2013-14 in Review
2013-14 By the Numbers5th 72 61 39 21 Lukaku (16) Osman (38) 7 37,732
Whatever your view of our former manager's tenure as manager of Everton, it is indisputable that we, as Evertonians, are a year on from a landmark event in the club's recent history. After 11 years in charge, David Moyes left Goodison Park for what he hoped and believed would be better things, leaving Bill Kenwright with the unenviable task of making only his second managerial appointment in 14 years at the helm.
The fanbase – at least those online if various Internet polls were any indication – wanted European pedigree; Kenwright, in what may have really been his first and only choice, opted for just that but with the added bonus in Roberto Martinez of a man who knows the English game inside out.
The result was a season that probaby defied prediction and came so close to being miraculous. If the Premier League's top four – the Champions League places – is the be-all and end-all then Everton's fifth-place finish earned them "Best of the Rest" status; in reality, there is now an established core of seven clubs at the top and, thanks to Martinez, the Blues finished firmly in the middle of that pack, albeit one place below nirvana.
In all expectation, 2013-14, either for the most part or in its entirety, was to be a season of transition. One in which the new manager patiently instituted his methods and the team adapted to a different way of playing from the Moyes era.
In reality – and it was testament both to Martinez's managerial talents and the adaptability of Everton's players – the period of transition began in earnest on the pre-season tour of the United States and the new Everton was very much in evidence by the second half of September. The Spaniard's uncompromising insistence on his new squad adopting, almost overnight, a possession- and passing-based style of playing translated to the pitch straight away and quickly became a distinguishing feature of the new regime.
The pivot was the fortnight between the end of the summer transfer window and Martinez's first Premier League victory as Everton manager in mid-September. His first three games in charge had yielded just three points. Though the pulsating 2-2 draw at Norwich City on the opening day and the two frustrating 0-0 draws against West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City that followed were all games that the Blues really should have won, they were nevertheless characterised by a lack of sufficient threat in the final third, not only due to a shortage of actual chances being created but also to the absence of a clinical finisher up front.
Arouna Kone, coming off the back of a pre-season disrupted by religious fasting, was erratic and rusty before succumbing to the injury that would end his season and any hopes that Nikica Jelavic would be reborn under new management were quickly dispelled as he struggled in the same vein as Moyes's last season.
That period at the end of August was also overshadowed by uncertainty over the futures of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini with the latter, in particular, the subject of relentless speculation suggesting he would be joining Moyes at Old Trafford before the transfer deadline. The Belgian edged the Blues past Stevenage in the Capital One Cup second round at Goodison with an extra-time winner on 26th August but, perhaps because of the pall of inevitability regarding his future that hung over his last few performances in an Everton jersey, he looked increasingly dispensible.
And so it would prove on one of the most dramatic transfer deadline days Finch Farm has seen since the dual-window system was introduced, Fellaini's sale for £27.5m would pave the way for three transformative signings at almost literally the last minute that would have enormous ramifications for the rest of the season. Gareth Barry had been mooted as a possible loan acquistion for days beforehand and James McCarthy's name had been regularly linked with a move reuniting him with Martinez. But it was the drama of the on-off capture of Romelu Lukaku that really fired Evertonian imaginations when it was finally made official late in the evening on 1st September. Those moves, together with the significance of the retention of Leighton Baines, capped what had been superb business by the manager which had seen him bring in seven players, significantly improving the squad he had inherited from Moyes.
A fortnight later, with the ineligible Lukaku watching on, the transformation was complete as Everton recorded their first League win under Martinez, a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park that would be the catalyst for a season that would surpass expectations and yet, perversely in the context of the watershed of managerial tenures, leave many Blues fans feeling slightly disappointed that it didn't end with surprise Champions League qualification.
The win over Jose Mourinho's highly-fancied Chelsea contained its own pivotal moment and the first evidence of just how important a player Barry would prove to be to Everton's season. As well as the players had taken to Martinez's credo of possession, particularly playing out from the back, there would be a number of heart-stopping moments for the supporters early in the campaign as the back line played with fire. Howard's ill-advised attempt to find Sylvain Distin with a pass near his own byline 27 minutes into the match was a case in point – his ball was easily intercepted by Andre Schurrle but a lunging block by Barry sent Samuel Eto'o's shot flying over the bar rather into the gaping goal and the Blues went on to win thanks to Steven Naismith's header in first-half stoppage time.
If that had been a more staid and hard-fought display, the two that would follow in the League before the end of the month would really open fans' eyes to the possibilities and the beauty of the more swashbuckling Martinez regime. Successive 3-2 victories over Newcastle and West Ham – the first a good deal more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested; the second an adrenaline-pumping fightback at Upton Park lit up by two audaciously sublime free kicks from Leighton Baines and Lukaku's emphatic announcement of his arrival – lifted the Blues into fourth place as the last unbeaten team in the top flight heading into October.
The one blight to that point on a campaign brimming with more optimism by the week had been a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage in the League Cup, a match in which the emerging talent of Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu had terrorised the home defence in the first half and paved the way for Naismith to opening the scoring, only for Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent to turn the tie on its head in the second half to dump Everton out in the third round.
The team's proud unbeaten record in the Premier League would fall somewhat unsurprisingly at the Etihad Stadium in early October when Manchester City overturned Lukaku's impressive opener and powered to a 3-1 win, albeit with the help once again of a ridiculously soft penalty award, but Everton responded with back-to-back wins over Hull City and Aston Villa that would have them right on the coat-tails of the top six, just two points off third place, when November rolled around.
If there were any lingering doubts about the team's ability to turn their possession game into points, they were given life by the two goalless draws that followed against Tottenham and, in particular, Crystal Palace who were rock bottom of the Premier League at the time and had lost seven games on the bounce. A curious lack of urgency dogged Everton in both matches but the Goodison derby after that proved to be the perfect antidote. Two goals from Lukaku had turned a thrilling contest against the enemy from across the Park on its head and the Blues were on course for a memorable victory until Daniel Sturridge's late equaliser ruined the party.
Forming a segment of an impressive 10-match unbeaten run, those three successive draws proved to be a pause in the Blues' momentum rather than a signal of its slowing. With Lukaku muscling his way to seven goals by Christmas, Ross Barkley emerging from his confounding frustrations under the prevoius regime, Bryan Oviedo revelling in more first-team opportunity, Seamus Coleman blossoming into a world-class attacking full back, and Deulofeu growing in maturity by the week, Everton under Martinez had become an expansive, attacking, dangerous and exciting team to watch.
Stoke City and Fulham were demolished at Goodison and two goal-of-the-season candidates from Coleman and Barkley beat Swansea at the Liberty Stadium but it was the trips to Manchester United and Arsenal in early December, two fixtures that were virtually written off before a ball had been kicked under Moyes, that proved to be highlights of Martinez's first season in charge. Oviedo's 86th-minute winner at Old Trafford shattered 21 years of misery for Everton on Manchester United's home turf before Deulofeu's stunning, equally late strike at the Emirates a week later against then-League leaders Arsenal helped reinforce the message that the Blues were now a match for anyone, regardless of reputation or the venue.
The Winter Grind
Some habits die hard, though, and the Evertonian propensity to stumble just when they seemed to be really building up a head of steam reared its head on Boxing Day. With his team in full flow, positioned nicely just two points off the top of table, and two games away from going a full calendar year without a home defeat for the first time since the Championship-winning season of 1962-63, Martinez witnessed a moment of madness from Tim Howard which saw the American sent off after just 25 minutes of the home game against bottom club Sunderland for bringing down Ki Sung-Yeung and conceding what would prove to the match-winning penalty.
Though Everton would again bounce back from defeat in the next game against Southampton, a feat of resolution they would repeat again and again until the penultimate match of the campaign (by which time their final league position was almost set in stone), the glut of fixtures over the Festive season began to take their toll on what remained a small squad relative to their rivals for the top four in the form of injury and fatigue, arguably both mental and physical.
2014 kicked off with a disappointing performance at Stoke where a point was salvaged at the death by a Baines penalty and though Norwich were comfortably despatched at Goodison and smooth progress was made in the Third, Fourth and Fifth rounds of the FA Cup (albeit at the expense of a horrible injury to Bryan Oviedo that cut short his breakout campaign and denied him an appearance in the World Cup Finals), January and February offered something of a reality check to Everton's Champions League dreams.
An annoying draw at the Hawthorns where Martinez's men seemed to lack the energy and drive to see out what seemed to a highly winnable game was followed by humiliation – and, arguably, the Spaniard's biggest tactical mis-step of the season – at Liverpool where the combination of make-shift defence of half-fit players and a high line were ruthlessly exploited by Brendan Rodgers' strikers. With Lukaku now injured and Kevin Mirallas' excellent mid-season form faltering, two more away defeats followed at Tottenham and Chelsea, matches that the Blues clearly did not deserve to lose but, equally, didn't have enough cutting edge to win.
Daring to Dream
It was the return of Lukaku at the beginning of March, though, that underscored the Belgian striker's importance to the team as a clinical marksman. Naismith had proved a revelation in the context of his inauspicious first year with the club but always looked more threatening alongside a second striker than he did leading the line on his own. Lukaku came off the bench against West Ham at Goodison to end a month-long spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury to scoring the winning goal, proving the incisiveness that the Blues had hitherto been lacking trying to break down Sam Allardyce's typically robust and combative outfit.
The victory sparked a club-record winning streak in the Premier League that included some memorable victories – not to mention goals – at Newcastle and against Arsenal at Goodison that would re-establish Everton as one of the success stories of the season and reignite their top-four hopes.
That late-season surge, punctuated by the rather bitter exit from the FA Cup at the hands of eventual winners Arsenal by a harsh 4-1 scoreline, arguably came a little late, however; the seventh win in the sequence, a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 victory at Sunderland in mid-April, pushed the Blues right into Arsenal's shoulders, a point behind the fourth-placed Gunners. But while Everton had played a game fewer and, as such, their Champions League destiny was in their own hands, they realistically needed to win all five of their remaining fixtures. Given that they had already won seven matches on the spin to that point, winning 12 straight – including against eventual Champions Manchester City – seemed like an incredibly tall order. (The same feat proved beyond Liverpool who won 11 in a row and then lost at home to Chelsea, effectively ceding the title to Manuel Pellegrini's club.)
The point was rendered moot in Everton's game in hand over Arsenal against Crystal Palace. With midfield linchpin McCarthy on the bench, a match they had expected to win went south on Martinez as the rejuvenated Eagles shocked Goodison by running out 3-2 winners, handing the initiative in the race for fourth place back to North London. With the likes of Mezut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey back from injury, Arsene Wenger's side re-established their own momentum and won all five of their remaining games. The Blues, meanwhile, shorn of the likes of the injured Mirallas and Jagielka, stumbled again at Southampton and were beaten 3-2 at home by Manchester City, having effectively wrapped up fifth place and Europa League qualification for the first time in five seasons.
Though the season ended with a record points haul of 72, the highest number of points accumulated by a team not to make it into the Champions League in the era of four Premier League qualifiers, it was, naturally, tinged by disappointment that Everton weren't quite able to push on and take advantage of what some saw as a rare opportunity to crack that top four. Some have gone as far as to blame Martinez, though, for failing to see it through which is, to these eyes, incredibly harsh when you consider that this was a season of transition from one manager's 11-year reign to a new era under a manager with a very different approach to the game. It could so easily have been a train wreck; it was, instead, a season that has the vast majority of Evertonian hearts swelling with the pride at the return of the School of Science.
I wrote, in admitted trepidation, a year ago of Everton's impending leap into the unknown as we prepared for the post-David Moyes era. I also expressed my doubts, as Bill Kenwright weighed up the Scot's potential successor, that Roberto Martinez was the right man to take the job on in the wake of Wigan's relegation to the Championship last season. My fears on both counts could not have been more mis-placed. In steadying the ship and ushering in a decade of stability, Moyes restored Everton's pride, but Martinez has restored our swagger, our belief that we can go head to head with and beat the best teams in the land, and our reputation for exciting football.
There were times in the last few season's of Moyes's tenure where I would put my head in my hands and bemoan the fact that Everton – my Everton – were just not enjoyable to watch; indeed, there were moments where I hated it. Everton under Martinez have been a joy to behold this season because even at their most laborious and pedestrian, the underlying method, the purpose, the direction and the end goal have always been evident. Where Moyes seemed to have hit the limit of his powers at Goodison, Martinez has bettered his predecessor in almost every way and with his infectious optimism and vision, it feels as though he is just getting started.
Of course, there is still room to grow and improve. The team's mystifying impotence from their own corners and occasional vulnerability to set pieces at the other end will need work and, as a young manager, Martinez will sometimes display naivete and make mistakes but Everton will be better for it as he and his team grow and develop.
As transformative as his first 10 months in charge have been on our style of play, Martinez has implemented another evolution, not revolution; he has improved rather than dismantled, building on the solid foundations he inherited and injecting style, pace and balance. The implementation of his brand of possession-based passing football has almost been taken for granted but it was a tremendous achievement.
And it goes deeper than mere emphasis on passing and ball retention. The entire mindset of the team has changed from pragmatism and conservatism to dynamism and adaptability, the manager shifting formations in response to the flow of the game and instilling wonderful belief and self-confidence. Moyes's teams were famous for their spirit and togetherness but Martinez has been able to layer onto that the precious commodity of belief, creating the conditions where the likes of Barkley, Coleman, Mirallas and Deulofeu could go out and express themselves and produce moments of magic. As a whole, there was a conviction that even if the Blues went a goal down, they had the ability to not only get back into the game but go on and win it; instead of conceding frustrating late goals, we were the ones scoring dramatic injury time winners, plugging away until the last whistle with the belief that Roberto's way would see them through.
Certainly, there can be little doubt that, having been frozen out of the first team so conspiciously last season, Ross Barkley would not have lit up the Blues' season in any way close to manner in which he has done under the former manager. Equally, it's safe to assume that John Stones's meteoric rise to prominence as ball-playing centre half would have been considerably less likely. Under Moyes, John Heitinga would have been the automatic replacement for the injured Jagielka last December; Martinez opted instead for the promise of youth, allowing the 19 year-old Yorkshireman to flower under the tutelage of the more experienced heads around him and gain experience all the while that will stand both him and the team in good stead for the future.
As a collective, we beaten-down, trophy-starved Blues want at the very least to be entertained, to see the players at least have a go and Moyes's safety-first approach was often at odds with that desire; his propensity to throw on defenders to protect what we had, so important early in his tenure, became frustrating and often self-defeating towards the end when much more was expected and possible. Which is why Martinez's positive tendency to keep attack as a first form of defence has been so refreshing. No way would an injured Baines have been replaced by a player like Deulofeu at 2-1 down in a Merseyside derby under the ancien regime and yet Martinez not only had the courage to do so but it very nearly produced a famous win.
Moreover, despite that natural bias towards attack and the msigivings about the defensive record of his teams at Wigan, Martinez presided over the third best defence in the Premier League this season. He also forged a defensive midfield partnership of such balance and tenacity in the form of Barry and McCarthy (my player of the season) that it provided the foundation for the attacking dimension of his team, something that vey clearly evolved as the season progressed. Indeed, the absence of McCarthy in the first half in that ill-fated game against Palace was so keenly felt that it made a mockery of those – myself included – who felt that £13m was an exhorbitant fee to pay for him. He was an absolutely vital cog in the machine. Should Barry not return next season, replacing him effectively will be one of Martinez's biggest challenges. Likewise, up front if he can't make Lukaku a permanent signing. But we can have every confidence in him doing so.
The pundits rightly point at the fact that next season could be much more difficult for Everton to compete given Manchester United's anticipated revival under Louis van Gaal, the prospect of Tottenham sorting themselves out and fulfilling the potential of their talented squad and, of course, the continued strength of the teams that finished in the top four this season. And though the massive increase in broadcast revenue will float the boats of the top seven to an even greater extent, with targeted acquisitions from the Continent or further abroad, where the markets will be more favourable, and work in the loan market, there has been enough evidence to feel that with a larger squad and better luck with injuries, there's every chance the Blues can mount a real challenge next season, at home and in Europe alike.
Reader Comments (92)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 23/05/2014 at 07:42:53
2 Posted 23/05/2014 at 07:55:49
Instead of worrying about how we will replace Gerry, Barry and Rom, I am looking forward to the new exciting faces Roberto has lined up!
3 Posted 23/05/2014 at 07:44:02
The likely return of Lukaku to Chelsea would leave a huge gap in our striking department. He had a period when he was injured or off-form yet that served to show his importance to the team effort. His input at that time was missed probably more so than that of anyone else.
Names are suggested as his replacement... yet, as each is announced, we read they have been earmarked by other more wealthy clubs. Those in the Champions League plus a half dozen wannabees will be in the market for any good and not so good prospects. They will be throwing cash around like confetti. In that kind of cut-throat market Roberto would be fortunate to land any of his choices.
On the subject of strikers, Lyndon’s summary mentioned Koné’s pre-season was disrupted due to Ramadan. Way back then, I dared suggest his lack of a proper build-up could have been a factor in his early breakdown. Some TWebbers virtually accused me of religious bigotry.
This year, Ramadan begins on June 27th and ends on July 28th – slap bang in the middle of pre season training. After suffering a season-long injury, Koné has the added problem of achieving maximum fitness.
4 Posted 23/05/2014 at 08:42:18
I disagree with you right at the end though, I’m looking forward to an Everton team that doesn’t look continually overseas to bring players in, and can boast a core of English players and a hopefully increasing number of locals coming through the youth system.
A number of talented young English players seem to be floundering in their careers and could be picked up relatively cheaply; we’ve already been linked with a few and wouldn’t need to worry about adapting to the country, the weather and the league.
If we are still relatively short of money in comparison to the other sides around us, this could be a way to go. An Everton squad with the likes of Cleverley, Rodwell, Milner, Nathan Redmond and possibly even Scott Sinclair and Kyle Naughton could be real bargains if the rejuvenating effect of Martinez that both Naismith and Coleman have talked about can work its magic.
Maybe it’s just because I’m English in World Cup year, but something about being that club that nurtures young English talent and helps it fulfil its potential is deeply appealing to me. It could have real practical considerations in the long term as well as young players consider which Premier League side to join.
Having said this, I can only see us getting the striker we need from overseas, and fully expect Martinez to utilise the Spanish or European loan market to good effect.
5 Posted 23/05/2014 at 10:52:52
This summer is massive: it’s imperative we make huge strides and get some real quality in the side. I firmly believe that Barkley will be sold next summer if we don’t get 4th; with the proceeds raised, RM will have another stab at 4th the following season. Failing that, I can see him leaving – especially if the board do not back him adequately.
So, whilst there is plenty of room to be optimistic about next season, it should also be treated with caution – especially where this board are concerned.
6 Posted 23/05/2014 at 10:40:19
To have us going into the last few games on the cusp of the top 4 was nothing short of miraculous given his budget and it’s a testament to his wonderful footballing philosophy. Yes, he has been naïve at times but, more often than not, he got it right.
Highlights of the season for me: the Arsenal and Man Utd home games – respectively, the biggest 3-0 and 2-0 hidings they’re ever likely to get. The latter particularly being sweet as it was the death knell for a certain former manager... Yes, Davey boy, the grass is not always greener.
The low points: the last-minute equaliser in the derby at home. And the abortion that was Anfield – a night we so easily could have been on the wrong end of an 8- or 9-goal walloping. I’m still having nightmares over that... truly shocking. Oh and Fulham in the League Cup – a missed opportunity there: a day out at Wembley would’ve been nice. No real complaints about the FA Cup as Arsenal are capable of beating anyone at home, as proved with us, that shower, and Spurs. A tough draw. But still it so could have easily been the Shite at Anfield...
But, all-in-all, given the first three games, the season well surpassed my expectations. Sin miedo indeed, Bob!
7 Posted 23/05/2014 at 10:50:41
It would have been all too easy to stick with KITAHTKO, the players would have been quite happy with that MO and the likes of Jagielka is way more comfortable wellying the ball down the channels.
You only had to listen to the players throughout the season to get an idea of how they were enjoying life under a progressive manager, keeping the ball and going for 3 points no matter who we were playing. In fact, the whole cub was given a huge lift; some of the stories that emerged after Moyes left were shocking to be honest. It seems he had no time for anyone at the club, including youth players and auxiliary staff alike. Not a well-liked man from all accounts.
My personal highlight of the season had to be that 3-0 win over Arsenal. We didn’t just beat them in a must-win game for both sides, we played them off the park! We should have had 4 or 5 as well.
Replacing the loanees doesn’t really concern me, the whole club feels as if a dark Scottish cloud has been lifted, my hope now is for new owners who can back one of the finest young managers around!
8 Posted 23/05/2014 at 10:49:53
But, as last season went on, I found myself, first cautiously, then totally, looking forward to going the match again. Could this be love renewed? I might even watch England for the first time since ’86
From his embracing our heritage, involvement with all our club’s teams, treatment of young players, acknowledging and utilising the role of the older players, the man has been a breath of fresh air and a harbinger of real hope
So I forgive any "mistakes" Roberto has made, trusting he will learn from them; I hope he sticks with us.
10 Posted 23/05/2014 at 12:34:18
I thought, however, we'd do well to finish around 7th while he changed our pattern of play and I thought that Spurs and Man Utd would be better than they were. As it turned out, it was a wonderful, surprising and exhilarating season, full of promise and with many highs... and some lows.
I believe it was a successful season and I thought we did brilliantly to finish 5th with such a small squad. He has given us pride, he has given us belief and, more importantly, he has given pride and belief to our players.
Some posters have strongly criticised him for "failing to make the Champions League" and pointed to the poor tactics against Liverpool and Crystal Palace, yet Liverpool gave most of the top six a hiding and CP gave Liverpool a hell of a fright in the "Miracle of Crystalbul." If he didn't make those mistakes, if he was perfect in all his games, it's not likely that he would be with us – he'd be hunted by the likes of Barca and Real... where he might end up one of these days.
So, all-in-all, having the 3rd best defence while winning a goal difference of twenty odd, with such a small squad, was exceptional and to do it in such a way that we are delighted to say the "School of Science is on its way back."
On top of all that, he has taken the history of Everton to heart and the club and supporters hear him say it on any forum where he gets a chance.
This above all, just shows to me that, if the club back him and he is prepared to stay, he will add a chapter to be proud of to EFC's history.
11 Posted 23/05/2014 at 13:08:47
12 Posted 23/05/2014 at 13:44:23
I think the Europa League will be an excellent stepping stone for Manager and team alike in terms of progression and useful experience. I have a feeling that the right quality (and also number) of signings could give us a real chance in that competition.
However the real test is back in the domestic comps. We need to take last season's momentum and build on it by winning something (anything!). What we don't want is some kind of second-season syndrome where it all implodes...
[There's me with my old Moyes-based worries coming to the fore again!]
13 Posted 23/05/2014 at 13:50:39
I have to eat humble pie for my initial dismissal of Martinez as a cavalier, naïve manager that could not cut it at the top of the Premier League, taking Wigan down with a record number of goals against...
Not only has he brought the "School of Science" back he has lifted and united the whole club, players, management, staff and supporters.
I have also reversed my view of Moyes as a simple, dignified and principled man. He showed arrogance and contempt for our club and supporters after joining Man Utd and IMO was not very principled over the way he conducted his departure.
I sincerely hope we can build on last season but, like may other supporters, I am sure, have reservations over the board and their preparedness to back the manager.
14 Posted 23/05/2014 at 14:24:37
I think Roberto already believed he could achieve this success on a lower budget but now he knows for sure it can be done. Like he says, money just speeds the process up. So we need to stay positive and patient and I believe we will get there.
15 Posted 23/05/2014 at 15:10:25
The story rewritten is one that all games under Moyes were negative hoof-twat-shoot followed by an inevitable capitulation. Commendable, given the huge levels of collective responsibility in peddling this myth, and also for as many to brush over the prosaic style imbedded into the squad from the saintly Spaniard for large parts of the season.
A vast number of points dropped were from teams happy to sit back and counter. Time and time again there was no answer to this, and why would there be when a club passing the ball across the midfield, similar to how other clubs pass across the back four, could backfire. The shambolic tonking by Liverpool, or the Champions League balls-up against Palace are but two.
The so-called acceptance of mediocrity and reducing of expectation apparently plaguing previous seasons has certainly been forgotten. Has to be when a season with a very familiar ending has engorged the fans to a collective state of hysterical priapism.
I quoted Monty Python at the start of the season:
Brian: I'm not the Messiah!
Arthur: I say you are, lord, and I should know, I've followed a few!
The willingness for fans to accept every action, word or nuance from St. Roberto as visionary, world class and everything the former manager was not has been a season long embarrassment. And it still goes on. What was the bollocks about McFadden this week? Or on the Barkley thread where someone paints a utopian vision for our youth?
Forget that the bottom twelve of the Premier League has been the worst since its inception, that the benefit of the Sky deal signed and sealed unleashed real money for the first time since 2009, or for the first time in 26 years there was a Fergie-less Utd that would otherwise again seen us 6th with a familiar ten points from 4th, or the chase for Champions League this season went an astounding one match further. And certainly don't mention that the home record was same points accrued but for more losses.
As much as the attacking play was good against inferior teams who tactically called it wrong by going to go toe to toe with Martinez, it has been a season where Romelu Lukaku, who not the best player this season, has been the most important.
And that is where any competitive difference lies compared to the previous season. Five match winners, his goals tally securing 14pts. The benefits of a proper striker delivering a one in two strike rate. Thank you Mirallas. But for you deadline-day vigil he would have gone to West Brom and kept Steve Clarke in a job.
The loans in the last season have shown how close Everton have been to a balanced and capable squad. For this I doubt there will be a top 4 loans to come again and Martinez can't keep on returning to Wigan so will need to look elsewhere to spend money to which he has spunked over £10m on keeping the physio room full of an expensive mix of the relegated and untested.
Quite frankly, the guy has done two things this season. And one isn't that he's improved the team. Not at all. One is Martinez has taken the club on a sideways step to continue its competitive nature. It had always been there no matter how the past is rewritten. And two, proved he was not a wrong choice of manager.
They say you need to spend a lot of money to keep still in the Premier League, and for a long time Everton proved the exception. Having spent money, and with possibly more to come for the season ahead, it will show the true value in the smiling Spaniard's credentials for the job in hand. The banality of performance endured for many games cannot be excused away under a "transitional period' and finishing outside the top 4 is still outside the top 4 no matter how you view the manager.
That there was no desire to promote just the slightest element of pragmatism over his philosophy (passing the ball), there were times this season where he has been as infuriating as the last bloke and we suffered for it.
For all the pass pass pass and jumping on his every word, we're an XR3i, but with a go-faster stripe. Looks good, but makes no difference what so ever.
As always, over to you Bill!
16 Posted 23/05/2014 at 15:21:16
We sure did have fun this season, didn't we?
17 Posted 23/05/2014 at 15:44:25
I am sure you will have some stat's to back this up, no-one could just 'guess' something so specific, not even you - or are you just fumbling in the dark to justify another load of tripe?
Even the relegated clubs spent way more than us this season, but I'm sure you will be able to prove your bottom twelve theory Nick.
18 Posted 23/05/2014 at 15:47:39
19 Posted 23/05/2014 at 15:58:29
Whether we can achieve the heights of this season without Deulofeu and possibly both Lukaku and Barry I don't know. But I am sure RM has already identified his transfer targets, and we hope he is as clever in his loan signings as he was last season as well as adding some good permanent signings.
I have to say that I was much the same as Lyndon when we appointed RM I genuinely feared the worst, after all he had just taken Wigan down and it hardly filled me with any great expectations of what he would do at Everton.
20 Posted 23/05/2014 at 16:20:19
I don't comprehend that because praise is given to our current manager it stems from a subliminal, or even conscious, desire for the fanbase (whatever that is) to distance itself from our former manager. Is this a theory or has a poll been conducted as to why so many fans praise St Robbie, although I must say that, as a pagan, I'll just call him Robbie.
I think many fans (my opinion after discussions with mates, no poll taken) give due credit to David Moyes for saving us from relegation and, for a decade, generally keeping us around top six. He decided to go and the club needed another manager.
He (to me) blotted his copybook massively during the run in from December and the transfer window.
It's funny how different people see the game but there you go, that's football. Without a thought in my head about OFM I have been going home buzzing after watching our displays so many times this season that whether we got to the Champions League or not didn't really bother me.
What! Yep, that's right. I thought it would be a quick return journey like our last foray. We, in my view, hadn't got anything like a strong enough squad. However, Robbie may well have got in the players he thought we needed...who knows.
The real differences for me, between last season and the ones that went before is we have a manager who tells the world that Everton are a great club with a great history, many exciting displays and that manager telling our players straight, how good they are. Yep, we were undone (r/s and C/P) on some occasions but I think that he will look at what went wrong...and put it right for the future.
He hasn't once complained of taking a knife to a gunfight. He comes out at teams all guns blazing. Brilliant man and brilliant season.
21 Posted 23/05/2014 at 16:18:01
I have some sympathy with Nick Entwistle's view though. The previous regime was not all about negative hoof ball. The suggestion that it was demeans the efforts of players such as Arteta, Cahill and Yakubu, not to mention those who are still with us such as Baines, Pienaar and Mirallas.
Moreover just as it was wrong to write Martinez off 12 months so it would be wrong now to allow our expectations spiral out of control. He more than anyone will know what needs to be done to strengthen the squad but he will also know that in football there can never be any guarantees that new signings will be successful.
So while we can certainly be optimistic about the next season, we should not be surprised if there are some stumbles along the way.
22 Posted 23/05/2014 at 16:51:49
Your post is really one of perspective, and you make some points I agree with, particularly regarding Moyes, so there's not much to argue with except to disagree on that perspective and, if others are so inclined, trade insults.
One solid point I would disagree with though is your claim that the bottom twelve was worse than in previous seasons. I just don't see it at all. In fact, if you were to look through the squads player for player and compare achievements such as international caps and so on, I'd say that it could well be the best bottom twelve since the Premier League began.
Neither one of us can 'prove' our case, but that's really my point. It doesn't make any sense to judge a whole league against the rest of the league in another year, after all, no statistics could possibly do the job could they? The bottom twelve being worse could be the same as the top eight being the best its ever been. In fact, Southampton have played some great stuff and in another season might have been challenging far higher.
Most of the teams in the bottom twelve have shown their capabilities at some point, they've just been unable to sustain it over a long period of time. Even Aston Villa, who at Goodison looked like one of the worst, most negative football teams I've ever seen, were able to defeat the reigning Europa League holders and Champions League semi-finalists, and managed to stay up. Both Crystal Palace and Sunderland were bottom for long periods before getting excellent results against the top sides and sustaining form for long enough to get themselves out of trouble.
I wouldn't back yourself into a corner as the guy who always criticises Martinez and interprets things in the worst possible way. Its got to be a miserable place to be. The feel-good factor may be intangible, and the outcomes of the season may be remarkably similar to the Moyes era, but don't deny yourself the chance to enjoy it while you can.
23 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:07:29
I don't see why we can't get into the top 4 next season but it depends on:
1) Keeping the players injury free, not like last season's nightmare. Of course players will get knocks etc but we lost ground as we had too many missing for too long.
2) Getting not one but two quality strikers. I can't see Lukaku coming back unless it is on loan again as Chelsea need a striker.
3) Ensuring we keep the spine of our team by putting the younger players on senior contracts with senior wages. This will obviously have cost implications for the club.
Trust Roberto too utilise the loan system again to our advantage. Happy Days
24 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:18:43
Your last paragraph sums up mine and a lot of others feelings
Billy bullshit, Bobby E and little Jonny step up to the plate and back RM - because there is no Arab money,no Council built stadium and no chance you will sell.
25 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:24:02
This past season has been the most enjoyable without question.
We played some beautiful football. It was wonderful to watch.
It's really that elementary for me.
26 Posted 23/05/2014 at 16:56:20
Should we not also have finished below Tottenham, or may maybe Newcastle or Villa. Nonsense.
First time in long time that I've had supporters of other clubs commending Everton on the football that they play. The team has been a joy to watch; no more so than the 1st half at Arsenal in the league; where it was a delight to watch Arteta and Co chase shadows.
27 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:19:29
Loans have to be replaced and purchases made to a general standard way above some of last season's buys. We might have more money but so has every other club. Next season will be about more than pretty football. To make an impression across all the competitions in which we compete will require a degree of pragmatism which was not apparent in Bobby's first season
Second season syndrome is well known to affect players and we are about to find out if it affects managers too !
28 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:45:22
We did play some great stuff in the last few seasons under Moyes. The "Bainaar" partnership was forged under him and he had certainly fashioned a team that could really play when it was in the mood over the course of his tenure.
My comment about them being difficult to watch was more about one of mindset and the team's propensity to fall back on a more one-dimensional game, typified by the likes of Phil Neville, when the going got rough. There wasn't the same feeling that pervaded so many games this season that if we fell behind we could still go on and get something from the game or that if we were ahead we would keep pressing for more rather than trying to hang on to what we had. It was a complete change in mindset, implemented in just a few short months; the "breath of fresh air" mentioned above. Martinez has years on which to build on that.
As for the rest of your argument, I think your point about Lukaku more or less speaks for itself. In 11 years, Moyes only ever had the glaring striker issue resolved for about 2½ seasons: when Yakubu was banging them in before his Achilles ruptured and when Jelavic was on fire.
For the rest of the time, we were crying out for a regular goalscorer. Martinez resolved that issue almost immediately and I expect him to address it again this summer if Lukaku doesn't stay on.
29 Posted 23/05/2014 at 18:23:11
"the prosaic style imbedded into the squad from the saintly Spaniard for large parts of the season"
Everybody I speak to at the game's version:
'Most pleasing, enjoyable and largely effective football witnessed at Goodison since the eighties.'
To be fair, the disparity in describing the style of football on display may be down to the fact that one party (by his own admission) chose to miss many a game, preferring instead to carry out essential household chores like hanging a fucking picture or, somehow, end up in a pub not showing the game (even though it was live on Sky) and still opt to stay sat there for the duration like Professor X with no fucker to give him a push.
"Thank you Mirallas. But for you deadline-day vigil he would have gone to West Brom".
So, nothing to do with Martinez then, Nick?
"Roberto Martinez called me for 30 minutes and explained to me what he expects from me. I decided that Everton was the best choice....I've also known Kevin Mirallas since I was 14, and that should help"
So, plenty to do with Martinez then, Nick.
"A vast number of points dropped were from teams happy to sit back and counter. Time and time again there was no answer to this"
'A vast number'? 'Time and time again'? If there's so many instances of opposition teams tearing us apart on the counter then it should be any easy task to snip the lengthy list and name us just...say....six, then?
Apart from the RS and Arsenal games where we fell prey to this ploy and were duly punished, no other instances of us being done in by this striking frailty spring readily to mind. Maybe Crystal Palace at a push? But, then, you can't exactly comment on that game as you already admitted previously to not actually watching any of it at the time.
"The willingness for fans to accept every action, word or nuance from St. Roberto as visionary, workd class and everything the former manager was not has been a season long embarrassment"
Much like your unwillingness to accept that the man you labelled "an absolute shit of a manager" has, in his first season at the helm, exceeded all reasonable expectations and made his predecessor look like a self eulogising, charisma sapped, stay-creased action slacks with scratchy cardie combo sporting, conservative, glass ceiling imposing, relic in the process.
30 Posted 23/05/2014 at 17:46:13
"There were times in the last few season's of Moyes's tenure where I would put my head in my hands and bemoan the fact that Everton – my Everton – were just not enjoyable to watch; indeed, there were moments where I hated it. Everton under Martinez have been a joy to behold this season because even at their most laborious and pedestrian, the underlying method, the purpose, the direction and the end goal have always been evident. Where Moyes seemed to have hit the limit of his powers at Goodison, Martinez has bettered his predecessor in almost every way and with his infectious optimism and vision, it feels as though he is just getting started."
And I most heartily agree with the last (underlined) sentence.
Nick Entwistle, you just don't get it at all, what a shame, but never mind. Cling on, cling on , with fear in your heart and you'll never see the light, you'll always ways seek the dark!
31 Posted 23/05/2014 at 19:27:08
That was the most enjoyable season since the eighties and I am a season ticket holder since then before anyone, or NE, asks.
I enjoy your posts and Eugene's too. Comedy gold but also spot on. Keep 'em coming both of you.
Lyndon – top post and another example of why I love this website.
32 Posted 23/05/2014 at 19:32:33
Notably one Scandinavian and another Wigan obsessed poster, who to be fair has disappeared because of other matters!
Nick does continue to attempt to argue his corner, wrongly mind you, but nice try Nick.
33 Posted 23/05/2014 at 19:47:53
No disrespect to Roberto, who has done a smashing job, but he will now have high expectations to contend with; it's a high bar he has set himself. I think Lyndon captured it all when he recently entitled one article "It's the hope that kills you".
That Oviedo goal against Manchester United stands out most in my mind as the roar of the season. The release of Moyes-related tension was joyous. Not to mention the fantastic - or should I say "phenomenal" - irony of Moyes's last game in charge of Man Utd being on the end of a Goodison thumping.
I'd like to say it was the season that "was" but, out of respect for the real ambition the club must have, it's the season that "could have been".
34 Posted 23/05/2014 at 20:43:01
Hmmm... 72 points in his first season. Better than anything OFM could muster.
Goal Difference: +22 in his first season — It took Moyes SIX SEASONS before he could get a positive GD.
21 wins in his first season... Moyes could not even come close, not while managing Everton — not even while managing the Reigning Premier League Champions.
But you say "no difference whatsoever"? Clearly a problem of confirmation bias. Clearly he hasn't improved the team. Not at all, eh Nick?
35 Posted 23/05/2014 at 20:45:19
Everton started 4-4-2 and Wigan played with the extra midfielder, but by the end of the game the formations had reversed and yet they still dominated the ball.
He has got things wrong this season on a few occasions but that will hopefully make him an even better manager in the long run. He is just so much more positive than Moyes and has a much better grasp of the game as well.
Everton only ever really went for it under Moyes when they had to, whereas now it's because we are encouraged to. I don't know if your statistics are right Nick, but I am sure Chelsea would have been champions if they had got better results against the bottom 12!
Doesn't really matter anyway Nick, because surely the most important thing, is that Goodison Park, is now a much happier place when Everton are playing at home.
36 Posted 23/05/2014 at 21:36:56
As you say, not bad for a first season, especially when you take into consideration we completely changed our style, went toe to toe in all our games and all achieved whilst giving young players like Stones, Barkley and Deulofeu a starring role.
A record breaking season is clearly not enough for some. I wonder what the excuses would be if we won something? "Ah yeah though, they shouldn't have missed that chance in the last 5 minutes to take it to penalties."
37 Posted 23/05/2014 at 20:16:52
As often happens in football debates neither side of the argument has to be wrong. Some of the points Nick makes are IMO just about incontestable.
History has been rewritten, Moyes was without doubt an overly cautious coach, but the claim regularly made that our football was always hoof- twat- shoot simply isn't true. as Lyndon himself accepts, we were superb at times last season and to suggest otherwise is to do players like Pienaar, Coleman, and the best attacking left back in the world, a huge disservice. I saw the home supporters applaud us off at both Villa Park and The Liberty - I didn't see that anywhere this season.
Nick's also right about the number of points dropped against teams who were content to lie in wait as we racked up the possesion stats, after sleepwalking into the traps layed at the grounds of the top boys, Martinez demonstrated he had learned nothing, his team selections against Palace and Southampton were staggeringly niave. Its all very romantic having all those attackers on the pitch, but without having enough players to win the ball and supply the ammo, uow did he ever think we could
win those games ?
I enjoyed Lyndons article, it felt good to read an piece this positive about my team. . .but I cant bring myself to climb on board the love train, I have come close a few times, but I cant get on because I 'm not a believer.
When I read post from people like Phil Belis telling the world GP is a happier place, I find myself nodding my head in agreement , it most definitely is. The matchgoers simply worship Martinez... but then Phil will say something like "we now take a Bazooka to a gunfight" and although I know he is referring to our new "no fear" approach, I remember that Deulofeu's last minute strike at Arsenal earned us our only point at the grounds of the top six... nothing has changed.
The season is over now and I guess the majority are content with the way it went, we did play some marvellous stuff and it was fantastic to hear the ole's ring around the old lady, but was the campaign a success? I guess that, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder.
Those who saw the Bazooka can't wait until the start of next season, whilst those of us who only saw the go-faster stripes Nick refers to... can't wait until the start of next season.
38 Posted 23/05/2014 at 21:59:03
Our devils advocate has been self appointed.
Onya Nick, go get em' boy.
39 Posted 23/05/2014 at 22:23:32
A number of opposition supporters and commentators alike were lauding our away performances, Darren, not least Arsenal who said that we were easily the best team they had faced at The Emirates following the 1-1 draw. And if the Villa or Swansea fans weren't applauding us off, maybe they should have done seeing how we'd comfortably beaten the former and scored some "worldies" against the latter.
To say that nothing has changed on the grounds of the top six is a little misleading – we didn't come close to beating Chelsea, United, Liverpool, Arsenal or (to a lesser extent) Spurs on their patch most seasons under Moyes but deserved a point at White Hart Lane and at Stamford Bridge with our main striker injured. In any case, the mindset with which we approached those games was completely different. We went to play and in some cases played the hosts off the park; not once did we finish a match with a shots-on-goal tally you could count on one finger or less, as was sometimes the case under our former manager.
Here's what I'm convinced of. We would not have finished fifth under Moyes this season because he wouldn't have signed Lukaku, Deulofeu or McCarthy. Barry, maybe.
Had we had better luck with injuries and been able to call on more depth towards the end in the form of Pienaar, Gibson, Kone and Mirallas then we might not have lost against Palace or Southampton. More importantly, Martinez will learn from his tactical faux pas whereas Moyes never seemed to. That's what excites me. It's just the beginning...
40 Posted 23/05/2014 at 22:52:06
41 Posted 23/05/2014 at 22:59:01
The point I am trying to make is that we were set up for many years to keep teams out - clearly not a difficult task when you have top professionals, many of them International players themselves. Martinez may not be everyone's cup of tea and that's fair enough, but the refreshing part of his approach is that he sends his teams out to win, no matter who the opposition are.
That for me, is all I asked of an Everton side for many years. The inferiority complex that was reinforced at every opportunity was strangling the life out of the club. Phil Neville's comments summed up our approach 'A top ten finish is fantastic for a club like Everton." Our captain - makes me sick to think about it.
We will take some beatings next season, look at Arsenal's results, but I'd rather us go for the win in every game than try our 'attack vs defence' approach of previous years.
42 Posted 23/05/2014 at 23:02:02
In some ways the doubts about Roberto made it all the more enjoyable. I'll admit to having significant doubts; I simply thought that a top 6 team should be aiming higher than a manager who was relegated and regularly got absolutely trounced by the big teams. I some respects I'll stand by that. It galls me that we can't aim higher. I wanted a change from Moyes but I expected a name to excite me... after all the managerial position was one area where we had been prepared to spend the going rate.
But in the same way as watching Ross excel, Stones emerge, and Seamus become top drawer... it's hugely satisfying to see achievement from opportunity.
I still hope that we go and sign some ready made stars but if the alternative is to take a chance then hopefully they give us the same satisfaction.
43 Posted 23/05/2014 at 23:10:41
It is totally unreasonable to expect even this magician to better 5th place, given a repeat of the begging bowl antics of loans and 'has beens', BK inflicted on him last year.
I can well put up with another season like that just completed but will others do so? How long before the talk will again turn to 'moving us on to the next level ?
Slip back to 6/7th or below and that talk will be of wasted opportunity and limited vision. Just you see !
44 Posted 23/05/2014 at 23:16:44
Not since the eighties have I saw an Everton team applauded off at an away ground, that sort of sportsmanship isn't usually found in the Premiership. It was a measure of how well we had played. God knows most crowds were glad to see the back of us throughout Moyes's time, we 'd bored the arse of them, but despite Moyes 's negativity, my point has always been that this current group of players can play. It was He who held them back.
Put Moyes aside for one minute.
Look at how close we came to winning at the Emirates last season, remember how close Barkley was at the end of a match in which we'd matched them all night. Remember how only a poxy late equalizer denied this squad victory at WHL... or how ridiculous decisions to award a penalty against Fellaini at The Etihad and chalk off a perfectly good Distin goal at Anfield robbed us of deserved victories. Then contrast those performances with the hammerings we took this season.
I rate this squad, but I believe Martinez's naivety has been every bit as damaging to our aspirations as Moyes's negativity was.
I'm sorry, I want to see the Bazooka, but no matter how hard I look, I just don't see it.
46 Posted 23/05/2014 at 23:27:37
He's raised it on the pitch with the style of play, expectancy and belief. He's raised it off the pitch - certainly for the fans.
He's also raised our profile in the wider world - especially Europe.It feels like we're on the threshold of something big.
However, what counts is silverware.
Just to put a bit of a downer on things - 19 'kin years.
N, n, n, n, nineteen.
(Where did that go?)
The World Cup is a bit of light relief in the close season.
But I can't wait for 14/15.
Screw the Sky 4 with their diving "drawing penalty" cheats, their slip-sliding-away media darlings and their birthday cake prima donnas.
I fully expect us to twat all and sundry.
Home, away, passport or no passport.
Fear the Blues.
Fear the Mighty Blues.
What's our name?
47 Posted 24/05/2014 at 00:03:11
We were generally just better in attitude and deed in my opinion – we amassed more points this season than at any time under Moyes, won more PL games and could genuinely be considered worthy candidates for the top four until the last couple of games of the season.
For each of those nearly moments against those top-six sides you could point to silly dropped points against lesser sides where the team lost control of a winning situation, and for me that lies with the mentality of the players and the manager. Under Martinez, we found a way to find a winner against the likes of Villa, Cardiff, Swansea and West Ham when they could easily have petered out into annoying draws.
48 Posted 24/05/2014 at 00:02:31
But I do think RM will learn from this - especially the Anfield fiasco.
Jose Mourinho said it all when he stated something along the lines of being stupid if Brenda expected him to go with an open attacking plan. He could have been speaking directly to RM with the rs away game in mind as an example.
Screw that. Play to win. Play football but mix it up when you have to. The two best tactical performances all season were Chelsea away at City and the Redshite. IMHO.
Oh...not forgetting us at OT.
49 Posted 24/05/2014 at 00:13:30
Given that most of us believe Moyes did hold us back, I think we were entitled to expect more improvement than we saw – especially as we able to strengthen considerably last Summer.
Anyway, Lyndon, as I said earlier, cracking article and although it isn't coming across that way, I agreed with an awful lot of it.
50 Posted 24/05/2014 at 01:04:36
My first reaction to Nick's post was negative, but with due consideration, I recognise some substance in some of his comments. We do need to be careful of the revisionist attitude to Moyes - I, like many, felt he had run out of steam in the last few seasons and it was time for a change - but we had some positive seasons and our European season was a real fun one (we were closer to winning it that year than some of the posters suggest), and let's never forget what the likes of Walker, Smith and Agent Johnson left us with.
I had some great moments with the likes of Carsley, Graveson, Cahill, AJ, Yakubu etc. and we mustn't forget those mid- to late-2000s rather than focus on the later missed opportunities and the bunker mentality that Moyes felt he needed to enforce.
We need to get a real striker, assuming Lukaku is away, keep as many of the existing squad as possible, ie, Mirallas etc, as much as loanees like Barry and trust RM's first season intuition to see us right while the board decide if they are going for gold or are content to stick to pewter.
So it's 9 out of 10 for Roberto, after the Moyes era of 6 to 8 out of 10 (you pick the years folks!) Another 9 or even a 9.5 would be great next year, but let's not tear ourselves apart if it turns out to be a Moyes style 8 out of 10. When the so-called pundits are suggesting that Man Utd will regain their top 4 status next year, and struggling to work out which of the current 4 will drop out – it's not easy to see us squeezing in next year without a bit of filthy lucre from Bill. We shall see! COYBs!
51 Posted 24/05/2014 at 01:14:47
I don't think Martinez really had too many options for the Anfield derby, and simply decided he wanted to stick to his principles and send whatever players he had available (half-fit, novices or both) out to play as positively as possible. Okay, we came unstuck against an attack that has performed to a high level in the vast majority of their games since the beginning of the year, but the players were able to (thanks to the manager's belief in them) recover from the shock and come again later in the season when in previous years such a set-back could easily have spelled the end of any real competitiveness for a sustained period of time.
I don't think we were done tactically for the Palace game, it was just that the players couldn't get the job done against a team who had a definite surge in performance during the final phase of their season, and likewise the Southampton game was destroyed for us by two freakish own goals which deflated us and buoyed them.
We didn't bring in masses of players in the Summer, but the business done in bringing in some vital quality in important areas was excellent and the manager has to get credit for that.
I dispute that there has been anything like a consistent upward curve for the team performances as a whole over the last couple of years. You could say a couple of players have shown consistent improvement but there has also been a lot of inconsistent performers and our success was as much based on being hard to beat through discipline and hard work than it was on flair and comprehensively outplaying the opposition. It is evident that some players who were, if anything, stalling under OFM have improved a lot this season which is why there have been so many player interviews crediting the manager. To get what many see as evident improvement from a squad of players whilst presenting them with a new playing style / philosophy to come to terms with cannot simply be seen as a continuation that is caused by the players' ability on its own.
Getting the very best out of a team is not a case of simply relying on their natural ability, which seems to elude those who have not experienced a range of different coaches. Obviously the manager needs to show some more progression this year to really cement his currently burgeoning reputation, but I don't think what he and the team have done this year can be dismissed as mainly due to the novelty factor.
52 Posted 24/05/2014 at 01:37:06
Heartily agree with all you say, you sum up my views very accurately.
Now about me & my confession: as much as I'm looking forward to next season, deep inside, the negative fear is gnawing away at me already. You see, I have greed now, I didn't have any for years. I also have hope & even expectation.
It's like "pit pony" mentality, I was content with workaday plodding, it was all I could remember. But at least I knew it, there was security in familiarity.... Now I have spent time in the lush green, sun chased meadow. Now the fear grips me and the prospect of the gruelling hard labour the muck & sweat..... please no, not that.
Roberto, I want to believe and I'm trying, I really am... but I'm gripped with craven heretical fear inside. Not because Roberto isn't good enough, but because old bad habits die hard.
53 Posted 24/05/2014 at 06:42:35
Regarding the squad under Moyes, it's my feeling that the upward curve was flattening out; that, as I intimated above, he had more or less reached the limits of his powers in terms of motivation and his ability to coach the players to the next level. That feeling that change was needed, that Moyes just couldn't get us over the hump pre-dated the Wigan debacle in the Cup but was solidified in mine and many minds afterwards.
Again, with Martinez, I feel like there is room to grow, that this 40 year-old manager still has so much to learn and has demonstrated the capacity to grow from bad experiences like the loss at Anfield (which, as mentioned above, had mitigating circumstances and wasn't solely down to naïve tactics).
Every team needs room for error; across a 38-game season you're going to have awful moments – for us it was Liverpool, Palace and Southampton; for LFC it was Hull, Palace and Gerrard's poetic slip against Chelsea; Mourinho's side themselves dropped silly points at places like Palace, Villa and Stoke and at home to Sunderland, etc – but I look at our first 3 games as a write-off that compressed our "real" season, if you like. If those games come any time after the deadline, we probably get at least 7 points from 9, maybe maximum points. That's enough to be level with Arsenal at the end.
Of course, the summer window is now key. If we don't strengthen in the right areas or with the right numbers, we could take a step back next season if we're stretched too thin by European commitments and some will point to that as Martinez being unable to kick on. I'm prepared to be patient and to give him time as everything about him gives me confidence.
54 Posted 24/05/2014 at 07:06:27
Our season summed up in one sentence.
55 Posted 24/05/2014 at 08:05:46
56 Posted 24/05/2014 at 09:15:54
Nick E - ha ha, still can't admit he got it all wrong. Defo the winner of the 'fool of the season' award.
57 Posted 24/05/2014 at 09:17:02
Admittedly there were games when we played with a slower tempo; I would put that down to transition. I am certain we will play the same football quicker this forthcoming season.
58 Posted 24/05/2014 at 09:32:36
Is that fair or accurate? I'm pretty sure we bounced back frequently under Moyes and I think this season actually saw our biggest losing streak for some years.
59 Posted 24/05/2014 at 09:43:06
Fair point. More importantly, this season also saw our highest ever points total in the Prem.
If you always play to win with open, attacking football, you leave yourself open to lose.
The previous managers first priority was to avoid defeat. Roberto's priority is to win the game.
60 Posted 24/05/2014 at 00:27:31
A great read, Lyndon, during a barren spell, football-wise. Great to relive the emotions (highs and lows) of the pre-season and the (transition) season.
Overall, really pleased with the year. Some great football. Some disappointing displays. Can't wait for the new (still transition) season.
61 Posted 24/05/2014 at 10:52:12
Of course the season was a success. When was the last time Everton qualified for Europe through their league position? I agree that we want more for Everton, and I also agree that the team was considerably strengthened last summer. Staggeringly that team was made stronger with a net profit of at least £12-15 million.
Team selection was naïve against Palace but, if we could have scored first, who's to say we couldn't have blown them away? That must have been what the manager was thinking, but it backfired at a crucial stage and the only thing we can hope he does, is learn from it.
Southampton scored early and if you look at the team that day, who would you have played differently? You go on about this game like The Saints hit us on the counter? If anything I thought we were the team that hit Southampton at Goodison when we scored the winner totally against the run of play.
I agree with Lyndon on the positive remarks of away fans, but as I had to say to a Chelsea fan who was praising us, "Mate, we have just been fuckin beat." "You know what I mean, though, Scouse," was his reply, and I can honestly say that I did.
Whether we would have done better under David Moyes is a pointless arguement, though, because, thankfully for me, he is no longer manager of Everton FC!
62 Posted 24/05/2014 at 10:58:08
Just one thing noticeable about the thread and, indeed, about so many in my, admittedly, limited time as a ToffeeWeb addict, is how so many correspondents seem to feel that 'bad luck' and poor refereeing decisions ONLY ever happen to Everton.
I don't keep a list of such moments but you can be sure that just as many calls go for us as against. It's only because our focus is naturally on our team that this one-eyed misconception persists.
We all know that the Reds are the most 'done unto' club in the entire world but given the commonality of our genes, perhaps it is natural that we should be their 'runners-up' in this misfortune!
63 Posted 24/05/2014 at 11:59:08
What I would say of comments made about Roberto peaking too soon, is that it he probably has! I think we are all intelligent enough though, aren't we, to realise that breaking into a top 4 place for any Everton manager under the present financial restrictions would be a massive achievement.
I cannot think of anyone that I would sooner have leading the club than Martinez; while results are of paramount importance, he also excels in projecting Everton in the best light possible — he's an excellent ambassador for the club.
64 Posted 24/05/2014 at 12:49:45
I was prepared for 6th or 7th this season which would have been acceptable had the standard of football improved consistently. To finish 5th, for me, was a bonus particularly as we were in with a bit of a shout for 4th in April.
I'm happier reserving judgment till next New Year when the guy will have had sufficient time to show whether he and the players can both learn from what has happened over an extended period. If the players are too thick or technically limited to learn or if (and I don't believe it) Roberto thinks he has all the answers already, then we won't move forward very much at all.
In any event, positivity and fearlessness can only take you so far. Most of the whining in some of the responses to this article amount to this: RM didn't make us world beaters. No he didn't, and until we buy the best, we won't be. What we can do, however, is challenge the best in an entertaining way and promote our name to the world with pride. In the very limited amount of time he has had, I think that he's doing both of those jobs enormously well.
65 Posted 24/05/2014 at 12:40:39
All-in-all, a really good season, some great football, some frustrating results and real signs that we heading in the right direction.
If Roberto can build on what he's done so far, we're in for exciting times – the club need to give him total support and then do their best to hang on to him. If they can do that, I can't see us not winning something soon.
66 Posted 24/05/2014 at 12:52:20
Under Moyes we would be obdurate and combative following disappointing results but the "knife to a gunfight" mentality shows we were inwardly reeling from them for a long time afterwards, and we seemed to finish strongly mainly by outlasting other teams in the latter part of the season rather than really surging again, which is why I used the term 'real competitiveness'.
There is a difference between getting back on the horse with a clenched jaw and hands locked onto the reins, already bracing yourself for another fall... and relaxing in the saddle, confident that this time you can safely negotiate the fences.
67 Posted 24/05/2014 at 13:01:18
Arsenal passed off the park and lucky to get a point from us over the 2 games, is just 1 example. But to you it makes no difference...?!? I know I can be negative but you've taken it to a whole new level. "He's taken the club sideways" is the most incredible statement I have ever read.
I was on here saying Bobby wasn't good enough last August, then came on here admitting I was wrong, seriously wrong. I have said Kone is crap and will be overjoyed to be proved wrong again, in fact might even pray to Mecca.
Good football, optimism, openness and hope is not enough for you... my jaw is still on the floor at your comments.
Who knows what will happen next season but I have hope, so much hope in fact that I even think Brady/Body will stop his obsession with Moyes. I am going back to the rest of the thread as I was annoyed at your garbage.
68 Posted 24/05/2014 at 15:41:36
69 Posted 24/05/2014 at 18:14:47
70 Posted 24/05/2014 at 20:25:15
What is really interesting is how there are such differing opinions, often supported with statistics and facts relating to previous seasons and debates about respective progress. Clearly there is a majority who are thrilled with the season as a whole, and there are a few others that don't quite feel the same.
Football generates emotions and passion that are at times difficult to quantify given that it is, at root, simply a game. It is, though, all about feelings.
This is what I find difficult to understand when people are expressing concern that the Blues have not really improved under Bobby Martinez. What is it that they want? Do they not feel that there has been a positive shift at the club? Statistics, statistics, statistics... what about feelings?
Everton can invoke extreme emotions, the highest highs and the depths of despair... all clubs can.
Football is a game of emotions. As I said, this is what I struggle to understand with some of the people on here. If you can't feel a positive surge around Everton at the moment, I for one feel sorry for you. We are playing attractive football and it feels great to me.
71 Posted 24/05/2014 at 22:28:27
72 Posted 25/05/2014 at 02:31:24
There are none so blind...
73 Posted 25/05/2014 at 06:26:24
The summer is going to be huge for us in terms of what decisions the club makes around money. Do we spend all of the extra cash from the t.v deal and recent transfers on players, or do we ring fence it for a new stadium? If the majority of the cash is used for options other than players, then Martinez will be left with little choice but to try to integrate all the young players coming through into the senior squad. Without a number of new senior players, he will also be forced into marshalling those he has as best he can.
The Europa League will allow Martinez to develop the likes of Ledson, Kenny, Grant and Green while resting the senior players for the league.
In general, managing limited resources and repeating last year's success will be the biggest test of Martinez's second season in charge. I don't think Martinez will get a huge pot of money for transfers.
74 Posted 25/05/2014 at 05:41:58
Lyndon's point was not lost on me. We stayed in Durham after this season's game and the entire place was raving about the quality of our play.
I only mentioned the standing ovations in Birmingham and Wales last season, to put some meat on the bones of the point Nick made. Moyes was desperately rigid, but we have some proper footballers in this current team and to suggest they played only crash bang wallop football last season is not only unfair, it's garbage... at times they were dazzling.
I totally agree with you, it is pointless to speculate how well / badly we'd have done had Moyes stayed. The simple fact is, he had already, thankfully, taken himself out of the equation.
The question has to be: would these players have continued their improvement regardless of who replaced Moyes? If like me you believed his straight jacket brand of football had held them back... there can be only one answer. OFM may have had no further improvement left in him, but the players certainly did.
I used your point as an example, because I respect your posts. But I don't believe not seeing the Bazooka makes me blind. We had a lot more possession at the grounds of the top six this season, but we only scored two goals in total and only gained one point... and let's be completely honest here, we hardly created a hatful of chances either; besides the goals everything we hit was from distance.
No point in taking a Bazooka if you're not going to load the fucker up, mate. If you don't make any noise with it, how are "the blind" supposed to know it's there?
75 Posted 25/05/2014 at 08:01:24
Perhaps I have misread you remark "We had a lot more possession at the grounds of the top six this season, but we only scored two goals in total and only gained one point..."
In season 2013-14 our results at the top six were
Man C 3-1 (one goal scored, zero points)
Man U 0-1 (one goal, 3pts)
Arsenal 1-1 (one goal, 1pt)
LFC 4-0 (bugger all)
THFC 1-0 (bugger all)
Chelsea 1-0 (bugger all)
So 3 goals yielding 4 points from 18
As I opened with, if I've misread (or what you wrote wasn't what you intended) then don't be offended.
76 Posted 25/05/2014 at 09:13:27
We were a good, mid-table club, with a respected young manager with a good eye for talent at bargain prices. Towards the end of his time with the club, Moyes seemed to lose his intensity. I felt it had become a job to him. The passion was missing!
Martinez is most certainly passionate! That passion has rubbed off on the players and the fans. With Moyes, a draw felt like a victory, with RM, it feels like a loss.
I haven't been a Toffee long enough to develop the "fear" that Tony @ 53 has. I haven't experienced the highs and lows that long-time Evertonians have. The wife of the fanatic that recruited me, told me a story about how, during the last near-miss relegation scare, her husband locked himself in the bathroom and wouldn't come out until the match ended. That tends to leave scars!
I'm not going to worry about what might happen next season just yet. It's too early! Nothing but wild rumours and unfounded speculation.
77 Posted 25/05/2014 at 10:16:09
I now have no doubts regarding Roberto and am confident he is the man to take us forward. However, I am worried that if there is a slight dip next season some fans may turn against him.
Thought your article was an excellent summary of the season.
78 Posted 25/05/2014 at 10:49:24
79 Posted 25/05/2014 at 12:06:05
At times, under Moyes, by accident or circumstance, we played some great stuff... but these brief flirtations only emphasised the paucity of our intent in other games. The 4-4 at OT was an example but generally anything we got at Moyes's bogey grounds were by gritty, digging-in performances.
Now we definitely go to these grounds aiming to play and let the others worry about us, for a change. To continue the analogy, we need to increase our supply lines and get the ammunition up to the front; I feel we're only a Peter Reid / Alan Ball away... To state the obvious, how rare and difficult to get THAT quality, but that's the big issue for Martinez to solve. Yes, this is Everton, but I really do feel we will build on this last season.
80 Posted 25/05/2014 at 14:46:31
If you knew nothing else about the team, the season's stats at the top speak eloquently enough – 61 goals scored and a +22 GD. We were 4th in 2004-05 with 45 scored and a GD of -1.
But these numbers say nothing about the quality of play, the style. And it's no exaggeration to say that the great majority of Evertonians have felt the earth move during these last ten months. Let us hope its only the beginning.
In any case, it should be the last OFM post as from now on, Roberto will be compared to his own record, nobody else's.
81 Posted 25/05/2014 at 16:37:38
Bobby comes in, with a lot of us feeling worried. He dispels our fears by introducing a far more fluid approach (not completely alien; Moyes's last season included some brilliant performances). His better signings proved to be awesome, he changed the aura around the club (again, so did Moyes early on). This new style has paid instant dividends; long may it continue.
In summary, we have been lucky to have one talented manager be succeeded by another. Most on here who supported Moyes, myself included, probably realised it was time for a change. The new boss implemented those changes nigh on seamlessly. There were hiccups but, as Lyndon says, there always will be, it's the nature of football, and the game would be far worse off it if were even more predictable than it is already!
This season has been great. But it has been built on the decade of hard work and solid professionals that the Ginger twat set in place. Again, I think we have been lucky with both appointments.
82 Posted 25/05/2014 at 17:34:35
Martinez has been a revelation though this season, he's like a breath of fresh air, what could he achieve if he had a substantial transfer kitty similar to our close rivals. Top 4 would be within our reach without a doubt.
As it is, I think his strategy will be to really up the ante with our youth system, not that it's done a poor job in the past, quite the opposite, but no doubt it can be bettered. That along with recruiting bargain buys that he feels can be improved and fit into the style he wants to play.
Seems very likely his Spanish connections will pay dividends in the short and long term for us. Watching the Euro Final last night, what stood out a mile for me was how much better their close control was towards our England players.
83 Posted 25/05/2014 at 22:24:20
I was thinking of saying that this managerial change was a bit like going from Billy Bingham to Gordon Lee, but the other way round. Well, it is the close season after all.
84 Posted 26/05/2014 at 09:37:20
Villa and Swansea were our first two away matches and whilst I agree that Everton were good in both games, the opposition were both bedding in new managers I think. Although I am delighted with Martinez, I am (like you) still not utterly convinced either. My reason is defensively we haven't been as good in the latter stage of the season. It could be personal, but I still think it's because of how wide our fullbacks push on.
That said, the performances against both Arsenal and Man Utd were probably as good as a 20-year-old Toffee has seen. The United game was particularly satisfying when he showed Moyes how a team should attack with pace!
85 Posted 27/05/2014 at 11:50:34
87 Posted 29/05/2014 at 14:11:56
I'm hopeful that with more time (and money?) this summer, Roberto will improve the general standard of his signings, SOME of which have been decidedly underwhelmimg so far.
Of course, much of the surprise element about our play will have been sussed and thereby countered by opposing managers this time round and it will be interesting to discover whether or not the Spaniard has more tricks up his sleeve.
Personally, I feel the EXPECTATION of a Top Four finish is unreasonable but there is no reason for us not to HOPE it can be achieved. I think it's that hope factor Martinez has brought that makes being an Evertonian more of a joy these days!
88 Posted 29/05/2014 at 15:16:51
89 Posted 29/05/2014 at 15:51:31
None of them are!
90 Posted 30/05/2014 at 14:05:04
1) Win the League Cup.
2) Be the last UK team left in the Europa League.
3) Win the derby at Anfield...
Just do one of the above, Bobby lad, and I'll be happy. None of the above!?!?.... then ta-ra... next!
91 Posted 30/05/2014 at 14:46:56
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.