Everton's Best: Who have been the stars of the season?
2013/2014 has seen a fantastic season for Everton resulting in a 5th placed finish and the return of European football to Goodison Park. There have been high quality performances on a consistent basis right through the Everton team, however, certain individuals have stood out. Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry all narrowly miss out on the top 3 but deserve an honourable mention for their performances this season. However, the top 3 are as follows:
3. Sylvain Distin
The 36 year old veteran centre back has been essential to Everton’s charge for Europe this season. He has slotted right into Roberto Martinez’s philosophy, showing that he’s not just a solid centre back but also has a good football brain, and ability on the ball. His defensive work, however, has been nothing short of exceptional. Throughout the season Distin has put in a string of solid performances helping to contribute to 14 clean sheets. His pace, power and positioning have made him near impossible for opposition strikers to play against. Without his presence, Everton would not have managed to achieve a 5th place finish in the Premier League. This can be seen by how Everton have faired without him in their last 2 outings, a 2-0 defeat at Southampton and a 3-2 defeat at home to Manchester City. Conceding 5 over 2 games simply would not happen with Distin at the heart of Everton’s defence.
2. Seamus Coleman
Seamus Coleman narrowly misses out on top spot, but deserves tremendous credit none the less. From right back Coleman has contributed a phenomenal 6 goals, making him one the highest scoring defenders across Europe. In Roberto Martinez’s system Coleman has slotted perfectly into the role of wing back, bombing forward at every opportunity whilst remaining responsible at the back. What stands out about his performances this season is his positional awareness and tackling. Coleman has always had the attacking ability but has sometimes been known to go missing at the back. This season has been a different story. Coleman often completes matches with most tackles to his name and is regularly the last man back making goal line clearances. It looks as if Coleman has realised his potential and with quality right backs hard to come by, Everton look set to face a task to keep hold of his services. Rightly so, Coleman has been named in the Premier League team of the season and if he carries on in the same way next season it is very hard to see any right back, even Pablo Zabaleta, being able to take that spot from him.
1. James McCarthy
Since signing for Everton for £13 million on deadline day, James McCarthy has been an essential component of Roberto Martinez’s set up. His engine in midfield has been something that Everton have been lacking for years. Think back to last season when Phil Neville was playing the same role McCarthy plays now. He simply did not have the legs to cover enough ground and break up attacks. McCarthy, on the other hand, seems to be all over the pitch every single game. He breaks up attacks and sets them up for Everton. He looks to be the missing piece to Everton’s jigsaw from previous seasons. Though he hasn’t contributed a single goal for Everton I think that he cannot be overlooked as the team’s player of the season. The Crystal Palace match at Goodison sums up why he deserves this award. Everton had 4th place in their own hands, McCarthy was rested for the Manchester United match coming up a few days later. Everton went 2-0 down and had to bring McCarthy on with half an hour to go, Everton went on to win this half hour 2-1. Not only was McCarthy involved in both goals, but he was a leader. When Everton are in possession the centre backs split and McCarthy often sits in between them, acting as a third centre back, whilst playing the ball and setting up Everton attacks. He has even had half a game at right back this season when Seamus Coleman had to be taken off injured. All in all McCarthy seems to be Everton’s best and most consistent player week after week. For this reason he cannot be overlooked and, in my opinion, wins Everton Football Club’s 2013/2014 player of the season.