So after all the tactical experimentation, the promising pre-season showings and the astute transfer dealings, Roberto Martinez is on the brink of his first Premier League match in his capacity as Everton manager. Carrow Road will be the venue for his opening Premier League game, as the Toffees start their season as far away from home as is possible in this division, with a trip to Norwich City.
It has been a pre-season of real promise for Martinez and his troops. After a slow start against Austria Vienna, the team slowly began to adapt to the Spaniard’s methodologies. Comfortable 4-1 and 3-1 wins followed at Accrington and Blackburn respectively which was then preceded a superb victory over Juventus in the International Champions Cup.
The tournament was rounded off with narrow, and somewhat unfortunate defeats, against Spanish giants Real Madrid and Valencia. But Everton did manage to snaffle a victory over Spanish opposition eventually, triumphing over Real Betis 2-1 in Martinez’s first outing at Goodison Park.
Most Evertonians would agree the positives far outweigh the negatives under the Catalan so far. The players have become increasingly confident with the all encompassing passing style that the former Wigan chief has put in place. Faith in their new boss’s principles is clearly not in short supply, and Martinez in turn will draw encouragement from how his side went toe-to-toe with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus whilst sticking staunchly by his ideologies.
All the players have gradually grown into what was an unfamiliar style throughout pre-season, but there are squad members in particular that look as though they will benefit from this stylistic shift.
Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas are two that have carried their superb form from the tail end of last season into the start of this one. Coleman has looked particularly impressive in his role as a wing-back, and the Irishman and Leighton Baines will represent a formidable duo in those areas of the pitch should Martinez choose to set his side up in his preferred 3-4-3 system.
Mirallas, a player who showcased snippets of his undoubted talent last season, also looks ready to take his game on further. Given a role of lessened defensive duty, the Belgian will be a major threat in the advanced areas. His four goals in this pre-season suggest he is ready to thrive in a more attack-orientated system.
Further optimism comes from the performances of other players. One is Nikica Jelavic, who has found his golden touch once again. Like Mirallas, he too has bagged four goals this pre-season.