It’s still there. That Everton spirit. The coveted togetherness that many predicted would cease the second David Moyes walked out of Goodison Park. In fact, it’s been more prominent than ever in the past seven days. It’s helped Everton to their first two victories of the campaign and of Roberto Martinez’s tenure as manager; they remain unbeaten in the opening five games.
There was a sense that Everton’s season only really begun in their second home game against Chelsea. Transfer speculation lingered around Goodison Park over the course of the summer, as Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines were touted for moves to Manchester United.
It was far from ideal, and the constant coverage was always going to be a distraction, especially with the new Catalan intent on implementing a significant stylistic shift. But with some shrewd transfer dealings conducted by the club, Martinez has been able to work with a focused, bolstered and settled squad since the deadline closed.
And the benefits have been immediately obvious. Granted, the first triumph of the season – a 1-0 victory over Chelsea – was founded on the pragmatic principles instilled by his predecessor, but the next performance – a 3-2 defeat of West Ham – whilst showcasing an unyielding will to win and character, was also saturated with the ideologies and influence of the new man.
It hasn’t taken long for Everton to reap the benefits of having Martinez at the helm, and for those of a blue persuasion, it is so refreshing to see.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time against West Ham, the manager saw fit to act in swift and decisive manner. Introducing Romelu Lukaku and James McCarthy at the break was an especially bold move – one that might not have been made under the previous regime – but it revitalized his team
McCarthy moved the ball at a better tempo and with increased purpose, whereas Lukaku ran the West Ham back-line ragged; dropping deep, running in behind, pinning down centre-backs and dominating aerially. And it was all done in especially classy fashion. Lukaku’s understanding with his compatriot Kevin Mirallas was plain to see, and the link-up play between the two Belgians and Ross Barkley was mouthwatering at times — brimming with pace, power and youthful exuberance.
It was a very, very encouraging 45 minutes that has gotten Evertonians very excited about the coming months, and Martinez deserves credit for laying such promising early foundations.