Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man & Prediction



Everton finished 12th last season | Michael Regan/Getty Images

It was another frustrating campaign last time out for Everton, one that promised so much but delivered so little.

Marco Silva was sacked in December following a humiliating loss to fierce rivals Liverpool, with Carlo Ancelotti becoming the fourth permanent manager at Goodison Park since Roberto Martinez was dismissed in May 2016.

The veteran Italian coach has brought a new wave of hope, optimism and star names along with him, though the Toffees could only manage a 12th placed finish in 2019/20, their lowest sInce 2003/04.

However, this summer transfer window has given Everton fans reason for optimism. James Rodriguez, the Colombian playmaker who won the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot, has arrived from Real Madrid and will be joined in midfield by Brazilian anchorman Allan. Frenchman Abdoulaye Doucoure is another imminent arrival.

Former Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich boss Ancelotti is recruiting players who have previously produced their best football, so maybe this will be the season Everton finally get their hands on some silverware. Maybe.

James RodriguezRodriguez has won multiple major trophies including the Champions League and La Liga | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

After the additions of Rodriguez, Allan and the imminent arrival of Watford’s Doucoure, Everton’s main strength will lie in midfield. Ancelotti favoured a traditional 4-4-2 formation after his arrival in England halfway through the 2019/20 season but the options available to him in central midfield didn’t suit that particular approach.

The likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin simply didn’t have the legs or physique needed to play that role effectively and this is an issue Ancelotti has addressed over the summer.

The pace, power and athleticism of Allan and Doucoure, combined with their tactical discipline, will allow Rodriguez to play on the right-hand side of midfield and cause a threat to opponents with his favoured left foot and technical ability.

Ancelotti isn’t rigid in his approach, however, and the versatility of Rodriguez is one of his biggest assets. If the Italian wants to play with a traditional ‘number ten’ then the Colombian is most at home there, just as he is capable of playing on the left wing in a 4-3-3 set-up.

Ancelotti now has an abundance of options at his disposal that can match some of the best midfields in the league.

Junior Stanislas, Jordan PickfordEverton’s defensive woes were a weak spot last season | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Apart from left back Lucas Digne, Everton’s back four and goalkeeper were poor on several occasions last season.

Djibril Sidibe had an uninspiring loan spell from French giants Monaco, Michael Keane was improved from the previous campaign but his lack of pace and mobility still leaves him exposed and Yerry Mina was unconvincing before losing his place to Mason Holgate, who did put in some promising displays before picking up an injury.

The worst offender though was goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The 26-year-old made several errors leading to goals and his poor form has put his starting spot for club and country in question. So far, both Gareth Southgate and Ancelotti appear to be sticking by the England international but if that loyalty is to continue he needs to up his game and cut out the errors next season.

RicharlisonRicharlison bagged 15 goals in all competitions last season | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Richarlison was Everton’s joint top scorer last season alongside strike partner Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with 15 goals in all competitions. The Brazilian’s £50m price tag raised several eyebrows when he made the move from Watford two years ago but the 23-year-old has justified that fee.

His total of 26 Premier League goals for the Toffees since his arrival bettered Romelu Lukaku’s tally in his first two campaigns at Goodison Park and, with the addition of Rodriguez now supplying his fellow South American teammate, Richarlison’s opportunities in front of goal will grow.

The youngster formed a good strike partnership with Calvert-Lewin after Ancelotti’s arrival with the Englishman prepared to do the majority of the running, freeing up space for the more technically gifted Richarlison.

If the pair can carry on in the same vein throughout 2020/21 it could be a very exciting year for everyone at Everton.

Carlo AncelottiAncelotti will be aiming to finish in the European places in his first full season in charge of Everton | Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It’s always hard to predict where Everton will end up come the end of the season. They’re so predictably unpredictable and seem to offer so much hope at the start of every new campaign. But with the calibre of manager now in the dugout and the level of players he is attracting, there is a real sense of optimism that 2020/21 could produce something special for the Toffees.

Finishing in a European spot will be the aim for Ancelotti and a good cup run to excite the fans would be welcomed by the supporters.

This expensively assembled set of players could also write their names in history by defeating Liverpool for the first time in ten years and victory in a Merseyside derby would allow a certain amount of leeway in regards to other performances and results.

Prediction: Challenge for Europa League Qualification



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