There are not too many Everton players who it can be said had positive seasons this year. There are even fewer Toffees who had career-best seasons.
But, that argument could be made for Aaron Lennon, who had a career-best season in terms of goals scored and terrified opposing defenses for a 10-week period in the middle of the season.
Statistics (Premier League only): 18 starts; 7 substitute appearances; 5 goals; 0 assists; 1 yellow card; 0 red cards; 81.2% passing accuracy
What He Did Well
Somewhat surprisingly, one of Lennon's top assets this season was his finishing. The Englishman has never been particularly effective in front of goal, but managed to pick up five goals this season, setting a new season-best total in that department.
One thing that hasn't changed is Lennon's lightning pace, which has always been the winger's most dangerous trait. He continued to be capable both of taking players on with the ball in his feet and stretching opposing backlines by constantly using his speed to get in behind defenders.
For a time, these two factors came together to create a tremendous run from January to March, in which Lennon put together six goals and an assist in all competitions.
For most of these matches, Lennon occupied the right wing and Tom Cleverley occupied the left wing. Given that Cleverley is not a true winger, this put much of the offensive onus on Lennon, with which he thrived.
When the ball was on Lennon's side, he was dangerous, finding passes to Romelu Lukaku up front and combining well with Seamus Coleman down the right.
In the occasional moments that the Toffees possessed the ball down the left, Lennon did a tremendous job of working into the open space in the middle of the field from his starting position down the right. A few of his goals came in these kind of situations.
Lennon continued his strong defensive work as well, after endearing himself to many Evertonians with his high work rate last season. Lennon led Everton's true wingers with 1.4 tackles per match (according to WhoScored.com). His defensive efforts allowed Coleman to get into attacks more regularly as well, bringing another dangerous player into Everton's final third.
What He Could Have Done Better
It is tough to say exactly what went wrong for Lennon in the final third of the season. In the first third of the season, he was largely relegated to the bench behind Gerard Deulofeu. In the middle third, Lennon was the preferred choice at right midfield and was arguably the team's best player.
For the final third of the season, he failed to hit the heights of the late winter.
There were probably a combination of reasons for this, many of which were out of Lennon's hands.
His slow tumble out of form began in a series of matches during which Roberto Martinez saw fit to utilize Lennon as a central player for...reasons?
Lennon, and the team as a whole, predictably struggled, and his hot streak quickly cooled off.
After that point, even when Lennon returned to the right, the momentum had gone and opposing teams were well prepared to focus on the Englishman, leaving the team to struggle down the left, where no winger existed.
Individually, Lennon's passing could definitely improve. His passing accuracy (81.2 percent) was among the lowest of the team's attacking players. His lack of assists in Premier League play certainly reflects this deficiency.
The Summer Ahead
At his best, Lennon was the team's top winger this season. He is capable of being a regular on a team competing for European places, which is the highest Everton can possibly hope to be next season.
But, the team definitely needs additional depth at wing, and with money in the coffers now, it certainly isn't out of the question that a top-tier winger comes to the team and swipes a starting spot away from Lennon.
Final Grade: B+
For a spell this season, there was serious talk about Lennon getting recalled into the English national team -- that talk wasn't far from being deserved either.
Without a doubt, he was the team's best player for a decent period of time this year, but it is hard to give an A grade to a player who barely played for a third of the season and struggled (along with the rest of the team) for another third of the season.
But, a B+ seems fair for a player who helped carry Everton away from the relegation zone permanently.