ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Everton
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Posted by Jack Dowden on 07/16/2012

As with every other summer, football fans didn't have long to wait for their fix of the beautiful game. The European Championships proved to be the most exciting tournament since 1996 as well as strengthening the argument that it is a tougher competition to win than the World Cup.

Everton had a vested interest in a number of the national squads competing, whilst none made a real significant impact, the fact they were there itself is a strong indicator of how far we have come during David Moyes tenure and the type of individual we are now used to seeing play at Goodison Park on a regular basis.

I for one, was hoping for some presence in Team GB at the Olympic Games but our one true contender, Jack Rodwell, was perhaps fairly overlooked in place of the more match ready. So as it stands, Magaye Gueye will be the sole participant in London 2012 from an Everton perspective, representing Senegal who will be Britain's (still seems weird saying that) 1st opponents on 26th July at Old Trafford.

Something that may have slipped under your radar was the European Under 19s Championships which took place in Estonia with the England teams first choice 11 displaying the Finch Farm reared talents of Ross Barkley, John Lundstrum and Luke Garbutt, they unfortunately continued England's rich vein of form of bowing out in the knock out stages, but the experience will have benefited their development greatly regardless.

So attention returns to the domestic season and the preparation work is already well under way, the crux of the first team squad are back in training and have spent some time away in the Austrian Alps regaining fitness after a few weeks on the sun loungers, with those given additional time off following international duty set to join them shortly for a tour of Scotland and Indonesia. In fact this pre-season we seem to be turning up at any old game all over the world, like terrible celebrities at the opening of a packet of crisps.

Our travels for a bit of competitive action so far have taken us to delightful coastal town of Morecambe, where a good mix of present and future were given time to impress during the testimonial for the Shrimps manager and lifelong Evertonian, Jim Bentley. The stand out performance of the day was from Francisco Junior in midfield, signed earlier in the year on a long term contract having previously played for Benfica and Manchester City, the Portuguese youngster looks like a real box to box player, always wanting the ball and not afraid to stick his foot in for a tackle, or for that matter have a pop at goal which allowed him to open the scoring in a 4-1 win.

Like most years around this time the column inches are saturated with transfer stories, who is coming in and who they are replacing etc. However what has been most unlike most years, Everton have been one of the more active clubs thus far, allowing a good number of the established 2nd string to move on including Adam Forshaw, James Wallace and Joao Silva. As well as taking full advantage of the plight of Rangers to nab Steven Naismith on a free transfer.

Naismith is a player that has long been linked with Everton since his emergence north of the border with Kilmarnock. The opportunity to reunite his formidable strike partnership with Nikica Jelavic was one Moyes was not willing to miss, the Scotland international had the full backing of both the Croatian and former Gers captain, now Everton coach, David Weir if the manager had any doubts.

The arrival of the Scotsman is hopefully just the start of a few new faces coming in to freshen things up, with the next incumbent highly likely to be the welcome full time return of Steven Pienaar. The diminutive South African more than proved his worth during the loan stint for the 2nd half of last season. He flourished in the role of creator and picked up exactly where he had left off with his relationship with Leighton Baines once again causing all sorts of havoc for the opposition.

If Everton can make a couple more additions in key areas, utilise the wealth of promise we have coming through the ranks and keep hold of star performers like Baines and Marouane Fellaini for example, then I foresee no reason why we can't set the standard early this year and start as well as we have consistently finished, roll on August 20th.

Thanks for reading.


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Posted by kol on 07/16/2012

keep going mate good work unlike the poor Manur blogger

Posted by PJT on 07/18/2012

Nice article Jacko. I do agree with you on most things you said. I think if we can 1)keep Fellaini and 2)land Pienaar, we will be in good shape this season. I love Baines, but if the money is right, we could probably use it. Fellaini is the one player we can't afford to lose...he is irreplaceable (on our budget).

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Jack Dowden Jack Dowden - I was around 20 when I realised if I was to pursue my interest in the beautiful game it would probably be best for all involved that I stayed as far away from the pitch as possible. After several years searching for my niche within the game, I stumbled across Blogging, which brings together perfectly my two strengths and passions, English and Football. As the French Philosopher Rene Descartes proclaimed, "I Blog, therefore I am", or words to that effect!

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