Roberto Martinez has accepted for the first time that his players may have failed to cope with the immense pressure created after a fantastic first season at the club.
After taking over from David Moyes, Martinez was a breath of fresh at Goodison Park. Not only did he bring in beautiful and flowing football, but it also brought in excellent results that almost gave them Champions League football after more than a decade. It was not to be, but there was optimism ahead of last season due to signings like Romelu Lukaku for club record fees.
Yet, it was largely a disappointing season for the club as they finished outside the Europa League qualification spots. The club placed a lot of hope on winning the Europa League, which would have given them direct access to the group stages of the Champions League. It was not to be as well after a shock defeat at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv away from home. Even though Everton looked home and dry after a 2-1 home victory, a 5-2 thrashing in the second leg knocked them out of the competition. Even recovery towards the end of the campaign was not enough to prevent Everton from finishing only in the 11th spot.
“We finished the previous season really strong and created huge expectations and that is something different, mentally, that you have to cope with. Especially with the way we want to play, we have to open teams up and individually you go through a learning curve but we have all become stronger, especially the younger players who have never had that important role in the side, and the first six months of this season will prove one of the most influential in their careers. In that respect, you can see the change in the players now,” said Martinez.