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Everton 2022-23 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Everton's 2022-23 season, which saw them battle against the drop before finally sealing survival on the final day.

After narrowly surviving relegation in the penultimate game of last season, Everton left it even later to secure their top-flight status this time around.

Another torrid season with more managerial change at least had a silver lining to it though, as a final day victory over Bournemouth ensured the Toffees will play in the top division for the 70th-consecutive season next year.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Everton's unlikely escape during the 2022-23 campaign.



SEASON OVERVIEW

James Tarkowski celebrates scoring for Everton with teammates on February 4, 2023© Reuters

Final league position: 17th

EFL Cup: Third Round

FA Cup: Third Round

Top scorer: Dwight McNeil (7)

Most assists: Alex Iwobi (8)

Following a season of turmoil which saw Everton embroiled in a relegation battle for the first time in a generation, spirits were higher pre-season given that the likeable Frank Lampard was in charge instead of the castigated Rafael Benitez.

Lampard brought a feelgood factor with him when appointed as manager early in 2022 and led Everton to survival, with the hope being that with more activity in the transfer market and a full pre-season, things would soon get better.

Some money was spent as Amadou Onana was the notable purchase in a transfer window which saw Everton needing to be shrewd once more, picking up James Tarkowski on a free and Conor Coady on loan.

There were still glaring issues in attack though, after Richarlison's exit to Tottenham Hotspur and the persistent injury problems that continue to plague Dominic Calvert-Lewin's career.

After Calvert-Lewin's injury on the eve of the new season, Everton, seemingly with no plan in place initially to plug the gap behind their first-choice attacker, bought Neal Maupay for £15m, but despite a goal in September to beat West Ham United, the Frenchman would not score again for the rest of the season.

With practically no outlet up front, Lampard's men slumped to two defeats to begin the season, before needing a late equaliser to salvage a point at home to Nottingham Forest.

Everton manager Frank Lampard after defeat to Manchester United on October 9, 2022.© Reuters

Everton failed to win any of their first six games of the campaign, but spirits were lifted by a promising performance in the Merseyside derby, when Coady was denied a winning goal by a very narrow VAR call.

That evidently lit a spark as the Toffees then went on to win back-to-back games against West Ham and Southampton, but those results merely papered over some very clear cracks that eventually bore their heads.

Everton's season quickly unravelled, and Lampard soon found himself under pressure as Everton just kept on losing, and a dismal tally of five points from 12 games either side of the World Cup break saw him sacked.

The break came at an awkward time for Everton, because in the final week before club football paused, they were beaten comfortably at home by Leicester City, before Bournemouth thrashed them twice in the space of a week by an aggregate score of 7-1, knocking them out of the EFL Cup along the way.

A 3-0 defeat at the Vitality Stadium meant Lampard was on thin ice, but just not yet enough, in the opinion of the board, to sack him.

Other clubs in a similar position to Everton such as Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers changed managers around the same, but the decision to stick with Lampard backfired tremendously.

Ironically, it was Wolves who faced Everton in the first game after the World Cup, and in Julen Lopetegui's first game in charge, the bottom-placed side went to Goodison Park and took all three points thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Rayan Ait-Nouri.

Southampton and West Ham also came up soon after in some early relegation six-pointers, and both beat Everton, after a damaging 4-1 win for Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison.

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks dejected after Brighton & Hove Albion score their second goal on January 3, 2023© Reuters

There was no bad blood shown towards Lampard from the Everton faithful, but there was an acceptance that he had to go, while the supporters aimed all their frustration at the board, with weekly protests becoming the main talking point around the club.

After unsubstantiated claims of death threats and physical assault being used against the board members, Bill Kenwright, Farhad Moshiri, Denise Barrett-Baxendale and Graham Sharp all decided to stay away from Goodison for the remaining 10 home matches of the season.

Sean Dyche was named as Lampard's successor, and despite having the daunting prospect of facing table-toppers Arsenal in his first game in charge with all the noise going on off the pitch, Everton ground out a magnificent, and deserved, 1-0 win.

James Tarkowski celebrates scoring for Everton against Arsenal on February 4, 2023© Reuters

The change in management gave the players a new lease of life, and gave the fans some hope again, after the side had looked dead and buried, sleepwalking into relegation after losing to most of their rivals near the bottom.

Dyche masterminded three wins in his first four home games in charge, and made them tough to beat on the road, as despite having one of the worst away records in English football, only Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United won a home game over Everton after the ex-Burnley manager's arrival.

However, injuries, suspensions and the general lack of standout quality in the squad was still evident, as going into the final day of the season, Everton won just two in 14.

Things quickly turned sour at Goodison with some woeful defeats at home, including a 3-1 versus Fulham and a 4-1 against Newcastle United.

With the signs looking ominous, Everton entered the final four games of the season knowing they still had to face an excellent Brighton side away, as well as Manchester City.

Nobody gave Everton much hope of even getting a point at the Amex, but astonishingly, they found themselves 3-0 up shortly after the half-hour mark, and went on to win 5-1 - their biggest league win in almost five years.

A never-say-die attitude that Dyche seemingly instilled turned out to be pivotal, because for a side which so often crumbled after going a goal down, Everton picked up numerous draws thanks to late heroics.

Everton's Ellis Simms celebrates scoring their second goal with Dwight McNeil on March 30, 2023© Reuters

A wonderful Ellis Simms strike saw the Toffees take a point from Stamford Bridge, Michael Keane's thunderbolt helped them to a 1-1 draw with Spurs, before the most important of all, Yerry Mina's 99th-minute strike at Molineux on the penultimate weekend of the season which ultimately kept their destiny in their own hands going into the final day.

Bournemouth were their opponents and all Everton needed was to win, but with news filtering through that Leicester were leading, the pressure was cranked up.

Just like last season though, Everton got the job done, with Abdoulaye Doucoure, a player not given a chance under Lampard, coming up with the crucial, season-saving goal to keep Everton in the Premier League.



PREMIER LEAGUE STATS

Wins: 8 (18th)
Draws: 12 (=3rd)
Losses: 18 (=7th)
Goals scored: 35 (19th)
Goals conceded: 57 (8th)
Yellow cards: 79 (7th)
Red cards: 2 (=6th)
Passes: 14,152 (17th)
Shots: 429 (=12th)
Big chances missed: 47 (10th)
Saves: 128 (4th)
Tackles: 708 (4th)
Own goals: 0 (=19th)
Hit woodwork: 6 (=17th)
Clearances: 829 (3rd)



HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?

Everton's Jordan Pickford reacts after Newcastle United's Callum Wilson scored their third goal on April 27, 2023© Reuters

All in all, it was a near identical season to the last for Everton, except this one came with an even more nerve-wracking finale.

While survival was assured with one game to go last season, heading into the final day with their top-flight future still in the air for the first time since 1998 will have been a particularly stressful situation for the supporters.

Those supporters were one constant the club did have, though, as the Everton faithful continued to sell out every away allocation and created a rapturous atmosphere in their home wins over Arsenal and Bournemouth, as well a late-season clash with Manchester City, who in the end were just simply too good for the Toffees.

Their win over Crystal Palace in the penultimate game last season confirmed a 16th-placed finish for Everton with 39 points, and despite picking up three points fewer this season, they still survived again, only narrowly in 17th.

Their attacking woes were magnified this season after Richarlison moved on, netting nine goals fewer than last season, with their striking trio of Calvert-Lewin, Maupay and Simms scoring just four goals between them all term.

While Everton had Richarlison in double figures for league goals last season, McNeil was their top scorer this season with just seven, the lowest tally for the club's top marksman for 21 years.

They were on the end of some hefty scorelines again this season, but overall conceded fewer goals, with their defence being critical in claiming the five wins under Dyche, with four 1-0 wins at home.

Once again, Everton's cup exploits were extremely underwhelming, but early exits away to Premier League opposition, notably Man United in the FA Cup, were quickly forgotten about due to their perilous position in the league.



PLAYER OF THE SEASON: DWIGHT McNEIL

 Everton's Dwight McNeil celebrates their third goal an own goal scored by Brighton & Hove Albion's Jason Steele on May 8, 2023© Reuters

In a team devoid of any players who really deserve such an accolade, McNeil's performances since Dyche arrived must be credited.

Some players really stepped up in the big moments towards the end of the season, such as Doucoure, Tarkowski and Mina, while Jordan Pickford showed why he is still England's number one with his performances against Brighton and Leicester, but McNeil just edges it.

McNeil struggled to make much of an impact under Lampard in the first half of the season and was initially derided as yet another awful purchase from the Everton board, but the former Burnley man was ever-present after Dyche was appointed, and played a central role in most of Everton's positive results during the campaign.

The wide man's talismanic performance in the 5-1 win at Brighton essentially kept Everton's fate in their own hands going into the final day of the season, with two stunning second-half goals to add to his two earlier assists, culminating in one of the best individual displays seen by any player in the Premier League this season.

McNeil also came good in wins over Brentford and Arsenal, sinking the Bees with another long-range strike inside the opening minute a few weeks after delivering the corner that saw James Tarkowski bag the winner against the Gunners.

The versatility of the 23-year-old was also a big bonus, as McNeil filled in as a left-back for their late-season 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, after injuries had decimated the Toffees defence for the final few weeks of the campaign.



STANDOUT RESULT: BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 1-5 EVERTON

Everton's Dwight McNeil scores their fourth goal on May 8, 2023© Reuters

In what was easily one of the strangest scorelines seen anywhere in Europe this season, Everton, who had not won away from home in 15 matches, faced a Brighton side fresh off the back of beating Manchester United, and thrashed them at the Amex.

Most supporters, neutrals and pundits wrote the game off as a defeat for Everton, with their games against Wolves and Bournemouth to come the only likely matches where they could pick up points.

However, that all went out the window inside 30 seconds when Abdoulaye Doucoure put Everton in front, and he followed that up with a sensational volley to make it 2-0 on the half-hour mark.

A howler from Jason Steele gifted Everton a third before half time, before McNeil stole the show with two excellent second-half goals either side of a bizarre Brighton consolation from Alexis Mac Allister.

Coming on the same day as Leicester's 5-3 defeat at Fulham, Everton had the impetus from there on in, and ultimately pipped the Foxes to survival by just two points.

> Click here for a full list of Everton's results from the 2022-23 season



BEST MOMENT

Everton fans celebrate after the match on May 28, 2023© Reuters

The fact that the best moment of Everton's season was the exact moment when it finished does pretty much sum up how the campaign went, but the outburst of relief at the avoidance of relegation meant that nine months of stress could finally be forgotten about.

There were not many good moments during the season to celebrate, and you would be hard pressed to find many Everton fans actively celebrating survival, but given that they were starting to be written off by almost everybody, to battle back from adversity again made that final whistle all the more sweet.

Doucoure's solitary strike in that game against Bournemouth almost took the roof off Goodison Park, in similar fashion to Calvert-Lewin's winner over Palace last season to clinch survival, but for next season, the Everton support will be wishing that a cup run, a derby win or another notable victory away to a side near the top fills up this section, as opposed to scrapping for their top-flight future again.

Everton's Abdoulaye Doucoure celebrates scoring their first goal with Conor Coady, Demarai Gray and Alex Iwobi on May 28, 2023© Reuters

There were some notable moments that deserve a mention too, such as club captain Coleman's winning goal at home to Leeds, Demarai Gray's exceptional strike to earn a point away to Man City, and Dyche's first game in charge which saw the Toffees beat Arsenal, on top of the 5-1 win at Brighton which still remains a scarcely believable occurrence.



TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER

Everton fans protest against the board outside the stadium before the match on February 4, 2023© Reuters

After a second consecutive season fighting relegation despite spending more money than most sides in world football, the first thing that needs rectifying at Everton is the situation with the board and the ownership of the club.

The board were not present for the final 10 home games of the season, and their position now is untenable, further illustrated by the fact that the first chant which emanated from the Goodison crowd after survival was secured was "sack the board".

After the unsubstantiated claims of physical assault were leaked all over the press, there is now no way back and the Everton support have been extremely vocal in their wishes for them to step down with immediate effect.

New ownership has also been on the agenda, and that could affect their business in the transfer market, making it another absolutely huge issue that needs addressing.

With Calvert-Lewin injury prone and Maupay seemingly on his way out after a disastrous 12 months on Merseyside, signing a reliable goalscorer has got to be top of the agenda for the club.

Dyche was not granted any signings in January despite Everton spending long periods of the season as the lowest scorers in the league, but unless at least one attacker is brought in, the club will find themselves in the same position again this time next year.

Other positions need urgent attention too, most notably at full-back, as all five of Everton's players in that position were injured for the final day outing against Bournemouth.

Everton's Seamus Coleman is stretchered off after sustaining an injury on May 1, 2023© Reuters

Coleman has been largely dependable but injury and age is now getting the better of him, Nathan Patterson is still young and also seems to often struggle with injury, while Vitalii Mykolenko does not look cut out for this level.

Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate were both tried in that position, but after woeful performances, Everton had to use midfielders McNeil and James Garner as their wide defenders on the final day.

The centre of defence is also an issue because the question has been raised of who will partner Tarkowski, given that Mina, who is out of contract, and Coady, who is on loan, are set to depart.

Mina is one of the players who will leave, but his hefty wages should free up some room for Everton to spend in the summer window.

Dele Alli, Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin have all been out on loan and are almost certainly going to depart over the next few months, while Tom Davies is set to join Mina in leaving on a free.

With the investigations ongoing about Everton's financial activity, another summer of shrewd spending looks likely, even if they offload Onana with big clubs circling the Belgian.



FINAL VERDICT

Ultimately, it was a season that was far from acceptable in the opinion of any Everton supporter, but many will be delighted that there was at least a happy ending when they initially appeared to be doomed.

Many may be happy that it should finally be the season where there is significant change at boardroom level too.

However, for a club who were once such frequent title winners, and more recently European challengers, spending the entire season in and around the bottom three yet again is intolerable.

Dyche has brought optimism and in his biggest managerial role yet, Everton will be hopeful it does not turn sour as quickly as it did with Lampard after he kept the club up last season.


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Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin warms up as a substitute on October 15, 2022
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