Roberto Martinez was keen to emphasize that there’s a bright future ahead on the pitch for Everton in a recent interview with some local supporter-run outlets.
At the end of a season which saw the Toffees regress from daring and diligent to often shackled and occasionally soporific, the Catalonian was trying to paint a picture of prosperous campaigns come.
As an eminently positive individual, that’s to be expected. And with a core of vibrant young players, primarily consisting of John Stones, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, he’s probably right to be upbeat.
But when pressed on whether the club would be willing to spend another £28 million this summer—the amount splashed to land Lukaku ahead of last season—Martinez’s retort was abrupt. “£28 million!? Maybe in a couple of years time!”
It was a quip which drilled home just how important and how difficult this summer is set to be for Everton. As was evident by the scarcely attended lap of appreciation, this disastrous campaign has manifested as apathy amongst the fanbase; improvements must be made to capture affections once again.
There are plenty expecting the club to revert to type again next season, simply because of a lack of European commitments. Granted, the Europa League has put strain on Everton and it’s been a treacherously steep learning curve for all associated with the club. But to attribute the Toffees’ issues to that competition entirely would be simplistic and naive.
Martinez has much to address this summer. It’s wonderful having a nexus of quality youngsters, but those players need complementing; as the Catalan has said himself on myriad occasions, it means Everton are going to have to get “creative” when it comes to the acquisition of various players.
Any incomings will also be offset against a host of names set to leave the club in the coming months. Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz will both depart, Kevin Mirallas’ future remains a mystery and the promising Luke Garbutt could walk away for nothing. Question marks also linger regarding the role a lot of aging, injury-prone players such as Steven Pienaar, Arouna Kone and Tony Hibbert; all experienced figures, but if they were to move on, would recoup very little in terms of monetary value.
It’s going to be a testing off-season. Martinez has already outlined the need for a player with guile that can fill the void which has been left by Pienaar’s perennial injury problems. But the reality is that all facets of the squad need replenishment and that’s before the aforementioned cull even begins in earnest.