Prior to the start of the previous campaign, the Everton right-back was earmarked by many as a potential Fantasy bargain. Initially, the arrival of Roberto Martinez had us hoping of a change in formation to 3-4-3, with the prospect of Coleman and Leighton Baines handed wing-back roles, but although that thought quickly faded as the Toffees boss opted for a four-man backline, the Republic of Ireland international wasted no time in announcing himself as a major player in our Fantasy seasons.
Whilst Baines remained in the premium bracket after topping the defender standings in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game over 2012/13, Coleman started at just 5.0 in the first season of the post-Moyes era. By the end of the campaign, however, the right-back had eclipsed Baines’ best-ever Fantasy haul to finish as top scoring defender, courtesy of a series of displays that will ensure he’s set for a hefty price hike next time around.
With a goal, assist and maximum bonus points in the first match of the season, Coleman immediately signalled his intent. Fantasy managers were quick to react, too – by the time the Toffees had served up a clean sheet in each of the subsequent three fixtures, the right-back had risen 0.6 in price. Coleman’s raids down the flank, allied with the Merseysiders’ resilience, seemed a perfect blueprint for points at both ends of the pitch.
As Gameweek 13 arrived, the Everton defender had failed to produce any further attacking returns – the Toffees’ defensive displays kept his points haul ticking over nicely, though, with six clean sheets already accrued. A run of four goals in the next seven fixtures leading into New Year, supplemented with a couple of shut-outs and seven bonus points, was the catalyst for a second wave of Fantasy managers to jump on board and, as winter wildcards were wielded, Coleman’s price leapt up to 6.4.
By the end of the season, the Everton full-back had delivered six goals (all from open play), a couple of assists, 20 bonus points and 15 clean sheets and was owned by over 38% of FPL managers – the most popular backline option by a considerable distance. Missing just two games all season, Coleman’s 180 points was enough to pip Chelsea’s John Terry into second spot for defenders and eight spot overall, with an impressive streak of consistency that delivered attacking or defensive returns in 20 of his 36 appearances.
There’s no question Coleman is in line to join Baines in the premium price bracket, with a cost of 7.0 or even 7.5 on the cards. Whilst overshadowed by his fellow full-back, the latter still picked up 169 points last term in spite of missing six matches – an average of 5.3 ppg was superior to Coleman’s 5.0 and top amongst defensive regulars, highlighting Baines’ potential.
If, as expected, the pair are similarly priced, Fantasy managers face a dilemma which may well see more opt for the left-back. Although all five of his goals came from either set-pieces or spot-kicks, it’s difficult to see Baines fail to score from open play for two successive seasons, given the attacking freedom afforded by Martinez’ style of play. The left-back’s form towards the end of the campaign – a goal or assist in six of the last 11 compared to Coleman’s nine blanks – also served a reminder that we cannot overlook his talents.
Everton’s European duties are likely to play a part in how we assess their prospects for next term. Martinez adopted a rotation system in the attacking midfield areas towards the latter part of the season as he looked to utilise the strength in depth further up the park – frustrating owners of the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley, with a security of starts diminished. At the back, however, the Toffees boss was far less inclined to ring the changes, with only injury likely to diminish Coleman and Baines’ game time.
Granted, the emergence of John Stones could potentially afford us a cheaper option into Martinez’ defence if the youngster can oust Sylvain Distin as a first-choice option, though with no attacking returns and five bonus points in his 11 starts, he’s unlikely to offer the attacking potential that will make Coleman, and indeed Baines, a major target for the upcoming season in many managers’ eyes.