Last week I started to review the Everton squad of 2014/15, picking my choices to stay and go. Strangely enough Everton have more first team players with squad numbers 20-30 than 1-11 and so more players will be staying from this lot. The remaining 14 places in the squad are… (14 because of Galloway’s inclusion against West Ham).
- Mo Besic (Mid)
PL Appearances: 23 (15 starts)
At just 22, the heavily tattooed Besic is a very bright prospect. His take no prisoners approach to tackling combined with his wonderful eye for a pass and high quality ball retention skills makes him the most complete central midfielder I’ve seen for a long time. He’s very raw and could improve a great deal of his game however Barry and McCarthy will be wonderful mentors for the Bosnian.
- Gareth Barry (Mid)
PL Appearances: 33 (all starts)
While Barry is only getting older, he’s still a valuable part of our side. Far from his best this season, I think next season will be where he concedes his place to Besic however he needs to stick around to pass on his knowledge. If not an important player, still an important member of the squad to have around who can do a good job when required. I’d rather keep him than see him go.
- Christian Atsu (Mid)
PL Appearances: 6 (1 start)
It just hasn’t worked for the Ghanaian on loan from Chelsea. Unable to secure a regular place in the side and not impressing on the rare occasion he got on the pitch, it would be a huge surprise to see us move back in for him this summer. Clearly some talent there but a lot of work is required for it to blossom. Unfortunately, a waste of a loan move.
- Ross Barkley (Mid)
PL Appearances: 28 (21 starts)
Not the greatest of seasons for Barkley, who seems bereft of confidence and scared of shooting. It started with him being injured and is ending with his longest run in the side, albeit without doing much. His goal against QPR showed that he still possesses the ability to do something special and I still believe he’ll be a huge player for England in the future. I hope he stays at Everton, he could do incredible things here.
- Leon Osman (Mid)
PL Appearances: 21 (13 starts)
Even at 34, Leon Osman plays a key role in this Everton side. He missed a lot of this season through injury, which coincided with our worst run of form all season. When he came back, we started playing better and picked up more points. Hence it would be very stupid indeed to let him go.
- Steven Pienaar (Mid)
PL Appearances: 9 (3 starts)
This has been a season blighted by injury for Pienaar, hence why he hasn’t made it to 10 appearances. It’s a shame and could be a recurring pattern however he’s shown in his handful of appearances why he needs to stay. The link between the defence and the attack, no one in our side has the creativity he possesses in abundance. While we need to explore replacements for him, he also needs to stay to be a game changer from the bench.
- Seamus Coleman (Def)
PL Appearances: 35 (34 starts)
Coleman is a key player for Everton. While still not being as defensively aware as we would like, going forward there are few better full backs in the world. It’s not surprise he gets linked with a move away every window and it’s imperative that we cling onto him. He’s composed on the ball, he can cross well and he’s now got a wicked shot – for a defender all these attributes are fantastic. Improving year on year defensively, Coleman will only get better.
- Tim Howard (GK)
PL Appearances: 32 (all starts)
Howard has been a liability this season. Before Christmas he had saved only 51% of the shots he had faced, the worst of all the regular keepers in the league. He’s been better after his injury however I can’t help but wonder if it’s time we moved on from the American stopper. There are two sides to it: one, his presence is holding Joel back while two, Joel isn’t ready for first team exposure yet. Personally, I think he’s holding Joel back who looked good this season.
- Aaron Lennon (Mid)
PL Appearances: 14 (12 starts)
Lennon is on loan with us from Tottenham and has done very well indeed. Frustrating like all wingers but seemingly offering more than McGeady, if he doesn’t cost the earth then he would be worth a serious look at this summer. I’d like to see him play at Goodison permanently.
- John Stones (Def)
PL Appearances: 23 (all starts)
Stones isn’t the perfect defender but is wonderfully classy and improving all the time. His performances this season have been top class and we missed him badly when he was injured. Better on the ball than any English centre back in history, he is comfortable going forward as much as he is in defence. On top of that, he does everything with maturity belittling his 20 years of age and will assist Jagielka in leading a new batch of centre-backs next season.
- Ty Browning (Def)
PL Appearances: 2 (0 starts)
Maybe Browning will get a bigger role next season? I hope so as his 2 appearances (off the bench against Liverpool and United) were promising. He can play in the centre of the defence as well as on the right, so a good back up to Coleman/Jagielka/Stones to have. Worth keeping for a few years to see how he develops. I expect he will play a fair bit next season.
- Luke Garbutt (Def)
PL Appearances: 4 (3 starts)
Garbutt has a lot of talent and is out of contract this summer yet no new deal has been agreed as of yet. He can take corners better than anyone in the squad and is clearly modelled after Baines, being very effective going forward. It would be a shame to lose him however I can’t see us keeping him this late into the season without a new contract deal.
Verdict: He’ll go.
- Antolin Alcaraz (Def)
PL Appearances: 8 (6 starts)
Another defender out of contract this summer and it’s unlikely we’ll be offering the Paraguayan an extension. He isn’t really good enough to play week in week out and there are more promising youngsters out there who’ll be better as back up. However, if he gets his contract extended by a year than at least it’ll take the pressure off searching for new centre-backs.
Verdict: Should go but could stay.
- Brendan Galloway (Def)
PL Appearances: 2 (all starts)
He’s a late entry to this article following his surprise selection in the win against West Ham. A lot of people at Everton speak highly of the man we signed in the summer and Martinez must rate him to play him out of position ahead of both Garbutt and Distin! From what people said, he did well against the Hammers and so expect to see him more often next season.
Everton squad for 2015/16: Robles, Baines, Jagielka, Oviedo (?), Lukaku, Naismith, McCarthy, Besic, Barry, Barkley, Osman, Pienaar, Coleman, Lennon, Stones, Browning, Galloway
Looking for a new job: Hibbert, Gibson, McGeady, Ovideo (?), Kone, Mirallas, Distin, Atsu, Howard, Garbutt, Alcaraz
The proposed squad (minus additions) looks to be a well-balanced blend of youth and experience, including talent and grafters as well as versatile utility players. Players such as Pienaar, Osman and Barry will take a back seat next season – allowing the likes of Besic and Oviedo to shine.
Unfortunately, the potential squad points out the need for improvements in almost every position. Using my squad, we will need a new goalkeeper, a couple of centre backs and maybe a left back as well as another central midfielder, a couple of wingers and a couple of strikers. It should be a summer of change at Goodison Park however I trust Martinez to bring the right players in for small sums of money. Next season, we could have a very exciting squad indeed and again be challenging for European football.