Andrew Tuft rakes through the ashes of a frustrating campaign for the Toffees.
How did your club fare compared to your pre-season hopes/expectation?
Massively underachieved. Going from fifth to fourth was always likely to be too much but, say, top eight and a good run in one of the cups shouldn’t have been impossible, and looking at Sevilla that’s probably the low end of what’s possible. Instead we got largely turgid football, early exits in two cups, a pathetic knockout in the Europa League and mid-table nothingness.
Some of the away wins in the Europe were a bit special, and giving Man Utd a thwacking is always nice. Wasn’t exactly a banner year though.
Season’s low point?
Four defeats over Christmas and New Year was when it really went to hell. Looked like a real relegation struggle was brewing, players seemed disinterested and the fans were turning on the manager. Going out of the Europa League with a whimper was equally disappointing.
Player of the year
Phil Jagielka won the club award and players’ player award and he’s a decent choice. John Stones deserves a mention for being cool as fuck, Everton and England captain in waiting, and Romelu Lukaku got 20 goals despite having a first touch harder than some players’ shots.
Was there a particular goal/moment that got you out of your seat?
Jagielka’s equaliser against Liverpool, Ross Barkley against QPR and Stones against Man Utd come to mind. Seeing Samuel Eto’o in an Everton shirt was a bit special too, even if it didn’t really work out.
Player you’d be happiest see leave this summer
Antolin Alcaraz. Martinez binned off Sylvain Distin in February, apparently to focus on younger players, then when there was an injury in came this lump. At 32, he’s five years younger than Distin but plays like he’s in his 50s. The Queen Mary turns quicker than him. Martinez reckons Alcaraz was unfairly criticised. Everyone else reckons he’s shite.
Want your manager to still be in charge next term?
Just about. There was enough good in his first season to suggest he’s worth persevering with but this year was desperate in parts. Jury’s out – let’s see where things stand this time next year.
You can go back in time and offer the gaffer one bit of advice prior to the season just gone based on what you know is to come. What would it be?
It really shouldn’t need saying but PICK PLAYERS IN THEIR PROPER POSITIONS. Neither Barkley nor Steven Naismith are a left winger and Eto’o wasn’t for that matter either. Stop trying to shoe-horn players into the formation and pick a proper, balanced team. Martinez ended up neutralising Leighton Baines’ threat on the left wing better than any opposition manager ever did by giving him no one to link up with. And don’t piss about in the cups either. 20 years is too long for a trophy.
Which opposing player received the loudest boos and which opposing player impressed you the most?
Anyone in a Liverpool shirt gets the expected welcome, Steven Gerrard more than most. To be honest most of the vitriol was reserved for some of the home players, like when Kevin Mirallas took a penalty off Baines. Diego Costa was a total snide when Chelsea visited – a right pain in the arse and a brilliant striker. And he only cost a few million quid more than Lukaku.
If at all, how did the media’s portrayal of your club in 2014/15 differ from the reality?
The press hasn’t really caught up with how the fans feel – there’s a lot of frustration. The football isn’t even that good – actually it’s pretty dull at times and desperate at others, just possession for possession’s sake, with the same mistakes made over and over. His relentless positivity grates too, particularly when you’ve just lost at home to Stoke. Stoke!