After 10 months and 380 matches the 2014/15 Premier League season came to an end last Sunday afternoon and, with it, came a sigh of relief from Evertonians across the globe.
Fans of the men in the Royal Blue jersey have watched on as Roberto Martinez’s charges struggled domestically to finish outside of the top 10 in the league standings for the first time since the 2005/06 season – as well as bow out of both cup competitions at the first hurdle – and whilst the Toffees’ Europa League adventure ultimately ended in failure thanks to a last 16 defeat at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv, it remained the only slight positive from an overall insipid campaign.
And with Everton’s first team squad now jetting off around the world until they report back to Finch Farm at the start of July, what better time to look back at each individual’s form, performances and statistics from the outgoing season, starting with the goalkeepers and defenders:
Tim Howard: The American keeper suffered a major drop in form throughout the first 5 months of the last campaign, with many fans calling for reserve keeper Joel Robles to take his place. A calf injury in late December proved to be a turning point for the 34 year old, with Robles impressing in his absence, and resulted in an upturn in form despite only keeping a further 4 clean sheets during the last few months. Will need to improve to hold on to his regular starting berth next season. Rating: 5.5/10
Joel Robles: The Spanish custodian was finally presented with the opportunity to prove his worth as an Everton player during Howard’s spell on the sidelines and, despite struggling initially, showcased his qualities with a string of impressive displays before Howard’s return – most notably in the FA Cup 3rd round defeat to West Ham United. Robles kept 3 successive clean sheets on the spin in the league before surrendering his place to the Toffee’s number one, but will be able to take heart and confidence from his performances this season. Rating: 6/10
Tony Hibbert: The 34 year old has been left frustrated by a spate of niggling injuries throughout the course of the season, which have restricted the Boyhood Blue to just 8 appearances all season. Will hope to figure more next term as backup to Seamus Coleman. Rating: 5.5/10
Seamus Coleman: The Republic of Ireland international has not seen his permanent position in the starting 11 contested due to the injuries sustained by Hibbert, and as a result has not been pushed to live up to the heady heights of last season. 5 goals and 2 assists from 42 appearances is a decent return despite the 26 year old’s average season, but he learn to come back and find his form once again next campaign. Rating: 6/10
Tyias Browning: Was sent out on loan to Wigan Athletic in the 2nd half of the 2014/15 campaign, preventing the 21 year old from adding to his 2 promising cameos earlier in the season. Will break into the 1st team set up next season though. Rating: 5.5/10
Sylvain Distin: The 37 year old was frozen out by Martinez after a rumoured falling out between the pair, and as such did not figure after 6th January for the Blues save for a 10 minute farewell cameo last weekend against Tottenham Hotspur. Form was increasingly erratic before that supposed spat with the Blue boss, but leaves the club in the summer with the fans’ best wishes after 6 years of service. Rating: 4/10
Phil Jagielka: The club captain took it upon himself to haul his side back up the Premier League table with a series of oustanding performances, especially throughout the 2nd half of the season. Commanding, determined and brave, Jagielka hardly put a foot wrong after Christmas and rightly won the Everton Player of the Season award during the Club’s 10th Annual End of Season awards ceremony. A personal best of 7 goals – including that thunderous drive at Anfield to snatch a late point in the Merseyside derby in September – along with a number of impressive displays at the back will be a foundation that the England international can build upon for next term. Rating: 8.5/10
John Stones: The 21 year old returned from an ankle injury at the turn of the year to continue his promising partnership at the back alongside Jagielka, with his form and confidence increasing ever more so as the weeks of the campaign rolled on. Efficient on the ball, silky across the turf and perfect with every sliding tackle, Stones can be pleased with another splendid season in the 1st team for the Toffees – despite suffering the 1st red card of his career against BSC Young Boys in the Europa League – and even managed to score his maiden Everton goal in the 3-0 victory over Manchester United in April. Rating: 7.5/10
Antolin Alcaraz: The Paraguayan international struggled to win the affection of Evertonians in spite of some decent performances, but horror shows from the 32 year old against Hull City and Dynamo Kyiv consigned Alcaraz to the periphery of match day squads, with the final nail in the coffin coming this week that revealed the centre back would not be offered a new contract to stay on at Everton. Will find a new club in the summer transfer window. Rating: 4.5/10
Leighton Baines: After a scintillating start to the season, with 3 goals and 9 assists in the first few months, Baines’ form appeared to be dipping following the Blues’ calamitous festive fixture period. Became embroiled in the Kevin Mirallas penalty debate after the Belgian missed his spot kick against West Bromwich Albion, but recovered to lay on 4 more goals for his team mates to become the all-time leader of assists amongst defenders in the Premier League era. A niggling ankle injury that has plagued the 30 year old for 3 years brought his campaign to a premature end, but will return in pre-season and will always give 100% for the Blues’ cause. Rating: 7/10
Bryan Oviedo: The Costa Rican was beginning to enjoy more game time for Everton before a hamstring injury against BSC Young Boys curtailed a run in the 1st team, with a metatarsal break on the eve of his return, towards the season’s end, ensuring that the 25 year old would not play again this season. Some fans have questioned his fitness record and quality in recent months, but Oviedo provides ample back up to Baines and will feature more often next season once fully fit. Rating: 6/10
Luke Garbutt: The 22 year old figured 6 times post-Christmas for Everton and looked to be a promising young full back in the making. Defensively a little naive but Baines-esque in his attacking play, the England Under-21 international was being marked down as a future Everton star before his rumoured contract wranglings surfaced late in the season. His omission from the starting 11 despite Baines’ ankle injury in the last 2 matches of the campaign – coupled with his no show in the 18 match day squad against Spurs last Sunday – appears to convey his depature on a free transfer after 6 years at Goodison Park. Rating: 5.5/10
Brendan Galloway: The Zimbabwean-born defender was handed his first 2 starts for Everton in the absence of Baines, Oviedo and Garbutt against West Ham United and Tottenham, and the 19 year old impressed on both occasions in spite of a couple of glaring errors. Will provide back up at left back and centre back come the start of the 2015/16 season – if not sent out on loan for first team experience -and could be another promising ball playing centre half in the mold of Stones. Rating: 5.5/10
Check back for part 2 – midfielders and forwards – in the coming days.