Guardian writers’ predicted position: 17th (NB: this is not necessarily Andy Hunter’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position: 17th


A season free of relegation fear would suffice for many Evertonians, although even that low bar will look ambitious unless attempts to improve the forward line come to fruition. Sean Dyche demanded major changes after securing Everton’s top-flight status on the final day of last season but the reset the club desperately needs has not materialised. Financial constraints and the head-in-the-sand approach of the owner, Farhad Moshiri, continue to invite trouble.

Everton’s squad is smaller than the one that just survived a second successive brush with relegation and has several holes to fill. New investment from MSP Sports Capital and the fresh boardroom appointments to accompany it are not yet in place. Three directors departed in June but the bigger influence inside the club and main focus of fans’ disaffection, the chairman, Bill Kenwright, remains, with all of the division that entails. The club also faces a hearing in October over whether it breached profit and sustainability rules and could be deducted points if found guilty – it denies wrongdoing. All in all, a fairly gloomy outlook for what is scheduled to be the final full season at Goodison Park.

Dyche and the director of football, Kevin Thelwell, have worked through the restraints to sign Ashley Young on a smart free transfer and Arnaut Danjuma on loan. The versatile Villarreal forward was their No 1 target in January only for Tottenham to hijack the deal. Moves for the former Leeds forward Rodrigo and El Bilal Touré were thwarted and although agreement is close for the Sporting Lisbon prospect Youssef Chermiti Dyche wants more seasoned forwards than the 19-year-old. The results of the long-running search for a cutting edge could prove the difference between another season of torment and one of relief.

The manager

As in January, when he became the eighth permanent manager of the Moshiri era, Dyche represents Everton’s strongest hope of defying the woeful efforts of the club’s hierarchy and surviving in the Premier League. There were missteps last season, particularly with defensive selections, but keeping Everton afloat without having a proven goalscorer for the most part was an impressive feat. Everton had 15 points from 20 games when sacking Frank Lampard, their lowest tally at that stage. Under Dyche, they collected 21 points from 18 matches, which would have yielded 44 points and a joint 12th-placed finish if replicated over a full season.

Leading the shirt sales

Jordan Pickford. Goalkeeping jerseys are rarely bestsellers, admittedly, but in terms of importance and status the England No 1 has few rivals at Everton. Supporters voted him the player of the season for the second year running – putting another hole in the lazy theory he receives a harder time for club than country – after the keeper had an instrumental hand in their Premier League survival. The 29-year-old has assumed a greater leadership role, captaining the team on occasions, and despite speculation over his future signed a new contract in February that ties him to Goodison Park until 2027.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford gathers the ball during the pre-season friendly against Stoke City.

Jordan Pickford is under contract until 2027. Photograph: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Folk hero

Séamus Coleman. The last sight of the Everton captain on a Premier League pitch typified the selfless attitude that has cemented his place in supporters’ affections. Having just suffered a serious knee ligament injury that ended his season prematurely, and would ultimately require surgery, Coleman rose from his stretcher to rally Everton fans with a clenched-fist salute in what proved a critical draw at Leicester. The 34-year-old remains Everton’s most dependable full-back – that’s another story – and signed a new one-year contract this summer that will extend his outstanding service into a 15th year when he regains full fitness.

Last season’s results

One to watch

Jarrad Branthwaite. With the injury-prone but influential Yerry Mina leaving on a free, and Everton opting against making Conor Coady’s loan deal permanent, there is opportunity for the 21-year-old to press his claims. The Carlisle-born central defender blossomed on loan at PSV Eindhoven last season, making 36 appearances for a side that won the Dutch Cup and qualified for the Champions League. He was also part of the England squad that won the under-21s European Championship in July. Branthwaite’s development at PSV has attracted interest from several Premier League and European clubs but Everton need him.