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Everton 2013/2014 Season Review: Steven Naismith

Evertonians were pleasantly surprised by the sizable contribution provided by the former Rangers man, with the Scotsman finally getting some opportunities to play his natural position.

Naismith heads home his biggest goal of the season.
Naismith heads home his biggest goal of the season.
Chris Brunskill

I am not one for David Moyes bashing; the man did great work for the club and nothing can change that. But, a look at Steven Naismith over the last two seasons provides a perfect example of why the club was in need of change.

In Naismith's first season with the club, Moyes played Naismith almost exclusively as a winger, even though Naismith had secured a hat trick in a pre-season match against AEK Athens playing as a striker. The results were lukewarm at best.

His work rate is stellar, and he has decent pace, but Naismith is not a good enough passer to be a winger as this level, nor does he have the right mindset to do so. As a result, Naismith's first season with the club was shaky at best.

This year though, Roberto Martinez utilized Naismith both as an out-and-out striker, and in the hole behind the striker, and the improvement was almost immediate.

In all competitions, Naismith improved his goal tally from four last year to nine this year, as well as adding two assists in Premier League action.

For attacking players, the top measure of a season will always be the goal tally, but Naismith's contribution this season cannot be measured by that alone.

With the mid-season injury to Romelu Lukaku, Naismith's ability to play striker was crucial to keeping the team moving forward. When he and Lukaku played together, Naismith's goal threat helped take attention from Lukaku, opening room for the big Belgian to make plays. Though it may be with a different striker next season, the same basic role will remain for Naismith.

With the striker position still a question mark for the club going forward, Naismith is sure to reprise his role next season as well. While he won't be looked upon to be a regular starter at striker with the club looking to bring in a new man for the job, nor as an aggressive central midfielder, a position obviously occupied by Ross Barkley for the foreseeable future, Naismith will be an important bench and spot start player at those positions going forward.

After last season, that statement would have made most supporters cringe. After this season though, I suspect most will feel pretty content with the Scotsman in such a role.