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Everton: Wayne Rooney returns as big brother to Ronald Koeman’s bright kids

Wayne Rooney of Everton controls the ball during a pre-season friendly match between Everton and Sevilla at Goodison Park on August 6, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

Star man: The wanderer returns! Wayne Rooney enters a new phase of his career: that of elder statesman, tasked with drawing on a dozen years of success at Manchester United to re‑establish a winning mentality at a club without a trophy since 1995.

On the pitch

Hopefully he took plenty of notes while watching the inspirational veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic walk the walk last season.

Biggest summer buy: Jordan Pickford, a great shot stopper with two feet in the modern footballing style. Also possesses a steely determination to keep the ball out any which way, a penchant that may remind older patrons of a certain Neville Southall.

Breakthrough season: Everton have more than their fair share of young talent, and in Ronald Koeman a manager not afraid to throw kids in at the deep end. The midfielder Tom Davies and the sharp‑shooting Ademola Lookman have already announced themselves to the Premier League, as a stunned Manchester City will attest, while during the summer Dominic Calvert‑Lewin won the Under-20 World Cup final for England.

Bad boy: The irrepressible Idrissa Gueye brings steel and purpose to the midfield, and bookings go with the territory. The Senegalese picked up yellow cards at a rate of one every three matches last season.

Boo boy: Fans have a way of forgiving and forgetting, as illustrated by the warm reception the once-reviled Rooney received against Ruzomberok. But expect a few mutterings, and maybe even a bit of loud scribbling in the press box, if the remarriage hits a rocky patch and Rooney struggles to provide the assists and goals expected of him. Either way, Rooney will be a lightning conductor for attention, allowing everyone else to quietly develop.

Destination Russia: The whip-smart Sandro might be the cleverest signing of the summer. If he matches his one-in-two scoring rate for Málaga, a step up from the Spain Under-21s squad might be on the cards.

Glass half-full: Earn a spot in next season’s Champions League, preferably at the expense of the shower over the park.

Glass half-empty: The last time Everton grasped a spot, the shower over the park trumped them by winning the damn thing.

Off the pitch

The manager: Koeman has given form to a previously shapeless mess, with both defence and midfield organised in the flexible and cerebral Dutch style. He also brings gravitas to the post and has got Everton heading in the right direction. The only worry is that he’s doing it all with one eye on Barcelona.

The owners: Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri made his money by running USM, the investment arm of the Uzbek-Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s mining and telecoms portfolio. A modern-day take on the John Moores/Littlewoods Pools dynamic of the 1960s, though no one will be calling Everton “the Bank of England club” this time.

Steve Jones’ fan’s view: There’s real optimism after the way the club has gone about its transfers. We’ll miss Lukaku’s goals but with Sandro, Klaassen and Rooney they should be spread around.

Prediction: 6th. Follow Steve @bluekippercom

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Scott Murray, for The Guardian on Friday 11th August 2017 12.00 Europe/London

Title odds 80-1

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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