A few eyebrows were certainly raised when the team sheets were delivered on Tuesday night and Ross Barkley was named as Everton captain for the first time.
There were more experienced players in the team that could have taken the role but Ronald Koeman chose the born-and-bred scouser to lead out his boyhood club.
It could prove to be an inspired piece of management. Koeman has already spoken of his desire to get the best out of Barkley this season and ensure the England midfielder fulfils his enormous potential.
To do that Barkley needs to improve his decision-making and take more responsibility on the field – handing him the captain’s armband was the ideal opportunity to do so.
It wasn’t a vintage display from Ross, but these sorts of games rarely produce world-class performances. He did though provide the game’s key moment; bending a 25-yard free-kick beyond Artur Krysiak to double’s Everton’s advantage in the second half.
It also allowed Barkley to reveal a touching tribute to former scout Sid Benson, the man who first discovered Barkley’s burgeoning talents as a schoolboy, who sadly passed away last week.
Speaking after the game Barkley spoke of his immense pride at leading the team out and also gave another touching tribute to Benson, suggesting he is maturing both as a man as well as a player.
Lukaku’s drought continues
It was a huge boost for Evertonians everywhere when Romelu Lukaku decided to stay at the club this summer (or perhaps more accurately – no one would pay Everton’s asking price, but whatever). So with his future now settled it is time the Belgian re-focused on his football.
Lukaku struggled with a heel injury in pre-season but made his presence felt as a substitute against West Brom on Saturday. Things didn’t go quite to plan though on his first start of the season against Yeovil. The 23-year-old missed a number of chances against the League Two side, looking nowhere near the player we saw for the majority of last campaign.
This latest blank means it’s now 12 games without a goal for Lukaku, stretching back to his gargantuan display against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final in March.
A lack of match fitness is fairly flimsy excuse but he perhaps deserves the benefit of the doubt for now. What’s clear though is there is plenty of work ahead of Lukaku if he is to rediscover his magic touch.
Does Kone have a future at Everton?
The big Ivorian has become almost a joke figure amongst the fan base, not helped by his association with former manager Roberto Martinez. But his enthusiasm for the game and warm nature also proves infectious.
Both his goals were fine strikes, even when taking into account the standard of the opposition. While the reaction of Kone’s teammates when celebrating his goals shows how highly he is regarded in the dressing room.
He is never going to dislodge Romelu Lukaku from the first-choice striking berth and the rumoured arrival of Lucas Perez would likely push him further down the pecking order.
His limitations are there for all to see and a woeful cameo against Tottenham on the opening day will no doubt have been noted by Koeman.
More performances like Tuesday though and Kone may well persuade his manager that there’s still a place for the former Wigan man in his squad.