Marco Silva’s arrival has blown away the gloom of Sam Allardyce’s Everton tenure, but can the new man at the helm take the Toffees to the next level?
Last season: 8th
Title odds: 250/1
Relegation odds: 33/1
Major ins: Richarlison, Lucas Digne
Major outs: Wayne Rooney, Ramiro Funes Mori, Jose Baxter, Joel Robles, Conor Grant, Calum Dyson, Sam Byrne, Louis Gray, David Henen, Stephen Duke-McKenna, Tom Scully
Key player: Richarlison
After a dismal season in which transfer spending backfired and Sam Allardyce came and went amid supporter protests and ponderous performances, Everton are starting afresh under Marco Silva. The 41-year-old, coveted by Everton long before his appointment in May, is charged with taking them back into the European places.
Optimism is in the air at Goodison Park, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford already confirming the team’s ambition to crack the top six this season, but it is a formidable task. Everton finished 14 points behind sixth-placed Arsenal last year, and the Gunners are not the only top-six side to have strengthened their squad this summer.
Of course, Everton have made moves of their own. Many observers baulked at the £40m fee they paid to sign Richarlison from Watford, but the Brazilian was outstanding under Silva in the early part of last season. If he can recapture that form on Merseyside, he has the potential to transform a strike force which struggled for goals last season.
Lucas Digne is another exciting addition. The French international, a £20m recruit from Barcelona, brings considerable pedigree to the left-back role and looks like a suitable successor for Leighton Baines, who turns 34 in December and no longer gets up and down the flank with the same intensity he once did.
Intensity is certainly important to Silva. The former Sporting Lisbon boss demands a high tempo from his players and his commitment to attacking football is an exciting prospect for supporters who were so disillusioned by Allardyce’s agricultural approach.
Silva’s task is to get his ideas across to his squad as swiftly as possible, and Everton will also hope he can bring the best out of players who struggled under the old regime. With more additions likely before the transfer window closes, there is at least excitement where there was none before.