From an unsuccessful loan at Preston North End to being a bright spark in Everton's troubled season - it's been a big year for Anthony Gordon

One of the few bright sparks in Everton’s season has been Anthony Gordon, a player who 12 months ago was enduring a difficult loan spell with Preston North End.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 12:30 pm

The Toffees have a crick in their neck looking over their shoulders at the Premier League’s bottom three and there a real chance of them being relegated for the first time since the 1950/51 season.

Gordon has established himself as a regular in the Everton team since returning from Deepdale last summer, and many Evertonians would give him their vote as player of the year.

Such a turn of events would have seemed unlikely last year, Gordon’s loan with North End not working out for player or club.

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Anthony Gordon playing for Preston North End at Deepdale during his loan spell

He pulled on a PNE shirt during a difficult time, a change of manager happening during his stay with him also a victim of a switch in formation.

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It’s safe to say the Lilywhites faithful didn’t see the best of Gordon with him not really getting the opportunity to showcase what he was all about.

Credit to him, while the loan wasn’t the success it has been for some of Preston’s other recent loanees – Sepp van den Berg, Daniel Iversen and Cameron Archer – Gordon used it as a springboard to push forward in his Everton career.

Everton winger Anthony Gordon and manager Frank Lampard at full time of the Toffees' FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace

Gordon was one of eight incoming deals at PNE during the winter window of 2021, his the last to be completed close to deadline.

He started five games and came off the bench six times. All those starts were under Alex Neil, the last being Neil’s final game in charge against Luton Town at Deepdale a year ago.

Neil also used Gordon off the bench three times rather than starting him.

Frankie McAvoy’s use of him was more sparing once he assumed interim charge after Neil’s sacking.

Gordon made substitute appearances against Norwich and Brentford last April, before he was an unused subs for the last five matches of the season.

As a winger, the switch to 3-5-2 limited his use, McAvoy seemingly reluctant to play him centrally.

He returned to Everton in the summer and after starting this campaign coming off the bench, began to get more starting opportunities – first under Rafa Benitez and latterly from Frank Lampard.