Everton season preview: McNeil excitement to prove Dele’s point and hope for less chaos

So here we go again.

It may feel like five minutes since last season’s sleepless nights and fretful weekends ended, but here we start right from the beginning.

Hopefully there will be less trauma for Everton this time around as Frank Lampard looks to cement Premier League survival and take steps in a positive direction.

With a host of new players already on board and more on the horizon, Lampard is hoping his first full season in charge will provide much-needed stability and progression for a club that has been plagued by upheaval in recent seasons.

But what can be in stock? the athlete a preview of the upcoming campaign by answering some of the big questions.

What would a good season be?

After nearly being relegated and emotionally testing fans with one remaining game to salvage their status in the top flight, the answer could be anything but another 16th place finish. Frank Lampard has been careful not to over-promise, and to use his metaphor, few will expect trips to the moon next semester. Simply capturing the mid-table spot with some memorable victories and a cup win – plus tangible signs that a united side is playing a promising style of football – would be a step forward.

What would a bad season be?

Finish 16th – or lower – again for starters. Or another collapse in earnings and assets leading to another management exit.

Less expensive requests would also be nice.

What could be fatal for the manager?

Such is his popularity after keeping Everton running that it would take a lot for fans to turn against Frank Lampard. But when it comes to unpredictable and impatient owner Farhad Moshiri, it’s harder to say. A string of defeats has seen Moshiri face off against a string of previous coaches.

It will also do Lampard no favors if he and director of football Kevin Thelwell are unable to replace Richarlison before the transfer window ends, nor find a new central midfielder.

Lampard hopes to pull Everton out of the relegation battle this season (Picture: George Wood/Getty Images)

Player who will impress the most?

James Tarkowski seems to have upgraded the defense already. He seems to have settled in right away, lending the backline a commanding and much-needed vocal presence. In pre-season games so far there have been signs he’s good enough on the ball to help Everton play from behind if Lampard chooses to go for it more often.

Most exciting newcomer?

The £20million ($24million) move of Dwight McNeil from Burnley was the club’s first significant expense in a window marred by tight finances and missing targets. So Lampard will be hoping McNeil can bounce back quickly and regain the level of performance of the season before last when he first became a target for Rafa Benitez.

McNeil needs to add goals to his game and Everton are in dire need of more goals from midfield. If the former Burnley man can do that, it will be an exciting signing for his new club.

Player with the most evidence?

Everton are likely to have to pay the first installment of Dele Alli’s transfer fee (£10m) to Tottenham shortly after the start of the season. So it would be timely if the midfielder can show signs of the form that has made him such a force in nature in north London before such a dramatic career hiatus.

Song they should sing what they don’t?

They’re not great singers on Goodison. It would be nice for a revived Dominic Calvert-Lewin to have a song with a playful nod to his taste in fashion when he starts banging in the gates again.

Or maybe there’s something like that for McNeil after scoring twice on his debut (albeit in a friendly).

How badly will they be affected by World Cup failures?

Luckily not much for a relatively small squad. While it does suggest a lack of quality overall, it’s likely just Jordan Pickford who is sure to join England in Qatar.

So Everton may have most of their best players when they head down under between 20-23 November to take on Celtic and Western Sydney Wanderers in the inaugural Sydney Super Cup.

Should be in the England squad but isn’t?

It would be a stretch to suggest Anthony Gordon should currently in Gareth Southgate’s squad but if he can build on his impressive form from last season with more end product then his speed, tricks and work ethic could persuade the England manager to take him on.

The best XI

Lampard may want to play with a back four at some point, but until he can improve his midfield options it may be best if he sticks with the back three, which has helped keep Everton in the top flight.

If that’s the case then his strongest team could be: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Mina, Holgate, Mykolenko, Doucoure, Iwobi, Gordon, Calvert-Lewin, McNeil.

(Top Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

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