There’s been a conspicuous lack of solid transfer speculation surrounding Everton so far this summer, and it’s not difficult to see why. Without a manager to orchestrate the club’s movements in the market, it’s bordering on the impossible to say who will come in and who will go out. The likely appointment of Roberto Martinez will help to that end, but only a bit.
Martinez was tactically flexible at Wigan, switching from a back four to a back three often game-to-game, sometimes mid-game. It’s a far cry from David Moyes. You could count the number of times the new Manchester United manager deviated from a back four on the fingers of one hand.
It happened once last season, against Stoke City at Goodison Park, when Everton deployed a 3-4-3 formation that took some getting used to – for the fans as much as the players. Once it clicked, it fit the team well. In Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga, Everton have two central defenders who are both comfortable with the ball at their feet. Sylvain Distin is less so, but as a left-footer offers natural balance to the trio and has the speed to recover any mistakes in rapid fashion.
Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines are almost prototypical wing-backs, while Coleman first established himself at Goodison Park in midfield and, despite a fine season in which he improved a great deal, is still better in attack than defence.
But there are question marks over three of the five, and little depth behind them. Heitinga’s contract has 12 months to run and he’s highly-paid – too highly, some might say, to be sitting on the bench, as he did for most of last season. Sylvain Distin will turn 36 midway through the new season and cannot go on forever. And there’s a chance Baines won’t even be an Everton player by August, with Moyes’ United lurking.
Everton have four senior centre-backs, although Shane Duffy has so little first team experience he barely counts as senior, while Tony Hibbert is the only other natural right-back at the club but is as different from Coleman as the Moon is from a deckchair. Baines’ replacement might be in-house, in Bryan Oviedo, who saw little action under Moyes, but the England international has set a high standard for someone to match, if it comes to that.
The midfield rests on the future of Marouane Fellaini, but a new face is needed regardless, to provide options and fresh legs as much as anything else. Everton were hamstrung when Darron Gibson was on the injury list and Leon Osman is another reliable player entering his mid-30s.
Attack throws up more doubts too. Nikica Jelavic was a shadow of his former self throughout last season, Victor Anichebe’s battering-ram style remains an acquired taste and is not always effective, and Kevin Mirallas’ impressive season was pockmarked with injuries. That’s without mentioning the likes of Magaye Gueye, Apostolos Vellios and Steven Naismith. Some of them might not have a future under the new man. Some might be reborn. Once Martinez is confirmed at Goodison the transfer speculation will only intensify.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG