There were a number of Everton players who made impressive starts to the 2018-19 season. Seamus Coleman was indisputably not one of them.
In fact, it was a fairly miserable 2018 for the Irishman; barring his heroic comeback performance from his double leg-break against Leicester City in January, he showed few signs of rediscovering his old form.
Gone was the marauding full-back who could, at times, be as dangerous an attacking threat as any Everton player on the pitch. In his place came a player who would suddenly pull the handbrake in his ventures forward and who would wilt too often at the sign of danger in defence.
Like many in royal blue, Coleman improved greatly as the season reached its conclusion, particularly leading by example as captain in the Merseyside derby draw and the wins over Chelsea and Manchester United. Everton have not conceded a goal at Goodison Park since February 6, and he played every minute of each of the five home games thereafter. He deserves great credit for turning his campaign around
But given his age - he turned 30 in October - and his inconsistency on the pitch, a changing of the guard at right-back may soon be on the horizon.
Little stands out in Coleman’s numbers as being particularly outstanding or dreadful, though delivering only 17 successful crosses from 81 again suggests the full-back’s attacking prowess is waning.
Again, though, it is worth noting the stark improvement in this element of Coleman’s game as the season wore on, so he is far from finished as an Everton player yet.
Coleman featured in 30 games for Everton this season, usually as a right-back but, on occasion, as a wing-back. Another injury early in the campaign, coupled with his loss of form, meant his understudy, Jonjoe Kenny, perhaps received more first team opportunities than he anticipated, but for now, Coleman clearly remains manager Marco Silva’s preference.
For how much longer that remains the case is a question that may be answered during the summer transfer window.
In all likelihood, Coleman will start 2019-20 as Everton’s first-choice right-back, and despite a sub-par first half to this season, he has probably earned that right with his recent showings. But his strong finish should not detract from the fact he is no longer the player he once was.
Everton waited too long before finding the successor to Coleman’s fellow full-back, Leighton Baines. They still need more competition in this area of the pitch; if nothing else, it could spur Coleman on after a patchy campaign.
The Irishman’s best is behind him, and while still capable of delivering at an adequate level, the Blues need more from the position to make the step up to the top six.