Chelsea defeat epitomises the season for Everton

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

For the 518th and final time, David Moyes barked instructions from the Everton dugout. Only Harry Catterick has managed Everton for longer in a single spell; ironically, both departed Everton with 161 defeats on their record. In addition, this 2-1 defeat means the wait for a 600th league away win extends into next season.

This defeat epitomised the campaign, some will argue it epitomised the Moyes era, as missed chances and slack defending nullified good football. This familiar theme has prevailed throughout the season. In-between gifting the opposition goals, Everton have squandered chance after chance; Sunday was no different.

- Lythell: Chelsea wave Benitez goodbye with win
- Brewin: Rafa exits as Moyes goes forth
- No lap of honour for Benitez

Ultimately, performances such as this have contributed to the failure to qualify for Europe. While ending the season with the third-best home form, four away wins, and none since January 2, is below the required standard.

Furthermore, a glance at the visiting bench shows the huge task awaiting the new manager. Aside from retaining the best players, it is imperative that midfield and squad strengthening become top priorities. The bench comprised of a departing goalkeeper, four defensive players, a young midfielder and an out-of-sorts forward.

Everton already lack depth and, since several players are expected to leave, this paper-thin squad is in danger of becoming transparent. Needing to lower the average age of a weary group, the new boss must also bolster the smallest squad in the division.

Unfortunately, the list continues due to an uninspiring forward line that needs an injection of quality. For all his strength and back-to-goal prowess, the flaws still outweigh the strengths for Victor Anichebe. Likewise, there are few suitable words to describe the current form of Nikica Jelavic. The Croatian has the look of a wounded animal hoping the vet will arrive to put an end to the misery.

Elsewhere, Steven Naismith showed the two sides to his game: what he can do centrally and why he should not be in midfield. Following a neat one-two with Anichebe, Naismith clipped a smart finish beyond Petr Cech to provide first-half parity. However, the goal aside, Naismith continued to struggle in this unfamiliar role on the right of midfield.

One of the main positives from Sunday was the form of Leighton Baines. After picking up two club awards in midweek, the England man ends the season with more personal accolades. The only player to play every minute of every Premier League game this season, Baines also finishes as the most creative Premier League player with 116 chances created.

Upon closer inspection, the Baines creativity numbers continue to tell the story of the season. Despite fashioning 116 chances for his team-mates, Baines has just five assists this season. Lacking a proven goal scorer, Everton have paid the price for their inability to kill games off; Jelavic missing an open goal prior to the Chelsea winner only reinforces this belief.

After taking charge of his final Everton match, David Moyes waved to the supporters; the man who turned the club around saying his final goodbye. That said, for all the positive work over these past eleven years, there are certain traits that supporters will not miss and several were on display here.

The sight of all eleven players trudging back to defend a set piece is demoralising and invites pressure. Another frustrating sight is the reactive substitutions, the sight of a centre-back playing in midfield while Ross Barkley warmed the bench raised several eyebrows.

The season over, Moyes signing off with a defeat, thoughts turn towards next season. The upcoming campaign will see a new manager, a new captain and a much-changed squad. Nevertheless, before that can happen, Everton face the biggest summer in recent memory. A number of key decisions are required, decisions that the club cannot afford to get wrong.

ESPN Conversations