In just 48 hours Everton begin their 2020-21 Premier League season with a trip down south to London and a game at Tottenham Hotpsur.
So what can we hope Everton might realistically achieve in this season after a summer of hectic activity, with three new signings made and possibly one or two more still to come?
It’s always with a due sense of fear and anxiety that I approach the beginning of any new season, I can’t help but feel that level of apprehension given that this is Everton Football Club!
I’m as passionate an Evertonian as there is, but In recent years and decades, this club has seemingly found new ways to mess up and confound even it’s worst critics with almost comical levels of ineptness and failure, on and off the pitch.
So will this campaign be any different?
Well there are several reasons to have more, albeit still cautious, reasons to feel optimistic that perhaps, the Toffees have finally turned a corner.
Obviously the first of those reasons is Carlo Ancelotti. The Blues boss is one of the most decorated and consistently successful managers in the history of the game.
If Everton can’t succeed and win something under his astute tutelage, then maybe the club should just wind itself up and call it a day!
Securing his services in December last year, was one of the most spectacular coups in the club’s history. It almost seemed that the stars had aligned at the time.
Just as Everton had dispensed with the services of Marco Silva and were searching for his replacement, Napoli sacked the Italian due to internal politics.
Ancelotti was the man Farhad Moshiri had supposedly always wanted to take over the reigns at Goodison Park and now he had a totally unexpected chance to bring him in.
Negotiations went on and on, then on a sunny Saturday in December, the Italian was announced as the Toffees new manager.
Since he took over, Ancelotti has changed the culture and expectations of the club and team. He has shown his renowned man-management skills with his handling of players and how he has coaxed better performances from under-achieving players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
But some of those individuals and players like established midfielders Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson eventually lapsed back to their worst as the season wound down as the team limped to a dreadful 12th place finish.
Ancelotti recognised and identified that his number one objective and priority was to sort out his midfield and set out to do exactly that in the summer transfer window.
The Blues now have added three new midfielders. two of whom at least, are a huge step up in quality to what Everton have previously been able to attract. We have Ancelotti to thank for that.
These experienced players will hopefully provide much greater stability in midfield, shore up the team defensively and improve the attack as well.
Hopefully too the influx of these talented and veteran players will provide additional help, support and even mentoring for the youngsters in the Toffees team.
There are still some major weaknesses in the side. In particular I think Everton still lack enough pace in the team, both at the back and in attack.
Hopefully there might be a few more additions, ideally perhaps a right-back/winger and an experienced striker, possibly on loan. That would give the Toffees a much stronger team overall.
So what might be a realistic, honest expectation for the season ahead?
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Defensively I believe that the team will be stronger and more consistent but it would also be great to see the Blues playing some better football too, making chances and scoring more goals. Football is a business yes and the stakes are high, but it’s also about entertainment.
In terms of achievement, I would like to think that Everton can crack the top seven and possibly secure a Europa League place as a minimum.
Although the Europa League is sometimes seen as a poisoned chalice, it does help raise a club’s profile and attract better talent. And winning it is a passport into the fabled Champions League cash bonanza.
A trophy, either the League cup or FA Cup, would be great too and in truth I would take some silverware next term over finishing in a European place.
Most of all I hope that my renewed but still tentative optimism, isn’t dashed again this season after so many false dawns in the recent past. I also hope that the fans will be back in grounds soon to enjoy it – COYB!