The Evertonians making the long journey to East Anglia at the weekend will do so full of excitement and with a hint of nervousness. Not for 12 seasons have Evertonians experienced the feeling of optimism that a new manager brings, but with optimism comes an unknown quantity, just how will Everton perform under the leadership of their first foreign manager?
Carrow Road is an apt venue for Roberto Martinez to begin his Everton career. It is a venue synonymous with successful Everton teams and was the scene of Championship success for Kendall’s Blues in 1987. Martinez has promised a return to those glory years and with a first target of Champions League football he has put himself and his team under a little bit of pressure. With ambition comes expectation and the Blues pre-season performances have done little to dampen those expectations. The School of Science is back and the players have endured an intensive Spanish lesson ahead of the new campaign.
Martinez will not be looking to throw out the formula that made David Moyes a relative success at Goodison Park, but he will bring significant change. He will be keen to retain the defensive solidarity that was the bedrock of Moyes’ time at Everton, but the rigidity that hampered the Blues, especially at the top four is gone, with Everton playing a brand of free-flowing football that will have the Goodison faithful on the edge of their seats.
It may take time to take full effect, but Everton will rarely be out-passed. Possession is the name of the game, pulling the opposition out of position to create space and opportunities for the forward players to take advantage. It is a formula that has proven successful for Spain and Barcelona and although the pace of the Premier League means Everton and Martinez will have to make adaptations the level of fluidity will be rarely seen elsewhere in the league.
Norwich have enjoyed a successful summer in the transfer market, although summer results have been mixed. Leroy Fer who almost joined Everton in January, signed for the Canaries from FC Twente but is serving a suspension carried over from his time in Holland and will not feature. Norwich will feature a new strikeforce, with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel set to start and Gary Hooper likely to play from the bench.
Everton’s team selection will be interesting and some of the players have been at Goodison so long they only know one way of playing. Regulars under Moyes, such as Hibbert and Osman, may find their opportunities limited and with 2 weeks of the Transfer window remaining the squad is still open to refinement.
Nikica Jelavic appears to have re-found his form and has enjoyed a fabulous pre-season. He appears to have shuck off the challenge of new boy Arouna Kone and the Croatian is expected to lead the line at Norwich. Kevin Mirallas has been outstanding throughout the summer games and he is a sure starter, with Steven Pienaar, Steven Naismith, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu competing for the two other attacking midfield positions. Darron Gibson (subject to fitness) and Marouane Fellaini will hold in midfield and will be instrumental in dictating the style of play. The defence is relatively settled with Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin and Tim Howard the likely starters.
Expected Starting XI (4-3-3): Howard; Baines, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin; Gibson, Fellaini, Barkley; Pienaar, Mirallas, Jelavic.
Our Archive footage comes from the 1982-83 season and features a very rare goal for legendary captain Kevin Ratcliffe. Howard Kendall was starting to build the most successful side in the history of the club and a young Everton team made the trip to East Anglia and returned victorious by a single goal to nil.