Chelsea win eases manager doubts
After three successive draws, Everton’s season finally got underway with a memorable 1-0 victory over Chelsea last Saturday.
September 20th, 2013
The opening three games felt very much like a false start, given the transfer window was open and speculation dominated the build-up to each match. The fans, players and manager were not sure of the exact make-up of the squad until the window slammed shut and the speculation could stop.
The Toffees were actually one of the big winners on deadline day, with Marouane Fellaini’s sale to Manchester United offset by the captures of James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku – the latter two on loan.
With McCarthy on the bench and Lukaku ineligible against his parent club, Barry was the only new face to start against Jose Mourinho’s men at Goodison and he put in a commanding display in the heart of Everton’s midfield.
He formed the backbone of a resilient display that appeared to combine the best bits of Roberto Martinez’s footballing philosophy and the gritty, never-say-die determination of his predecessor David Moyes.
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler said that Martinez can now properly feel like the Everton manager after that win. It certainly eases the pressure on the Spaniard, who after the game acknowledged that while it will take time for the players to fully adapt to his methods, he has to keep winning games in the meantime.
A key component to that will be confidence and self-belief. Martinez’s arrival over the summer was greeted with cautious optimism – that caution stemming from Wigan’s relegation last term and their consistent failure to defend properly.
However, the Latics’ FA Cup win and Martinez’s penchant for possession football struck a chord with Everton fans yearning for a return to the style of football that saw the club once labelled “the School of Science”.
Saturday’s victory was that vision made a reality, with the fans rubbing their hands at the prospect of seeing Lukaku added to that winning side for this weekend’s clash at West Ham.
There has been an extra spring in the step of Martinez this week and I imagine that it’s the same with the players. Another positive result in east London could prove the catalyst for greater things and not just a false early-season dawn.