I’m not surprised that most Everton fans I know live by the motto “just when I thought I was out… I got dragged back in again…”
Everton finished the season with an away win against West Ham in a game that was dubbed prior to the match ‘the game where no-one was going to tackle’, with the teams being neck-and-neck in the race to finish top of the Fair Play league. As it turned out Gareth Barry played, so that went out of the window pretty quickly.
Let’s start with the game shall we? Well it started as you’d expect really, with not a lot going on. Some nice passing by us, some long ball stuff from West Ham until Stewart Downing fired them into the lead. To Everton’s credit they kept going and came back with a goal from Osman, who took the cross from Rom and turned to fire the ball into the net. That’s the way things stayed until injury time when Lukaku got behind the defence and flew to meet McGeady’s fine cross (yes, really).
Big Rom’s goal was his sixth goal in six matches against West Ham, and we haven’t lost against them for donkeys years so it was perhaps not a surprise that we won. That was Lukaku’s 20th goal of the season for us though, which apparently is the first time that’s happened since the Yak was with us. Sounds alright, but only half of those have been in the league and he’s had plenty of stinkers.
In fact today was pretty much one of those days where he stunk the place out – but he scored the winner in injury time with a diving header and got an assist so should that be enough? Many would say so, even at that record £28m price. For his age though, 20 goals is impressive and hopefully we’ll be able to keep hold of him for a couple more years and see him mature into the beast of a player we know he can be on a weekly basis!
As for the chase for a European place, does anyone really want us to be in the Europa League next season? Really? For those that are lucky enough to somehow have an unlimited football budget and can afford to go to all the away games overseas they’d probably say that we should be desperate to get into Europe. It could even help to retain our best players, bring in new ones and all that (I don’t believe a word of that myself).
Thing is though, the Fair Play qualification means that the Toffees would start again at the START of July (the 2nd July actually!!). Whilst most teams that start that early tend to be quick off the blocks in the league by February they are proper goosed and fade away very quickly. Seeing as we normally start badly, ending badly could be pretty disastrous for us! I doubt we’ll need to worry about it though, with Barry, Coleman and McCarthy all going into the book today. West Ham need to have a particularly dirty game next week to chance anything there.
With the Summer coming up being one that could bring quite a high turnover in players as those rumours about Lukaku/Coleman/Mirallas refuse to go away the best thing all round could be to ignore Europe, regroup as a club and target the league as a priority. Could be tricky – this season was a weak division and with the ‘top’ clubs spending so much money on transfers again this Summer have we missed our chance to gatecrash the Champions League party?