Exclusive Interview with Everton boss Aspey ahead of derby

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Exclusive Interview with Everton manager Jonathon Aspey ahead of this weekend’s first Merseyside Derby of the season.

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11th place. That’s where Everton finished last season under now Belgium boss Roberto Martinez. Perhaps the very definition of underachievement. Fast forward 5 months, and a rejuvenated Toffees enter the first Merseyside Derby of the 2016/17 Premier League sitting 3rd in the table, ahead of their crosstown rivals. Replacing Martinez and his entertaining – but leaky – football was Jonathon Aspey, who has guided the club back up the table, to a position it hasn’t been in since the heyday of Martinez, and the days of David Moyes. Much of this has been done with the same squad as last season, save for a few key additions in important positions within Aspey’s system. It has been some turnaround of form, and one which the blues attending games at Goodison Park this season have relished.

With Everton fans – and the club as a whole – feeling new found confidence, I sat down to speak to Aspey ahead of this weekend’s derby, to try and find out more about the man, and how far he thinks Everton can really go this season.

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These Toffees Might Be Quite Good Actually…

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48So, I have played until the Merseyside Derby at the end of October, so it’s once again time to update you all on how things are going with the toffees.

The last update covered the month of September, where we defeated Middlesbrough at the Riverside, Chelsea at Goodison and West Brom at the Hawthorns. We also stumbled upon a new 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation – largely as a result of me promising Kevin Mirallas he’d be in the starting lineup when he decided to moan about being on the bench – that had helped us to those wins and brought some brilliant performances out of our central midfielders – and Mirallas. In fact, the only negative in the month was that we’d lost 1-0 to Southampton at Goodison Park. However, when you finish the month 3rd in the Premier League, you can’t complain. Of course, I’m not raising expectations just yet. Realistically, we had only faced Chelsea at that point who are really a top class side. There are many more to come.

This month we faced Swansea, Pep’s Man City and reigning champions Leicester in the league, and Crystal Palace in the League Cup. Have we managed to continue our good form? Has the 4-3-2-1 fallen to pieces? Can I list any more questions?

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Lovely, Sweet Toffees

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48So, I have very quickly reached the end of September in the Everton save – I am really enjoying this save – so it’s time to update you all once again on how things are going, and whether we’ve been able to keep up our good start.

In the last instalment of the Evertonia story, we went unbeaten through the month of August, comfortably defeating Stoke City, Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace in the Premier League on our way to 2nd in the table. The only thing even resembling a blip in the month was having to go to penalties to defeat Peterborough in the League Cup after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. We had also made a tactical switch, quickly ditching our 4-3-3 system we’d used in pre-season and moving to a narrow 4-3-1-2 formation, and continued our odd obsession with Italy by signing talented Croatian midfield playmaker Andrija Balic from Udinese for £11M.

So, have we managed to keep this up? Have we continued to be fighting at the top of the table, or like so often with Everton, has reality set in and pushed us back down into mid-table obscurity?

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Building Evertonia

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Well, I’ve reached the end of August 2016, so it’s update time in the Everton Project. Has the Everton curse bitten me as well, or have I managed to stabilise the wobbly ship Goodison?

In the first update of the save, I covered the early decisions I’d made, and the pre-season fixtures. I had signed entirely from Italy in order to strengthen the squad before the Premier League season, bringing in Daniele Baselli from Torino, Andrea Conti from Atalanta and Edoardo Goldaniga from Palermo, reducing the serious weaknesses the squad had when I joined. We’d also had a good pre-season, comfortably defeating all the teams we faced – including Werder Bremen – before being defeated by Man United in Wayne Rooney’s testimony. Congratulations Wayne. Traitor. I also felt that our system was developing with the team naturally fitting into a 4-3-3 structure, with Baselli controlling the midfield, allowing Barkley to get forward in a Lampard-esque fashion and support Lukaku upfront.

Has this optimism continued, or have things fallen to pieces, as they have with so many others attempting to take the Toffees back to glory?

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My Everton Project

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-24-48Well, I’m back, finally.

I apologise I’ve been inactive throughout the first couple of months of FM17. I’ve recently begun a training course in order to become a fully fledged History Teacher, and it has taken up so much of my time that I’ve been unable to play FM very often. However, I’m back now – thank you Christmas holidays – and I’ve got a new save to write about, the save that for some reason seems to be one of the more difficult saves you can take on in FM17. Many have tried and failed – and according to SI’s figures, many have been sacked – so it’s my turn to take on the challenge. As I’m sure you have guessed by the subtle title of this post, I’m taking on the Everton Project… and for the first time, you all get to see my lovely face in these updates – complete with odd ‘Scarface’ mark on ‘my’ left side, and weird face matching. It’s close enough.

These updates will be monthly, much like the Aston Villa updates (I’m beyond annoyed I never finished that season) on FM16. The main reason for this is I feel I can really delve into the story with monthly updates, and you as the reader get a better feel for the story and the ups and down of a season. If I just update every half-season, I often find myself forgetting the ‘downs’, and for me, that’s what makes the story. I’ve had so many comments that one of the best articles I’ve posted on this blog was the first Napoli update, where I basically outlined all the cock ups I’d made with the team, before laying out my plan to fix them.

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