensive record of Everton this campaign. The toffees have the worst defensive record in all of Europe’s top five leagues after having conceded a mammoth 16 goals from seven matches. They have taken just one victory throughout the campaign and sit just one place above the relegation zone.

Martinez, however, has defended the form of Lukaku by saying that the striker is not completely fit yet. “Rom is not someone who looks for an excuse. He understands that the potential he has as a footballer will always bring huge expectations. He embraces that. The situation we have is that he was unable to get a full pre-season after the World Cup and the knock he had so early in the season meant we couldn’t allow him to have a proper introduction into work. He had to get himself fit by playing games and now we’re paying for that,” said Martinez. Lukaku has two goals this season.

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Martinez comments on Everton’s placement

Everton manager Roberto Martinez managed to guide the club back to the Europa League in his first season at the club. This was after the fifth place finish in which there were several positives like Romelu Lukaku, who has since moved to the club on a permanent basis for £ 28 million. Even though they have made a tough start to the campaign with only one win so far, Everton still remain as one of the favourites to reach Europa League qualification once again. This will be difficult this time around due to the presence of Manchester United as a force in the Premier League.

Last season, Everton did not had to contend the Manchester outfit, who were going through a troubled spell under David Moyes. Everton qualified for the Europa League at the expense of United. After securing the first win of the season in the form of 2-0 victory over West Brom during the weekend, Martinez said that Everton are a big club who should be regularly be taking part in the Europa League as a building stone for the future. The Europa League is often viewed as a distraction by Premier League clubs due to the sheer number of matches required to win the competition.

“If we change the mentality and we are desperate to play in Europe consistently then that is when we move forward. With the experienced players we have in the squad I think we are ready to embrace that. It is a challenge not to let our league position drop due to new competition and the demands of European football but it is our goal to be in Europe season after season. The mentality is key. When you are a team that has to cope with European demands all of a sudden, it becomes a chore and you can’t really cope,” said Martinez.

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that he is looking to reduce the size of the squad since it is too big to work with over the course of the season. Tottenham have been on a rampant spending spree over the last couple of transfer windows.

This coupled with a number of youth players coming through and players unwilling to leave the club have contributed to a large squad. Even in the current transfer window, the club has signed several new players who will be looking to finally get to the club back into the Champions League.

Everton Unshy about Spending

Everton has not been shy of spending money during this transfer window. There have been a lot of inclusions in their first team squad of late with the Belgium international Romelu Lukaku coming in at a transfer fee of 28 million Pounds, a record for the Toffees.

Not every signing made by Everton has been heavy priced though. There have been some smart signings as well. They have brought in the wily, old fox Gareth Barry from Manchester City for free. They have also secured the services of a few young players.

But, the Everton management is still not done in the market. They are believed to be willing to have a couple of more deals.

Roberto Martinez is pretty serious about signing a winger and the player who is topping his list is Nolito who is contracted to the Spanish club Celta Vigo at the moment.

When Celta had travelled to Norwich City to play a friendly match recently, a few Everton scouts were there to watch Nolito play.

Nolito who is 27 years of age had a great La Liga in 2013-14. He had been pivotal for Celta throughout their campaign scoring goals and making play for other players too.

Despite being a specialist winger, Nolito can play the role of second striker as well with equal effectiveness.

Celta reportedly wants 8 million Pounds for letting Nolito go. It’s interesting to see if the Toffees board allows Martinez to spend this much amount. Already, a lot of bucks have been spent by the club this summer on transfers.

Martinez was actually looking to sign the Ghanaian player Christian Atsu on loan earlier, but, he failed to have an agreement with the Chelsea management for that deal and thus, he had no choice, but, to set his eyes on other wingers.

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Hibberts Contract Extended

Tony Hibbert’s contract at Everton has been extended. According to the new deal that he has signed, he would remain at the Goodison Park till the end of the 2015-16 Season.

Hibbert who is 33 years of age at the moment has spent his entire career at Everton. He had joined the club academy when he was an 11-year old boy and he has not parted ways with the Toffees since then.

The last season hadn’t gone well for the veteran Right back as he had to miss a lot of matches due to injuries, but, despite that, he ended up getting the contract extension this summer and the main reason behind that is the confidence of the club Hierarchy on him. The manager, Roberto Martinez, is also believed to be his admirer.

Martinez is one of those managers who like to rely on experience. He rates the experienced players very high.  So, it’s not a surprise seeing him backing Hibbert to keep performing in the top tier for a few more years.

In many of his interviews, Martinez has said that the veteran players are important for all the clubs, no matter how strong or weak they are.

However, it doesn’t mean that Hibbert will be a certainty in the starting XI of Everton in the next season.

In Hibbert’s absence in the previous season, Seamus Coleman had performed brilliantly as a right back. So, it’s him who is going to be preferred at that position at least for the initial parts of the 2014-15 Season. If he doesn’t live up to the expectations, then, Hibbert would get his opportunities.

Hibbert has so far made more than 300 appearances for Everton, but, he is yet to find the back of the net for them.