The 2009/10 Premier League season has gradually become a promising one for Everton supporters, with their team having had their most successful year in recent times against the “Big Four” clubs.
With the exception of the two games against Merseyside rivals Liverpool, an opening day trouncing by Arsenal at Goodison Park, and a slack performance at Old Trafford, Everton have flourished against, and at times outplayed, the Premier League’s elite.
There are plenty of reasons for Everton fans to look forward to the start of next season. A campaign ravaged by injury has revealed a rare depth in the Blues’ squad, which is now full of quality players, creating competition for places all over the pitch.
For once, the Toffees go into the close season not needing overwhelming additions to their squad, with another striker and several loan deals probably being sufficient.
Performances have been exceptional since key players returned to fitness and if he can keep hold of key players, David Moyes will be optimistic about his side’s potential next season.
The challenge for Moyes this summer will be retaining the young players he has nurtured since he arrived at the club.
In the absence of first team regulars, Everton’s two most promising youngsters, Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell, have enjoyed a successful year at the club, playing in 35 Premier League games between them, and both scoring in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United in February.
Rodwell has already played at centre-half and as a defensive midfielder but has impressed as an attacking option in the latter stages of this season. The versatile 19-year-old is reportedly a £30m target for Manchester United but is under contract until 2014, with Moyes publicly expressing his desire for the club not to sell up.
Gosling’s promising season ended in disaster after he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, which will keep him out for nine months and almost half of next season. This could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as it is unlikely a club will want to sign the 20-year-old if he is injured.
The club will be keen to avoid another Rooney scenario or Lescott saga, which could be detrimental to the team. Everton fans will hope their young guns reject big-money moves and place their allegiance with the club for the foreseeable future.
By David Downie & Adam Hicks
Moyes has built a strong squad at Everton but must keep hold of his young stars if his side are to progress
© Trinity Mirror