Former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe believes David Moyes' side can challenge for European football next season - if they avoid a trademark sluggish start to the campaign.
Last year, the Toffees mustered just four wins in the Barclays Premier League prior to January but, as they always seem to do, recovered spectacularly in the second half of the season to secure a seventh placed finish.
It does not require a genius to work out how Everton might secure a higher standing come next May, but they begin the new season with a difficult trip away to Tottenham.
Ratcliffe, however, has seen enough 'winnable' fixtures during the early weeks to suggest Everton may, for once, start as well as they finish.
“I hope a positive start will put us in good stead to challenge for Europe,” Ratcliffe told the Evertonian magazine. “And I think there are worse runs of fixtures to put us on our way.
“When you look at Everton’s opening six fixtures, my immediate reaction is that there are some winnable games in there.
“I look at the meetings with QPR, Blackburn and Wigan, in particular, and expect us to get something and then take comfort from the fact that last season we did better against some of the tougher sides like Tottenham and Man City.”
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