If the Premier League wanted a marquee season for its 20th year, they certainly received more than they bargained for in what turned out to be a real humdinger, going right down to the wire from top to bottom. Many a pub conversation has trundled across the “which is better, the English or the Spanish league” debate, well if we have learnt anything from this year, it's that this Premier League is far from predictable, which possibly is no longer a characteristic of La Liga.
One thing that remained as inevitable as a John Terry controversy was Everton's inability to start the season where we left off in the previous, instead continuing the annoying trait of waiting until January to show what we are capable of. In that regard, being an Evertonian is very frustrating, as there is clearly a squad, although comparatively thin on personnel, bustling with the talent to nestle in amongst the higher regions of the 20 team leader board but consistently having to play catch up well into the business end of the campaign.
Just what causes this phenomenon is uncertain, even the most ardent Blue would admit we would hardly class ourselves as movers and shakers in the transfer market, so there is little argument for players needing time to settle. This has been the case for a while now so the departure of Mikel Arteta, no matter how late last August, possibly would not have made much of an impact to how the season panned out.
The fact we had such a major say on the longevity of the title race shows we can compete with the best. The defeat of Manchester City led to the closing of the points gap with their closest rivals, both in placings and geography, Manchester United. Only for a enjoyably surprising fight back from the brink to blow the battle for England's numero uno wide open again, eventually culminating in one of the most dramatic finishes to the domestic football calendar we are likely to witness. Not to mention wins against Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle vying for, conceptually ridiculous yet highly lucrative, Champions League also-ran spots, which also needed results on the final day of play to decide.
To finish the campaign four points clear of a now managerless Liverpool and one place below the newly crowned European Champions, Chelsea, is quite ridiculous. Both have spent obscene amounts of money on the recruitment of new players in the last 18 months, the £7m (estimate) over the past 4 transfer windows that Everton have parted with makes up one 5th of Andy Carroll alone. For finishing 7th, we have earned another £750k in prize money, along with the additional finances from the ill-fated FA Cup run and potential to earn more in the coming season through the share of TV money following some exciting attacking Football post January, may mean that the accounts are looking a little healthier.
With the domestic season finalised in all divisions, attention turns to the international stage with England, finally entering a tournament with very little expectation on their shoulders, in the European Championships and the intriguing prospect of an Olympic football competition featuring a British team for the first time since 1908. Everton will be represented by Leighton Baines (and possibly Phil Jagielka) in Poland and Ukraine, with the Team GB squad yet to be released but I would expect to see maybe one or two of our boys having some sort of role within the set up.
Of course football was put into perspective on a number of occasions this year, including the tragic loss of 2 former players , who were both taken from their families far too young. Captain Gary Speed died in somewhat mysterious circumstances to leave the sporting world stunned and FA Cup legend Gary Ablett passed away following a battle with cancer, both good men making names for themselves in management after credible playing careers, the Club and supporters did us proud in the way both were mourned.
I'm sure a lot of clubs and their faithful think of their institution as special, that is certainly a word that is often associated with Everton. The relationship the players build with the fans, and the way current and former players talk fondly about their time at Goodison Park shows there must be something different. You only have to watch Steven Pienaar's tearful post match interview, before he returns to north London (albeit momentarily one hopes), to realise that he has been touched by the magic that Alan Ball famously spoke of.
Have a great summer and thanks for reading.
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