The Everton End of Season Report (Part 1)

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

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Robles impressed in goal for Everton in January

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

26 Apr 2015, Everton, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK --- John Stones of Everton celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 2-0 --- Image by © Matthew Ashton/AMA/AMA/Corbis

Stones celebrates his 1st Everton goal against Manchester United

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

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Baines and Coleman will find their best form again next season

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.

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Everton’s Player of the Season: The Contenders

Many Evertonians will agree that the 2014/15 season has not been one that they will back on with fond memories.

The Toffees have not hit the heady heights of last season’s all-time Premier League points total as the Blues finish fifth in the 2013/14 league standings, dropped out of both domestic cup competitions at the first hurdle and were delivered a hiding in their last-16 Europa League second leg clash with Dynamo Kyiv that ended any hopes of Roberto Martinez’s men from lifting any silverware this season.

And with the upcoming End of Season awards ceremony looming large over the horizon, some supporters could be forgiven for not looking forward to such an event with much enthusiasm.

In spite of this, there have been a select few whose performances throughout the past nine months deserve recognition for their efforts in the Royal Blue shirt this campaign:

Phil Jagielka

The Blues’ club captain had an extremely rocky start to the 2014/15 season, following his participation in England’s woeful 2014 World Cup campaign just two months prior, with his previously formidable central defensive partnership with Sylvain Distin also looking to be on the wane.

Jagielka’s ability to perform at the top level was soon being questioned following the 6-3 home hammering at the expense of Premier League champions Chelsea, but the 32 year old’s season took a turn for the better following his last-gasp thunderous drive that earned a point in the Merseyside derby at Anfield back in September.

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A run of 4 clean sheets in 5 matches appeared to show an upturn in fortunes and, with it, the return of Jagielka’s steely resolve, before the Toffees’ horrendous form throughout the festive period looked to grind both Jagielka’s and Everton’s season to a halt.

Despite some overall poor performances from the men in Royal Blue, however, the England international has continued to perform at a consistently high level, especially alongside young centre half John Stones, with whom he has formed an impressive partnership.

Couple that with his richest goalscoring season for Everton – 6 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions thus far – and an almost ever present place in the Toffees’ starting eleven, Jagielka appears to be a shoe-in to take the gong at the End of Season awards.

Romelu Lukaku

Much like Jagielka, Lukaku’s sluggish start to the current campaign had many querying whether the Belgian’s ¬£28m move from Chelsea in the summer had been worth the investment.

Following the 2013/14 season when the 21 year old looked to be the answer to Everton’s striker troubles, an underwhelming return of 7 goals and 1 assist in 26 starts seemed to suggest that there were underlying causes for Lukaku’s disappointing performances.

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Again, like Jagielka himself, the forward had appeared for his nation at the World Cup in Brazil and, alongside a toe injury that the Belgian international only recently alluded to, was the reasoning behind Lukaku’s poor showings throughout the first half of the season.

Since bagging a last minute equaliser in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at home to West Ham United, however, Lukaku has not looked back. A string of impressive displays and a haul of 12 goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances has propelled both Everton up the table, and Lukaku into the reckoning for this season’s first team award.

Leighton Baines

The Everton left back may have gone under the radar for many fans outside of Everton this season, such as been the media furore over the likes of Ryan Bertrand of Southampton, but the 30 year old has still produced the goods for the Toffees throughout the 2014/15 campaign.

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Indeed, 3 goals and 13 assists in all competitions – including breaking Graham Le Saux’s Premier League all time assist record for a defender – continues to show how valuable Baines is the Blues’ cause, and whilst those match winning displays have become fewer as the season as progressed, the full back has created the greatest amount of goalscoring opportunities of any player in the Premier League this season.

In spite of his usual good work going forward, Baines has looked suspect as part of a leaky backline at times for the Toffees this season – a fact that could prevent the England international from winning this award for the 3rd time in 5 seasons.

Steven Naismith

The Scot’s early season form was a key factor in preventing Everton from languishing in the doldrums of the Premier League – scoring 4 times in the first 8 matches of the season – and earning praise from Evertonians for his work ethic, constant harassing of opposition defences and clever darts in and around the box to create space.

The goals may have dried up in the past few months – Naismith has registered just twice since the start of February – but the 28 year old has played a pivotal role in Everton’s good performances throughout the campaign, no matter how fleeting those display may have been.

The other contenders are more likely to be at the forefront of Everton supporters’ minds during the voting process, but there is no denying the part that the forward has played in what has been an overall lacklustre season for the men in Blue.

John Stones

The young centre back has made a late charge for the honour of Everton Player of the Season with some customary composed, mature performances at the heart of the Toffees defence alongside Phil Jagielka, and even notched his maiden goal for the Club in the recent 3-0 victory over Manchester United.

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The 20 year old’s injuries this season may just curtail his chances of putting up a serious claim for the top prize come the end of the season – an ankle injury sustained in October kept Stones out of action for over 2 months – but the youngster’s fine form will no doubt be recognised in him picking up the Young Player of the Season award ahead of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Ross Barkley.

Kevin Mirallas

The Belgian flier may seem like an odd choice in contention for this award – the winger’s selfish act concerning a certain penalty against West Bromwich Albion, along with supposed quotes stating his intent to leave Goodison Park, riling Evertonians – but Mirallas has still managed to come up with the goods throughout the 2014/15 season for Roberto Martinez’s men.

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11 goals and 2 assists in all competitions ensures that this has been the most productive campaign for Mirallas on Merseyside since his move in the summer of 2012, with trademark strikes against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United standing out in particular.

Inconsistency and those quotes in February will probably deter fans from voting for the pacy wideman, but Mirallas still deserves recognition for his best campaign in an Everton shirt.

Do you agree with the choices above? Or is there a player, that didn’t make the list, who you believe should be in contention? Let me know in the comments below.