A changing of the guard at Goodison – can they qualify for Europe after consecutive near-misses?
There’s something I’m sure I should be addressing straight off the bat… That would be their change of manager over the summer, presumably. After 11 years at the helm at Goodison, David Moyes got an offer he couldn’t refuse. The way Mr Moyes tells the story, actually, it sounds less like an offer and more like an order. Sir Alex invited him round to his house, sat him down and told him he’d be the next Manchester United manager. The rest is history… or history waiting to be made, anyway.
So how did Moyes do for Everton in his swansong season? Very well, again. The Toffees kicked their habit of starting slowly and instead came out of the traps flying. They started with a win (more of which later), were never lower than seventh position and spent much of the first half of the campaign inside the top four. Momentum did slow a little after Christmas, but while it will have been a tad disappointing for Evertonians not to see their club hanging on to a Champions League or Europa League slot, finishing sixth was nonetheless a good achievement.
Ahead of Liverpool, then? Yep. For the second year running, the first time Everton had managed that particular double since 1937.
So who’s in the hotseat now? Step forward Roberto Martinez, who may have caught the eye of the Everton kingmakers by steering his Wigan Athletic side past the Blues in the FA Cup quarter-final on the way to winning the trophy. The 40-year-old Spaniard, who is considered managerial hot property after successful spells at Swansea and Wigan, signed a four-year contract at Goodison in the summer.
Has he pulled that old trick of raiding his former club?
In textbook fashion. First he returned in the dead of night to pilfer Ivorian striker Arouna Kone – he of 11 Premier League goals last season in a team that went down – then a couple of days later he drove off with centre-back Antolin Alcaraz in the back of his van. Goalkeeper Joel Robles also joins from Atletico Madrid, having spent some time on loan with Wigan last term, while also from Spain comes