Sam Allardyce’s conservative approach cost Everton any chance of getting to seventh place.
Had we played more attacking football to end the season, we might have caught Burnley, and even got the seventh place needed for another Europa League. Like it or not, playing in Europe again would continue to help build experience and the pedigree needed to become seasoned continental competitors.
Had we sacrificed all semblances of trying to get seventh by playing youth and experimental sides, then that would have been almost excusable because at least we would have learned something about the players on the fringes of the squad.
But what’s worse is that now here we are at the end of the season, having missed out on seventh spot, still have no idea on the futures of some players like Davy Klaassen and Nikola Vlasic, loaned out rising stars like Ademola Lookman and have also blown the opportunity to blood more youngsters the way Beni Baningime has worked his way into the senior squad.
Effectively, the net gain from this season is negative.
We enter another season in the throes of uncertainty at the managerial position with no long-term vision of who Everton really are on the pitch and what football we want to play. The School of Science seems as distant as it has ever been in the Grand Old Lady’s storied history.
After a failed Europa League campaign, we are out of continental action again. The merits and demerits of the much-maligned competition has been discussed previously, but regardless of that, if Everton are going to attempt to be major players in the world game we need to be in Europe every season.
Vlasic has barely gotten to play in his chosen spot while Klaassen has been consistently denied a squad position almost out of sheer spite. What did we learn about them this season? Should they still be in the squad next season?
Speaking of spite, Lookman was treated with derision by Allardyce when he asked for more playing time, and then went out and showed in the Bundesliga that he was ready to play Premier League football. Everton might have a battle on their hands to keep the young winger next season, especially if Farhad Moshiri chooses to keep Allardyce around.
The only youngster to have made progress at the club this season is Baningime, and that is entirely due to David Unsworth’s tenure as interim manager. Jonjoe Kenny’s insertion in the senior squad was enforced by the injury to Seamus Coleman and Mason Holgate’s inadequacies at fullback, and Kenny seemed not ready for the workload yet.
The Blues often included a member or two from the Under-23s in matchday squads in previous seasons, but as we suspected, Sam Allardyce had no idea what the youngsters were up to or how they were doing.
This has been a wasted season for the Blues to go along with the last two of Roberto Martinez’s tenure, and the Board are going to have to act quickly and decisively if they want to prove that as a club we are going to live up to our motto - ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’.