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With an exciting new edition of the Premier League now upon us, Goal.com looks at how each of the 20 clubs are shaping up. In this article, we feature David Moyes' Everton.

2007-2008, Where It Ended
 
The 07-08 season saw a solid 5th place Premiership finish for David Moyes’ Everton and UEFA cup qualification.  It had been a decent season where injuries and the mysterious goalscoring form of Andy Johnson had put paid to the chance of breaking into the top 4.  Everton had lost their influential midfielder and goal threat Tim Cahill to injury sporadically throughout the season and Johnson was suffering from a bout of patchy finishing leading up to the close of the campaign.  However, these factors didn’t affect the desire of the team and some good performances, well-drilled defending and an organised midfield carried the side through.  Yakubu was scoring vital goals, 21 for the season, and the form of Stephen Pienaar, Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott were highlights of the season.

Losing Yobo, Yakubu and Pienaar to the Nations Cup was a minor blow at a crucial time, the importance of that month being highlighted by Moyes’ attempts to retain Pienaar until the 11th hour falling firmly on deaf ears. This was to eventually show in the league placings.

Still, there were positives. A very positive display throughout the UEFA cup campaign stood out, with Everton winning the group comfortably and the eventual winners, Zenit St. Petersburg, having been beaten by Everton in the group stage.  The Blues ended up going out of the competition to Fiorentina on penalties after one of the best games of the season at Goodison Park, with the Blues overturning a 2-0 deficit and being unlucky not to win the tie in open play.

Was the display in the UEFA cup better than expected?  I think so.  It’ll be difficult to recreate the dominance shown in the group stage of 07-08 into 08-09.  Everton are capable of progressing and with the lessons learned in the knock-out stage could see at least a semi-final appearance.  After all, Everton beat Zenit and could more than likely beat Rangers.

Back home, a decent run in the League Cup to the semi-final saw Chelsea being too strong over 2 legs, and a quality finish from Joe Cole ending Everton’s dreams of their first cup final for 13 years.

In retrospect, then, Everton had an excellent season overall.  2 serious cup runs and to finish 5th in the Premiership showed that David Moyes knows his stuff, both tactically and in the transfer market.  A strong spine to the team and goals from all areas ensured that the fans would be happy with the continued progression of the team and would give rise to confidence for a productive summer and some quality additions to the squad.  The loss of Alan Irvine to Preston North End however, was a little distressing but this was soothed somewhat by the appointment of Steve Round from Newcastle to sit at Moyes’ right hand.

Summer
 
Following the shop window that was Euro 2008 several players were linked with the great and the good of Europe's top clubs.  Most notably for Everton was, and still is at the time of writing, the persuance of Joao Mountinho from Sporting Lisbon.  Mountinho had a good Euro 2008 with Portugal prompting admiring comments from the likes of David Pleat no less.  Several other players have been linked with Everton but all have fallen by the wayside, and with almost every other major premiership club making at least one major signing Everton have only confirmed the signature of Stephen Pienaar from Dortmund for a measly £2.05M.

The ageing but popular Lee Carsley called time on his Everton career by leaving on a free to Birmingham; Stefan Wessels was released; Vidarsson went to FC Twente on a free; and Gravesen, Fernandes and Gardner returned to their respective clubs on the completion of their loan deals.  Surprisingly, no permanent deal (or further loan) has been struck with Valencia to keep Manuel Fernandes at Goodison Park after he improved dramatically towards the end of the season and stated his desire to remain on Merseyside.  This is more than likely down to the new Valencia manager Unai Emery wishing to retain quality players after Los Che's poor season under Ronald Koeman.

So far, David Moyes has been undone in the transfer market with many targets choosing to go elsewhere.  He seems to operating a patient game and hasn’t made any ‘panic’ buys which shows confidence that he is sticking to his guns and remains likely to bring in players he deems good enough to wear the Everton shirt.  Transfer speculation remains hot around Goodison with the most recent names linked being Alan Smith from Newcastle, Vagner Love from CSKA Moscow and Stephane M’bia from Rennes, but with statements from each of these players clubs claiming their player won’t be leaving to join Everton it is difficult to say who will be next new face at Finch Farm.

Looking Ahead
 
I’m never filled with confidence during pre-season as it normally disappoints and there was no change this season.  Of the 7 games played Everton have won only 2, against Preston and Colorado Rapids whilst managing to lose to FC Sion of Switzerland, Chicago Fire and most notably Cambridge United where sections of the Everton crowd were voicing their displeasure with the board.  Draws with Nottingham Forest and particularly PSV Eindhoven have boosted confidence slightly.

Thus far the summer has been disappointing and with only one week to go of the transfer window, the lack of new signings is unnerving to say the least, especially as Andy Johnson has jumped ship to Fulham for £10.5M.  Moyes has voiced his displeasure at the difficulties of bringing in new players and I’m with him on that one.  Players appear to be fighting to sign for the likes of Tottenham who finished below Everton in the league and didn’t progress as far in the UEFA cup.  Bizarre indeed. 

If the worst comes to the worst and no new faces are added to the team sheet then hopes may rest with the products of Evertons youth academy.  Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan initially but the likes of Jack Rodwell and Jose Baxter are likely to be playing more games this season.  With any luck Goodison may also see the unfortunate Andy van der Meyde make a return to the side and hopefully recreate some of the flashes of quality he has shown in his so far fleeting Everton career.

With the squad staying largely the same, the potential formation for the season is likely to be the same as last season, sometimes playing 4-5-1 with Yakubu up front on his own or 4-4-2 with Yakubu and either Anichebe or Vaughan to partner him.  In certain games against certain teams 4-5-1 was used and didn’t work, as Yakubu can often become anonymous when he has to go looking for the ball.  Moyes remedied this by reverting to 4-4-2 and partnering him with the immense Victor Anichebe being the favoured choice.

A lot hinges on the form of the key players if Everton are to recreate last seasons magic.  Avoiding injury is just as important due to the size of the squad that was a factor last season as the challenge for fourth place ebbed away in March after some disappointing results.  I’m confident that Moyes will make at least 2 decent signings in the final week of the window which should go some way to improving the squad.  If we can play the same way and with the same passion and commitment that was shown last season then there is no reason why we cannot continue to challenge for a top four place.  There are a lot of teams that will pose a greater threat to Everton this season, Tottenham in particular, but Moyes learns from his mistakes and will often correct failings from previous experiences so a decent UEFA cup campaign is on the cards.  If Everton can make it to Christmas in a decent position in the league then the January transfer window may hold the key to another successful season with top 4 not out of the Toffees' reach.

Manager: David Moyes

Assistant Manager: Steve Round

Stadium: Goodison Park (40,569)

2007/08 Position: 5th

2007/08 Record: P-38  W-19  D-8  L-11  GF-55  GA-33  Pts-65

Players in:  Steven Pienaar (Borussia Dortmund)

Players out:  Andy Johnson (Fulham), Lee Carsley (Birmingham), Stefan Wessels (Released), Bjarni Vidarsson (FC Twente), Thomas Gravesen (Celtic), Manuel Fernandes (Valencia), Anthony Gardner (Tottenham).

Possible Line-up:
Howard, Baines, Hibbert, Lescott, Yobo, Pienaar, Arteta – van der Meyde, Osman, Neville, Yakubu, Anichebe or Vaughan.

Dan White

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