Yes it is only a friendly. And yes, results don’t count for much in pre-season. But the excitement and anticipation among Everton supporters ahead of the new season was ratcheted up still further as the Ronald Koeman era began in earnest with a 3-0 victory against Barnsley at Oakwell.
If you count last week’s training game against FK Jablonec in Austria, Everton have picked up two wins from two so far in pre-season. Though more importantly it afforded the players vital game time to work on their fitness ahead of the new season.
It was also the first opportunity for the fans to see the team play under new manager Koeman, with 2,100 eager supporters making the trip to Yorkshire and giving the Dutchman a rapturous reception when he emerged from the tunnel before kick-off.
The highlight of a comfortable victory was a stunning goal from Ross Barkley, the midfielder rolling his defender before blasting a left-footed effort beyond Adam Davies and into the corner.
Barkley’s natural ability is not in question, but he still has the tendency to exasperate as much as excite. It will be fascinating to see how Koeman handles Barkley this season.
Another player who has often struggled to live up to his talent in Kevin Mirallas. His frosty relationship with Roberto Martinez undoubtedly played in part in his loss of form so he stands to benefit from Koeman’s arrival more than most.
The Belgian reminded us what he is capable of with a wonderful free-kick opener in the first half to set Everton on their way at Oakwell.
With Romelu Lukaku still on holiday and Oumar Niasee and Arouna Kone not in the squad, Gerard Deulofeu was pushed up front.
It wasn’t a total success, but it wasn’t a complete failure either and was certainly worth experimenting with.
The Spaniard latched onto a fine throughball from Barkley to score Everton’s second early in the second half.
Plenty of substitutions meant 20 players got a run out, including a first appearance for Shani Tarashaj.
The Swiss striker joined from Grasshoppers in January but stayed at his former club on loan before joining up with his new teammates this summer.
Seamus Coleman, Aiden McGeady, Bryan Oviedo and Ramiro Funes Mori also got a run out after they returned to training earlier this week following Euro 2016/Copa America.
It wasn’t all positive. Joel Robles looked uncertain at times in goal, prompting a shake of the head from his new manager on more than one occasion.
Everton have been linked with a number of goalkeepers this summer and it seems unlikely that Robles will be first choice when the transfer window closes at the end of next month.
All in all though it was a thoroughly satisfying afternoon, offering us a tantalising glimpse of what to expect from the team this season.
Next up for the Toffees is a first ever trip to stadium:mk to play MK Dons on Tuesday as preparations for the new campaign begin to gather pace.