The off-season from hell

The English Premier League soccer season kicks off tomorrow. Most Everton fans wish it wouldn’t, not yet.

In the past few seasons, Everton has established itself as the fifth best team in the EPL — the best outside of the big four (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool). We confirmed this status with a fifth place finish last season.

You’d think that a team of this stature would be a “buying” club, not a “selling” one. Yet this summer we sold our midfield anchor, Lee Carsley, and a fine forward, Andy Johnson. We also declined to purchase reserve midfielder Manuel Fernandes, a quality player who was on loan to us. Our back-up goalkeeper also returned to his club in Germany.

To replace these players, we have obtained. . .no one. In fact, we barely generated any good purchase rumors, notwithstanding the eagerness of the English press to spread them. We were linked to Brazilian forward Wagner Love. When this acquisition apparently fell through, it generated the headline “Love’s Labours Lost.”

This is the kind of off-season one might expect from a fifth from bottom club in a lower division, not top Premiership side.

Meanwhile most of our rivals have been furiously adding top players. Tottenham and Portsmouth have led the way.

To add to our problems we go into the season with a list of key injured players — high-scoring midfielder Tim Cahill, quality winger Steven Pinaer, and reserve full back Tony Hibbert. Our squad is so depleted that we may have only 10 first team members available tomorrow.

Fortunately, our season begins at home against Blackburn Rovers, whose off-season has been almost as bad as ours. Then, we get West Brom, a newly promoted side. But if we don’t add some quality players soon, we likely will struggle to make the top and will probably crash out of European competition early. In fact, we could be a few more injuries away from a relegation struggle.

Finally, it’s difficult to imagine our outstanding, ambitious manager David Moyes continuing to toil for a “selling” club.

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