1. Ross Barkley
During pre-season and now during competitive games, it is clear to see how far the youngster has come since that unfortunate game against Blackburn Rovers at the start of the previous campaign. Ross seems to have had another spurt of growth. He looks physically bigger, and therefore stronger, and so is able to command more of a presence in the middle of the park - especially when he has to defend. It is also clear to see that the boy oozes class. His goal last weekend was followed up by a less prominent display against West Brom, but that was partly due to the opposing side doubling up on the Everton man every time he had the ball. That said, Ross still impressed with some nice touches, good use of the ball and he also put himself about, working hard to regain possession for the team. He could have had a goal towards the end but for the excellent Ben Foster too. A word of praise has to go to the manager here too. Martinez has spoken very highly of Barkley since he joined the club. It seems he is only too aware he has a gem of a player on his hands. It also seems that he knows what he is doing with Ross. I was speaking to someone about the manager and about Barkley last night and what is encouraging is that Martinez knows that the only way Ross will learn is by playing football, so he's installed his trust in Ross to make his mistakes in our team instead of loaning him out again and recalling him when we think he's ready. This season is a learning curve, next season we will have some player at our disposal.
2. Leon Osman
Sorry to say but for me it looks like Leon Osman's days at Everton could be coming to an end. In fact, I think the only reason he has started the first two games of the season is because Darron Gibson is injured. I like Leon, he's a hard working, tidy user of the ball. I just think that he's become institutionalised to the David Moyes way. Roberto Martinez has come in and tried to put his own print on things. It's all about keep ball and be patient. Against Norwich I thought Osman stunk, but he had a 93% pass completion rate. Against West Brom I thought he came up against a more solid test in Yousuf Mulumbu and I think he struggled a little. I worry though that the fans will start to get on his back, especially at home (purely because there are more of us!) and Leon's head may drop. However, the job he does can go un-noticed and speaking about him yesterday the gamble was take Osman off and go with two up top, but then the risk increases of losing the game because Fellaini isn't disciplined enough to hold a midfield, and Ross Barkley doesn't have the experience to yet. So for now, we need to stick with him and support him.
This really annoyed me yesterday. At Norwich, I thought Kevin Mirallas was bang average. I did again yesterday. However, the Belgian International has this spark about him which lets him do something out of the blue, put us on the front foot and create problems for the opposition. Yesterday, we needed him more than ever, because West Brom came to Goodison Park not to lose. Ten men behind the ball, playing pretty deep and refusing access in behind the full backs. So, you need to play around the edge of the box and pop a few shots off. Mirallas can do this, yet was subbed for Steven Naismith. I saw Naismith do four things when he came on. First, he gave a free kick away. Then he missed a header and conceded a throw in. Then he fell over after trying to pass to Arouna Kone when the shot was the better option. Finally, he spat on the floor. That's it. I'd have left Mirallas on the field and Naismith on the bench.
I also felt sorry for Nikica Jelavic. When I've seen him in pre-season he's looked hungry and sharp. At Norwich and again yesterday I saw more of the same. Granted it's World Cup year, but isn't that to our advantage? I saw the need to introduce Arouna Kone. I didn't see the need to withdraw Jelavic. I think once Jelavic gets one his confidence will rise and he will get more. Personally, I'd have taken Osman or Pienaar off and brought Kone on, going 4-4-2.
4. Sylvain Distin
The man amazes me. He's no spring chicken, but he's an absolute giant of a man. Strong, assured and still quick. He also seems to have developed the same sort of telepathy which Phil Jagielka had with Joleon Lescott. They just know where each other is at any time during the game. Yesterday he was our best player. A faultless performance despite carrying a knock from the Norwich game. Long may it continue, but for how long?!
5. Patience is the key
Roberto Martinez has his own ideas, style of play and coaching philosophy. His training methods are excellent and everything is done with a football. The players are enjoying training. They've also quickly adapted to the manager's philosophy, but Rome wasn't built in a day. His philosophy, in case you didn't know yet, is possession. Martinez likes to keep hold of the ball until the right time and opportunity appears to kill the opposition. He believes that while you have the ball, they can't hurt you, but they have to chase you which means they will tire, and also it's mentally tasking. Yesterday, we had the ball in our own half between the back four for around 3 minutes. Some supporters became restless, asking for Marouane Fellaini to go forward and go more direct. "That's what Moyes would have done." Exactly, David Moyes isn't in the dug out anymore.As time went on we started seeing openings. Fellaini hit the post when he should have finished. Barkley had a shot saved by Foster, Coleman had one saved by the replacement keeper Luke Daniels, there were chances for us. At the other end, I can only remember Howard making two saves, and one was precautionary as it was going wide anyway.
I like the new style of play. It looked great against Norwich and yes, I was very disappointed we didn't see that game out. I have to say, though, I was more disappointed with the point yesterday. We need to win our home games, regardless of opposition. But, Martinez isn't changing his philosophy and beliefs for anyone. He's made a few changes behind the scenes as to how things are done, but the main change is on the field. He wants to keep as much of the ball as possible, pass it short and sharp and wear sides down. We have the calibre of player to make it work, but as the saying goes; all good things come to those who wait.
What do you think? Comment below.