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Everton 2013/2014 Season Review: Steven Pienaar

The South African endured a frustrating, injury-ridden campaign that left supporters wondering how much the left midfielder has left in the tank.

Pienaar slots home his only goal of the season.
Pienaar slots home his only goal of the season.
Chris Brunskill

The 32-year-old appeared in only 23 league matches this season, largely missing out due to a knee injury sustained in March's disappointing 4-1 loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Pienaar returned to the lineup for the first and only time following that injury in Everton's season finale at Hull City, playing the last 15 minutes of the Toffees' 2-0 victory.

The South African's season could perhaps be summed up by his two matches against Hull City this season. His return at the end of the campaign came too late to make an impact in Everton's stellar March through May. By the time he jogged onto the pitch for those 15 meaningless minutes, Kevin Mirallas, Aiden McGeady, Gerard Deulofeu, Leon Osman, and even Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley had all put in strong performances on the left wing, making Pienaar's return somewhat of an afterthought.

But, his first return from injury was far from an afterthought. When Pienaar stepped onto the Goodison pitch after a short injury layoff on October 19 against Hull City, he quickly earned the fanfare that went along with his return. Quite literally, his first touch found the back of the net. A beautiful buildup left Pienaar the ball in a perfect position, and his stellar movement off the ball and quick feet helped him put the ball in the back of the net, and carry the team to a 2-1 victory.

Unfortunately, that Steven Pienaar didn't appear frequently enough this season, even when healthy. Deulofeu was always going to cut into Pienaar's playing time, and the addition of Aiden McGeady cut even deeper into Pienaar's opportunities.

One of Pienaar's top qualities has always been his fantastic understanding with Leighton Baines. The connection between the two players was the only attacking threat at times under David Moyes, so given that Baines was injured during a large chunk of the time that Pienaar was healthy this year, Pienaar was always going to be behind the 8-ball.

Also, the emergence of Seamus Coleman as a dangerous force in the attacking third took some of the attack play away from Pienaar's wing.

So which Steven Pienaar will Everton have next year? And will it matter, with McGeady, Oviedo, and perhaps Adam Johnson or Gerard Deulofeu all vying for time ahead of him? Only time will tell.