• Dan Carter


Everton’s strange season, the surrounding noise has died down but will Goodison

Park finally host Champions League football?

It was clear from the start of the season that Everton were targeting success, a big transfer window with plenty of international quality brought through the door showed intent.

The acquisition of 2014’s World Cup hero James Rodriguez raised eyebrows, Allan was a highly rated defensive midfielder from Napoli and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford really strengthened the Toffees.

It appeared that Everton had begun to bring together a squad that matched the calibre of their manager Carlo Ancelotti, the three-time Champion’s League winner.

The expectation was matched on the opening day with a 1-0 victory away to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, not only the start of an impressive season but the hot streak of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The English striker has had a really impressive season so far, hitting 13 goals and that’s even while being on a slightly cold run-in recent weeks, which has seen him force his way into the England side.

Rodriguez started the season excellently as well, with five goals and four assists so far but like Calvert-Lewin his productivity has lessened as the season has continued.

There was a baron spell running throughout November and December for the ex-Real Madrid midfielder, where he failed to get any goal involvements.

Despite many people feeling that the Toffees have been inconsistent, they are still sat in sixth place in the Premier League with a game in hand on those in the top four.

Not only are they the most likely of any team on Merseyside to achieve Champions League football for next season, but they also ended the last campaign on 49 points sat in 12th position.

They’ve already obtained 46 points this time around and won as many points as big-spenders Chelsea, but the feel-good factor around Goodison seems to have quietened down recently.

It almost feels as if throughout this campaign Everton have managed to win games they weren’t expected to and been defeated by teams that they shouldn’t be.

They’re undefeated against bitter rivals Liverpool, including a momentous victory at Anfield in February, but have lost to Newcastle United twice and Fulham once (who’s recent form makes this acceptable).

But in recent weeks the media attention has been focused on the abysmal form of Jurgen Klopp’s side and the surprise rise of David Moyes’ West Ham, letting the Toffees fly under the radar.

This may suit Ancelotti’s men as the pressure isn’t focused on them, they may be able to sneak into the top four in the final stages of the season in a similar way to Chelsea last year who pipped Leicester late-on.

It could be quite easily argued that if Everton fail to reach the Champions League this season, they may not get a better chance with the obvious weaknesses in sides like Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.

There is also a great financial need to have some form of European football, with a lot of money spent on bringing players in and the fee for selling Romelu Lukaku cannot carry the Toffees forever.

With West Ham, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Arsenal all still to play as well as a final day trip to the Etihad against Manchester City it is going to be by no means easy for Everton to maintain this form.

If Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison can maintain their goalscoring exploits, with a Rodriguez at the height of his form and solid defence, Everton have as good a chance as any of the chasing pack to reach Europe.