The future looks bright for Everton and the club’s Irish contingent. Jason Coulter discusses the aptly named ‘Irish Toffees’ and what we can expect this season.
Irish fans will be keeping a close eye on Everton this season. The Merseyside team has become home for a number of Ireland’s most important players recently, with Seamus Coleman named Player of the Year and James McCarthy now a major figure in midfield. It’s a good time to be an Irish Everton fan, and here we take a look at the players’ expectations for the year ahead.
Last summer, eyebrows were raised across Goodison Park following McCarthy’s £13m transfer from Wigan. It didn’t take long however, for the midfielder to prove himself worthy of the price tag. McCarthy played the deep midfield role alongside Gareth Barry and the pair quickly forged a formidable partnership.
While once he was criticised for ‘going missing’ in games, he now works hard to win the ball back, and makes sure he holds on to it. In the Toffees’ 1-1 draw away to Arsenal, McCarthy showed just how far he had come, bossing the midfield and breaking up any Arsenal attack.
The two Manchester sides have been loosely linked to McCarthy this summer and any Everton fan can see why. He’s a pivotal player for Everton, and will be paramount to any success this year. He will be looking to add more goals to his game however, after only grabbing one last season – away to Hull on the final day. It’s good news for Ireland too, as we could see our finest central midfielder since Roy Keane.
“He’s got magnificent skill, but lacks the end product.”
It’s a tagline that is as true now, as it was when he made his breakthrough at Celtic almost 10 years ago. No doubt it’s a theory that McGeady himself is tired of hearing and will be keen to dispel as soon as he can. Since arriving in January from Spartak Moscow, he has only made three league starts as he struggled for fitness and battled with the emerging Gerard Deulofeu for a starting berth.
McGeady has already built up a small love/hate relationship with fans. Some are excited by his obvious skill, but others see him as a selfish player who squanders possession too often. Martinez has been a long-time admirer of the winger. His flair and inventiveness showed why that was the case last season. He will need to show even more if he is to cement a place on the starting line-up this year.
This is a make-or-break season for the centre back. After spending last season in the Championship on loan at Yeovil Town, it looks like he will be spending this season at his parent club. The Europa League is regularly used by Premier League teams as a testing ground for fringe players, and Duffy will know this is where he will make his mark on the team. His performances at Yeovil were impressive, but he was unable to prevent them finishing bottom of the league.
At 22 years of age, this will be Duffy’s final season to prove himself good enough for Everton. It’s not going to be easy though, John Stones has leapfrogged him in the pecking order and is also a few years younger. Duffy will get his chance, but it’s vital he takes it.
Voted Player of the Year by both fans and players last season tells you all you need to know about Coleman. He has grown into the Blues’ most important player, and also a major attacking threat grabbing some brilliant goals, in particular against Southampton and QPR.
For Coleman, it’s more important what Everton do than he himself does. The big teams have been circling around him for a few seasons now, and it’s important that Everton progress further if they want to keep hold of their star man. Martinez will be relying on Coleman staying injury free too. Tony Hibbert is the second choice right back, and has had a miserable pre-season, showing just how important Coleman is.
After an injury plagued season, Gibson is now back at full-fitness. He enjoyed a strong start when he joined the side in January 2012, and since then has played consistently well in the first eleven.
Damaging his knee on Irish duty ended his campaign after only one appearance last season, but fans remember his important goals in previous years and will be hoping to see the old Gibson back sooner rather than later.
With McCarthy and Gareth Barry the first choice centre-mids, Gibson’s season will be defined by how well he plays in the Europa League and domestic cups. The arrival of Muhamed Besic will put more pressure on the Irishman, and he needs to prove himself all over again if he wants to stay in the first team.
Everton fans know Gibson has the talent, but now he’s facing a campaign on the fringes of the squad.
Jason Coulter, Pundit Arena.