EVERTON SEASON REVIEW 2014/2015
The Premier League season drew to a close on Sunday resulting in sadness for the majority of football fans across the globe but relief for us Everton supporters.
There’s no way we can dress it up. It’s simply been a dreadful season and one to forget. After the joys of last season where we finished above the likes of Spurs and Manchester United, surpassed our record points tally in the league and qualified for Europe, hopes for this season were high. It’s been a real let down in almost every department.
We finished 11th thanks to our home defeat to Tottenham on the last day. A poor performance from the team in an unentertaining and frustrating game summed our season up as it came to a close. A bottom half finish below teams like Crystal Palace and Stoke is not acceptable for our club.
As our league form continued to disappoint throughout the season I remember thinking what we need is a good cup run to lift sprits. We crashed out of both domestic cups at the first attempt to Swansea and West Ham.
And then there was Europe. It had been the escape from domestic sorrow as we obliterated Wolfsburg twice, Lille at home and Young Boys in the first knockout round. Then Dynamo Kyiv came along and ruined the European dream with a 6-4 aggregate win including a 5-2 demolition of us out in the Ukraine.
I think the roots of this poor season were sown before the campaign got underway. There was something about our pre-season preparations that didn’t seem right and it showed as we didn’t win any pre-season games. I realise that a poor pre-season often has no bearing on the campaign to come but one win in our first seven games including a draw with Leicester and home defeats to Chelsea (3-6) and Crystal Palace (2-3) displayed the effects a poor pre-season had on the players.
Players like Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas coming back from the World Cup and playing although not fully fit didn’t help the cause either. That was the beginning of our injury problems for the season. The losses of James McCarthy, Mirallas and John Stones for lengthy periods during different parts of the season destabilised the team and had negative repercussions.
It’s all very well blaming the common scapegoats of injury and bad luck (David de Gea turning superhuman in our 2-1 loss at Old Trafford) but in truth, a lot of our players and our manger were not good enough this season.
After Christmas, the defence tightened up a lot as Stones and Phil Jagielka struck up an impressive partnership but we leaked too many goals before that.
Tim Howard had a very poor campaign and although he made some wonderful saves and enhanced his reputation as an excellent shot stopper, they weren’t enough to gloss over the unholy amount of errors he made. He has been brought back down to earth this season after his record breaking World Cup. Next season, Tim has to go back to basics and endear himself to the fans once again.
Seamus Coleman has had a dire campaign and Leighton Baines hasn’t been much better.
These three players need to up their game for next season, Roberto needs to blood youngsters like Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway and bring in some cover at centre half because relying on Antolin Alcaraz for that is not enough. Kyiv anyone?
Gareth Barry has been so poor it’s quite shocking especially after his brilliant, consistent performances in his debut season. Ross Barkley was probably our worst player. He has massive potential and I think he will be fantastic next season but this year he was simply diabolical. Spare a couple of good moments like his goal against QPR, the youngster just couldn’t do anything right. Being played on the wing instead of centrally half the time was detrimental for his development.
Romelu Lukaku has to give us more too. He was brilliant in Europe but he needs to improve domestically. As good as 20 goals for the season sounds, he only managed 10 in the league. His general play has definitely come on this season but the problem is that he isn’t showing it consistently. The main reason behind his lack of league goals is the lack of service he has received. We hardly mustered chances when Mirallas was injured and Barkley’s creation abilities aren’t strong. That said, Rom’s finishing is nowhere near perfect. When we drew 2-2 with Leicester at Goodison he must have missed about 10 clear cut chances.
I’m the biggest Lukaku fan you’ll find and I really hope he stays with us and succeeds but there is definitely room for him, and the players supporting him, to improve.
Finally, Roberto Martinez has got a lot wrong this season. As mentioned previously, he deployed players out of position and it didn’t work at all. Consistently playing Barry and Howard no matter how poor they were and how good their replacements – Muhamed Besic and Joel Robles – were was frustrating, not changing our tactics or style of play no matter how obvious it was that teams had us figured out infuriated many and spouting nonsense in his interviews got on everyone’s nerves.
All that said, I’m firmly on the Martinez bandwagon. I think we’d be crazy not to give him another season to show he can bring this team on and develop the players in it.
One other problem that needs to be fixed is Goodison. It needs to become the fortress that it has been in recent years once more and the crowd need to help that by finding their voice. It was clear to see this season that this wasn’t the same crowd that Gerard Deulofeu claimed sounded ‘’like the end of the world when there was a corner’’.
This may sound crazy to some but as bad as it’s been, I’ve enjoyed this season. Games like the 2-0 defeat to Hull made me feel sick to the stomach but even in that game Jelavic lobbed Joel Robles after Barry and Alcaraz’s offside trap didn’t work. You couldn’t make it up. The wonderful European wins and performances were special as was seeing our fans light up Germany and France. The 3-0 win over Manchester United was sensational and brought back memories of the win over Arsenal by the same score line in 2014. And how can we forget that FA Cup replay where Joel Robles hit the cross bar in a penalty shootout to send West Ham through at our expense. Definitely a contender for the most Everton game ever.
The send-off for Sylvain Distin on Sunday was superb too. He has been sensational in the past few years and it was sad to see his time with the club fizzle out the way it did. I was so glad to see him get on and to get such a wonderful ovation from everyone.
Aaron Lennon has been fantastic as well. He suited the club really well and was a breath of fresh air in a polluted season. Hopefully we sign him permanently this summer.
It’s been brutal but it’s also been hilarious. There is going to be bad with the good and we have to accept that. It’s all part of being a blue. A lot of work needs to be done on the squad this summer and I think everyone from the fans to the players have learnt lessons. Roberto wrapped this difficult season up nicely in his interview after the Spurs game: ‘’We’re going to use lessons from this season to come back better because we are determined to give the fans what they deserve’’.
Up the Toffees.