Football

How will new Everton defender Nathan Patterson fit in under Rafa Benitez?

Everton have made their second transfer of the January transfer window with the signing of right-back Nathan Patterson from Rangers. But how will the defender fit in under Rafa Benitez at Goodison Park?

It is clear that recruitments were necessary this month for the Toffees. A strong start to the campaign saw the club sit just outside the Premier League top four. But results have drastically declined since then. Benitez’ men are now 15th in the table. They have 19 points from 18 matches.

There are certainly various factors that have led to such a dramatic decline in form. The loss of Dominic Calvert-Lewin to injury has perhaps been the most significant issue. The goals of Andros Townsend meanwhile have dried up. And the apparent squabble between Benitez and Lucas Digne looks set to have unsettled things behind the scenes.

A once-regular at left-back, Digne now finds himself frozen out. He has been linked with a move away this month. And it looks set to come about, with the Toffees bringing in left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kyiv.

Everton have also been busy on the right side of defence. But how will Patterson do at his new club?

Big boots to fill at Everton

First and foremost, the youngster could not have been handed bigger boots to fill at Everton. He will be in direct comparison for a starting role with club captain Seamus Coleman.

Whether Benitez throws the 20-year-old straight into the starting lineup remains to be seen. The Premier League club travel to Hull in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. It could be the perfect time for the new defender to show his boss what he is capable of.

Patterson is, however, no stranger to competition for places. He had to spend much of his time at Ibrox watching from the bench. Captain James Tavernier started regularly under Steven Gerrard.

But the youngster had the perfect mentors. He will have learned so much from both Tavernier and Gerrard at that early stage of his career. He can also take huge motivation from his countrymen. Both Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney have flourished in full-back roles in the English top-flight.

Patterson registered two goals and one assist in his 27 appearances for the Glasgow side. And he has already broken into the Scotland national team, where has one goal and one assist in six appearances. A stellar start to his Scotland career has helped Patterson nail down a starting role at right-back.

Settling in at Goodison

Benitez has experimented with various formations during his time at Goodison. Both his favoured 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1 will be a change for Patterson. The defender was used to occupying a spot on the right in Gerrard’s 4-3-3 formation.

Other changes may include not seeing much of the ball. Compared to Rangers dominating possession in the majority of their matches, Everton have had just 9,625 touches as a team this season. It is the fourth-lowest in the league. And the Toffees have made 6,116 passes, again the fourth-lowest of all 20 Premier League teams.

While Patterson – like his fellow full-backs – likes to get forward as much as possible, chances may be harder to come by in the blue of Everton. He must stick to his defensive duties if his team are to be harder to break down at the back. The club have been forced into making 338 tackles in the current campaign. Only Leeds, Crystal Palace and Brighton have had to make more.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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