Despite a strong all-around performance, Everton losing to Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup confirmed they will make it 26 years without a major trophy this season. That 1995 FA Cup win over Manchester United remains the Toffees’ most recent honour, but this season has arguably exceeded expectations for many Everton fans.
Bookmakers are less optimistic, however, with the race for European football tightening among the top Premier League teams recently. Everton’s inconsistency in March may ultimately cost them a place in a continental competition – regarding betting in football, Everton are now priced at 22/1 to make the top four and 16/5 to make the top six. But a run-in that sees the Toffees play some of the teams around them offers a chance to dent their competitors’ European hopes.
There are still reasons to be hopeful that the trophy drought will end next year, of course. This modern Everton side under Carlo Ancelotti has shown itself to be a complete team, with summer signings James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré each a massive upgrade in midfield. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has emerged to become one of the Premier League’s best strikers and was rewarded with his first England call-up in October. Richarlison has overcome a slow start to make his mark in 2021, including a goal in a famous win at Anfield that will live long in the memory.
In defence, Michael Keane has been a sturdy ever-present, while Ben Godfrey was seen as a snub from the latest England squad after locking down some of the league’s best strikers this year. Lucas Digne is one of the best left-backs in the league. And even Everton fans who have bemoaned Yerry Mina’s mistakes in the past would have to admit this has been his best season in a blue shirt.
Depending on how the club approach recruitment in the summer transfer window, there’s no reason to think this team can’t compete for trophies next year, no matter how this season ends. The goalkeeping position will need to be a focus – neither Jordan Pickford nor Robin Olsen have covered themselves in glory this season, and the Pickford saga, in particular, can’t come to an end fast enough for many Everton fans. Equally, if a suitable replacement can’t be found this summer, Olsen deserves a chance to make the jersey his own, assuming his loan deal from Roma is made permanent.
Likewise, a decision is looming at right-back. Seamus Coleman has been one of Everton’s greatest Premier League servants, but he can no longer contribute consistently. As a rotation piece and a dressing-room presence, Coleman is a valuable part of the Goodison set-up, but sooner or later Marcel Brands will surely look for a permanent and established figure to make the right-back position his own.
With a little investment to strengthen the squad, and a little luck to stay healthy, there’s cause to be optimistic that next season will see the end of a long time away from domestic silverware.
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