As the season comes to a close, it occurred to me that a lot of TWs are very happy with the way things have gone. I can understand this to an extent given the new sense of optimism under Roberto Martinez but it also annoys me a little to be honest. This thinking is in my view born out a it could have been so much worse syndrome a negative inferiority complex left over from the previous management. I ask myself, "Why do we fans use this kind of thinking to justify messing up one of the best opportunities weve had in a decade to really move forward?" Were just in denial. Before I get grief, Ill try to explain.

My view is that overall it’s been a very good season only when compared to expectations last August after Martinez had taken over. However, expectations do and should change as the season progresses (for better or worse) and you should not compare the season in April/May to what was expected in August but rather to what could have been realistically achieved as the season progresses.

I dont particularly feel happy at this present time, even though the stats will show this is our highest points tally for X years and we beat Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal at home (we may also add Man City to that list next week) as well as various other top achievements. In truth, I feel disappointed, let down and with a massive sense of anti-climax. (Despite two games remaining and mathematically still being in with a shout of 4th however unrealistic.)

Playing well and grinding out results on a regular basis needs to lead to something tangible at the end of the day and the fact that we got ourselves into a great position to get 4th place, having done most of the really hard work, and then blowing it, is a real kick in the teeth. People will point to the great run of 7 league games on the trot, especially the results we got playing not so well and stuffing Arsenal, and I agree, it was a good run but its only truly great if it leads somewhere. Fact is, it served to get us into a position to get something big... but, time and time again, when the pressure is really, on we blow it.

This team does not have the mental strength to get over the finishing line when they’re near it and that is one huge hurdle that Martinez needs to address. I believe there is a real mental problem imbedded and left over from the Moyes years with the whole "punching above our weight", "plucky little Everton underdog" bollocks that we had to put up with for over a decade. Simply, when the chips are down, we’re like rabbits in headlights and weve seen this time and time again over the last few years.

I am getting a bit fed up with the "it was just a bad day in the office" line that’s trolled out after games like Southampton. It was not: there is a mental issue here. These kinds of performances seem to happen all too regularly when were near touching distance of something big. It cannot simply be put down to coincidence or a one-off bad day. One-offs are by definition not supposed to happen regularly. When there seems to be no large amount of pressure, we may play well or badly; however, when we ARE under real pressure, we always bottle it, especially when were the favourites against sides were expected to beat.

Yes, all teams will have a bad day in the office now and again but our chance of 4th has essentially been blown out of the water by losing at home to bottom placed Sunderland, failing to beat Palace away (the worst team on form at the time) and then loosing inexplicably at home to Palace when they were fighting to stay in the division, having just demolished Arsenal 3-0, 4 days before 8 points dropped in those three games.

The players could big themselves up for the Arsenal game but having won that game, they then buckled under the realisation that the CL dream would start to turn into reality by beating Palace, roll on the predictable loss only to be followed up by the players bigging themselves up to beat Man United, getting themselves into a great position again, only to then put in a woeful performance away to Southampton. Forget about the fact that Southampton didnt play that well, we hardly troubled their keeper in the whole game, despite the early own goals conceded.

People will point to injuries, small squad, tired legs and other reasons but for me these gloss over the real issue. Southampton had played just as many games as us and also had key players out injured and league wise had nothing to play for. Our small squad was big enough to get us to where we are and besides, most of our players have had long breaks during the season as well as a week’s rest since the last game, so it’s stretching it a bit to use tiredness as a reason for the impotent display yesterday.

Martinez is infinitely more positive than Moyes ever was or will be and I hope that this line of thinking will eventually imbed itself into our players sooner or later; given Moyes was with us for over a decade, I hope its not the latter

Heres hoping the football gods help Arsenal to slip up and Martinez and the team prove me completely wrong and clinch 4th with two fine displays in the remaining games of the season. Until things change mentally, well keep falling short of the finish (big) line

In saying that, I would have been happy with top 6 and Europa League qualification if offered last August now, I want Champions League!

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Trevor Lynes
1 Posted 27/04/2014 at 15:02:39
It is not a mental block. The reason we have faltered is the squad is too small and cannot sustain the same standards when the inevitable injuries occur. That is patently obvious and as I have said many times; no team has a divine right to win a match.

Southampton were under-estimated, not by the players or manager, but by the fans who see things through blue-tinted specs and just expect these games to be formalities. There are no gimmies in the Premier League and, unless a club has a top class squad so that injuries do not cause major problems, then it will struggle.

We have had a tremendous season and the team have entertained much more than in past seasons. We are still half a dozen players short of having a squad that can compete for the title. We do not need the likes of Rodwell back either. We need players who can really contribute and the sooner we offload Vellios, Gueye and Junior from the payroll the better.

If everyone was fully fit, we would not be faltering but some of the younger players have been inconsistent at best and Barry needs to be rotated. We dont have alternatives to the players who are being used. It is certainly NOT a mental thing.

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 27/04/2014 at 15:57:44
I disagree. The notion that we fail "when it matters" is silly because when you're trying to win the league or even finish fourth then every single game matters. Under Moyes we blew it in the REALLY big games when we were face-to-face with the other teams who had the same objectives as us. Once such game this season was the recent match up with Arsenal and we smashed them. Likewise we did well in both the head to head games with Utd and bizarrely we lost away to Spurs despite dominating them. The games we failed in weren't the BIG games they were the seemingly less meaningful games against Palace, Sunderland, etc I actually think the current group are well up for big games but I think we've got some big time Charlies like Lukaku and Dela who maybe feel they're a bit above it all when it comes to getting down and dirty against a Tony Pulis team. Those two were awful yesterday against Soton as was Barry who is used to winning things at City so he hasn't been affected by Moyes' negative attitude.

I totally understand your sense of frustration Denis and share it. Everton expect the best so we shouldn't be satisfied with 5th or even 2nd but you've got to take things one day at a time when you're trying to reverse 20 years of failure. When we beat Arsenal we were in control of 4th but in order to maintain that we'd have had to end the season with a run of 12 or 13 consecutive wins. How many teams ever put together a run like that especially in this crazy season. I would say Martinez has done a good job overall but he's made some mistakes (Alcaraz, the Palace line up etc) so as we move forward he can resolve those kind of issues and push us on to where we want to be -- champions of the league.

Malcolm Joyner
3 Posted 27/04/2014 at 16:12:47
It seems likely we shall need to win one of our remaining games to hold onto 5th spot. If we achieve that we shall have done very well.

For all you say, Denis, Everton has no God-given right to win every game, or even the 25 or so required 'to really trouble the judges'. That achievement is determined by talent and the depth of player resources available.

The fact that at certain times during the season we have looked 'possibles' to achieve CL qualification is as irrelevant as a marathon runner getting into fourth spot two miles from home.

That we fail to make it does not illustrate lack of will and determination but only that we lack the ability that others have in abundance. The same thing can be said about the money that goes towards providing it, I think.

Dean Adams
4 Posted 27/04/2014 at 16:27:37

I simply don't agree with your conclusions. We have won the big games this season, which we used to lose under OFM. We have gained our highest ever points total in premier league years and to me we are begining to look more like the team of the 80's. It took a while then, as now, but I believe that for a first year in charge, Bobby has done well.

Some bad luck has been our undoing this season, nothing more than that. Take yesterday. Two unfortunate own goals. We played really poorly, yet were denied two nailed on penalties. Had they been given, who knows how many we might have put passed Soton. These fine margins are finer now than they have been for years. We just need that rub of the green that the team at the top have had so consistently this season.

I think that the next transfer window will leave us with a majority of the players that Bobby wants and the youth set up will begin to bear some fruit. We need some patience until the manager gets his philosophy up and running. Swansea saw a huge upturn in their fortunes because of his foundations, even allowing the manager across the park to benefit from his blueprint. Just remember it was Roberto Martinez who had the vision that carried Swansea on for the five years since he left. WE just need to wait a little while. He is the chosen one in these parts!!

George McKane
5 Posted 27/04/2014 at 17:03:06
Posted this earlier today on another thread thought it might fit in on this one.

Yesterday was a major disappointment for me. Not just the defeat but the manner of it and the (lack of) style of football. However, the most interesting point for me over recent weeks has been the sense of fear at the possibility of getting 4th. I have felt this from the fans even before some games and have sensed it from the players but not the Manager.

This is our (fans and players) major issue during the summer. In the pub before the Palace game, many, in fact most fans were seriously worried. Someone said to me, "They’ve won 3 on the run". When I said we’d won 7 they looked at me strangely. Didn’t feel or hear anything so negative before the Arsenal game or the Man Utd game. Yet again, the negativity on Saturday was obvious and clear.

I have suggested that we have over the past 11 years been brainwashed to accepting our underdog and "nearly team" tags and should be grateful, almost humble, to even finish in the top 10. I cannot stand that Uriah Heepish concept.

We have to break out of that mindset. It’s like The Mancurian Candidate we get near 4th or winning a trophy and we panic. I wonder if at Palace especially that fear was felt by the players?

I feel the same about Liverpool The City sometimes "de greatest city in de weerld" and yet, when we gained Capital of Culture status, we just bought in. We didn’t trust ourselves. Same with the "Giants" crap. Anyone explain the link with giant puppets and WW1?

So Martinez has to buy some players in the summer but he also, in my opinion, has to do a mind job on any of the old guard. I simply cannot explain such a drop in form from last week to yesterday. Not just one or two players but people like Baines and Coleman and McCarthy and Barry. I normally do not call players names and will not here but Lukaku hasn’t kicked a ball in any positive way in any game since Arsenal.

Still, though, got my 2014-15 Season Ticket and will spend the summer meditating and developing my already very posso waves.

Up The Blues.

Bill Griffiths
6 Posted 27/04/2014 at 18:46:11
Well said, Trevor, Kieran and Malcolm.
Clive Gaulton
7 Posted 27/04/2014 at 18:56:54
Totally agree with you, Dennis. Why are others in here staying we are winning the "big" games and just unlucky with the little teams below us! Ffs, this league is about 38 games so every game is a big game!!

And Im afraid to disagree with a few of you guys but yea, we do bottle it against teams we are "supposed" to walk over; heads dropped against Southampton after the early own goal! But against Palace we were pants!

After Arsenal we should have hammered Palace but, as Dennis has already stated, we bottled it: simple as that .

Paul Mackie
8 Posted 27/04/2014 at 19:16:51
Hate to say it but we need to do what the shite have done and get ourselves a team psychologist.

Some on here will no doubt dismiss such things as complete bollocks, but they have the same guy who worked with the GB cycling team that has been an unstoppable juggernaut for the last few years.

Darren Hind
10 Posted 27/04/2014 at 18:36:08
Dear me. The lengths people are going to to avoid recognising what is staring them in the face.

Take a look at both Micheal's and Lyndon's after-match reports. Posters have been lining up to point the finger.

Kenwright gets it, Alcaraz gets it, Osman gets it, Our 20-year-olds, Lukaku, Deulofeu, Barkley and Stones get it, The older guys Barry and Baines get it. Our small squad is to blame, lack of funds is to blame, Even the manager who left us last season is to blame.

When are people going to recognise the part our current manager has played in squandering this fantastic opportunity? Instead of describing Palace as "lucky" and claiming yesterday's dismal defeat was "just a bad day at the office"... why not talk about the way he played straight into the hands of Pochettino and Tony fucking Pulis?

I really thought Martinez had learned his lesson after walking onto sucker punches at Spurs and Chelsea and Liverpool... but his tactics against Palace and Southampton bordered on suicidal.

First, he surrenders territory, possession and ultimately the match, against Palace by starting with Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas, McGeady AND Lukaku... then, he repeats the error by going to St Mary's with four more players who offer little or nothing when the opposition have the ball. Did he not expect Southampton to have a lot of the ball?

Sorry, I can't agree with a single word of the OP. I think it's the manager who is suffering at this altitude. Unlike most of the players, he is operating at a level he's never been at... and it's beginning to tell.

These kind of fuck-all-to-lose tactics may work when you need maximum points from your remaining few games to avoid relegation. They may even work in a cup final when nobody gives you an earthly... but we were trying to consolodate a CL place, ffs.

I can't feel good about the way things have gone. For me, there is no "relative success"; there's only success and failure.

Danny Broderick
11 Posted 27/04/2014 at 19:58:12
We've won 8 out of 10. We are not good enough to do better than that. Our points tally of 69 points is excellent. Without significant investment, we will always run out of steam. We don't have the depth of squad to cover for the inevitable injuries, suspensions and losses of form.

If we miss out on 4th place, we will have pushed it as far as we can. To expect more is unrealistic.

Sam Fitzsimmons
12 Posted 27/04/2014 at 20:51:41
Whatever way you look at this season it's certainly raised our level of expectation and until yesterday there was a real belief that a CL place was a serious possibility. Lack of squad depth, mental toughness, lack of maturity and experience in some players, good luck, bad luck, questionable refereeing decisions all have played a part in getting us over the line. But also have to agree with Darren #10. Martinez got it tactically wrong on three or four occasions this season, specifically the RS, CP and Suton games. Hopefully next season lessons will have been learnt and we'll have more luck and less injuries.
Patrick Murphy
13 Posted 27/04/2014 at 21:11:34
Paul #8 If all it all goes the way that we all want it go, it won't be psychologist that the other lot will need it will be a psychiatrist; Blues are fine as we are all a bit daft anyway.

Mark Frere
14 Posted 27/04/2014 at 21:36:17
The only people with the 'mental block' is the fans who fail to realize there are 19 other teams in this league (7 with larger budgets than us) all striving for success.

We've beaten some top sides this season. wasn't the recent victory against Man Utd a 'must win'? Wasn't the victory against Arsenal a 'must win'? We can't keep using this 'bottling big games' melarky when it suits us.

Man City lost an all-important game to Sunderland recently - are Man City just a bunch of big game bottlers? Same goes for Chelsea, they've dropped points at a vital late stage. You win some you lose some. Shit happens!

Mark Pierpoint
15 Posted 27/04/2014 at 21:40:26
I think it is a bit unfair, Denis, all-in-all. I think Trevor sums it up perfectly in the first response. Southampton are a good team. It is not a given that you can go away to a place like this and win all of the time. Bottle and mental toughness will get you so far; for one, I think the squad have shown real mental toughness in order to get back into the CL reckoning this season. Truth is that, without a squad of players ( la Man City), or strikers who are red hot and can be relied upon WEEK ON WEEK (Sturridge and to a greater extent Suarez) you can't really guarantee anything.

I was abroad for the CP game so wasn't there or subsequently seen any of the coverage. It is true that we have to do better against teams of this ilk, hence the draws early on in the season, but it seems a tactical, rather than mental weakness to me.

Matt Woods
16 Posted 27/04/2014 at 23:26:32
Darren Hind, you are just taking the piss, but maybe not we all have opinions and feelings? Personally I feel this season, whatever our finishing position, has been wonderful. Everton are attempting to play football in a style in keeping with the School of Science. We fear nobody and play to win every game. I thank Roberto Martinez to the bottom of my heart that I am able to witness an Everton team perform in this manner. The pride I feel now Everton are associated with beautiful football means the world to me. Stylish football had for so long been an unsatisfied craving, at last we are heading back in the right direction with a swagger to our step. This may not be enough for some, but for me it's a beautiful new dawn.
Si Cooper
17 Posted 28/04/2014 at 00:37:28
I didn't expect us to sustain our challenge this close to the end of the season so a couple of poor performances in games we should be looking to win, but which were never likely to be walk-overs, is not going to change my mind about what has been a positive and progressive season overall
Ciaran Duff
18 Posted 28/04/2014 at 01:50:45
Denis - Every team faces this challenge not just Everton. Here's a quote to reflect on:-

"Playing against Arsenal or City, United or Liverpool is one thing and another thing is to play Palace or West Bromwich or Stoke away. Clearly, during the season, we have players up and down in relation to the profile of the match. It's personality qualities. They should be able [to play anywhere], but they are not."

Direct quote from Mr Mourinho after Chelsea's recent loss to Palace.

Trevor Lynes
19 Posted 28/04/2014 at 12:08:11
Unfortunately, some fans watch two or three games and suddenly Stones is wonderful and the likes of Jagielka will be unable to displace him. The same is said of Barkley and other youngsters.

Stones has now played about 10 games and has not yet played against the full variety of strikers he will need to be able to cope with during a full season. Jags and old Distin have played against EVERY different type of striker in the Premier League. Experience is needed especially in key positions.

I do not know what level of football the 'blue tinted brigade' have played at but I have learned over the years not to gloat or over-anticipate. This has been a wonderful season compared to most others in this Premier League. The fans have been given entertainment and optimism, but now they need to accept REALISM.

The squad is too small and cannot cope with injuries. Some positions are better covered than others but we cannot afford rotation in defensive midfield or at full back. We have ONE young striker who is on loan without a fit replacement. If these facts go over your heads then it's too bad!

Trevor Powell
20 Posted 28/04/2014 at 14:21:39
Think back almost a year ago to where you were when the official announcement was made that the Ginger One was heading to a better future.... Now think of where you would hope Everton would be as a club one year later.

If you had been told that we would record our highest points total in the Premier League, have a team that has made Goodison Park into a fortress, won away at Manchester United, was producing some wonderful attacking football, being only outclassed once all season, matched our so-called superiors in every game both home and away, stood up to Man Utd in the transfer market, and overall raised our expectations to Champions League football you would have taken it like a shot.

Remember those rumblings of potential implosion, of no longer being plucky enough to punch over our weight?

We have a team to be proud of and I know we have had a couple of low spots but how many more were we expecting?

Now for that difficult "second season syndrome"

And I hope I can bite my other arm off [Thinks of Monty Python's Black Knight].

Patrick Murphy
21 Posted 28/04/2014 at 14:29:13
Second season syndrome hasn't adversely affected another well-known local club, has it?
Jim Lloyd
22 Posted 28/04/2014 at 15:04:31
George (5) I disagree with you mate, and I disagree with the post. Whatever Roberto has done this season, and I think he's done a brilliant job, he is still managing a small squad with a mixture of players past their best and youngsters not yet at their best.

I agree with Trevor Lynes' analysis. Roberto is quoted as saying that we want another 6 or seven players. Whether we get in Europe or not this year, I'm not too bothered.

Next season (if that the Board back him and thats a bloody big IF) I think we will mount a strong challenge on the Champions League.

I'd just point out Patrick, that the other well known club, spent megabucks on an already expensive outfit.

George McKane
23 Posted 28/04/2014 at 16:10:07
Jim - thanks for the comments. As I said in the post "not the Manager" who has filled me with nothing but optimism and indeed joy watching this style of football. I was making the point about some fans and a mentality that had to me anyway been bred into many over the previous regime's years.

For me, Martinez has driven any fears and negativity away. I fear no-one and seriously expect us to win every game and feel that we can going into them.

I seriously believe we can develop next season and am already looking forward to it.

Linda Morrison
24 Posted 29/04/2014 at 11:46:38
Darren (10) has a point. Martinez believes in playing a certain way and to some extent his choice was decided by who we had left to pick from for the Southampton game. We will not really see Roberto "parking the bus" much and need to accept it. Unlike Liverpool, we do not have the luxury of two goal machines and rely very much on our defenders defending with their lives. Unfortunately that did not happen as our two main people were out.

I have real concerns over Jags as this is twice this season he has been out for a considerable time with the same injury. The players would not be human if the pressure did not get to them as it did with Liverpool against Chelsea. I think the main issue for Roberto is to make the team realise that they need different tactics to win against the "parking the bus" lot.

I can't believe elsewhere that people want the team to lose Saturday. There is no quandry: we need to get as much as we can from the last two games don't go out on a damp squid. Don't write Chelsea off!

Patrick Murphy
25 Posted 29/04/2014 at 12:01:13
Jim - I thought they had done it with local talent and youngsters and not like those evil mega-rich clubs Chelsea and City well that's what some would have us believe. I get your point though.
Andrew Ellams
26 Posted 29/04/2014 at 12:05:51
I don't think Darren is taking the piss, I think he has a very valid point maybe more with the Palace game though.

Roberto made a crucial error and it cost us, he saw what was happening at Anfield and made no attempt to change anything and it cost us. I know this is a learning season for him too and hopefully the experiences will be positive in the long term but we shouldn't put the blame on the same players each time things go sour.

Michael Brien
27 Posted 29/04/2014 at 12:03:14
I have to very strongly disagree with you Denis. I think Trevor #1 summed it up nicely it's not the team or the manager that underestimate our opponents... it's some Evertonians!!

Yes, we were expected to beat Crystal Palace, but hang on weren't Man City and Chelsea expected to beat Sunderland recently? And that was when the "experts" thought that Sunderland were as good as relegated.

I watched the match on TV at a mates on Saturday yes, we didn't play well... but I think that some Evertonians are becoming like the TV pundits. I think that the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal would struggle if they had as many players out injured as we have.

Poldolski is a well established German International, without checking I think that he has got around 80 caps, yet he is not a regular starter for Arsenal. I bet Roberto wishes he could have such experience coming on from the bench.

Given the number of injuries that we have had, I think Martinez has done a brilliant job keeping us in contention for a Champions League place. Yes, it looks beyond us now, but when was the last time we could talk about challenging for 4th?

I mentioned pundits my mate was telling me the other week that Hoddle was on and was saying that we had been lucky with injuries this season!!! Sorry but I expect better from some of these experts, if he had spent half-an-hour doing some research, he would have found that the opposite was the case.

Yes, the result and the performance were not what we wanted and needed, but that shouldn't be allowed to overshadow what has been a very good season. I don't watch BT on a regular basis, but my mate was telling me that David James had predicted Everton to finish 17th this season, and Neville Southall was quoted as saying that Martinez as choice of manager showed a lack of ambition by the club. Perhaps James and Southall could team up as the next "Chuckle Brothers"!

We have done very well this season - more points than for a long time and we've had some big victories.Would most of us have settled for that back in August? I think if we were honest we would. Now lets hope RM gets given some resources in the summer to add to the squad .

Robbie Muldoon
28 Posted 29/04/2014 at 12:23:28
My biggest problem - and I think it is a major bug for Martinez too - is the three draws in our first three games. We still had Fellaini in the middle, no Barry, no McCarthy, no Lukaku.

If the transfer deadline was before the season started, we could have had those players in place, and easily an extra four points - if not six. Enough for fourth. That is where it has been lost and I hope they change the rules to get signings done before the season starts. It's insane the way it currently is.

Sam Morrison
29 Posted 29/04/2014 at 16:13:13
The crazy, annoying, and brilliant thing about football is no team wins all the time. There's this fiddly rule about the other team trying to beat you too.

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