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With the closing of the summer transfer window and the league being temporarily disrupted by the break for international World Cup Qualifiers and friendly matches, everybody can pause for a breath after what was a manic first month of the new Premier League season.
As the dust settles on yet another window of inflated transfer fees and last minute panic buys – £19million for Joe Allen, £14million for Fabio Borini, £15million for Jack Rodwell and £19million for Moussa Dembele – Everton manager David Moyes can cast an eye over his squad and be extremely satisfied with his summers transfer business.
Club legend Tim Cahill moved on to America, where he will join up Thierry Henry having signed for MLS side New York Red Bulls.
This was a great move for all concerned considering Cahill’s on pitch influence has been limited over the past 18 months – he keeps his standing as a modern day club legend, Everton received a nominal fee from NY Red Bulls and the prospect of the fairytale return on loan during the MLS close season is something which will appeal to most Everton fans, who will hope Cahill’s return will have the same galvanising effect as Thierry Henry’s return to Arsenal had last season.
Having also removed some of the squad’s deadwood from the wage bill, with the likes of James McFadden, Joseph Yobo and Marcus Hahnemann leaving the club, Moyes spent some of the £15million the club received from the sale of Jack Rodwell to Manchester City to bolster his resources extremely wisely.
Stephen Pienaar resigned from Tottenham, Belgium international Kevin Mirallas arrived from Olympiakos for a fee in the region of £7.5 million, Stephen Naismith arrived on a controversial free transfer from Glasgow Rangers and defensive cover in the form of Costa Rica international Bryan Oviedo was a snip at £1.5 million from FC Copenhagen, meaning Everton now have cover in all the areas they would have struggled with if the inevitable injuries to key players arrive.
In recent years, Everton have struggled to compete for the full duration of a Premier League season, mainly due to the small size of David Moyes’ squad, with injuries taking their toll on Moyes’ stretched squad, but they have somehow managed to regroup and finish very strongly after poor starts in the league.
This season, the Everton manager is striving to avoid the pitfalls of yet another slow start and with the signings Moyes has made, Everton could well be this season’s surprise package, with a top 4 finish well within their capabilities.
Everton have made a good start to the season having convincingly defeated Manchester United 1-0 in their opening match at Goodison Park, which they then followed up with an easy 3-1 victory at Villa Park against an Aston Villa side who are still trying to find their feet after the arrival of new manager Paul Lambert.
They were unlucky to lose their third league game to a West Brom side who are rejuvenated after Steve Clarke took over the reigns after Roy Hodgson’s departure for the English national team post.
The early signs are promising for the Toffees and for the first time in years, Everton look to have a squad that can take the next step in the league and possibly go one better than 2009 – where they lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea – and win the club’s first silverware since the 1995 FA cup win.
The job Davis Moyes has done over the years has been remarkable considering the size of his squad and the financial constraints he’s had to work with. Everton have been a solid top 8 side for the past 6 years, and back in 2004-05 he even managed to steer them to 4th place in the Premier League and into the Champions League qualifying rounds – where they lost out to Spanish side, Villareal. It’s time for Moyes to lead Everton into European club football’s premier competition.
Players like Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini have built up a great understanding in recent years and are improving with each season, with Fellaini’s early season form already causing speculation that he will be on the move in the not to distant future – something the player himself moved to deny on Sunday.
Adding the goal scoring instincts of Nikica Jelavić to the attacking approach Everton use and the potential is there for the Croatian striker to be the first Everton striker since Gary Lineker, in the 1985-86 season, to score more than 20 league goals in a season.
Darron Gibson has slotted into the Everton midfield gracefully and is showing the form Irish manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, predicted he would if he moved to a club where he would play regular football.
With a consistent, reliable goalkeeper in American Tim Howard and a solid back line containing the likes of England international Phil Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga, this Everton side has the players, and the manager, to achieve the unexpected.
With this summer’s transfer business only strengthening an already competitive squad, all the ingredients are there for Everton to break through the glass ceiling and into the Top 4.
The Champions League is calling; the question is…..Can Everton be the ones to answer the call?
Written by Dave Butler
Follow him on Twitter @daveybutler83
Check out his excellent site, Davey Butler’s Football Matters
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