Everton. The Toffees. To me, they'll always be the team that had Arsenal at their feet after they had been broken; that could have capitalised on their capitulation, that should've applied the cherry on the top of their delicious disgrace. But they weren't able to snatch fourth place from Arsene Wenger's trembling fingers; they let Champions League football pull away from them on a bus they were running for; they ruined my schadenfreude.
I'll never forgive them for that.
To everyone else, Everton were the team that could play Roberto Martinez football without the hilariously suicidal defending, improving their style of football with no ill effects. This is mostly thanks to the work of their previous manager of over ten years (Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines have been together for yonks, after all). With the two best attacking full-backs in the league and lots of youthful impudence going forward, they managed to finish a respectable fifth, while their old manager went on to have 'The Best Season Of His Career'.
Everton's activity this window has had one focus: consolidate, consolidate, consolidate. They've renewed the contracts of key players like Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley. They've managed to get lynchpin of the midfield Gareth Barry's to magically turn his loan deal into a permanent one. They even managed to convince Jose Mourinho to part ways with Romelu Lukaku for good (probably because of his mediocre World Cup, BUT NO-ONE SAW THAT). Other than that, they're also looking to add a couple of other loans to bolster their options, particularly on the wings. Oh, and they also signed Muhamed Bešić, who did this on his debut;
Try that in the league and you'll get mugged, son.
Also, Joe Royle is back on the coaching staff after a vastly successful six-week spell with Norwich. He obviously couldn't take the initiation of sitting through Delia Smith's "Let's Be Having Ya" speech. While she wore nothing but nipple tassels.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Well, Lukaku, obviously. Without him, there are no goals, and without goals you don't win football matches. But the way Martinez handles Ross Barkley has the potential to become absolutely fascinating. Will he burn out thanks to overplay and/or injuries, failing to fulfil his potential like so many England players before him? Or will he explode like a supernova, blazing a trail across the blue half of Merseyside before getting snapped up by Manchester City someone?
My money's on somewhere in between.
Any other season, they'd be looking to press on and push for the Champions League. But Manchester United are looking to climb back onto their perch after 'David Moyes' Excellent Adventure'. Factoring in the energy-sapping nature of the Europa League, they'll be lucky to consolidate their grip on fifth place.