When Everton signed James McCarthy from Wigan Athletic for £13million, many supporters, including myself questioned spending so much of Everton's limited funding on the 22 year old. Some questioned Martinez's judgement, citing it as lazy that he was signing so many players from his former club. How wrong and unfounded any doubts would prove to be.
To put it bluntly, McCarthy has been a revelation since day one; in the process forming a partnership with Gareth Barry that has became the bedrock of Everton's success this season. Putting it frankly, many of the attacking players who have flourished this year, could not have done so without the tireless, unselfish defensive work carried out by the Irishman behind them.
As this was McCarthy's first season at the club, he has no statistics to compare with last year, so for the purpose of this review it would be better to compare him to his defensive teammate Gareth Barry, who has also had an excellent season while on loan at the club. Overall, McCarthy finished the season with a performance score of 689, with Barry finishing just ahead of him on 714. The young midfielders' most impressive stat this season was the number of blocks he made, a total of 24 in 38 appearances, with his average number of defensive actions per game at 4. He also managed 53 defensive clearances across the season. In comparison, the older more experienced Barry only managed 17 blocks but made more clearances than his younger midfield compatriot. Both men finished the season with a total on 13 clean sheets to their name, highlighting their importance to the defensive side of the team's game.
In some cases it has been thought that the midfielder was a bit of a card magnet, but the statistics say otherwise, with only 5 yellow cards to his name and no reds. Considering that on average he managed to win 49% of his duels bettering Barry, that is no mean feat. Even more impressive than his defensive capabilities is the midfielders passing accuracy, with his average total at 87% for last season, with his average pass length at 20m, not quite the long ball of old.
Unfortunately for McCarthy, the attacking side of his game was somewhat sacrificed for his defensive duties. The midfielder only managed one goal, in the last game against Hull City, with the lowly total of 12 shots to his name for the season. His shot accuracy was also a bit hit and miss, with that standing at 42%. He also only managed to get 3 assists in that period, though he did manage to create 42 chances across the season.
All in all, James McCarthy has had an excellent debut season at Goodison Park and has more than warranted his £13million price tag. While many of us might have questioned the logic of the signing in the beginning, the 22 year old has fast become a disciplined, and vital defensive cog in Everton's side and his partnership with Garry Barry has proved essential to Martinez's attacking desires being fulfilled this year. If the Spaniard can encourage the Irishman to improve his game going forward, Everton will have an excellent all round midfield player on their hands.