A wasted season. Harsh ? Unreasonable ? It was after all a big improvement on 11th (twice) under Martinez and we did finish fifteen points clear of the rest, albeit also fifteen points off fourth place. But I can’t get away from the fact that despite the significantly improved financial resources at the club, Everton had two disappointing transfer windows, with January the real killer. We just wouldn’t gamble, take a measured risk, and splash out on a centre back and forward to add to Morgan’s excellent capture. I’m convinced that had we been prepared to address the serious flaws made obvious by that pre Christmas “run” of one win in ten, then our improved form post mid January could have been worth more than how we have finished.
But we didn’t and the centre back weaknesses have been exposed, the lack of back up to Lukaku emphasised and the arrogance that we thought we had cover at right back highlighted in cruel fashion. I know many don’t seem to agree, thinking that Schneiderlins arrival was all we needed, and then going on to laud the removal of the “dead wood” which was always going to happen in the summer anyway.
For me this has been a season of utter frustration and missed opportunities. I don’t think Koeman had to be given a year to assess the squad. I think the cup exits were both really poor and in particular the Norwich game cost us momentum and totally derailed a decent start to the season. In March there was the outside chance we could have surprised ourselves and kicked on to a fourth place finish. Unlikely I will grant you. Undeserved on most quality assessments maybe, but it was there, tantalisingly within reach but we went to Spurs and didn’t turn up and embarrassed everyone against Liverpool, again.
I get it that we aren’t really ready, well obviously, not ready at all. But a CL qualification would have brought us more than another financial boost. It would have given us a head start on the post Martinez recovery, made us much more likely to attract the kind of quality in the summer our money can buy. I don’t accept it was never on. Chelsea and Spurs apart, everyone else above us has stuttered and failed to impress. City have got it together late on but they have had a poor season by their standards. Liverpool really have been lucky to get fourth, whilst Man Utd and Arsenal have drawn too many and frankly looked jaded for a long time. We just needed to take a measured risk and give it a go.
But here we are, hanging on to some bright spots. Tom Davies has done really well but clearly needs a rest, as his aweful 26 minutes at Arsenal showed. Morgan is hugely impressive. Lukaku outstanding despite the fact that some have bellowed for his sale due mainly, apparently, to his inability to score against the big clubs…Kane and Sanchez have patchy records against them too, and…..his disgusting failure to win games on his own. Sigh. Only at Everton can we chase away one of the best goal scorers in Europe.
Williams has been poor, a shadow of the guy who arrived from the Euros as a strong defender and even stronger leader. He is turned so easily, lacks pace and frankly is terrified when faced by runners. With Jags labouring and Holgate played, crazily, at right back so many times, the defence may have improved on a terrible record in 2016/17 but when you add that we haven’t got a keeper at the club it’s not encouraging.
Time to put it all behind us and pray for a total overhaul in the summer with (somehow) two high quality centre backs arriving, a top class keeper, right back cover, replacements for Ross and Rom if they depart, and in truth, at least five other genuinely strong additions to a squad that is desperately in need of balancing the “promising” with the “ready now”.
I will feel a lot more positive with a bit of sunshine around and a lot of early signings.