Before the start of this season, Evertonian thoughts were somewhat scattered. David Moyes had left the club for Manchester United, in what turned out to be an ill-fated reign, and Everton had a new man at the helm for the first time in 11 years. That man was Roberto Martinez, fresh from winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic, but suffering relegation in the process.
Ultimately, any worries were unfathomed as the Spaniard led the Blues to within touching distance of the Champions League, breaking the club's Premier League record point total in his first season. Therefore, with the 2013/14 campaign now at a close, and the World Cup on the horizon, we wanted to offer our thoughts on the five moments that defined Everton over the course of this season.
Deadline Day - In nearly every deadline day I can remember, Everton have failed to do anything spectacular and have more often than not sold their prized assets, the deal that took Mikel Arteta to Arsenal being a prime example. Not this season though. Frankly, the business that Everton conducted on deadline day was exceptional. In selling Marouane Fellaini for £27.5mil, and bringing in Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, our business was arguably the best of any club in the league and all three have proved to be essential cogs during a successful campaign while Fellaini has struggled in Manchester. Excellent business indeed.
The Merseyside Derby - Let's forget about the shambles that was the derby at Anfield, because the first at Goodison Park was probably one of the best in living memory. By this point, both sides had already proved to be two of the most attractive and entertaining teams in the country and took this philosophy into the game. A 3-3 score line suggests bad defending, and there certainly was some to be seen, but frankly this was about two sides playing great attacking football and even better individual performances. Everton had made it firmly clear that they were no longer willing to sit back and hope for a point against the to four sides, a clear change from the Moyes' era.
Victory at Old Trafford - Before this game, Everton had not won at Old Trafford since 1992, while during his time at Everton David Moyes had failed to win at United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool in the Premier League. The fact that Roberto Martinez only took 90 minutes to break both records, in the bold and positive passing manner that the Spaniard demands, and against our former manager to boot, made this one of the sweetest Everton moments this season. Beating them resoundingly in the reverse fixture was even sweeter still.
Arsenal destroyed - The two sides had already played out a thrilling draw at the Emirates earlier in the season, with Everton having produced the sort of display Wengers' Invincibles would have been proud of. By the time this game came around at the beginning of April, Everton were firmly in the hunt for the Champions League. The stakes were high and Martinez's men produced a devastating display of attacking force, with Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith at times reducing Arsenal's defenders to haunted bystanders. Although Champions League qualification was ultimately beyond us, this one shall not be forgotten for quite some time. Nor will that dribble and piece of skill from Seamus Coleman, the latter seeing Santi Cazorla left wondering what had happened. Simply wonderful.
The emergence of Ross Barkley - It seemed like everyone at Everton knew Ross Barkley was something special, yet none of us had ever seen him play. Then along came Roberto Martinez and the proof was there to be seen. After a goal against Newcastle at Goodison Park, then that free kick against Swansea, followed by the wonder goal against Newcastle later on, his inclusion in Englands' World Cup squad seemed inevitable. He then scored the most special of goals against Manchester City to make his inclusion a necessity. Although that goal against City was special, the technique, power and quick thinking necessary for the second against Newcastle make that goal the better of the two. Everton Football Club once more have a special talent on their hands.
Special mention - We couldn't write this article without giving a special mention to Ric Wee. Having travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Merseyside to watch the Toffees host Crystal Palace, his first ever time at Goodison Park, the Malaysian fan posted on Twitter about how excited he was to see Everton for the first time live in 30 years. Unfortunately high winds across the region caused the game to be postponed 35 minutes before kick-off. After the match, Wee's tweet went viral and club officials quickly tracked him down, arranging for him to meet Roberto Martinez and Leighton Baines. He was then given a full guided tour of Goodison Park by Graeme Sharp the next day. If any story epitomised why we all love this club, this was it.
In the end, a superb debut season for Roberto Martinez will be overshadowed by the disappointment of missing out on the Champions League. Regardless of that though, this has been one of Everton's best and most entertaining seasons in a long time.
What was your favourite moment of the season? Vote and comment below.