Everton FC: 3 Players in Need of a Big Season at Goodison Park
Suffering just three defeats in their final 23 games and gaining 19 points from their last eight Premier League fixtures, Everton's 2011/12 campaign certainly climaxed with a rapid crescendo.
In fact, in a 2012 league table, David Moyes' side would currently be sitting in third place.
Nikica Jelavic's goals, Steven Pienaar's artistry and Marouane Fellaini's dynamism were particularly prominent during this late-season resurgence, whilst several other players made telling contributions to the cause.
Those not as central in the run-in may well start this campaign a little insecure of their position, such was the success had by those more consistently involved.
Here are three players perhaps most eager to re-establish themselves and force their way back into David Moyes' first-team plans.
Seamus Coleman has endured a frustrating 12 months.
After such an impressive first full season in the Premier League, where he deservedly won the club's Young Player of the Year award, the Irishman struggled to make an impact second time around.
He only started 14 games in the league—just two in 2012—and failed to find the net. In contrast, the year before he appeared in almost every game for Everton, scoring six times.
Part of his drop-off may well be attributed to second season syndrome, with opponents more in-tune to the threat he brings. With few wingers at the club and Mikel Arteta leaving last year, there was also an extra onus on him to create chances, which he must have felt.
During pre-season, Coleman had arguably been the club's stand-out performer, before a poor challenge by Carlos Marchena in a friendly against Villarreal sidelined him.
Once recovered, he struggled to replicate the form he showed both in preseason, and over the previous campaign, and he even lost his place in the Irish squad, missing Euro 2012.
However, with Royston Drenthe, Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan (at least for now) off Everton's books, Coleman will still have ample opportunity to reclaim a wide spot in David Moyes' starting lineup.
If he fails to impress, perhaps it is time to consider a switch back to his preferred role at right-back?
Rodwell could have featured under this heading at any time over the past two years. 25 league starts in 24 months perfectly illustrate just how punctuated his much-hyped career has become with injury.
Despite his team's early troubles, he started last season in relatively consistent form, culminating in an England call-up in November.
With international recognition under his belt, it seemed his career was finally on-route to the top, and many fancied him as an outside bet to make the Euro 2012 squad.
Yet injured whilst on international duty, he was unable to shake off persistent hamstring troubles for the remainder of the season, and barely featured again.
Short on numbers, David Moyes was forced to look for alternatives in January, and with Darron Gibson's arrival, Rodwell now faces a real battle to even make the first team.
Still remarkably young, considering the experience he has already gained, this may prove to be a pivotal year for the 21-year-old. Pre-season will be a crucial time for him to show his injury woes are behind him.
As much as it breaks the hearts of many Evertonians, Tim Cahill's performances over the past 18 months have rarely been up to the standard he set for so much of his career at Goodison Park.
So often the talisman, David Moyes' go-to player, and the threat most feared and planned for by opponents, the Aussie is becoming a peripheral figure on Merseyside, and faces an uncertain future.
There are continuing whispers that he may be offloaded to ease Everton's wage budget, and clubs in the Middle East and Asia have been touted as potential destinations.
On the field, his rapacious attitude in front of goal has diminished in recent times—three goals in 18 months—and he finished last season rotating with Phil Neville to play a deeper role in midfield.
Marouane Fellaini became David Moyes' preferred choice playing off Nikica Jelavic, and the recent addition of Steven Naismith may further limit Cahill's game time.
Just four goals shy of Duncan Ferguson's Premier League goals record for the Toffees, it would be a huge shame if his Everton career simply petered out. If he is to stay, he will be desperate to add to his legacy, overtake Ferguson and provide fans with a few more of his trademark corner flag routines.
18 months ago he was enjoying one of the most prolific scoring phases of his career. Can he find that form again?
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