We started the year much as we start next year, questioning whether or not Wigan fans were right in what they told us about Roberto Martinez, shortly after he arrived at Goodison Park.
“I think under Martinez you will have absolutely blinders and then the next week absolute shockers,” said one Wiganer. Oh dear.
As a website, we pressed for an interview with the manager along the lines of the ones which had been so forthcoming in his first season. Those initial meetings gave us a refreshing change from the previous eleven years, and we wanted to test the water to see if what he said – that he would still meet with fans even in harder times – was correct. We waited until May.
Throughout the year, however, our interactions with the club would have amazed even ourselves five years ago. That meeting with Roberto did eventually happen when there is no way on earth that David Moyes would have entertained a group of supporters. Meetings with Duncan Ferguson and Pat Van den Hauwe followed, and our editor was even invited to sit down with Robert Elstone in August before interviewing Gerard Deulofeu for the second issue of our fanzine.
There were questions over Luke Garbutt’s future, with the former Leeds defender being linked with a free transfer to Liverpool when his original contract ended in the summer. Once again, we waited until May to find out whether he would stay at Everton or not.
The Blues were knocked out of the FA Cup on penalties despite a heroic performance from stand-in goalkeeper Joel Robles, who was soon to lose his place to a refreshed Tim Howard. We didn’t even see Robles in May, though.
Samuel Eto’o upped and left, copying and pasting his farewell letter to Evertonians as he joined Sampdoria, whose fans didn’t have to wait too long to see their version of his goodbye note.
James McCarthy spent the early part of the year being hammered by Republic of Ireland “luminaries” and refusing to bite back, then spent the latter part of the year between the treatment table and the Goodison Park turf awaiting treatment.
We lost Sir Phillip Carter, Andy King and Howard Kendall each side of the summer, with both being remembered along with other Evertonians who had left us before the game against Stoke last week. Our own contribution to Howard Kendall’s memory was to co-ordinate a minute’s applause as the Blues beat Sunderland at Goodison Park in September.
During that summer break, however, Everton managed to strengthen a squad that languished well below our best last season, and saw Tom Cleverley, Aaron Lennon, Ramiro Funes Mori and Gerard Deulofeu come into the fold, while, despite Chelsea’s best efforts, John Stones remained an Everton player.
He was the cover star of the first issue of our fanzine, published just in time for the home game against Chelsea in September, and an issue that marked the achievement of a long-held ambition around these parts.
Funded by Evertonians, for Evertonians, the fanzine was given away for free at the match, and has paved the way for future editions – the second one published the week before Christmas.
As the year progressed, so did Everton – in the Capital One Cup at least – and with the absence of European football in the second part of the year, it has been a welcome distraction from our league form.
Injuries plagued us though, and Leighton Baines has only just returned to the team, while Phil Jagielka has missed almost all of this season so far.
It’s been a tough year for Evertonians, but there have been positives, and as we push forward into a new year it’s important to keep hold of those positives. For the moment, we have a young, talented spine to the team in Stones, McCarthy, Barkley and Lukaku. Deulofeu has been a joy to watch since his return, and there are experience players to come back into the side.
There is talk of a takeover in the wings (we’ll be bringing you an interview with someone who has close dealings with our potential new owners in the New Year) and despite the frosty relationship between our current board and the local council that reached a new low at the AGM in November, could re-ignite a new stadium move for us as well.
If Roberto Martinez can prove those Wigan fans – and a growing number of Evertonians – wrong and show consistency in good results, then things could be on the up in 2016. We do, after all, start the year just two games from a Wembley cup final…
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