With the EPL season finally over, each of the writers here at RBM has given us some brief thoughts.
Tom: The failure to grasp a Champions League place should not disguise what was been a memorable season for Everton. There were understandably a few nerves as we strode into the post-Moyes era last August but Roberto Martinez has quickly cemented himself as a fans favourite thanks to his astute purchases (or should that be loans?) in the transfer market, the fantastic style of football he has got the team playing and his affable nature that appears to show genuine affection for the supporters as well as the club's history and traditions. Everton look in safe hands with the Spaniard and there is now genuine optimism that success could well be around the corner.
Adam: If you had offered 5th place to Everton supporters before the season started, I think 9 out of 10 of them would have taken it with little hesitation. By the end of the year, 5th place was good, but a little disappointing. To me, that's the story of the year. This season, the club really seems to have adopted Roberto Martinez's positivity and enthusiasm, both on and off the pitch. That mentality has become infectious, bleeding into the fanbase as well. The talent on this team isn't Champions League level yet, the end of the season showed us that. But this year, the Champions League level mentality arrived, and with the right moves, the talent won't be far behind.
Calvin: The season went pretty much opposite to what I expected at different times. In the beginning I was skeptical and thought we would be fighting in the middle of the pack - instead we found ourselves in contention for the Champions League. I was worried our football would be dour and direct - instead it was exciting and highly entertaining. And then halfway through the season it looked like we were going to be contending for some trophies and the CL - instead we fizzled towards the end and finished fifth with disappointing Cup exits. We beat some old enemies like United at OT and then Chelsea and there was hope we would finally win the derby away and other top six games - instead we lost awfully at Liverpool, and had poor losses at Tottenham and Chelsea. Oh well, next season.
Ross: It’s been quite a ride. Everton’s season of transition under Roberto Martinez has turned out to be a record-breaking campaign, and not in the David Moyes at Manchester United way either. The Toffees have sparkled at times this season, particularly against United and Arsenal, and while their have been patches of inconsistency here and there, the revamped squad and Martinez’s ethos have, by and large, made Everton an exciting, attractive team to watch over the past ten months.
There have been other bonuses too. The new manager’s focus on youth has been completely refreshing, and with the likes of Ross Barkley, John Stones and James McCarthy already proving influential, there is huge cause for optimism going forward. Admittedly, that optimism is tinged with a little regret. This season represented probably the best chance of Champions League qualification we’re likely to see for a few years, and the manner in which the Blues exited both domestic cups was frustrating, but all in all it’s hard to be disappointed. Roll on next year.
Sean F: With only one defeat before Christmas, we were all in dreamland, thinking of European football on the horizon. However, disheartening defeats at Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea combined with the absence of Lukaku derailed the Toffees assault on the top four. A run of seven straight league wins put Champions League football in Everton’s hands but defeats to Crystal Palace and Southampton swiftly took that dream away. So what is left to say after all that? It’s been exciting and entertaining for sure the 2013/14 season, both in style of play and it being a roller-coaster of a campaign. This season is surely a sign of things to come and a foundation of which to build on. This season we missed out on a Champions League spot, but it won’t be long before we claim one as long as the current infrastructure is built upon. If there is anything to take from this season it is that with a few more bodies and even a bit more quality at both ends and in the coming years we’ll see the finished article battling for perhaps more than Champions League football.