“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”
The azure skies hovering above the blue half of Merseyside heralds a new beginning. The advent and optimism surrounding a fresh change of guard at Goodison Park seems to have lifted the mood at the blue half of Merseyside. A new beginning, sans one of their favourite sons who left for the managerial role at greener pastures is clearly on the back of the minds of the vociferous Everton faithful. While David Moyes takes up the near impossible task of filling in the boots of Sir Alex at Manchester United, Roberto Martinez’s appointment as Everton boss has been fuelled by scepticism. The former Wigan manager inherits a squad full of dazzling potential that has been making gradual progress in the English Premier League over the last few campaigns.
A season of transition follows the Toffees and its safe to say that sticking to club traditions and tweaking tactics on the pitch would certainly be visible by the League Position come next summer. The Bastion and the Holy Trinity of Kendall, Ball and Harvey which is synonymous of Everton is in line of quite a makeshift under the Spaniard in charge. David Moyes has passed the baton to Martinez leaving a squad in great shape, tactically astute and the commitment of running that extra yard out on the pitch. Though Moyes might not have any silverware to boast about, transforming a team dwelling in the lower echelons of the Premier League table to Champions League “door knockers” is quite some achievement. And now with this fresh exuberance of Martinez, the Toffees can only move on one direction: Up, Up, Up we go.
The early transfer window shopping looks full of promise. With Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz, Joel Robles, all of Wigan Atletic and Gerard Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, being drafted in; Martinez can be praised to add some vital and much needed depth to the Everton squad which has looked thin over the previous few campaigns. There would be some grunts over the Wigan acquisitions, but then again, the manager knows best which players would be the vital cogs in the wheels of optimism. With Kone being a £5 million capture from the Latics, it’s relatively easy to predict that Ivorian would start up front. This would bring the best out of Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe behind closed doors fighting for that elusive starting spot.
Gerard Deulofeu has been a surprise addition on loan from Barcelona and snapping up this Catalan wonder-kid, dubbed to be the new Messi is a major coup. A number of affluent consortia’s and big names in Europe were vying for his signature this summer but Martinez was the one who inspired the young kid to join his revolution at Goodison Park. One wonders whether David Moyes could have ever thought to land this whiz kid from sunny Spain. His dazzling dribbles, outstanding pace and enormous skill and footwork would be quite a spectacle this campaign if Martinez picks him in the starting eleven or uses him as a substitute turning matches on its head late on.
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Antolin Alcaraz has been drafted in as a free signing after being a regular in Martinez’ Wigan side. This means Alcaraz would certainly play in the three man defence with Distin and Jagielka. Sheamus Coleman, is sure to start on the right side as a full back who would be given enough liberty to move forward while attacking. Leighton Baines will be deployed on the opposite side, one who is considered to be one of the best full-backs in the Premier League and continues to attract United’s attention.
Coming to the midfield, the speculations relating to Maroune Fellaini’s future are far from over. Manager Roberto Martinez has claimed the £23.5million transfer clause in his contract has expired, but he continues to be linked to Manchester United, after spending the first half of the window linked to Arsenal.
In pre-season, the blues from Merseyside beat Juventus on penalties before losing a tight encounter against Real Madrid by being on the wrong side of the 1-2 scoreline. Martinez had however stuck to the four defenders at the back in the two friendlies against Austria Wien and Accrington Stanley but changed formations on course of the pre season.
So how would Everton’s starting eleven really look like? I have made two line ups. The following would be considering both Baines and Fellaini stay at Goodison Park. This would look like a 3-4-3 deployed by Martinez at Wigan.
Here Baines and Coleman would be given the license to dart forward with Fellaini and Barkley/Osman bossing the midfield in the centre. The pace of Mirallas would be used on the right with Pienaar on the left and Kone up front. Fellaini would join the attacking prowess with his runs into the box. As Everton’s pre-season suggests, Martinez has already instilled a passing mentality with possession football his forte in the art of training back doors. Rather than aimless balls beings strewn forward, the Toffees are expected to play with lovely incision passing injecting more venom as they barge forward.
The second formation is a 4-2-3-1 line up, a more ‘secure’ option that Everton fans could become accustomed to. It uses Fellaini in that False 10 role where he is most effective, successfully bringing the striker ahead of him into the game and prevent the opposition midfield from taking control.
Though I haven’t thought of reinforcements, I have used Pienaar / Deulofeu on the wings with Mirallas on the other side. Most likely, Pienaar would start on the left, and thereby Deulofeu would be on the bench. Gibson and Osman would be the double pivot and the crux of the setup. Expect Ross Barkley to get a lot of games as well.
The next question would be: Will there be less of a focus on youth under Martinez? Will Kenwright be more willing to splash sums to Martinez or the Moyes policy of ‘sell before you buy’ continue? If at all the latter happens, expect the likes of John Stones, Apostolos Vellios, Connor Grant being give quite some run outs over the course of the season. One youngster though, I would love to witness on the pitch would be Ross Barkley in centre midfield. This 19 year old can play either as an attacking midfielder, right or centre of midfield. He’s a typical hard hitting scouse midfielder.
Martinez has already lauded the youngster and is full of praise of the 19 year old dubbing him as something special. Barkley, over the course of the season might get chances to enhance his reputation in front of the home faithful, but needs to grab opportunities and chances with both hands.
As far as Chances are concerned, they will come to Martinez, let’s hope he makes Everton a pleasant side to watch going back to their revered philosophy. With the tactical acumen that the Spaniard has at his disposal, expect the Toffees to set the field on fire. Silverwares might come in the very first season itself, but as Everton’s fierce neighbours, Liverpool have in their anthem, “At the end of the storm, there is always a Golden Sky”. Let’s hope the Blue half of Merseyside is in for a treat this coming campaign and years to come.