Player: John Heitinga, #5
GS: Games Started, SB: Used as Substitute, G: Goals, A: Assists, SH: Shots, SG: Shots on goal, YC: Yellow Cards,RC: Red Cards, FC: Fouls Committed, FS: Fouls Suffered.
After a fantastic season the previous year which led to Heitinga being named the players' Player of the Year, expectations were very high coming into this season. However the 29-year old central defender struggled mightily in the initial part of the schedule. It seemed David Moyes just couldn't get his defensive pairings in the middle right, with multiple combinations of the Dutchman, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin being featured. Things got so bad at one point that there were calls for Shane Duffy to start ahead of Heitinga. After a short injury layoff, he became a fringe player coming on for mop-up duty and looked better towards the end of the season.
What he did well:
Johnny, as he is fondly known, is a physical specimen, using his tattooed and muscle-bound frame to barge players off the ball. At his best he exemplified the blood-and-guts approach that Moyes brought to Goodison. There's little he will want to remember this season, except for his only goal of the year, and a crucial one it was too as he came on in the 79th minute in the Cup tie against Bolton to score the winner with a thunderbolt from outside the box.
What he could do better:
His fall from grace was quite strange, as he appeared tempered down to begin the season. He rarely asserted himself on the pitch, and appeared strangely subdued allowing strikers to get past him time and again. The Dutchman commands one of the highest salaries on the Everton books, finances the club can ill afford and with a year still to go on his contract, it will not come as a surprise if they offload the defender. If the club does keep him though, they will need him to find his mojo again, though quite where he will play remains a mystery. He seems suited to cover for Darron Gibson, but has stated his preference to play in defence. This will be an interesting one for new manager Roberto Martinez to decipher.
Using the school grading system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season, C an average season, and F a very poor season, how do you grade John Heitinga on his performance this year according to the expectations you had for him?