What a season we’ve had. The race for the title couldn’t have been more interesting. The race for fourth place has even been better this season. In probably one of the most competitive season in terms of the chase for the last champions’ league spot, Tottenham capped a brilliant season by finishing fourth with Man City running a close fifth. Aston Villa and Liverpool were not far behind and while Villa’s all too familiar inability to consistently maintain their form and eventually running out of steam in the final third of the season proved to be their undoing, Liverpool’s mediocre season by their own high standards attributing to endless problems from the ownership right to the manager and players meant that they have failed to build on what looked like a promising season previously.
Up next was none other than Everton who just miss out on European football next season. Who would have envisaged them finishing as highly as they did after the terrible start they had to the season; certainly not me. Make no mistake, for them to finish in eighth place can actually be classified a success although I’m not sure how many Toffees fans out there would agree with me. They finished this season on 61 points, just two short of the 63 points they claimed on their way to fifth place last season. That is no way a bad achievement after all. If there is one thing that I have observed regarding Everton, they have been extremely unlucky with injuries for the past few seasons. At one point or another, they’ll somehow be short on personnel due to the amount of injuries suffered. The race for fourth would have been an entirely different ball game had their key players like Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka stayed fit the entire season.
This seems to be a valid argument to me. On paper, Everton’s squad is just as good if not better than the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa. A 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal with a disinterested looking Joleon Lescott playing ensured they made a pretty slow start to the season. The injuries started creeping in and at one point they were just about hovering above the relegation zone. It seemed like they were unable to string good results and the season looked like it was going to be a disastrous one for them. Things slowly started to change after with the return of key players and they managed to put in a few good performances with the outstanding Steven Pienaar leading the way but by then, they were already playing catch up with the season reaching the mid way point. A European place still seemed a long way and although they ultimately failed to qualify for Europe, they gave a perfectly good account of themselves and ended the season in imperious form with just two losses in their last 24 league games.
No one could deny the fact that had their season not been decimated with injuries to key players yet again, they would have definitely finished higher up the standings and given the likes of Tottenham and City the run for their money. Another positive would be on how the squad members managed to fill in admirably while their big name players were watching from the stands. Key for them however, will be their ability to hang on to their key players and a fine tuning of the squad by adding a few more quality players next season. Most important of all will be their ability to stay clear of massive amount of injuries so that it will not derail their season like it has done this season and if they manage to do so, there will be something more to cheer about for the fans come next season as there is no doubt of the enormous potential they possess to maybe finish in the Champions League spots.