But this season, Moyes finally saw fit to give Coleman a run in his preferred role. And a couple of early blips aside, the Irishman rewarded his manager’s faith.
All the talk this season has been about the other Everton full-back, Leighton Baines. But arguably, especially since the turn of the year, Coleman has outshone his teammate. His performances down the right hand side have given Everton an added attacking dimension.
So often reliant on the interplay between Baines and Steven Pienaar down the left, the Toffees have sometimes been accused of being one-dimensional. But with Coleman and Kevin Mirallas lining up on the right-flank, Everton have twin threats from both wide areas. A balance that is crucial to an effective attacking unit.
As for his playing style, Coleman is a bundle of energy. He is tireless in his vertical forays on the flank and a menace on the overlap. He looks to have taken some qualities from his Gaelic football background too, for he is a master at picking angles to drive into dangerous positions. But his attacking qualities have never been in doubt. What has been, is his ability going the other way; when Everton are on the back-foot.
So it is perhaps most encouraging for Evertonians that Coleman has improved significantly as a defender. In terms of his positioning he is much more aware and is beginning to regularly cut out danger early with his robust, front-foot defensive style. He is fierce in the tackle too, and a nightmare to push off the ball.
His man of the match displays against Manchester City, Arsenal and most recently England were more to do with his defensive play than his offensive bursts. They represented a real statement about the strides he has made in this area.
Slowly, and somewhat unnoticed, Coleman has turned into one of the Premier League’s best full-backs. He is starting to strike the right balance between attacking and defending that is tantamount to succeeding as a full-back in the modern game.
Can he get better? Absolutely. Defensively, despite his notable refinements, there is still work to be done. Not to mention, his final ball is still somewhat lacking. This is improving however, as we seen for Ireland’s opener against England, in which he fizzed a fantastic cross onto the head of Shane Long.
And this is what is most encouraging about Coleman, even in the areas in which he can get better, there have been noticeable upgrades in his game. If the early years of his career are anything to go by, in which he has obviously learnt and listened, then expect him to continue getting better and better.