The most important pieces of business conducted by Everton this summer were the signings on a permanent basis of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku, and getting Ross Barkley to sign a new long-term contract.
Everton didn’t make any giant leaps forward in terms of league position under Roberto Martinez, but he has got them playing a brand of football that is far more pleasing on the eye that the fare offered up by David Moyes in his time in charge. It is a solid foundation on which to build.
In Tim Howard, Everton possess one of the most reliable and consistent keepers in the Premier League. Ahead of him, Everton have a solid defence wherein Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines get all the plaudits as the attacking full-backs.
Sylvain Distin must be nearly 50 years old by now, but he hasn’t lost any of his pace or know how and remains a top class defender. Phil Jagielka is also incredibly reliable, and in John Stones Everton have a potential England captain of the future. He will surely break into the first team this year and establish himself as one of England ’s finest.
Gareth Barry was outstanding for Everton last season, and Martinez will be hoping for more of the same from the former Manchester City player. The real jewel in the crown though is Ross Barkley. He has been on the periphery of regular first team football at Everton for some time now, but showed at the end of last season just how good he really is.
So good, in fact, that Everton gave him a bumper pay rise and tied him down to a new contract. This shows the player how much they appreciate his talents, but also tells other clubs that they will have to flash the cash if they are going to sign Barkley in future.
What it really means is that Manchester United will have to pay about £35-40million next summer to secure his services. Everything happens for a reason. Everton have also spent wisely this summer with the acquisition of Bosnian World Cup player Muhamed Besic.
World Cup relief
Besic and Bosnia were gone after the first round of group matches in Brazil , but he did enough whilst there, particularly in the game against Argentina , to suggest that he can be a star for Everton this season.
Everton will constantly be behind the other big clubs due mainly to a lack of funds. Until that is rectified, they will struggle to truly break through into the Big 6 and I expect them to lose out to Spurs in the battle for 6th spot this season.