Grading Everton's season - European dream and some stubbornness compromises progress

After a promising league campaign last season, the Toffees were hoping to kick on in 2014/15.

After a terrific Premier League season during Roberto Martinez's first year at the helm at Goodison Park, which saw them break their record points total since the league's formation in 1992, there was a sense of optimism among Evertonians, especially since they had their first European campaign in six years to look forward to as they prepared to enter the Europa League.

It was always going to be a big ask for the side to match their efforts from 2013/14, even if Martinez was hoping to take the one extra step to lead them into the Champions League after working hard to strengthen in the summer, but he will hope that Everton will be richer for this season's experience in continental competition and the battles they faced at home in the Premier League.

They showed that they can compete against European sides - they had beaten the nearest challengers to Bayern Munich's Bundesliga's crown home and away in the group stages of the competition, but the manner of their exit in Ukraine to eventual runners-up Dnipro was disappointing as they were thumped on the road, unable to defend the slender advantage they secured at Goodison Park in the last-16 stage of the competition.

In terms of their league form, it really seemed to suffer, with the side struggling against whichever domestic opposition was put in front of them during the midway point of the season - which saw them dragged into a relegation battle for a few weeks.

But the thing Everton can take heart from is that they somehow found a way to get going, even if it took a while for Martinez to stop being repetitive when it came to his tactics that were frustrating many, and a good run of form - culminating in the 3-0 thrashing of Manchester United - showed that the side can put in mature and entertaining performances and reap the rewards.

After last season, where you could have been well within your rights to give Everton an A, this one is a C- at best, given that they have finished outside the top half and definitely taken a step backwards.

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