Everton got their pre-season matches underway as the Blues beat Swiss side Stade Nyonnais 2-1 today in their first competitive game since the end of the 2022-23 campaign.
Predictably, this was a chance to give some of the Toffees most promising young players a chance to impress manager Sean Dyche as he ramps up training before the new season starts in just under a month’s time.
Obviously, results are not the most important aspect of these games rather it is escalating fitness and seeing improving performances that are more critical, but equally it is still good to see Everton winning this warm-up match even if only just.
Several young players had spells on the pitch during the ninety minutes and one of them, Katia Kouyate, scored the first goal of the club’s pre-season.
The Blues went two up through Neal Maupay’s penalty before their hosts grabbed a consolation goal late on. Will that be his last Toffees goal before he moves on?
Kouyate’s strike was an excellent finish as he took a quick touch after receiving Alex Iwobi’s pass and then fired home emphatically into the top of the net with his left foot.
He had a good outing overall playing on the left of Everton’s midfield and sharing that position with Dwight McNeil.
As well as Kouyate, Dyche also gave a run out to others such as Tyler Onyango and Lewis Warrington in midfield as well as Francis Okoronkwo and Tom Cannon up front.
Of course, none of these four players are likely to be lining up for the home team when the Toffees start the new Premier League campaign against Fulham in August. At least we hope not!
But, it does represent a good early chance for the manager to run the rule over them.
Cannon in particular is a player who if he stays and doesn’t go out on loan again, could well be on the fringes of the first team next season after impressing at Preston North End last season.
Dyche has been quoted saying he wants four or more new signings before the transfer window shuts and you would assume at least two of these should be forwards, given the lack of firepower in this Everton side.
However, even if he gets several more forwards in, Cannon may well still get a chance of game-time especially in the cup competitions.
He didn’t though do his chances of getting a look in much good today and missed out on a couple of scoring opportunities.
Okoronkwo is a young striker highly thought of when he joind the Blues and he looked sharp enough while also winning the penalty which Maupay converted.
As for the two midfeilders, both have been out on loan recently and Onyango has also recovered from a serious injury sustained last year.
Both he and Warrington put themselves about and showed a willingness to work hard without doing much else to impress. Early days yet perhaps.
All-in-all then a decent outing and a win to start the long road that will culminate next May when the 2023-24 season finally concludes.