Well that was rubbish wasn't it?
Expectations or fatigue?
It was inevitable wasn't it? It was never going to happen, not this season. The Champions League was always a long shot, even when we went to fourth place, but still two disappointing results to teams we shouldn't be losing to. It begs the question though, is it fatigue on behalf of the players - Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Leon Osman, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Tim Howard, Sylvan Distin (before his injury), Kevin Mirallas have all appeared in over 30 of our Premier League games - or has the weight of expectations finally told? With Roberto Martinez's skill at imbuing the players with belief you have to think that the amount of minutes have finally told. A massive part of the success this season has been the form of Barry and McCarthy in the middle, and with McCarthy carrying an injury and Barry playing almost every minute at 33 years old energy levels must be lower.
There's no point whining, everyone gets them but injuries are really starting to make a difference; Kevin Mirallas and Sylvain Distin have joined a list including Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar, Lacina Traore (remember him?), Darron Gibson, Arouna Kone, and Bryan Oviedo. That list includes arguably six first team players. So much for Martinez's much heralded physiotherapy background.
A very talented Southampton team
No-one should be under any illusions, this is a supremely talented Saints team. There are the English players, fullbacks Nathaniel Clyde and Luke Shaw, the midfield quality of Adam Lallana, and the attacking prowess of Rickie Lambert, they're some players. Add to that the talented centreback Dejan Lovren, midfield enforcer Victor Wanyama, and midfield schemer Morgan Schneiderlin and you've got quality throughout. With that team they should arguably doing better than eighth place.
Despite a not very good Saturday lunchtime, Coleman had a better Sunday evening, being named in the PFA Team Of The Year. And well deserved it was, the Irishman has always been an attacking threat but has added a real awareness of the defensive side of the game. Most of all though, that Cruyff turn and the sixty yard juggle against Arsenal, and the six goals this year means he's been Everton's outstanding player in a very good season for the team.
Looking at Southampton, the Moyes-less Manchester United, and the likely to be Sherwood-less Tottenham Hotspur there is some strengthening to be done in the summer. There's no doubt that this season has exceeded most realistic expectations but next season may be even harder. The irony is that the Toffees have dropped far too many points against the team below, defeats to Crystal Palace and Sunderland at home, and the early season draws with Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion, and Cardiff City have ended up having a huge cost at the end of the season.