Everton’s start to the season has been rather lacklustre but with a 3-0 win against Bournemouth last weekend, and potential new ownership on the way, fans may finally have something to get excited about.
One player who has caught the eye despite some patchy results is James Garner. The Birkenhead-born midfielder has been instrumental so far this season, scoring two and assisting one in his last four games. Of the games which the Toffees have won this season, Garner has provided a goal or assist.
"It was important for us and the fans, who have been disappointed with our home form – and rightfully so. We have been disappointed, too. We've been so close to winning games at home this season but we've not quite managed it. Today was massive." @jgarnerr96 💙
— Everton (@Everton) October 8, 2023
Everton signed the midfielder from Manchester United last summer for a reported £15 million but he struggled to find his feet at Goodison, playing just 16 times with only seven starts.
Appearing to be really struggling, the local boy was injured for 89 days missing eight games, whilst also falling victim to managerial changes and vastly different systems. Frank Lampard was relinquished of his duties midway through the season in January and replaced by Sean Dyche.
Dyche was pleased with Garner’s impact in the win over Bournemouth. The Everton boss said: “I know his will and desire to break up the game but I was actually as impressed with him breaking the midfield line to get into pockets to receive the ball and turn forwards.
“He’ll continue to grow and mature as a player without a doubt.”
There seems to be more trust and consistency given to Garner from the manager and he is repaying that trust with influential performances.
The playmaker seems to have recaptured the form that led to Everton signing him, after two successive eye-catching loans at Nottingham Forest where he playing under former England U18’s and Liverpool Academy manager Steve Cooper.
Garner played 41 games for Forest, scoring four and assisting eight in the 21/22 Championship campaign, becoming a huge fan favourite and providing the cross for the goal that sealed their return to the top flight at Wembley.
This summer maybe wasn’t as relaxing for Garner as some of his Blues colleagues after a gruelling relegation scrap with Everton. Called up for Lee Carsley’s England U21s, Garner helped the Younbg Lions win the European Championships conceding just one goal.
What has the amount of goals conceded got to do with him? Garner was deployed as a right full back throughout and made the position his own. This versatility has carried on into club football, with him playing off the right side of midfield or in his preferred central role and fluctuating between the two.
— UEFA U21 EURO (@UEFAUnder21) July 8, 2023
Going forward he’s giving Everton fans something to be excited about. A midfield of Dwight McNeil and Jack Harrison on either side, with Amadou Onana and Garner inside them is something for the supporters to be positive about.
They are all relatively young with high potential and Garner is rightfully in that category at just 22 years old and seemingly growing as a player and individual each season. However, there’s probably no need to worry just yet but Toffees followers should be wary of the fact that it’s been reported former club Manchester United have a buy back clause for Garner. While all eyes are on his Goodison career, it may be worth watching any transfer activity in the red half of Manchester.