Premier League 2015/16 preview: Everton, awash with ability, must practice pragmatism too

With the 2015/16 English Premier League season a matter of weeks away, Richard Jolly provides his thoughts on each of the 20 teams and predicts their final league finish. Here he looks at Everton.

Ross Barkley is one of Everton's talented young players who will be expected to show more consistency in 2015/16. Dave Thompson / Getty Images
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With the 2015/16 English Premier League season a matter of weeks away, Richard Jolly provides his thoughts on each of the 20 teams and predicts their final league finish. Here he looks at Everton.

After the heady optimism of a wonderful debut year and an acute case of second-season syndrome, the probability is that Roberto Martinez’s third campaign at Goodison Park will neither feature such heights nor such depths. At least Everton’s energy will not be drained by competing in the Europa League, but questions if the team is too old persist. After Tim Howard’s struggles last year, it is a surprise Martinez has not signed a goalkeeper to replace the veteran and he still requires defensive reinforcements. Instead, he has been reunited with Tom Cleverley, posing a question of how the newcomer will be accommodated in the midfield and at whose expense. Ross Barkley, one of last season’s major underachievers, may find himself on the bench. The other signing, Gerard Deulofeu, is another who Martinez has loaned before and who offers entertainment. Everton’s budget means the Spaniard often has to be clever in the transfer market, especially without a windfall. Chelsea may provide one, but by taking the precocious John Stones. So far, Martinez has kept his other coveted talents such as James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku. Everton possess plenty of ability but they – and their idealist of a manager – have to show sufficient pragmatism, both in defence and in a willingness to countenance direct football now and again.

Key Man: Romelu Lukaku – Everton's record buy scored 20 goals last season, which suggests criticism of him was unfair. But only 10 came in the Premier League and they will require far more now. He is capable of doubling that.

Pivotal Signing: Gerard Deulofeu – A crowd-pleaser with breathtaking skill, the Spaniard was an impact substitute in his first spell at Everton. The challenge is to show the consistency to become a starter now, because he has the talent to flourish.

Crucial Factor: Home form. Everton went three months without a league win at Goodison Park last season, when some of the crowd started to show dissent against Martinez. They only won seven home league games in 2014-15, compared to 13 the previous campaign.

Prediction: 6

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