6 Key Games for Roberto Martinez to Launch His Everton Career in Style
The Spaniard will clearly need time to influence his new charges, yet the pace of the English top flight rarely affords managers sufficient time to bed in.
Therefore, given Everton's fixtures, which games will he be targeting early on?
Here's a look at six crunch clashes from the first half of the season. Games in which Martinez will want to demonstrate his managerial nous, make a lasting impression on Evertonians and, ideally, pick up all three points.
August 17: Norwich Away
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First impressions count, and while Everton have a relatively friendly start to the season, Martinez will be frustrated he doesn't begin with his new side at home.
There are certainly far worse sides to face, but Norwich away is still a tricky enough fixture, especially with Carrow Road likely to be in full voice, welcoming in the new season.
Everton haven't beaten Norwich in four attempts since their 2011 promotion, and Martinez doesn't appear to have unlocked any magic formula against them himself, beating them just once in four games with Wigan.
He will be desperate to kick-start his Everton career in a positive manner and build some momentum with an early win.
August 24: West Brom at Home
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Fast forward seven days from his opening game and Martinez will finally be welcomed to Goodison Park on the back of what he hopes will be a good result at Norwich.
This will also be the first time the majority of Evertonians see him live in the Toffees' dugout and he will want to ensure he begins with a flourish.
There's no doubt he will feel a significant amount of pressure before the game and he will need to make sure that does not transcend onto his players and affect their performance levels.
Given Everton's decent run of early fixtures, it's essential he gets off the mark as soon as possible if he wants his new side to challenge for Europe again. If three points aren't secured at Norwich, they must be here.
September 14: Chelsea at Home
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Everton's second home game is a fixture Martinez will surely look to make a statement in, as Jose Mourinho's Chelsea travel to Goodison Park.
Taking points off a top side instantly inflates supporters' confidence in a manager, as Mauricio Pochettino demonstrated last season when his Southampton side beat Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in three of his first four home games—results that quashed some sizeable pressure.
While Chelsea are clearly a formidable opponent, they have come unstuck a few times at Everton in recent years, with three defeats in their last four Premier League trips there.
Martinez may well sense an opportunity here, knowing a win in this game could buy him considerable time and reduce any surrounding pressure.
November 2: Tottenham at Home
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November brings a series of games likely to have a considerable bearing on the Toffees' overall fortunes next season.
First up is Tottenham, who Everton were jostling for position with over much of last season, eventually falling off the pace and finishing one spot below them.
The Toffees fared well in both individual contests against the Londoners, producing a stunning late comeback to win 2-1 at Goodison Park and falling minutes short of a memorable victory at White Hart Lane.
If Martinez wishes to preserve his new side's status as a top-six club—which will certainly be a challenge in his first year—this is a game of increased importance.
November 23: Liverpool at Home
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For all the fine work achieved by David Moyes at Everton, one area he may look back on with regret is his poor return in Merseyside derbies.
He never recorded a win at Anfield and tasted victory on just four occasions in 11 years, something that will slightly tarnish his reputation as time goes by.
Martinez often managed to upset the top sides with an unfancied Wigan and will hope to use some similar methods to get an early victory over the Toffees' near-neighbours.
Aside from local bragging rights, this result will also influence Everton's quest for European football, as with the Tottenham game three weeks before.
December 3: Manchester United Away
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Martinez will have undoubtedly taken note of the first time he comes up against David Moyes next season, which arrives in the first week of December.
The fact, Everton travel to Old Trafford will deflect most of the attention away from the Spaniard and pile the pressure on Moyes to secure all three points.
The Toffees haven't won at United since 1992 and have rarely taken anything but a defeat from this game. However, for confidence, Martinez can look at the way his Wigan side recently beat Moyes' Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park in the FA Cup.
Personnel will differ greatly, but with the pressure firmly on Moyes, Everton may fancy their chances of at least taking a point from their previous manager—a result that would instantly enhance Martinez's reputation among Evertonians.