Whereas Aston Villa dropped into the bottom half in 2011/12 after four successive top-ten finishes and decided to stick around, Everton have a talent for ensuring that they never spend more than a season below the fold.
Since the modern Everton era commenced with David Moyes’ appointment in March 2002, they have ranked 11th or lower on three occasions (prior to 2014/15), always responding commendably to the demand for a reaction.
15th place in 2001/02 was followed by seventh in Moyes’ first full campaign, while a narrow relegation escape in 17th in 2003/04 gave way to one of the all-time great Premier League achievements, a 13-position ascent to fourth in 2004/05 despite selling Wayne Rooney to Manchester United.
They did it all again soon afterwards, bouncing back from a drop from the top five to 11th similar to the one that they have just embarked on by resurfacing in sixth. Not since the going-nowhere rut at the end of the 1990s and start of the 2000s have they wasted two straight years in the bottom half.
The Toffees are available to back at [3.7] to be the Premier League winners without the top six, which has to be deemed a decent price given their form in the market.
Over the past nine years, the Merseysiders have a 67% victory rate in the market, prevailing in both Moyes’ final season and Martinez’s maiden before last term’s wobble. To emphasise how great their six-in-nine best-of-the-rest payout rate is, no other team have earned the “honour” more than once.
There will be no European football to derail them in 2015/16, whereas Europa League participation was a notable feature in three of the four campaigns in which they weren’t crowned best of the rest in the last 11 years.
It has been an encouraging transfer window thus far too, with one of the cast of their triumphant 2013/14, Gerard Deulofeu, being signed from Barcelona on a permanent basis, and a player who linked up positively with Martinez at Wigan, Tom Cleverley, joining from Man United.
As ever though, the success of an Everton summer is judged more on who exits than who arrives. It’s a case of so far, so good. The Red Devils’ purchase of Matteo Darmian seemingly ends their interest in Seamus Coleman, Romelu Lukaku isn’t as popular as compatriot Christian Benteke and no first-teamers have departed to date.
However, there will be obstacles, the latest reportedly being a £20 million bid for John Stones from Chelsea that they have knocked back.