Do you ever get the feeling that you just want this season to end? The answer is, yes you probably do, and judging by how bad this current one has been, you might have felt this way for some time.
From Fearless To Hopeless Within 12 Months
On Wednesday night Everton suffered their tenth Premier League defeat of the campaign and whilst we did well to keep out current League-leaders Chelsea until the final minute of the game, it was yet another disappointment in a season that us Evertonians will probably want to forget in a hurry.
It was a deflating result, a sucker-punch right at the death, but these sort of things have happened time and time again this season and a lot of the time it has been unbearable.
I am not going to sit here and even attempt to write any positives about the game, or the fact we’d recently seen a defensive improvement from Roberto Martinez’ side, I just feel so downbeat about the whole state of affairs at Goodison Park and I can’t help but want it to be May already.
But judging by our performances throughout the current campaign, the question and worry that remains is just what position will we find ourselves by the time the end of season comes?
“Too good to be relegated” you might say – I’ve begun to question that theory. “We’ll get out of trouble, we’ll be fine,” you might believe – trust me I’ve thought that many a time this season and tried to remain positive, but now I’m really struggling to harbour those hopes at all.
Hopes to fears to reality
Those hopes have turned to fears, those fears have become a reality and now I just don’t know what to expect from these players and this Manager anymore.
Martinez’ decision making has left me confused, frustrated and annoyed on numerous occasions this season and my trust in him couldn’t be more opposite than it was at this point last term.
His tactics, his interviews, his comments about character and his talking up of under-performing players, if I’m honest it’s all left me quite disillusioned during the Spaniard’s second season at Goodison Park.
Last season I think we as fans were taken by surprise at just how good we were – just as the rest of the sides in the Premier League probably were too – but this season our dramatic fall from grace has been very tough to take as a watching supporter.
I know we’ve had many tougher times at Goodison Park and this season is far from over, but to go from one extreme to another in less than a year has been truly painful to see.
We’ve literally gone from an expressive, fearless, confident and vibrant side to a quivering wreck of uncertainty, with a distinct lack of responsibility, assurance and unity – all in less than 12 months.
What has gone wrong?
We can’t continue to use the excuse of refereeing decisions or bad luck with injuries, something has drastically changed; is it all down to the Manager, is there a problem within the dressing room, Martinez certainly appears to have his favourites so has this been an issue, is it just a case of ‘being found out’ by the opposition? Is it our training methods or tactical naivety?
Nobody knows the answers to the above but it is my belief that it is a concoction of all of these things. Everything we touched last season turned to gold, whereas this season if anything can go wrong for Everton Football Club it inevitably will.
Whilst I believe it isn’t an excuse, refereeing decisions have cost us at times this season, but in reality we can’t rely on referees – ultimately they are unreliable and inconsistent (similarly to us this term).
If a contentious decision is to be made in a game which Everton are involved in, invariably it will go against us, it’s just been a constant theme.
However, it’s down to us to get ourselves out of the shit, only us can keep us in this league, not the officials who officiate in this League.
Injuries did hurt us during the first half of the campaign but again, we aren’t the only ones who have had to deal with depleted squad numbers.
There isn’t the time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves because of the two subjects above, because as I say, they can’t be used as a constant excuse, the season will soon come to an end.
These are just two factors that have added to the frustration, the negativity and the general grimness surrounding the Club this season.
Compare it to Martinez’ maiden season at the Goodison helm, they are worlds apart.
If a shot is made by an opposing player in the final minute of the game, inevitably it will get deflected and go into the back of the Everton net.
Whereas if one of our players has a glorious, hard-to-miss opportunity, the opposing ‘keeper will pull off a world-class save – these are two pointers from the Chelsea game but stuff like this has happened throughout the current campaign.
When the going gets tough, every little thing that can go against you tends to do so, and this has been the case for Everton this season.
During the memorable campaign of last season – which I know keep mentioning – lots of things fell in place for the Toffees and everything appeared rosy, I suppose that’s the harsh reality of football and life in general, but because of the two major differences in performances in such a short space of time it just makes you wonder how, why and question every detail.
Last season if we lost 1-0 in a game, you could accept that fact because we had probably had a real go at expressing ourselves and attempting to win the game, whereas this season we have lost too many times without as much as a whimper.
When I think back to two in the long list of bad results – away to Southampton and Hull City – I can’t help but shake my head, question the integrity and heart of this manager and these players.
In more recent fixtures, time and time again I’ve thought we had ‘turned a corner’ or gave ourselves a bit of a platform, but within another 90 minutes or so that platform has well and truly been knocked down.
Time and time again I’ve sat plucking the positives from poor results, but now I’m sick of it, I just want to see things change.
I’ve asked for a reaction, I’ve hoped for a reaction, and I just haven’t seen one. I can only hope that our fortunes do change before things get any worse but at the moment there is nothing that suggests to me that we will see an upturn in results in the imminent future.
Players like Mirallas and Lukaku are talking about leaving, new challenges and Champions League.
We still appear to be a stepping stone as Club and it hurts, but the irony of those two talking above leaving the Club when between the two of them we should be seeing much more talking on the pitch.
Admittedly, Lukaku has still got goals this season but if he and his countryman Mirallas harbour hopes of bigger clubs and better things they probably need to up their performance levels and get noticed, because in reality now who would pay top dollar for them two?
Now they have begun to talk of achieving things and Champions League but what I want is us to be the ones who achieve something, us to be the ones who show the ambition and belief we did last season and build on it, show some sort of consistency or bottle and attempt to put things right.
Collectively work towards something. Strive to achieve glory here and be the attractive club to be at.
It happens all too often year on year and again, I feel like we are still plucky little Everton just going about our business. We are too nice, too predictable, and players don’t want to hang around for long.
Too many of our players do a lot of talking but go missing in games and don’t take responsibility, so the microscope is then pointed at the likes of Stones and Barkley to push us through – these are kids for fucks sake!
Where are all of these ‘top professionals’ or ‘phenonimans’ that Martinez describes – I can’t see any of them?
Where are the senior players standing up and fighting for this shirt, trying to drag us back up the table and install some pride into a Club that deserves better than this.
Our fans deserve better than this. Our away following is second-to-none but on numerous occasions they’ve witnessed players just happy to pick up their pay cheques and piss off after the game.
Football is a business, and in the modern era money drives all of the decisions, but is it too much for a football fan to ask for a bit of spirit, an enthusiasm to succeed and a willingness to at least try – all three of these things have been blatantly absent from the majority of our players this season.
Our performance this season – right from our pre-season planning – has been a shambles.
Losing to sides who are woeful themselves, poor substitutions and persisting with players who have been terrible, disputes over penalties, apparent dressing room disharmony, the Samuel Eto’o affair, no ideas, no creativity, it’s all too familiar.
There isn’t one particular performance that I can look back on and say I felt really proud of them.
In Europe we’ve done well, and we might still go far, but domestically, in League and both cups, we’ve been an embarrassment.
I’m embarrassed to see us five points off 11th place in the table, and eleven points off 8th place, I’m embarrassed to see us looking over our shoulder at sides and Clubs who are nothing compared to this Football Club.
It just shouldn’t be like this. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe this season we will just be mid-table and do something memorable in Europe (we all hope), but at the moment I just can’t see anyone at the Club grabbing the situation by the bollocks and wanting to turn things round.
The moment we see positivity or form, it disappears. Are the players just as embarrassed as I am?
They get paid to play for this Football Club and I pay money to go and watch them, that’s the difference.
It would be naïve of me to think these players, staff and our manager will love the Club as I do, but at least give me reason to believe that you want to succeed here, to make history, stay around and become a hero or a legend.
I don’t see any of this, and I don’t see leadership, and whilst I don’t see these things I can only fear for our future.
A continuation of this poor form and current gloom around Goodison Park could see us slip further down the table and into the mire. A couple of results is all it takes to move up a place or two in the league, but it also works the other way.
Sides below us will pick up points, meanwhile if we don’t, it is inevitable that we are going to be sucked in. In fact we are already involved.
We are checking the results of sides like West Brom and Crystal Palace, whereas the likes of Hull City and Sunderland are now just a victory away from drawing level or very close to ourselves.
All eyes on Leicester City
There is still 13 games left to put things right but looking at our upcoming fixtures you can’t help but see the Leicester game as a must win.
Either side of the home clash with the Foxes we face Young Boys in Europe – which has been the one, constant positive throughout the current campaign – but regardless of the outcome in the Europa League all eyes will be on Goodison Park when we take on the side that is rooted to the foot of the table and if we don’t get all three point against them, the mood will be one of sheer anger, despondency and fear.
Following the Leicester game and home tie with Young Boys we take on Arsenal and Stoke away in quick succession – probably two of the hardest games in the Premier League for different reasons – things just don’t get any easier and eventually we will run out of games.
I can’t help but worry, and I make no apologies for sounding very downbeat in this piece.
Like them or not these are my views and I would not be saying these things if I didn’t believe them. Maybe I got a bit carried away with Martinez last season, and whilst I am not calling for him to be sacked at the moment, I am deeply, deeply concerned about where we are going this season.
Usually with Everton there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and I just hope with the Europa League games and Leicester next up in the Premier League they are just what we need.
After those three games things might look a bit better and I certainly do hope this Manager can turn things round, but if things don’t go to plan, which unfortunately they haven’t at all this season, come the end of February we could find ourselves in a much darker place than we currently do now.