Everton FC: Bring Back the Good Times to Goodison

TheMaestro

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Chapter 1: (Another) New Beginning

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I don't quite know what it is about FM23, but I have just failed to truly get into my saves this year. Some last a season, some last a month, and with others I lose interest before I've even played the first match. I know I should just stick with it sometimes and eventually it will become more enjoyable, but I've decided to, yet again, start fresh after my attempt at managing Juventus never really got off the ground.

Perhaps it could be considered an odd decision that my new club of choice is Everton, considering the fact that I'm looking for enjoyment and Everton have provided very little of that over the past two seasons. The constant question used to be asked of Everton if they could finally break the Top 6 mould, but in the subsequent years they've fallen considerably and find themselves well in the midst of a relegation battle.

After moving on from Frank Lampard, the club in real life turned to familiar Premier League face Sean Dyche, who had done an excellent job for many seasons with Burnley. However, much like I did with Juventus, I decided it would be interesting to appoint a club legend.

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Leighton Baines racked up over a decade in an Everton shirt, playing for the club all the way from 2007 to 2021. He consistently was one of the better left-backs in the league and made the England setup throughout his career. In real life, he's the club's U-18's boss, but I've decided he's up for a much bigger job and made him the full time manager. He comes in as the youngest boss in the Premier League this campaign, with 3rd choice goalkeeper Andy Longeran actually being a year older than him.

It is yet another new save, but hopefully this time, I can keep it going for longer than a few introductory posts.​
 
Chapter 2: Outlining Expectations

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The Everton board have received their fair share of criticism over the years, and it is probably at an all-time high with the club flailing and in danger of dropping down a division to the Championship. As manager though, there's an obligation in place to work as a unit to achieve the club's best interests and return us to more successful times.

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It's important to situate the club in history, and Everton certainly have that. They've one the top division in English football 9 times across their history, and have been won 25 competitions in all. That is a more than decent trophy haul, but there's been a significant drought and it's been a long while since Everton fans have had something truly major to celebrate.

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And in terms of history, perhaps not everyone will recognise the above face, but Dixie Dean was one of the most prolific centre-forwards of his day, rattling in 60 goals in one season and is considered an Everton legend. On the right, you can see the statue which is built outside of Goodison Park, commemorating his legacy.

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Moving on from the past, though, and the club needs to think about the 'now'. How do we get back to those legendary days of Everton football club? Certainly, it will not be easy. The club have policies to sign younger players and build for the future, which is a good sign that we're looking at getting back to our best and considering our long-term aims.

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The board are reasonaly ambitious as well, wanting to return to being considered the 'best-of-the-rest' by 2026. Whilst that is a while in the future, the club does need to do a lot of work before it can start climbing back up the table. The current squad, which I'll overview in a later post, is simply not good enough to finish top half without reinforcements.

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The supporters are perhaps less visionary and just have their eyes on remaining in the league. For now, it's a realistic aim and for this first season, we simply have to focus on staying in the division.​
 
Chapter 3: Squad Overview

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As I hinted at in the previous post, the Everton squad lacks proven quality in key areas. When I say 'key areas,' I specifically am referring to the frontline. Of course, the FM winter update is out, meaning we no longer have Anthony Gordon on our books, and Everton decided to bring no one in during January, which leaves us to do the business for ourselves in this first window.

First Team Squad

Goalkeepers
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Our starting goalkeeper could not be more obvious. Jordan Pickford has his off days and bad moments, but he is by far and away our best goalkeeper. He has good leadership traits as well as being England's No. 1 goalkeeper, or, at least, he has been for the past few years.

Left-Backs
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We only have the two real left-back options, but both of them are decent enough. Vitaliy Mykolenko has had a decent if unspectacular time with Everton so far, but he should be the starting left-back. Ruben Vinagre will provide competition for the role, though, and could take it if he plays well enough.

Centre-Backs
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We have very-good depth at the centre-back spot, and it is probably the position we are most comfortable with. Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have formed a solid partnership and real life, and that should continue to be the case here. Mason Holgate and Michael Keane provide capable, experienced back-up and that will only improve once Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey return from lengthy injuries.

Right-Backs
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Young Nathan Patterson was a smart signing by Everton and will likely be our starting right-back. I'm happy enough with this position, because a veteran such as Seamus Coleman who has played here for so long should be the perfect mentor for Patterson, whilst still being good enough to be a back-up to the Scotsman.

Central-Midfielders
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We also boast a decent set of midfielders. Idrissa Gueye is a class above in terms of current ability, but Amadou Onana has been a real bright spot for Everton this season and looks a real prospect for the future. I'm planning on using a midfield of Gueye-Onana and James Garner, but Tom Davies, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Alex Iwobi will all be given the chance to impress.

Left-Wingers
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Now, we start to get to the problem areas on the pitch for us. Demarai Gray is actually probably a bit of an underrated player who has his moments and will be our starting left-winger. Dwight McNeil is still young and is good at crossing the ball but still has to develop his game in other areas, which we'll be looking to help out with.

Right-Wingers
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Andros Townsend being our 'best' right-winger is a little concerning in the year 2023, and he is also injured regardless to start the season. Dwight McNeil will be entrusted with the task for now, but this seems like a position we'll be venturing into the market to improve.

Strikers
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Our strikeforce seems decent on paper, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plagued by injury throughout his career, and more so than ever over the past couple of years. When he is fit, he should be a weapon up top for us, but we cannot rely on a player who is so injury prone. Neal Maupay is not a player I want around, but given that he's just arrived, I won't be able to sell him. I'd honestly rather use young Ellis Simms as the back-up for now, presuming that we find a new starting striker before the season begins.

The Youth Prospects

Under-21's
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Our Under-21's squad doesn't look too bad. The main prospects (disregarding those out on loan) are Stan Mills, Reece Welch and Charlie Whitaker. Whitaker in particular, having 2 star current ability, might be given the chance to have an impact here and there in the first-team, given our lack of quality up front. We'll definitely keep an eye on them and do what we can to enhance their development.

Under-18's
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We don't have any outstanding prospects in our Under-18's but they're all still extremely young and have time on their side to exceed their potential. Here's hoping that they do so.

Players Out on Loan

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As for our first-team players out on loan, the above listed are the main ones that aren't in our youth squads. Obviously, the biggest name is Dele Alli, who has an optional future fee of 6 million. I'm hoping Besiktas pay it, to be honest, because he takes up 100k in wages and that might be difficult to offload for a player who is, sadly, no longer worth it. Gomes and Gbamin will probably be sold when they return as well, as neither of them have any clauses in their contracts that could see them go permanently.

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I saved a mention for the player who I am most excited about that is out on loan. 20-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite is a player who I'd love to have right now, but given our depth at centre-back, it's probably a good thing that he's out on loan. He has all the makings of a real quality centre-back and I'm certainly glad that there is nothing in his contract that could see us lose him on a permanent.

So, that's our squad. Is it good enough to stay afloat? Can we make the required signings? Let's see.​
 
Chapter 4: Pre-Season and Transfer Deals

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We were set to get things underway in pre-season, looking to implement the control possession style that I was planning on using when the competitive games begin.

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What we didn't need to happen, though, was injuries like these. Ruben Vinagre could miss 7 weeks and, given our lack of depth in certain positions, left-back being one of them, injuries are something we would love to avoid.

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On the same day, we were able to announce some brighter news, tying down Seamus Coleman to a two-year contract extension. I understand that he's getting old and is declining in ability, but he's been a long time servant so it just makes sense to keep him around for his leadership qualities.

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There were more contract renewals to come, with midfielders Tom Davies and Abdoulaye Doucoure putting pen to paper on new deals as well. They will both be in and around the first-team squad and are useful options in the midfield.

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The last one for now was centre-back Yerry Mina. The Colombian is currently out with a 4 month injury, but, in FM at least, still is considered one of our best centre-back options. At 6'5", he could be a weapon from set pieces as well, and we've tied him down until 2025 at least.

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Another injury came about close to the start of the season, with Mason Holgate out for the next two weeks. That'll see him miss the opening game at least.

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As for our results across pre-season, and they were fairly decent. The two most competitive match-ups, however, against Vallodolid and Gil Vicente, both ended in 1-1 draws, and they are opposition that we really should be beating. It was with a rotated squad, though, and the signs overall were still positive.

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The player I was most impressed with across our pre-season campaign was right-back Nathan Patterson. I hadn't seen him as too much of an attacking threat, but he proved to be very effective going forward, registering 2 goals and 4 assists from right-back. Hopefully he can produce something similar in the season to come.

With our game against Arsenal just around the corner, we moved quickly to announce two new signings prior to the match...

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The first of those was a deal to sign 19-year-old Johan Bakayoko from PSV. We needed more quality on the wings, and the Belgian looks like an exciting prospect in that position. He did cost us over 20 million, which could be seen as a bit of a gamble on a still emerging talent, but I believe it'll be worth it.

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He may only be 2 1/2 star current ability, but I'm ready for him to start off the right wing from the get go. I trust that he has all the requisite attributes to be successful for us straight away and think he'll be a good fit for the team.

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Our second signing was a cheaper deal to bring in young centre-back Ronnie Edwards. He'll go back on loan to Peterborough for the remainder of this season, and should come back a much improved player who can get some first team playing time.

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It felt like the right move to loan him back out again given our centre-back depth, but he looks like a fairly decent option already. Hopefully, he develops well and exceeds his potential.

There could, and should, be more signings to come in the rest of the window, but, for now, our focus turns to starting the season.​
 
Chapter 5: The Premier League Begins

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With pre-season under our belts and a couple of (in my opinion) decent signings to go along with that, we were in a good position to get our season underway as we realistically look to avoid relegation and finish somewhere in mid-table.

EPL Matchday 1: Arsenal vs Everton

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It was always likely to be a difficult start for us, we went to the Emirates and lost 2-0 to Arsenal. It wasn't a terrible performance, although we didn't carry too much attacking threat. Ultimately, it was a decided by a 10 minute spell early in the second half, which proved enough to see us off.

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A couple of days later and things didn't get any better, with James Tarkowski out for the next month or so of action.

After seeing our toothlessness in our opening game and experimenting with Dwight McNeil as a striker, I though '**** it' and decided to give Neal Maupay a start.

EPL Matchday 2: Everton vs Leeds

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I have mentioned the fact that I didn't feel Maupay was going to figure much for me, but he came into the team today and netted a hat-trick as we thumped Leeds 4-0 at Goodison. It's not the kind of form I expect him to maintain, but fair play to him for proving me wrong in this one.

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We then turned our attentions back to the transfer market, and, despite his heroics against Leeds, we still needed a striker. With that in mind, in comes 21-year-old Fer Nino from Villarreal for a decent price of 12.5 million pounds.

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Nino is likely to be thrust straight into first-team action. With a finishing ability of 16 and great jumping and fitness, he should be a real threat for us at the top end of the field. At just 21 as well, he still has plenty of time to develop into a real quality centre forward.

EPL Matchday 3: Brentford vs Everton

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This was a pretty dull affair throughout, but unfortunately Brentford edged us 1-0 in the end. Again, we lacked attacking threat, but, truth be told, so did they, and this game really could have finished level. Disappointing to be on the losing side of matches such as these.

Carabao Cup 3rd Round: Newcastle vs Everton

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We'd looked quite toothless in our away matches so far, but we had a lot more conviction as we knock Newcastle out of the Carabao Cup, with Nino getting his first Everton goal. Yes, they did heavily rotate their squad, but we still played really well in this one and it's a good result for us.

EPL Matchday 4: Everton vs Liverpool

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Usually I'd build up the pre-match atmosphere for a match as big as the Merseyside derby, but with Liverpool being as good as they are in FM, I knew we weren't getting anything from this game. Certainly, we weren't helped by Nathan Patterson's 45th minute red card, but we didn't look like scoring with 10 or 11 men today.

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Dwight McNeil has struggled to assert himself in his early days as an Everton player, but he still has featured in every game due to our lack of depth. Even though he hasn't been great, he'll still be missed as he's out with injury for the next month.

EPL Matchday 5: Bournemouth vs Everton

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I would've loved to see us beat Bournemouth in this one, but every point counts, I suppose. This was probably the most disappointing we've been given that there were some expectations on us to actually get something from the game. We did manage that, but Bournemouth really could've won the game with the chances they had. Thankfully, though, they were wasteful.

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Seeing as we had no major depatures, I thought I'd just show our loan moves all in the one graphic. Our young prospects have all gone to lower English divisions for play-time and experience, and hopefully they all perform well at their new clubs before they return

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There was also the interesting story of Charlie Whitaker, who we sent on loan to Tranmere. After just 6 games, though, he was unhappy that he was being played out of position and demanded to be recalled. It looked like he was going to spend the season here, until a late deadline day loan bid from Ipswich saw him shipped out on loan again. Hopefully this one works out better for him.

Player of the Month

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As far as Player of the Month awards go, no one was particularly amazing in this opening month. Yes, Maupay did get a hat-trick, but offered nothing every other time he played. With that in mind, I went for the most consistent option, and that was Conor Coady. He's been steady and solid at the back for us, an important thing to have in a potential relegation fight.

League Table

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Chapter 6: Looking to Pick Up Vital Points

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It's just the three games this month, and two of them are against 'Big 6' opposition in the shape of Manchester City and Chelsea. Points picked up at this early stage of the season could prove crucial come the end of it.

EPL Matchday 6: Everton vs Fulham

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It looked like our home game against Fulham, which we really wanted to win, was going to dwindle to a frustrating 0-0 draw where both sides had a lack of conviction. But, Johan Bakayoko rattled home a stunning 89th minute free-kick to win us the game, and Alex Iwobi confirmed the points just two minutes later.

We then prepared to face Manchester City...

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Erling Haaland is known to be a beast in FM, but 16 goals in his first 8 games has me very worried about what he might do against us.

EPL Matchday 7: Manchester City vs Everton

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We managed to silence Haaland and frustrate City for long periods of the game, but we do end up losing. Granted, we soaked up pressure for majority of the match, but we worked hard and it would've been nice if we could've stolen a point.

EPL Matchday 8: Everton vs Chelsea

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Put simply, we do not score many goals. To then go and smash 4 past Chelsea is an incredible result and I am absolutely delighted with our performance. Abdoulaye Doucoure put on a midfield masterclass, netting a hat-trick in the second half. An outstanding result, and one that will certainly boost confidence and morale in the team.

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That hat-trick, plus a good performance against Fulham, was enough for Doucoure to win Player of the Month in the EPL this month.

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And summer signing Johan Bakayoko has looked exciting so far, winning the Young Player of the Month award.

Player of the Month

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League Table

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Chapter 7: Fixtures Keep Coming

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With October comes fixture congestion. This month we'll look to build on what we've done so far by collecting more important points across the matches this month.

EPL Matchday 9: Crystal Palace vs Everton

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We lose to Crystal Palace away from home in our opening game of the month. A tight, congested affair with little either way was ultimately decided by a late Eberechi Eze winner that saw us suffer a disappointing defeat.

EPL Matchday 10: Everton vs Aston Villa

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It was back-to-back 1-0 defeats, this time we lose to Villa. After conceding a late winner against Palace, we concede an even later one up against Villa, and this one was inexplicable given the balance of the game. We were absolutely dominant today and Villa offered next to no threat, before a poor challenge in the box led to them being gifted the win from the spot.

EPL Matchday 11: Everton vs Newcastle

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For one reason or another, Fer NIno enjoys playing against Newcastle. He's struggled for us so far, but scored his first club goal against the Magpies in the Carabao Cup, and now also has his first Premier League goal against them as well. They're having a poor season given their lofty expectations, and we managed to earn a solid enough point in this one.

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Key midfielder Amadou Onana will miss around the next month. He's been a consistent figure at the base of the midfield and has been important to the team this season.

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And it was two injuries in one game, with James Tarkowski also set to miss around a month's worth of action.

EPL Matchday 12: Brighton vs Everton

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We lose 1-0 for the 3rd time this month, with Brighton managing to beat us. We've lacked a cutting edge in several of our games this month, and that was the case again here. The two 4-0 wins we've had this season are beginning to look a ways away at this point.

EPL Matchday 13: Everton vs Leicester

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We were frustratingly unable to get our first win of the month at home to Leicester. To throw away a 2-0 lead is incredibly disappointing given that we'd played so well for most of the first half. We conceded goals towards the end of both halves and the result ultimately ended up being 2-2.

EPL Matchday 14: Manchester United vs Everton

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If games finished in the 85th minute, we'd have had 6 points this month. Instead, we end up getting just 2. To be fair, though, we were hevaily reliant on the heroics of Jordan Pickford in this one and seemed like we were going to hold out for a vital point. But just like against Villa, we conceded a late penalty that saw the point slip away from us at the death.

Player of the Month

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Pickford had one great game this month and that was enough for him to be deemed Player of the Month this time around.

League Table

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Chapter 8: Staying Away From the Relegation Zone

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With just a few games left before the World Cup break, we wanted to ensure that we were out of the relegation zone going into it.

EPL Matchday 15: Everton vs Nottingham Forest

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We pick up a vital win at home to Nottingham Forest, ending our winless run of 6 games. We were up 2-0 inside 30 minutes and looking comfortable, however a red card 3 minutes after that 2nd goal changed our mentality. Thankfully, though, their man advantage lasted only 17 minutes, after they got a red card of their own. From then on, we were able to comfortably see out the game, with Forest having just 2 points from their first 15 games.

Carabao Cup 3rd Round: Everton vs Northampton

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I was hoping for this to be an easy Carabao Cup tie up against Northampton, but they went ahead in the first minute. We levelled it up, only for them to retake their lead almost straight away. Thankfully, we got the win in the end, but it was tied at 2-2 until the 85th minute. Fair play to them for putting up a good fight.

EPL Matchday 16: Tottenham vs Everton

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We end up having a perfect month, recording 3 wins from 3. This was the best of the bunch as we surprised Tottenham away from home. It looked like it was going to end level, which would've been a good result regardless, but Fer Nino popped up with a 90th minute winner. He's been a much better player this month than previous.

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Unfortunately Johan Bakayoko picks up a lengthy injury. Thankfully, we don't have any matches for over a month, but he'll still be out for a decent amount of time.

Player of the Month

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Fer Nino has been transformed in the past two games. He was seriously struggling before, but he looks much more complete and a much bigger threat for us now.

League Table

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Chapter 9: Looking to Continue to Win

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After the World Cup break, we'll look to continue our run of wins from last month.


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Before we had any fixtures though, and we had our annual youth intake preview. It's looking very promising this year, with the intake reported to be excellent. Excited to see how it pans out.

Carabao Cup 4th Round: Manchester United vs Everton

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Our Carabao Cup journey comes to an end, with Manchester United defeating us 3-1 at Old Trafford. We didn't make much of a game it and our attention turns back to the league.

EPL Matchday 17: Everton vs September

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We do make it three league wins in a row, though, with a 2-1 win over Southampton. We controlled the game for the majority of it, but the ending was a little bit nervous, with the Saints creating most of their chances in the final 15 minutes.

EPL Matchday 18: Wolves vs Everton

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Our run of three league wins in a row is over after Wolves dispatch us 2-0. This was a flat game in large parts and could've finished level, but Wolves took the chances they did get, and ran out deserved winners.

League Table

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Chapter 10: January Transfer Window Arrives

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We have next to no budget, but anything can happen in a transfer window. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the main player with interest in him, and we'll have to see what happens.

EPL Matchday 19: Everton vs West Ham

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Ruben Vinagre has been poor all season long, whether it be at left-back or left-wing. But against West Ham, in the wing position, he proved the hero, netting a brace as we beat the Hammers 2-0 at home. After a fantastic start to the season, they've struggled to pick up wins recently and we took full advantage of their poor form here.

FA Cup 4th Round: Everton vs Nottingham Forest

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We make our way through to the next round of the FA Cup with relative ease following a 3-0 triumph over Nottingham Forest. Dominic Calvert-Lewin seems to love playing Forest because he grabbed a brace against them last time we played as well.


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A bid did then come in for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, being from Real Madrid. I thought I would have to accept it, but to my surprise Dominic said that he was willing to stay at the club. The reason I turned it down though was more for the fact that our budget would only be boosted by 13 million if the deal went through, and that simply wasn't enough considering we'd have to replace the quality that he brings to the team.

EPL Matchday 20: Chelsea vs Everton

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The last time we faced Chelsea, we stunned them with a 4-0 drubbing. This time, however, they went ahead after just 2 minutes and it appeared they were keen on returning the favour. However, we stuck out the first half, then improved in the second, resulting in a late equaliser to see us take a point off the Blues.

EPL Matchday 21: Everton vs Manchester City

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Manchester City then came to Goodison and started on the front foot from the off, leading in the 11th minute through a Haaland penalty. However, Andros Townsend, who has been somewhat of a forgotten man this season, made his return from injury, and netted a stunning free-kick just three minutes later. It then appeared that City took control of the game when they went 3-1 up, but we played with real gusto and heart today, meriting our dramatic comeback to ensure that the points were shared after an enthralling 3-3 draw.

FA Cup 4th Round: Everton vs West Brom

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We just about edge through to the next round of the FA Cup, thanks to an early winner from Dominic Calvert-Lewin. We were subpar in this one, and it was West Brom who had the better opportunities, but they were wasteful in front of goal and Jordan Pickford made a few good stops.

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With deadline day approaching, and our budget still miniscule, with not a single incoming or outgoing, it looked as though we'd be in for an extremely quiet window. However, I decided to move for Eric Garcia on loan to bolster our backline. He comes in from Barcelona with an optional future fee of 24.5 million.

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A centre-back is probably the last thing we needed, given that we have several of them, but Garcia is just a class option and is only 22. He's better than anyone we've currently got, and players like Michael Keane and Mason Holgate may be moved on, plus James Tarkowski has been underwhelming this season.

Player of the Month

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Although Vinagre was much improved this month, he still was hit and miss. One man who was as consistent as ever was Jordan Pickford, who had a terrific month. He kept us in a lot of games and was crucial against West Brom.

League Table

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Chapter 11: Looking to Edge Closer to Safety

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Although there are still many games to go, and we sit 13th, picking up points now is as crucial as ever.

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First, though, we tied down goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to a new contract that will see him here, most likely, for the next 4 seasons.

EPL Matchday 22: Aston Villa vs Everton

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We fall to a 1-0 defeat away to Aston Villa in our first game of the month. We created some chances, but were ineffective in front of goal. Interestingly, both times we've played Villa this season, they've won 1-0 through a Leon Bailey goal. Disappointing.

EPL Matchday 23: Everton vs Crystal Palace

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Another game where we played well enough to earn something out of it, but again we end up on the losing side. A late winner from Michael Olise saw Crystal Palace take all three points and we've started off this month in the exact way which we'd hoped to avoid.

EPL Matchday 24: West Ham vs Everton

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We've never played worse, but of course this is the match where we do, in fact, earn a point. One player deserved it on our side though, and that was goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The English international saved two penalties as well as making several other important stops, and it became all the more rewarding when a missed interception led to a dramatic equaliser from Fer Nino which was completely undeserved.

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Dwight McNeil will miss around a month of action through injury after picking one up against West Ham.

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We then got the news that Alex Iwobi planned to leave the club once his contract expires. That's at the end of next season, so we'll probably try to sell him on in the summer, even though he's been an important player for us.

EPL Matchday 25: Leeds vs Everton

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It was to be two draws and two defeats this month. This was the only game in which we went ahead, but it ended up 1-1 between us and Leeds. It was the least exciting game of the bunch, and the points were deservedly shared.

Player of the Month

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Pickford was the hero in one game, but was poor in the others. Idrissa Gueye has been the most consistent player this month, and was excellent against Leeds in particular.

League Table

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Chapter 12: Every Game is Important

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We've only got the three matches this month, but each one, and every game from now, is important.

FA Cup 5th Round: Southampton vs Everton

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The first of those was a chance to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals. However, it was not to be as Southampton took control of the game and grabbed a deserved win to knock us out of the competition.

EPL Matchday 26: Everton vs Arsenal

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Having not won in six league games and being knoncked out of the FA Cup, morale was low. So it came as a surprise when we turned up and managed to secure a vital 2-1 win against Arsenal. We had a terrific opening half, with 2 goals inside 15 minutes. Whilst they did apply the pressure in the second half, we withstood it and managed to hold on to the three points.

EPL Matchday 27: Everton vs Wolves

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However, we followed that up with a somewhat disappointing showing at home to Wolves. It looked like we were going to hold onto a point, but Matheus Cunha netted his second to give them a late victory.

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We've a couple of high potential prospects in this year's youth intake, albeit without one who absolutely stands out from the rest.

Player of the Month

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As is so often the case, as soon as player is confirmed to be departing, they begin to play well. Alex Iwobi will leave at the end of his contract, or before should we sell him on, but this month he stepped up and looked good for us, particularly in the two league games.

League Table

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Chapter 13: Can We Secure Survival?

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In a fixture heavy month, April is packed with crucial fixtures that could see us either guarantee survival, or be dragged into a relegation scrap.

EPL Matchday 28: Everton vs Tottenham

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We start off with a decent enough point against Tottenham, where we actually played pretty well. We perhaps could've won it, but all in all, I'll take the point from this one.

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To make matters worse, young midfielder Amadou Onana will miss the rest of this month with an ankle injury.

EPL Matchday 29: Nottingham Forest vs Everton

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We followed that up with a bitterly disappointing loss to Nottingham Forest, who had won just once all season prior to this. To go up against a team that is all but relegated already, I expected a lot more from this one.

EPL Matchday 30: Southampton vs Everton

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Southampton are also right in this relegation fight, so losing 2-0 to them is far from ideal. The month had a somewhat positive start, but any signs of quality have dwindled, slumping to two very poor defeats.

EPL Matchday 31: Leicester vs Everton

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The losses keep coming. This time it felt as if we might nick a point, before a late Patson Daka winner saw Leicester take all three points.

EPL Matchday 32: Everton vs Brighton

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Another game, another loss. It seems like repeat performances at this point and we are seriously struggling at the wrong point of the season.

EPL Matchday 33: Newcastle vs Everton

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We played with more attacking intent in this one, but the result was the same, a narrow defeat. That's now five games in a row that we've lost, and we've failed to score a single goal in any of them.

EPL Matchday 34: Everton vs Manchester United

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It was nice to know the feeling of scoring a goal again, but it wasn't enough for us to avoid a sixth straight defeat, going down 3-1 to Manchester United. We applied the pressure after the red card but couldn't get a goal back to really breathe life back into the contest.

There is no player deserving of Player of the Month for April. We picked up just the 1 point and scored just once, which is a terrible run of form. Like I said, this slump could not have come at a worse time in the season, as we've just four games to go. We've won just one of our last fifteen Premier League games, and we need to turn that around soon if we're to stay up.

League Table

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Chapter 14: The Final Four Fixtures

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Well, this is it. We are on a dreadful run of form, have four games left, and are four points clear of the drop zone. Can we stay up?

EPL Matchday 35: Liverpool vs Everton

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It begins with a tough 2-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. We took a surprise lead and managed to go into the break 1-0 ahead. However, Nathan Patterson gave away a penalty and was red carded for it, which Liverpool ultimately capitalised upon.

EPL Matchday 36: Everton vs Brentford

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Although the Liverpool loss could have been demoralising, we seem to have taken inspiration from coming close to getting a point, as we record just our 2nd win in 17 games, and what a crucial one it is. We manage to beat Brentford 2-1 at home, thanks to goals from wingers Demarai Gray and Johan Bakayoko. Vital.

EPL Matchday 37: Fulham vs Everton

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Every point means so much at this stage, so a 1-1 draw to Fulham is worth a lot to us. It means that we are essentially safe as goal difference is heavily in our favour in comparison to Wolves and we are three points ahead.

EPL Matchday 38: Everton vs Bournemouth

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We've managed to pick up vital points at the very end of the season, and we finished with a nice 1-0 win against Bournemouth. Although our defence has been strong, it's been a while since we'd kept a clean sheet, so it was a nice way to end our season.

Player of the Month

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Abdoulaye Doucoure has easily been our best player all season long, and he stepped up once again, performing well in all four of our final games to help steer us to safety.

League Table

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Chapter 15: Season In Review

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A difficult season to review, but, in the end, we were asked to avoid relegation, and we managed to do so. It looked like it could've been more, with us sitting comfortably in 13th after 27 games. However, we endured a tough run of results after that, which saw us embroiled in a relegation battle up until almost the final day. We came out of it, though, and will now hope to push on next season.

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Our squad showed flashes at times, but was overall lacking in genuine quality at several stages of the season.

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As I mentioned in the previous post, Abdoulaye Doucoure was easily our Player of the Season. The midfielder was a class above any of our other outfield players this campaign and was a major positive for us. Jordan Pickford was also pretty good between the sticks for us, having a few vital games where he won us points almost on his own.

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A somewhat concerning stat that will need improvement is the fact that we won just the one game away from home all season. We scored just 8 goals on our travels as well, so we definitely need to find a way to improve our road performances.

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We also ended up with the equal 5th best defence in the entire league, something we can be proud of. That was never really the issue though, instead it was at the other end of the field. We struggled in a lot of our games to provide any attacking threat and we lacked a serious goalscorer for large parts of the season. Thankfully, Dominic Calvert-Lewin's return to fitness gave us a focal point in the attack, and he scored some important goals for us.

A tough slog, but with a few bright spots along the way. Let's hope the season to come sees us comfortably away from relegation trouble.​
 
Well done on avoiding relegation and achieving your target mate. Desperately need to replace lots of the dead wood this Summer now :)
 
Desperate overhaul needed just like IRL. Well done on avoiding relegation
 
Well done on avoiding relegation and achieving your target mate. Desperately need to replace lots of the dead wood this Summer now :)
Desperate overhaul needed just like IRL. Well done on avoiding relegation
100% this will be a big window. There are a ton of players I'm looking to get rid of, but our budget is not the biggest to bring in reinforcements. Will be a challenge for sure.
 
Chapter 16: The Transfer Window is Open

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It could be said that this is truly where I can start making my own imprint on the team. Up until this point, I've largely had to work within the confines of limited money and use the players who were already here, some of which weren't good enough. Now, we still don't have a ton of money, but there should be enough to bolster a few key positions.

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My first signing was Celtic's Matt O'Riley for just under 20 million. I'm quite satisfied with the way our midfield looks now, with Onana, Dourcoure and now O'Riley in it. Whilst Doucoure did pop up with 6 goals and 4 assists last season, I felt we still lacked a consistent creative outlet from midfield. Doucoure is more of a box-to-box type player, whilst O'Riley comes in as more of an advanced playmaker type midfielder, which I think we lacked.

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As much as our attackers were, overall, poor last season, part of the reason was a lack of service. With O'Riley now in the team, we should have a better chance creator from the midfield with his natural ability as a playmaker.

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Our second signing might seem an odd one at first, given that we've spent just about our entire budget on two players, and neither of them are attackers.

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The reason I went in for centre-back Evan N'Dicka is because I'm looking to sell off a lot of our central defenders. Conor Coady is back from loan and will be sold, James Tarkowski should be moved on, as should Micahel Keane, and Eric Garcia's loan expired. With that being the case, I believe that maintaining our solid backline is important, and N'Dicka had a splendid season for Frankfurt in the Bundesliga.

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With the money from a few transfer sales (which I'll document all of at the end of this post), we did manage to get an attacker into the team. Keane Lewis-Potter departs Brentford after just 1 season where he failed to make much of an impression. He is still young, though, and has a good deal of versatility.

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Whilst he was largely restricted to bench appearances at the Bees last year, Lewis-Potter should be a starter for us. I believe him to have all of the attributes to be a very decent player for us, and hopefully that is the case.

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I did decide to go in for another midfield option as a back-up. Tommy Doyle joins on loan for the season and should be a great option for us to have off the bench, or to replace someone if they should get injured.

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Another loan, and young attacker Garang Kuol comes in from Newcastle. He helps our attacking depth and has a lot of promise on potential that I hope to help him develop. Plus, being Australian, it's rare I get the chance to sign someone of Australian nationality in these types of saves. He's our brightest prospect at the moment, so let's see what he can do for us.

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Having lost a bit of left-back depth with Ruben Vinagre returning to Sporting CP after his poor loan spell here, Andrea Cambiaso is our final signing of the window, and he joins on loan from Juventus, with a cheap future fee option that we might activate if he proves to be a good option for us.

Now, onto the outgoings:

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We managed to offload the majority of players that we wanted to get rid of. A lot of their fees are cheaper than their value, but getting them off our wagebooks was the most important thing. Even if our squad has lost a bit of experience across this window, I think we've got a lot of promise in our squad and we look more of a unit coming into the next campaign.

By no means was this a perfect transfer window, but we've set ourselves up for a positive future, if nothing else. The squad has not been drastically improved, and so the aim is probably for a mid table finish again, but the signs are bright and we're beginning to put the building blocks in place to gradually improve our league position over the next few seasons.​
 
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