Everton must continue striving for higher standards after Southampton masterclass

But it’s also a performance which must be used as a benchmark to aspire towards. For all the dreary displays Everton put in last season, there were some isolated showings of real composure, class and tactical awareness; most notably home (4-1) and away (2-0) wins at Wolfsburg and a 3-0 hammering of Manchester United late on the campaign. Sadly, those standards were scarcely met last term, certainly not with any great consistency.

Of course, the victory has added a dash of positivity to a fanbase that has grown increasingly volatile over the summer months. But the challenge for this a young side, who will instinctively fluctuate, is to replicate those levels with increased regularity.

SEE MORE: Will the real Everton please stand up.

With three matches against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the next few weeks, there’s certainly an opportunity to replicate the template that was on show at Saints. All those sides aforementioned will be obliged to come at Everton and if the likes of Barkley et all can spring with the same incision, the Toffees will cause major issues for all three outfits.

After all, that’s when this Everton team are at their best. Players like Lukaku, Barkley, Kone and Kevin Mirallas are at their most effective when the pitch opens up in front of them; the problem for the Toffees comes when sides come deploy a defensive block, like their opening day opponents.

That’s something Martinez will have to formulate a plan for moving forward and those of a blue persuasion will be hoping a new signing with vision and guile will be a key part of that solution. But for all the talk of fresh faces, there was an intent about the Everton players—the manager too, for that matter—against Southampton which implied they were ready to seize some of the responsibility.

Of course, one triumph doesn’t change some long-term concerns that a lot of supporters have and with Chelsea’s unashamedly aggressive pursuit of Stones likely to keep supporters on edge until the end of the transfer window, tensions will remain high at Goodison Park. But this team have laid down a promising blueprint in Week 2; if they continue adhering to it so meticulously and with such distinction, a prosperous season could yet be in store for the Merseyside outfit.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball

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