Premier League Preview - Everton
MANAGER: David Moyes
STADIUM: Goodison Park (40157)
LAST SEASON: 7TH
Everton rounded off the campaign in seventh - something rather unforeseen when the season was but a few weeks old. Being beaten by QPR was nearly the last straw for many as Bill Kenwright's prudence was beginning to grate on supporters who were clambering for the club to be sold to an owner with more ambition.
January saw Everton's renaissance - Nikica Jelavic was the spearhead to the revival that saw the Toffees make strides into the top half and ensure that they gave themselves a platform to build from in 2012-13. Ross Barkley emerged as a useful young talent and the sprightly Royston Drenthe provided an x-factor up front - Everton would be rejuvenated - for now.
IN: Steven Pienaar (Tottenham, £4.5m), Steven Naismith (Rangers, free)
OUT: Jack Rodwell (Man City, £12m), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls, £1m), Adam Forshaw (Brentford, undisclosed), James Wallace (Tranmere, undisclosed), Joao Silva (Levski Sofia, undisclosed), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, undisclosed), James McFadden (released), Marcus Hahnemann (released),
It would be remiss to me to mention that Everton have made more money than they have parted with this window. An obvious fact but nevertheless they will be without an influential young midfielder in Jack Rodwell and a talismanic forward in Tim Cahill - two huge losses for the club that cannot be understated going into a Premier League campaign.
As always, Everton will start weakened, but nevertheless I would expect them to be organised, stubborn and reflective of a loyal manager that continues to work miracles on a budget on Merseyside. They will perhaps not be strong enough for Europe but will certainly secure a top half finish if they remain consistent.
KEY PLAYER: Nikica Jelavić
Jelavic is one of those rare players that comes down from Scotland and settles in the Premier League like a duck to water - indeed it was this shrewd capture from David Moyes that helped prompt Everton's good form in the second half of the campaign and bolster their position to seventh in the table.
A career that started at Hajduk Split moved on to Zulte Waregem and then Rapid Vienna - it was here that he made his name and prompted Glasgow Rangers to spill £4m on the forwad. He cut through the SPL like a knife through butter scoring 30 times in 45 games, which saw Everton shell out a reported £5m fee for his services.
Weighing everything up I would expect Everton to be strong once more without making strides into Europe. Over the years the Toffees have had either a good start or a good finale - and this sporadic run of form, combined with important losses will see them top half and little more.
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