Predicting Roberto Martinez's First Everton Starting XI
Everton will start the 2013-14 season led by Roberto Martinez, just the 14th manager in the club's 135-year history.
The Spaniard arrives at Goodison Park from Wigan, and has just over two months to acclimatise to the Toffees and spread his influence before the new season starts.
His new side have been accustomed to the methods of David Moyes for the past 11 years, which would make it unwise to implement too many drastic changes all at once.
Martinez is renowned for favouring three at the back, which may be introduced over time, but 4-4-1-1 has been the Toffees’ tried and tested system for a considerable length of time. For August, at least, it is more likely that this remains the initial shape of the side.
Here's a possible lineup for the Toffees' first game of next season in that system.
In goal, it seems unlikely anyone will come in to dethrone Tim Howard. That said, the American struggled for consistency over the opening few months of the season and could do with greater competition. With Jan Mucha departing, Martinez will certainly need to recruit a deputy for Howard, ideally a younger player with the potential to eventually become the No. 1 pick.
In defence, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines should be guaranteed selections. Don't be surprised if John Stones is also given opportunities to impress, as Wigan were supposedly in contention to sign the former Barnsley defender back in January, according to the Daily Mirror.
Sylvain Distin is the man in possession of the other shirt in defence, but this may well be one of Martinez' first alterations, as he targets a younger model to at least compete for selection with the Frenchman. Despite a recently improved contract, Feyenoord's Stefan De Vrij could be a possible option here, as the Liverpool Echo have reported.
Everton deployed Darron Gibson and Leon Osman as their central pairing in midfield for the majority of last season, although it was not always as resilient off the ball as was required.
Martinez may prefer to use Osman further forward and introduce a more steely presence, such as his former charge, Mohamed Diame, who may be available for a reasonable price from West Ham. His own Wigan side were far more open without the Senegalese international last season, while James McCarthy could be another transfer target for one of these positions.
Ahead of them in the central berth is where Martinez could make his most deliberate shift. Marouane Fellaini has often been used in this attacking role, sometimes to the detriment of the Toffees style. With the Belgian heavily linked with a move away from Goodison Park, to make things a little more fluent, the Spaniard may prefer a playmaker in this role.
Of the Toffees' current roster, Steven Pienaar or Leon Osman would be the most suitable picks.
What position are Everton most in need?
On the flanks, Martinez has always had a reputation for using pace and flair. From Antonio Valencia, Charles N'Zogbia and Victor Moses to Callum McManaman and Steven Maloney. Kevin Mirallas is an ideal fit for the Spaniard's style, and it's possible he could revisit his former club to try and take Callum McManaman along to Everton with him.
Up front will presumably be Martinez's primary concern over the next few weeks. Deprived of major funds, the Toffees often have to wait until the latter stages of transfer windows to make their move. The season could well begin without a solution being found, in which case the industry of Victor Anichebe may be preferred to Nikica Jelavic, unless the Croatian appears to have regained his confidence.
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