A recent survey conducted by the Liverpool Echo has shown that 98% of Everton fans think they are witnessing a better style of football this season than any of the 11 years that they saw under David Moyes, and the likelihood is, the same 98% will agree that it has been a positive start to the season for the Blues.
In our strong start to the season, the three deadline day signings, Barry, McCarthy and Lukaku, have really impressed the Goodison faithful; with each of them already putting their own personal stamp on the Everton side.
The Deadline Day Signings
Gareth Barry has been an important cog in the heart of the Everton midfield from the first minute he stepped onto the pitch. He looks perfectly at home at Goodison Park, like he has been playing in Royal Blue for his entire career. James McCarthy, a big money signing from Wigan, started his Everton career on the bench, but is now emerging as a main figure in the Everton starting side, showing all of the class you would expect from a £14 million signing. McCarthy has looked cool and calm on the ball, and since he joined I cannot remember him giving cheap possession away to the opposition.
Finally our jewel in the crown so far this season is Belgian striker, Romelu Lukaku. The Chelsea loanee has already netted 4 goals in only 2 and a half games of Premier League football this season. Lukaku has pace, power, composure, football intelligence and the kid knows exactly where the net is, picking up his form from last season at West Brom. I think all Evertonian’s are wishing that Lukaku has a 20 goal campaign; something that has not been done by a Toffee since the lazy days of Yakubu.
The three deadline day signings have been terrific, but what has happened to the other 4 captures that gave Everton fans so much promise at the start of the transfer window?
The 4 early signings who are yet to impress
When Everton captured Joel Robles, we all thought he would be pushing Tim Howard immediately for a starting place. Joel arrived with a strong reputation and was able to keep out the respectable figure of Ali Al Habsi from the Wigan side last year. So far there has been nothing to suggest that Joel is putting Howard under pressure for the goalkeeping jersey. Perhaps Joel is not showing the same form and ability that Martinez thought he possessed last season? Hopefully from a Toffee point of view, Joel will settle and improve and at 22 years old has plenty of time to push Howard for the starting jersey.
One of Martinez’ early signings was Antolin Alcaraz, the South American defender. Alcaraz has a good reputation as a footballing centre half. A strong passer of the football and with an excellent first touch, Alcaraz offers an alternative to the more traditional traits of Jagielka and Distin. Alcaraz could be crucial in helping Everton to effectively adapt to the Martinez way of playing football. However Antolin has had the worst possible start to his career with the Toffees, being injured since he put pen to paper. On a positive note, we are told that the Paraguayan is firmly on the mend and will hopefully see him walk out in Royal Blue very soon.
As an Everton fan, when you hear that you are signing the ‘future Messi’ or the next ‘Barca wonderkid’ then your mouth literally waters. It could be argued that Gerard Deulofeu has not quite made the impact that we all hoped the Spanish starlet would have, but he has appeared a couple of times from the bench to show glimpses of his reported rare talent. As Evertonians we have not seen enough of him yet, but Roberto Martinez has indicated that he is settling quickly and he will be ready to make a significant impact in the second half of the campaign.
Finally the biggest disappointment so far this season has to be the early summer signing of Ivorian International Arouna Kone. A £6 million price tag for a now 30-year-old forward is a lot of money, but Arouna is still yet to score for Everton or get a solid run of games under his belt. We could all see last season that Koneknows where the net is, but we all want to see more of the pace, power and goals that we saw from him last season. If Everton can have Kone, Jelavic and Lukaku all in-form, then there are not going to be many teams with a better strike force in the league.
Kone, Deulofue, Alcaraz and Joel have all had slow starts to their Everton career; however the four early signings will be given more time to impress, with each of them hopefully able to contribute a significant amount towards a positive first season in the Martinez era. Everton now have a stronger squad than at any time in the last 18 years and there is no reason to suggest the Blues should not be challenging for a European place this season.
By Toby Fletcher