Better than Moyes?
It’s still a bit early in his reign but there’s a definite feeling that Roberto Martinez is shaping the team in how own image far faster than had been thought. You only have to look at the state Stoke City are in under Mark Hughes to see how painful it can be to change the playing style of a team, Stoke look like a team with no identity. You could argue that Martinez had a shorter journey to go on, we were already playing some good stuff under David Moyes, but still the speed with which the team have adapted to the possession game is surprising.
Arguably a big part of that process has been the integration of our loan signings, and despite the flair and goals of Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu it’s Gareth Barry who has become the heartbeat of the team. Barry’s average of 69 passes per game places him 21st in Europe for that stat, and 4th in the Premier League, and his pass success rate of over 86% is just brilliant. He’s integral to how Martinez wants us to play and leaves the pizzazz to Deulofeu and the like. Oh, and he’s three assists to his name so far too, not too shabby for a water carrier.
Did we see a glimpse into the future? So dominant were we that Martinez was able to experiment a bit for the final quarter of the match. As well as switching to a back three and allowing Seamus Coleman and Bryan Oviedo to run free it’s his willingness to place trust in our younger players that really lifts the heart. John Stones has had a gradual introduction into the first team set up this year and you can see him playing alongside Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin before the season is out. The challenge with switching a formation during a game is harder than it first seems, but to do that during a season is another tough call to make. And who do you drop? James McCarthy and Barry are key to making it work, Ross Barkley, Deulofeu, and Steven Pienaar would all be important from an attacking sense. Tough calls may await Martinez, luckily he’s not afraid to make them.
Well that’s that then. The Jelavic we came to love has well and truly left the stadium. With every chance missed over the last twelve months the look of despair on his face has grown, and Jelavic is too far gone now at Everton to ever make it back. Just take a look at his face as he missed that golden chance.
Fullbacks or wingbacks
What a joy to see Coleman and Oviedo rampaging down the wings, did you know that that’s the first time in our history that both fullbacks have scored in a game? For the last eighteen months Coleman has been improving, and despite a certain rashness in the penalty area he’s almost the finished article. Excellent going forward, improving in reverse. And Oviedo, he’s an unlucky so and so. Each time he’s pulled on the blue he’s done well, but to be understudy for Leighton Baines is to lead a lonely existence. Baines or Oviedo plus £18m? Maybe that’s more of a question than we thought.
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