I don’t mind admitting it – our defence worries me.
In goal, we have a tricky combination to manage in the one position where solidity means everything. Long time Number One, Tim Howard, has given superb service and will want to maintain standards in the season leading up to the World Cup. But he’s 34 now and has started to make slightly more of those errors that all keepers make, but that really hurt when it’s your own. Joel Robles is the long term replacement – a keeper always described as highly rated (translation – still has much to prove). It’s a smart move by Martinez to get the ex-Atletico Madrid man after he impressed last season at Wigan, but both goalkeepers will be desperate to play – and competition for the jersey seldom brings confidence and stability.
We have some very fine defenders on the books – at least at the start of the season – but they are getting old together and with age comes injury and, just as important, an inability to play at the same level through the little knocks that mount up over a season.
Jags leads the team in every sense now and he’s a fine man around which to build a defence. He’s 31 – not so old, but he also has approaching 500 senior appearances and the scars to prove it. We can expect a big season from Jags, but we can’t be surprised if he misses a few matches here and there. And he will be a big miss when he does.
Sylvain Distin has been a magnificent player for us – consistent, cool under pressure and a fine example to youngsters. He’s lost none of his pace, but he’s 35 now and we can’t really expect his body to take the battering of another season of week-in, week-out Premier League football. Expect him to be rotated.
Seamus Coleman has been one of the most improved players in the PL over the last 12 months and much is expected of the Irishman – but he’s more a wing-back than a full-back and might need support on the defensive side of the game. Leighton Baines is, of course, the envy of Champions League clubs for a reason – let’s hope we keep him.
If they’re the first choice back five, the squad players combine the not quite good enough (yep, dear old Hibbo and the inconsistent Johnny Heitinga) and the unproven (Shane Duffy and John Stones). New arrival, Antolin Alcaraz will lend experience, but he’s another 30-something, so injuries will play a part (he’s out for the early season already).
An overhaul of Everton’s defence is getting urgent and will cost plenty – £25M did you say? Now where will we find that sort of money? Oh yes…