The 2017/18 Premier League season started with a great deal of optimism at Goodison Park.
There was hope with the investment of funds following the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, the Toffees could mount a challenge for a top four place under Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman spent money on Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane, all of which were expected to go straight into the starting XI and make an impact. Other additions included the return of Wayne Rooney plus Nikola Vlasic, Sandro Ramirez, Cuco Martina and Davy Klaassen.
Everton fans couldn’t complain about the transfer activity and hopes were high as the season kicked off. However, having won only two of their first 9 Premier League games, Koeman was relieved of his duties following a heavy 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal, one of the teams Everton were hoping to challenge at the beginning of the campaign.
Other big defeats during Koeman’s games included a 3-0 loss at home to Tottenham Hotspur and a 4-0 reverse at Manchester United.
In a campaign where football fans witnessed arguably the strongest ever Premier League team in Pep’s all conquering City, it turned out to be a season of fierce competition to claim one of the Champions League spots rather than to finish top of the lot. Prior to the season starting, Everton’s most optimistic fans would have hoped to have seen their side battling amongst the top 6 until the final match, but it quickly became apparent that this would be a disappointing campaign, especially considering the amount of transfer activity in the summer.
The results and performances under Koeman were not good enough and David Unsworth returned to his familiar role of caretaker manager. The former defender had 8 games in charge but could only muster two wins and a draw.
Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright appeared to have one man they wanted to bring in, Marco Silva but he was the manager of Watford and with no deal forthcoming, they turned to Sam Allardyce.
The reaction to the appointment of Allardyce was mixed at best but the Englishman had a record of taking teams to survival. That was the first thought on the mind of the owners when they made their appointment.
Allardyce was never going to bring a slick, high tempo attacking style of football to Goodison but did lead the club to 8 games without a defeat following his arrival.
To say the fans were not on board with Allardyce, his methods and comments to the media, is an understatement but at the end of the campaign, Everton sat 8th in the league table, one place off a Europa League spot.
Allardyce was never going to be the long term replacement for Koeman and it was a case of sucking it up and accepting the job he was doing until the season ended.
That’s not to say there were no bright sparks and the performances of Jordan Pickford were excellent. Having joined from Sunderland for £25 million, the pressure was on the young goalkeeper but he was superb and looks set to be England’s number one in Russia this summer.
Sigurdsson joined with big expectations following good performances at Swansea City. The Icelandic international was played out of position under Koeman but moved into his favoured number 10 role later in the season. He did not hit the heights of previous campaigns and a knee injury plus the drawn out transfer negotiations did not help matters. Expect to see Sigurdsson back to his best next season and scoring and creating goals for Everton.
The winter arrivals of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott added much needed fire to the attack and both players brought something to the team in the second half of the season. It will be interesting to see how both players perform next season and Tosun in particular looks like a player the Everton faithful could get behind if he enjoys a good run in the team.
Despite the upheaval during the course of the season and the injuries to key players including Sigurdsson and Seamus Coleman, Everton still finished in 8th place in the Premier League, which shows there is quality in the squad. If the players can remain fit, there is no doubt they have the talent to push higher up the league table and the appointment of a new manager has brought some fresh optimism.
Marco Silva, who the board tried to appoint prior to the arrival of Allardyce, has been named as the new manager of the club. The Portuguese comes in having managed Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos plus Hull City and Watford in the Premier League.
During the course of his managerial career, Silva led his teams to 41 unbeaten games on home soil.
The fans would love nothing more than for Goodison Park to become a place feared by opposition teams once more and hopefully Silva will be the man to achieve this.