LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08: Steven Pienaar of Everton in action during the Pre-season Friendly match between Everton and AEK Athens at Goodison Park on August 8, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Has a fresh outbreak of optimism broken out amongst Everton fans? The imminent season, just hours away, presents an opportunity for Everton to push on - if not for title honours then at least in an upward direction. A casual trawl of Grand Old Team (and other well known Everton fan forums, not to mention Twitter) confirms this prognosis.
The loss of Tim Cahill, with his diminishing returns as age finally caught up with him, Jack Rodwell, potential writ large but injury prone & seemingly not trusted by Moyes to fulfill his potential in an Everton shirt, & the long-overdue departure of Joey Yobo (left-over Turkey) have seen three internationals leave. But their collective departures has barely raised a moment's concern amongst Everton fans - chiefly because the financial benefit of their leaving has seen nearly £20M worth of income - all three sales set to generate a much needed boost to the Balance Sheet of the club - & heralded the arrival of Steven Naismith (for no fee at all), Steven Pienaar (once again, thankfully), and imminently, Kevin Mirallas, at a seemingly knockdown price of just over £6M.
Furthermore Everton seem to be going into a new season with a healthy squad, not overly burdened by a long summer campaign at the Euros, with a wide range of attacking options offering the prospect of a more cutting edge to the side, something particularly lacking on our travels in previous seasons. Kevin Mirallas will surely test opponents a lot more than some of his predecessors in the Everton shirt. The possibility that the likes of Leon Osman, Seamus Coleman & Victor Anichebe will not be required to fit a square peg into a round hole (often down the right hand side) can only be for the best. The loss of Mikel Arteta seems a long time ago now!
Mr. Moyes has finally been handed some fresh transfer funds - directly after sales this time &, thus far, the investments made look to be positive, directed as they are in the right areas. The back line remains intact - the most important players look set to remain in Royal Blue - how good is that? The midfield & front line, freshened up by some of the most recent arrivals, looks very good indeed.
All we need now is a good start and the right attitude against the very best sides - something that, in the past half season, has been evident in the home fixtures against Spurs, Chelsea & Man City as well as the now famous game at Old Trafford. I for one can't wait for Monday night. United are talking a good fight for the new season but new players, no matter how accomplished they may be, take time to bed in & one day's training will not be the ideal prep for RVP & Wayne Rooney to build a relationship. We cannot underestimate United by any stretch of the imagination but after last season's 4-4 draw we have nothing to fear & everything to gain. I'm not convinced that United, stellar names & reputation not withstanding, have the right midfield going into this season. The obvious threat that City pose to their recent domination of the Premier League must have prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to buy big. Van Persie, goal scorer extraordinaire, is more than capable of finding the target but United still look two or three marquee signings away from being City's equal. I think they'll find life quite tough on Monday night & I predict a shaky start to their campaign. I'm going out on a limb here and predicting a confident start to our season with a rousing 2-0 victory. Jelavic & another to score.