Everton veteran Leon Osman has revealed he expects them to be challenging for the Premier League top-four again next season in conversation with FourFourTwo.
“I do think we are good enough to make the top four next season.
“We were disappointed not to get in the top four last season and I think the demands of having had such a good season meant teams were coming here hoping to nick a point.
“That was the first thing we had to learn this season and is something we eventually have learnt. It’s about being patient because teams have just been coming to try and nick a point.
“Hopefully we can hit the ground running next season and we can be as good as we were last season.”
The Goodison Park lifer cited several excuses, more of which below, for their comparative struggles in 2014/15.
But are they good enough to make odds of 11/1 about a top-four Premier League finish for the Toffees next term attractive? Let’s examine them further…
“We were so full of confidence going into the start of the season that we went out and attacked teams and we kept getting sucker-punched.
“We would dominate teams, have 70 per cent possession for the first six or seven games of the season but we’d lose a sloppy goal and concede where we weren’t expecting.”
Verdict: Did the Toffees really have the cause to be overconfident for all their first campaign under Roberto Martinez yielded a record points total?
After all, they lost three of their last five games in 2013/14, including at home to Crystal Palace, when better results would have seen them a lot closer to fourth spot.
Neither was it as if they have fallen victim to complacency thanks to their newfound monopolisation of the ball.
Last season four of their first five league games saw them boast more than 60% possession, one more than this season, yet they won three and drew the remainder.
“Teams were just trying to hit us on the break but we would’ve worked that out after six or seven games but then Europe started and the extra demands that brings.”
Verdict: Here Osman has more of a legitimate excuse, with a European campaign where previously there was none impacting detrimentally on the seasons of both Swansea and Newcastle in recent campaigns.
“I think the demands of having had such a good season meant teams were coming here hoping to nick a point.
“That was the first thing we had to learn this season and is something we eventually have learnt. It’s about being patient because teams have just been coming to try and nick a point.”
Verdict: Last term the Toffees certainly found it easier to capitalise on home advantage, winning 13 of their 19 home games – they were held just three times.
In 2014/15 they’ve prevailed just four times in the league at Goodison Park, drawing a division-high seven times with five games remaining.