As we continue on towards a new season of soccer, we are continuing our look at Everton's previous season by bringing you the top players of the previous campaign. Although this season was considered a disappointment by many fans, several players stepped up to deliver critical performances to vault Everton to a seventh place finish after a disappointing start. To be considered for this list a player had to perform for a majority of the season, so players like Fellaini were not considered after they missed extensive action. Check below the jump for our top players of the season.
5. Jermaine Beckford
Close your eyes and think of the following stats. In 38 games played a player managed to score 10 goals and contribute 6 assists. He ended up being second on his team in assists and tied for first in number of goals all the while being a disrupting presence for an opposing teams defense. Believe it or not that is the stat line for one Jermaine Beckford who may be the most divisive player on Everton's squad. Despite the chances he squandered that were begging to be scored, Beckford produced some fantastic goals at crucial minutes for the Toffees and that is why he earns a spot on this list. Two goals in league play against Chelsea, one to tie the game and the other to claim victory in addition to a well taken goal to give Everton the lead in the Merseyside Derby as well as the equalizer against Bolton in November. These goals are just a few examples of why Beckford deserves to be on this list, especially in absence of a true number one striker that is consistently healthy.
4. Seamus Coleman
After managing a few appearances at the close of the 2009-2010 campaign, the young Irishman got off to a scintillating start this season and never managed to look back. Many pundits likened Coleman to Spurs midfielder Gareth Bale, but Coleman maintained a high level of play throughout the season, and despite David Moyes giving him some rest as the season closed he was still more than able to contribute during Everton's push for seventh place. Coleman may best be remembered for his manhandling of Chelsea left back Ashley Cole who was consistently turned in several meetings between the sides this season. For Coleman the future certainly looks bright as he can still improve on his passing, he often waits a few seconds too long before trying to make a pass, as well as taking his shots a little quicker when he enters the box.
3. Sylvian Distin
At 33 years of age, Distin is not exactly the fastest center back to grace the English Premier League, but the Frenchman has displayed an amazing consistency over his 10 years in England that have led to him never featuring in less than 30 games except for his inaugural season at Newcastle where he appeared in 28 games. Distin was the bedrock of the defense, and had the added difficulty of covering for Leighton Baines as he made one of his frequent forays into the attacking third of the pitch. Distin's goal at the end of the season against Manchester City was excellent, and the outpouring of emotion from the former City player showed how much he has come to love Goodison in his second year at the club. Although Distin's career is certainly heading into its twilight, hopefully he still has another season or two in his body to help solidify the Everton backline.
2. Leon Osman
Leon Osman is the old guard of this club, with his tenure dating back to before David Moyes arrival on Merseyside, and the Englishman came through in the clutch for a sputtering team. With Stephen Pienaar grabbing the big bucks from Spurs and Mike Arteta having a sub par season, Osman came into the squad an brought a creative element that was sorely lacking. Often deployed on the left side of the midfield, Osman linked extremely well with Baines and their combination play was instrumental in springing the left back down the touchline. Although Osman only featured in 26 games this season, his impact was undeniable and there is only one man he was second to for Everton this season.
1. Leighton Baines
Is there really any doubt of Baines' place on this list with 12 assists in all competitions and 7 goals to go along with those assists? The English international cemented his place as certainly the second best left-back in the league, and a lot of pundits tip him to be better than Chelsea's Ashley Cole. The 26 year old had his best season of his career, punctuated by his amazing free kicks against Chelsea and Tottenham, in addition to some of the superb crosses he delivered to the head of Tim Cahill in the beginning of the season. The future certainly looks bright for Baines, but the question on every Evertonian's mind will be if David Moyes can keep Baines if some big money clubs come looking.
Agree or Disagree with these rankings? Leave your thoughts and comments below, and as always keep coming back to Royal Blue Mersey as we finish up our season reviews over the next two weeks before turning our attention to the preseason. Until next time COYB!