Everton, a fantastic club, but with no silverware since 1995, the fans at Goodison are beginning to forget what success feels like. It seems that every time they appear to close the gap between them and the Premier League front-runners, the following season it opens up again. David Moyes actually did the impossible and got Everton into the top four back in 2005, but they couldn’t get passed the qualifying rounds. That is the closest the Toffees have come to Europe’s elite, but with Ronald Koeman at the helm and a developing squad aided by players with plenty of experience, now could be the time for the blue half of Merseyside to get into the European mix. They may not have the finances, but that makes it all the more exciting and challenging to use them in FIFA 17’s Career Mode.
How you should line-up
The Everton line-up picks itself, but it is by no means a perfect side. Maarten Stekelenburg is your biggest worry in goal, with a rating of just 76, but there is a sense that Ronald Koeman will go for Manchester City’s Joe Hart when he returns from his loan spell at Torino next summer. In defence, there’s plenty of experience in the form of Seamus Coleman, captain Phil Jagielka, new signing Ashley Williams and Leighton Baines.
There are plenty of midfield options, but you can’t look past James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. The three in front of them will always have plenty of movement, and it is Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas who get the nod for us. Up front, it’s always going to be the powerhouse Romelu Lukaku.
On the bench, you should have Joel Robles, Ramiro Funes Mori, Bryan Oviedo, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Yannick Bolasie, the on-loan Enner Valencia and then a choice of either Aaron Lennon or Tom Cleverley.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £44 million
Starting wage budget: £208,000
Who should go
Everton have an almost perfectly balanced squad, but it’s not one that jumps out at you. There are a few players that are very unflattering to Goodison Park, but once they have left the club, you will be in a stronger position with only reliable players to call upon.
It’s very rare that you will want to get rid of a starting player, but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg warrants getting rid of. A rating of 76 is nowhere near the Everton standard, especially when you think back to how many points Tim Howard rescued for the club during his ten years there. With Joel Robles almost just as good and with a potential of 79, he can come in for a few games whilst you look for a replacement. For the 33-year-old Stekelenburg, you should look to be receiving around £4 million.
The only other first team name that you can allow to leave the club is Arouna Kone. Injury has plagued him since moving to Goodison Park, and now, at the age of 32, with a maxed-out rating of 75, there is not much that he can offer you. Ronald Koeman has excluded Oumar Niasse from the squad, but with his potential of 78, there is still more to come from him. With Kone being in the final year of his contract, you will do well to receive more than £1.5 million.
As for fringe players, the trio of Jonjoe Kenny, Callum Connolly and Conor McAleny will never reach the Everton standard, with none of them having a potential over 72. They all have only one year remaining on their contracts, meaning that you will struggle to get as much as £500,000 for all of them.
What the team needs
FIFA 17 has been very realistic this year, giving some clubs financial restrictions. Everton often struggle to keep up with the Premier League big boys as they can’t spend as much money. With those sales, your transfer budget will rise to nearly £50 million, with a pre-season tournament win taking you to as high as £58 million. This is plenty of money to get a star signing, but the board will want you to have a profit of just under £20 million at the end of the season, so be sure not to spend it all. This limits you to £30-35 million in the transfer window, which doesn’t get you that far these days.
A goalkeeper will be at the top of your shopping list, and whilst there are many candidates, Borussia Dortmund’s Roman Burki should be your first choice. The Swiss shot-stopper is rated at 82 with a potential of 85, and can be bought for around £30 million. His wages of £58,000 are reasonable enough for Everton, which is justified by his 85-rated reflexes, 82 diving and 81 handling.
– Andrea Consigli – Sassuolo, Age 29, OVR 83, POT 83, Cost: £27 million, Wage: 29,000
– Sergio Rico – Sevilla, Age 22, OVR 80, POT 85, Cost: £24 million, Wage: £36,000
– Jeroen Zoet – PSV, Age 25, OVR 80, POT 84, Cost: £20 million, Wage: £22,000
– Benoit Costil – Rennais, Age 28, OVR 82, POT 82, Cost: £15 million, Wage: £29,000
Seven players are currently out on loan, so you may not want to add too much more to that, but there are a few players who are just short of first team ability at the moment. Barring a mass injury crisis, Matty Foulds, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Matthew Pennington won’t be needed this season. All of them have potentials of 74 or higher, so are worth keeping hold of to see how they develop.
With those financial restrictions, it may be worth loaning in a player or two to buffer out the squad. Bryan Oviedo’s injury history has left him with an overall of just 72, with the next best right back after Seamus Coleman only rated 67. This gap needs to be filled so a loan may be your best bet. Bayer Leverkusen’s Tin Jedvaj (OVR 75) or West Ham’s Sam Byram (OVR 73) are two of very few players that this is doable with.
Five players have contracts running out at the end of the season, but you should only really renew one of them. That would be the up and coming Tyias Browning, who has a potential of 77. As for the experienced Gareth Barry, at the age of 35, his rating will rapidly decline this season, and it is possible that by January he may not even be on the subs bench. So if you gave him a new contract, you would probably be tied to him until he retires next season. As for Arouna Kone, Conor McAleny and Jonjoe Kenny, these are all players that you want to be selling, so there is no need to offer them new contracts.
With Everton being in that gap between title contenders and mid-table, their targets are a little bit uncertain. With Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, the two Manchester clubs and rivals Liverpool ahead of them in the pecking order, European football is a tough ask for Everton. This is why your domestic aim will be to finishing in a ‘Champions Cup’ place, but your continental target will be to qualify for the ‘Euro League’. The board are basically saying aim for the Champions Cup, so if you fall short, you will be in Europe. With just the domestic competitions to worry about, Everton can catch those competing in Europe and a strong start to the season will put pressure on their opponents.
As for off the field matters, Everton do have some financial restrictions, that means that you will need to have the vast majority of £20 million remaining in the transfer budget. So only make one signing in the summer, and if you are comfortable come January – in the top three – then look to spending a little more, as you will be rewarded financially for your league finish at the end of the season. For youth development, you will need to bring a player through the youth academy and give them game time, whilst also decreasing the average age of your squad within a couple of seasons. Finally, for brand exposure, you will need to sell a certain amount of shirts in the season, which can be achieved by bringing in big names, winning regularly and lifting trophies.
Consistency is the key
There has never been constant success at Goodison Park. The old First Division was lifted twice as well as the FA Cup and League Cup in the space of four years during the 80s, and that has been Everton’s strongest spell in their history, with only one FA Cup triumph since. The current squad is the best that Goodison Park has seen since those glory days, and they now need to close that gap between them and the title challengers.
Nothing less than a seventh place finish will do, but seventh place gets you nowhere, and European football has to be the aim. That gives you the task of either concentrating on the league or one of the cup competitions. Your start to the season will decide which route you take, but it has to be all or nothing, you can’t rotate your squad in order to fight on all fronts. With a player of Romelu Lukaku’s calibre up front you will always have a chance, and perhaps with other clubs being distracted by Europe or the league title, the EFL Cup may just be your best bet to get into Europe. A risky strategy, but you’ll be a hero if you pull it off.
Know any other tips? Let us know in the comments.
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