Aug 112014

The long wait is almost over and Everton are closing in on a return to action, kicking off the Premier League campaign on August 16 with a clash with newly-promoted Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

It feels like an eternity since the Blues ended the 2013-14 season with a 2-0 win at Hull City – and plenty has gone on in the days and months since Romelu Lukaku threw his shirt to fans in the away end at the KC Stadium on May 11.

The Belgian has since been lured back to Goodison in a club record £28m deal, while Gareth Barry and cult-hero-in-the-making Muhamed Besic have also been snapped up.

With Ross Barkley and John Stones signing new contracts, the Blues look well set going into the 2014-15 campaign – though the hunt for new signing continues against the backdrop of some indifferent pre-season form. 

So what did you – the fans – make of the summer and what are your hopes for the new season?

We have canvassed the opinion of various Blues fans groups and supporters’ websites to gauge the feeling among the EFC faithful.

The responses we had – to the same five set questions – will be published on the ECHO site over the coming days.

A big thank you to all who took part.   

These answers come from NEIL ADDERLEY of

What are your expectations for Everton going into the new season?

Second-season-syndrome may well be an overly dramatic footballing cliche but following on from a record breaking first season at the Goodison helm, it is one Everton’s mercurial manager Roberto Martinez will ultimately have to overcome. The palpable change of perception from inside and outside Goodison Park is one the 40-year old Catalan has purposely set out to achieve. It is in stark contrast to over a decade of pragmatism – for some read negativity – under former boss David Moyes.

On the pitch expectations have rightly been raised to a new level, however, the solid foundations of an impressive maiden season under Martinez have to be built upon and strengthened. However, with the start of the 2014/15 season close and additions to last season’s Everton squad thin on the ground, those expectations, raised on the back of an excellent season may yet have to be reviewed.

As the transfer window clock rapidly ticks down, a lot will depend on whether Martinez is able to bring in all of his attacking targets. Even then, with the Premier League becoming more competitive year-on-year, however the next month plays out for the Catalan and the club, it will take a huge effort for Everton to better last season’s fifth place Premier League finish.

What are your thoughts on the transfer dealings so far; and if you were Martinez what are your priorities?

Nobody suffers transfer-window-trauma as Evertonians do. This is by no means a recent phenomenon but it is a trauma ratcheted up by the ravenous frenzy for news across social media platforms and Twitter in particular. At the time of writing Martinez has managed to secure the services of experienced free agent Gareth Barry, the somewhat unknown-yet-exciting prospect that is 21-year old Bosnian international midfielder Muhamed Besic and, most significantly, the marquee signing of Romelu Lukaku.

Speaking earlier in July, Martinez revealed his priorities lay in bringing in reinforcements to the midfield and forward positions. With the additions to the engine room of Barry and Besic to compliment James McCarthy, the returning Darron Gibson, Ross Barkley and Leon Osman, Martinez seemingly has the remaining four weeks of the transfer window to complete his squad by capturing the “two attackers” needed to compliment record signing Romelu Lukaku. It was no secret Romelu Lukaku was Roberto Martinez’s number one target this summer. The big Belgian is tried, tested and his record is outstanding – of the current Premier League strikers, only Robin van Persie has managed to score more League goals in the last two seasons – according to the manager Romelu Lukaku “gets” Everton and few Evertonians will disagree the signing of Lukaku is a real coup for the manager and club.

While supporters will be pleased Roberto Martinez has publicly stated his wish to increase Everton’s firepower, an underlying and long standing feeling of doubt remains. Bringing in Romelu Lukaku and holding on to our most valuable assets is certainly a statement of intent while simultaneously going someway to remove those bi-annual transfer window jitters.

What are your opinions on Everton’s involvement in the Europa League?

A record Premier League points haul gave the Toffees a fifth-placed finish and a place in the group stages of the Europa League – and while some may see Europe’s ‘B’ competition as a millstone to be carried throughout the season, both Martinez, his current squad and the majority of Evertonians are ready to embrace the challenge.

The need to strengthen a squad attempting to smash through the current Champions League qualification glass ceiling, as well as meeting the extra demands a European campaign will bring, is glaringly obvious. Meeting those needs, in Everton’s case at least, is seemingly never straightforward. A first journey into Europe since 2009/10 for the Blues will be a stern test for both Roberto Martinez and his players and again, building further on a positive transfer window will be vital if Everton are to successfully face up to the varying challenges of a Europa League campaign.

Looking at the Blues both on and off the field do you think Everton are heading in the right direction?

Whatever your stance on Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and his board of directors, one inescapable fact remains; compared to its footballing peers, Everton Football Club have entered another transfer market on an uneven playing field.

Despite a well documented 15-year search for either outward investment or an outright buyer for the club, Bill Kenwright and his board have once again been unable to attract the cash injection needed to give Everton the financial boost to compete toe-to-toe in the transfer market with the clubs around and above them.

The positive strides made on the pitch under Roberto Martinez are yet to be matched off it. Until both of these vital elements of success are brought into line, the ambitions of all Evertonians – to challenge for and win domestic and European titles – will remain unattainable.

If you could have one wish for next season (be realistic!) what would it be?

The 2014/15 season marks the 30th anniversary of Everton Football Club’s most successful ever season. Without a trophy to speak off since a Joe Royle-inspired Everton brought home the FA Cup in 1995, the Toffees go in to the new season with three cup competitions to aim for. Two of which – the League Cup and the UEFA Cup – the club have never won. Football teams go down in history by winning trophies, what better way for the current Everton team and their inspirational manager to honour the heady days of the mid-80s than by bringing silverware back Goodison Park. It has been long overdue.

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