Following on from Notts County Ladies folding, Everton were the WSL 2 team successful in their bid for the vacated spot, the Blue Girls a world away from the team they were last time they were in WSL 1.
Once a great side that boasted the likes of Jill Scott and Toni Duggan, Everton rather slipped down the pecking order when they saw some of their better players leave, dropping to the bottom of WSL 1 in 2014 and crashing into WSL 2 without a win to their name for the season.
Looking for an instant return, Everton found themselves humbled in their first season in the second tier, falling well behind Reading and the Belles who both went up on 45 points – the Blue Girls left to lag on 31. 2016 saw another chance for Everton, WSL 1 once accepting two teams from WSL 2 and once more they fell short in a considerably tighter four-way promotion race. With Yeovil Town and Bristol City (who had managed to bungee back up after relegation) gone, Everton looked on course for a strong 2017-18 season but having had their licence bid accepted they found themselves back in WSL 1 before they had expected.
Although it was a combination of many factors, Everton’s return was announced soon after they’d navigated the Spring Series and finished top, only beaten once (a 3-3 against the Belles their only other blemish). Aside from only dropping five points from nine games, Everton finished the series with the most goals scored and fewest conceded, the team clearly one that would have taken it to the death over the forthcoming season.
The pen ink at Everton must nearly be running dry after the business of the summer, Andy Spence quick to hand out not just new deals but pro contracts to the bulk of his squad, ensuring they had a healthy dose of full-time training ahead of the new season.
As well as confirming the bulk of his squad Spence has also been busy recruiting, Dutch pair Siri Worm and Marthe Munsterman his first two signings from FC Twente before he captured the signature of England youth players Jodie Brett and Lizzie Durack, Welsh international, Angharad James and Chloe Kelly brought back in on loan.
Everton’s deadline day business a big coop to bring in Courtney Sweetman-Kirk from the Belles – a sweeter cherry for the Blue Girls as she opted for them over rivals, Liverpool. There have been departures too, Lauren Davies, Emily Hollinshead, Amber Stobbs and both Jones’ and Whelans leaving over the summer as well as captain, Michelle Hinnigan opting to turn-down a pro deal and step away from the club.
With a team bursting at the seams, full of England youth internationals there is no doubting the quality of the side who call Widnes their [shared] home, though the team is just that, a young one. Despite the maturity of the players there is still much to be said for the experience that comes with age and this could be a potential stumbling block for Everton, however all they have to do is finish above fellow new-comers Bristol and Yeovil.