Three reasons for Everton supporters to be optimistic about the New Year
It has been a topsy-turvy year for Everton having secured a spot in the Europa League last season, splashed £140 million on new players in the summer and then slipping into the relegation zone after a poor start to the new campaign.
There were whispers in the close-season of The Toffees mounting a challenge to break into the top six after significant investment in new personnel but the actual result was a squad that failed to gel resulting in poor performances and the eventual dismissal of Ronald Koeman.
However, the appointment of Sam Allardyce has revived the club’s fortunes and here The Boot Room identify three reasons for Everton supporters to be optimistic about the New Year.
The arrival of Sam Allardyce
After the dismissal of Ronald Koeman in late-October the Everton hierarchy were slow to appoint a successor, instead opting to place their immediate trust in caretaker manager David Unsworth. However, that decision only exacerbated the team’s decline and the 44-year-old was revealed to be ill-suited to first team management with The Toffees winning just two of his eight games in charge and conceding an astonishing twenty-four goals in the process.
Eventually, amid rumours of strenuous disagreements among senior officials at Goodison Park, Sam Allardyce was handed the managerial position causing something of a split in the club’s fan base. Whilst the arrival of ‘Big Sam’ might not generate excitement in the blue half of Merseyside he is certainly suited to the task at hand. Everton need to get back to basics, become harder to beat and more defensively solid, which is exactly what Allardyce will provide.
The one-time England manager will certainly stimulate a dramatic improvement in terms of results and it will be interesting to see what style of play he implements given the existing talent in the squad and the significant transfer budget that he will undoubtedly be handed. If nothing else, the arrival of Allardyce removes any fears of relegation and will provide supporters with a team that is competitive – something that has been missing so far this season.
The January transfer window
Everton may have invested heavily in new players during the summer, spending in excess of £140 million on new talent, but it quickly became apparent as the season progressed that the club’s transfer policy was inherently flawed. Sam Allardyce has inherited a squad that is unbalanced, with no central striker capable of leading the line and an abundance of ‘number tens’, but the January transfer window will provide him with an opportunity to start to address some of these issues.
Farhad Moshiri demonstrated in the summer that he has the wealth and desire to develop Everton into one of the leading clubs in the country and it is likely that he will hand Allardyce a significant transfer budget to work with in January. However, as Ronald Koeman discovered during the close-season, simply throwing money around is no guarantee of success and supporters will be hopeful that the lessons of the past will not be replicated when the window opens at the start of the New Year.
With Allardyce now in place and the threat of relegation a thing of the past, the January window provides Everton with the perfect opportunity to invest in new personnel and correct some of the major issues that were created as a result of the flawed summer transfer policy.
The return of Yannick Bolasie
One of the most prominent issues for Everton so far this season has been the lack of pace throughout the team. The Toffees were slow, predictable and ponderous in attack under Ronald Koeman, which resulted in a team that were struggling to pick up results and could be excruciatingly frustrating to watch. However, the news that Yannick Bolasie has returned to full training and is set to return to the first team before the end of the season will provide a considerable boost for Sam Allardyce and the supporters.
The 28-year-old winger arrived at Goodison Park in the summer of 2016 for £25 million and was widely recognised as being one of the most effect wide-men in the Premier League after a successful spell with Crystal Palace. However, the Congolese international has been out of action for almost a year after picking up a cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2016 and he has been sorely missed by The Toffees during this period.
Bolasie’s pace, trickery and direct style of play is exactly what Everton have been missing this season and Allardyce certainly does not have an abundance of wide players that he can call upon at the moment. The winger’s return could galvanise the current Everton team, although it is crucial that, after such a prolonged absence, he is not rushed back into action too soon.
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