Now looking for a new manager, Everton finish a hugely disappointing campaign with a home encounter with a Norwich City side that has already been condemned to an instant return to the Championship.
It all began exceptionally well for Roberto Martinez at Everton as he guided the club to its highest Premier League points tally in his first year in 2013-14, but it has been gradually downhill from there despite the quality within the squad never having decreased. The anger towards the Spaniard from supporters reached such a critical point that he has been spared the discomfort of being in the dugout for this one, the last of what has already been confirmed as the season where they endure the worst home record in the club’s history.
The growing ill feeling had come as a result of Martinez’ constantly positive utterances and a tendency to exaggerate in his appraisals, while a lack of defensive security has contributed to the deterioration of results. Some of their recent away performances can only be described as pathetic surrenders, where shots have rained in on their goal with little in the way of resistence. Whoever comes in will have to tighten things up considerably and win the backing from the stands in good time.
It promises to be an interesting atmosphere on the blue half of Merseyside, and the same goes for the away end where the Norwich faithful will look on powerless as their team plays their final top-flight game before going down. Despite hitting four at home to Watford in midweek on an evening where other results went against them, a lack of goals – as well as regular defensive frailties – has proved costly and manager Alex Neil admitted afterwards that there are a number of things in hindsight that he would have done differently.
But the Scot remains a promising young manager and he will lead the club’s charge in the second tier next time around, with the Canaries beginning to suggest they might be becoming a so-called yo-yo team. Stability is what they need in the long-term as well as a player who can score the goals required in order to bounce back, but the squad could do with a little more flair to go with its workmanlike qualities. Before such work begins, a second successive win to bow out would be pleasing.
Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka may be back available for Everton, who are being led by David Unsworth alongside former boss Joe Royle.
Injured quartet Alexander Tettey, Jonathan Howson, Timm Klose and Andre Wisdom are all absent for Norwich.
Last Meeting: A stupendous goal from Gareth Barry set Everton on their way to a reasonably straightforward victory over Norwich in January 2014. The former England midfielder struck a thunderous shot into the top corner from the left edge of the penalty area, and the win was sealed by a well-taken free-kick by Kevin Mirallas, while Norwich came close to scoring when Robert Snodgrass hit a post late on.