After a much more stable summer for Everton in the transfer window (currently with five straight wins in pre-season), the new season cannot come quickly enough for the blue half of Merseyside, as they look to atone for their shortcomings of the season just gone.
Their new approach to attack has been self evident with the signings of French attacking midfielder Magaye Gueye, Portuguese teenage striker Joao Silva, and Leeds United star Jermaine Beckford. Thus far results have been pleasing, and seven goals past Championship opposition in the previous two games is never a mean feat in pre-season when the underdog is typically raring to go.
Beckford scored an impressive brace against Preston, and a fluid Arsenal-esque passing game yielded four goals at Norwich, with Tim Cahill bagging his first hat-trick. Certainly, Everton fans will not get carried away despite the much brighter outlook for this season, but the big question lies in the signing of Beckford from the lower leagues, and whether the man who scored for fun in League One can cut it in the top flight.
As a free transfer, there is nothing to lose but face with Beckford’s signing – Everton manager David Moyes has an excellent knack for turning lower league players into potential stars, with the likes of Joleon Lescott (from Wolverhampton), Phil Jagielka (from Sheffield United) and bargain of a lifetime Tim Cahill (from Millwall) – given that track record, Beckford should represent another shrewd piece of business.
With money dictating the game these days, it is important to keep a cool head when opponents of a similar pedigree (Manchester City) are splashing their overnight-acquired, sheikh-originated cash on proven international stars such as Robinho, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Adebayor in an effort to win silverware – unfortunately, those still sceptical of Moyes and club owner Bill Kenwright believe that Everton’s relatively modest signings lack ambition.
It is clear that Beckford is a natural finisher, and with his first team place far from guaranteed, the competition at Everton for starting spots is healthy. Undoubtedly, Beckford fits the mould and persona of “team player” which most of the previous lower league signings by Moyes have proven to possess. Indeed, his general play has thus far been impressive, showing excellent finishing touches at Preston and during his final game for Leeds against Bristol Rovers (after which Leeds were automatically promoted).
Ultimately, the potential to be a Goodison great is there, but only time can tell whether Beckford is really the man to take Everton forward and once again into the ever elusive group of the European elite.
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