Squad Analysis: Are we ready?

Fran Mitchell 10/07/2017 91comments  |  Jump to last

Often we talk about what we need and first IXs, but football is a squad game nowadays, and hopefully this season will see us challenge for the top-4, while also making serious tilts to the 3 cup competitions. How is our squad prepared for this challenge?

Squad Analysis:

Goal: Pickford gives us a certain no1 for the years to come, but Roubles' desire to move on means we lack decent back-up. With us hoping for a good run in Europe, the risk of having Stek in goal should any injury or suspension for Pickford is a risk too great to take. Also, real competition is always necessary in all positions. So back up keeper required.

Right-back/wing-back: Coleman is a potential club captain, one of the best in his position when fit. Unfortunately that will not be for some time. Kenny is a great prospect and should be given his chance, while Holgate can also do a job. In any crisis, Lennon and Davies also provide flexibility. No signings required.


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Left-back/wing-back: Baines is our mr. Consistent, a great player for us over the years. Age is catching up, and a potential 50+ games this season is not something his organism will be looking forward to. With age comes loss of pace, and potential injury. We have no real cover here, Galloway out on loan and Garbutt not up to it. Ideally we'd have a potential long term replacement in mind, if not, then at least some sturdy back-up required.

Central-defence: occasionally we may play 3, mostly 2. Keane is our obvious main man there, and Williams and Jags can be relied upon if we interchange between them. But their long term replacement is needed. Also a big year for Mori, if he stays. Can he make the step up, make a solid pairing with Keane or is he just not good enough? Same can be asked about Holgate, can he step up and claim the position as his own? Pennington will offer back-up. Maybe required, albeit not priority.

Central midfield (defensive): Gana Gueye and Schneiderlin provide us with a solid base. Ball winners and positive, solid distribution. They guarantee we are not easy to play against. Back up is plentiful, with Barry, McCarthey, Besic and of course Davies all able to come in when needed.

Central midfield (creative/attacking): our undoubted weak spot. Klassen should provide goals and box-to-box energy. Barkley, well, we have no idea if he'll be here. Davies can also offer box-to-box energy, but that about sums it up. No great passers of the ball, no players whose brain and vision will win matches. At least one creative midfielder is needed.

Wingers/wide-forwards: Another weak spot. Mirallas continues to flatter to deceive. Decent to have around , option off the bench and Europa games but nothing much beyond that. Bolasie will miss half the season, and what he offers is still up for debate. Barkley can do a job as a forward on he right, but will he be here? Lennon offers squad numbers but little else. Both Sandro and Rooney may be deployed from the left. Lookman has great potential, but it is too soon to be relied upon. And Calvert-Lewin also has potential, but again not enough to rely upon just yet. At least one is needed.

Strikers: Rooney and Sandro are basically our only strikers, and both may be deployed in other positions. Calvert-Lewin may be able to claim he position, but a proven goal scorer, with ability to hold the ball and movement to bring others into the game is essential. At least one is needed.

Youth: Davies, Calvert-Lewin, and Lookman came in last season to offer genuine options to our first team. While Pennington cemented a place in the squad without looking like a real long term option as a starter. The coming season could well be defining for the futures of Dowell, Williams, Walsh and Kenny. Can they make the step up? With Europa League, as well as cups, they should get their chances. Maybe also some of the new lads signed to the u23s can make an impact too.

Based on this quick and highly subjective analysis, at least 5 new players are still needed for this club to mount a serious challenge on all fronts this season, 3 of which would be regulars in the first team.

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Reader Comments (91)

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Darren Hind
1 Posted 11/07/2017 at 05:55:44

We won't score enough and we won't create enough to challenge the top boys.

I can't believe we have spent so much without bringing in a "lock picker".

Will Mabon
4 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:04:49
I think Klaassen's passing is better than you credit him, Fran – though it won't be so easy in this league. I'd rather Barkley stays. Calvert-Lewin a long way from ready I feel. I guess he's showing something in training but it's lost on me, so far.

Funny, but the more players we buy, the more we seem to need, Europa League and all. It's a two team game now.

At least one younger prospect will follow Davies through eventually, as well as Lookman. We're well set for the mid term but now is the issue, up front has to be addressed asap.

Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:08:32
Solid summary, Fran, and hard to argue with any of it, although I have a somewhat higher opinion of Stek than you do.

Just seems a tad premature to me... seven weeks of the window still remaining and so many players on our radar, with more additions a virtual certainty. Let's wait and see how it shakes out.

Nigel Gregson
6 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:22:29
Something doesn't feel right about this wholesale change. We are shedding some deadweight – I'm all for it, but we are also losing squad depth. Jags might be leaving soon (not a bad thing necessarily). But, we are way too light on fullbacks, and we have lost our key goals outlet.

I want to get excited for the new team, but I don't really know who to get excited about. If Rooney wasn't a blue, we'd not beas welcoming as we have been – and we've gone down the 'fading-pro' route before. It worked well with Barry, but it can go poorly as well (Eto'o?).

Other than Wayne, we've got a high potential defender, goal keeper and midfielder. None of them make me jump out of my seat. Last years signings of Bolasie and Schneiderlin were far more interesting as they were both players with a lot of proven Premier League pedigree.

I'm treading with caution here. I still fail to see where the goals will come from. Last year our problem was 'Who will create them?'. Now our problem is 'Who will create them and who will score them?'

brian grant
7 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:29:05
Some suggestions for players incoming: Van Dijk, Chilwell and I am sure our much vaunted scouting system can find someone better than Sigurdsson for half the reported £50m Swansea want.

Outgoing: usual suspects: McCarthy, Barkley etc, Most important of all, the best striker we can get, maybe one of Man City's lot?

Mike Green
8 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:31:22
Hard to know until we've seen what the new boys can do but I'd say left-back cover, winger (ideally who can play either side) and striker for now.

Agree with Mike G about Stekelenburg and Will, you're right about the more we get the more we seem to need – great comment :)

David Ellis
9 Posted 11/07/2017 at 07:54:23
I think one of the problems is we had a completed jigsaw and now we've got a supplemental box with new pieces that don't fit the old jigsaw.

It will be a bit easier to understand how it all fits together once the window is closed (so we know what pieces we have) and Koeman starts picking a few sides (so we know what formation we play).

On the specifics I would throw in Antonee Robinson as the potential cover for left back, he seems to have got ahead of Gallagher (in that he is not going out on loan) and he may be able to transition to the first team squad alongside Kenny. We also have Barry that can play left back. With both full back positions I am torn between bringing in a new first teamer or giving the youth a chance as back up for now. What I don't want is a short term make weight that blocks the youth and doesn't replace the incumbent.

As for midfield/attack – I think it is clear that Sandro is a No 9 and that Rooney wants to play up front. Absent any new signings that will be two of our front 3. Bolasie when fit can provide the width, but in his absence I guess it will be Lookman/Mirallas fighting it out as they did at the end of last season. Barkley could also play in this front three.

In midfield it looks like Schneiderlin and Gueye in the Barry/McCarthy positions and Klaassen replacing Barkley as the attacking mid role.

For gaps I think we need another no.9 type striker and a wide attacking player as I don't rate Mirallas, Bolasie is injured for half the season (and may not be the same when he comes back) and Lookman may not be ready for prime-time.

Oddly although I have read that Sigurdsson can play anywhere across the front 3 I don't see him as being either of these types of players – not the heading ability to be a No 9 nor the speed to play out wide.

As mentioned elsewhere there is a concern that we lack pace in the front 3 if we use Rooney and add Sigurdsson and Giroud to the mix.

The other player being linked is Leicester's Gray who is a winger but at 20 years old and struggling for game time at Leicester I wonder if this is the answer as we already have Lookman and there is the hugely talented Henry Onyekuru coming in next season.

It is all very exciting but it could all go totally pear shaped. Let's hope the management know what they are doing!! I think the next season will be a genuine transitional season and it will all start to really come together the following year. Can't see us finishing lower than 7th regardless.

Dermot Byrne
10 Posted 11/07/2017 at 08:16:02
All about a fast front man who can leave a defender standing and pick up passes from Rooney and Klaassen. Have we got that? No idea really and who could fit that role?
Duncan McDine
11 Posted 11/07/2017 at 08:30:13
I agree with most points from the OP. I'm sure there will be at least another 3 or 4 arriving, and the same number leaving (before Sept). Koeman is giving them a good chance to bed in by getting them in early, but I still think we'll have to be patient in terms of seeing the best out of the current squad.

David (#9) thanks for explaining about the jigsaw with supplemental pieces... it makes things so much easier to understand now!!!

To refer to last seasons squad as a 'completed puzzle' is just about the most ridiculous comment of all – but good on you for making me chuckle.

James Morgan
12 Posted 11/07/2017 at 08:43:11
I would be tempted to let the youngsters Kenny and Robinson be our back up full backs. They would come on leaps and bounds with the experience around them.

I would let McCarthy and Barry go and bring in one quality box to box midfielder. A creator and a striker are an obvious priority and I agree with us needing a quality winger.

Four players for me.

David Ellis
14 Posted 11/07/2017 at 09:23:03
Duncan (#11), yep, began to tie myself in knots with the jigsaw analogy. It seemed like a good idea at the start of the sentence, but less so by the end!
Alexander Murphy
15 Posted 11/07/2017 at 09:48:32
Interesting discussion article, Fran. Says much of what I've thought, so thanks.

Then Nigel (#6) also makes me think, much I agree, some I don't.

We needed to move on. We needed to remember that this is a great club. A bloody giant!

Our shift in thinking, in behaviour has already got the cocky comfortable favoured few looking around and thinking twice. Good.

Buying "one good lad" and thinking "he'll make a big difference". Yep, smashing. That might have been true when footie was shown in black & white.

We've been "the best man's kid brother" for decades, never mind the third choice bridesmaid. Thinking like Accrington Stanley has won us just as many bits of silver.

New thinking. New players. New era.

Iain Love
16 Posted 11/07/2017 at 10:51:34
Options are what we need; the option to play a target man is what we're missing and the option to play killer passes through the middle before the other team can get in position.

To me it's obvious – a striker who can hold the ball up and bring others into play and someone who can feed them, without dithering on the ball.

The striker doesn't have to be a 20-goals-a-season man (although that would be nice) Giroud would be perfect. I'm sure one of our centre halves described him as the toughest No 9 they'd played against. My point is they don't have to be a world class player just someone who fits the system.

The playmaker a bit more difficult to find. Barkley to me always takes too long to release the ball, slows the play and gives opponents time. Top class players always appear to have time on the ball. We need a Mata or a David Silva, both of whom might be available.

Rob Dolby
17 Posted 11/07/2017 at 11:22:27
Rewind a couple of seasons to Roberto's last season and I thought that we had the best squad since the 80s – talk about being fed on bread and water.

Now I feel like Augustus Gloop in the chocolate factory. We are gorging on everything available. We can go out and buy players who will improve us not just buying sticking plasters.

Being greedy I would like another striker, possibly Dembele. a genuine left mid though they are like rocking horse shit and a sub left back if the U23s can't provide one.

Our only problem is getting the players to gel together; if Koeman and team can get the team spirit going then we have great cause for optimism.

Brian Grant
18 Posted 11/07/2017 at 12:26:51
Now that Man City have discovered "Jesus", Aguerro is no longer the main striker. So I know there is more chance of a ship going up Brownlow Hill but why not try for him? Imagine him running onto passes from Rooney and Klaassen?
Anthony Hawkins
19 Posted 11/07/2017 at 12:33:19
My main argument here is that we had a solid squad last season with a quality first 11 but suddenly this season we're in dire straits without really having lost anyone (to date).

It can't be that drastic, can it?

David Ellis
20 Posted 11/07/2017 at 14:21:59
Anthony – yes but we have lost one first team fast attacking player (OFS) and added a young striker (Sandro). However the other players we have either obtained or are rumored to be looking at up front are all quite slow – Rooney, Sigurdsson and Giroud/Dzeko.

Should we acquire these players the balance doesn't look right – particularly as they all look like first XI players to me in terms of quality, ego and wage costs.

Tom Bowers
21 Posted 11/07/2017 at 14:30:32
Agreed, we need another striker with some zip and if one doesn't arrive it could be a so-so season at least until Bolasie and Coleman get back. A lot depends on the system Koeman adapts and how those starting players perform, especially the new ones.

Getting a bunch of new faces doesn't always translate into success as we all know but better quality in midfield can ensure a fighting chance in most games.

I believe the midfield will be a big improvement on last season. I would dearly love to see Barkley play consistently well if he is a starter.

Adam Luszniak
22 Posted 11/07/2017 at 14:46:37
I would agree with the assertion of the OP that we need more cover at both fullback positions.

With regards to replacing Lukaku's goals, I don't think it will be that difficult to do. Klaassen, Sandro and Rooney have all been brought in to add greater goal threat. We are still heavily linked to Sigurdsson who would add yet more goals from midfield.

David Ellis, I love the fact that we're being linked to players who all seem like 'First XI' material. For too long our squad has been paper thin.

Steve Ferns
23 Posted 11/07/2017 at 15:06:04
I disagree with your analysis of the midfield.

We will play a holding two, you are quite right, and this will be Gueye and Schneiderlin, with Davies, Barry, McCarthy, and Besic for support.

You then jump to lump in together the central midfield and the attacking midfield. these are two distinct positions, although unlikely to play in the same team and there will be some overlap.

If we play 4-3-3, then expect us to play one central midfielder just ahead of the holding two. This is Klaassen's position. And he is an excellent passer. that's what we have bought him for.

He is very quick at receiving the ball and moving it on. He doesn't take three or four touches and think what to do with it. The ball comes to feet, he's already made his decision and lined himself up for the pass and moves it on in a split second. This speed of passing is what we had the first season under Martinez, with Barry, McCarthy and Barkley, until it evaporated in the second season and all three were more laboured on the ball.

Backing up Klaassen is Davies, McCarthy and Barry. I expect Barry to be the one Koeman turns to in game where he can have a bit more time on the ball. Otherwise it'll be Davies or McCarthy depending on if he plays the two holding players mentioned above.

The attacking midfielder, the number 10 is Barkley. We have no one else who can do this position, although Koeman named Wayne as a 10. We could, as Koeman did a few times, play McCarthy or Davies as a false 10. A false 10 being a defensive player who's job it is to tackle a deep lying playmaker (Xabi Alonso / Pirlo type) and try to get us on the counter attack in a dangerous position. His passing doesn't need to be eye-of-the-needle stuff, it's win the ball and look for an easy pass and get us forwards. I think we are unlikely to see much of a 4-2-3-1 and so we are unlikely to play a No 10, unless Sigurdsson comes in for the right price.

I think we also need to separate wingers from inside forwards.

Left Wing: Lookman, and that's it. No one else has a left foot and will get to the left touch line and get crosses in. Bolasie can do this, but he's naturally right footed.

Right wing: Bolasie and Lennon.

Inside Left: Mirallas, Lookman, Sandro. All these guys like to come inside and use their right foot. Even Lookman. This player plays 10 to 15 yards off the touchline, like Pienaar, and is not looking to provide width. They are looking to shoot or play in the striker or inside right.

Inside Right: Barkley, Bolasie, Rooney, Sandro. A reverse of the above. They are expected to try to play in the striker or inside left or to shoot with their left. Barkley looked okay there for me at the end of last season, and I'd like to see more of him there. Barkley could be ideal in this position. He would do less defending than in a deeper midfield position, he can use his natural right foot as expected of someone on the right, but unlike the others in the category for this position, he has a booming left footed shot that is perhaps better or at least hit harder than off his more natural right.

Centre-Forward: Rooney, Sandro, Calvert-Lewin. This is a pivotal position. Pivotal usually means important in the context of English football, a position that all others move around. But here, I mean it in the truest sense of the term. It is a fixed position at others move around, or rotate around. So the inside forwards are flexible and can swap with each other, but the No 9 should be remaining fixed so as to occupy the defenders and cause them to lose the darting forwards who are moving away from their markers at fullback and charging across the centre back who needs to stay with the No 9.

If we play a 4-2-3-1, then the No 9 can be a bit more flexible, in that he can swap about, particularly with the 10, as the 10 becomes more pivotal. A 4-2-3-1 is caused a double pivot position due to the fixed position of the holding midfielders, and so brings flexibility to the forward line. Here Rooney could be 9 and drop to occupy 10, with the 10 roaming forward or wide and say Sandro coming in from the channel to move into the 9 position, and so pulling the defence apart and creating space.

Koeman is not signing wingers on purpose. It is clear to me that he will line up in the dutch favoured 4-3-3. We will then need a No 9 only.

I would say that we need a left winger, a centre forward and Barkley to sign or to be replaced, so as to have more tactical flexibility.

Steve Ferns
24 Posted 11/07/2017 at 15:06:55
Yes Daniel. We had to register the overage players for the Europa League.
Mark Taylor
26 Posted 11/07/2017 at 17:06:31
With 28 in the first team squad (not including Kenny or Pennington), I think we need some outs to match the ins.

Niasse is listed in the squad and as a priority, I'd want to swap him for a proper quality striker. Aim high and go for Dollberg or Werner. Failing that, a proven EPL striker like a Giroud or a Dzeko.

The latter means adding a bit more pace. We need an upgrade on Mirallas and cover for Bolasie while he's out. Dembele (the Dortmund one) would be my choice, failing that Oyarzabal at Sociedad who is pacy and skilful, even though he dipped a bit last season.

Maybe we could coax Sessegnon from Fulham to learn from Leighton and be his long terms successor.

Elsewhere we need Sigurdsson only if we lose Barkley and on balance, I'm in the camp who still feels the latter has what it takes (and is a lot younger).

We have a surfeit of defensive midfielders and I'd be happy to raise some cash by selling McCarthy. I think Keane will need experience alongside him, so I'd leave that as is (unless we sell Funes Mori and need a replacement).

Right back is an issue. Seamus owns that position but he is out with a bad injury and I don't know how he'll be when he comes back. Nor does Holgate convince me there and Kenny isn't even listed. None of our centre-backs look like they can play there (I know Jags has, but far from convincingly). Tricky one. Maybe fill with a loan. If Sagna is still available, he'd fit the bill.

The two that would cost serious money here is the striker and the winger or left/right forward. But we have the Lukaku money (or some of it) plus we could raise a bit from selling Mirallas. McCarthy and maybe Besic. Oh and Niasse (snigger)...

Steavey Buckley
27 Posted 11/07/2017 at 17:44:30
Everton will start the season without two quality full backs, two wingers and a centre-forward. But plenty of players who will play in front of Everton's back 4.
Ray Roche
28 Posted 11/07/2017 at 17:55:14
Mark (#30), from what I've seen of him, Kenny could do the Coleman role well until Seamus is back.
Mark Taylor
29 Posted 11/07/2017 at 18:22:38
Wayne Rooney’s Everton return could make for a fairy-tale ending, but there’s genuine reason for the scepticism.
Steve Ferns
30 Posted 11/07/2017 at 18:33:36
Updated list has Kenny remaining at 43. No Dowell though.
Frank Wade
31 Posted 11/07/2017 at 18:42:55
Excellent post, Fran. A huge amount to think about and David at 9 and Steve at 27 and others have made very interesting points both on completion and compilation of the jigsaw and the tactics employed. It got me thinking about the composition of our squad of 25 for the Premier League.

We have a dilemma now on whether to sign squad players (eg, a 27-year-old like Martina) and missing out on the prospect of seeing U23 stars like Antonee Robinson and Callum Connolly given opportunities as back up for Baines and Jonjoe Kenny as back up for Coleman. The manager has to weigh up the chances that we can unearth another Seamus Coleman or Tom Davies and save the club a shed load of money, against the possible loss of crucial points by playing players who were just not ready to step up.

The same issue arises in relation to Joe Williams, Liam Walsh and Kieran Dowell who along with others were very impressive in the U23 side last season. The introduction of young players last season has lifted our profile amongst the top youth talent and allowed us to sign Henry, Bowler, Donkor, Mathis.

All the U23 lads mentioned are qualified for List B of 8 players for the Europa League (Under 21 on Jan 1st 2017 and have been at the club for at least 2 years). We have submitted our List A of 25 for Europa League yesterday. 26 were listed with squad numbers for the new season. One of these was not on the Europa League list, so we can assume that was Tom Davies who is u21 and trained at Everton, so okay for list B. Interesting that Matthew Pennington was not in the 26 with squad numbers and is 22, so not qualified for List B.

We must have 8 homegrown players in our 25 for the Premier League. We have 13 in our list of 26 so no problem there. However, if we are to buy in 3 or 4 more players, we will need to sell 3 or 4 of the 26 named yesterday.

Nice to see Oumar Niasse get a squad number at least, although I expect he will be one to leave if we can sign another top striker. I wonder did he get a locker as well.

Quite a jigsaw. Then throw in the FFP regulations relating to % increase in Wages from season to season to further complicate matters, although as far as I can see, the penalty for exceeding the threshold is just a fine.

Jim Hardin
32 Posted 11/07/2017 at 19:05:03
Not to add too many Burnley players but remember, I wanted Trippier now four seasons ago.

I would go after Ben Mee. He is a decent enough left back having played there before making the switch to left centre-half. He is part of the reason Keane looked so good cleaning up after his mistakes made outside the box by providing cover.

Burnley almost never get trounced and generally the defenders keep them in the games. Might be worth a punt and can fill two positions of need as he can fill in for Baines and Funes Mori.

Tony Hill
33 Posted 11/07/2017 at 20:32:26
Steve Ferns (27) is absolutely right about Klaassen and his speed of thought and passing. That's where we can generate much-needed pace if it can be developed throughout the team – especially, of course, further forward.

It doesn't just have to be about raw speed of individuals across the ground (though that would help too, and we're still short of it).

Drew O'Neall
34 Posted 11/07/2017 at 22:53:54
For the starting XI we need a centre half, two full backs and at least one striker.

I don't agree with the lack of attacking midfielders with Rooney, Klaassen, Barkley fitting in naturally behind the main striker, with Schneiderlin and Davies as 'square pegs' in extremis. I would deprioritise signing Sigurdsson compared with a number 9 for up top.

I also don't agree with the 'weak' assessment of the 'wide' positions which probably means secondary strikers in reality.

Calvert-Lewin should not be considered an option here in my view (he is a fourth choice 9 after; TBC, Rooney and Sandro) but we still have Mirallas, Lennon, Rooney, Klaassen, Lennon, Sandro and Bolasie (to return eventually – what he offers is not up for debate either by the way) to compete for the two wide offensive positions. Old-fashioned 'width' can come from fullbacks by switching to a two up front and three in the middle.

Ernie Baywood
35 Posted 11/07/2017 at 23:08:24
I said at the end of last season that we were quickly approaching the end of an era.

Realistically all of our back 4 needed change, either immediately or imminently. Midfield looked light when you factor out Barry and McCarthy through age and injury. Gueye and Schneiderlin are different ways of playing one position. Deulofeu, Lukaku and Barkley were likely to leave (of course two now have).

I concluded we would need about six signings just to cover the forced change and I just couldn't see us doing it. Well the club proved me wrong there!

Obviously we still need more to improve but is it realistic to build a team from that many new players in one go? And would we be better served progressing the current crop, improving our standing and then aiming a bit higher than the likes of Benteke? If this side could be in the top 4 in January then that would make for a great opportunity.

Frank Wade
36 Posted 11/07/2017 at 23:31:10
Ernie (#39), good point re changing too many players in one period. As it stands, we have 5 new first team guaranteed starters in Pickford, Keane, Klaassen, Rooney and Sandro. Learning from Tottenham's post-Bale scenario, that is probably enough for now.

Might be better to build our team tactics and understanding on what we have at this stage and build again next window.

Dave Speed
37 Posted 12/07/2017 at 04:24:14
There are acres of comments about the current and potential lack of pace in the squad with regards to the Everton midfield and attack. I would suggest that you Google Joan Cruyff and his tweak on the "Total Football", he was part of developing as a player under Rinus Michels. The tweak is what he did when he returned to Barca as manager.

The overriding coaching philosophy at the time was try to find a player who was a good athlete and a decent enough footballer. Cruyff turned it on it's head. Of course they had to be fit, but he looked for the footballer first. Once he found the footballer they coached football, football, football and less on the training side. Possession and winning it back quickly after the turnover, much as Barca do now, was the philosophy.

Given that Ronnie Koeman had some of his greatest moments playing for Cruyff, I don't think he will be too worried about the pace. Fitness yes and a team ethic, but pace is a bonus.

With regard to the article that spawned this thread, I believe that, even if we sign nobody else and we lose Ross, we are more ready than we were last year. If we sign more then even more ready.

Laurie Hartley
38 Posted 12/07/2017 at 06:20:13
I have no doubt Koeman will shortly sign a big target man – that for me would mean we have all bases covered except for one – full back.

I think Jim Hardin (#36) has tipped the player we need to complete the starting eleven – Trippier of Spurs.

Given the uncertainty surrounding Barkley, I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of deal involving both of them.

James Watts
39 Posted 12/07/2017 at 06:31:59
Agree with the target man assessment Laurie. We know it's what Koeman likes to do, even more so if we do get Sig.

No chance with Trippier though for many reasons. One of the biggest ones being why would he swap a first XI spot if walker goes at spurs for a back up spot with us? And probably the biggest one, he's just signed a 5-year contract a week or two ago.

I also think we'll be okay at right back until Coleman comes back as I think Kenny deserves a chance and we also have Holgate who can do a job when needed. The more pressing situation is left back cover. Hopefully those rumours about the Dutch lad are true so we get more cover at center back as well as left back.

Ernie Baywood
40 Posted 12/07/2017 at 08:40:15
Laurie (#42), I'd be very surprised if some sort of part-ex deal was done.

Constantly talked about by media and fans, they almost never happen!

Laurie Hartley
41 Posted 12/07/2017 at 09:17:31
I didn't realise Trippier had just signed a new contract James. Bummer – back to the drawing board then!

Ernie – in the light of James's post you are almost certainly right on this one – and I have to agree right in most other cases also.

I will put one caveat on that though – this week's business with Man Utd smacks heavily to me of creative accounting.

Ernie Baywood
42 Posted 12/07/2017 at 14:01:13
I'll agree with you there. There seemed to be a great effort to lower the price paid for Lukaku. Reported as £75M rather than £90M... and I don't doubt that Rooney was factored in.

I hate people who claim ITK status, but there's a bloke who posts on a forum that has an incredible record and claims to be close to the club. He's adamant that we had an offer of £100M from Chelsea and took Rooney in lieu of a £10M fee.

John G Davies
43 Posted 12/07/2017 at 17:50:12

And not a particularly good touch either.

Mike Green
44 Posted 12/07/2017 at 18:01:29


Jay Harris
45 Posted 12/07/2017 at 18:28:05

Hard to argue with your analysis but for me if we could sign the likes of Sigurdsson and Giroud, Dembele or Vardy, I think we will gone a long way towards a squad that can breach the top 4.

Riedewald or Van Dijk would be icing on the cake,

I can't see Pennington or Dowell making the grade but have high hopes for Kenny, Williams, Walsh, Calvert-Lewin and Lookman together with Galloway and Browning.

Roman Sidey
46 Posted 13/07/2017 at 02:57:04
The most important positions we need players in are striker, right back and left back.

People say right back can be covered by some of the younger lads and that may be correct for finishing 7th, but if we want to push on then right back needs a quality fill in/replacement for Coleman.

As has been said, Rooney and Sandro are our only real senior strikers - Niasse still won't get much chance despite getting a squad number - so a Giroud type of experience/quality is needed.

Left back is a grim position at the club as Baines just isn't what he used to be. If/when he goes down, who from that squad is good enough to compete against the top clubs?

Jon Withey
47 Posted 13/07/2017 at 07:42:10
I'd still like Kelechi Iheanacho, certainly over Vardy.

If Sigurdsson is worth £50m, we were robbed over Lukaku.

Sam Hoare
48 Posted 13/07/2017 at 08:05:12
High class creative wide player and a reliable goal scorer and I think we're looking solid. My (ambitious) dream would be Thomas Lemar and Olivier Giroud giving us:

Coleman Williams Keane Baines
Schneiderlin Klaassen
Lemar Rooney Sandro

Steven Scaffardi
49 Posted 13/07/2017 at 08:20:10
Great article and lots to think about. All-in-all, I think it's important to look at this new Everton as a transitional period in the clubs history. It won't happen overnight.

The facts are we finished 7th last season – way out in front of 8th but too far behind 6th (and Man Utd are only going to get better next season). So what is the real target for next season? Break into the top 6? Win a trophy? Push for Champions League?

I think we might have to be realistic. I think Koeman is building a squad that can certainly challenge the top 6 this season and deal with the pressure of European football and all the games that come with it.

The youngsters will get some decent game time this season, and for me that's the most important thing. It will give them much experience and bring them along so they're ready next season or the season after that.

This might not please all fans who want overnight success (and God knows we've waited long enough!) but what's the point of investing in an academy and young players if you're not preparing for 2-3 seasons down the road?

Personally, I'd be happy if we made a real go at the top 6 this season, gained valuable European experience, and of course a great cup run with a trophy at the end would be the icing on the cake! I think we have the squad to do that.

The facts are IMO that by the time the transfer window closes we'd have lost our best player and goal scorer (who's gone to the team who finished one place above us last season and therefore strengthened them) but we would have strengthened several positions, have made 3-4 more signings, have another couple of youngsters ready to make the step up, and overall we'll have a much better squad than last season. That's improvement for me and a step in the right direction. It may take a little time for them to all gel and play the way Koeman wants, but we'll definitely be in better shape.

Nitesh Kanchan
50 Posted 13/07/2017 at 12:01:47
Sigurdsson not going with Swansea on preseason tour.

That will be eight signings now....

Simon Jones
51 Posted 13/07/2017 at 12:40:18
It's not a bad article, though like a couple of others, IMO Stekelenburg is a reasonable back-up keeper. I think we might be nearing our full squad now, I'd expect more movement out of the club than in.

I'd say the main problem we all have at the moment, is so many new faces have come in, it's difficult to assess who will fit where in a team, as we don't know what shape we will play, will we play 3 or 4 at the back?

Lukaku leaving may well require a new formation up front; for example, we know Rooney can play wide if required. I'd be happier to see more movement up front, perhaps a dynamic, interchangeable front 3 (4-3-3 that can also be 4-5-1) that makes space for the midfield to move into, rather than an (albeit effective) goal-hanger.

Steve Ferns
52 Posted 13/07/2017 at 13:55:12
Simon, we will not be playing 3 at the back if Schneiderlin is in the team. He does the same job as the third centre back and is only 5 or 10 yards further up the pitch. Unlike the centre back, he is good on the ball and able to launch those quick attacks.
Dale Rose
53 Posted 13/07/2017 at 14:12:09
Sigurdsson for £50 million. Never in 50 million years. There has got to be better about for less than him. For that money, I would punt for Rashford.
Karl Graham
54 Posted 13/07/2017 at 21:07:14
For me I would like 8 more in and move a few more on.

I would bring in a stronger back up and sell Robles. Pickford would be first choice and keep Stekelenburg as back up.

Right Back
I would bring in an experienced right back on a year contract to cover Kenny until Coleman returns.

Left Back
I would bring someone in to compete/cover Baines as there is no way he can play 2 games a week. I would send Garbutt out on loan or even sell if we can get a decent offer.

Centre Back
I would bring in a left footed player aged 24-28 to partner Keane. I would allow Jagielka to leave and sell Funes Mori this leaves with 5 centre backs with Williams, Holgate and Pennington as back up.

Centre Midfield
I would bring in a number 8 style midfielder and I would allow Barry to leave and sell McCarthy. It would give us out new player, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Davies and Besic competing for 2 or 3 places depending on formation

Number 10
Rooney and Klaaasen with Barkley being sold.

I would bring 2 new wingers in one for each side with at least one of them being able to player number 10 role. I would also keep Bolasie, Mirallas and Lookman. I would send Lennon out on loan to make sure he got came time. McGeady would be sold.

Sandro would start season as first choice I would buy top class competition who could also be played alongside if formation allowed. Calvert-Lewin kept as back up. Niasse sold or loaned out Rodriguez loaned or released.

Brian Grant
55 Posted 14/07/2017 at 07:44:34
Team to start against Stoke City (4-2-3-1):


Does not look right does it? No wingers; two defenisve midfielders at home.

Anyone do better?

Paul Baker
56 Posted 14/07/2017 at 13:40:35
Goalkeepers: Pickford will be the first choice, with Stekelenburg an able deputy (assuming Joel leaves). Koeman likes to have 3 goalies at his disposal though, so I won't de surprised if we sign another one, but even now we're okay in that particular position.

Defenders: Keane and Williams will probably form the go-to partnership, with Jagielka, Mori and Holgate ready to step up at any time. Baines's age has been catching up with him for some time now and someone like Ben Chilwell would be a welcome addition. Coleman would be one of the first names on the teamsheet, but until he remains on the sidelines, someone (namely Cuco Martina) to provide the inexperienced Jonjoe Kenny with some competition for places would be very useful.

Midfielders: As said multiple times already, we need creative force able to unlock defences and at the moment I can't see one player of that type in the squad. Sure, Klaassen might yet turn out to be that person. I'd much rather invest in a pacy, versatile, agile dribbler type winger/attacking midfielder (like Mahrez or Lanzini, etc.) instead of Sigurdsson though, who's decent, but more an artisan than an artist and a bit overrated, if you ask me.

Forwards: When you lose someone like Lukaku, you must replace him very sensibly and the problem is, top strikers are in very short supply these days. Any choice brings lots of risk, but considering we've already lost bags of pace with departures of Lukaku, Deulofeu and the injury to Bolasie, I'd rather go for someone with a little bit more pace than Giroud or Dzeko. Replacing Rom with a like-for-like seems the easiest solution, so I'd focus on Batshuayi, Benteke or Moussa Dembele (in this very order).

To put it short, we need 4 new players: a back-up right-back, a left-back, a creative attacking midfielder/winger and a striker.

Andrew Heffernan
57 Posted 14/07/2017 at 15:00:37
I think you can over analyse at this stage, still possible for one or two more signings and despite previous or existing positions a lot will depend on how they all gel together.

An interesting season and with that lot distracted by Europe and Spurs at Wembley there is hope for loftier ambitions but we will have our own issues with the Europa League.

I doubt we'll be challenged from below; however, it's going to be a long slog, but hopefully an enjoyable one!

Alasdair Mackay
58 Posted 14/07/2017 at 20:18:35
I keep saying it, but Everton under Koeman don't play with 2 wingers. We play with 1 left winger and a No 10 that drifts wide when necessary. This is so our marauding RB(s) can be given space to sprint into.

It's effectively a 4-3-2-1, with the 2 made up of one wide player and one no. 10.

With that in mind we are not as far away as 5 players.

Lookman will figure alot this season and Bolasie is still to come back. We also have Mirallas and Lennon who can play as a wide-man. That's 4 for effectively 1 position.
No 10 – Barkley and Klaassen are directly competing, while Rooney can play there. We will need one if Barkley goes, although don't count Dowell out.
CF – Sandro or Rooney with Calvert-Lewin also looking for more minutes in that role. Maybe 1 more, if the right player becomes available.
DMs – Schneiderlin and Gana first choice. Barry and Besic back-ups
CM – Davies has saved us some money here. We also have McCarthy and Klaassen could play this role. We have Joe Williams and Liam Walsh coming through.
RB – Agree with the OP
CB – Agree with the OP
LB – I think it was madness to let Galloway go on loan. I hope we get to see some of Antonee Robinson, but I do think we need to be looking at this area.
GK –- Stekelenburg will do fine as a back-up for this season, but we will need one longer term if Robles goes.

Sam Hoare
59 Posted 15/07/2017 at 09:48:13
Brian 55, how about this (with squad as it is currently):

Kenny Williams Keane Baines
Gueye Klaassen
Sandro Barkley Lookman

Steve Ferns
60 Posted 15/07/2017 at 10:18:55
Sam, Koeman was playing 4-3-3 mostly by the end of the season. I would expect:

Coleman Keane Williams Baines
Gueye Klaassen Schneiderlin
Barkley Rooney Sandro

Paul Kennedy
61 Posted 15/07/2017 at 10:34:40
I was feeling positive!!
Damian Wilde
62 Posted 15/07/2017 at 21:46:51
Clearly too many players competing for few places. We need to sell, probably Barkley, McCarthy & maybe Besic, oh and of course Niasse.

There'll be a lot of players either not making the squad or on the bench, Koeman will have to manage this well. But of course we have Europe and I'm sure we'll get injuries.

It'll be interesting to see what the usual starting 11 will be. Will Davies start? He is a very good player, verging on outstanding. I can't see Calvert-Lewin starting much with the new additions.


Ron Marr
63 Posted 16/07/2017 at 00:43:42
Kenny Keane AN Other Baines
Gueye Klaassen Schneiderlin
Barkley Rooney Sandro
Geoff Williams
64 Posted 16/07/2017 at 15:00:43
I have reservations over Pickford. He's probably an inch or two short of being the dominant goalkeeper we need. He's a great shot stopper and his distribution is outstanding but he is suspect under the high ball which is the probable reason we didn't go for Heaton.

Ashley Williams is another I have severe reservations over and I would choose Jagielka, Fumes Mori or Holgate over him every time.

Another striker must be the main priority followed by a left back. I think we're well served in midfield and would prefer to spend the Sigurdsson money elsewhere.

Joe McMahon
65 Posted 16/07/2017 at 19:15:42
Squad Analysis: Are we ready? - No, as Baines is still first choice LB. He was good until 2 seasons ago, doesn't get forward the same and doesn't stop crosses.

Sadly he's the weak link. Wishing Galloway wasn't loaned out. We still keep players way too long.

David Ellis
66 Posted 17/07/2017 at 04:25:19
Alasdair (#58) – good analysis but I have a couple of nits to pick.

Rooney will be our No.10 and will compete with Barkley for that position with Dowell and Klaassen also available to play that position. According to the Blue Room podcast Sandro is a No 9 rather than a No.10 (which is consistent with what you are suggesting).

If Sigurdsson came in he would take the wide forward role as would Walcott,. Otherwise its as you say between Bolasie, Mirallas and Lookman or possibly Dowell.

Klaassen will be competing with Davies for the attacking midfield role as opposed to being our No 10. Although he may play as a No 10 if Rooney is injured and Barkley is gone. Joe Williams I thought was a No 10 rather than the attacking midfield option, but never seen him play.

The left back cover for Baines seems to be Calum Connolly ahead of Antonee Robinson, but it seems that we are looking for cover in this area from the transfer rumours.

So with the current fit players that we have I think we would start with
Holgate (or Kenny) Keane Williams Baines
Gana Schneiderlin
Lookman Rooney

Most likely we will have first team starters to replace Sandro and Lookman by the time the season starts as well as a possible right back to cover for Coleman and get in ahead of Holgate... or Kenny... depending on how Kenny does. Holgate is not a right back but Koeman might prefer him over Kenny for his defensive qualities early doors against the big teams.

Jonathan Tasker
67 Posted 17/07/2017 at 09:53:38
Nowhere near strong enough.

The media continue the myth of Everton indulging in a "spending spree". The truth is yet again that Everton have made a transfer surplus.

And any future purchases are entirely reliant on raising more money via selling Ross Barkley. But don't worry: Bill is a massive Evertonian.

Chris Gould
68 Posted 17/07/2017 at 10:04:27
Jonathan, I think we will continue to spend. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see us spend another £100 million or more. Sigurdsson, striker, winger, centre back to come. By the end of the window we will have spent all of the Lukaku, Deulofeu, and Barkley money plus a whole lot more.

The biggest difference for me this summer is the professional way in which we have acquired our targets so early into the window. It's been remarkable.

Thomas Lennon
69 Posted 17/07/2017 at 10:14:42
I think you will find, Johnathan, that our spending is up strongly in the wages department and rightly so. I am guessing but my understanding is that £100 million allows us to increase wages spending massively more than the 4% allowed under FFP and for that alone Lukaku's sale ushers in a new dawn for Everton.

Han't Wenger build several successful teams by balancing the books but spending heavily on player development & wages? Year-on-year spending counts for a lot more than buying a whole team in one summer.

Champions League and a new 60,000 stadium by 2020? It's happening.

Ian Jones
70 Posted 17/07/2017 at 10:51:31
Surely the foundation of any business is to try to make a profit out of key areas of the business.

I appreciate that various areas overlap and help fund each other but if we end up with a few extra players in and a transfer surplus, helped by the sale of one player for approx £75 million, then that's all good.

David Ellis
71 Posted 17/07/2017 at 11:15:18
Jonathan Tasker (#67) – surely you can see the difference between this years transfer window and every previous transfer window... ever. Selling to buy was what we did when Rooney left first time round. We sold him and then we bought a few players in the last minute. Same with Lescott.

Not this time. This time, we bought early in the window (on top of the £30m spent in January) – and we've bought 8 players, I'm not sure its possible to do more than that. We've also massively increased our wage bill, entered into much better commercial/sponsorship deals and acquired the land for a new stadium.

It couldn't be more different than the Bill Kenwright owning years - we have the money and we have a professional team within the club who know how to execute. If despite all this our net spend is zero than that's great because it means more dry powder for the next window.

Brent Stephens
72 Posted 17/07/2017 at 11:31:01
Jonathan (#67):

"And any future purchases are entirely reliant on raising more money via selling Ross Barkley".

I must have missed that announcement.

John G Davies
73 Posted 17/07/2017 at 11:54:23

Target man?
He needs to sack his scouts.

Sam Hoare
74 Posted 18/07/2017 at 19:53:55
Patrik Schick anyone? Cracking young striker whose move to Juve has just fallen through due to medical issues. Risky move but could pay off big time.
Andrew Ellams
75 Posted 18/07/2017 at 20:05:32
Sam, did Schick fail his medical? I read a report that he'd had one but the move had stalled over a disagreement between the clubs.
Brian Williams
76 Posted 19/07/2017 at 14:12:16
In answer to the thread's question, in a word, no!

As things stand we need a main striker of some repute.

If Barkley's on his way, which looks likely, we need a replacement for him.

If Joel's on his way we need another keeper.

In addition we could do with cover at centre-back / left-back.

Phil Walling
78 Posted 20/07/2017 at 18:29:59
To date we've spent the money that has come in on transfers out, and no more, with Barkley's future determining if there is more business to be done.

Moshiri will want to more than balance the books, though, as he has a vast sum to garner if the riverside dream ground is to become more than just that.

John G Davies
79 Posted 20/07/2017 at 18:37:23
Tripe, Phil.
David Barks
80 Posted 20/07/2017 at 18:43:02
We haven't invested. We've sold and bought with that money. Moshiri isn't splashing the cash. We spent on a few players knowing we were selling Lukaku.

Now that it seems we can't sell Barkley, coincidentally our spending has stopped. This squad is nowhere near strong enough yet. We are far too short in attack.

Chris Williams
81 Posted 20/07/2017 at 18:49:47
Still 6 weeks to go until the window shuts, gents. Maybe keep your powder dry until then.
Ray Robinson
82 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:04:54
David (#80). We have spent. Replacing one player's salary, Lukaku's, with five new players' salaries must represent a considerable investment even if the incoming and outgoing transfers balance out. Why do people always look at the headline amount when evaluating the cost of a transfer?

Chris (#81), keeping the powder dry is not necessarily a good policy when it comes to a striker. If the best strikers move early on in the window, as appears to be the case, there might be nobody worthwhile left to spend your money on later on.

I notice that Iheanacho hasn't gone to Leicester yet. Worth intercepting that deal? Unlike David, I do think that there's money still available for a striker, even without selling Barkley – I just don't think the opportunity to buy a striker has presented itself yet. After all, we're not in the Morata league yet.

David Barks
83 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:09:43

Lukaku isn't the only player to have departed. Quite a few have left, which includes their salaries. Those salaries have now gone to the new players we've added with the Lukaku money. Why do people always forget about the salaries of players we release, loan, or sell for nominal fees?

Chris Williams
84 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:11:17

I was meaning for David and Phil to keep their powder dry until the window slams shut, not for Everton to.

If, by then, we haven't brought in the required players... then fair enough, and I'll be with them.

Ray Robinson
85 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:12:12
Valid point, David. However, I doubt whether the outgoing players were on anywhere near what the new players are earning. Plus the outstanding contract commitments will be far longer.
Ray Robinson
86 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:14:15
Chris (#84) – sorry, gotcha!
David Barks
87 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:23:12

Are you sure, it's quite a list. Lukaku, Deulofeu, McGeady, Kone, Cleverley, Valencia, McAleny.

Onyekuru, Galloway, Browning all loaned out.

That's quite a lot of salary to go through.

Chris Williams
88 Posted 20/07/2017 at 19:26:00
No problem, Ray.

I expressed it clumsily, mate.

Sam Hoare
89 Posted 20/07/2017 at 20:25:39
West Ham are getting Hernandez and Leicester aare getting Iheanacho... two good strikers who I think will score goals regularly.

Surely we must be getting another striker and Koeman & Walsh must be confident of whoever is lined up for us to not be in for either of these.

Ray Robinson
90 Posted 20/07/2017 at 22:53:37
David, I have no idea what players earn but, yes, I'd be fairly confident that the ongoing financial commitment to pay Rooney and Klaassen, Sandro, Pickford, Keane, Martina and Onyekuru (except for next season) for the remainder of their contracts far outweighs the savings made on the players you mentioned.

Indeed we have "saved" nothing at all on Kone and Valencia. One was out of contract (fully paid up) and Valencia was on a season long loan with no commitment to buy. We've loaned Onyekuru out but still have a commitment to pay the rest of his contract.

'm sure our wage bill for next season and beyond has increased considerably even if transfers appear to have balanced out.

Bobby Mallon
91 Posted 22/07/2017 at 09:12:17
David Barks – maybe Calvert-Lewin, Sandro and Rooney are it and we don't need another striker?
Martin Mason
92 Posted 23/07/2017 at 20:00:29
The problem we have now, and it's a big one, is that we now have to find our best team and formation having bought a lot of new players who've never played together and then get a squad to gel not only at home, not only against the top teams but against the top teams away. This is a tall order and one that isn't certain to end in success.

Koeman now has a massive job. We ended up last year with a good potential squad with everybody saying we only needed 3 or 4 players and we will double that at least in buys and youngsters who are banging at the gate. Now we'll see how good our manager is. No wish to be irrational but I don't like the bloke and don't think he produced any significant progress last year. I hope he proves me wrong.

It'll need a couple of seasons at least and a lot of heartache in between. My opinion? We've only done a Liverpool/Spurs and bought a pile of players who individually aren't good enough to get into a title-winning team. Unless Koeman produces magic then this possibly means that we don't yet have the squad for a title push. We haven't bought real class and in fact have sold our only truly class player and we probably need a couple of genuinely class players to get to the very top.

It may be that we have them already as bargains and in the chaos of the Premier League, Europe and the cup competitions next seasons we may just gel as a squad.

Do you know who I feel that we missed badly? Hernandez (ex Man Utd; now West Ham), he would have been a great risk to take at that price.

My plea to the fans, especially the small group of irrationally negative ones, is to get behind the team in what will be difficult times ahead and remember what real supporters do. Great things are happening at the club; let's enjoy the ride even though it could be a roller-coaster.

Colin Glassar
93 Posted 24/07/2017 at 19:27:21
After we sign Sigurdsson we need a centre-forward. Lucas Perez (Arsenal) £17m and Dembele (Celtic) £20-30m are both buyable. Why don't we go for one of them instead of stiffs like Benteke and Slimani?
Andy Crooks
94 Posted 24/07/2017 at 19:40:33
Martin, you make a negative, pessimistic post and then suggest that "irrationally negative" fans get behind the team. What is that all about?
Jim Lloyd
95 Posted 24/07/2017 at 19:57:07
I seem to remember Ronald saying that it would take at least two years to get us into a position to challenge for the Champions League places.

Last season, some thought it was a fairly solid but "underwhelming" one. My view is that, with the players he had, he did well and our position and goal difference, our goals for and our goals against were all much better than the previous season.

This one coming has seen our club bring in some top quality players, some excellent young potential and has brought us in a number of leaders and winners.

I don't think there is a player mentioned by any of us, that Walshy and Ronald have not assessed on a} the attributes they would bring; b) their attitudes and c} if we could get them! It's all very well saying we should get this player or that one but I would guess that Ronald knows exactly who he wants for each position he sees a need to fill or improve.

As it stands, we are now likely to produce a team that will be more aggressive, more thoughtful, more mobile and with each game that we play, the players will get to know each others game better.

I think we'd be lucky to all spark from the word go but we have at least four players who can bang goals in from any distance and at least four attacking players whose passing abilities are excellent.

If Koeman cant get the centre-forward he wants, then I think he would wait and would just get someone in on loan for the interim. I don't know if Dembele would be sold or whether Ronald would have him, if he was available.

I think we will be challenging for the top six much more aggressively; and my hope is that the teams above us will think they have a match on there hands when they play us. This time next year, I think we will be bringing in even more players of quality and if we can do in two years, what it's taken Spurs, Man City and the other lot 5,6, or 7 years, then we're on our way.

I think we can and I can't wait for the season to start.

Raymond Fox
96 Posted 24/07/2017 at 21:06:37
No, as it stands, we are not a top 6 side, but there will be more signings before the season starts – the glaring one required is a replacement for Lukaku.

We still have the age old problem though of only being able to sign players that the usual top 6 clubs don't want and like it or not that's a big handicap.

We are only 2/1 to finish in the top 6 this year but that's the bookies being ultra cautious. I'd need 4/1+ before having a bet as our early League fixtures are hellish.

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