This time last season the Goodison faithful were just getting to grips with new manager Sam Allardyce. The disgraced former England gaffer led the Toffees to a 2-0 victory in his first game in charge against Huddersfield Town.
Despite that start he would leave at the end of the season with a large section of the crowd in open rebellion over his stewardship of the club. The style implemented by Big Sam along with his dismissive interviews in the media meant that no Everton fan could be sad to see him leave.
However with Everton currently occupying 8th position in the Premier League – the same position that Sam Allardyce left them in – will this season mark a significant improvement from the Allardyce era? Read on to find out.
Stylistically – Yes
According to Opta stats, no set of fans is currently seeing a bigger improvement from their team in terms of shots this season. Marco Silva’s Everton are taking on average nearly 50% more shots per game this time around than last season.
Surprisingly, they are also facing less shots per game than last season than any other Premier League defence. Somewhat of a shock if you consider that Sam Allardyce was renowned for his defensive discipline.
A renewed verve has been added to the Everton squad this season as well, with all 6 of the summer signing under the age of 25 – the previous 6 signings under the old regime were all aged over 26.
Full-back Lucas Digne highlights the new regime’s dedication to offensive play, creating just under 30 chances so far this season – the highest number of any defender in the league. Further forward, Andre Gomes has added speed to the Everton attack whilst Bernard has become the team’s fulcrum of creativity creating an average of 3 chances per game.
Last season Wayne Rooney was top scorer for Everton with 10 strikes over the course of the season, 3 of which came from the penalty spot. At the halfway mark of this campaign, midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has 6 goals to his name whilst Richarlison has 8.
Positionally – Yes
At time of writing Everton currently occupy 8th position in the Premier League, just 2 points behind 6th placed Manchester United. 5th seems unrealistic for Everton as the gap between them and Arsenal is currently 10 points, however overtaking Wolves and Manchester United should be achievable. [A New Year’s Day defeat moved us down to 11th, however]
Last season there was a 5 point gap between 8th placed Everton and 7th placed Burnley, there should be no such gap this time around. Wolves have arguably performed above all expectations this season, and Manchester United are the creaking clown car of English football.
The arrival of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer as replacement for Jose Mourinho has left the Premier League betting in flux at the moment. The former United legends only previous experience in Premier League management ended in disaster as he steered Cardiff to the Championship after replacing Malky Mackay.
Marco Silva’s influence on this Everton team seems to be taking full hold and with some decent acquisitions in January, this squad should have what it takes to finish 6th.
Trophy success – Yes
Everton were dumped out of this seasons League Cup by Southampton on penalties in the 3rd Round. That exit was one stage earlier than last season when Everton were eliminated in the 4th round, but success in this year’s FA Cup should be a realistic target for Marco Silva.
Whilst this year’s FA Cup 3rd Round opponents Lincoln have a pedigree for giant killings, we should feel confident of progressing in the competition. A Paul Rideout goal in 1995 was the last time that Everton fans have been able to celebrate a trophy win.
This season the league’s 2 runaway clubs will undoubtedly have their focuses elsewhere with Liverpool looking for a first league title since 1990 and Manchester City hoping to win the Champions League and seal their status as a ‘big club’.
So far this season, Marco Silva’s side have performed well against the division’s better clubs than in previous seasons. All that Everton require is a favourable draw to the latter stages where they undoubtedly have the talent in the squad to beat the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal, City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Fan mood – Yes – to a degree!
Regardless of whether or not Everton win the FA Cup this season, the mood amongst the fans has unquestionably been better than last season. Transfer recruitment has been exciting as has the style of play on the pitch at times. There is a greater affinity between the manager and the fans and that means that this season will be an improvement on lasts under Big Sam.