Moyes’ Blues require bright start

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Jelavic is key to Everton hopes © Trinity Mirror

Everton head into the 2012/13 campaign hoping to avoid their traditional slow start and will be looking to kick on from a promising finish to last season.

Had the previous campaign started in January, the Blues would have finished in a Champions League position, and David Moyes will be hoping that his side pick up where they left off in a bid to bring European football back to Goodison Park.

They will have to do so, however, without Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell, who have moved on to New York Red Bulls and Manchester City respectively.

The initial fee involved with the Rodwell sale is believed to be around the £12million mark. Add that to the protracted sale of Joseph Yobo and Everton may have funds to add to their threadbare squad before the transfer window closes.

Moyes moved quickly to complete the signing of Steven Naismith on a free transfer and the former Rangers man looks to be another astute piece of business after netting a hat-trick in his home debut during Tony Hibbert’s testimonial.

Steven Pienaar has also returned on a permanent basis, much to the delight of the Blues faithful. The South African’s performances while on loan from Spurs during the second half of last season were a key factor behind the side’s strong run of form.

On paper, Everton always appear to have the makings of a squad capable of breaking into the top four. The likes of Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jagielka and indeed Pienaar would be first choice for most Premier League sides.

However, the one key ingredient that has been missing for many years has been a natural goalscorer. In Nikica Jelavic it would appear that Everton have now found that man.

The Croatian has been a revelation since his £5million switch from Rangers in January and became the fastest player in 100 years to reach ten goals for the Toffees.

First five fixtures

August 20 – Manchester United (H)

August 25 – Aston Villa (A)

September 1 – West Bromwich Albion (A)

September 17 – Newcastle United (H)

September 22 – Swansea City (A)

It is well documented that Moyes does not have vast sums of money at his disposal and there does not appear to be any sort of investment, still long hoped for, imminent.

What the Scot does have, however, is a highly impressive youth system and there are several prospects that will be itching to break into the first team this season.

Ross Barkley, widely regarded as the most promising talent that the Blues have produced since Wayne Rooney, made his debut in the opening game of last season and looked as though he would kick on from there.

However, the Wavertree-born midfielder struggled to maintain his impressive early-season form and opportunities soon dried up. He will be hoping to make more of an impact this season, though, and it is clear that Everton have an exciting talent on their hands.

Barkley is not the only youngster hoping to make the step up. The likes of Francisco Junior, Apostolos Vellios and Shane Duffy will all be putting pressure on the more experienced members of the side in a bid to force their way into Moyes’ plans.

The sale of Rodwell will have appeased the banks for the time being and, in doing so, made any further departures of key players unlikely. Central midfield is a position that Everton are well equipped in, so the exit of the 21-year old is one that the current squad should be able to cope with.

A few more additions coupled with a positive start to the season should see Everton challenge for Europe once more, although a lot will depend on the form of influential striker Jelavic.

About Gary Maiden, JMU Journalism