In preparation for the 2014-15 season, The Republik of Mancunia has spoken to fans of all the clubs in the Premier League about last season, next season, their own clubs and their thoughts on United.
Scott: How did you rate 2013-14 for Everton?
Calvin: Everton surpassed all expectations in what was expected to be a rebuilding year under a new manager. Roberto Martinez promised the fans the Champions League, and came excruciatingly close to delivering it too, while playing some attractive football to boot.
Scott: Who was your best performing player?
Calvin: This is a tough one. A lot of players had excellent seasons, but two players were consistently among the best players not just on the team but in the League as well.
James McCarthy was a rock in the middle of the park, getting involved in just about everything that Everton did, both while attacking and defending. The only negative to his year could be his lack of goals, with his only goal of the year scored in the last game.
The player of the year though would have to be Seamus Coleman. For a player that cost just £60,000, he’s paid off pretty well. We’d put him right up there as one of the best right backs in the league really – his defensive abilities have improved leaps and bounds, and when going forward he is equally adept at crossing the ball or cutting in and shooting (Luke Shaw might still be having nightmares about this).
Scott: Which player are you expecting to be most important for you in 2014-15?
Calvin: We just signed striker Romelu Lukaku for a club record fee, and the pressure is going to be on him to get the goals to propel the team higher up the table. The midfield area is also key to the Blues’ success, so the Gareth Barry – James McCarthy pairing will be pretty important too.
Scott: I take it you’re happy with your new manager then?
Calvin: Absolutely thrilled. He has brought a new life to the team after the decade of David Moyes’ football. This is not a criticism of Moyes, plenty of lines of newsprint have already addressed him, but more of a testament to Roberto that teams like Everton and Southampton can play excellent attacking football without having the deep coffers that the ‘bigger’ sides have access to. He has instilled a winning mentality in this side, and you can see it in how Everton play.
Scott: Why did Moyes get so much stick from the Everton fans last season after everything he’d done for your club?
Calvin: 11. After everything Moyes had done for Everton, why did your fans give him so much stick at Old Trafford and Goodison Park last season?
It’s a combination of factors really. After all, we did give the man a hero’s send-off in his last game at Goodison Park. But his behavior immediately after leaving certainly rankled. The way he approached the club for Baines and Marouane Fellaini were quite insulting, and his comments in the press as he tried to draw them away really got fans irritated.
Combined with the way Martinez had Everton playing with just about the same squad, it really brought into perspective that Moyes probably had us under-achieving rather than over-achieving. His legacy at Everton is slightly tarnished now, but he does remain an important part of this team’s history.
Scott: What do you think your Everton will achieve this season?
Calvin: The ultimate goal for Martinez remains to win trophies. A top four position, possibly a win in either the League or FA Cup and a strong showing in the Europa League would be any Everton fan’s dream. The reality might be that the EL will stretch this relatively small squad and an unfortunate spate of injuries could cost us dearly on all fronts.
With a smattering of luck and a healthy dose of consistency, a top six finish, one or two Wembley appearances and maybe the last sixteen of the EL should be on the cards.
Scott: Are you happy with your club’s performance in the transfer window this summer?
Calvin: Oh yes. The influx of the TV money has made a big difference for us. We have gotten used to picking up leftovers of the richer clubs as the transfer windows close, so this summer has been a veritable Charlie in the Chocolate Factory setting for us.
We’ve kept all our stars from last season with extensions for Coleman, Leighton Baines, Tim Howard and Ross Barkley, signed loanees Barry and Lukaku, added Muhamed Besic to the defensive midfield depth, and are still on the lookout for a winger and another striker. All in all this has been a very satisfying summer.
Scott: If you could have one United player, who would it be?
Calvin: It would be too easy to say Wayne Rooney with his history, but actually it’s his strike partner Robin van Persie who would be the better fit. We’ve struggled to find a target man with a clinical finish for years now. Lukaku is still young at 21, but pairing him up with the absolutely ruthless van Persie would give the Blues an irresistible 1-2 punch.
Scott: You don’t hate Rooney anymore then?
Calvin: Opinions on Roo have been pretty divisive among Blues. Of course fans were pretty unhappy when he left. He’s since said some demeaning things about the club that people will never forget either. He’s also not shown much class by kissing the United badge in front of Everton supporters – look around, most veterans in world football don’t do things like that.
But the bitter fans also have to realize that Everton were going nowhere at the time, and Rooney had to do what he had to do to advance his career. You’ll have noticed over the years that he probably doesn’t booed as much as he had in the beginning, which is about right.
Scott: To be fair to Rooney, he got a dog’s abuse from your fans from the moment he returned, with Everton supporters singing about him dying, so you surely can’t begrudge a bit of badge kissing! Another unpopular former Everton man is Fellaini. Why do you think he was as bad as he was last year?
Calvin: Different style of play, different cast of characters? To be honest, even while he was at Everton he had equal numbers of good and bad games. The more frustrated he got the worse he played. Very temperamental, he makes lots of bad decisions and his close ball control is awful. That said, he was part of a pretty lethargic United midfield (with exceptions) and wasn’t any worse or better than most of his teammates. What last season did prove is that he is not a leader you can bank on to lift the team up.
Scott: Can you believe United were as bad as they were last season?
Calvin: Not at all. We really thought Moyes should have done better with the riches he had at hand, and instead he showed what little tactical nous he had. I have to say I was surprised and disappointed that the veterans in the locker room weren’t able to take control of matters either and show more leadership too.
Scott: How do you expect United to perform this season?
Calvin: Louis van Gaal is more in the Sir Alex Ferguson mould, and I’m expecting his approach to pay dividends. Last season exposed some cracks in the squad, and I expect LvG will go about imposing his style which could change how United play the game. Also, your lot will greatly benefit from not being in Europe, especially in the winter months when the pitch gets harder and the ball heavier. It will be quite the surprise if the Red Devils are not in the top four at the end of the season.
Scott: Who do you think will win the league?
Calvin: It’ll be between Manchester City and Chelsea again. The staggering quality in depth at both sides is ridiculous. Short of meltdowns from Jose Mourinho (likely) and Manuel Pellegrini (not so much), hard to see anyone else get ahead of the two.
Arsenal and Liverpool? One deceives to flatter, and the other flatters to deceive, you tell me which is which. They’re both possible contenders, but just don’t show that tenacious mentality required to get the job done.