Toffees forward Steven Naismith has told the Liverpool Echo that he is now fully settled on Merseyside and relishing life under manager Roberto Martinez.
This campaign is the third for Naismith in Everton blue after David Moyes signed him on a free transfer from Rangers in 2012. The Scot found it hard to cement a first team place in his first season and when he did find opportunities, he was played out wide.
However he did score the winner in Everton’s first league win with Martinez as manager last season at home to Chelsea. As the 2013/14 season progressed so did the Goodison faithful’s admiration for the forward’s hardworking style of play.
Naismith’s confidence and level of performance only benefited from the combination of his new-found position as fan favourite and him being played in his right position; behind the striker.
The former Kilmarnock player managed to score ten in all competitions last season and that was with more of his appearances coming off the bench. He has carried on that form into the start of this season by scoring in each of Everton’s three games so far.
Naismith described how his feeling of belonging removed his initial anxiety; "When I first moved I definitely felt a bit inferior,"
"It’s been a problem for Scots boys in the past and I was the same. Looking around the squad you think to yourself, ‘should I be here?’ But as you get more comfortable with the lads on and off the field things begin to go for you. I feel I belong here now."
The 27-year-old also described Martinez’s influence on his form and confidence by playing him more centrally.
"It has been a good start to the season for me. I enjoyed my pre-season and I've managed to kick on from there. I’ve managed to score a few goals.
"I started off pre-season as the striker but since then I’ve dropped a little deeper into the hole.
"I haven’t done anything different at all. I’m just another year older and another year wiser.
"I’m more familiar with surroundings and I’m settled. The last six to eight months of last season I played well and in almost every game.
"I’ve been lucky enough to kick on. It’s down to confidence. That comes from the manager who allows me to express myself.
"He knows my best position and he’s given me my chance there. He knows I can get up and down the pitch but if I play wider I maybe lose aspects of my game.
"I grew up as a striker and he knows I still have a knack of getting in the box. He knows I will defend for the team but he still gives me the freedom going forward."