8 Realistic Goals for Everton in the 2013-14 Season
Forecasting Everton's targets for next season is quite a difficult task given the current uncertainty around their manager.
If David Moyes remains with the Toffees, he will undoubtedly aim for Europe next year, looking to once again finish in and around the top six with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Champions League.
However, if a new man is at the helm, there is likely to be an element of transition as new methods and systems are installed at the club.
Therefore, considering the potentially opposing landscapes for the Toffees next season, here's a look at some objectives for whoever is in charge.
Keep David Moyes
The major question about the club's manager is the first issue the Toffees need to resolve.
Of course, the majority of fans want David Moyes to extend his stay. Not only because he's achieved decent success during his 11 years in charge, but also because of the worrying lack of attractive options to replace him.
Roberto Martinez, Malky Mackay and Phil Neville are just some of the mediocre names being bandied about as potential successors to Moyes—none of whom have experience managing in and around the Premier League's top six.
Keeping Moyes is clearly Everton's number one aim for next season, although with his contract expiring in a couple of months, it's almost entirely out of their hands.
Lower the Squad's Average Age
Regardless of the manager in charge, Everton's first XI is in need of some severe replenishing next season.
The Toffees are currently carrying one of the oldest starting lineups in the Premier League, which is not a great recipe for success, and Moyes has only used 23 players this year—the joint fewest in the division.
Carrying so many older starters is also slightly alarming given the club's precarious finances and the decreasing value of so many of its players.
Currently, Seamus Coleman is the only regular starter under the age of 25, which must change next season.
Add a Physical Defender
This may sound like a strange goal for next season, but it's somewhere the Toffees have hugely struggled this year, and a new, contrasting option at the back is sorely needed.
Everton get bullied in the air far too often, conceding 39 percent of their goals from headers this season—a whopping 11 percent more than any other Premier League club.
Clearly this is something that needs urgent attention as too many physical strikers have had field days against the Toffees.
At the back, Phil Jagielka is an excellent defender with exceptional positional sense, anticipation and ability in challenges. While his aerial skills are average, that should be compensated for by his defensive partner.
However, both Sylvain Distin and John Heitinga have been far too inconsistent in this department, especially the Dutchman. Another option must be brought in to challenge for selection alongside Jagielka.
Adapt the Style
With the attack-minded Marouane Fellaini such a central figure for the Toffees this season, Everton have become far too reliant on an overly-direct approach.
When Fellaini is on form, this has the potential to be devastating. However, it's hardly the most fluent way to break down a side and when the Belgian's not at his best, the Toffees quickly appear disjointed and unsure in attack.
Fellaini may well be on the move this summer, but even if he stays, he should revert to midfield to make room for a playmaker behind the striker. This will hopefully give the Toffees a fluid, slicker, and more varied offence.
Ross Barkley showed against Arsenal he has the potential for this role in the future, and Everton should look to give the youngster increasing opportunities next season.
Identify a New Striker
For Everton to improve on this season's showing, a new striker must be brought in.
Nikica Jelavic's continued misfiring has greatly effected his side's Champions League push. Had the Toffees found an alternative option in January, they may well still be occupying a top four position right now.
After 11 goals in 13 appearances last year, the Croatian has only managed eight strikes in 40 outings this season.
Goal scorers are obviously the most expensive commodities in football, which makes so many of them unattainable for the Toffees. However, if the club receive a bumper cheque for a departing Fellaini, a large proportion must surely be spent on a new front man.
Return to Europe
Even if Everton's squad is under different leadership next season, the new manager will inherit one of the top six or seven rosters in the Premier League, and there will almost certainly be an expectancy from fans to continue challenging for Europe.
Despite finishing eighth, seventh (twice) and what is looking like sixth this season, it seems the club will be going four years without making Europe—which will almost certainly be making some fans anxious.
To maintain the club's identity, remain an alluring option for new signings and keep their supporters excited, Europe will surely be the primary target on the field for 2013/14.
Target Both Domestic Cups
Everton's last silverware was achieved back in 1995, which means a generation of fans have now reached adulthood without witnessing their club lift a trophy.
As hard as it can be to progress in a tournament, Swansea and Bradford showed what can be done in this season's League Cup and were undoubtedly the envy of many Premier League sides.
Everton's cup record under David Moyes is quite pathetic. Despite occupying a top eight position for the majority of his 11 years in charge, the Toffees have only made the final eight of domestic competitions four times in 22 attempts.
This season, there were disappointing cup losses against Leeds and Wigan, with the abject display against the Latics something many supporters are still not fully over.
With Everton's trophy drought lengthening, strong squads must be deployed in both cup competitions next season.
Make Stadium Plans
Goodison Park is undoubtedly one of the most treasured, authentic stadiums in England, but it has sadly fallen well behind the times and badly hampers Everton.
Without a new ground, the Toffees continue to fall behind their rivals financially and have not found any viable solution since the Kirkby Project was abandoned in 2009.
According to figures from the 2011/12 campaign (via Swiss Ramble), the Toffees took home around £20 million from gate receipts, the ninth highest total in the league.
However, considering the revenue taken by Liverpool (£45 million) and—despite a smaller ground—Tottenham (£41 million), it shows just how far Everton fall behind their positional rivals. The main cause of this is the lack of corporate options, with no room to alter things at Goodison Park.
While making significant moves is hardly a realistic resolution for the 2013/14 campaign, it's something the club must at least look to make progress with and demonstrate some clear intent over the season.
If supporters were shown a direction and some possible solutions, that would at least be a start.
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