As the dust has finally settled a week on from the end of another tulmultous season for Everton, let’s look back in detail at a campaign that once again so nearly ended in disaster.
At the start of the 2022-23 season Toffees supporters were desperately hoping that there would be no repeat of the dreadful campaign the club had just gone though, when relegation was only avoided with a game to spare.
Everton had started the previous 2021-22 season with Rafa Benitez in charge after Carlo Ancelotti’s sudden summer departure for Real Madrid.
It was always likely to be an ill-fated decision (one that was pushed hard by Farhad Moshiri) and it was met with a great deal of unhappiness and some outright hostility as well, by some sections of the Blues supporters.
For this appointment to work, absolutely everything had to go exactly right or it would turn toxic very quickly. And, of course this being Everton it all went to pot.
After a decent start to his rein over the first month or so, results nosedived as injuries hit and Benitez reverted to his default defensive tactics.
Anger at what seemed an inevitable outcome, turned towards the board.
At last, after Director of Football Marcel Brands had been offered up as a sacrificial lamb to try and appease fans, finally following an innominious home defeat to Norwich City, Benitez was sacked.
By the time he left in mid-January a popular player, Lucas Digne, had been sold after falling out with the manager and the team was in a tailspin that looked potentially fatal.
Frank Lampard eventually succeeded the Spaniard and got a bit of a bounce before results declined again.
However, although he had some bad days at the office, Lampard did ultimately manage to keep the club up on that crazy night against Crystal Palace.
There was hope for a good summer transfer window and the new season to come.
The transfer window proved to be a real mixed bag though.
Certain signings like James Tarkowski on a free and the return of Idrissa Gueye, seemed astute.
But others (Dwight McNeil for example, although he would come good) baffled many supporters and raised questions about Lampard and Director of Football Kevin Thelwell’s thinking.
The most urgent prioirty by the late summer, was obvious: bringing in forwards who could score goals.
Time ticked on though and the club failed to make any striker signings, despite a plethera of names being linked with a move to Merseyside.
Meanwhile, Everton added another two further midfielders to the squad as youngsters Amadou Onana and James Garner joined.
Then finally, just before the end of the window, a forward was bought; Neal Maupay from Brighton.
He was hardly a headline grabbing addition and if he was deemed to be surplus to requirements at Brighton – not a team awash with goalscorers – that wasn’t exactly a great reference to take with him!