It’s fair to say that this has been a far from ideal season for Everton. Rather than capitalise on the groundwork laid down last season, we’ve capitulated under pressure from playing two matches in a week. The damage was done at the start of the season where good European Thursdays were being followed by dreadfully disappointing Sundays and we never recovered from that. A major overhaul is needed this summer and this article will take a look at which players deserve to stay and which will go. To avoid it being too negative, I will also try and highlight the high points of the season, for there have been some!
This first part takes a look at the first 13 members of our squad, before next week rounds off the final 13. They will be ordered in terms of their squad numbers, for ease and simplicity as well as to avoid bias.
- Joel Robles (GK)
PL Appearances: 7 (6 starts)
If I had written this article a year ago, I would have sent Robles out of the door faster than you could say “another howler”. That being said, this season has turned my opinion on him, as when Howard was injured he came in and outperformed the disappointing American. During our penalty shoot out loss to West Ham, he was outstanding and followed that up with 3 clean sheets in a row. While we were underperforming, he was making sure we were still picking up points – unfairly dropped.
- Tony Hibbert (Def)
PL Appearances: 4 (all starts)
Tony has done fairly well in the four premier league appearances he made this season but it was nothing special and you start to wonder if he’s holding a youngster up rather than adding to the side. Assuming we keep Coleman, I would rather blood a youngster at right back when the Irishmen is unavailable rather than persist with Tony. Maybe convincing him to retire and offer a coaching role will be the best solution for all parties.
- Leighton Baines (Def)
PL Appearances: 31 (all starts)
Baines continues to be effective down our left side although his corner taking now leaves a lot to be desired. A strange season for the England left back as he missed a penalty and then conceded the duties to Romelu Lukaku. Not his best season but still has a lot to offer. Some people think he should move aside to let Garbutt be first choice, but from what I’ve seen Garbutt is nowhere near ready to replace Baines.
- Darron Gibson (Mid)
PL Appearances: 9 (3 starts)
Gibson would be the first name on our team sheet if it weren’t for the persistent injuries he is blighted by. His passing range is second to none and still posses a deadly shot from outside the area. His 3 starts were very encouraging but another injury meant he’s back on the periphery of the team. It’s hard to know what we should do with Gibson. No one doubts that he’s a quality player but it’s a waste of wages to have him on the books yet always on the injury table.
Verdict: Not sure, probably should go.
- Phil Jagielka (Def)
PL Appearances: 37 (all starts)
Along with John Stones and James McCarthy, Jagielka probably has a good shot at being Everton’s player of the season this year so this decision is fairly simple. Despite the fact he’s not getting any younger, logic suggests Everton will possess quite a few young centre backs next season and therefore his experience will be invaluable. He’s growing into the captaincy and let’s hope he can lead Everton for a few years yet.
Verdict: Stay, and remain as captain.
- Aiden McGeady (Mid)
PL Appearances: 15 (10 starts)
McGeady is far too frustrating to persist with. We see glimpses of talent, it just doesn’t appear often enough to suggest he has a future at Goodison Park. It’s a shame because I thought he could do well here but a year and a half into his stint and it just isn’t working. We were linked with him for years, with Moyes always turning him down (or so the papers said) – Martinez took a risk to integrate him into Goodison and unfortunately it hasn’t worked. That being said, I like his attitude and if he goes back to Celtic then I hope he does very well.
- Bryan Oviedo (Def)
PL Appearances: 6 (2 starts)
I just can’t help but feel sorry for Bryan. Moyes ignored him during his first season so we were all excited to see him when Baines got injured during his second. Oviedo did very well, scoring the winner at OT and forming a close relationship with the Goodison faithful. Then he got injured. Badly. It kept him out for almost a year but he fought back and did vaguely well during his few appearances this season until he got injured again. With Baines still going and Garbutt emerging (although Garbutt’s contract is an interesting sub-plot) will we see him again? I, for one, hope so!
Verdict: I say Stay but he might be off.
- Arouna Kone (For)
PL Appearances: 12 (5 starts)
A better season for our number 9 but he doesn’t look anywhere near the quality we need. To be fair to him he came back from a serious injury well, however he didn’t kick on after scoring at Newcastle, is too slow and doesn’t possess enough intelligence to thrive. We won’t recoup what we paid for him but sometimes it’s best to cut your losses. I still haven’t forgiven him for the miss against Hull last season.
- Romelu Lukaku (For)
PL Appearances: 35 (31 starts)
I can’t judge how Evertonians feel about Rom. For me, he is frustrating in the extreme but undoubtedly talented and the one true quality spark we have. He was worth shelling out 28 million for, and is worth holding onto at all costs. For others, he’s a waste of money that doesn’t score enough goals. He’s still the top scorer in the Europa League and looks set to score 20 goals across all competitions this season. He can’t do it all though, and it is imperative we bring in a proper back up for him, preferably someone who could slot in alongside him if both are playing well.
- Kevin Mirallas (Mid)
PL Appearances: 28 (18 starts)
I think we all know that Kevin wants to go, and despite him being a wonderful player that’s fine by me. I have positive memories from his time at Goodison but it’s always felt like he’s been bigger than us. He’s come back into the side well following a spell out and said he wants to stay but it’ll all be talk to make him look more loyal than he is. Thanks Kevin, good luck wherever you go.
- Steven Naismith (Mid)
PL Appearances: 31 (22 starts)
Steven Naismith continues to impress with his work rate and desire to give everything for the team. Furthermore, he strikes me as an honest bloke and I am proud that he represents my football club. Even without all that, his form this season is more than good enough to show he has an important role under Martinez. He’s better than just a good back up for Lukaku/Barkley, he’s a key player in his own right.
- Sylvain Distin (Def)
PL Appearances: 13 (12 starts)
Training ground bust-ups and performance standards dropping, Distin’s time at Everton is now up. There isn’t much else to say except for I wish him all the best, he was a brilliant servant for us. Shame it’s ending like this but in reality we should have let him go last summer.
- James McCarthy (Mid)
PL Appearances: 28 (27 starts)
When fit, the Irish terrier in the central of our midfield is the best player wearing Royal Blue. He still doesn’t score often but is that necessary from the midfield enforcer? I’ve seen McCarthy break attacks up which would almost certainly lead to us conceding and play passes which have led to us scoring. Comfortable just in front of the defence or just behind Lukaku, its no wonder bigger clubs are looking to prize him away from Everton. We need to keep him.
The first 13 players have now been assessed and my picks are as follows:
Everton squad for the 2015/16 season: Robles, Baines, Jagielka (c), Oviedo(?), Lukaku, Naismith, McCarthy
Looking for a new job: Hibbert, Gibson, McGeady, Oviedo (?), Kone, Mirallas, Distin