Here's looking at you Mikel (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
To paraphrase Sir Brucie - what do points make? Prizes! In the case of the Premier League points make Sky money and, if you collect enough of them, Champions League prizes. With the season fast upon us and some questions as to the prospects of most of the contenders at the top end of the table just how many points might Everton gather in the course of the next 38 league matches as the Conveyer Belt puts up the odd cuddly toy and (hopefully) a load of three point hauls in Davy's bag!
In asking this question it's important to put a rider: Let's not get ahead of ourselves - we haven't (again) added to the squad so a casual observer of Everton might argue that we're not better placed to exceed last season's 7th place. The opposite view is that many of the rivals that stand in our way of progress have not necessarily improved either. Liverpool have spent but some might ask if they have spent well. Others have spent on the back of the largesse that resulted from Liverpool and (of course) Manchester United and Manchester City's summer shopping but many would argue if you lose Stewart Downing and Ashley Young (as Villa have) you have to find suitable replacements to create a similar number of opportunities to win a game. Sunderland have spent at the Old Trafford Bargain Centre with their Henderson Credit Note. Most observers would argue that leaving Manchester United can hardly be a step forward.
So, let's suspend debate on the basic premise that Everton haven't bought a much needed striker to improve and assume that the arrival of Ross Barkley and (a fit again) Louis Saha, Mikel Arteta, Marouane Fellaini et al will be - to coin a phrase we're all familiar with - "like a new signing". If progress is to be made then some sort of target needs to be proposed.
Last season Everton Won 13 Drew 15 and Lost 10 games in the Premier League. This total of 54 points was enough to comfortably seal 7th place (five points ahead of Fulham). Let's break down an objective of around 60 points into achievable targets and examine a reasoned way this might be achieved.
A reasonable return from these 6 matches would be 8 points. Not asking for miracles here - just a good result or two.
It isn;t reasonable to expect to beat every team at home that Everton are presently stronger ("better") than but it is reasonable to expect a solid return from these games: Let's project 28 points (perhaps 8 wins 4 draws 1 defeat or similar). Some improvement is needed in the win column as well.
This gives us a home total of 36 points.
Again it would be hard to imagine Everton cleaning up and winning on many of these games (but it's certainly possible as City and Spurs know only too well) - Target 6 points.
This is where an adventurous Everton could improve the most. Only 3 wins against this category last season was a poor return (and 5 losses even more disappointing). If we are to improve then a realistic expectation is something like 5 wins and 3 defeats - so 20 points.
This gives us a target of 62 points to aim at. A return of 62 points would have resulted, last season, in a final placing equal to Spurs (5th).
Conclusion: Everton need to improve in their performances on the road - particularly where it is reasonably likely to be considered achievable - if they are to make any progress towards a higher position in the table.
I will return to this theme during the course of the season and discuss any progress that may have been made in the style of football Everton play in trying to achieve this kind of improvement.