Time to sit back, relax and not worry about Everton as the 2014/15 season campaign has finally ended. After the successes of the season before, Evertonians everywhere were confident that Roberto Martinez could even push The Toffees towards a Champions League place. Since pre-season, almost everything went downhill and Everton couldn’t even sit in the top-half of the table. Everton ended the campaign in 11th place. We discuss what went wrong. Were there any positives from the campaign? What do we need to improve?
Did pre-season disorganization cost us?
The World Cup just ended, England left home early, Brazil got a smashed in the semi-finals and we saw the famous trophy lifted by the Germans. After the exciting tournament, the players returned to their clubs and pre-season began. The season before, Everton travelled to USA to play in the International Champions Cup, facing teams such as Juventus and Real Madrid. This season, however, Everton faced Tranmere, Leicester, Porto, Celta Vigo and SC Paderborn. The disorganization was unbelievable, important players such as Kevin Mirallas and new-signing Romelu Lukaku not appearing once in the pre-season.
Everton didn’t win a single game, drawing against Tranmere Rovers and Porto and losing to Leicester in Bangkok and getting destroyed 3-1 by both Celta Vigo and SC Paderborn. The pre-season was a sign of things to come and it got the Everton fans nervous going into the first game of the Premier League campaign. Whether the pre-season cost us is questionable, but it was poorly organized and it didn’t put anyone in the mood for the start of the campaign.
The Highs of the Campaign
After the poor league form, having Europa League was a good way for Everton fans to actually enjoy watching there side winning games. Everton were placed in arguably ‘the Group of Death’ having to play one of Germans best teams – VfL Wolfsburg, one of Europe’s best defences – Lille and traveling to Russia to face Krasnodar. Everton bossed the group. The Toffees destroyed VfL Wolfsburg 4-1 at Goodison Park before draws at Krasnodar and Lille. Everton then defeated Lille 3-0 at Goodison, before travelling to Wolfsburg and beating them 2-0 in Germany. The Toffees qualified with a game to spare, scoring 10 goals and conceding just 3, losing one against Krasnodar at home on the last matchday of the group stage.
Everton entered the knockout phase, being drawn against BSC Young Boys. Everton won in Bern, smashing Young Boys 4-1 with Romelu Lukaku becoming the fourth Everton player to score in Europe. The Toffees won the second leg, winning 7-2 overall. By now, Everton where the last team representing England in European competition. They drew against Dynamo Kiev, winning the first leg 2-1 at Goodison Park. Everton went to Ukraine full of optimism, and ever since that night in Kiev I don’t think I’ve slept comfortably because of the abysmal performance Everton produced, getting smashed 5-2 in Ukraine.
It may have ended horrifically, but having been in European competition certainly helped Everton fans relax from the horror show of the Premier League. It also helped Romelu Lukaku’s development, scoring 8 in European competition – ending the campaign having scored 20 goals. We need to take the defeat in Kiev and learn from it, they done their homework against us and look what happened. It’s a positive, but we needed to get further.
The late run-in
We may of lost the last 3 out of 4 matches, but the last 9 games of the season did bring Everton the points needed to survive (never thought I would use that word). Between the 29th and 34th match days, Everton dropped just two points after a draw against Swansea City. Everton managed to defeat Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Burnley and most impressively, Manchester United.
Everton also went 7 hours without conceding a single goal at Goodison Park, that was until we conceded too Danny Graham and Jermaine Defoe. Everton also managed to get a victory over West Ham United, winning 2-1 in the Fair-Play Super Bowl Cup final to decide who gets European football through fair-play. We won’t be playing in Europe however next season.
My point is, we showed a lot of fight in most of these games – more noticeably against Manchester United. It’s hard to find any positives from this season, but we showed fight in all the wins, fight which we lost either on in the season.
The many Negatives of the Campaign
No Plan B
It’s been bugging me through-out the entire season, we didn’t have a plan B. Everton dropped a league-high 19 points from leading positions in this campaign, we dropped just 10 points the season before. When we went too Newcastle United and Tottenham, we controlled the start of them games and deserved the lead. However, we then conceded for them to equalize and everything collapses.
Substitutions this season has been horrific. Last season we would bring on Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu and they were game changers. Now, we bring on Antolin Alcaraz when we are losing. Deulofeu would come on and completely turn the game on its head, every time we moved forward with him we looked dangerous. We lost all of that, it shouldn’t of happen. Also, why does Martinez bring on Kevin Mirallas when there is only 5 minutes left? He has no time to make an impact. Roberto has lost his judgement completely this season.
Still no Creativity
At the end of last season, Everton had created a total of 415 chances. That was more than Arsenal, Southampton and Manchester United. This season we created 351 chances. That is less than QPR – who have been relegated. I mentioned this back in February and nothing has changed. We are still missing that central midfielder who’d be a key creator for Everton.
Here is a pitch view of all our chances being created. We are still relying on that left side. We need more creativity from the middle of the field. No Everton midfielder has created over 35 chances this season, the most coming from Ross Barkley (33). We need more creativity from a central midfielder, a role that used to be covered by Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini.
Poor team selections
Some team selections have traumatized Everton fans for a while. Although I’ve been frustrated with a majority of the team sheets, there have been two specific ones that have annoyed me the most. The first is leaving Joel Robles out of the team after three consecutive clean sheets and the other is bringing Gareth Barry back into the team and leaving out a key leader, Muhamed Besic.
Roberto Martinez said on the evening of the awards that Phil Jagielka was “a born leader.” I almost threw-up at this point. I’ve always said Phil Jagielka is one of the worst ever Everton captains in the history of this club, and that still remains. Roberto also constantly leaves out Kevin Mirallas and sticks Ross Barkley or Steven Naismith on the wings. I almost laugh at how embarrassing that is, our best winger left on the bench for someone that isn’t a winger to fill his place. This needs to change.
The future: What needs to happen?
I still think Everton can attract some big names in the club and with some investment (which will never happen); we could build a great team for Everton fans to cherish and repair the horrendous season we’ve had. With Sylvain Distin ending his contract, a new left-footed centre-back is needed to come in in the summer. I think that’ll be the most likely transfer to happen.
I also believe that we need a creative midfielder, a player maker. Ross Barkley could become one of these but now I just don’t see anything, he’s more box-to-box not creative. We also need a back-up striker. Arouna Kone’s days have long gone and he isn’t going to be a decent enough striker to replaced Romelu if he is injured. I hope Roberto Martinez realizes just how bad Tim Howard is and replaces him, to win a trophy, you need a world class goalkeeper – Howard isn’t one of them.
For pre-season, we need it to be organised well and we need to make sure all our first-team players get action. I know that we have a tournament in Singapore, playing in the Barclays Asia Trophy – however when the players come back, we need a challenging fixture against a good European side. FC Porto was good last year, but we need to get a top team to come down to Goodison or Everton to travel to wherever we are playing.
What a horrific campaign. Nothing went right and we managed to reach 20 years without any silverware. This is way to long. Something needs to be done. We aren’t good enough to win the Captial One Cup let alone a European competition. We need to throw everything into the domestic cups next season, as well as getting a good league campaign and not to collapse and turn into Wigan. If we don’t do this, I won’t see Everton lift up a trophy in my lifetime. I hope the board realise this. Lets put this campaign behind us and look forward to the chances of next season.
Up the toffees.
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