Watching Everton’s victory over Manchester United last night, it was apparent that there has been a change of mentality at Goodison Park.
With 70 minutes gone in the game and the score at 0-0, many managers would have been satisfied with taking a draw at Old Trafford with so little time left - but not Roberto Martinez.
The fearless Spaniard was encouraging his players to go for the win, and the sight of Phil Jagielka taking on defenders in the United penalty area with 20 minutes to go epitomised this sentiment.
Everton, and particularly Seamus Coleman, forced a goal upon United as their persistence prevailed with Brian Oviedo producing the finish after good hold-up play by Lukaku to end a 21-year wait of victory at the Theatre of Dreams.
Everton’s results against top sides over the years have been less than spectacular, but with Martinez at the helm, the mood seems to be shifting.
Speaking today was the president of Everton’s supporters club in Ireland, Duncan Kenna, who said: “Over the years Moyes always played good football against the lesser sides in the league, however in the bigger games he did tend to step back a bit, it was a lack of trust but that seems to be abolished with Martiez.”
Martinez has never been a victim of not trusting his players, if anything he has been over trustworthy of players, a philosophy he installed with Wigan, having no fear against higher reputation teams and frequently playing three at the back.
They say fortune favours the bold, and Martinez’s management style is tribute to that philosophy. Everton have beaten Man United and Chelsea as well as drawing with Spurs and Liverpool this season so far - performing admirably in all four games.
This is Everton’s best side in the last 20 years and Martinez deserves a lot of credit for accomplishing this. Moyes left the squad in a fantastic state and built Everton up from the ground to become a leading Premier League side but Martinez, in his transfer policies and style of play has provided the Toffies with a touch of class.
No one can deny that Martinez and chairman, Bill Kenwright performed magnificently in the summer transfer window. They managed to hold onto Baines, get £26m for Fellaini and Anichebe as well as bringing in James Mccarthy, Lukaku, Gareth Barry and exciting youngster Deulofeu while making a substantial profit.
With these astute signings, Everton have assembled an extremely strong starting line-up, and more importantly a strong bench.
Over the years Moyes always had a very durable starting 11, but usually fell by the wear side in patches of the seasons when injuries took their toll on the small squad and promising campaigns fell apart. Everton now possess a squad with strength in depth, which you can tell from the bench.
Martinez has kept on Moyse’s tradition of developing youth players at the club as well, with the likes of Barkley, Stones, Lukaku and Deulofeu provided central roles. Martinez’s squad contains a wonderful balance of arrogant, hungry young players as well as cool experienced heads such as Jagielka, Distin and Pienaar.
The Toffies have been very consistent this season, having only lost one game so far, the fewest in the league and if they can maintain this kind of form and attacking philosophy, Everton fans can expect exciting times ahead.
One worry, however, will be rebuilding the squad next season. Lukaku has been central to Everton’s success and will certainly be starter in Chelsea’s line up in 2015, a big task for Martinez will be replacing the Belgian which will be another obstacle for the Spaniard, but with his courageous attitude, Everton fans can feel safe in the hands of their new manager.
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